Out and About

Well apologies for the radio silence around here folks. I've been busy curled up in a ball in a dark corner, rocking back and forth and speaking in tongues. It's been an interesting week, to say the least.

Basically, Dietgirl has been OUTED to all and sundry. I admit that I am a doofus when it comes to all things mathematical, arithmetical and statistical, so perhaps that's why I'd convinced myself that even though the Sunday Mail sells millions of copies, none of the 80 or so people in my building would be among its readers. I mean, surely they'd go for something a wee bit more highbrow?

But noooo. I tiptoed into the office at 7.30AM on Monday morning and was ambushed by a colleague in the foyer.

"Hello!" I said.

"Well HELLOOOO!" she grinned, "And how are YOUUUU?"


"I opened the paper and I thought, that looks like SHAUNA. And it was! Oh my god! I got the shock of my life!"


And so this went on all week. There were a lot of smiles and heads shaking in disbelief, there were jokes and funny looks and hush-hush conversations. Some people even bought the clipping in to pass round their department. It was weird, weird, weird.

But everyone has been lovely. Surprised, but lovely and supportive and kind! But I was still so embarrassed, because even after losing a chunk of weight I am still bigger than 90% of the people I work with. I wanted to get a t-shirt that says I'M NOT DONE YET. If anyone so much glanced at me I wondered if they were trying to picture me twice as wide. I've only lost about 10 kilos in the time I've worked there; they haven't seen any dramatic change. So to see my former GIANT BLOB BOD floating across their Sunday paper would have been a bit of a shock.

I was mildly irritated by one person who cornered me and said, "I heard about your article. It's amazing. But I just can't picture you being so… so… you know… big! I mean, 25 stone!" Her face wrinkled up with mild distaste as if she'd said, "I mean, two vaginas!" or "Sleeping with horses!".

Sometimes I think I should have been an alcoholic, it seems a more socially acceptable character kink. Obesity just isn't glamourous and it seems to make some people uncomfortable.

There was another terrifying moment when one of the guys on my team came up to me on Tuesday and said, "Soooo… I've got a big fat beer gut, eh?"


"I read your site last night."


"I was reading October 2004 and you were describing someone very familiar!"

Shit shit shit! I'd written about him! What had I said? Was it bad? Then I remembered I'd written about how he'd lost an absolute stack of weight and was showing everyone how loose his trousers had become. And I was flamingly jealous of his success as I couldn't bust an ounce at the time.

So it was okay! I'd written nice stuff about him! EXCEPT for that bit where I said he used to have a big fat gut and an assortment of chins! Holy crap. I can't tell you how surreal it was to hear your words back in your face from a real person, after secretly typing away for years and years thinking only the imaginary cyber peoples were reading. And can you imagine how he must have felt to discover someone was talking about his baggy trousers on the internet?

So the week was like every blogger's nightmare come true. At first I felt guilty, embarrassed, extremely silly… oh, you name it.

The Scottish Companion has been copping it too, since our wedding photo was screaming down half the page, stopped only by a small article on Marilyn Monroe's lesbian affair. He got a text from a friend on Monday morning, "Mate, when you get married people usually put a photo in the local rag, not the bloody Sunday Mail!"

Then all his work colleagues have been giving him shit, and a client even called to say, "Nice to see you've found yourself a little wife on the internet."

Arrrgh! The article really does imply that we met online. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That! I jumped down poor Beckie's throat when she commented how nice it is that so many people find lurve online these days. I am so sorry Beckie! I overreacted because the comment sent me into a panic, thinking all my colleagues would think that I was some sort of desperate Mail Order Bride putting my fat ass up for sale on the net. But of course, people hook up all the time online without being of the Mail Order persuasion. I've had some choice liaisons with internet folks in my time, thank you very much; so I'm all for it. Love is love whether you found it in the pub or on the 'puter.

I know some of you have been mortified on my behalf to be suddenly thrust into the spotlight, particularly when I have so ferociously (hysterically) guarded my anonymity for the past 4.5 years. I've been careful to keep my fat writing from my non-fat writing; to use pseudonyms and not write anything that could weed me out in a Google search. It seems ridiculous now that just a few months ago I finally worked up the nerve to tell my own bloody husband about the site. Now it's all out there baby, and I have lost the last place I could hide and let loose and truly be myself.

I spent a couple of days mourning that. Dietgirl has been an outlet and a refuge during this whole lard busting journey. I never stopped to think about how the article might change things, and now it felt strange and scary not have that private space.

Yet I was determined to look at this experience in a positive light. For one, it's nice publicity for Erin's book in the UK. And if anyone I know bothered to check out this site, they probably got bored real quick then got back to their lives.

Plus it's a real hoot to be able to say you were tabloid news.

Most of all I've learned that it's time to stop hiding.  Back when I was twice as big, I felt like half the person I wanted to be. I felt like I had to hide myself away from the world and make as little fuss as possible. Since I took up so much physical space, it was like I wanted to make my personality as small and muted as possible. So the virtual space was where I could stretch out and have fun.

I no longer need a secret place to be my real self. Because I am finally being my real self all the time now, out there in the big bad world. I am sick of leading this stupid virtual double-life, it has been bloody exhausting. This isn't to say I'm ditching this site, I'm just ditching the bullshit. I'm sick of worrying about what people think when they're probably not thinking anything at all.

So… let's just get on with it.

Black and White and Read All Over

There are a number of ways you can be awoken on a Sunday morning. With a nice cup of tea. Or a bacon roll. Or a vigorous shag. OR seeing your big mug inside the biggest tabloid newspaper in Scotland.

So there's me and my long-suffering husband on page 22 of today's Sunday Mail with the headline NET LOSS. I'd wondered if they'd go for the whole Fat Chick Loses Half Her Body Then Finds Love! angle, and they did. The article turned out nice, I met with the journalist last week and she was lovely and easy to talk to. It felt so weird to be blathering about my lard-busting adventures out loud, instead of sending text into the faceless coccoon of the internet. I was trying to drink a cup of tea and be articulate during the interview when I really wanted to spew from nerves. So thank you, Julia Hunt, for being so nice to a hapless amateur!

I have been running around our flat all morning in a grand panic, wondering if anyone at work reads the Sunday Mail. I am hoping they're more Herald or Observer people, so I don't get anyone coming up to me in the kitchen and saying, "Whoa! You were pretty lardy, eh?". Also one small inaccuracy in the article that will baffle anyone who knows me is that it says I'm a graphic designer, when I am actually just the secretary what types the letters and makes the tea. I told the journalist I'd done a graphic design course after my degree, then worked as web editor, so this where the confusion must have arose. So if anyone from work is reading, YES I am still your faithful admin monkey. I'm not designing brochures and business cards on the side or anything like that.

One thing I do do on the side is write, and as the article mentions I contributed to a book called Tales from the Scale. So if you came here via the article and want to read more, you can buy it Amazon right noo!

Meanwhile, my good ol husband is crying with laughter at the Before photo in the article. Now before you send him hate mail, he is not laughing at me per se, just the bizarre way they chopped me out from the background of the original shot, then wrapped the text around my bulbous disembodied form. I just sort of hovering there on the page, Jabba the Hut style. They chopped the birthday cake out of the picture too, leaving only the flaming sparklers on top, so it looks like my guts have exploded.

It's mortifying to see yourself floating there in a national newspaper, yet the more I stare at it the funnier it becomes. But I'm still going to punch him if he doesn't stop cackling soon.

The Blob!

Crotch Bib and Camping

"So do you want beans in a tin, haggis in a tin, or beef tongue in a tin?"


We were going camping and were at the supermarket getting provisions. The Scottish Companion had become obsessed with the great outdoors over the past month. First he said he needed a new sleeping back coz his old one smelled like "Man Fumes". But he ended up buying two. And a tent. And a camp stove. SC works from home, so by the end of the week he is always going bonkers with cabin fever. When I get home on a Friday I just want to sit on my arse, but he is itching like mad to get out of the house. So last weekend I reluctantly agreed to go camping with him.

It wasn’t til we were at the supermarket that I began to get excited. I wanted to buy one of those dinky disposable barbecues so we could grill some vegetarian sausages into charcoaled stumps. I wanted to roast marshmallows over a roaring fire. I wanted to make a damper. Food food food. Food makes everything so much more interesting.

But we ended up in the canned food aisle, deciding on a tin since we were only away for one night and had limited equipment. Good lord, you can buy some awful shit in a tin. SC chose a Vegetarian Balti Curry which looked absolutely honking. I almost went for the Weight Watchers Ravioli until I thought what sort of ravioli comes in a tin? but also ravioli is too posh for camping. After reading some labels and tossing aside trans-fatty candidates, I settled on Beef Stew. Mmm mmm.

Earlier that week I’d thought, "We’re not going anywhere this week, absolutely nothing is happening! I have a perfectly empty week ahead so I’ll be able to have 7 Days Of Perfect Eating. Woohoo!". Then this camping thing had come out of the blue and now I’d forgotten that and was giddy with the Eating Potential of the trip.

But I had a realisation right there in the supermarket aisle, that there is really no such thing as a Perfectly Empty Week. Something also comes up. Whether this is a spontaneous camping trip, a birthday cake at work or a quick drink with friends, there are always little situations happening that you haven’t planned for. So it dawned on me yet again that that horrible phrase "Lifestyle Change" is really true. I would have to keep reading labels. I would stay hyper-aware of what I ate. I would have to assess each situation individually and make the wisest choice. All these little things that crop up will keep on cropping up, they’re just life happening, NOT opportunities for wild abandoned eating.

My beef stew really looked a lot like dog food and didn’t taste that much better, but it was a modest choice and was so much fun heating up on a dinky camp stove while being attacked by midges.

I finally figured out why models are so skinny. Coz they bloody need to be.

Before the Vegas Wedding, my  sister and I brainstormed on How To Look As Skinny As Possible in photos. Shoulders back but relaxed. Sucked-in gut. Arms held slightly away from your sides so they looker smaller don’t splodge out all over the place. Body turned ever so slightly and putting one hip and leg forward. The Vegas photographer did our photos in less than ten minutes, barking out, "Stand here! Face that way! Smile! Kiss!" I totally worked it baby, moving seamlessly through the poses. So the photos turned fine, my body arranged pretty well considering my dress was so bloody tight that flesh was threatening to spill at any moment.

So I naively hoped the Grazia photo shoot would be just as rapid fire, but it actually took three hours because firstly, they weren’t a production-line Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, and secondly, they needed pictures in a whole different bunch of poses. Dammit. Once the hair and makeup was done, I was leaned against the couch while the photographer did some test shots. I tried to look casual as I arranged myself according to my sisters advice. The photographer started shooting and I grinned or smiled or looked "mysterious" or "knowing" or "flirtatious" as requested. I doubted any of my expressions really varied but she said I was doing great. Woohoo! This was going to be a piece of cake.

But then I had to get on the bed. Oh dear. It was a vast four-poster with a luxurious purple satin cover. Now please do not leave comments saying I am putting myself down here, because I am going to state a fact. Anyone with a bit of extra flesh knows there are a very limited number of ways you can arrange your body in a flattering light. Standing upright is one. Actually that’s about it. Once you’re sitting or laying down, you don’t have control and things start flipping and flopping around.

"I’m not sure this will be a flattering angle," I squeaked nervously. The photographer told me not to worry and got the makeup artist to try the pose while she adjusted the lighting. The MA, gorgeously slim, jumped onto the bed and landed delicately on her side, leaning on her elbow. her elbow. Perfect. Then it was my turn. The bed groaned as I clambered on and tried to replicate the pose.

Quite often when I’m laying in bed at night on my side, I grope my hips in the dark and feel the bone and say, "Ooh you’re getting so skinny! Oh yes you are!", and ignore the fact that the sideways positions means the three-tier wedding cake of my boobs and guts all falls down and pools on the mattress. This was how it was at the shoot. I sucked in as hard as I could but my flesh combined with the folds of my clothing made it all very awkward. The photographer told me to relax but how could I relax when I had a severe case of Crotch Bib?

(This is what the Scottish Companion calls the curious phenomenon whereby when I sit down there always seems to be this huge bunch of fabric in the crotch area of my jeans and trousers when they’re getting too big for me, and since I am a slobby eater I always end up dropping food there, hence Crotch Bib.)

These jeans were new and not too big, but they sat on the waist and not the hip so the fabric puddled when I lay down. Yet somehow I could feel the breeze on the top of my arsecrack. It was all going pearshaped. I fussed and clucked and tried to smooth everything down. I was beginning to see why there had been a huge rack of these jeans on sale for £20, needless to say I have not worn the ill-fitting mumsy bastards since. Every time the photographer asked me to move my hand one inch or tilt my head ten degrees, my carefully arranged clothes would go sproing! and I’d have to yank my top down over the Crotch Bib. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A similar thing happened in the next pose, the Come Hither On The Chaise Lounge.

It was such a relief to see they ended up using the flattering Upstanding pose, the very first bunch of shots we’d done. I know how to best arrange my flesh!

The article was actually like a photographic montage of How Dietgirl Has Tried To Disguise Her Body over the past decade. Hiding behind the wedding bouquet in Las Vegas. Hiding behind the cake at my 21st birthday party. Hiding behind a brick wall at university. Heh heh heh. And I was still trying to hide now, with the dark jeans and the wrap top, but it’s nice to be at a point where you only need clothing for camouflage instead of brick walls.

. . .

Get a load of lovely Nicole here, she is getting hooked on a running! Hehe. You know I do read bazillions of blogs, but I read them sneakily via Bloglines so I don’t often get to comment. So in case you wondered if I am big snobbypants, just know that I am actually lurking and watching you closely like some perve in a raincoat.

So You Do Have Eyes, After All!

Now in other news, I was a kilo down on the Wednesday Weigh In. And RPM is still Hell on Wheels. I wish I could have pedalled into a pool last night, it was so stinking hot in the room. How do those Tour de France guys scoot all over the Pyrenees? I am beetroot and spluttering after three dinky little songs. RPM is a lot like running in that I want to weeeeeep about 20 minutes into it because everything huuuurts, Mummy! Can I have an icecream?

I always feel I’ll never make it. But of course must ride on, coz you’re in a room full of people and you don’t want to be known as the Wimpy McWimpyson who skulked out halfway. I am sure all this sweat and suffering must be good for me.

Thanks for your kick ass comments on the magazine story and photos! You guys rule the school. And yes Beckie dear, I am paying attention to what you guys are trying to tell me. Same goes for my mother’s hilarious text message: U R 1 FOXY LADY!!!.

I am really excited by the whole thing – and immensely grateful to Erin and the groovy publisher for the opportunity. Last entry I was just trying to convey how wacky and surreal it’s been, and how exposed I felt. Donna commented, "I bet you never imagined this when you started your journey!". That just about hits the nail on the head. As I wrote in Tales From The Scale, losing weight and transforming your body is like being a mad professor tinkering away in a lab on a top secret project. It’s a very private process and you don’t want people looking until you’re done.

This also goes for the writing – it’s felt like I’ve been doing that in secret too, even though there’s lots of you reading it feels rather cosy and unthreatening 🙂 After four and half years of the mad professor, suddenly there’s my big red mug in a very public magazine.  Initially I wanted to throw a blanket over my head and scream, "Look away! I’m not ready yet! Nothing to see here!".

And of course being a few pages away from Kate bloody Moss means you can’t help compare and contrast. My brain went into hypercriticism mode. For example, there was a photo of ten Grazia readers who’d won a contest to attend a party with David Coulthard and other Formula 1 stars. They were all tanned and slender and wearing those Sexy Little Dresses that folk with stomach rolls and jelly arms can only dream about. What was I doing in the same publication as these glamazons?

I had the same insecurities at the photo shoot. The photographer and makeup artist were both really friendly and nice. But for the whole three hours of the shoot all I could do was think, "You could staple these two chicks together and I would still be wider." They do lots of different photo shoots so they were asking me what MY story was about, and I found myself feeling really embarrassed to say it was about My Inspirational Weight Loss.

This whole experience has forced me to confront my self-perceptions. It seems despite losing a generous stack of weight, I still like to cling to a big greasy bucket full of Fat Girl beliefs.


  • I am immediately inferior to anyone in the room smaller than me
  • Any success I have is undeserved
  • People don’t really notice anything I do or say because my fat makes me invisible
  • My opinion and thoughts wouldn’t really count anyway
  • No matter how much weight I lose I will still look like A Big Girl to most people
  • I shouldn’t celebrate my weight loss success. People will just think, "Well why’d you get so fat in the first place?"
  • If I was to celebrate my achievements, people would think I was full of myself, therefore wouldn’t like me anymore… therefore it’s a better idea to be mediocre!

That last reason is why I have kept Dietgirl secret for so long and not even mentioned Tales From The Scale on my other blog. I worry they’ll think I’m a twat when they discover I’ve had this whole other Secret Internet Life for years and/or they’ll think I am a raging egomaniac.

I’m beginning to realise now that all of the above is pure bullshit. It’s like I am saying, "Here folks! Let me save you the energy of making assumptions about me, I’ve already done it for you!". Nobody thinks this shit about me. It is quite arrogant of me to assume that my intelligent friends and readers would think that way. It’s only me who thinks this rubbish and it is bloody ridiculous. I need to stop looking at the world through the eyes of the Fat Girl. There is so many things in life more important than fretting about fat, and I deep down I know this. But letting go means losing my favourite excuse and leaving my comfort zone. If you don’t try, you can’t fail.

I think I’m mostly talking about writing here. I’d half hoped the book wouldn’t be published in the UK then hoping the Grazia story would be pulled so nobody would notice me. I wanted to stay secret as Dietgirl: invisible and anonymous with friendly, sympathetic readers. If the Outside World™ paid any attention then there’d be the risk that someone might think I’m shithouse. But the real world is a scary place and if you sit around worrying what people think and don’t take some risks, you won’t get anywhere. I’ve managed to get over my Fat Girl Fears in terms of romance and travelling and running and RPM – so now I need to decide if I want to do that with the writing. It’s the last real chunk of my life where I am still holding myself back. So now it’s time to apply that fearlessness and determination to the thing that actually means more to me than anything else.

The thing that struck me the most about the women at my photo shoot was how comfortable and relaxed they seemed in their own skin. The makeup artist was so relaxed as she dabbed away at my mug, knowing exactly what colour she wanted to use and how to fix my hair. The photographer loped casually around the room, arranging the lighting and peering through viewfinders. So natural, so at ease. What was their secret? Where do I get me some of that? But then yesterday some of you commented how happy and relaxed I looked in the photo. At first I scoffed and snorted at the screen. But then I realised you guys were right. This may just be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written, but I am scared to admit I feel happy and more confident now. At first I felt like I was looking at a stranger in that picture, but that is really me these days. It doesn’t make you a flaming egofreak to like yourself. It just makes you someone getting on with things and living your life. I really wish I had realised this years ago.

CRIKEY! Holy navel gazing Batman. I realise how ridiculous this all may sound. Apologies, but I had to write my way through all these crazy thoughts. It’s taken five hours of deleting and rewriting this waffle today to finally figure out why I’ve been freaking out. Cheers again for being so patient and cool.

Buy A Copy For Yer Mum

So here is some groovy news. If you’re in the UK, grab a copy of this weeks Grazia magazine – Britain’s First Weekly Glossy! the one with Our Kylie on the front! – and turn to page 36. Nestled between the likes of Kate Moss and Denise Van Outen is… little ol Dietgirl!

Well, not exactly little. There is nothing to make you realise you’re not wee like seeing your big red head taking up a WHOLE FREAKING PAGE of a national magazine and then flipping over to see an article on the new trend of Ultra Skinny Jeans that you wouldn’t get your ankle into, let alone a whole leg.

I have swung from being mortified to gleeful to mortified for the past three months since this whole thing started. Let me fill you in! In April I got an email from this lovely chick who is the PR for the publishing house that are distributing Tales From The Scale here in the UK. Apparently Grazia had seen the book and were keen to publish an extract of my writing. 2000 words!

Thus sparked my first simultaneous Happy Dance/Fat Girl Freakout. I didn’t have a freaking clue that this book would even see the light of day in the UK. I am clueless about how these things work. The freakout stemmed from Dietgirl going into print and local people finding out about me and my secret lardy life. But from a writing point of view, I was excited. It was the first time I’d been in published in print media since my groundbreaking piece as an intern at the Canberra Times: Pensioners Welcome New Motorised Shopping Carts At Local Supermarket.

A few weeks later I heard from the writer, who was a really cool woman. She had cobbled together bits of my chapters into a cohesive piece, it flowed really well. All I had to write a couple more paragraphs to fill in some gaps and it all came together nicely. It then got subbed of course, so the final thing came out a wee bit different… a little cheesy but still a nice read.

The Grazia folk mentioned from the start that they’d need photos for the piece. As you know I had already asked my Mum earlier this year to send me some Fat Pics, but I got her on the case to find some more. They also told me someone would come to Edinburgh my photo for the piece, but I was in such denial that this whole thing would actual happen that I blocked that out of my mind. It was just too hilarious that a dork like me would be in a magazine. Part of me hoped the story would get pulled by an urgent Paris Hilton scoop or plastic surgery expose. So instead of stepping up my gymming, eating more carefully, getting facials or shopping for an outfit, I did sweet bugger all! This meant when the magazines Picture Desk contacted me on a Monday to arrange a photo shoot for Saturday, all I could was FREAK OUT!

Shopping for clothes makes me nauseous at the best of times. But pacing up and down Princes Street trying to find something that would make me look nice In A Full Length Photo! In A Glossy Magazine! sent me to near hysterics. The photographer to me to a) wear something I was comfortable in b) something that showed off my figure and c) something that wasn’t black. This ruled out approximately 100% of my wardrobe. A horrid feeling of panic churned in my guts as I went in and out of every clothing shop in Edinburgh only to find stuff that was too small, black or with tiny or non-existent sleeves that exacerbated my Arm Anxiety.

Ooh I wished I was a rich bastard with a personal shopper. If only my self-centred sister hadn’t have decided to further her career and move away and not be here to scout for outfits! How RUDE! Normally when I shop I get bored or cranky after an hour and give up and go home, but this time there was no wriggling out of it. I scouring the ships every lunchtime and every evening for the whole week. With each day that passed I cursed my laziness and lack of interest in fashion and grooming. Why had I left this to the last minute when I’d know for two months this was on the cards? Why hadn’t I bought some nice clothes as I’d shrunk? Why didn’t I have a bra that held my boobs up? Why had I eaten all those cakes?

I ended up finding a top at Monsoon the day before the shoot. The sleeves were short but I was desperate. Desperate, do you hear me? And I’d found another pair of jeans for the bargain price of £20 that were darker than the ones I got from Next, which looked more dressy. Cool.

So all I had to do before the shoot started on midday on Saturday was: find accessories and a new bra. I went to catch the early train but it was delayed by almost an hour. Arrgh! When I finally arrived I barely had an hour and flitted in and out of high street stores in a mad jingle jangle of bangles and jewels trying to find something ANYTHING to go with my top. Then I had to try and stab my earlobes as I’d not worn earring since the Vegas wedding and the holes had almost closed over. Ewww! My face was glowing red from stress and sweat. The whole thing took so long that I didn’t have time for a new bra.

The photo shoot went okay though, but that’s another entry in itself. I will skip forward five weeks til Tuesday when the magazine came out and I sat there on my step before Body Pump class staring down at the page muttering, "Oh no! Oh yes! How awful! How cool!".

For now I will just post a wee linky here to a zip file that has the scanned articles – three jpegs, one for each page. There is all new Before Pics in the article plus finally you get that oft-promise new progress pic! And my eyes ain’t blocked out this time! I will save my assortment of self-criticisms of how I look in the photo (squinty eyes! shiny cheeks! messy eyebrow! nanna arms!) for the next entry.

Click here to download (519kb, Zip file)

Please let me know in the comments if you have problems with the file!  Have to catch my train so I will correct typos later and post more about the whole thing in a day or two. Take care, groovers!