New Years Goals Check-in: June

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals.

We're 50% done with 2011! 

June highlights

  • Kettlebell Love. Wow that weird lump of iron makes you feel like such a badass. But a lot of the love is for lazy reasons. There's only one item to deal with: no faffing around switching plates on a barbell or putting dumbbells away afterwards. Makes it easier to get past the "I don't wanna" tantrums!
  • Bike Non-Hate. I cycled up my very first hill without stopping this month. I know most people achieve this when they're 8 years old, but one must celebrate the victories. I had to use the very lowest gear but at least I got up the bloody thing. I attribute the attitude improvement to this wee cycling computer. Now I can geek out on how fast (okay, how slow) I am going and how far I've been.
  • Six months of Food Mood Journal Spreadsheet completeness. Nerdgasms ahoy!
  • Six months of not gaining weight and actually very slowly losing, without being an obsessed dieting crazy lady. That feels great after steadily expanding for so long.

June lowlight

  • I completely unravelled for about ten days. There have been some challenging times lately and I managed to carry on with the mindful habits for a good while, but for awhile this month I lost it. It started innocently with running out of yogurt for breakfast leading to me deciding to buy a pastry from Starbucks, then a chocolate after lunch, then skipping a few workouts, then feeling really crap then just wallowing that feeling. And while being aware of exactly why I felt crap (which is progress in some ways), I decided to continue feeling crap by making poor choices, not planning meals, ignoring hunger signals and not pausing to think before I ate.

The positives: I've returned to the healthy habits so much faster than previous setbacks. I'm back to Tuning In and the meal planning is sorted so July is looking better.

Mid-Term Review
It's been a modest kind of year so far. But when I think about my mental state and the inability to breathe in my jeans back on January 1, it feels like real progress.

July plans

  • Improved consistency with strength training – twice a week minimum. Need to remember how much I enjoy it when thinking of ditching it for a cuppa and a book!
  • Cycling cycling and more cycling. There's only three months til Cycletta, eep.

Hope you're all well… thank you gazillions for reading. Apologies for the cobwebs on the blog lately!

I’ll huff and I’ll puff

Man, it truly sucks not being as a fit as you once were. When I was on my way down from 350 pounds, I'd only ever known being unfit. I graduated from last place in school running races to later wheezing up staircases and needing a rest after hanging out the washing. So when I lost weight and walked further and lifted heavier weights, it was all new ground! I'd created a version of myself that hadn't existed before. Shauna Version 2.0 was so bloody amazing compared to the creaky, red-faced model I'd always known.

But now I'm in this new situation where I am looking back longingly at this previous, speedier version. Shauna Version 3.0 is just not there right now.

I'm talking pure physical fitness here – pleeeease don't write to tell me I'm putting myself down. Let me explain.

At the moment I am working on making exercise a healthy, regular habit again. As I said in the podcast on Monday my kickboxing attendence has been very shoddy this year. Partially because of my Zumba love affair but mainly because I was traumatised by my 120 seconds of competition fighting last November. I never managed to fashion that hilarious humiliation into a blog entry.

But anyway! After that girl clobbered me I was terrified of kickboxing for a long while. I felt ill every time a punching glove was waved in my direction. I literally ran away every time Coach said it was time for sparring. Up the stairs and away home, as fast as my trembling legs could carry me!

Months passed and I was down to one or two classes a month. But I was really missing my comrades and punching things. Pads, kick shields, speed balls. Not people, you see. It occurred to me that HEY maybe I could just go to the classes for the friends and fitness and learning new moves… and just not do the fighting part at the end? Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

(Funny how hard it was to admit that the fighting wasn't for me. You'd think wanting to vomit every time I faced an opponent would have been a clue. Hmm!)

So I was really chuffed about this revelation and rocked up back to class ready for action… only to find that holy crap, I have lost a lot of fitness. Gaining weight has not helped… everything wobbles when I do jumping jacks; a most unpleasant sensation. And I don't have the stamina in my shoulders for long periods of punching. I can't kick nearly as high. My push-ups are wimpy. My once infatigable abs give out after 10 reps.

What is amusing stroke ego-crushing is that in my MIND (o'erbrimming with Comeback Enthusiasm) I expected to proceed as before! I would throw myself into a move and then be stunned (and whining in agony) when BODY SAYS NO. You are not Version 2.0 anymore!

I will admit, there have been some classes where I am fighting not to sob all over my gloves, feeling so angry at myself letting it get this bad. It was hard enough getting fit from a place of complete unfitness, but trying to get fit knowing you once were pretty fit but you cocked it all up? That is hard to swallow!

Especially when your team mates, who were already way fitter than you even when you were fit-ish, have been attending angellically all year and are now even fitter than they were last year which makes your current unfitness even more unfit! Does that even make any sense?

But dudes. I am being very zen about this. I do love kickboxing – I really missed it and I love being back there. When I think about exercise now I am thinking about the habits I want to carry into old age, and punching things is part of that plan. So for now I am just gritting my teeth and getting on with it. Okay I am not really gritting my teeth because I am too busy gasping for breath… but I am sticking with it.

And on that note must nick off for tonight's class 🙂

UPDATE: I said in the comments below that I had a déjà vu re the "previous versions" of oneself and thought PastaQueen had said something similar before. Turns out she had… whoops! Here is the entry in question.

It ain’t just a river

ThinkingThere is a mutant breed of Positive Thinking that is called Denial.

Like if you decide to focus on the many many many great things in your life, and ignore the black cloud that's hovered over for months and months.

Or if you write selectively about that one good day or that one cool thing that happened, and forget about the twenty good days that didn't happen because you were hiding from your friends and eating toast on the couch instead.

Or if you focus on that one kick-arse kickboxing class you did this week, and ignore the five sneaky chocolate bar wrappers in your handbag.

Or if you tell yourself you really love this dark baggy daggy sweater, it's not because you want to be invisible. You were never one for dressing up all foxy-like anyway!

Or if you smile when a colleague comments on your Ultra Healthy Lunch, even though you're contemplating a cupcake run as you fork in the lettuce.

Or if you admit to your excellent husband, I feel as low and hopeless and lost as I did way back when I was 350 pounds… but since you're fitter than ever and your clothes still fit (ish) and chairs don't collapse beneath you, you've got nothing to whine about really!

Or if you've fancied writing a ranty blog entry about feeling awful, but don't do it because you know you have no real reason to feel awful and you'll get a Get Over Yourself email from a stranger, and what's the point because after all you're only One Good Day away from feeling fantastic again!

But how bad do things have to get before it's bad enough? How rubbish do you have to feel before you treat yourself with some kindness and self respect again? Does it have to be an extreme like morbid obesity or can't-leave-the-house-depression before you DO something?

Dude! You can tell yourself that you're a Glass Half Full person but if the glass is full of crap, that's not a very appetising beverage.

After the happy ending

I wrote this guest post for Refuse To Regain as part of the Dietgirl Virtual Book Tour. I've archived it here as I know lots of people stalk their way through the archives and it's a very important entry, explaining where I'm at now in terms of my maintenance struggles adventures! Be sure to stop by at Refuse To Regain - it's a fabulous blog and resource for maintainers.

My first year of maintenance was easy. I think I cruised through on euphoria alone. Every day in my new body was an adventure – I rejoiced in my new clothes, new fitness and new ability to fit inside bathtubs.

Later that year I finished writing a book that charted my six-year, 175-pound weight loss journey. I was still giddy with excitement as I churned out the Epilogue. My body is something to savor and celebrate, I wrote. Every time I put on lipstick and high heels it feels like I'm singing to world about the joy I've found within.

The second year was a different story. Everything was messy and unpredictable. I was simultaneously renovating our apartment, starting a demanding new job and promoting my book in the UK and Ireland. I also took on big fitness challenges, such as training for kickboxing grades and a marathon walk. As the year dragged on there were personal issues and a serious financial scare, then we sold our apartment and moved house.

As a result my maintenance efforts were chaotic. I'd alternate weeks of intense exercise with weeks of nothing at all. I'd buy takeout too often then go crazy with healthy cooking to compensate. I wrestled the same ten pounds all year long, pinging up and down the scale. Instead of high heels and celebrations, it was more brooding on the couch in my sweatpants.

Meanwhile, my inbox was flooded with messages from people who'd read my book. You're such an inspiration! You're living the happy ending! You must be so proud! I didn't feel proud or inspiring. Sure I've lost a few pounds but look at me now! I'm barely holding it together! If those kind readers knew how much I struggled, they'd demand a refund! I felt like a fraud as I answered their email questions about my exercise program, instead of actually doing my exercise program. I made jokes about my woes on my blog, not wanting to alienate readers new and old with too much doom and gloom. But the negativity crept in. I spoke about maintenance with words like "struggle" and "battle" and "never-ending stinkfest".

There were times when I could have cheerfully burned my book. I bugged the heck out of myself with my optimism and irritating self acceptance. I was just plain jealous of Book Shauna, to be honest. I could barely believe that was me who'd lost all that weight and stuck at it for so many years. How did I start wanting change more than chocolate? That determined girl seemed like a stranger and I worried I'd never find her again.

The third year of maintenance was rapidly approaching and I was desperate to make it different. It was a lot like the start of my weight loss mission – I thought someone else must have the secret. I started reading blogs written by fellow maintainers, such as this one. I stalked through their archives, looking for magic solutions. But instead of magic, I read about hard work and persistence; the ability to learn from mistakes and pick yourself back up after a crappy day. Or even a crappy month or year.

I finally had my DUH moment. Maintenance was really no different from weight loss. Sometimes it is fabulous and sometimes it sucks. And that's okay.

I think part of me thought that writing THE END on my manuscript would mean The End of the struggle and The End of learning stuff. Surely after six ridiculous years of lard-busting I'd have figured out my Issues for good? But life doesn't stop when you close a book. The story plows on, the character keeps evolving. Holding on to that happy ending is hard work.

A few months on I'm starting to feel more at peace with the realities of maintenance. I'm starting to live and breathe that happy ending again, albeit without the delirium of the first year. Life is still stupidly busy, but I remembered the best thing I learned in the weight loss phase – the journey is easier when you make it enjoyable. Last year I was falling back into the arms of my old dieter's mindset – all or nothing thinking, expecting perfection, dwelling on mistakes and not savouring the good stuff. But now I want to celebrate how far I've come, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it or taking it for granted. Maintenance doesn't seem like such a drag when I take time out to find the joy in the little things. The peacefulness of a Pilates stretch. The gleeful clobbering of my kickboxing class. The wholesome smugness of a healthy day's eating. I'm ready to dust off those high heels and lipsticks.

The Weary Squirrel

I'm back from me holidays! We attempted to balance all the whisky, cooked Scottish breakfasts and Cadbury Top Deck with lots of walking – to big rocks, steep steps and a pair of Munros.

Mysterious Jenny on Ben Lawers.

I'm pleased to report that Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas were my least whiny hills ever. Partially because they were touristy fellas, side by side with non-scary paths. But also because my mate Jenny was there and I didn't want to look like a wuss. So there was only one obscene gesture and a wee bit of stick waving!

Cadbury Top Deck - Jenny brought it over from Oz!
We need to start a lobby group to bring this to the UK.

. . .

It's been awhile between entries – sorry you had to look at my boofy cheeks for so long. No matter where I've been on the scales, I've always had chubby cheeks that grandmothers love to squeeze. Gareth once said they were like "little cushions". That a weary squirrel might rest upon!

. . .

A year ago this week I was dancing in the streets after handing in my manuscript. "La la la!" I said, "I AM DONE WITH THIS WEIGHT LOSS SHIT and I am never going to think of it again!"

Then I ate a packet of Marks & Spencer choc-coated strawberries.

Of course I remembered the next day that you are never done, sucker. Ever since then it has been a challenge – no, let's not downplay it – it's been a constant, shitty struggle to get the balance right. I so badly want to stay healthy without needing to be a slave to scales and calories, but I have to bear in mind the brutal reality that when it comes to food, I got issues. I can't pretend that I don't need to think about it.

It's like my peanut butter fork. I keep a jar of PB in my desk at work and I like to spread a wee bit on spelt crackers. For the past couple of months I've being doing this with a plastic fork. Part of my brain screams, "This isn't working! This ain't the tool for the job!" and the other part of my brain says, "Oh shuddup. Sure it's messy and the cracker is cracking up all over the keyboard but it sort of does the trick, right?"

Likewise I've been letting everything get chaotic. I cram more and more into the day, not sleeping properly, eating too much, feeling like crap but telling myself I'm still good! I'm still good, just because my guts have not yet exploded out of my jeans. I keep diggin' and diggin' with my plastic fork. 

Last Wednesday on the Isle of Skye, we hauled our arses up to the Old Man of Storr. There was a polite sign near the big rock that said, You are advised not to go beyond this point. There's no better sign than an actual SIGN!

Old Man of Storr
Dr G laughs in the face of danger.

Hmm hmm hmm. I really need to stop and get my priorities in order, before I burn out and bloat up. And/or become an annoying wanker who claims to be too busy to peel an orange.

. . .

Ooh I gotta write about the Moonwalk! Next time Gadget. Next time. Hope you're all doing well!

En route to the Old Man of Storr
Heading up to the Old Man of Storr.

Comeback #457

Back in the saddle today! It’s been three weeks of sickness and sloth and sloppy eating, with no exercise except the blowing of the nose. I hit the wall in York yesterday as I stared down into the remains of a tasty pub lunch of steak pie with mash and veg. My belly burbled, Why are you feeding me all this pastry? And all these animals? Why haven’t you been taking me for walks?

I have long accepted that there will always be times when I lose it for awhile – circumstances conspiring to disrupt the routine… or me just eating too bloody much. But it is weird, even in the actual moment of overdoing, I don’t seem to feel the old shame and panic anymore, nor the urge to carry on scoffing into oblivion. It’s more like, Righto. I’ll enjoy this here pie now and get on with the porridge and kickboxing as soon as.

But lordy it sucks getting back into the routine. How many million times have I been here? I had a nice healthy salad sandwich for lunch and stocked the desktop pantry with oatcakes and apples and bananas and oranges and peanut butter but I just wanted to bellow, BORRRRRRRING! like Homer Simpson. Then I arrived at the gym for kickboxing after a shitty day to discover I’d left my trainers at home. Nothing like that spluttering rage that comes from doing something stupid that can be blamed on noone but you. I stomped back downstairs and said to the receptionist, "I left my shoes at home! Can’t do the class! What a shame eh?" Then my friend Vicky arrived and pointed out I still had time to trot home and get my shoes and only miss ten minutes. "OH ALRIGHT THEN," I said. Foiled!

But I’m glad I fetched them, even if I arrived back in time for a fitness test. Apparently they do this every six months. This annoyed me because we had a CHART to fill in and lack of exercise has left me weak and totally not PRIMED for the event… so my chart wouldn’t be as good as it could be! I got all competitive and pathetic and even stole glances at other peoples charts in order to become even more competitive and pathetic. It was all, how many quivering push ups can you do in a minute (bugger all), how many axe kicks (57 left leg, 60 right), how many backhanded fist punch thingoes before you swear your arm is going to fall out of it’s socket (170-something), how many lunges (barely 20! stupid knee!), how many straight punches… I can’t remember but surely it was HEAPS!?

I take the mouth-frothing desire to improve these statistics as a sign that I am on the comeback trail, despite still not being able to hear properly. Woohoo!

. . .

First law of blogging: Never blog after midnight. Second law of blogging: Never blog while upset. I did both at 1AM today in spectacular fashion. SCORE!

Then after much tossing and turning I woke at 5AM feeling like a twit. So I deleted the entry, forgetting that all the people subscribed to the site via the RSS feed had already seen it. Derr! Sorry you guys had to witness such raw panic in motion.

The gist of the entry was: I received an email from someone who was extremely angry that I hadn’t responded to their email of three weeks ago. My tiny mind made the short leap from one angry person to the possibility of whole armies of angry persons – due to the current backlog of emails – and all of them thinking I was a heartless evil sell-out. Thus I spewed out the 1AM Entry o’ Turmoil!

Important lessons have been learned here. One, You just cannae please everyone.

Two, there’s only so many hours a day. Day job, family, friends, book stuff, bathing, kicking things – these must also be dealt with and I’ve been trying like a bastard to keep up with it all. I get such really hilarious, heartfelt and/or heartbreaking emails and want to break out the Scotch Finger biscuits and blether with you all, but I need to be realistic about what can physically be done each day.

Three, my contact page needed a tweak. For a long time I’ve had a disclaimer that responses can be slow due to my o’erflowing inbox, but because of the current volume the disclaimer needed to be strengthened.

Cheers m’dears and hope your Monday is/was a goodun.

That’ll Do, Pig

Why is snot?
Where does it start and why won’t it stop?

I’m sure that statement could be wrangled into a totally brilliant haiku or something, but I’m too snotty and miserable to bother. It’s been a week and that cold is still hanging around. From Friday to Tuesday I was proper, Couch and Toast ill. Now it’s just the annoying dregs that aren’t quite horrible enough to justify time off work. Today all the symptoms have rushed to my head. I’m deaf in one ear, it feels like something is about to explode. I’m also treating my colleagues to regular nose-blowing concertos. Next up: The Blue Danube. Da da da da daaaaaaaa – HONK HONK! HONK HONK!

It’s not just my body that’s hopeless right now; my brain is below par too. Please excuse this substandard excuse for a blog entry. I know there are a lot of new people swinging by here lately who are probably thinking, Who is this snotty moron and what fool gave her a book deal? I assure I do have my articulate moments. Please don’t run away! I’ll come good again soon.

An example of my braindeadedness: Mistress Anne of Elastic Waist invited me to partake in their brand new Naked segment, all about beauty and body image. On Wednesday night I spent five hours in front of the computer trying to answer those five little questions. With the way I was gurning at the screen you’d think I’d been asked to solve the third world debt or the Brittney Spears Conundrum.

It just SUCKS when you brain and body won’t do what they’re told. I think I’ve taken them both for granted lately, assuming they’ll always perform. I’m doing my best to be patient and rest, but I have to admit there’s a wee bit of panic there. How long is this going to take? I got miles to walk and emails to reply to. And still the answer seems to be: Settle, petal!

I got stuck on one Anne’s questions: When do you feel most beautiful? I don’t know if I ever feel beautiful. Maybe it’s an Australian thing, but I’d feel like a turkey even thinking that, as though a pack of high school bitches would jump out of my wardrobe and say, "You’re SO up yourself!" (oh how I miss Australian phrases like up yourself) then flush my head down the loo.

Babe But I spose I do feel sort of mildly pretty, inside and out. The best way I can describe what I feel when I look in the mirror is like the end of the movie Babe when James Cromwell pats the wee pig on the head and says, "That’ll do pig. That’ll do."

Not that I think I look like a PIG, mind you. It’s just that I feel a quiet peace with how I look. At this very moment, with red eyes and half the skin sandpapered off my Rudolph nose, I don’t feel particularly gorgeous. But for the most part, especially with lipstick involved, I just nod and smile and think, "Yep, we’re doing alright, no worries. Let’s go out into the world!"

UPDATE: Tis Sunday morning. I started this entry on Friday but got distracted. Today the snot has subsided but the deafness has morphed into the Excruciating Ear of Doom. Now it’s ringing like I’d been to ten consecutive Iron Maiden concerts. There’s also an oceanic whooshing sound. And PAIN like you would not believe. I called NHS 24, the government’s out of hours doctor service. The nurse told me to take painkillers and call the doc tomorrow. IF my eardrum hasn’t exploded all over the house before then

At least the nurse was nice. They should rename the service to NHS Virtual Mum, because when I described my symptoms she was all, Poor hen. Ooh I know. Ooh I know dear. An ear ache is never nice. Poor thing. Now THAT is what you really want when your real mother is on the other side of the planet. That is why I pay my taxes.

What concerns me more than the pain and deafness is that I went to a Curry and SingStar Night with my work pals on Friday evening. SingStar is that Playstation game that’s like fancy lounge room karaoke. Bolstered by about half an inch of wine, I really got carried away. I belted out I Should Be So Lucky, Hungry Like The Wolf, Parklife, Tutti Frutti, I Got You Babe, I Heard A Rumour and two Franz Ferdinand songs. The combination of half-deafness and that half inch of wine made me believe I sounded fantastic. But this morning I had a tentative warble in the bathroom and realised I sound like dog turds! My voice is pissweak enough in good health but right now it is a total drone. I can’t believe I subjected my colleagues to hours of that. There’s no way in hell I was hitting any of those notes. Especially in the particularly rousing sections of Total Eclipse of the Heart. At least if this earache does me in, I’ll never have to face them again.

Just in case I’m not back in a timely manner and you are looking for a means of passing the time, here is a nice interview I did with the Irish Examiner with only one swear word – click here.

Total Eclipse of the Lungs

Bonnie_tyler Over the past month I’ve watched friends and colleagues be slain by various colds and bugs. I sailed along untouched, thinking the power of citrus and green vegetables made me invincible. But the wee tickle in my throat has turned into a bark and I’ve got a fever and more gravel in my voice than Bonnie Tyler. D’oh!

You know those adverts for flu tablets, where a red-nosed woman juggles three toddlers in one hand and a multinational corporation in the other while the voiceover sighs, In Today’s Modern World, I Just Don’t Have Time For A Cold! I would always snort, "Shut up, you overpaid martyr! Nobody’s that busy!" But this year, despite not having kids nor a briefcase, I’ve discovered such insane levels of activity. Which is fair enough because I’ve been coasting along for 30 years in a truly half-arsed manner. I only blog about the ACTION, which might create some sort of illusion of a wildly exciting life, but really it’s mostly been me faffing around and shouting at televisions.

Anyway, I feel like shite today. It’s a good excuse to put on my tracky dacks (that’s Australian for sweatpants) and my baffies (that’s Scots for slippers) and curl up on the couch with a book. I’m supposed to do an eight-mile training walk tomorrow but I might need to postpone until Sunday. I feel twitchy at the thought of NOT ticking off that box on the training schedule but I spose one should listen to ones body. Right now the body says: LET THERE BE TOAST.

. . .

In other news, apparently the Dietgirl book has flapped its way down to South Africa (thanks Moira!). I think it might also have made it to India, as there was a little mention in The Hindu that charmed my pants off:

"The concerns about obesity and how to beat it finds expression through the ‘Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl.’ … The interested may also Google their way to her blog for more information."

Bon weekend, groovers!

Dietgirl Contest: The Winners

Can I just say I am having a dirty cow of a week. I would like to know what are you supposed to do when you feel ultra-stressed that doesn’t involve diving face-first into a vat of Smarties or buying stuff. I went out at lunch today and the brain was racing: CHOCOLATE no don’t need any more chocolate STUFF no don’t need any more stuff OK THEN WHAT ABOUT A MAGAZINE coz that’s not edible.

So I stood in the queue at Marks and Spencer and by the time it was my turn I realised the magazine was a bit shit. January issues of magazines are always so skimpy. Anyway, I skulked back to the office and wondered if my head would explode.

This never really gets any easier, does it? Stress is always going to come along and my reaction is always going to be: how can we instantly soothe this uncomfortable sensation? You can’t Take A Bubble Bath or Phone An Understanding Friend when you’re in the office at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

In the end I went to the gym after work. Franz Ferdinand’s first album is like purpose-built interval training. So many handy changes of tempo! After 40 minutes of that I felt alright. Better-ish. It’s just annoying sometimes, how you never get to stop dealing with this stuff. It’s always there. Stress. The siren song of the vending machine.

. . .

DG: I can’t make up my miiiind!
Dr G: Well, you’re f*cked then.
DG: They’re all too goooood!
Dr G: That’s you being Australian with your egalitarian outlook.

I’ve been angsting for three hours and wanted to pick three Grand Prize winners for the Scavenger Hunt, but UN Ambassdor Gareth said that changing the rules would be unfair and devalue the competition. Then there’s that whole issue of not actually having three Grand Prizes.

It also would have been easier had I made the contest totally random, instead of 9/10ths random, and just said, "leave a comment if you want to win a book". That way maybe bazillions of people would have entered and I wouldn’t be feeling so angsty about the winner:non-winner ratio we have now.

But I wanted to have a contest with a bit more fun and interaction, and it’s been great to gawking at such imagination, humour and resourcefulness. THANK YOU for all your time and effort! If I had 35 copies I’d send you one each, honest guv.

But ten is all I quite literally have. It went down to the wire, but the Grand Prize goes to Anji of Operation 100. I loved her canine Elvis and her Greek Citizen yogurt. She showed great inventiveness and style and really got into the spirit things.

Next up, merciful RANDOMNESS! I wrote all remaining entry numbers on little squares of paper (as determined by order of receipt, see bedazzling official list) and chucked em in a Cadbury Roses tin then thoroughly shoogled it about. Gareth reached in and drew out nine numbers, while simultaneously watching a documentary about Pink Floyd. This is your guarantee that the numbers were not peeked at! Here’s what came out:

30. Piabella
4. Lucinda
12. Sillymonkey
14. Marla
33. Tanya
11. Heather
23. Mel
19. Sara
28. Stephanie

I’ll be contacting the winners soon to get your postal details sorted.

Be sure to check out the entry list to see just how good these entries were and how torturous my decision was 🙂 THANKS AGAIN everyone for playing along and hope you had a hoot!


Bagel Belly

Here I am back on British soil. Damp, dark British soil! But it’s nice to be home. While we were away, the leaves were busy morphing into even toastier shades of gold. Those leaves still left on the trees, that is. Bare branches against a grey sky are always a beautiful sight, anyway.

So, I LOVE AMERICA. It always shows us a good time. The people are glorious. I want to go back nnnnow! I can’t decide if San Francisco or Chicago or New York is my favourite city so far. I think New York has the edge right now; I still feel so hyper and exhilarated and grinny. It’s like those dizzy days when you first fall in love and everything in the world suddenly seems more colorful and sexy. What a town!

But now I’m thinking of all those other unexplored states. In my alternative lottery-winning fantasy life, I have jacked in my job and I’m driving around America for months and months in an obnoxious tank of a vehicle until the immigration people kick me out. Look out people. Toot toot!

. . .

In days of yore, I always came back from holiday and filed a report en blog re: What I Ate Abroad, often footnoted with loathing and remorse. But these days it seems I can be let out of the country without gnawing everything in sight. In fact I was so overcome with excitement and delirium (or drink?) in the first two days in New York that – gasp – I lost my appetite. We had dinner with a friend on the second night at an Argentinian place and I barely nibbled a third of my main course. Then when the manager presented us with a free mega platter of spectacular desserts and I all I could muster were a few idle bites. There just seemed to be too much else going on to bother with food. All those sights and sounds and craziness!

But by day four the stomach was back! I made my way through my Things To Eat In NYC list. Things I’d read about in food blogs, mostly, like famous cupcakes and pizza and burgers. But I was very modest and had just one of each of those things, instead of multiple sortees. A much better way of doing things, methinks.

(TANGENT: Every time I ate my lunch in a New York park, I would casually fluff my hair and look around in the hope of seeing the Elastic Waist dears filming an episode of Are You Out To Lunch. That’s where they ask random punters to guess how many calories are in their lunches. It’s my favourite thing on EW, and not just because the Nutrition Data Center guy is foxy. ANYWAY, despite sending ESP messages and thinking very hard about the calorie content of my Shake Shack burger and making sure I didn’t get it all over my face, etcetera, I didn’t see Sarah and her microphone. Hehe.)

ANYWAY, methinks I’ve gained a bit of lard. It is so bloody annoying how small my threshold is. Despite being choosy and walking a bazillion miles a day, I was still eating far more than I would at home. And a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast at the hotel each day is far more stodgy than I’d normally have. But bloody delicious, mind you 🙂

After five days of bagel brekkies I could feel my UK size 14 jeans clinging unpleasantly to my thighs and belly. This was the same day I tried on a size 10 US petite dress and it was too big… so that ego trip didn’t last long, mwahaha. (And I really liked that bloody dress too. I thought if I crossed my fingers and stared hard at it, the power of my mighty thoughts would make a petite size miraculously grow long enough to cover my podgy knees… WRONG!)

So now I am back home and faced with the task of getting back to normal. And all I can say to that is (Homer Simpson voice) – BORRRRRRRING! There is nothing more tedious than that Home From Holidays thing, where you realise the fun is over and you have to plan the meals and order the groceries and wash your skanky clothes and resume your exercise routine. Life… it keeps rolling on!

My exercise routine has been pathetic for the past few months – sporadic heroism of bike rides and mountain climbs with very little everyday grunt sessions in between. So I am going back to how I did things earlier this year – before I descended into Manuscript Deadline Hermit Hysteria – and that’s the good old Weekly Exercise Plan. It starts on Monday evening with a return to kick boxing class. I booked in this afternoon. I am committed! Woohoo!

This weekend may involve some walking and weights but mostly socialising because I turned 30 yesterday! I grow old, I grow old. But thirty feels good, I tell you. At the start of this year I was still obsessed with the idea that I had to get a certain number on the scales before I turned 30 OR ELSE I would be the biggest loser in the universe. But writing that darn book made me look long and hard at my life helped me let go of that freaky dieting mentality for good. So I say let’s dive into them thirties with a delicious sense of sanity and joy and pride and healthiness for living in this ol’ body of mine.

This entry was brought to you by the letter J for JETLAG!