Back In MY Day

There was a cracker of an article the last Observer Food Monthly about food in the Olden Days. They interview some senior cits about their memories of food and eating over the years. It’s fascinating stuff. We take for granted the absolute abundance of food choices we have today. During the war years these people ate the likes of powedered eggs and Mock Apricot Flan (made with carrots and margarine). Mmm mmm.

A great quote from 91-year-old Bill Deedes:

I don’t think it is the food people eat today which makes them unhealthy. I can’t blame the supermarkets or fast food. I blame it on the ubiquitousness of the motor car. We really don’t eat much more than people did in the18th or 19th centuries, but we need to learn that if you do moderately frequent exercise you can eat more or less whatever you want. We mustn’t put too much emphasis on what is eaten, rather on what activities are done. I go for walks in the wood and I drive golf balls in a field near my house most days.

Marguerite Patten, 88 was a home economist to the Ministry of Food during World War II. She used to go about the country doing cooking demonstrations to how to make the most of their food rations. This part in particular was food for thought:

Today, I think that we are a divided nation when it comes to food. Half of us love food and cooking and the other half subsist on ready meals. I have nothing against ready meals per se… but it does make me angry that we worked so hard to keep people healthy during the war, with so little food, and, now we have an abundance, a great number of people are nowhere near as healthy as they should be.

You can read the full article here.

. . .

Most of my gym classes are at 6pm, and since the gym is next to my bus stop I usually go straight there after work than going home first. I arrived at 5pm yesterday and instead of curling up on the lovely leather couches for my usual catnap, I thought maybe I should actually use that time productively. So I ventured into the cardio theatre.

I have been at that gym for about 16 months now, and had only been on the machines twice before. It just intimidated the hell out me, that endless grind of treadmills and skinny people all slick and shiny with sweat. But today I thought to hell with em! I am paying just as bloody much, I have the right to gallumph on a treadmill. I did 20 minutes on an incline, including five whole minutes of running!  I never really timed how long my bursts of running were when outdoors, so I was well pleased to see I could keep going. That ain’t no marathon, so stop laughing – but I had to save some energy for my Body Pump class! Also I didn’t have my running shoes on, I didn’t want to wreck my legs. So I hopped off and did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine. Fark! I’d forgotten how evil they were! By the time I shuffled into my Pump class my legs were jelly.

Needless to say the class hammered me. I hadn’t been for five weeks. Ouch. And the instructor was Kiwi Vanessa, who is officially The Best Instructor In The Universe. I think I have one of those non-sexual crushes on her. She is so nice but so tough so I can’t drop my weights coz I want to impress her. Ha ha! Anyway, she is totally bossy and prowls around the class correcting people’s form. I didn’t get corrected once, woohoo!

I have been taking Pump classes for close to three years now and I managed to pick up tips from her last night. She has the most incredible way of describing how these exercises are supposed to feel, how you should be moving. For example, in the Back/Hamstring track when you do the clean and press move, most instructors break it down by saying you do an upright row then flip the bar under, then up into the shoulder press. Which is correct, but as Vanessa pointed out, a lot of people end up finding their shoulders are doing their work, not the legs. So she suggested you don’t do a complete upright row, maybe just halfway, then when you turn the bar over and catch it, you let your thighs take the impact. So you’re almost in a squat position. Then when you push up, make sure your legs and arms straighten simultaneously to make sure it’s your legs doing the work. It is impossible to describe this but just that subtle change of not doing a complete upright row really made me feel a difference.

Another tip she had was about tricep press-ups. Instructors always give an alternative for normal press-ups, ie. on your knees, but they aren’t as good telling you what to do if you’re too weak to do tricep pressups. Vanessa actually gave a beginners variation so you can FEEL SOMETHING even if you’re a spazz like me. I had been mucking it up all this time.

I felt so inspired and happy after the gym last night! So did my sister. And unlike Tuesday night, (Return to Body Jam) I didn’t make a dick of myself. Tuesday night Vanessa was getting us to practice a samba move, a backwards step, and I stepped back alright – straight into a pile of Reebok steps. It is very hard to hide quietly up the back of a class when 30 people turn around to look who’s making that bloody racket.

Are You Ready For My Jelly?

Sometimes I feel I should write a new entry, it’s usually on a Wednesday or Thursday. But it seems every time I write such an entry and crap on about how good I’m feeling and how I KNOW I’m going to lose on Monday, Monday rolls around and then I gain. And then I get upset about the gain and I feel to disappointed to write. But if I don’t write in here at all, I miss the support and feedback from you guys and I end up gaining.

Hmmm.

Anyway, I had a good week last week, I got back on track with my eating. I did three Pump classes. I LOVE the Pump classes! It’s been about five weeks now and I am sprouting muscle like you wouldn’t believe. It’s hard to see under the fat, but baby, you can FEEL IT! Oh I love it. My quads (front of thigh) are so hard. Hee hee. I made my flatmate feel them. Feel my legs! Feeeeeeeeeeeeel them! And my arms! Phwoar! There’s so much muscle there now. What a pity about the flab covering them, eh?

Anyway, I love the weights. It’s so fun! So so so good! I love it. It’s easy to push yourself in a Pump class, because all you have to do is add more weight to your bar. First class I could only use the smallest weight (1.25kg on each side = 2.5 kg all up) but now I am squatting with 10 kilos and my other weights have gone up too. LOVE IT! Love it love it. It can only get better, baby! More weights. More more more. Of course, the secret is good form, so I only increase the weight when I am confident that I am doing the exercises properly.

To show how addicted I am: Monday night I do Pump at 6.30. This means I have to Weigh And Run at WW. It doesn’t give me much time. So I weighed and ran and arrived at the gym at 6.25pm. And there were NO WEIGHTS LEFT! Despite us booking our place in the class and everything. Even if there HAD been weights there would have been no room on the floor. There must have been 35 bloody people jammed into that room. And we were #4 and #5 on the list! I was so angry! They shouldn’t overbook like that. All we could do was leave. The gym floor was too crowded to work out there, too. So I had to storm home. I was so pissed off! I had been looking forward to the workout all bloody day long. Wah. I felt all ansty and cranky for the whole night. I guess I am addicted to the rush of exercise. Who would have thought that fat ol ME would love exercise? Amazing.

Anyway. I gained 0.1 kg at WW. That is like 0.05 lb. Pah! I should have gone to the bathroom before class! I was positive I’d had a good loss, I felt smaller, but then we had a big lunch at work, whereas I normally eat very light on Mondays. So of course I was all thunderously cranky after that. I felt like never coming back to WW. Seriously, what is the point? I am building muscle like a mofo so the scales are not my friend. I need to focus on the other things I’m doing well.

Hmm what else? I am still hooked on Body Combat. Pow! Great stress release. I also even tried a new class called Body Jam, which is basically dancing! You do hip hip songs and latin and R&B, it’s SO much fun. I was absolutely TERRIBLE at it. My legs kept getting all tangled up, it was such a fast pace, and the moves so complicated! I’d never sweated so much in my whole life! But I didn’t care, I kept going. It was a lot of fun. How could you go wrong with a class where you get to shake your ass to Destiny’s Child singing Bootylicious?

I am telling you people, exercise is GOLD. Exercise is amazing for your body. Your body will love you for it. In January, I could not walk ONE BLOCK without stopping and clutching my chest and feeling like I would cry from exhaustion. I was in serious trouble. But now! Man! I can’t get enough exercise! It makes me feel good! WW meetings can not give me that kind of motivation and inspiration.

The key is finding an activity you like. People told me that when I started, but I said "I don’t like any activity!". But that was a cop-out. You have to work to find it! Try different things. I’ve tried walking, I’ve tried gym workouts (treadmill, bike etc), I’ve done swimming and now classes at the gym. And FINALLY I worked out that the classes are what works best for me. I just turn up there 4-5 times a week, and for a good solid hour I work out, and I am told what to do, I am pushed, I am not allowed to stop. I don’t have to think for myself. I can’t make excuses. And you know what else? There’s MUSIC! I listen to music all the time at work to get me through the day, so why not apply that to exercise? I find it easy to exercise when I can move my butt to the beat.

So I finally worked out what works for me. It took about 10 months of trying to work it out. You could probably do it sooner. But hey, I am big fat slug and I’m slow πŸ˜› So there. But I urge you, stop fretting over the scale and MOVE YOUR BUTT πŸ™‚

Finally, I love you lovely chickens who wrote/guestbooked over the past month when I’ve been in a very bad sad depressed way. You lifted my spirit so much and while I still have a few more emails to write, I have nearly replied to everyone. You have no idea how much of a reality check you collectively gave me. It really means a lot. THANKYOU so much.

Well, my fitball class is on soon so I better go. Cheers!

Tutti Fruiti

There’s an apple, an orange and a banana sitting beside me on my desk, and I can’t decide which one of them to eat. None of them are appealing to me right now. Why aren’t any of you Mars Bars? Useless bastards.

So I gained last night. An almighty 0.1kg, which equates to 0.22 of a pound. If I’d made another trip to the loo I’m sure I would have stayed the same. Mwahaha.

I didn’t get upset, I didn’t cry, but I made a brief statement of justification to the WW leader and the weigh-lady, describing briefly my rigorous weight-training schedule and the subsequent "fucked-up-ness" of my performance on the scales lately.

They were in complete agreement with me, saying that it would benefit me more in the long term to stick with the weight-training, the leader lady even threw in a heartwarming anecdote about a guy who climbed Everest and "If I looked at the whole mountain I’d never had climbed it. I just had to take it step by step". So despair not about your mountainous bulk, the WW team assured me, you’ll get there slowly but surely.

Though reassured by their words, I was thoroughly disgusted at myself for being such a whinging git. Why the need to justify that pissy little gain to them? Why do I need to justify anything? Week after week I see people at WW get on the scale and gain and say "Oh, it’s that time of the month, wink wink," or "Those chocolate biscuits were calling my name!" or "I didn’t have time to exercise!" or whatever. Excuse after excuse. I guess I just wanted everyone to know that I AM NOT LIKE YOU PEOPLE! I bust my ass at this weight-loss caper so don’t go thinking I am gonna give up! I am not one of you! I am not making excuses!

Aye.

I went to the gym a couple of hours later for our "heavy night", in which we do 3 sets of 6 reps on about the nastiest weight you can manage without dying. I love the 3×6 night, I feel so strong and foxy afterwards. Plus I managed to do my entire 20 minutes of cardio without dying. I know 20 doesn’t sound like much but I’d already been dragged along by the dog for our daily walk, plus the hella heavy weights. I did a bit of an interval thing on the treadmill for that 20 mins, 3 minutes brisk pace then turn it right up so I am walking FLAT OUT for another three. Second interval I hoisted the treadmill onto the #5 incline and walked uphill. Ahh my calves! It was fantastic. It’s much more fun fooling round like that than to just walk at the same pace the whole time.

Speaking of weights, I received a copy of Weight Training Workouts That Work from my Amazon.com wishlist. But it said on the invoice thingy that I’d ordered it myself? Que? I am sure I would have noticed a big chunk out of my credit card (Amazon.com prices converted to Aussie dollars is horrible). So which one of you lovely folks bought it for me? Please email me so I can thank you properly, I am very grateful and it’s a cracker of a book! Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

So, it’s a new week and I am determined to do well. I booked myself another re-assessment at the gym on September 24, so I can get my measurments done again and see if there’s any difference. So that’s two weeks for me to KICK ASS so I can get the best possible assessment results.

Maybe if I chop up all the fruit onto a plate and make a banana mouth and apple wedge eyes like when I was kid, this fruit will seem more exciting? Hmmm.

Grunt Yourself Thin

I’ve discovered pumping iron is far more fun if you grunt and carry on like Monica Seles. You know, that lovely "urrrrrnnnnnnnurrghhhhhh!" sound she makes when she whacks the ball? I like to do that when doing my gym thang. It cracks me up, and it’s always easier to work out if you’re having a laugh. You don’t notice the glorious ache of your limbs so much. Plus it gets up the nose of the serious gym junkies, who prance around wearing tiny shorts and air of superiority, like they’ve got a ruler lodged firmly up their arse.

Just don’t grunt too loud, otherwise you’ll look like a real dickhead.

Last night I dreamed of the Weight Watchers scale. I really do look forward to my weigh-ins, unless I know I’ve had a crap week. But most Monday’s I am jittery all day, coz I am just so damn keen to get on that scale. This week I must be keener than usual, coz last night I dreamed I sprinted into the WW class (okay, more of a gallumph than a sprint) and knocked over all the people obediently waiting in line and declared that I MUST be weighed right now. I barged the weigh-lady out of the way and lined up the weight then hopped on. The bar thingy went down with a BANG, that nice decisive sound when you KNOW you’ve had a good week. So I started moving the slidey thing down to get it to balance. But then weigh-lady hopped up and started fiddling with it, and it started swaying wildly.

"DON’T TOUCH THAT SCALE, WOMAN! I CAN DO IT MYSELLLLLLLLLLF!" I was screaming. But she persisted and I woke up ranting and raving and not knowing what the hell I’d lost.

Wonder if that’s a good or bad omen for tonight? Or perhaps a subconscious memo: Miss Dietgirl, You Are Obsessing Too Much.

Never!

Silly Gym Vultures

My co-worker was absent on Monday, came in Tuesday, went home after a few hours, came in today (Wednesday) and had to leave to go to the doctor, then calls up the boss just now to say the doc gave her a certificate and she will be off for the rest of the week.

This girl is ALWAYS sick. She averages a day off every week. She's had this horrible, phlegmy, rattling cough for weeks now that makes my skin crawl. She's always pale and pasty looking. She's very thin.

She also has a family block of chocolate on her desk which serves as her breakfast and a snack thoughout the day. She drinks about four cans of Diet Coke. She has McDonalds or KFC for lunch three or four times a week. She smokes like a chimney.

It just really gets my hackles up, coz she has the nerve to say, "I dunno why I get so sick." Arrgh! And of course I have to bust my butt doing extra work in her absence.

I just never see her eat anything of any nutritional value whatsover. Even when I was eating like an insane pork back in January, I would still eat a shitload of fruit and vegetables. (Yep, slice up some fruit on top of that icecream baby, that'll out the fat, eh? :P) This girl just eats really, really badly. And the smoking doesn't help either.

Grrr.

Anyway, I don't want to sound preachy or smug. Fred has the smug thang pretty much covered πŸ˜› It's just the more I get into this caper, the more aware I am of these things. Fair enough if she takes bad care of herself and doesn't complain and is happy, if people want to live that way, well good for them. But when she drags her sorry self to work and moans and groans and coughs in my direction then takes heaps of days off at the company's expense, THEN it pisses me off.

Grrr.

I've come to the conclusion that those vultures at the gym doesn't know squat about fitness. I don't know much either, but I am paying them $500 a year (which amounts to about $2.20 in US dollars. Our dollar stinks) for the privilege of shaking my blubber at their holy domain and while I have no problem with the actual facilities, I have a problem with the staff.

I've had three fitness assessments now, and while they all coo and cheer over my progress, they won't listen to me. They are so pre-occupied with weight loss. Sure I want to lose a helluva lot more weight, but now I am more about getting fit and eating healthy, because that is how I have to behave for the rest of my life. So I say to them, I feel stronger and I need to push myself more, can you give me a decent weight training program? Back in April, Allison says, no no, no weights for you! You'll get disillusioned coz your weight will go up coz muscle weighs more than fat! Blah blah blah!

The uneducated me back then, when I had no mind of my own, when I thought that I knew nothing because I was a stupid fat girl and only OTHER PEOPLE could tell me how to transform MY body, just nodded in agreement to Allison and continued with endless cardio.

Then the other day, Fitness Chick Cathy FINALLY gave me some weights to do. I was happy. BUT she got me sitting on each bloody machine for all of 5 seconds and told me how to do each exercise, but didn't give me any advice on form or what muscles it should be working, how I should feel, etc etc. Plus all the weights she gave me were upper  body. What about my chunky legs?

So I've been reading like mad about weight training for women, all the benefits of it, suggested programs. I feel like I do a fair bit of cardio walking the dog every day, so I want to use my gym time more effectively. The most brilliant site I found via Pound is Krista's Women's Weightlifting Links n Lessons page. It's an amazing resource, completely non-commerical, just non-bullshit sound advice from a girl who's hooked on the iron. I have literally read every word on that site twice over and found it invaluable.

What could be particularly interesting is her page "No Fat Chicks", it's all about "why overweight beginners rightly hate aerobics classes". If you're overweight and cardio (walking, cycling, whatever) is really stressful on your joints, Krista says weight-training is a must. Sound bizarre? Go read that page, I urge you. She even sets out a very simple 12 week program. It focuses on your eating and exercise, both weights and light cardio. I really wish I had found this back at the beginning, it's really great stuff and SO reassuring for a big fat pork like me that THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU!

Anyway, I had a point here. Hmm. Oh! Yes. Silly gym staff.

After reading Krista's site I knew I needed to overhaul what I'm doing at the gym. I was catching up with a friend of mine the other day and turns out she has been doing weigh training for aaaages and she really knows her stuff. She used to play soccer for Australia so she knows a lot about fitness and nutrition and actually lost about 20 kilos herself, she used to be a mini-pork, and has kept it off for 5 years.

There was none of the silly crap the gym vultures try to feed me. So she offered to help me come up with a program and show me how to use the equipment properly! Brilliant! I will have to smuggle her into the gym somehow, since she's not a member. Maybe she'll fit into my backpack, she's pretty teeny…

And finally, I am really lacking in things to wear right now, and really lacking in funds to buy new clothes. Urgh. The more weight I lose, the less content I am with baggy clothing and hiding. I want to show off my body a little more, even thought it's still hefty. But you look slimmer in clothes that fit you properly than baggy clothes. Some pants  I have to pull right up nearly to under my boobs, just so they'll have a hope of staying up! So yesterday I decided to look back through the wardrobe archives, the ghosts of Sizes Past, and found my old suit, size 20, last worn in mid-1998. The jacket didn't fit by a long shot, but THE PANTS, baby! I got into the pants! They fit just fine and were only the tiniest big snug across my thighs when I sat down, but highly wearable!

Sure they were from K-Mart or some such place, where the sizes tend to be a bit more generous, but still! Wow! Pants from three years ago! That just rocked my world.

Speaking of sizes, was reading a story the other day in an Aussie magazine about clothing, and I did not realise the difference in clothing sizes. An Aussie size 12 is a SIZE 8 in the USA! It always floored me when they'd say "such and such model is a size 2" and I'd say "what the hell kind of whisp of air can get into a size TWO?" but now I realise a size two would actually be 6-8 here. And my sisters Gap jeans from when she was in the states were a US 8, which is an Aussie 12! So she's not such a skinny whore after all! Ahahahahaaaaa!

I'm kidding! I love my sister! By the way, she reached her WW goal last Monday and is now starting maintainence! She rocks! Woo!

SO when I say I got into size 20 pants yesterday, that is size 16 to you Americans.

All I can say is, don't ever come to Australia and buy clothes, coz the tags will be two sizes up, and how crushing would that be to your self esteem? πŸ˜›