Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Grunt, A Gasp…& Some Fatty Overhang

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I tend to refrain from writing something until I have something to say (not my natural mode of operandi, I assure you). However, I am quite chuffed to announce that I lost another 800 grams this week (1.76 pounds), bringing my January total to 2.7 kilos (5.94 pounds). Chuffed graduated to jolly, especially after spotting what suspiciously looked like an emerging collar bone in a window reflection!

As clever as I felt yesterday, the immanent arrival of a brand spanking new series of The Biggest Loser due to hit Australian screens, filled me with a mild case of trepidation. How such an arguably crappy program could provoke such an emotion says something significant about both my intelligence and my viewing tastes. I dabble in ABC (BBC equivalent) viewing when my husband is in the room but tend to mute the volume and switch to the nearest reality program while he’s on the toilet. I mute it of course, because I’m still trying to hide the fact that I’m not as interested in world news, culture and general knowledge as I once made him think, even if that was seven years ago. I’m addicted to crappy viewing, like I’m addicted to crappy food. I’m working on both.

But the show that really sends me running to the screen is and always has been, The Biggest Loser (which my husband has eloquently nick-named “Fatty Fatty”). Years ago, even as a slip of a thing (seriously, that never happened), I’d watch it late on a Wednesday night when most normal people were asleep, espousing its virtues to all my friends on the following days. The Australian version has since become somewhat of a summer-schedule-staple in the past few years.

Consider first that I have inserted a clever and interesting argument about the perils of reality television and the social voyeurism it stimulates. Now, having been blown away by all that…let me get onto the real reason why even the teeniest of fans can be found glued to the screen and phoning their fatter counterparts in a froth of interest (but usually laughter)!

The “game” in itself is made up of a series of humiliating and dehumanising exercises designed to highlight contestant flaws with a good side slap of “you can do it, don’t give up and live you best life!” yelled from a muscular gym junkie standing above them. Producers love to pit these obese contestants against each other in physical battles of uncompromising positions, such as commando crawls through mud or sand, with camera shots rights up their behinds, as they struggle to get up off their knees. Heaven forbid that their shirt rides up throughout the battle, because the cameraman is directed to shoot an HD wide landscape shot of the flabby overhang.

If that wasn’t all enough, think of the “Temptations”! Some episodes will detail a full half hour where contestants are placed at a table choc-a-block (mind the pun) full of sweet and savoury treats, tempted to consume as much as they can in order to save themselves from elimination or secure themselves an overseas holiday. Talk about mixed-messages! Eat and win the prize, eat to save yourself,  eat and suffer a tirade of abuse from your trainer, eat and get fat! And then at the end of the week, we’ll put you in underwear and make you weigh in for national broadcast.

Having said all that, you will probably find me on Sunday nights, eating my dinner and pointing at the screen, screaming “Look, look!”, just in case my husband missed the slow motion replay of an obese contestant falling off the treadmill. Directly after the hum of uplifting closing credits play, I’ll then be found reliving salient moments over the telephone with my tiny sister, who I assure you, will experience equal delight in the difficulties these poor people endure.

And why, oh why, would these people go through this? Voluntarily put their hands up to be humiliated and patronised by producers and trainers? Because their desperation to be skinny, and I optimistically hope healthy, overrides their good sense. This good dollop of desperation only serves to make better viewing for us all.

But this week, when the premiere screens, I am hopeful that I don’t see my reflection. More to the point, I’m scared that I will definitely see my reflection. A young woman, my height, my weight, on a television program advertised to “save these peoples lives”, will only further illustrate the state of my ill health and obesity. Each grunt, bend, crouch and sweat pearl will make me ask the question- is that what my husband sees when he looks at me? And while 800 grams (1.76 pounds) is an achievement for me, I no doubt will compare myself to those losing weight much faster, along with ever widening smiles.

So let us not deny it any further. Many love the embarrassment, love to feel they are superior to those with weight problems, and many find the disability associated with obesity funny in a way that alcoholism and drug abuse is not.

And maybe it’s an act of self-preservation, but when I say “Many”, I mean “Me”.

And maybe, at the end of the day, I’m actually laughing at myself.

And maybe, that’s the saddest part of all.

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The Christmas Tree…A Cautionary Tale!

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I spent most of last night yelling, groaning and swearing at a very sad looking Christmas tree that knew it was going to be finally taken down. By “taken down”, I mean that it was subjected to a psychotic frenzy of revenge because as far as I was concerned, it simply wasn’t behaving.

I was convinced by the toolman, that last year, we should have a real Christmas tree. The real vs. fake debate is usually championed by impassioned tree lovers (but not so loving they mind hacking one down!) like my husband who harps on endlessly about the smell and charm of a real tree. In a moment of weakness (and ignorance), I agreed to a real tree and all was good in our little casa. Yes, the pines dropped regularly and yes, the cat found it a constant source of messy amusement but I was full of cheery optimism.

Nevertheless, yesterday I decided that I needed to let go of the fantasy that whilst it still stood, a new present was going to miraculously appear under its droopy branches. With every ornament that came off, the pine needles came with it and I sighed a little louder. But when it came to removing the lights, my logic of walking around the tree proved to be a failing system. If anyone has seen the movie “Christine” about a possessed and evil automobile, they may have a superior insight into how the following hours played out.

“Can you please just get rid of this” – to the toolman sitting on the couch watching.

“Take the lights off and I will”

“I don’t care about the lights, just get rid of it will you?” – yelling now (but a high-pitched-I’m-kinda-anxious yell).

“I can’t put it in the green bin like that. You’ve gotta get the lights off”

“Just throw it all out!”

Silence…Locked Stare…Matrimonial Standoff.

I look at him, then back at the tree. Then with my anger fuelled strength, a bad back and a gammy shoulder, I pick up the pot one handed, walk to the kitchen door…open it…and throw the tree as far as I can…lights and all… slamming the door for effect. With needles now all over the kitchen, hallway and on all surfaces of the lounge room I return and sit on the couch as if nothing had happened.

“I’m outta here” the toolman leaves with a slam of the front door.

I knew that I had been beaten but decided that how I now dealt with the situation was going to be the character mark for the day, perhaps even the year. Where am I going to get if I give up every time I am frustrated, sweaty and tired? Certainly not uphill! So I sat in the needles for half an hour, preparing myself to face the backyard.

I approached the back door tentatively, peering through the window, half expecting to see that the tree had erected itself again on its own. What ensued was a lot more swearing and sweating as I yanked the lights from its branches, with little light globes flinging into all crevices of the garden. The ball of tangled lights was dumped in the Christmas box for next year (haven’t we all done that?) and I broke the needleless branches in a sweaty act of revenge. If it had been winter, I probably would have set it alight!

The next hour was a futile attempt at vacuuming up the bags of needles strewn all over the house. You know the drill – banging the vacuum head on top of the item that is never going to suck up, so you end up picking up both the item and the vacuum head and feed one into the other. Lord help me when it comes time to actually empty that vacuum bag (perhaps the whole thing will go in the bin…).

When the toolman walked in the door at about 9pm, the sight was one of domestic bliss. Clean, clear surfaces, an empty sink and a semi calm wife. It’s made me wonder- how many women and men propel themselves into a crazed frenzy completing simple tasks of daily living? And why do we continually ignore their efforts as menial, dry, lacklustre contributions to our lives (yes, admittedly, a monkey would have dealt with the tree situation better than I did)?

Having weighed in yesterday with a loss of 900 grams for the week (1.98 pounds), I’ve realised that these moments of “incidental exercise” (as it’s called in the business) really do add up to significant amounts of calorie burning time. Moments of insanity may actually be the key to losing weight, allowing me to avoid the embarrassment of plod-plod-puffing down the street!

So please, contact me on 1800-CAT-LADY (ignore the sounds of miaowing on the answering machine) and invite me to increase my heart rate in your home, completing those tasks too hard to face, free of charge, whilst I simultaneously burn my swinging tuck shop lady arms away!

Best to send the kiddies to Grandma’s….just a thought.

The Heavy Rye Debate

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Buying bread at the supermarket is like shopping for your ideal self. I read not long ago (from a very funny fellow weight loss candidate) that an overweight person will regularly fill their basket with things that represent their ideal- veggies, fruit and fat free biscuits. For me, this sentiment really reveals itself in the bread isle.

Last week, whilst pondering my ideal body shape and which loaf of bread was going to do it for me, a gorgeous couple came up beside me. I quickly picked up the soy and linseed “women’s health loaf” and confidently placed it in my trolley whilst concurrently fantasising about making my way to pick up a “women’s health” magazine (which would of course be precariously balanced on top of my hand bag for every one to see). In reality, I actually just plodded around the corner and did a full loop back into the same bread isle where I threw out the overpriced health loaf and picked up my favourite heavy rye.

I must admit, I usually experience an irrational sense of satisfaction from the bread I purchase. Fluffy white speaks fatty, whilst dark rye speaks healthy, tanned, slim. In reality, my shopping basket doesn’t really reflect my size at all. But even this is a huge source of embarrassment for me. I am sure that those who see my trolley or what I eat think that I am one of those sad women stuffing their faces in the car on the way home but order light in the restaurant (we all know the ones). Should I just order a pizza and stop the confusion, I regularly ask myself. It’s much more comfortable to appraise someone as a fatty because of their poor eating habits- more uncomfortable is the fatty that “is trying”.

This is the same reason that you’ll rarely see me exercising down the street. Walking works well- but I feel self conscious traipsing around my suburb the size I am. I’ve heard others laugh and nudge each other when a fat woman in stretchy pants puffs their way down the street. “At least she’s doing something about it!” I’ll spit out at them. But in reality, I’m terrified of being that woman and having that sideways poor-thing-but-it’s-kind-of-amusing look from strangers. A kinder person may not even consider this a conundrum, but a gentle soul I am not- I am all too aware of the bitchy perils of being a young woman.

So I admit, yes, sesame sour dough was my undoing this week. It was heavy, sour and beige. Not my ideal and it certainly reinforces the same weight problem. I know I’ve gained weight this week and I know I’m running (ok, a slow amble) round in circles doing the same things and getting the same crappy results. I’m also aware of coming apart at the seams because I drank a bottle of wine last night and I’m a non-drinker (and a two pot screamer as my good friend phrased delicately).

So tomorrow I’ll weigh in reluctantly. But I will weigh in because I will not hide from the scales. I just hope they’ll be kind…

Is it really all relative?

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The strange thing about being a fatty is that whilst you cannot see your reflection in something (mirror, shop window, windscreen or even spoon), you can convince yourself the situation is not that bad. I’m well trained- I no longer even look at the television screen when changing channels as that split second of blackness can send me into a spin of self-hatred. The fact that at that moment I am usually stuffing something into my mouth is neither here nor there; it remains a moment of severe self aversion even when said food is hidden behind the chair.

It’s these moments that I truly believe contribute to the irrational rage experienced when dealing with slim and sexy “weight loss success” candidates. Please stay with me here- I’ve got something to say and could use some help on this one.

Yesterday morning I woke optimistically and ready to get weighed- I felt better and slimmer (having not yet reached anything even closely resembling “slim”, I should really say I felt “less obese”). Now to illustrate the ridiculousness of these public weigh-ins, I share with you a secret- every week I have a double short black half an hour before I flee the nest, which has me running to the…well…I’m sure you can work that one out. Having spent time reading about others’ weight loss struggles, I’ve discovered that this is a very common theme- do anything to reduce that number on the scales. “We” are obsessed with the scales, what they say and most importantly, terrified that we will miss out on the public applause (signifying “in” group membership) that weight loss results in.

I was a little annoyed that I wasn’t permitted to undress before I jumped on the scales- it was deemed inappropriate. Hey, I had on leggings and a singlet and was convinced my cotton dress would contribute heavily to my weight (have you guys caught on yet how ridiculous this whole industry is?).

I lost 500 grams (1.1) pounds- yes a victory! But I was soon deflated and close to tears when the team leader called heavily on a woman to speak about her weight loss experiences as if she was a star achiever. She spoke eloquently and assertively about how she was successful (I’m all ears) and then revealed she had lost six kilos in total (I’m tearing up). I was angry that I had to listen to her story for 20 minutes, eating up my time when she had lost six kilos and was now, to be honest, both very slim and very attractive- case closed. This my friends, is not an inspiration (too honest?). But why the internal rage?

Is it not an achievement to lose six kilos? Should she not be applauded for tackling a problem (who says it’s a problem?…that’s a subject for another day) before it became a health issue? Isn’t being unhappy about your weight the same at 10 stone as it is at 15 stone? Good on her, rise of the sisterhood etc etc.

But actually…no. It’s not the same and I’ll tell you why. When I was smaller, I was actually seen, spoken to and occasionally admired. When you are larger, you are not seen and can be laughed at. Yes, it’s true- men have seen me and laughed collectively at….well, I don’t actually like to think about it but have a star witness who can testify.  Six kilos heavier does not significantly change the reactions of men, women and shop assistants. I’m glad for her, she is happy and I am jealous certainly, but why was she the benchmark of success when I was surrounded by very overweight women who had lost more than her. Perhaps a job half done doesn’t mark success, perhaps the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts (ok, ok, gone too far!).

All I am saying, is that for me (and it may only be me), I want to hear from a fat woman who is losing weight. Why can we not see that here lies the true inspiration? A fat woman who has lost 30 kilos has a lot more to say about the industry than a person who has never had to look ahead of them and know that they have 50 kilos to lose.

And so this week I did what all women, all over the world, would not choose to do. I stripped bare, opened the curtains and looked in the full length mirror…at midday. It was suggested in something I read that I take a good look at myself. I’m sure I heard the mirror groaning – It was horrific! And I cried. Not because there I saw fat, cellulite and stretch marks (what a beauty!) but because I saw no muscle, no tone, and certainly no sexuality. Did I already say it was horrific? I urge you to do it- I promise the mirror won’t shatter.

But fatties (and all ladies alike), I saw (and I tread the line of “cringe-ville” when I say this), my own inspiration. Fat, skinny, slim, beautiful, plain, who cares? I have to rely on me and the only legs going to pull me around are those flabby white ones, so we better get well acquainted! And I better give them a little respect!

I am fatty, standing on fatty legs….hear me roar!

Short but Sour…an hour in the life of a hot fatty

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The path towards losing weight is not always funny; it can be painful and treacherous. But don’t worry, I’ll keep this short and sour.

 After a short but meaningful conversation with the toolman, we decided to return to the beach where family and friends are residing for the month of January. I had heavy reservations about enduring a heat wave beachside, even if logically, it is the best place to be. For me, it would involve bearing all my wobbly bits for the world to see, excessive sweating and severe self-consciousness. Thoughts (my own and I tentatively argue are those of most overweight people in summer) are constantly about covering up this bit or that whilst the deep, deep sadness regarding my heavy condition leaches its way into my bones. This sentiment is most commonly known to travel toll-free from those bones to mouth,

“Fine, go you bully! I don’t care, have fun at the beach without me!” – (Bone to mouth translation) – “Please see how unhappy I am and take me quick-smart to a cool cinema where I am both comfortable not easily seen!” Know this my friends; overweight people are overweight by their own hand. This we know. But they experience events/temperature/proposed dreaded walks/and (*communal shudder*) stairs, in ways that slim people do not.

I am overwhelmed by a sense that it is time for me. My time to have fun. Not yours. Mine. No illness, no issues, just independence and youth. A sense that I want to give one to the world- (which almost ended up in a shaved head the other day; a good indication of my mental instability).  

 I am over it. Are you over it?

 Alright, alright, lets get on with it then!

My first uphill haul…

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Yesterday I started my exercise regime for 2010. By regime I mean that I begrudgingly agreed to accompany the toolman on a bike ride while he ran next to me. I only agreed because he promised it would be a ride around “the block”. I later realised that “the block” actually included three or four of them and two decent inclines.

I haven’t been on a bike for about ten years so wobbled my way to the end of the court where we live. Because the first part of the ride was downhill and I didn’t trust the breaks- the first 50 meters was more of a shimmy as I propelled myself along on my tip toes. “Pick up your feet, pick up your feet!” the toolman encouraged me. After that I was off, laughing, woop-wooing and picturing myself as Rachel McAdam’s character in The Notebook, riding after her love Noah….until…well until I got to a corner and then a mild incline. The tip toe shimmy returned and Noah (I mean the toolman) was now way in the distance.

I was wobbling on a main road and excruciatingly embarrassed by the “ding ding” heard by passing bike riders (just to piss me off they were all in full lycra! I was in daggy track pants and an ill-fitting bra!). Then all of a sudden my bike stopped…or I stopped is probably more accurate. I was red and sweating and had only got a few hundred meters from my house.

Toolman eventually returned to see what the problem was. “I can’t do it! The gears don’t work”. In truth, I was having trouble standing up, suffering from “jelly legs”. In a panic, I told toolman to continue on without me, hoping that I would just be left alone to deal with the puffing, sweating and general discomfort. And then he did. And then I was furious. For I was left on a main road, with a huge hill in front of me, and a complete physical inability to get up it on the bike. Of course I could have turned around but decided I would not be beaten.

I ended up walking whilst wheeling my bike beside me. Ridiculously, I jammed the gears so that the wheels crunch-crunched all the way home. Rationale for this being that if someone wound down their car window they would assume from the noise that the bike was faulty, not that I’m a fat lazy cow. And yes, in truth, the whole saga was a “win”; such is the state of my terrible physical health and fitness.

The motivation behind all this discomfort is quite clear at the end of the day. I can already hear a collective sigh of recognition from fatties all around when I say…I want…one day…to wear a pair of blue jeans and a white singlet…and look bloody great. I dare to dream that the singlet is paired with a skinny bra strap, seductively draped over a protruding collar bone. To give you a picture of my current bra strap situation, I bear all – I currently wear an 18E (and even that’s a squeeze)! What are left for me on the rack are two inch wide beige-brown hoists, accompanied by a cup that I’m sure a small team of civil engineers have created. This of course would be lovely if I had a tiny little waist to go with them, but they do sadly have their own shelf to sit on.

But don’t worry my fellow granny-knickerbockers! We’re on the move!

…just don’t put me on wheels…

P.s. (WEIGHT LOSS WEIGH IN): I approached the scales today with naïve optimism; for how many calories can really be in eight soft white rolls consumed with delicious dip smeared all over them? But the news my friends was surprisingly good- I lost 500 grams (1.1 pounds). Ok, ok, nothing earth shattering but I was willing to gain a little to enjoy the Christmas cheer. And so it has begun. The total now stands at 10.9 kg (23.98 pounds) and I shall be documenting my weekly triumphs (and failures) as stats in the Weight Loss Progress page on this blog.

Assessing the Damage

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Tomorrow is the day my 2010 weight loss extravaganza begins. In true “fatty thinking” fashion, I’ve been putting off the aggressive start of my healthy eating and lifestyle change after I have first assessed the damage. By that I mean of course, that to me, my unabashed hand to mouth shoveling over the past two weeks hasn’t really counted because there was no weekly weigh-ins that held me accountable.

In August of 2009, after discovering (yes, I swear it just suddenly appeared) an ever widening girth, I decided to join Weight Watchers. I had an attempt at a low carb “shake” diet a few months before but only ended up putting on more weight, which I blame heavily on my fruit consumption. Such diets which essentially consist of sucking your food through a straw, restrict your fruit intake to two pieces a day. I on the other hand am one of those fatties who can chomp through two bananas and five apples a day whilst maintaining a look of angelic innocence- “What? It’s fruit!”

My Weight Watchers journey (oops, I said it again) up until now has been one of joy but also severe disappointment. As much as it includes a battle with diet and exercise, it’s as much a psychological battle of the bulge. On weeks that I have followed the program to a tee, I lose a measly 200 grams (0.44 pounds). On weeks that my C’est la vie attitude to the program results in a loss of 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds), I am utterly confused. The result is a comically dangerous game of deception whereby I try to trick my body into thinking that a carrot is chocolate or famously destroying a Magnum ice cream in seconds to “make up my points” for the day.

“It’s simply a matter of burning more energy than consumed energy” they say. Oh no my dear, it is much more complicated than that!

So after patting myself on the back for last year’s achievements (10.5 kilos), I have to move onwards and upwards (or is that downwards?).

And so it begins….again!