Tag Archives: fat

The Break Up

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This year, once again I found myself beach bound with too much luggage and an incapacity to resolve in my mind the fact that I had not achieved what I set out for myself at the start of the year: to never go through a fat summer again. Imagine an overweight woman, sitting by the window, watching her family and friends outside in the Australian sun. Now watch her look down at herself, her stomach, and then back outside. She turns side on to look at her reflection in the mirror, checking no one is coming, then back outside. Looking square on in the mirror, she fluffs up her curls a little. “Right, you did this, so off you go”.

Every slim young thing that walked passed my camping site and it must be said, all those sitting at my very own table only highlighted to me how much I was still a physical disappointment, and my preoccupation with it only highlighted to me I’m a mental lightweight. I was unable to put aside the feelings of inadequacy and enjoy myself, falling further and further into a rather low state.

I must admit that for the past few months, and possibly a contributing factor accounting for my blog silence, I felt a creeping feeling of failure sneak up on me. There’s been something in the background, something I just couldn’t quite see clearly, shaking its finger at me and daring me to respond. Silencing that little voice inside*, I’ve tried to move quickly into action, keeping as busy as possible to avoid inviting over the black dog to bark at my backdoor.

As someone very talented in the art of emotional diversion, I convinced myself that the problem lay within the domain of my marriage. Namely, that I have never done anything to make my husband proud of me and therefore respect me. Such was my delusion, when watching a Grand Slam hosted in my home town, I actually wondered whether I could transform myself into a tennis-superstar-come-lately simply to impress the toolman.

Feminists put the gun down, you don’t want to waste that one bullet just yet.

On arriving home from my camping trip, I successfully humoured my gloomy disposition and opened and closed every cupboard in the house until I found a card I received from my family ten years ago before I left for Italy on a year long study trip. Along with the “Ciao Bellas” and the “Good Lucks” were more than a few messages that indicated that “the Italian boys will just love you” and one message from my mother’s dear friend that actually said, “Good Luck Darling. They’re going to love your shape”. My shape? Tucked inside the card was a photo taken of me before I left. I stared at it for a long time, wiping the tears from my eyes.

That was who was in the back of my mind. The old me, holding me hostage and incapacitating the me that lives in 2011. For the past two years, I’ve been holding up a ten year old image of myself as the picture perfect unattainable range of who I should be. And in every corner of my house was a relic that told the narrative of my disappointment and my endless consumption to compensate.

The next day, I called, booked and paid for a commercial skip to be delivered to my house. For the past week I have emptied, cleaned and purged all the things that have been terrorising me. I walked up and down the incline of my drive, sweating and puffing. After watching me all week, the two men who live next door (and who I might add have not spoken to me in five years) caught me, cottage cheese bum in the air, fishing out a pair of tiny olive pants during a bout of post-throw-dissonance.

“Are you moving?” they yelled.

My sweaty, frizz haloed head popped out from the depths of the bin. “Huh? Oh, no. I’m a Buddhist now. I don’t need stuff”. Ok, yes. I admit I’m odd but seeing as I’m quite partial to oversharing, it was the easiest way to escape unscathed.

When the skip drove off on the back of a truck, I thought my work was done. But as I watched it turn the corner, I realised I was broken, that I’m not who I was born to be. So I sat down (and here’s the bit where you’ll have to reserve judgement about my sanity) and had a little talk with myself. The me I’m supposed to be has the innocence of a child, without fancy things and shiny hair, nor is she a heavily committed working woman (you want that bullet now?). She’s a fit mother, able to live her life. Able to jump in a river without hiding anything, run a little without collapsing and sit with her family without shame. And you know what else; I really don’t need any stuff to get that.

It was time to Break Up with myself!

So I did what any good woman does after a break up; I cleaned my fingers red raw. Up on ladders, down on knees, climbing on top of baths, toilets and sinks. And each day as I’ve said goodbye to another little piece of me, I’ve put less and less into my body to quieten that doubting voice. No doubt we’ll have conversations in the future, discuss some misery over some bread and cheese, but I don’t think we’ll fight.

Perhaps I’m a getting just a little bit too abstract on you here? I did a spot of cleaning, so what? A better illustration of my state of mind may be in the response I gave to a cleaning shop owner a few days ago. On my third visit during a single week his curiosity finally got the better of him and he asked,

“Let me guess. You’re a caterer? A chef? A cleaner?”

I paused ever so slightly and then responded, “Umm, I’m not too sure. I think I’m a nurse”. And with that I left, realising that I had spoken the truth; that I’m not sure where I’m going or who I’ll be at the end of this year. It could all go wrong, or bad, or right. And perhaps I am not of sound mind right now…

But give a girl a break, I have been through a break up after all.

* Note: There is no actual foreign voice inside my head. Call off the Doc’s Ma.

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Knee Jerk Reaction

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I’m yet to meet an adult that doesn’t cringe with the memories of their adolescence, regardless of how enlightened their parents were in dealing with their intrapsychic conflict (yes, I’ve obviously thought about this before). I was a rather gregarious teenager when it suited me but I also I suffered from what seems to be the unavoidable feelings of inadequacy that tend to go hand in hand with the period.

I maintain fiercely that adolescence is the most horrific time in ones life, only to be remembered fondly in later years with sentimental notions of skinny dipping in creeks and innocent kisses behind sheds. In reality, what we tend to forget is the girl in the year above yelling “Mooooooo!” and we disrobe and the boy of our dreams coaxing us behind the shed to laugh an “In Your Dreams!” in our face. But don’t pull out the tissue box on my behalf, scrape back the layers a little and I assure you, they’ll be something there for you too. Or better yet, just ask a sibling – they’re programmed to remember your most embarrassing moments!

So it was all this that came flooding back to me, in an unpredictable way when I was at the gym today. Having joined for the sheer fact that I would be amongst fellow “granny-knicker” wearers, I was shocked when faced with a demographic I had not accounted for when joining…the private schoolgirl!

Having not yet successfully evolved into true womanhood, I don’t find myself always able to look on with enough distance for these girls not to bother me. Instead of looking on with a “gee, I’m glad that’s over” sentiment, I found myself today wanting to hide inside the machine I was at that time straddling.

For some reason I haven’t yet understood, I perceive the fake tans, long nails and perfectly tinted hair as a personal attack. Perhaps I’m waiting for them to pull my school dress up as I bend over to fix my shoe.

I should at this time clarify that I wasn’t a bullied schoolgirl, and shamefully probably straddled the line of the bully myself. And maybe that’s why I’m afraid of girls, because I know that if I was capable of producing a “hey you” instead of addressing someone by their name, perhaps someone with a more compromised constitution could do worse to me now.

Perhaps all this is why I hurt my back today. Within three minutes, I let a 14 years old resembling a Whippet coax me into a rather enthusiastic knee-kick-with-hip-twist scenario, fuelled by the beat of Mamma Mia playing loudly from the speakers.

As the Mamma’s and the Mia’s blared out at a steady pace, the increased panting on the station across the room, propelled me into a double beat of kicking and twisting which I’m sure resembled a chubby woman trying to simultaneously stuff herself into a too-tight pair of jeans with matching turtleneck.

I’ve been on the couch, albeit laptop on lap, since my completely one sided showdown, wondering once more how on earth I got myself into this situation. You know, the one where I have all this blubber on rather important womanly bits that just won’t seem to go. Perhaps I should just end it all, throw in the bucket and declare myself “curvaceous, womanly, with more to hang onto”. Hmmmm…

Either way, perhaps a mixed and testosterone fuelled work out environment might have been a better choice. At least then, I wouldn’t hurt myself trying to compete.

A Digression of Confession

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I haven’t hit the keys recently as I haven’t felt tempered enough to restrict the “ranty” monologues going on in my mind that I’m susceptible to experience at any moment. Most people who know me understand that if you ask “what do you think about ____”, you’re going to get an honest answer and a rant that may have been lying dormant for days. Most recently, as I was lying on the couch feeling unwell, the toolman only knew it was serious when he realized I wasn’t yelling at the television. Sadly, I like to watch poorly produced current affair programs and do just that. 

Unfortunately, this negative energy can result in many of us being exceptionally good at telling ourselves what we do badly instead of what we do well. I have no problem accepting that I’m great at this little habit! But sometimes, we have to step back, take a breath and give a well rounded high five into the mirror (of course whilst alone and out of ear shot of anyone with a heartbeat).

But first, let me digress…and confess.

A year ago, I walked out of an in-patient psychiatric facility with only a mere hope that I might not be going back in but with the expectation that I would. Eighteen months before that time, I walked into my bedroom, woke up my husband and completely out of the blue started sobbing. For the first half an hour he asked me what was wrong. When I started wailing, actually wailing, he went quiet, climbed into bed and wrapped me up in his arms for the next hour until I stopped. When that ended, all I could say to him was,

“I’m not going back there. I’m not going to do this”.

He had no idea what that meant and in truth, at the time, I had no idea what that meant but had a suspicion I was unraveling. Whether “there” was a past I was referring to; whether it was an uncanny foresight that my life was going to completely change, I’m still not sure.

A month after this little voyage into the dark recesses of my mind, and after a little detour to examine any possibility that my problems were physiological; I packed a bag and was admitted into a psych unit.

Just five months after I married, when I thought I would be starting a family, I was getting my bag searched and my nail file taken from me. Over 18 months, I had six admissions, staying up to three months at a time; searching for the right medication, searching for the right plan, searching for something that would make it all better.

Our minds are curious and private places. Without doubt they can do strange things to us- make us wish we were no longer, force us to look for an out. The absolute black anguish one feels in the depth of depression is insufferable. Wanting this to end is the reason people who suffer from it are self destructive.

Unfortunately such an illness is difficult to understand, I understand this. But it’s an illness of mood and no amount of “rest” can fix the problem. Questions that ask “what do you have to be depressed about?”, or “just think of all the other people that have it worse that you”, do not help. Those that live on the margins of life already carry enough guilt about what their illness does to those around them.

When someone in your life is sick, in a way you have already lost them. But when someone in your life has a mental illness, the issue is still so taboo that the person who suffers, loses people in their lives too. Over the eighteen months I was in and out of the facility, people came and went. Some called, some came, some didn’t. But when people have a “normal” illness, there are a few guidebooks: flowers, cards, phone calls.

Many friendships were made in hospital, some hilarious situations experienced, and a week of death threats by knife from a co-patient. I’m sure it will write a great story one day. But more than anything, what those that I have met in my situation also feel is that we are now walking around with a little scar on our underbellies that no one can see, and if they can, they never mention.

My husband, like many of those with ill wives, anticipated the death of his wife at her hands. He felt helpless, out of control and has admitted to me since, “I didn’t think you would make it”.

For the first three months of my first admission, the toolman travelled an hour in traffic into the hospital, ate with me and played cards, and retuned home. As the months passed and he saw me getting worse and not better, without any other way to cope and with fear rising, he became quiet as my illness became louder.

I did have the support of family while I was in there and I don’t doubt the love they have for me. They saw me laugh, cry and fall silent. But my man was subject to a changed wife and lost his best friend. And now, with him, that scarred underbelly is seen and for that I am indebted.

As I transformed inside, the changes on the outside were vast. Gaining 40 kilos during this time was the least of my problems. But as I got better, the effects of my waist became worse and I found myself here, creating this blog.

Having said all that, I walked out of that place this time last August and whilst it has remained a bit of a slog at times, I’m over 20 kilos down now, a qualification nearly obtained and as if it couldn’t have come at a more momentous time, next weekend, the toolman and I are off to a-wimoweh our way around South Africa on holiday.

Moods need to be controlled, thoughts need to be monitored, a watchful eye kept out for the black dog, sheep or whatever it is. But Life can change and strangely, in a way, I’m a very lucky girl!

So for the next few weeks, let the good times flow baby. Lets spot the big five, dine on whatever it is there is to taste and get so snap-happy we’re dizzy from it.

Doesn’t seem I can help myself can I? When I open my mouth, a rant inevitably comes out…

Case of the Lost Bowl

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There’s a television show currently screening on Australian television which has, as the critics say, “taken the country by storm”. Masterchef Australia fits the formula replicated around the world; contestants, judges and unsuspecting fruits and vegetables get carved up for our viewing pleasure each week night. My family and friends know that I am not a fan of the show. The judges repel my ethical sensibilities as they shovel food into their mouths, with the short bald one sweating as he does so, and I can’t help but picture the many starving around the world who would give their left leg to be so greedy. I probably wouldn’t be as offended if the judges were skinny and looked like they needed a good feed; it’s simply the excess that makes me feel uncomfortable and if I’m honest (which I usually am) the mirrored image that stares back at me…

That aside, I should admit that I do love cooking, although I rarely cook from a cookbook. The best explanation of this is that I have less interest in the actual recipe and flavours than I do with the preparing of it. As I’ve said before, I’m the third generation of good female cooks who can instinctively whip up a curry and I don’t recall my mother ever declaring as she served up my dinner, “the beef is the real hero on the plate darling”. Nor do I remember describing my food as being “eclectic” or “brave”. The thing that really tips me over the edge is when contestants describe their food as “honest”.

Really? Honest? Did that chocolate pudding tell you what a dill you are then? But admittedly I am predisposed to a rant and I’m also predisposed to use psychological rhetoric which I suspect also makes me appear rather arrogant. Maybe “honest food” is the equivalent to an “anal stage of motivational development”?

What they don’t talk about on the show is the growing girth of the judges and I suspect the growing waistlines of the many fans who rush out to replicate the dishes made on the show each night. I was only too aware of my rather rolly-polly waist when the toolman and I were watching our favourite show at the moment; United States of Tara (the toolman likes to see a couple with a wife “crazier” than me I suspect).

I was happy lying at my end (as couples know, we have our ends) and was conscious of the fact I was lying on the remote. A good twenty minutes later I shot up with a gasp.

“What’s wrong baby?” the toolman got a fright, such was my exclamation.

“Omigosh…I can’t believe it….I’m humongous!”

The realization had occurred slowly. I was watching the screen when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the remote on the coffee table. If the remote was on the coffee table, then it couldn’t be under me. Whatever it was felt quite cool against my side. Then I saw the toolman’s dessert bowl sitting next to the remote. Where was my bowl and spoon?…….And then BOOM! I realized I was lying on it, actually lying on it.

“I’m so huge I can’t even feel crockery when I am lying on it! It was stuck between my rolls! People should tell me to stand up and shake when they can’t find their car keys!” I was distraught but then I fell into giggles.

A fellow blogger and “fan” of my blog told me this week to remind myself of the good things I do each week and I think she had a point. Yes, crockery got lost in my blubber and I didn’t even realise it was there and yes, add to that the loss of actually gaining weight this week and the result looks glum. But this week, I’m going to let it ride and have a laugh about it.

Now if I was a dish on Masterchef, do you think they would call be “brave”?

Deserving The Matter

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I’ve been feeling a dull and aching rage swill around in my stomach today. As a consequence, having not yet emotionally evolved, I’ve engaged in a list of masochistic activities all afternoon.

Weigh in this morning saw me lose 700 grams (1.54 pounds) which in the context of my Hungarian feasting last weekend, was quite a relief. However, the meeting that followed left a rather bad taste in my mouth; although I’m getting used to that (Boom Tish)!

It started as normal; some whoop-whooping from the stars who had lost, and some somber faces from those who didn’t. Our meeting leader who had just returned from a tropical holiday was glowing and whilst she is certainly a great advertisement for the weight loss company, she fails to engage me on a real-girl-with-big-bum-licks-the-crumbs-out-of-her-bosom kind of way.

Even though I have experienced a spreading behind and understand the minefield I need to dodge in life because of it, I have absolutely no interest in an Alcoholic Anonymous type meeting where we pat each other on the back for making the “right food choices” between meetings.

There we sit my mum and I each week, in uncomfortable chairs, in rows like children, and subject ourselves to stories from tiny women who proclaim in the most satisfied way, “oh, you wouldn’t believe it…I was out for breakfast and ordered one poached egg with spinach on the side and my friends were telling me how little I eat…I quite simply felt sorry for them, they have no idea what they are doing to their bodies”. In short, these little tales are, as my Aunt likes to say, just Vile!

Of course your friends are annoyed you silly woman, I wanted to say. Who wants to go out to eat with someone who, consciously or not, highlights to everyone else on the table how their indulgent choices are affecting their waist lines. But then again, why does this make me angry? Why should the choices of a perfect stranger affect my own?

Luckily for me, I don’t find it difficult to reach the truth. As truth be told, in a way I’m afraid that I’ll never be like this woman. That I will never have so much control as to deny myself what is needed to keep a svelte figure. And that most of all, I will never be seen as “one of them”. As much as I resent the fact that it is demanded of me, I don’t want to stand out in a physical way. I want to be unique in many other ways, often arguing for an alternate path for the sheer sake of it, but physically, nah-ah.

Why can’t I just be me; fat, skinny or porky pie? Why does it matter? Healthy or not, our figures are much like the cars we drive, the houses we keep, the jewelry we wear and even the words we write. They say all say, “look at me, I’m like you, I’m in the right group”. I would love to fight against it but this my friends is the way it is- am I really so special that I feel I can fight against the grain? Lets face it, I’m no Germaine Greer!

And so, in true oppositionary style, instead of doing all I could to join the in-group today, I chose to complete a list of self-deprecating activities.

  • I trailed through photo upon photo of mere acquaintances on facebook, wondering why they positioned themselves the way they did in each photo; side on, looking up, no remnant of a wobbly bit
  • I sat on my behind eating biscuits whilst looking at said photos
  • I berated myself for not studying for a rather important upcoming exam
  • I bit my nails between biscuit bites, undermining the hard work it took to grow them; and
  • Just to top it off, I chose the only spot on my six-seater couch that was clearly inhabited by my cat overnight, thus covering my own good self in her hair

Why is it so difficult for me to do what is good for me? Why would I never pay for a massage, my nails painted (although I dabbled in that for a time), or a tailored piece of clothing? Do I deserve it simply because I was born?

But then it doesn’t seem all that bad, because I remember that what I fear most is not being excluded from the in group after all; it’s being part of it and tut-tutting as the old me walks past…

“She just doesn’t realise what she’s doing to her body”…Vile!

A Newly Discovered Memory Lane

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I spent this weekend just passed in Sydney which was terrible for the waste line but satisfied almost all of my other sensibilities. The toolman is at first glance a typical Australian man; he has a bizarre but rather normal love of Australian Rules Football, he loves the most amber of beer and prefers to refer to tomato sauce as “dead ‘orse”.  He is however the son of a Hungarian immigrant mother and we spent the weekend with his very Eastern European grandmother.

Although we did none of the usual sightseeing which usually includes Sydney Harbour, the famous Bridge and Opera House, I did have an opportunity to become painfully aware of surrounding Sydney-ites. If you feel you have the most perfect of shades of blonde hair, can tie it severely in a pony tail, don some skin tight lycra and asics trainers, shout your demand of a soy latte and gloopey oats for breakfast at the poor waiter (hold the fat, the cream, the flavour) and feel inclined to laugh hysterically with your BFF as you tell each other how fabulous and interesting you are, you’ll be sure to have a riot in Syndey (I’m sure the tiny seats were there just to highlight how far my derrière really can spill over the sides). Needless to say, I would be more inclined to move to a damp cave inhabiting a grizzly bear than I would move there.

But the joy of the city is never found in its streets; it’s in a quiet apartment with a mature aged Hungarian couple who have the key to the most interesting city around.  With a “Hogy vagy” here and a sprinkling of paprika there, you will find an endless list of stories about crossing a war torn border, early immigrant Australia and tales of family history I seldom hear from the toolman.

Tales of characters with names like Monsika and Geisa are so closely tied to the toolmans’ childhood, I wonder how this man is more “fair dinkum” than “Béke veled”! Around his grandma, the toolman becomes his ‘European self’, enjoying the delights of her Hungarian cooking, the likes of which I couldn’t imagine myself replicating nor quite frankly, understanding. But the food of the toolman’s childhood brings out his playful and vulnerable side, which when it reveals itself, is magic for me to watch. As the weekend progressed, I realised that there are some things more important than calorie counting and I welcomed the food that Grandma served.

Unfortunately I never met the toolman’s mother and he rarely, for his own reasons, talks of her in detail. Any information I can gather about her is in pieces and I am often embarrassed about how little I know of her. Having never met his father either, it seems to me at times (albeit selfishly) that this man appeared in my life with the sole purpose of being my loving husband, with a fully formed personality that was created during adulthood without parental influences. Without any way to place that cheeky smile or the curvature of his hands into a context, I studied the photos Grandma showed me, trying to memorise the shape of his parents’ faces, the tilt of his mothers chin.

When the toolman brought out his use of the Hungarian language, reciting one of the few phrases he knows (Csirke halszálka which translates roughly as “chicken bones”), I was brought back to the present once more and reminded of how I love his humour, even if I’m not sure who he got it from.

When we left, it wasn’t without a tin full of cakes and sweets to take with us. With my Nanna gone from this time, I was reminded as I walked out the door, that there are few things that can beat the attention to detail that a Grandma can bring to food.

And ultimately, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, nothing can really beat Grandma’s cooking.

The Text in Context

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The past week has had me asking some pretty serious questions. The query at the frontline of my proverbial war on words has been “what makes me happy?”

I lost nearly a kilo this week which had me in a lather of personal achievement (for all of five minutes) but was soon overshadowed with the sense that the monkey on my back is far from falling off with a swift slap to the head, instead preferring to fang in with even greater savour.  

I have all the signs of coming of age. I now accept the eccentricities that are me: I keep a pen in my bra, I like to read a map upside down, I like to wear woollen shawls (and prefer to call them “capes”), I occasionally wrap my cat in muslin and rock her like a baby (put the phone down PETA, she loves it, I’m telling you), I prefer flat shoes for any occasion, and nothing warms my cockles more than a good size plastic container.

So having matured enough to accept all that with open arms, I can only think that my general displeasure comes from desiring most what I cannot have. I have been prescribed a rather nasty medication for a rather nasty disorder of the skin that has rather nastily (have I said nasty?) reared its ugly head in the past ten months.

In the same way that some may be envious of my curls and rather ample bosom (even if the toolman predicts that in time “deck hitters” may be a better description), I am envious of those with smooth and unbroken skin. The psoriasis I have developed has left me with scaly and occasionally bleeding hands and feet; a rather gruesome affliction for a young woman.

The drama continues as previous treatments have proven ineffective and it is now considered a reasonable therapy to try a rather toxic drug. Side effects aside, babies are off the cards whilst on the drug which may mean a few years without child.

“What me wants, me can’t have” as someone rather gloomy and blue (me) once said.

Ovaries, mental health and crusty complaint aside, I try to convince myself that things can only get better. There’s always another uniquely shaped plastic container to add to the collection….

And then, when things just seem too much and I’m delirious enough to ask the heavens why someone up there is intent on withholding me the most special of gifts, I open the good book. Give me a sec…this may not be going where you think it is.

I have three loving and loyal siblings. One of them, the eldest is a considered communicator and rarely says much without some forethought. The other two, bless them, say some important and meaningful things but you generally have to wait patiently for these little gems to pop up between much loved scandal and chat.

One day, about a year ago, the eldest gave me a book which at the time I thought was an odd gift. But later, upon opening it, I realised it was his way of saying, “Keep your chin up. I love you”. It’s times like these that I open the “good book” and read from it.

“I’m afraid that some times

you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win

‘cause you’ll play against you.

 All alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something

you’ll be quite a lot.

 And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

 But on you will go

Though the weather be foul.

On you will go

Though your enemies prowl….

 ….On you will hike,

And I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are…

 …You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way”

 – Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Dr. Seuss) –

When in trouble, some have the Bible, some the Qur’an, I have Dr. Seuss.

And that’s what big brothers are for…