Tag Archives: overweight

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.

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Well, Well, Well…

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Well well well, what do we have here? I’ve found it increasingly difficult to recognize my own good self recently. My “go-getter” status has definitely reached a new high, depending on who you ask of course. In actual fact, I seem to be slowly but surely morphing into my father.

When this afternoon I was daydreaming about my newly purchased attachment for the garden hose (do you know what those things can do these days?) and found myself calling my husband to see if he could bring home an empty milk bottle so that I might concoct a home made dripper for my basil, I realized I’d gone too far.

I wasn’t quite ready to tear myself away, so whilst I watered (the mist nozzle really gets me going by the way), I considered whether I actually had tipped over the “cat-lady-rose-bush-croc-wearing” line.

The funny thing is that like a mysterious beast of prey, you wouldn’t know what I was truly capable of upon meeting me; that I would be daydreaming about giving the corn (yes corn!) a good mulch and crying with delight when I found a worm in the compost. Unfortunately I live only a few kilometres from the city of Melbourne and therefore live with what could most generously be described as a large courtyard with a small lawn.

I grew up in the city but find that I move ever so gently, year by year, towards being a woman I would have never thought I would know. The vain city girl still lives strong; the biggest indicator of which is evident in all the fantasies I have about moving to a more rural area.

My fantasies always involve a great set of pins in tight jeans, bouncy hair and (I can hear the collective sigh of us fat girl now), a beautiful shirt tucked in to said jeans. Ah….the serenity…

Unfortunately little dreams don’t manifest themselves, so in the last few days, I’ve stepped into a new world, hoping to help me get back on track. Anyone following my weight loss would see, blaringly obviously, that I haven’t lost any significant weight in some time.

The difference in my appearance has motivated many to comment positively on how I look, inadvertently resulting in a release on the weight loss accelerator. But well aware of a job half done, I decided to take up a free trial at my local gym.

Not so much a gym as it is an oestrogen laden, sweat soaked women’s group, where middle aged gals doodle their way through a serious of hydraulic machines, enjoying a good dose of Abba coming through the speakers.

Needless to say, when I walked in, I knew instantly that it was the place for me to be. Free trial up and a decision about joining imminent, I went in today to complete my final workout free of charge. It was only when a woman walked in, donned in lycra and a sweat band rolled and tied around her forehead, all coordinated of course, I realised that I couldn’t possibly be more comical than that and would therefore be quite happy there.

Unfortunately joining seems to be more difficult that one would expect. You need to make an appointment for a fitness assessment, at which point I’m sure I’ll be sold all sorts of pointless gym-ing paraphernalia. When I finished my final trial, I walked up seriously to the young girl behind the desk,

“Now I’ve decided that I would like to join. I think this could work for me”

“Well, you have to book in for your assessment. Tomorrow’s no good, Friday’s no good. Why don’t you call next week?”

My face dropped. I had half expected a brass band to emerge from the staff room with a personalised congratulatory rendition of It’s Raining Men, every girls’ power song (C’mon, you know it is!). Alas, nothing; not even a discrete applause. It put me off enough to consider backing out.

But some places you have to get to on your own. And it could be the crazy in me, but lately I’ve been carrying my own little orchestra inside anyway…

Just As It Is

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“Must write blog, must write blog” has been in the back of my mind since I returned.  Unfortunately, I’ve been must-ing my way around my home town, straight back into the groove of daily life, hanging hopelessly onto the memories of a trip now passed.

There are a few minefields one faces upon return from a holiday when re-telling their holiday adventures. Unfortunately, there is always the danger of painstakingly recounting what is to others, an utterly boring he-said she-said; there’s a risk of going on far too long about the meal you just didn’t want to miss, and of course, it’s easy to forget that those nodding appreciatively have most likely been scraping baked beans from a can while you were stuffing your face with crayfish, taking happy-snaps.

A few days ago someone asked me to see photos. I directed them to Facebook in their own time but they pressed me for a personal viewing. Filled with trepidation, I obliged. But 15 photos in, one party had walked off; the other yawned awkwardly, declared they had to go and then left the house completely. When I found myself starting a sentence of explanation and then realised that by the end of the sentence, there was no one left to make eye contact with, I knew it was over.

“See! See! This is why I didn’t want to do it”. Other people’s photos are always best viewed in private. Mainly so you can flick through the scenic shots that have no context for you, but also to reduce the awkward dilemma of trying to wind up the conversation before a yawn creeps into the back of your throat.

Most important of all, how does one having travelled to a country like Africa not reconstruct moments, people and conversations with just a touch of the clichéd? Descriptions of wildlife, mountain ranges and canyons can’t really be made without using words like majestic and splendour, both of which make my eyes water with embarrassment, so I tend to not say much at all.

The most special of moments I had were not because of the scenery or cities. They were with people I met and the conversations I had with them, resulting in a shared experience that couldn’t be easily translated. And sometimes, if you are open to it, special things can happen that you don’t want to share anyway.

Perhaps my experiences over the past few years, in a strange way, prepared me well for the trip. If you open your eyes, but close your heart just a little bit, you’ll be well equipped to see everything there is to see. And it has to be said (simply because it’s true), magical (oops!) things can happen there.

Luckily for me, my moment of fat-girl emancipation in the form of riding an African ostrich, just as my grandmother did many years ago, never occurred. I was just that bit too heavy, which means I just might have to go back some time soon!

Holidays have a sneaky way of making people see the light. ‘When I get home, some things are going to change’ is a sentiment we’ve all experienced. It’s a diet, more exercise, more time for reading, leisurely weekends…always something.

But if I learnt nothing else, I learnt to think less, smile more and yes, it has to be said, realise that even though I may choose to, changes aren’t necessary.

I’m a lucky little bugger, just as it is…

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.