Tag Archives: Real Life

So, here we are

Today is results day for my Journalism grad dip.  Two distinctions and a credit.

Yay me?

I know I should be pleased with myself. I did really well this year with one high distinction, four distinctions and a credit over all. They’re grades to be proud of and I’m sure I did better than some of the other students in the course. I should feel a sense of achievement.

But to be honest I don’t feel like I achieved anything.

We finished at the end of October and since then I’ve been applying for job and getting nowhere. I’ve only had two interviews for what I think is about 50 or so job applications. It’s not like last year when I finished at work and then spent three months doing whatever I wanted. Then I knew it was only temporary and that I was moving towards something new.

This time I have no idea where I’m going or what lies ahead. I thought I’d have a job by now, I thought I would’ve moved on to something new but I seem to be stuck, waiting. It’s extra hard when I know that plenty of the people I studied with have jobs and are off doing exciting journalisticy things.

No one seems to want to hire a 46 year old woman, let alone one with a toddler.

I guess the the other thing is that once I started the course and really got into it, I realised that I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I should’ve ignore everyone who told me I shouldn’t do it and tried. I should’ve tried to have gotten a cadetship, applied for a uni course.  If I had, maybe I would be an experienced journalist by now, probably pursuing some wacky idea or working in a big newsroom.

But it’s all a moot point because I didn’t.

It’s not where I am now and it’s not the reality I have to deal with. Reality is, I want a job, I want to get back work and feel like I’m achieving something. I want to contribute to the well-being of my family and not be a drain on our resources. I’ve spent most of the year feeling selfish because it’s all been about me. I’ve spent a year doing what I wanted to do in the hope that it would take me off in a new direction. But it feels like the direction I want to go in doesn’t want me and isn’t interested in what I have to offer.

I guess I just hate feeling useless. No one likes being rejected or overlooked and that’s all that’s happening to me right now. Not much more I can do expect hope that sooner rather than later someone will decide I’m worth investing in.

Starting fresh… again.

Got all motivated, rejoined the gym and even bought new running shoes. See?
New ASICS runners
Then I promptly got a cold. So no gym for me.

My gym program is sitting there, waiting for me and I’m physically incapable of even being shown through it. I get out of breath going up the stairs at the moment.

This will be the third time I’ve endeavoured to lose weight. I guess that’s to my advantage. I’ve done it twice now. Okay, it should’ve only been once but being sick for three months kinda prevents one from going the gym. Anyhoo… yes. Gym. Going. Exercise. Being motivated. Yup.

I’m going to try a slightly different mental approach this time. Last time it was all about losing weight rather than being healthy. So I figure this time it should be about being healthy and letting the weight loss – which will hopefully happen – be a side effect. A good one but still a side effect. I don’t think I’ll drop any sizes or anything but I’m hoping dresses that I’d struggle to squeeze into at the moment will fit again. (Plus Richard bought me this absolutely gorgeous dress that I definitely want to make sure I still fit into.)

I guess the other this is that I want to make sure I can still fit into my wedding dress. The idea was to wear it again at some point and it’s too beautiful to leave rolled up in its dress bag (yes, rolled – you don’t hang dresses like that one). At the moment I doubt I’d be able to wear it with any style or grace.

Hhmm… I suppose that’s me wanting to lose weight. D’oh!

I’m hoping I get a gym program that’s all about building upper body strength. I’ve worked so hard to improve my core but I think I’m still having back pain because the rest of me is so weak. When I was going the gym regularly, my back barely troubled me at all. My back still hurts after 18 months of clinical pilates even though I know my core strength has massively improved. It doesn’t hurt as much but it hasn’t been the miracle solution I hoped it would be. Maybe over-all strength is the next logical thing to try.

To be honest, I’m also hoping it’ll make cycling easier for me. I’m hoping some upper body strength will make climbing easier. I’m pretty certain that lack of upper body strength is what makes it so difficult for me. I hurt when I climb, my back just aches so why would I want to do it? I’m not accomplishing the things my friends are because the pain holds me back.

This all sounds like I have utterly unrealistic expectations of what to happen but having done this before, I know what my body is capable of. I guess what’s to my advantage is that even though the weight is sneaking back on, it’s nowhere near like it was. A lower starting point is a good thing and I’m not expecting to magically lose a huge amount of weight. I only want to shift a couple of kilos.

Figured it was time

Gym membership and appointment card Soooo… yeah. I rejoined the gym.

I quit ages ago when the cycling started to take over and the gym was getting busier and busier, meaning you had to wait longer and longer to use the equipment. (But funnily enough I was still in their system so I have the same membership number.) I decided it must be about time I did something about the midlife weight creep I seem to be suffering from.

It’s hard work lugging 74kg up mountains – which, admittedly I haven’t done since March. Hell, it’s hard work lugging around 74kg commuting to and from work, especially when I’m on Jayne, who weighs 10kms on his own. Add a full pannier bag and it’s probably about 12kgs that I’m asking my body, my legs to push around. Add my own body weight on top of it and it’s a recipe for some effort. (I could look at in a more positive way and think of it as being a great strengthening exercise.)

I do feel fat at the moment. It appears to have gotten a good deal harder to lose weight these days. Tipping over 40 seems to made my body decide it wants to horde all the fat it can. But I am my own worst enemy because all those food that are bad for you? I love them. Eating them makes me happy – especially really good cheese.

I am trying to be better about what I eat. I’m trying to indulge my sweet tooth a good deal less. I haven’t made any cookies for at least two months (caneles and madelaines on the other hand…) I’m making less ice cream. I’m trying to eat less junk at work. I guess I have to move from trying to doing. As Yoda said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

So… This is me doing something about my weight.

You can call me the tubster

Actually, on second thought, don’t.

The weight starting sneaking back when I hurt my back in 2012 after doing Amy’s Gran Fondo. It was pretty bad. My ability to exercise dropped way off because I simply couldn’t move like I once did. I did shed some weight in 2013 but it seemed like it was only temporary. I did manage to get back down to 70kg for the wedding but that’s only because I had listeria poisoning. Three weeks before the wedding I was 72.5kg. How do I remember this when the wedding was six months ago? Because I was genuinely shocked at dropping 2.5kg in a week.

(Still, that’s not as bad as when I did Amy’s Ride on a 45°C day and dropped from 69kg to 66kg. *coughs* I was a wee bit dehydrated. But it all came back on after a few days as it should’ve.)

Anyhoo… I weighed myself this morning. I am a very bleugh 74kg, up last week from 73.8kg. I have clothes that I know I would struggle to fit into at my current weight. Beautiful dresses that I can’t wear because I’ve become too much of a tubby. But I don’t know… That’s my impression of myself. I think I look I’m about the size of elephant but it’s patently not true.

After all, compare this:
Lauren in a sparkly dark blue dress

with this:
Fat Lauren

The top photo was taken four days ago. The bottom one is from 2005. There is a visible difference between the two photos. My face is no longer all puffy and apparently I’ve started buying much better bras. 😛

I can see that I’m slimmer in the first photo but I feel like I look like I did in the second photo. Which is stupid. I know that I should be concerned about my weight gain because it’s not too healthy. But I know I’m concerned about my weight gain because of how I think I look. I should be worrying about my health and not give two figs about what I look like. I had two sets of blood tests done in 2013 and both came back saying I was extremely healthy. Even with the extra weight, I’m in rude health and not at risk of any major illness – like diabetes for example.

And that’s what I should be concerned about.

I should be concerned about doing what I need to do to keep myself healthy. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with fat acceptance (which seems to say that it’s okay to be fat regardless of the consequences) but I’ve tended to agree with the message of the health at any size concept. I have just as much value at size 16 as I did when I was a size 12. I’m still the same person. However, I was horrendously unhealthy when I was size 16 (and accelerating towards 18 and higher). I couldn’t get up a small flight of stairs without being out of breath and feeling like my heart was going to burst right out of my chest. I didn’t feel any sense of wellness, even though I wasn’t sick. The initial weight loss was liberating, not because I looked better but because I could move freely. I felt well. I felt good.

I guess that at the moment I’m struggling to like my body as it currently is. I feel fat and bloated. I feel like I’m sluggish and slow (although this morning’s ‘power lap’ on Yarra Boulevard says otherwise!). Maybe I feel like my body has betrayed me because I have put on weight. We’re in a struggle when we shouldn’t be.

After all, my body really is amazing. It does some really cool things like regulate my temperature, keeps my heart beating, controls my muscles so I can type and scratch my temple (which I just did) without me even being conscious of it. Well, I’m aware that I’m typing but I’m not telling my fingers to type a conscious level. It’s not the enemy.

It’s my thinking that’s the problem. I need to change the perception I have of myself, if that makes sense. I know I’m never going to be model thin and, to be honest, I don’t want to be. But I can’t help but wish I was slimmer. The bizarre thing about thinking like this is that I’m not sure what being slimmer would really do for me. Well, one obvious answer is that it’d make riding up mountains a hell of a lot easier! But apart from that, I have no clue. Being slimmer isn’t going to make me more successful at work – my brain needs to do that. Being slimmer isn’t going to net me a husband – already got one. Being slimmer isn’t going to suddenly lead to fame and fortune – not that I want to be famous anyway (some extra fortune would be nice though *lol*).

So how do I change my thinking? Maybe I need to simplify it. I mean, all I really care about is being able to ride my bike and having a quiet simple life. So… can I ride my bike as I am right now? Yes, I can. Does my appearance when I’m on my bike and fully kitted up really matter? Well, no. It’s not like I can see my arse or my flabby guts when I’m riding anyway. Does my husband love and accept me as I am right now? The way he is with me suggests a most definite yes. Does he care about the way I look? Maybe a little bit but it’s because he wants me to be healthy. It’s not about me being fat. Am I going to be any better off if I suddenly lost 10kg? Possibly but the effort that would go into doing it would make me pretty unhappy. And maintaining it wouldn’t be a lot of fun either.

So, what now? 10 years ago I probably would’ve been in tears by now and stuffing my face with chocolate. Or ice cream. And making a bad situation even worse. I’m more than aware that I always give into temptation. I love chocolate. I love ice cream. I love cake. So maybe the solution is to love them a little less. And to be honest – get over it. All this angst about how I look is idiotic and a huge waste of time. I look the way I look.

So there you go, self! Build a bridge and get over it!!

So, about those life changing decisions…

So…. in April last year I announced I was engaged (and had gotten engaged in the most romantic city in the world – Paris). And that was it. I haven’t mentioned it since. Which is kinda weird considering it’s such a monumental thing.

In 13 days, I’ll be getting married.

I’m a somewhat reluctant bride. I love the idea of being married, that makes me really happy. But I’m very ambivalent about this whole wedding thing. I’ve never enjoyed being the centre of attention. And a wedding is all about that. I’m suppose to fluttering about, hugely excited about this very fact and I’m the exact opposite of that. I love my wedding dress but I quickly got sick of the whole getting it fitted process. I can’t wait to wear it but I’m worried about getting in and out of it. It’s not a step-into dress, it’s an over-the-head dress which complicates the hair and make-up process. And speaking of that – I’m trying to be excited about having people fuss over me, doing my make-up and hair but I’m simply not.

I’ve found the whole process of organising a wedding stressful. I’ve had so many comments about how organised I am so I must be putting out this placid, calm vibe but really, it’s a frenzy of activity. No one really tell you how much needs to be organised and how, towards the end, it will suck up all of your free time. It’s exhausting.

So yeah, I guess I’ve become very negative when it comes to the wedding. I figure I should do something about that and start focusing what’s good about it. Because really, it’s not about the wedding – it’s all about what happens afterwards.

It took me a long time to rid myself of the stupid idea of there being “the one”. I realise now that the best we can hope for when it comes to relationships and marriage is to find someone who you really like as a person. I’m lucky enough to have found that, especially considering I’m a cranky old lady these days.

I dunno… maybe I’ve finally worked out that real success in relationships comes from being willing to be open and truly yourself. And that you have to be willing to properly communicate with each other without getting angry. And I guess that other big thing is acceptance. I feel accepted by him, he doesn’t judge me. Even we when first got together that I have his total support. He lets me do my own thing yet also makes me like I have someone who will catch me if it all goes wrong. I’m not sure I’ve ever had that before. I hope he feels that I give him the same level of support.

So, perhaps that’s what I should be focusing one when it comes to the wedding. It’s where the rest of our relationship starts.

Oh, you’ll change your mind

Funny how this article by Clem Bastow got published on The Age website right when I’ve finally managed to achieve what I thought was the unachievable and have found myself in a relationship. A conversation with a work colleague meandered around to the topic of children. That’s when I got the Oh, you’ll change your mind response to my adamant position that I’m never going to have kids.

When I read Ms Bastow’s article, it was like she was reading my mind. Women who chose not to have children are either treated as if there’s something wrong with them which makes me decidedly grumpy or told that they’ll change their minds.

Uh… how about no?

Like Ms Bastow, I have zero maternal desire. I’m aunt to three nieces and one nephew and I love those kids to bits. But this doesn’t mean I have any desire at all to have a rug rat of my own. I’ve never had the desire. The only reason I ever said I would have children when I was younger was because it was expected of me to say just that. I’ve often been known to say that I must’ve been away the day maternal instinct was handed out because mine is so absent. Allegedly there’s a ticking biological clock that I’m supposed be hearing as my prime fertility years slip away but my response is what ticking biological clock? I simply don’t have it.

Of course, Ms Bastow’s article got plenty of comments (402 by the time they closed them) and it seemed to go three ways. Women saying “Hallelujah! Someone saying exactly what I’m thinking”, men telling her to essentially suck it up and deal with the busybodies and women telling her she’s making a horrendous mistake by not having children and that she’ll regret it when she’s older. The Age even got in on the act by publishing not one but two opinion pieces from the “you’ll regret it when you’re older” faction: one by Lyn Bender and another by Emma McDonald.

Both them espoused that same opinions that I’ve been exposed to before. Oh, you won’t know love until you’ve had a child. It’s what women are born to do. It’s not easy but it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do… blah, blah, blah. Make me barf! Why is so hard for society to accept that there’s nothing wrong with a woman who simply doesn’t want to have children? I refuse to believe that my only purpose in life should be to push out a sprog or two. I refuse to believe that I’m somehow a failure in life because I haven’t and won’t procreate.

Maybe I am missing out on something profound. Maybe I am missing out on some overwhelming experience of love. And I’m okay with that. I’m too selfish to have children and I have no qualms admitting that. I like the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s a luxury I’m not willing to give up. I like my life the way it is and I don’t believe I’m really missing out on anything by not having a kid. To be honest, the idea that I’d be 100% responsible for someone scares the crap out of me. I’ve only just worked out how to properly take care of myself.

Let me be really clear – this is my personal position (and opinion). I don’t deny that having children is a rewarding and enriching experience for those who do. I see my siblings with their children and it makes me happy to see them happy. I love my three nieces and one nephew. I’m sure my life is and will be better because they’re part of my family. I just happen to love and cherish the ability of being able to hand them to someone else when they’re being little monsters and I like not having to wash bits of food out of my hair.

Tree project and in defence of “The Biggest Loser”

Week twenty nine

Never in a million years did I think I’d defend The Biggest Loser. There is so much wrong with the show. It makes the denigrating of overweight people acceptable, an activity which has been taken on by the media and the general public with a vengeance. It’s now acceptable to laugh at “the fatties” and judge people solely on their physical appearance. Well, as a culture we’ve always done that but it’s far more pronounced then it used to be.

I also disagree with facets of the show, mostly the temptation competitions. They put bad food in people with obvious eating issues and tell them they can gain another week in the show by acquiring “immunity” if they eat the food and consume the highest amount of calories. The concept is reprehensible for a show that’s meant to be about helping people lose weight.

However, it was makeover week this week. The seven contestants left were given hair cuts, the girls got make-up and everyone got to chose new clothes. Once done up, they were all taken to a mirror by their trainer with their eyes shut and when ready, could open their eyes. And at that moment, I realised the show does have at least one redeeming feature.

It’s given those people their lives back.

They looked in the mirror and saw themselves in a way that haven’t in years. Sarah, the biggest female contestant who’s ever been on the show, has gone from a size 28 to a size 16. She was so deeply ashamed of the way she looked. Her life was a misery because of the way she looked. You’d have to have a very hard heart to not feel something when she strutted her way down the catwalk with such confidence.

However, it’s not Sarah I identify with the most. It’s Lara. Lara was just over 100kgs at her first weigh in. I’ve been there or very close to it. Unlike Lara, it took me over two years to shift the weight and get down to where I am now which is around 70kgs. Lara has done it in three months (allegedly – there is some question about timelines) and I can’t imagine what that’s like. But I understand what she’s been through. I know what it’s like when you feel like you’re totally out of control when it comes to food. I know what it’s like to feel so ugly as she said she did. I used to spend so much time pretending I didn’t care about how I looked but underneath it all I hated myself so much. That leads quickly to a vicious cycle of feeling horrible and rewarding yourself with food to feel better so the weight just piles on. It’s such an easy trap to fall into.

Without The Biggest Loser, I don’t think Lara would’ve changed her life in the way she has. I think that eventually she would’ve done something but the change wouldn’t have been as amazing as it has been on the show.

But I suppose that’s also something I have quibbles with. It’s easy to lose weight when you’re locked in a house with your own personal trainer, nothing to do but exercise and a chef to prepare your food for you. It’s totally unrealistic and I imagine it gives people unreasonable expectations of what they can achieve. There’s so much wrong with show. It does so many things I disagree with. However, it’s undeniable for those lucky enough to stay on the show for an extended period that it helps them enormously. They do change their lives for the better. Whether or not they manage to stick with it when they’re back in the real world is another story.

So yes, that’s one reason to defend The Biggest Loser. (And apparently to out myself as someone who watches it – oops!) Unless you’ve been there, you can’t know what it’s like to be the contestants’ position. It’s so easy for people to say “put down the food and get exercising”. Personal experience has told me it’s not that simple. I hope the people on the show have been given the psychological help so many of them obviously need.

To look in the mirror and admit that you hate what you see is a hard and horrible thing to have to do. But saving yourself is so rewarding. I hope the contestants on the show have learnt that.

Once upon a time…

…there was a little girl.

There wasn’t anything particularly extraordinary about her. She was your average, run-of-the-mill little girl. She had a wonderful family who loved her very much. She went to school, did average school girl things and discovered a love for books and reading.

As she got older, she tried out a number of different sports as was the norm. Nothing really fit until she turned to cycling in her final year of high school. That particular activity worked for her so she pedaled her way through a difficult year. She was fit, healthy, tanned and in great shape. She spent the summer at the end of that year cycling, swimming and generally being carefree. But all good things must come to an end and university beckoned.

Ah… university! On-campus living! It was her first experience of living away from home and of course, she did was all the other first years were doing and thoroughly misbehaved. There was too much alcohol and bad food consumed, the habits she’d developed the previous year went out the window. In the end the only physical activity she was getting was the daily walks to and from the university campus.

On occasion, she would drag her bike out and go for ride. When she got suspended from university for six months for poor academic performance, she really got into shape – cycling, swimming and going to aerobic classes nearly every day. But once again, upon her return to university, all thoughts of exercise slowly disappeared and she became lazy and unfit. But not excessively so. She put on a little weight but not too much as she didn’t have a car and had to walk a lot.

Time passed and she graduated from university with a pretty useless degree. She moved back to her home town and wondered what to do with her life. Much time was spent unemployed, schlepping around on the couch doing little. Finally there was employment and once again, exercise entered her life in the shape of walking to work each day. She was still reasonably trim at this point, not eating too badly and taking some care of herself.

Eventually she found herself in Melbourne, in a relationship that wasn’t exactly healthy. She was unhappy. Her partner was unhappy so they took comfort in food. Too much food. Too much McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, Red Rooster. Eaten all the time and each sitting would be an excess of food. The girl started to struggle to walk up stairs. The fit, muscled legs she’d had for so long started to disappear under a layer of fat. She still walked but it seemed harder and walking up hills was a torture. She wouldn’t let people take photos of her and never looked in a mirror when not fully dressed.

One day something really bad happened. The girl was changing the bed linen when all of sudden, her back started to hurt. It started with a twinge but then she found she couldn’t stand up. In fact, she couldn’t sit either. She was in agony and couldn’t move. She spent the day lying flat on her back, wondering if she would be able to walk again. When she finally had to go to the toilet, she threw up. The trip to the doctor was a pain-induced blur. The prognosis was a prolapsed disc in her spine. For the next three days she lay in bed or slumped on the couch, waiting for the pain to subside and trying to accept the fact that she would have to deal with this for the rest of her life.

But of course, all things must change. The relationship she was in? Well, it ended and it didn’t end well. For six months, the girl took comfort in food, eating all the wrong things. Her whole life was imploding around her. She hated her job, hated her boss, hated her life and well, she hated herself. She hated the fact that she could no longer see her toes when she looked down. She hated everything that she had become. The problem was it was at such a subconscious level, she was still kidding herself that she was okay physically. But it was all a lie.

She hated being in the office with her boss so every day she would go for a walk at lunchtime. She would spend an hour walking around the city. She did this for months and gradually noticed a change. Her jeans were starting to feel a little too big. She started feel a little better about herself and walking up a flight of stairs no longer left her out of breath. Movement seemed easier, she had to buy new jeans. She started to remember what it was to have a body that could move freely. And this was good.

Two of her friends were getting married and she was in bridal party. She decided early on that she didn’t want to be a frumpy bridesmaid so she joined the gym. Her first consultation with a trainer wasn’t a lot of fun. Finally she was forced to really see what she had done to herself. She was over 80kg and this was after she lost some weight. It was hard for her to accept that she was fat. Once she accepted the reality, she worked hard. Change came, the weight started to come off. She could run up a flight of stairs and not be out of breath.

Of course, there were times when she fell off the exercise wagon and put all the weight back on. She was constantly ill for one winter and had trouble just making it work, let alone go to the gym. But she always fought back and could remember what it felt like to be able to do things without being out of breath. The pain in her back had become a minor niggle. Life had become better. And then she rediscovered cycling…

The End (for the moment anyway)

Hi, my name is Lauren and this is a picture of me taken in 2002.

This was before I’d started doing any exercise and after years of eating badly. The thing that upset me the most about this picture when I finally found it was that I have fat ankles. I’m also not overly thrilled with how fat my arms are either. I find my posture interesting. What’s with the hunched over shoulders? It’s like I’d forgotten how to stand straight. There’s another picture of me taken on the same day where you can see my wonderful double-chin :/ I think that one can stay hidden.

Here’s an even better one from 2005…

Mmmm… aren’t I a stunner? (I did adore that skirt though)

The question for me is that how could I let this happen to myself? When I was 18 I was in amazing shape. I was a size 12 – 10 on a good day – but I still thought I was fat. It kills me now that I ever though that. I’ve had a good grounding in nutrition, I understand what a standard portion size means. I knew and understood the basic premise that if you eat too much fatty food, you’re going to put on weight. But I did it anyway. I ate enormous amounts of food. I ate too much and I didn’t exercise. I got fat, real fat for someone with my body type. I can’t even hide behind that lamest of the lame excuses I’m just big boned because I’m not. I have small shoulders and scrawny arms. I can’t say I have skinny legs because the cycling I did when I was younger put down a certain amount of muscle and it never really went away. But I definitely had more shapely legs then the ones I ended up with after years of gorging myself on bad food.

I wish I could go back in time and fix the mistakes I made when it came to how I treated my body. After all, you only get one and I’m fairly certain my weight caused the prolapsed disc in my spine. And of course I made it worse because I used it as an excuse to not exercise for a really long time.

The gym was good but I found I could intimidate the trainers into not giving me tough programs. That was until I met Tracey who saw through all my bullshit. She didn’t ignore my back problems but she certainly challenged me and changed my perception of what I was physically capable of. I discovered that I’d be holding myself back, hiding behind the excuse of my back when I could’ve been doing so much more. She had me doing exercises I was certain I couldn’t and lifting weight I thought were too heavy. And she was right, I could do it.

Of course, I don’t go to the gym any more. These days it’s all about the bike. And I love it. I love it so completely I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. I still have so many issues with my appearance but for whatever reason, I can put them all aside when it comes to getting into my cycling gear and going for a ride. I don’t feel self-conscious when I’m on my bike, which is weird because there’s nowhere to hide when you’re kitted up. Okay, so the bib shorts are helping a bit but I find that I simply don’t care. The not caring – that’s a good thing.

Me today. Well, not today, taken a few weeks ago about halfway up to Kinglake.

I look at the photo and see all my flaws. I can see the pudgy stomach I’m probably going to be stuck with for good but it’s counter-balanced by the trim legs and slimmed down arms. I don’t have a double-chin any more.

I suppose I’m writing this because most of the time I focus on what I’m not (skinny, gorgeous, fabulously rich) rather than seeing what I have achieved. I never, ever pat myself on the back and say “well done”. I barely acknowledge that I’ve managed to do something that the majority of Australians apparently can’t. So go team me! I will always see myself as terribly flawed (and fat) but sometimes it’s nice to acknowledge that I did take control of my life and did something about the shape I found myself in.

To finish off on a musical note, Tim Minchin pretty much sums it up with this particular ditty…

Parts of a whole

There are parts of me I like and parts of me I loathe. But they all come together to make up me. I am parts of a whole whether I like them or not.

Recently it feels like there has been a shift towards heavily emphasising a person’s appearance. A show like The Biggest Loser appears to have made it acceptable to openly critique people’s appearance. I remember reading a comment somewhere in an article about the show that said it was rating so well because people wanted to watch the fatties suffer. It seems to be acceptable these days to put down and – well, to sound a like a little kid – be really really mean to people who don’t fit society’s concept of an attractive physical appearance.

I am not and never will be thin. According to all the scales, charts and body indexes, I’m at least five kilos heavier than I should be. I can get to 70km and that’s where the weight loss stops. For all my efforts, I still have a flabby belly. I seem capable of losing weight everywhere but my stomach. The problem is that girls aren’t supposed to have flabby bellies. I make a point of not looking in the mirror when I get dressed, which is a task because my wardrobe doors – they’re mirrors. I hate what I see. All I see is the flaws and fat.

I know I should accept myself as I am and learn to embrace it. But I can’t. I can’t do the fat acceptance thing. Maybe at subconscious level I think that if I’m skinnier, things will magically fix themselves and I’ll be successful, popular and everything in my life will just fall into place. I’ll get everything I’ve ever wanted. I feel stupid for even writing that down but I think it’s true. There’s so much emphasis placed on how we look that when we don’t come up to scratch, it’s natural to feel like a failure and an outcast.

My worth as a person shouldn’t be dictated by my appearance but I’m know that it is. The hardest thing I do every day is pulling on my cycling gear because there’s nowhere to hide in that. Every single flaw is on display. My legs are okay but I’m forever grimacing when I see my torso. I’m incredibly self-conscious but my love of being on my bike just manages to overcome it. The other thing is that I have to focus on what I’m doing when I am riding, I can’t be tugging at my clothes trying to rearrange them which is something I do all the time when I’m in my ‘street’ clothes.

I spend so much time wishing there was a magic wand to fix up my flaws. But if I woke up one day to discover my breasts had magically reduced overnight and my flabby belly flattened out, how long do you think I’d last before directing my criticisms to another part of my body? It’s in our natures as women to always find something about ourselves that we hate. If someone was to offer me breast reduction surgery done by a reputable surgeon I would do it in a heartbeat. The only reason I haven’t had it done is because it’s ridiculously expensive and I don’t have the money.

I wish there was an easy answer to my angst but there never will be. I will always be my own worse critic when it comes to my appearance. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to fully accept myself as I am. I think there will always be a part of me that wants to hide away because I can’t stand how people look at me. I know the first thing they see about me is my breasts and I’ll forever be self-conscious about that. I wish society wasn’t so shallow as to pigeon-hole people by how they look but that’s never ever going to change and there will always be some arsehole who feels free to comment on my appearance.

I know I should try to step away from seeing myself as parts and work on seeing myself as a whole. The part I don’t like, the parts I do like – they are still all me.

Single girl angst

What irritates me most is that we are still defining women by relationships. It just reflects this neediness about being ‘whole’ only if you’re in a partnership, about being validated as a woman only if you have a bloke. Once again, it is women who are made to feel like they’re going to miss out, and it is men who get the easy ride because some women are panicking. – Virginia Haussegger

Why is Jennifer Aniston the poster girl for single angst? by Rachel Hills, The Age.

After my relationship of eight years crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, I told myself no half-arsed relationships! Eventually. You know, after the endless months of moping around the house, being a wreck and wondering where it all went wrong. But still, came out of it thinking no half-arsed relationships. Which turned me into a bit of a freak because aren’t we all supposed to pair up and mate for life? Isn’t there something wrong with a person who’s perennially single?

There’s an enormous amount of pressure put on people, women especially, when they’re single. The general inference is that there must be something wrong with you if you don’t couple up as soon as humanly possible. I can feel the swirl of pity around me because I’ve been single for so long. It’s not even a conscious thing. People tut, then sigh and have this look on their faces that says they’re sure all my problems would be fixed if I’d just find a nice boy and settle down. Uh… I feel pretty settled as I am right now. And I’m not sure why finding a nice boy is supposed to the solution to all my problems.

It’s like all the single people are cluttering up the place, making it look untidy. Society doesn’t like it when people do something different and being over 35 and single definitely doesn’t fit the grand plan you’re supposed to subscribe to. Sometimes I feel like it’s been decided there must be something wrong with me because I’m not in a relationship.

I’ve seen too many examples of relationships where people have ended up settling. It’s not that they’re miserable or unhappy but there’s still something missing. I think people are afraid of being alone so they stay with someone when they know they shouldn’t. Settling sells everyone short and it ends up with both parties feeling less than happy and satisfied. I suppose that’s what makes me different because I’m not afraid to be alone. Still, there is this niggle in my head that maybe I’m wrong. Most of the time I can ignore it because I know with unshakable conviction that I’d rather be single and occasionally lonely then in a relationship with someone who – if I’m brutally honest – I feel meh about. Maybe that’s stupid, unrealistic and just plain dumb because it’s lead to the situation I’m in now where I’m always the person who upsets the balance of the table settings.

90% of the time I’m okay with disrupting the even numbers because I’m okay with where I’m at. It’s the 10% of the time that’s a concern. Guess which percentage I’m in right now? I think it ties into my inability to make good choices at the moment. I feel that when it comes to the relationship question, I’m not good at making sensible decisions so I opt to make no decisions at all. Better to just ignore it all and not deal with it than get myself into another situation where I get hurt. And that’s the problem isn’t it? I’ve been hurt too many times to be comfortable with putting myself out there.

There’s also the flip-side of the argument in that I simply can’t be bothered. I’ve been on my own for so long that I’ve filled the spaces in my life with other things and that doesn’t leave any room for another person. I suppose that’s my indicator that I’m really into someone – I’ll be willing to change my behaviours and make space in my life for them.

But this is all a moot point anyway if I won’t get out there and actually meet new people.