Three sensible F-words: my New Year’s resolutions

Yesterday I wrote about my New Year’s realisation. I realised I would be happy just to look like Ricki-Lee Coulter’s “Before” photo. I faced the fact that I’m not happy with my weight and want to do something about it.

Every year it’s the same. I think about several things I don’t like about myself and resolve to change them. I think about all the things I want for my life and resolve to get them. But then, before you know it, another year has rolled by, and I am exactly the same. Same rolls of fat around my middle, same bad habits, same character flaws.

I think maybe I should just save myself the time and grief and not make any resolutions. Because if I don’t make any in the first place, that’s one less thing to fail at, right?

But isn’t the definition of success simply picking yourself up one more time than you fall? Well, it’s one definition. And I have to keep trying. I live in hope.

So here I am, 2015, picking myself up, again. This year is the year I really need to make these changes, because it’s amazing how quickly one year turns into five… especially as you get older.

My resolutions involve the three ‘Fs’. No, not ‘Fun’, ‘Funk’ or any other ‘F’ word. It’s the three sensible ‘F’ words: ‘Fitness’, ‘Finance’ and my favourite, ‘Furniture’.

Here’s what I plan to do with these F-words.

Fitness – I’m gonna get me some!

Finance – I’m taking control!

Furniture – I’m gonna move it to a new location!

Now I’m thinking of another F-word. That’s right –  ‘Fool’, because that’s what I’m going to look like as the months roll by (now that I’ve put it ‘out there’) if I don’t make any progress. I just need to do some plotting and planning about how I’m going to make these changes, and then, you know, take the action required (that’s the tricky part).

I now take inspiration from a quote on a post-it note I stuck above my desk months ago (that I am only just taking notice of now): “Great things are not done by impulse, but, by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent van Gogh.

It’s exciting just thinking about how things could be this time next year… or this time in five years.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope it’s a good one for you and may it be better for everyone than 2014 was!

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Frangipani in our courtyard: May 2015 be blooming good for you. And for me, I hope the only things that bloom are flowers, fun, fitness, finance and furniture.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

New Year’s Realisations

Happy New Year!

Before I post about new beginnings, resolutions and all that jazz, I would just like to briefly recount my New Year’s Eve.

Spider Boy and I had just returned from Canberra and we were both pretty tired. My offer for us to walk to the end of the street to see the 9pm fireworks, was met with a “No thanks, I don’t like crowds, and I heard on the radio there’s going to be over a million people.” Well, not in our neck of the harbour, but I was just as happy not to go anywhere.

So we settled in for an evening of fireworks and mild (very mild) entertainment on the ABC. Spider Boy was mildly amused to see Jimmy Giggle from Giggle and Hoot as one of the presenters.

After one lot of fireworks, SB went to bed. Then there was the really bad TV, while waiting for the fireworks. “Pub Trivia” on ABC, and Channel Nine trotted out You Can’t Stop the Music again (where was Richard Wilkins? Budget cuts at Nine too?)

Senorita Margarita, who has spent the past two New Year’s Eves with us, with retro music and movies, was at some kind of folk festival in Queensland called “Woodford”, or as my family members call it, “Woodstock” (Mum), “Waynestock” (me), and “That conference in Queensland” (Dad).

I amused myself with Who magazine’s annual HALF THEIR SIZE! issue with freshly-popped champagne and leftover plum pudding with brandy butter.

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The cover line screamed at me excitedly, “Exclusive! Ricki-Lee tells How I lost 30kg (that last bit was in excited yellow ink) with a full length bikini shot of Ricki-Lee looking gorgeous (posing and in makeup as part of Who‘s shoot) and then a smaller paparazzi bikini shot in the corner of the 29-year-old singer looking more well-rounded, particularly around the hips, bottom and thighs. But still gorgeous.

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My first thoughts were, how the hell could someone who doesn’t even look overweight in the first place (well-rounded, but not what I would call fat) lose THIRTY kilos and still be able to stand up (ie not collapsed from malnutrition)? Why does anyone, who already looks good in a bikini, need to lose 30 kilos? Maybe the before picture (taken in Bali in 2010) used was not an illustration of Ricki-Lee at 30kg heavier than the cover shot. But weight can be deceiving, and some people carry it better than others. Ricki-Lee is 180cm tall, so any excess weight can be more discreetly carried. On little 163cm me, there’s simply less surface area for the fat to hide.

I suppose I was a little confronted by the realisation that I aspire to look like the before picture. Because right now, I look fatter than Ricki-Lee’s before picture. So it just seemed silly to me that she felt she needed to lose 30kg. Maybe I’m envious. But I’m not going to get all Judgey Mcjudge about Ricki-Lee’s 30kg weight loss. It’s her choice if she just wants to eat fruit for breakfast, snack on nuts and only partake of fatty carbs once a month, in order to look model thin. I thought there was nothing wrong with the before picture though – she’s wearing a bikini (a bandeau top no less), she’s in the surf with wet hair, in Bali, living life. It’s just a different version of beauty.

The main point of the weight-loss, according to the article, is that Ricki-Lee feels so much better now. She told Who, “I completely transformed the way I used to live, and I feel amazing.” When I read the article, I realised that even though I thought she looked fine before, she didn’t feel fine.

“I was onstage performing… I was walking and singing and gasping for air. I was so unfit and so unhealthy, I’d probably just eaten two pizzas before I went on and skolled a bottle of wine. At that moment I felt like fat Elvis. I made the decision I never wanted to feel like that again.”

Ricki-Lee didn’t feel fine, she felt really bad, made the decision to change, and actually did it. And I commend her for that.

I am overweight. I look fatter than Ricki-Lee’s before picture and I don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel as good physically as I know I can, as I have in the past. I find it inspiring that Ricki-Lee made the decision to change, and actually did it. I hope I can carry this inspiration with me throughout the days, weeks and months ahead, and actually do something about my not-so-little problem.

Did you have any New Year’s Realisations?

How a Cherry Pie and a DeLorean was my undoing

A few months ago I signed up to Michelle Bridges’ 12-Week Body Transformation (12WBT), a 12-week online weight loss program.  So have I lost any weight? Yes, I did, in the first three weeks. But today, 16 weeks later, I really don’t know what I weigh, and I don’t care about the number anymore.

At the end of week 4 of the program,  I stepped onto the bathroom scales with anticipation. I then stepped off them with horror. I was incredulous to see that I had in fact gained 800 grams in the past week!

I had tried really pretty hard, but had still gained. I was so frustrated with myself, the scales, and those pesky, impertinent 800 grams, that I ate whatever I wanted that whole weekend – and it was a four-day weekend (we went away during school holidays) including one night in a hotel where the buffet breakfast was included. Here is just one of the delights that I ate…

Take that, 800grams. Mmmm it was good though. Worth every damn calorie.

Take that, 800grams. Mmmm it was good though. Worth every damn calorie.

After that weekend I was well and truly off the Weight-loss Wagon, straight onto the Shuttle Bus of Shame, which delivered me quickly to the Den of Denial.

As the weeks rolled on, I would simply delete any emails from Michelle Bridges, and was pleasantly surprised not to receive any “Alexandra, you haven’t weighed in for a while!” notifications.

But then came Week 12’s email. The subject heading was “Finale Workout and Party”. I clicked on it. “Maybe I could join them for the mass workout?” I thought,  riding in the DeLorean of Delusion*.  I thought of last year’s group workout, and remembered how in a strange kind of way, I had actually enjoyed it. But thank goodness I came to my senses and realised that, since I hadn’t even gone for so much as a walk since the day I ate a beer truffle at ten in the morning, a sudden mass aerobics class may not be such a good idea, not wanting to have a massive heart attack and all.

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My DeLorean of Delusion looks somewhat like this.

Then I received an email about joining the next round of the 12WBT, which was to start in a week’s time. I realised that would mean another finale party and a chance to frock up with hair and makeup! I seriously thought about signing up again and having another go,  just so I could get to that finale party.

But before I could enter those credit card details, I pulled into the reality station. This online program has not worked for me twice now, what makes me think number three is going to be third time lucky? Apart from the saying, “third time lucky”. I can’t pay good money to do a 12-week program just to have a makeover and go to a party.  So no workout, no party and no “body transformation”!

Instead, I have my memories of last year’s finale workout (didn’t go to the after party then either), and I share them here with you now…

I recently took part in a mass outdoor workout which was the culmination of my attempt at Michelle Bridges’ 12-Week Body Transformation (12WBT) I fell off the wagon many times during the 12 weeks. Actually, I completely gave up in week 4 (I did still read the weekly emails). But I thought I had nothing to lose by giving this mass exercise class a go. It was free, and it was in a park near my dad’s place, handy for babysitting Spider Boy.

Once I started the class, I thought about stopping. But, it wasn’t too hectic, I was keeping pace. Hey, maybe I could do this.

“Right everyone, great warmup!” boomed Michelle’s glamorous man-assistant, a muscly tanned young man with his radio mike and headset. The Warm Up.  Oh yes, I’d forgotten all about that. 

I thought about stopping again, just escaping now.  But I give up on so many diet and exercise attempts when they get a bit hard. I caught a glimpse of another woman’s T-shirt with the words, “Pain – it’s only temporary!” on the back. I took it as a sign – I had to finish this damn workout – even if I was wearing a singlet with the words “Bust a Move” on it above a dancing cartoon cow that was actually part of a pyjama set from Target.

So I busted my moves amongst the positive pop psychology-sloganed lycra. One thousand people, mostly women between 20 – 50ish from all over Australia. Some in sensible workout gear, some dressed up. There was a Wonder Woman. There was a flock of fabulous fat fairies in green wigs and matching tutus. A clutch of elves in blue T-shirts from Canberra wearing silver sequinned elf hats. 

The punters were keen – I saw two plastered limbs but their owners still moved what they could. It was one big arena of positivity (with ample water, sunscreen and uplifting, gym-style music pumping motivating through the speakers). It was Priscilla Queen of the Desert meets Alex Queen of Desserts, meets Oprah, meets Aerobics Oz Style. In fact, you could say it was a Disco in an Unlikely Place.**

The initials JFDI appeared on many T-shirts.  “Just F—ing Do It!”  I really need to embrace JFDI.  And following on from that, JFFI (Just F—ing Finish It) and not to mention my all time favourite, JFSI (Just F—ing Start It) in the first place.

Glamorous man-assistant told us to “Grapevine” , a move I haven’t seen since the early 90s (oh who am I kidding, it was the late 80s), at Healthlands Bondi Junction. 

“Class over!” he finally boomed as I huffed and puffed. What? Already, it was only ½ hour in to this “endorphin extravaganza”. 

“Cross-over!” he boomed again as he executed his nifty footwork. So not only am I unfit, I’m deaf as well. 

There was one foray into group activity where we had to break off into small teams and actually engage with sweaty strangers. This was getting a bit too “boot-camp” for my liking. I stared longingly at the gate bordering the workout area, about 50 metres away, thinking ‘Do I make a run for it now?’ because Lord knows that’s what I felt like doing. Engage with complete strangers when I’m red, sweaty, unco-ordinated and un-plank worthy?

There was a row of Michelle’s minions at the gate, blocking it like a row of bouncers. There was no escape. Face your fear, Alex, be an adult, finish something, JFFI! So I stayed. I planked, I conquered. I JFDI (Just F—ing Did It)! I had little breaks here and there, but it was ok. There was no pressure, everyone was there to have a good time, and I really did.

Apart from a small bindi injury sustained during the mass plank-off, I came through the workout unscathed. Red-faced (literally) but unscathed.  And more importantly, inspired to get moving, and JFDI! (and finish it.)

Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT definitely has its merits. Thousands swear by it and it obviously works for them. While I am extremely impressed with, and have been sporadically motivated by Bridges’ drive, enthusiasm and amazing positivity, I found the program’s expectations of me were a little high. I think it’s great for people who like structure and are motivated by the group, competition and challenges in general. My failure on the program was to do with my own character flaws (laziness, procrastination, tendency to hide in the Den of Denial, compulsion to make butter from cream etc.etc) rather than anything to do with the 12WBT itself.

I am now trialling the 5:2 diet by Dr Michael Mosely, who to me, is the Kevin McCloud of science and medicine. This diet is also known as The Fast Diet – not because it’s fast (damn it), but because you fast for two days a week (limiting your calorie intake to 500 per day) and “eat well” for five days. Every week. Forever.

Hopefully I can “JFDI”. I will keep you posted.

*The vehicle you think about time-travelling in when you really want to go back to the 80s, while being deluded that it is in fact possible to go back. Especially if you play Huey Lewis and the News on your tape deck as you wish, hope and pray. Can also be a metaphor for any journey of delusion you are on.

** A time or place of unexpected joy.