the lasts

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The finish line is in site. I'm into the "lasts" - I'm into my last week in the job, I finished my last client project, sending out my last emails, just had my last pay cheque (eeeeep!). It's all untrodden path from here on.

Thing is, I still feel stressed out and I'm still bingeing. I think I expected to feel a huge weight lift off and just be able to walk away into the sunset a brand new woman. I've now come to realise it's going to take a little while to adjust before that's even close to being possible.

Thank you so much K not Kay (and of course MizFit and Kathrynoh) for your comment to my last post. Learning to losen the safety belt is definitely a good goal.

I've been doing so much thinking lately - about opportunities, triggers, being true to myself - about all sorts of things. I hope to find some time to get these thoughts out in forthcoming posts. Pretty soon I'll have all the time in the world to do so.

eye opening

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I go through the same processes each time.

At the beginning I'm just lost, then comes self-hatred as everything starts to unravel. I hate what I see in the mirror, hate what I've become, hate what I've done. As the weight piles back on I'm uncomfortable in my clothes, uncomfortable in my skin. I go into hiding, disconnected and angry at myself. I beat myself up, all the while continuing to spiral out of control.

Eventually there's a shift. A subtle one. Instead of anger and hate I start to feel regret. I mourn what I've done to myself. It's an eye-opener, I can't really describe the subtle difference. It's not like I couldn't see the weight piling on all along, but I couldn't *really* see it. This new way is quiet, it's calm, it's loving, not hating.

I can't really say what I mean, can't quite describe what I'm trying to get at. I figure that's not such a bad thing, someone once told me that when thoughts are so jumbled that you can't communicate them, that's when they're the most honest; the most raw, most true to your emotions. It's then that my feelings are trying to communicate directly, without over-analytical brain having a chance to edit and re-interpret.

I think of myself as an emotional person, driven far too much by my emotions. Yet do I ever really listen to them?

At the moment I'm a bit stuck in the self hatred. I have no clothes that fit, I'm paying no attention to my appearance, taking no pride or care in myself. But just now, I had a glimmer, a fleeting thought based on genuine care and love for myself. I need to figure a way to turn to that thought and keep it going. It might be the same process each and every time, I might have a good insight into it but I still don't have a lot of control over it.

Here we go again...

This is the third time on this cycle for this blog alone. Just like the last time I'm questioning the repetitive nature of it all, wondering if people will get sick of me. But I need to learn and I'm just going to have to keep going round this rollercoaster until I've figured it out.

Safety belts on, here we go again.

ani in a nutshell

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In my quest to find a new path I just dug out one of those personality assessment thingamajigs I did for a job interview a few years ago. It was the kind where you answer a couple hundred questions and it churns out an automated report.

You'd think I might have picked up on the hint back then that computers weren't really my bag of fulfillment, but curiously this still ranked me as suitable for the software consultant job I was going for at the time.

Its summary:

    Ani's task preferences are (in order of preference):

    • doing something artistic
    • thinking about and trying new ways to do things
    • working with her hands
    • doing something that helps others or society
    • analyzing facts
    • problems and decisions
    • organizing something
    • teaching
    • fixing or repairing something
    • researching or learning new information.

    Ani prefers to avoid the following tasks (listed according to greatest dislike first):

    • working with numbers
    • driving a vehicle
    • working with computers
    • doing physical work

    Ani would be interested in work that involves animals, travel, writing/language, food, health/medicine and plants.

    Ani lacks interest in electronics.

    Ani needs a work environment that involves working as part of a team, working with the general public and working indoors.

I'd forgotten just how spot on it was:

    Ani is currently somewhat discouraged about the future. Ani is helpful and responsive to others' needs. Ani has a very strong intention to improve herself. Ani is extremely empathetic and warm, however Ani may at times become a little overly emotional. Ani tends to be reasonably open-minded, making it easier to communicate with people who have different ideas. There are some interpersonal areas in which she could improve. Ani may often have difficulty being frank or direct. Ani has difficulty expressing her own wants and needs. Ani has very low self-esteem. Although Ani has a very strong intention to improve herself, Ani may tend to be very hard on herself while trying to improve. Ani may at times be inflexible.

hello Ani, universe calling

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I really should get back into the habit of blogging again but it's funny to consider writing (well typing) down my thoughts when I've blocked them up so successfully lately.

I've had the most enormously positive response from my big decision (thanks, you folks, you're gorgeous!). Relaxation still seems a long way off while I'm still in the middle of craziness. Last night was another 2am finish. But I'm definitely getting the message it's time to go. First my laptop swallowed and melted my work ID card (it doubles up as a smartcard for authentication) then last night our blessed wee darling of a cat protested in the only way he knows best - he peed all over my work laptop bag. Lovely!

Finally just today my other work card, (the one that gets us in the shared building lift and car park), stopped working.

I get the message. Time to go.

my future is a blank canvas

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Yesterday I resigned from my job.

I've got a month's notice to work, including finishing off the stressful project I'm behind on, followed by a week's as yet unknown project, then finally two more weeks back in Perth. A month's more stress but then that's it, this will take me to Christmas Eve and then... nothing.

Nada!

Total freedom and an absolute blank canvas.

As you can probably assume from my absence for so long, life carried on going downhill for me. My stress levels got higher and higher, surpassed only by the speed at which my weight also went up. I curled up in a hole. It's easy to disappear when you're in a new city.

I need to learn how to manage my anxiety levels and at the same time reduce the source of that anxiety. This week I made appointments to see both a Career Coach and a Counsellor. I hadn't planned to resign with nothing to go to, but somehow just those two actions, and the support of a loving husband, seemed to give me the strength to do just that.

I had also never planned to be in the industry I'm in. I just found something I had an aptitude for and I followed that path blindly into a highly stressful, highly competitive role. I've no passion for what I do, no antidote for the way my job has been swallowing my life. It's time for a totally clean break and, for the first time I'm my life, to take a positive action instead of following the way of passive least resistance.

I've no idea what work I'll do and how long it's going to take me to decide on a direction. But I'm going to be as open as I can in finding out my true strengths and values, and in learning how I can apply them to a job that will fulfil me, even if it takes a while and I have to stack shelves in the meantime.

Thank you to those of you who've checked in on me, your thoughts have been so heartening. I know I can lose weight - I've done it enough times (and as exhausting as it is I'm going to have to do it all over again (!!)) - what I don't have experience in, is losing stress. I have a weight problem, but food has never been at the heart of the issue. When there's no stress or anxiety, there's no desire to stuff my face. I've tried for a long time to tackle my reaction to stress but with mixed success (as you've all seen by my public meltdown and disappearance) so here I am, and I'm humbly trying again.

with added salt

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It's 11:30am, I'm standing in my PJs and slippers making myself a cup of coffee with what's left of the milk after my opportunistic cat took to lapping it out of the jug when my back was turned. Life is back to normal.

Well *close* to normal. I'm still 106kg and so exhausted and fragile that I cry at anything, my eating and exercise is all over the place, it's months since I last took photos, wrote an email to a friend, caught up on blogs or did anything just for me, and even today I'll be spending what's left of it working. But it feels close, like I'm almost there.

Seriously though with the crying thing. Yesterday at lunch, my dark rye and roast vegies toastie was being made up and the cafe woman started spreading avocado onto both pieces of bread when I'd really wanted pesto onto the other side - the tears welled up behind my eyes. A couple of nights ago when I'd gone out to pick up a coffee and they told me at the counter they were shut - more tears. The morning of my birthday - LOTS of tears. Anything and everything is making me cry at the moment. I wonder if flushing out that much salty water might have a detoxing effect?

Thank you for sticking by me and for your kind words, I'll pop by to yours and say "hi" soon enough.

birthday blues

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It's my birthday. Hubby has been an absolute sweetie and done all he can to make me feel special - pancakes for breakkie, coffee on demand, dinner AND the washing up - but all in all it's been a benchmark birthday for all the wrong reasons.

It's the first birthday I've EVER worked. In previous years I've always taken my birthday off as annual leave and never so much as opened a work email. This year - a SUNDAY - I've spent the entire day sitting at my laptop finishing off the document from last week's Perth job, despite having worked on it on the plane yesterday and back at the house in the evening before falling asleep. I guess I'm just a bloody slow document writer.

Unsurprisingly then it's also the first EVER birthday when I haven't had that special warm and fuzzy "it's my birthday" feeling. 36 warm and fuzzy birthdays isn't' a bad tally though hey?

Age-wise, this birthday also brings me into my "should-be-a-Mum-by-now" age. My mum was 36 when she had me, the youngest of three children. For years now I've had it in my mind I'd be 36 when I had kids, can't explain why, just always seemed poetically right somehow. Today I turned 37.

A couple of days ago Facebook played it's part in reminding me just how far behind the curve I am on this one. It's the start of a new school year back home in England. On this day 32 years ago, I celebrated my 5th birthday with my first ever day of school.


That's three girls from my own class in school and note how we're talking high school already for their kids.

Me? Well I set myself the limit of 100kg and a healthy head before considering parenthood and you'll remember how I triumphantly reached that target in April. Now, just five months later and the healthy head's as much a distant memory as the sub-100kg weight. It's going to take a lot of effort and energy to turn it around again and I'm flat out of both.

Now I really am just feeling sorry for myself hey, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to [target reference for 80's gals out there]

The good news is I'm back in Melbourne and shouldn't have to go away again for two weeks now. The bad news is tomorrow's no longer a leave day. I've got my annual review, a document to finish and a meeting in the afternoon - holiday cancelled. And yes, I plan to do all that I can to voice my concerns and rectify my current situation. Tuesday I'll most likely still be finishing off the work lose ends.... but Wednesday that freeeeeedom is still safely on my schedule.

This year's birthday has been postponed, schedule permitting.

the view from my corporate hotel room

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I'm still travelling.

Adelaide finished last week and this week it's Perth again. I never intended to sign up for a job that meant I only get to see home at the weekends, especially when I only moved into that home in one of those weekends and am not entirely sure where "home" is.

15 long hotel weeks.

I'm still unsettled, still overworking, still hating my job (there I said it! why am I so scared to admit I hate my job?), still bingeing and still repeating that record.

Last week I worked until 2am on two nights, 3am one night and a magical 4am on yet another. Clearly no boss expects this of his team members, so I can't help but take a large dose of responsibility for letting it all get so out of control. However many mistakes have been made by those around me to lead up to this; the project was over-sold and the client under-resourced and quite frankly in cloud-cuckooland, yet I still took all the pressure upon myself to deliver.

I'm just so darned hard on myself. The perfectionist in me wants perfection - it's one of the few times in my life where there really is just a black and a white - there's to be no allowance for doing the best job I could possibly do given all the constraints. Oh no, it has to be p-e-r-f-e-c-t. And it's my responsibility to work myself to the death to get there. Of course for that I torture myself too, telling myself that it isn't right that I should admit to my bosses how hard I'm working or charge the client for my time; they shouldn't be asked to pay for my inadequacies.

Funny thing is, while I'm in the midst of this, I don't see it as perfectionism. I just see it as what I have to do.

This isn't a life. I flew home from Adelaide on Friday night, worked on Saturday and Sunday (as I did last weekend and the one before that) then flew to Perth on Sunday afternoon, working on the plane and then again when I arrived at my hotel until 11pm. Today I was at a new clients where I took a workshop attended by 17 managers and senior managers. The workshop thing is an odd one - you'd think people who do that kind of thing might have a glimmer of self-belief?

Everything's suffering and I'm failing to find the balance that will allow me to get through it all, while also figuring out a plan how never to find myself here again.

I've taken a week's leave next week. I'm fully prepared for the first couple of days to be swallowed up tidying up the lose ends of leftover work, but then I'll be free. FREE!! Jeepers, listen to me, it's not like I'm the only one who's ever had to travel, ever had to put in an extra effort at work for a couple of months - woe is me, boo hoo.

There seems such a connection in my work behaviour and beliefs as with those in every other aspect of my life. I feel like there is probably a very simple cipher, just the one single key to unlock everything. It's all so inter-related.

When I was a teenager, my mum need only look at whether my bedroom was tidy to know whether my homework had been done or how my eating was. If any one of them was a mess they all were, if any one of them was in order, they all were. When I can feel good about work, I know I'll feel good about myself again, and vice versa, if I could feel good about myself perhaps I could feel good about work.

Next week I have my annual review with my boss (yes in my week off!) and I intend to start putting my plans into action. I don't want to change employer, just change role.

Anyways, for a first post in a while this is a bit of a rambled one. Three months of solid travel hasn't served me well. I truly hope that when I look back I can spot all the lessons I need to learn.

I get back to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon and shortly after that I plan to get back to me. I miss me. I miss feeling good, I miss all my new discoveries, I miss how fantastic it is to feel healthy, I miss how great it feels when food's not the enemy, I miss being open and I miss my skinny jeans.

Thank you again for popping by and checking in on me. I sure do get a smile when I see your messages.

left behind

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This is the time when I need a blog the most but I ran away. I'm sorry. Thank you beautiful people for checking in on me.

Life's still at hiatus, I'm now in Adelaide and still working around the clock at a job I'm not sure is right for me. I didn't manage the 2 good days I talked of in my last post during that week, but I did manage 4 good days last week. This week's not so hot, heaps of stress and heaps of food. I'm seeking help and I'm looking into my options work wise.

I'm trying, I really am. Problem is my virgo sense of perfectionism says any effort just isn't good enough unless the result is perfection.

I'll do my best to be back.

panic

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I originally made it through lunch without excess and as I walked back to the office I started to think about how I should pop my head back up out of my pit and post about it. I thought a little about how ridiculous my story is – triumph followed by crash, rinse and repeat – but those thoughts didn’t stop me, I still felt OK, a glimmer of control and positivity. What did stop me however, was the thought that if I post, I can’t binge this afternoon. That single thought sent shivers of panic through me and I practically ran out of the lift to the cookie jar.

Food has once more become my crutch. It’s not even a very good crutch, I’ll be the first to admit. But the idea of taking it away seems horrific to me. Logically I know it might only take a few days of fighting this discomfort before I gain momentum and build up strength again, but I’m not getting there anytime soon.

I’ve ballooned back up to 99kg, I look tired and bloated. Babies are back off the agenda, I’m unhappy and very lonely (both of which I know are in my head and my doing, people have reached out to me but I’m unable to come forward, I don’t know how to right now). I’m still spiralling and I don’t know how to short circuit it.

I’m still away on business and my work is suffering badly. This in turn is affecting my insecurity as I know I’m letting myself and my client down with a substandard effort. I need a break but I’m not sure that in my current state of mind, annual leave at home on my own is going to be the best course of action. I get to go home on Wednesday night and won’t have to travel again until at least a week. I have a meeting with my manager this Friday and plan to ask that I don’t have to travel again for as long as possible. It might be a career-limiting request but I’ve learned I’m just not suited to it, this is the 9th week out of the last 11 I’ve been away from home (though moving house in the middle has only compounded matters).

My goal for the week is to have 2 good days. That's all my new trainer asked of me at the weekend when I showed up 2 kilos heavier than when I'd met him for the first time just the week before. Today was to be one of those days. He said for me to plan intentionally which days to aim for so I didn't run out of week. Of course in my perfectionist-thinking head, I was only paying lip-service to just two silly days, no e-v-e-r-y day was going to be perfect, two days just seemed silly and too forgiving of the other 5... see how All or Nothing tips the balance for Nothing every time!

again

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This is what self destruction tastes like.
  • banana bread
  • caramel slice
  • slice baked cheesecake
  • 6 arnott's cream biscuits
  • slice regular cheesecake
  • chocolate muffin
  • 2 pizza twists
  • 6 mars bar cookies
  • 8 chocolate chip cookies
  • a box of Sarah Lee baked cheesecake bites
  • regular onion rings
  • boost bar
  • salted kettle chips
  • timeout bar
I'm becoming such a cliche.

So blind to myself.

My day started well. I was feeling really good, wearing a new dress, reading the newspaper over breakfast at my fancy hotel, feeling quite the city slicker. Sushi rolls for lunch, all's good. But then as the afternoon drew on I started sinking, feeling out of control, wanting to stick my head in the sand because I haven't got enough to show for the time I've been on-site at this client's. Starting to feel the weight of all the work I've to do and not knowing how to get a handle on it.

As I started to eat I told myself that I have to be 100% cognisant of what I'm doing. If I was really going to do this, I had to make it count, learn from it, understand the processes at play and make it right, learn enough to see it coming and know how to avoid it next time.

I spend my working life telling clients the folly of fixing a short term need without consideration of a long term strategy. Yet that's exactly what I'm doing, satisfying an immediate food fix despite the negative long term outcome. So what exactly is the short term gain? What is it the food does for me? And how do I meet that need without food?

Is it just giving me space? Letting me stick my head in the sand? When I'm eating I'm not spinning, not thinking about all my worries. Is that all it's doing? If so, there are many far healthier ways to relax, why don't they occur to me?

What's going on? I had 4 good days then fell at the very first hurdle again. Why give up so easily? Why when I've been doing so well and feeling so good?

The more I was spinning and getting anxious about my work, the more every aspect of my self-belief was being eroded. It's no wonder I gave up so easily. In that moment I had zero confidence in myself. In my head I was already a failure. The very same feel-good-city-slicker-chick from the morning, now seemingly worthless - can't both be true.

How do I give myself the space to see all this for what it is, right there in the moment when I most need it? The moment when I have the choice whether to eat or not, whether to deal with an immediate need in a way that also helps towards a longer term goal.

associations

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So far so good. A clean day. I've just ordered room service from the "Healthy Selections" section of the menu and the road ahead is looking clear.

I decided on a change of scene. Instead of the apartments I stayed in last week, I chose to come back into a CBD hotel. It means getting a train to the client every morning, but this hotel was the location of my triumphant couple of uber-stress-filled-but-ultra-healthy weeks last month, and I could do with some positive reinforcement right about now.

Association is a very strong force for me.

When I used to smoke, which I did for 14 years, I had strong cigarette associations with all sorts of things: coffee, phone calls, car journeys and of course beer. I'd put the phone down after an hour of blethering away to a friend and there'd be two or three fresh cigarette butts sitting in the ashtray that I'd barely even registered smoking.

The associations were so strong they were sub-conscious. When I gave up, I tackled one associated habit at a time. I'd still go out with the girls for the morning smoko break (read: "gossip") but I'd keep my hands and mouth busy with a clementine instead of the cigs. The coffee fag, the driving cig, the morning smoko... each association, one at a time all the way to the booze sticks - the hardest ones of all.

I knew myself, I knew cold turkey wouldn't fly, Telling myself I can't have something is a sure fire way to ensure that's the very thing I'll gorge on, a spot of those deprivation issues you talked about Chub?. For 3 whole months after my last cigarette I still carried a packet around with me, telling myself "if you want one, you CAN have one.... you're just *choosing* not to". I think that half full packet is probably still sitting in a drawer somewhere.

I regularly ponder how to apply those same self-aware principals to my eating. Six years after I kicked the habit, I can still get an urge to have a smoke, but I haven't - not one single cigarette in all that time. Why can't I do that with food?

Some weeks I literally cruise by, whole chunks of time can go by like a breeze, at other times it's a little more touch and go, a tightrope balancing act, and then there are weeks like last week. Last week, all associations were negative. Everything was a binge trigger, a sweet taste didn't mean a pleasurable treat, a full tummy didn't mean satisfaction, everything meant binge. All paths led to food.

I'm hoping for some better associations this week. They've even put me in a room just along the hall from the hotel gym, there has to be a message in that.

the morning after

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It's evening and actually a few days after, but I finally feel like the foggy cloud is lifting and I can see a little clearer again. This is a side to me and my life that I wouldn't talk about with most of my closest loved ones, let alone friends and colleagues. It's quite confronting, despite the anonymity, just how public I've made all these private thoughts here. I cannot thank you enough for treating them - and me - with such respect. Thank you for your support and for being so understanding and thoughtful in your responses.

My own thoughts are still a bit of a muddle though I do feel they've been going in a useful direction. The weekend has been clean. I fly back to Sydney again at the crack of dawn and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm rather apprehensive about slipping effortlessly back into the bad habits I practiced all last week.

lost

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I have no idea where I'm going to go with this, I just feel the need to get it out there, offload and tell someone - anyone - everything. For that reason I must apologise that I have no idea what I'm going to say and whether it will contain details you'd rather not read.

I'm sitting in a busy food court, in a shopping mall, in the middle of Chatswood, NSW, having just binged then purged in the restrooms. How the feck did I get here?

The day started clean, I had toast and coffee for breakfast and was taken out for lunch. Lunch was disgusting taste-wise, but it wasn't too much of an issue health and fat-wise (next time anyone asks me if I like Yum Cha, please remind it's an emphatic "NO"). I was hanging out for my afternoon coffee to take away the taste. I had slight concerns that the lack of satisfaction I felt about lunch might present a potential danger for me, but it didn't prove to be a problem. I ordered a skinny cap, didn't give a second glance to the cakes and cookies and happily went back up to my desk.

So what happened?

A bloke came around the office with leftover cakes from a training course is what happened.

The tray was mostly lamingtons with a few friands sliced in half. Now I hate dessicated coconut, so if only that whole tray had been lamingtons I may have gotten through just fine, not even tempted. But no. I took a piece of friand and that's the very moment where I gave in. The first of many moments in fact, there were numerous turning points presented to me and I chose not to take the right path at each and every one.

At the taste of the almondy muffin, my brain just clicked into binge mode, "oh goody, we're bingeing, fantastic! what's next on the menu?"

I'm just so damn fragile at the moment. The slightest thing triggers the slightest thought, and then that slightest thought assumes enormous power and control.

Just two weeks ago my brain was quite happy to cope with the taste of a cake and would know to leave it there, enjoy it, but don't let it spoil all my good work. But not now.

So where was I? "what's next on the menu? I happen to know there are cookies in a jar right next to the kettle"

Off I trot to the kettle. Logically I know this is not something I want to do. Logically I know this does not meet a single need or fix a single problem. Where's the logic?

I ate 2 cookies.

I'm still reasoning with myself, telling myself just to leave it there, "it's OK, so you ate half a friand and a couple of cookies, that's OK, stop now. It's simply not a problem".

But I couldn't leave it there. It was a problem (where's the fecking logic????).

I took the lift downstairs and went back to the cafe whose cakes I'd previously ignored, ordered a toasted banana bread (indeed, bingeing on things I let myself eat when I'm being clean - now there's a personal rule broken and a line crossed) and a strawberry cup cake on the side - for while I'm waiting for banana loaf to cook of course.

At this point, I realise I'm bingeing (how passive "I realise", really? ) and there's no return so I'd best try and do something about it to make sure these calories aren't going to ruin a perfect 2 day run. This is broken perfection, this needs to be righted. I go into a second cafe so I can buy a drink "to help the medicine go down". Oh and while I'm there I might as well pick up a giant chocolate cookie.

Now I'm committed to the binge, I might as well make it a good one: eat a few of the things I've been missing and "enjoy" them (as if you actually can enjoy a binge). So I pack up my laptop and finish for the day. As I'm walking out of the building, I'm feeling pretty bloody pathetic. I was telling myself what a disappointment I am and how I'm letting myself and my husband down. Did you see how fantastic he is? That's not going to last, why would I do this to myself, why would I do it him? But telling myself how weak I am being is only serving to reinforce the weakness, it's not giving me the strength to overcome it.

Even despite the gaps in the process where I'm arguing with myself I'd decided I'm in this for the whole hog now. I go into a bakery and buy a piece of cheesecake and a caramel tart. Once consumed I scout the streets for more cafes and shops and in the next bakery I buy a second piece of cheesecake and a second caramel tart (nothing if not original). While I'm still eating, I continue to walk and find a shopping mall. I zone in on the food court. Here I order a banana crepe with banana and chocolate. I'm starting to feel pretty full and disgusting now, but still not sure if I'm quite full enough that the purge is going to be as easy as it could be. A giant caramel muffin seals the deal so that I'm fit to burst and can make my way to the restrooms to get rid of it all again.

Here's another danger point. This can end in one of two ways. Either I feel the joy of an empty stomach and the high of being back in control again after having had my cake and eaten it, or it could end with me feeling a little full and a bit of a failure, like I didn't achieve a thing and the whole process starts again. This wasn't a particularly big binge to begin with.

Like I said - how the feck?!

So what's different this week than a couple of weeks ago? Why am I stuck in this way of thinking again? What happened? How do I get back out?

I've been wracking my brain trying to work out what's going on. OK, so I'm on a stressful project (again!), I'm away from home (again!) and I've just moved house (again!) but is that really what's at the heart of this? Problem is, whatever the cause is, it's something I'm not dealing with, I'm not emotionally connecting and processing the issue, so when I question myself whether I've hit on the root cause, I'm so emotionally detached, it doesn't feel real.

I've been through eating disorder counselling of various types as well as general counselling (a fantastic counsellor I left in Perth but have reconnected with via email and the phone from time to time). I'm very self aware but yet there's a giant white elephant standing in my way that I simply can't see. I'm hoping that someone else out there can help me put form to it.

I know I'm testing everyone's patience, I'm not helping myself, I'm letting my husband down in ways that break both his and my heart. I know you'll get sick of the wolf-crier who keeps tripping up over the same damn mistakes and falling in a heap. But what do I do?

Now I'm going to stop writing and hit publish. I expect I'm going to feel very fragile and exposed after blurting out all this nonsensical rubbish - AGAIN - but I feel the need to bring my problems into the light and get a bloody good look at them.

What the fuck?!!!!!

2 clean days

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Hubby says I'm to celebrate my successes where I can, but I cannae help feeling a tad disappointed to be celebrating something I'd gone back to taking for granted.

I'm a smart girl repeating a lot of dumb mistakes.

But hubby's right. In fact these last couple of days he's not only been right, he's been down right adorable.

I've been having another tough time over here in Sydney. First the airline lost my luggage, then things started not going to plan with my project, I couldn't even begin to tell you how badly one of my presentations went. You know the rest.... I binged bad on Monday, but then on Tuesday, this is what I received in my inbox right around danger time:
Hi Ani Pesto!

This is your 11am motivation ping! I hope you're feeling great, we are!!!!

Feeling tired or a wee bit tempted to try a muffin with your elevenses coffee? Stay away from Bad Mr Muffin and try Miss Nice Fruit instead!!!!

Miss Nice Fruit will give you the energy you need to make it though to lunch, without adding to your hip line! Now isn't that great!!!!

Have am AWESOME day, and we'll be seeing you for your mid afternoon ping!!!!

* This email was brought to you by the *great* folks over at We Smile and Exclaim Too Bloody Much Corp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then come afternoon tea time:


Warning! Warning! Ani Pesto! Danger time approaching!

Chin up, sweetheart. You can make it though the day. xoxo.




Dr Smith says:

When attempting to take over the universe, it's important to always keep your end game in mind. Being constantly thwarted by 10 year old brats and idiotic robots can wear one down, so always come back to what it is you *really* want to achieve, no matter how distant it seems at the time. Oh, and never monologue your plan when you *think* you're alone.

How gorgeous is he?!

Too funny!! He may kill me for showing you these, but they quite literally made my day, so I just had to share.

And the good news is - I did make it through the day.

parting lines

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This is how my weight chart is looking:


Orange line is my weight, green line is my target. Look how beautifully aligned they both were until just a couple of weeks ago.

First day back in Sydney and I binged again – at lunch time, downstairs from the client’s office. If they knew what a personal f**k-up they’ve got for a consultant they might question the $$ they’re paying per hour for me :-(

I’m being accountable but doing it anyways. Hardly the point.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, around the areas of control and trust. I’m aware that I’m passively following a direction I don’t actively want to go in. As *Fitcetera* said, it’s got a lot to do with thinking I have no control in this. My clean day on Saturday is testament to that, I reminded myself in the morning that I have a choice about how I would like to approach the day and each twist and turn it brings. It worked. Come Sunday and the anticipation of being on a tough new job meant I instantly forgot I had that choice. I felt stressed, I felt out of my depth and subsequently I felt out of control.

I don’t trust myself to take charge when things get hard. That might sound a little crazy. "I" don't trust "myself". I’m exhibiting multiple personalities here, if sensible-me’s not in charge and stressed-out-binge-me has the reins, it’s still all ME right?

I think it’s no coincidence I’ve never had a career plan. In my career I’ve passively followed opportunities as they’ve arisen, climbed the ladder slowly and then wondered why I’m more junior than my less experienced colleagues (don’t have to look far for the answer to that when you see what I do in my lunch hour though hey.... hrmm too funny, even when I’m writing about having no belief in myself, I feel the need to demonstrate why I’m not worth believing in).

Personal dreams, career aspirations and the simple daily stresses of life. In all of it I'm exhibiting the very same fear of failing. Not only do I not aim high for fear of falling, but I genuinely don’t believe I have the right to either.

I see so many contradictions in all this it’s hard to write about. I say I don’t believe in myself and don’t deserve to achieve high things and yet I get defiant and frustrated with my lot – if defiance isn’t the action of someone who believes then what is it?

I don’t know that any of this is making sense. It’s a scrabbled mess of thoughts being typed very quickly, disguised as an email while the client’s not looking (so not a good professional look for me!).

Hopefully I’ll come back to make sense of it all later.

checking in

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Thank you for words of support. I think like many of the comments said, it was very much a pressure cooker reaction which hadn't fully blown until after I'd made it safely through the stress.

The last few days haven't been all that much better. Another big binge Thursday, a mini one Friday, a clean day on Saturday (and finally a fabbo ride on the motorbike with hubby discovering a nearby winery - very very nice) and then more stress-grazing today.

I'm off to Sydney tomorrow morning (K not Kay I'll be in touch - would be great to meet up again) for another 4 weeks straight (home at the weekends). I'm in denial about it, I haven't booked the 4:30am taxi or even thought about packing yet. It's also looking like it will be another stressful project, more overblown client expectations and pressures. Oh joy!

I'll do my best to check in. I sure do need the accountability. Despite my doubled-up gym membership I've only been 3 times in the last fortnight, I've stopped wearing my GoWear fit and my food and bingeing is back out of control (3kg gain and counting).

In a perverted way, I'm secretly hoping that the pressure of another 4am start and a new project will click me back into a sensible food frame of mind.... how backward is that?

losing it

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I'm totally losing it right now and I don't mean the weight. I binged again yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

I fully lost it in the car last night. I had an appointment with a tax accountant to lodge my (extremely overdue) 2008 return. Despite possession of a map and a GPS, I just couldn't get to their office. 50 minutes for a 5km journey. I screamed my throat roar when I found myself back on the freeway once more driving in the opposite direction to my intended destination.

I seriously all-out screamed, a deep-throated, guttural, horror-movie, scream. And then I just couldn't stop screaming. Screaming and swearing and screaming and cussing and screaming. I pity the poor folk I accosted for directions. I was a crazy woman, a total banshee.

I don't understand how I could cope so well with what was probably the most stressful period of my entire career, only to fall apart when most of the stress has disappeared.

However, today's another day. I'm here and accountable. And I promise to try harder.

snakes & ladders

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It's a good news / bad news day today.

The good news first: I have interwebs!!! Woooohoooooo!! There's a whole wide world out there just waiting to be surfed.

Still no ADSL and no cable, but after a ridiculous amount of time wasted in daily phone conversations to my favourite TelCo [grrrr! grumble mumble... nasty-horrible-lack-of-customer-service-gnarly-monsters that they are] the wireless dongle I bought a week ago has finally been activated.

So for the bad news: I've re-opened Pandora's food-box again, lost control and binged my way back up the scale a couple of kilos.

I've had such active internal dialogues, reminded myself very clearly of my goals and that my actions are contra to reaching them. But the problem is, in that very moment, my goals don't feel tangible. My immediate desire, nae "need" to shove my face full of food, does.

Time to start putting one foot ahead of the other on that ladder rung again.

340 unread items

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I finally opened my RSS Reader for the first time in weeks. You've all been busy, I can't wait to catch up. So funny, I feel like I know so many of you, I've been wondering how you're all doing, how the stories have been developing.

I'm sure I've probably got a few stories of my own I need to tell too. My first week back to almost-normality has proved difficult food-wise. I guess it's what happens when you let your guard down and feel as though you have permission to relax. I'm going to be keeping a tight reign on it for a wee while, the scales have stayed the same this week which I don't like one bit after all my recent triumphs.

I've joined a new gym close to our new house. In fact for a 3 months overlap I'll have gym membership both at work and at home for no extra cost - bargain! I tried out the cycle class last night in their swanky blue-lit, neon, cycle-room. It was one hard work out and and all the more worth it for the lollies she handed out at the end ;-)

I'll be slowly making my way through the posts, so I look forward to seeing you all soon.

almost normal

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I'm back in Melbourne, the Sydney project is done and dusted – mucho relief all round. The big house move is tomorrow but I've yet to finish all the documentation for the Perth job and promised the client they'd have them the beginning of this week. Hence why right now I find myself sitting on the floor of an empty house with a laptop appropriately on my lap.

Turns out too that I'd tempted fate with my “internet in the new house” comment. We can't get ADSL! There aren't any ports left at the exchange so they say. There's no cable in the area and no other providers. We've been trying to bend our heads around the prospect of either dial-up *gulp* or potentially robbing a bank to fund the extortionate wireless dongle options that lock you into a 36 month contract and are darn slow as they're so over-subscribed by all the other poor folk who can't get ADSL in the area. Hrmm. Hobson's.

Best be getting back to work. One day very soon, life will return to normal once more, I can practically smell it.

skinny jeans

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As a mens size 36" waist, they're hardly "skinny" for most folk, but when I bought them nearly two years ago, they were the skinniest jeans I'd worn for almost 20 years. Yet, only 6 short months later and they were once again relegated to the untouchable "too skinny" pile.

Well guess what? Yesterday I WORE THEM ALL DAY

The last time I tried them on was about two months ago, I'd wanted to see just how far (or close) they were from me. There was a wasteland of flesh between the button and its buttonhole, and no amount of contorting would permit the zip to budge.

When I chanced my luck to try them again yesterday, I was expecting a similar story, but hoped just to feel reassured they were getting closer. I certainly hadn't expected them to fit!

I'll be away again for my official HYC weigh-in, so in the midst of my skinny-jean-celebration-dance this seems like a rather appropriate time to check in:

today's weight: 95kg / 209.5lb / 14st 13lbs
loss of: 3.9kg / 8.5lb (since 12th May)

total loss this year: 21kg / 46lbs

There are even a couple of major milestones in there:
  • Lowest Melbourne weight. I'm now 0.1kg lower than I was when I arrived in Melbourne a year ago. A whole year of frantically running just to stay still.

  • BMI under 35, making me just plain "obese". No longer "severely" and a long way down from "morbidly". Next stop "overweight" oooh how I long to leave obese behind.
Feels bloomin' great I must say!

I'm still a work-brained fuzzled mess and we're also mid house-move. Most of our belongings have made their way to the new house (thanks to my fabulous hubby for all his hard work), with only a few boxes and all the furniture left to make the trip. We've lots still to organise but yet again I'll be away for most of it and trying to live by remote control. I'm back in Sydney all this week but at the moment it's looking good I might get to slow down a bit after that. Fingers crossed.

I've let my life become such a dishevelled and disorganised mess while I've had my work-blinkers on - I missed my sister-in-law's birthday, my cousin got married last week and I still haven't been in touch and I'll even be without a driving license next weekend as I've let my Western Australia one expire without having had a chance to organise a Victorian one.

I'm just so grateful that while everything else has been a mess, for once my food's been under control - so far touch wood!

Have a great week everyone. I've made a date with myself to catch up on how you're all doing next weekend so long as the internet's connected at the new hoose of course. Looking forward to it.

not run away

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Quickly popping by to say I haven't run away. Sorry for my prolonged absence. The work hiatus is yet to subside, I'm still eagerly waiting to get the "life" part of my work/life balance back.

The Perth job is finished, well not actually "finished" I'll be spending my long weekend doing even more documentation - joy! After a brief day at home in Melbourne with my husband I've flown back to Sydney and am once again holed up in a hotel and back on a stressful project and oh my goodness if only I could talk about just how stressful this one is! Is there any other kind these days?

Unlike my previous blog absentee periods though, things are going pretty well food-wise. Despite the stress levels I've not binged - very proud of that!! I've been missing the gym but walking a little more than usual.

I did weigh myself on Sunday night for the first time in over two weeks. It was a good number, but it was also straight after a long flight when I tend to dehydrate and my weight can bounce all over the place... I'll wait until I'm back home again to get a more reliable and consistent number.

My attempts at hotel food aren't getting any better. Tonight was comical. Typical but comical. The steamed vegetables on the menu in this hotel are described as being served "with Little General olive oil". Knowing that these hotels seem to justify their high prices with complex calorie per cents calculations, I figured I couldn't ask for just "no oil" or they'd find some other way to drown my veggies in calories. Instead I ordered a plate and asked for the oil to be on the side.

I very specifically said "just plain steamed vegetables, I'll add my own oil thank you". So what turns up? Oil in a bowl on the side as requested and steamed vegetables that taste of butter. When the menu says they're served with oil, it really didn't occur to me to have to specify "absolutely nothing but vegetables please, no oil and no butter". Seriously!?! At least it was truly only a hint this time and not a flood.

Anyways, excuse the garbled typing. I'd best run, it's past my bedtime and I was up at 4:30am today. Can't wait to be back to normal. I have so much to talk about. We're moving for starters. In fact my marvel of a husband is carrying the can right now and organising the whole lot on his tod - he really has been fantastic while I've been so work-blinkered.

steaming

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If someone ordered steamed fish, a side plate of steamed vegetables and hold the rice. Wouldn't you get the message they might have a preference for their meal not to be drowning in butter?

Gah!!

I'd had a treat for breakkie (a large toasted banana cake) and another treat for lunch (huuuuge yummy toasted avocado, pumpkin, mushroom, cheese & pesto sandwich) and wanted something ultra light for dinner. Infuriatingly I would have requested "no butter", but for the fact this is the very same meal I had last week (bar the absence of rice) in the very same restaurant - last time there was no butter.

Even more infuriatingly, I didn't send it back.

Sorry, I'm turning into such a broken record with my failures to order healthy food. Note to self: learn to be more assertive in restaurants!

I'm also starting to spin out and stress about my project. I didn't get any work done over the weekend and I'm now very behind and can't see the wood for the trees. After I'd done so so well last week *sigh*

the unknown

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Oh how I wish I knew what I weighed right now.

It would be great if I were one of those strong types who could be happy just knowing that I've been eating clean and so eventually my waistband will start to loosen again. But I'm not. No, I really need the reassurance of a number; a cold hard fact.

While I was out shopping yesterday, I trailed the town for a pair of scales and couldn't find any. None of the pharmacies I visited even had a coin operated set. I toyed with going to the bathroom section of the department stores just to "try out" the scales for sale. But unlike when I did this in the States last summer, it had turned rather autumnal here in Perth yesterday and so removing my boots and winter woolly coat would be rather less inconspicuous than slipping out of my sandals was in Seattle.

My GoWear Fit's telling me I've had enough of a calorie deficit to have lost 1.3kg over the last week and a half. I'd so love to put that to the test.

the key

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Look who's been shopping....

*squeee*

Tiffany's have opened in Perth since I was last here, it seemed only fitting I should pay them a visit. How can any girl resist those magical little blue boxes with their pretty white bows?

I'm not generally one for extravagant impulse buys, but this gorgeous key was calling me, after a lengthy indecisive dither between the entire range of keys and their assorted chains, tried on in every possible combination, that is.

I may not have the key to life, happiness and weight loss yet, but I'd like to think I'm on the right track.

taken the evening off

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This evening is the first evening I haven't worked for quite a wee while. It feels right good to be doing nothing (and I'm so far successfully fighting off any guilt thoughts at what else I could be doing). The formal presentations and workshop part of this job are over - phew! I've never pushed myself so far outside of my comfort zone before, three whole solid days of it. Next on the agenda, I have a few meetings and then I have to write up all the results and findings in just two days (hmm, a document! - we really don't get on) before moving on to the next part of the project next week.

There are so many things I would like to have written about over the last couple of weeks. My GoWear fit arrived. I've been wearing it religiously and so far, it's done a great job of showing me just how sedentary my stress days really are. Seriously! For example, on days when I worked crazy hours, I didn't even top 3,000 steps and burned no more than about 1,700 calories the whole day (no deficit left so no loss). Top that with the hormonal upsets of lack of sleep and increased stress and it's no wonder I don't lose when I'm like this.

I made it to the gym again this morning. I only did about 20 mins on cardio machines, but it's something. I've managed to keep my eating on track, tonight I had a mushroom and spinach curry with saffron rice and a side of eggplant crush (even got heaps of leftovers sitting in my mini-bar fridge and had the hotel leave me a microwave so I can re-heat tomorrow).

I'm still stressed, I'm still not drinking enough water and my ankles are swollen. But right now I'm counting blessings - not beating myself up over negatives.

Anyhoo, must go to bed now or my evening off to re-coup will be wasted. Night all.

getting through it

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First of all a HUGE thank you to you all for your words of encouragement. You never fail me, even when I'm blatantly ignoring my blog reader and sitting in a hazed fuzz of stress-induced nonsense, you had kind words of support and advice for me.

Thank you xxx

I've made it to the end of the first day in Perth - a place I couldn't even envisage yesterday while sobbing uncontrollably to my poor hubby, not wanting to get on a plane and questioning why I'm doing any of this.

Today's been a personal triumph - I woke up early (helped by the time zone difference) and went downstairs to the hotel gym (yay!!). I then got through a whole day of delivering presentations and workshops to an all male technical audience. Not as slick as I might have liked but I got there. For dinner I had steamed snapper with coriander rice and a side of steamed broccoli. No excesses, no binging, no stress-eating. The toblerones, dairy milks and boxes of pringles chips remain untouched in the mini-bar. I might actually take hubby's advice and have the hotel remove them from the room.

Result! Day 1 down, 12 more to go.

It bemuses me how well I must outwardly mask my fear and stress. The folk around me at work see a competent professional. One of my colleagues even jokes about what a demon I turn into on client site. He has absolutely no idea of the stress and self-doubt I put myself through. If he could have seen the tiz I've been working myself into these last few days he'd be horrified. Why can't I see myself like others do? Instead of letting their perception of me alter my own, I just let it add to the pressure I put myself through - fearing constantly they'll find out the truth of my incompetence at any moment.

Tomorrow the workshops start getting a little more in-depth and focused and I'm even less prepared - I foolishly put most of my effort into preparing the first day, thinking that I would be able to prepare subsequent days in the evenings (d'oh!!). But that's for tomorrow. Today I'm proud of myself for making it through.

not great

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I'm in a hole. I hate typing self-indulgent-woe-is-me posts so I'll try to keep this brief. The first week in Sydney is over, but after 16 hour work days, two 4am starts, four flights, zero exercise and a whole heap of stress (not to mention 2 binges) I still can't yet see the light for anything other than an oncoming train.

I now have to fly to Perth on Sunday and I'm still nowhere with my preparation. I'm crazy with stress. I'll be staying in a hotel for two weeks (yet more chances for nasty kitchens to serve me greasy fried oily salmon steaks when the menu said "steamed" thanks Sydney hotel for that one, my lack of resistance-energy meant that was the catalyst for binge number, two when all the large bars of chocolate from the mini bar fridge disappeared) , I haven't even contacted my friends to say I'll be back in Perth (my home for five years) as I'm not anticipating I'll have any time to see them. Just as I did with Sydney I'll take my gym clothes, but just as I did in Sydney I don't hold out much hope of actually doing any exercise. And I've gotten to really love my exercise.

I haven't lost any weight for over two weeks now. I'm tired, like REALLY TIRED. We didn't get the rental house we applied for so we're also still looking for somewhere to live. I had a training session this morning for the first time in nearly two weeks and it was tough. I was exhausted. I couldn't do anything near the weights I'd been doing and all I wanted to do was cry. To add to all this hubby's just heard his job is going to a 9 day fortnight which is a 10% pay cut and a lot of worry for how bad it might get in the future.

Told you this was going to be self indulgent misery. I'm just tired of it all. This job is taking everything out of me and jeopardising all that was going so well for me. But with lay-offs all around, I can't see any options and alternatives.

I also can't help but feel like it's me, not the job. It's me that lets myself get this stressed, it's me that takes on all the responsibility and won't say "no", and it's me that's failing to cope while all those around me look peachy.

p.s. I'm sorry I haven't read a single blog for a week now, I really hope you're all doing better than I feel at the moment. I miss you all. I really need to see about finding the time to catch up in the midst of all this, as the inspiration, support and boost is invaluable.

the best laid plans

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Wasn't I supposed to be increasing incidental exercise, decreasing stress and increasing sleep?

So far it's a big "wah wah oops" on all three. Oh and water and formal exercise have fallen by the wayside for good measure.

Yesterday I had to fly to Sydney to back-fill on a project at the 11th hour. If it wasn't enough recovering from the upset and stress of Wednesday, Thursday brought with it a whole new gamut of emotions. There are a lot of clients and projects who've just lost their key people and those of us remaining will have to pull together for a while. Call it survivor guilt if you will, but I spent the whole day feeling like I'm about to get found out at any minute for being not up to par; that everyone's going to wish it had been my name on Wednesday's list. I just felt really inadequate.

I'll be back in Sydney all next week and then for the fortnight after that the next job is in Perth. The knock on effect of this is I've had to cancel all my personal trainer sessions at the gym, I'll be eating hotel and cafe food for three weeks and my stress-levels have soared, not only due to the pressure of this project and the awkwardness of replacing someone who's been made redundant, but also because the Sydney job has stolen all my much needed preparation time for the next one. Very very stressed!

How's this for spooky though? Turns out my body clock keeps perfect time.

The night before Sydney, I didn't get to bed until some time around 11pm having spent most of the evening trying to get a rental application together, hey, when life's not complicated enough, why not add a house move into the mix? I'd set my alarm for 4am (*yikes*) but in my fuzzy-headedness I didn't notice it was only set to go off on Saturday and Sunday. Now I don't normally wake up at all throughout the night. I'm a sound sleeper, right through, no bathroom breaks or anything. Yet on the morning I needed it, I woke up on the dot of 4am!! No alarm. Spooky huh?!

I may be a little bit scarce (blogging and reading) for the next three weeks. I'll do my best to check-in when I can. With all the hotel food, stress and lack of exercise opportunity I'm surely going to need it, plus I've missed you all the last few days of blog-silence.

p.s. nearly forgot - major NSV in the midst of all this - on the flight to Sydney I sat in the middle seat of three, reasonably comfortably and with plenty of seatbelt to spare. Result! When I fly again on Monday I must remember to try out the fold-down table. I'll be sure to report back.

the falling hammer

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Yesterday was the very worst of days.

We had lay-offs at work. The atmosphere in the office was suffocatingly tense as we watched colleagues go downstairs for meetings with their managers and not come back; all the while hoping with all hope that we weren't about to get a meeting request ourselves.

Not nice. Not nice at all.

The good news is I still have a job. I'll admit I did catch myself wondering if I wouldn't rather the decision had been made for me to force me into a change. But in the current economic and job market, I don’t think that would have been a good idea at all.

The even better news is that stress of the day didn’t drive me to comfort anxiety eat. I will admit the thought did cross my mind, but I managed to stop it from settling in my head as a potential option. I should be proud of that.

I’m not looking forward to today. I have to prepare for a two week packaged client job where I’ll be delivering workshops, demonstrations and reports within a period of 10 days. It’s my first time tackling this and I have to learn all the presentations and demonstration scripts, get my head around the aspects of the subject I don’t yet know and familiarise myself with the report documents I will be required to complete – and we all know my track history with documents (both here and here)!

My thoughts are with all those who lost their jobs yesterday. And with their managers who had to be the messengers.

checking in: hyc week 18

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HYC weigh in day already:

today's weight: 98.9kg / 218lb / 15st 8lbs
loss of: 0.1kg / 0.2lb - i.e. "nothing"

total loss this year: 17.1kg / 37.7lbs

Can't pretend to be overjoyed with that. My eating has been close to healthy-heaven perfection all week, and on the exercise front I can report 3 personal training sessions, 2 spin classes and 1 walk in the park.

The thing is, in between all those 30 - 45 minute intense bursts of energy, the rest of my days have been nothing short of sedentary. It's a 10 metre walk to the car, then probably no more than 100 metres from our parking space to my desk. Where I've sat ALL day ALL week. I'm on the 7th floor and can't even take the stairs without setting off the emergency alarms.

I've recorded what I've eaten and exercised for the last six or seven weeks religiously. This week's calories and formal exercise are almost identical to previous weeks where I've lost a kilo or more. So where's the difference?

How about all the incidental exercise I don't note? Walking to client meetings, meeting my man for lunch, walking to his office after work on a Friday, running errands, shopping and household chores. Haven't really done any of the above this week. And of course there's my stress levels - high - and sleep levels - low.

And this is where the GoWear fit comes into the picture. Yes indeed, I bit the bullet and ordered one. Woooohoooo! It's going to tell me e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. How many calories I'm burning in my workouts as well as in general everyday life, how many steps I've taken, even how much quality sleep I'm getting. Cannae wait for the number crunching to begin!

In the meantime, while I'm waiting for it to arrive, for the coming week I'm going to concentrate on the incidentals - going for a walk at lunch, taking the stairs (where I can) and going back on the cardio equipment after my weights sessions.

Have a great week everyone.



update: "Can't pretend to be overjoyed with that." Why do I do that? Why can't I just be honest and say "I'm pissed!". It doesn't change anything, I know I'm doing really well, I know I'm not going to let it derail me, I know it's not all about the numbers. I'm still allowed to admit I'm not happy about it.

learning to dream

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I mentioned yesterday that I've been doing a lot of thinking about how my emotional reserve may be holding me back, in weight loss and in life. Unfortunately, at this point I've got more questions than answers, but in the spirit of 'identification being the first step' I'm going to put my questions out there and hope to work through to find the answers.*

My first question is about dreams. Cammy commented in response to my post,
Writing about your hopes and dreams is an excellent way to get them sorted out!
And that’s exactly what I want to be able to do.

I've found my mind wandering and daydreaming recently about getting slim and becoming a Mum. It really scares me to have such thoughts. I have a real issue with dreaming. I never let my mind go to places I don't trust or believe I can find in reality.

I've said before how I've always had problems envisioning myself slimmer. I just couldn't let my imagination take to me to a place of such immense hope, only to fail and have that hope painfully shattered. A couple of years ago I got so close and now that things are back to going well again, I catch myself imagining getting even closer. It lasts all but a fleeting second before I put such thoughts back in their place: either that I'm not going to get there, or that when I do, my 159 kilo's worth of excess skin will put pay to any chance of feeling good about it.

Now that I've reached my OK-to-start-trying-for-babies weight I've also been looking at young families and daydreaming about that being us one day. My next thoughts are then often around everything that could possibly go wrong, I'll get twinges in my tummy and be convinced I'm about to have early onset menopause or I'll fear that I'm just not fertile. I won't let myself dream without putting it back in its place.

I was the same with my wedding. I have been a guest at over 50 weddings throughout my life, and yet never ever let myself dream about my own big day, not even as a young girl. My own wedding dreams didn't start until I was engaged and knew it was actually going to happen - it's no wonder then that I drove myself to distraction with the pressure and stress of perfection during the planning.

I think it's all a part of my over-developed sense of self-protection. The same parts of me that would rather numb emotions than let myself actually feel and process them, would also like to protect me from the crash landing of a failed dream. I know it's held me back with my weight loss and I suspect it holds me back from pushing myself to find a new career too.

When I read this out to my hubby, he agreed and said how difficult he finds it that I will never share aspirations with him, never push ourselves towards a bigger house and a better life. He despairs about how much I'll worry about bad things that may never happen and yet won't get excited about the good things that also may or may never happen.

How do I learn to let myself dream?

I can't expect to achieve my dreams, if I won’t even let myself dream them.


*Sorry if you had high hopes about insightful observations, it's nothing but question marks here :$

dog cats and reservations

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Caught!

I've just gotten back from spin class, (no Aicha today but still plenty of Phil Collins and a spot of Jai Ho thrown in for good measure) picking up a skinny cap on the way home of course. As I drove up the road, one of our cats recognised the car from a few doors down and ran full pelt up to the house, he knows how to make a girl feel loved hey.

The other cat was waiting at the door. He followed me in, watched patiently as I took the lid off my takeaway coffee, then pounced to get to the froth left on it. Having removed the lid from his reach, I finished my coffee and made a start with the laundry, only to hear suspicious noises coming from the next room. Our caffeine addled cat had climbed completely into the bin under the desk, trying to fit his whole face into the empty coffee cup to lick the very last dregs.

Our boys have issues.

They seriously don't know they're cats. One of them even plays fetch. He proudly brings his bouncy ball back to us and even drops it on the floor at our feet ready to throw it again. There are slight cat tendencies involved though, in that he'll only do it when *he's* in the mood and certainly not when we want to show him off to other people. He likes to make the point that he's not here for *our* amusement.

We can't leave muffins or cake cooling on the counter. The time they helped themselves to the defrosting sausages my husband had been looking forward to all day was certainly one to remember.

But enough about the cats, they get far too much attention as it is in our household. I intended to write about something entirely different. I've been having a lot of thoughts recently that all seem to have a common theme - my emotional reserve, both conscious and subconscious. I've come to realise just how much I struggle to let myself dream or feel good about my achievements and I think I need to learn.

I've tried to write about it for a while, but it's all been such a mess of tangled ideas that I've found too hard to unjumble. I started on the subject in this post but it became extremely long - no, really Ani? so unlike you - so I think I'll break it into a couple of entries over the next couple of days. I'm not sure where I'll go with it, but it feels important for me to find out.

saturday.....zzzzZZZ

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A fabulously lazy and stress-free Saturday. It's a good job I made it up for spin class this morning, because ever since then I've barely ventured further away from the comfort of my sofa than the kitchen. Ani, you sloth!

Such a lazy Saturday, in fact it feels more like a Sunday. We even had our traditional Sunday pancakes this morning, and what a palaver that was. Living with our cats is like having dogs who not only beg, but can get up onto the counters. One's busy distracting me with his offensive on the pancake mix while the other sneaks in behind to get his face right into my coffee. I thought cats were supposed to be fussy!

I've been trying on clothes again. The pink floral dress I'd flagged as being next in reach, finally fits. Full-on future girliness awaits. My suit jackets are just about there and I can even do up one of the pairs of trousers, but it'll be a couple of kilos more before they actually look flattering.

It does feel amazing to fit back into my smaller clothes, but what I'm most excited about is the day when I can start throwing out my bigger ones again. I have a small bag of my hugest monstrosities set aside (size 30 jeans, size 28 tops) for goal-day comedic value, but apart from that everything else has gone to Good Sammy's.

Despite my recent clothesless weight-gain year, I fully intend to continue this endeavour. There's absolutely no reason for keeping my fat clothes. If I let myself rely on the knowledge there's a safety net ready to catch me, I'd be giving myself permission to take my eyes off the trapeze.

Oh and the reason for my lack of stress....?

I FINISHED MY DOCUMENT!!!!!

a year in the life

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In honour of my ani-blogoversary, I started to read over my early posts. Some of them have surprised me in their level of introspection, others have surprised me by how hidden my true feelings still were. There are posts that read like there’s a real bounce in my tone, yet I remember the level of despair I felt at the time of writing. I've spent so much of my life bottling up my feelings in food, I guess it's hardly surprising I'm only just starting to learn how to let them out.

This time a year ago, I was a newlywed, married four months, living in Perth and preparing to move interstate. It was a spur of the moment thing, we'd applied for jobs the other side of the country and decided that if we got them, we'd go for it. We both got them.

My new husband went ahead to Melbourne, he started his new job and had begun to look for a place for us to live. I was serving out my notice period at my own employers, arranging for our cars, motorbike and cats to be picked up, our furniture and belongings to be packed up and our house to be rented out. I was also slowly imploding.

For years up to that point, I had been losing weight and working through my food issues. I had gotten down to 84kg from my all time high of 159kg. But now I was starting to unravel, and unlike the stress I put myself through in the run up to the wedding, I could no longer keep it totally under the surface and the weight was creeping back on. I started the blog to keep me accountable. Things looked up for a week or two but before long, my lose grip loosened even further. The blog entries disappear.

A month or so goes by. By then I had moved to Melbourne and since flown to Seattle for a month's worth of training. While there, I continued to implode, this time a little less slowly.

I was bingeing badly and drifting into depression. My anxiety levels had gone through the roof, I swore f-ing and blinding at a poor post office worker for heaven's sake (any one who knows me will know how crazily out of character that is). Two more blog posts then again I disappear.

By the time I find my voice again in December I was in a deep dark pit. I had now regained over 30 kilos and the potential reality of re-gaining every one of my lost 75 kilos was looming overhead. Something inside of me knew to click into self-protective action. I started posting again, I ventured back to the gym and I called and reconnected with my old counsellor from Perth. The bingeing continued for a while but eventually I started to get a handle on my food intake and turn myself around again.

The rest, you know already. I'm still here. I've had my bumpy moments but I've blogged through them and I'm still finding my way. I still haven't learnt what it was that helped me turn it around - the magic formula that got me out of the pit and back on track again. Even though I wrote most days, I don't see it. I can't bottle it up for future use.

Life surely has many more twists and turns ahead for me. Stresses are in store that will be far greater than getting married, moving and starting a new job. I still don't know if I am strong enough or well equipped to get through them without resorting to my food demons. What I do know though, is that with the help of this blog, any time I start heading down that wrong way again I no longer get so far that I can't find my way back.

This blog has been more than just an outlet for my thoughts. It's a level of accountability and the doorway to a support network of loving and wise people, some of whom have become very dear friends. You've never let me down.

I would love to have written a wise retrospective of all that I've learned over the last year, but I just don't yet have the distance or the clarity to know what that is.

Whatever it is, it's working. I plan to keep on doing it.


p.s. how's this for a freaky coincidence? At my first blog weigh-in I report being 97.3kg having lost 1.7kg. Meaning my blog starting weight was the EXACT same weight I am now: 99kg. Spookiness!

happy ani-blogoversary

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A year ago today I wrote my very first ever blog post.

A year on and unfortunately this also happens to be the day a client's project wraps up, so I have a heap of work to finish up. I'll be back tomorrow to reflect on my year of the blog. In the meantime...

Happy Birthday Blog! Thank you for all that you've done for me.

checking in: hyc week 17

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It's weigh in day again.

today's weight: 99.0kg / 218lb / 15st 8lbs
loss of: 0.9kg / 2lb
total loss this year: 17kg / 37.5lbs

Happy with that.

I had a bit of a toughie again today - another "almost-binge" averted. I was stressed out and head-spinning - again - I'd eaten one large piece of cake and headed back to the cafe to buy a whole bunch more. Thankfully sanity prevailed, I bought nothing more than a coffee and got in touch with hubby so he could talk me down from the ledge. Phew!

Now I've something you may be able to help me with. I'm struggling to find a consistent calorie estimation for sushi - cooked tuna roll (generally seems to include mayo), chicken teriyaki or salmon and avocado roll specifically. I keep searching and find all sorts of wildly varying numbers, from 30 to 300 for the tuna alone. They rarely say the size. I'm assuming the first is for a small slice and even then seems kinda small, not sure if the latter is a full nori sheet or if it's what I'm looking for. I think the ones I buy are 1/2 a nori sheet in size and they're made with white rice.

How do you count them?

Good luck to all you HYCers. Have a great week.

happy monday

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Despite the finals fabulousness (big congratulations to Talia for winning Dance, I quite literally jumped out of my seat whoooping when it was announced, bless 'er) I'd been feeling pretty flat all weekend. I'm glad to say the flatness has now passed and I'm actually having a pretty happy Monday. It's early days yet and I'm on-site at a very frustrating client, but so far, all signs are curiously positive.

I finally made it out to the shops yesterday afternoon too. If ever I needed proof my lifestyle and priorities have changed, it was right there in my shopping bags. Three hours of mall-trekking to buy nothing more than a pair of trainers (sneakers) and a couple of bras (1 sports, 1 everyday) all of which made me pretty darn happy. It's a pleasant change to get to the end of the day with a relatively healthy wallet and a bag empty of food wrappers. In days of old, not at all that long ago, retail therapy also meant food therapy and an overwhelming need to empty the food hall of all it's sugar goods.

I proudly wore my purchases at the gym this morning. I kicked the bejeebies out of the boxing pads with my sparkly, new, pink (of course) trainers and while wearing, rather less visibly, my fabulous new crazy coloured berlei sports bra in shades of orange, grey and mauve, in my head it makes me look like an 80's throwback futuristic-style pop-star but I may just be letting my imagination stretch a tad there.

On the heart monitor question, I'm currently leaning towards the GoWearFit/Body Bugg but unfortunately neither have stockists in Australia and their websites won't ship outside the US. I'll need to investigate options for having it sent to someone in the States and forwarded on.

Aussie Biggest Loser final tonight! Sooooo excited!!

podcasts and pancakes

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It's a little Sunday morning tradition of mine to listen to Jillian Michaels' radio show podcasts while I'm making breakfast pancakes - the irony of making pancakes while listening to diet and exercise advice isn't entirely lost on me, but in my defence they are wholemeal and fully calorie counted into my day.

In the one I listened to this morning [available to download here] Jillian said she'd been having the toughest time with her diet this week, not bingeing but still spiralling a little out of control. She'd found herself back in what she called the Dante's Inferno 7th circle of "I deserve this". The times when our heads tell us what we most deserve is a binge when we actually deserve so much more. Instead of saying "I deserve to relax and watch a movie" or "I deserve to go for a great massage" her head had been full of "I deserve these brownies". Playing mind games with herself despite having done so much to get past this and put that kind of thinking behind her.

Sure is humbling to hear someone as famously fit and healthy as her talking about how she had to throw out all her "bad stuff" from the cupboards as she'd spent the week not being able to portion control. It was a timely reminder that this journey's never going to be over. There's no magic finish line tape.

I've always done what I can to ensure that my weight loss is due to a healthy lifestyle change and not some unsustainable fad diet, yet there's still a niggly part of my brain not quite with the program. A part of me is happy to pay lip service to the whole lifestyle nonsense but is secretly preparing to kick back and relax the day after getting to goal. Wrong diddly wrong wrong. This is for life now.

I may not have to write down what I eat every single day and I might not have to weigh myself every week, but I will always need to eat well and I'll always need to keep active. And I'll probably always need to fight the binge monster from time to time (in just the same way that stressful days take me back to a phantom desire to smoke, something I haven't done for over five years now).

Finally, just have to share this. I'm in love with this song. It might just be due to the endorphin high but it's really growing on me. It was one of two very gruelling hill climbs in this morning's spin class (the crazy ripped European of course) the other hard slog being Phil Collins with "In the air tonight" boy does he make us burn in that one.

finals weekend

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It's a big weekend in Ani-ville - the finals of The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance - yes, yes I live a shallow life, I know

In Dance I think my vote is for Talia. I'm not sure about Loser. I'd like a lass to take the crown, but then again I really wouldn't mind if it went to Bob either (he's such a lovely chap).

I slept in this morning and missed spin class grrrr! Not ideal, but at least it answered my body's need for sleep which had certainly been lacking lately. No space for such apathy tomorrow morning though, early night tonight lady.

Hrmm now that I've started typing, I've realised I have very little to say.. ah well perhaps it'll be a short one for once.

I'm off shopping this afternoon to see about buying some new trainers and investigate the heart monitor options.

Hope everyone's having a good start to the weekend.

“lose some weight!”

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...that’s what the scruffy little teenage scrotum shouted at me last night.

He delivered this directive as he cycled past me in the park, his jeans hanging off his backside, his finger and outstretched arm pointing accusingly at me and his face screwed up in disgust.

To give the little turd his dues, it certainly wasn’t the cruelest or nastiest abuse I’ve had hurled at me from strangers in the street. But, despite the instructional nature of this command, it was still only designed to hurt and belittle and not to motivate.

In the past this would have had me running to a food shop. My inner demons would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the scruffy little shite and used his words to further torture me. She wouldn’t have been satisfied until every last glimmer of positivity was removed from my brain and I was left in a crumpled mess of self loathing with no option but to drown myself under a mountain of sugar.

Funny thing happened last night though. Last night, I just held my head up high and walked on. His words barely even registered with me - let alone weighed me down - I just walked past and said inwardly “I AM losing weight!”.

I guess the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was still riding high from my milestone victory, plus I’d eaten well all day and I’d done two whole lots of exercise: spin class in the morning and a walk around the Tan with fab fellow bloggers Miss Milo and K not Kay after work. In fact this particular incident happened just a couple of minutes after we’d parted on my way back to the car. I was feeling right good, nothing was going to hurt me in that moment.

It’s just like something my manager said today. He was telling me he was “busy, but good-busy”, to which I replied “so long as it doesn’t become stressful-busy”. His response was “stress is only from the inside”. At the time I think I quipped something dismissive about that being a very hippy-zen attitude, but the more I thought about it the more I saw the truth in those words. Stress is a state of mind, you can be rushed off your feet busy and still not be stressed, or you might just have one task in front of you and still be totally stressed out of your box with it [ahem...finished your document yet Ani??].

I figure it’s the same with that teenager; the hurt would only have been from the inside. He’s not someone who’s opinion I respect, so why should I let it ruffle me? He’s not a friend or loved one who’s words can still have the power to cut me to the core, he’s a nobody to me. The decision whether to let his words hurt me or not are entirely in my hands. Without consciously knowing it, I definitely chose the right way.

Now, back to the happier little detail of this story you may have picked up on. Through this blog I have had the pleasure to meet some fantastic and lovely people: there was our walk last night, a lovely coffee with Ashwee a couple of weeks ago and with Kathryn last month, lunch with Miss Milo (at “Australia’s Favourite Cafe” no less), and of course the guest-of-honour special Melbourne bloggers meet with DietGirl herself.

When I started this blog, the chances of real friendships coming out of it wasn’t something that had even occurred to me. I humbly admit I have been totally blessed. You guys ROCK!

checking in: hyc week 16

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Turns out this little lady should have gotten a pedicure, if only I'd known my peepers were going to be on display.

Look at this: *drum-roll please*


For the HYC record that's:

today's weight: 99.9kg / 220lb / 15st 10lbs
loss of: 1.5kg / 3.3lb
total loss this year: 16.1kg / 35.5lbs

Woooooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Major milestone moment indeed. This is enormous for me on so many levels:
  1. it's my DOCTOR'S ORDERS weight for trying to conceive (okies calm down, dinnae get too excited and start knitting baby booties just yet, I'd like to lose just a wee bit more first. But this does mean that when the moment's right for us to start trying - SO AM I!)

  2. easy rider baby! I'm BACK ON THE BIKE. I've really missed being able to go on the back of hubby's harley (put the back rest back on baby - we're going for a cruise!)

  3. exactly HALF WAY to losing the 32kg re-gain

  4. a THIRD of the way to goal - 34% to be precise (again from January re-start)

  5. it's just an all round prettier number
Thank you SO MUCH for all the amazing support, I quite honestly and simply couldn't have done it all without you all *mwah*

Phew! I think I need to get down from the clouds now, I'm starting to feel giddy.

30.9 kilos left and counting :-)

Have a great week everyone.

to bugg or not to bugg

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Thank you so much for your well wishes, my tummy has *finally* settled.

Not much to report from ani-land. I've been cracking on, doing my exercise and eating well. I'm about to go to another spin class this morning (the crazy European again) and then the rest of the day will be spent avoiding finishing my document for work.

I've been wanting to get a bit more accurate and accountable with my exercise levels and calories in/calories out. It'd be great to know whether I'm pushing myself enough and to have more predictable results. I've been researching heart rate monitors like polar and calorie management systems like the body bugg or the go wear fit. I'd like to know just how many calories I'm burning, but what puts me off is the monthly fees. I hate that programs like the Body Bugg and Go Wear Fit rely on an online system to which you need to subscribe. Who's to say the fees won't sky-rocket just at the point I'm reliant on the tool? I'd rather pay up-front, download the software and have continued guaranteed access to all my data.

I'm not sure whether to suck it in and go for the bugg or just stick to buying a simple heart rate monitor for now. What do you reckon? Do any of you use either?

excessive consumption may...

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When I talked of my tummy being an “upside-down-screwed-up-rumbly-mess” it was by no means an exaggeration. I didn’t last an hour at work this morning before I had to pack up and come home. I’ll spare you the details (poor hubby wasn’t so lucky, he’s heard e-v-e-r-y detail. Whoever said the magic and mystery disappears when you get married?) suffice to say the public conveniences just weren’t going to be quite convenient enough, so I’ve come back to the relative safety of home comforts.

I don’t know what it is about sugar-free gum and mints, but I’ve clearly built up an intolerance to something in their “diet-friendly” ingredients list. I used to get through packets and packets of gum but, just in this last year it’s changed. Now I can’t have more than half a packet a day without my guts LOUDLY vocalising their protest. And believe me, in the last couple of days, with current stress levels, I’ve given them plenty to protest about. Time to go cold turkey on the gum again.

Before getting to work I did brave a personal training session. A silent mantra of “please don’t make me do squats, please don’t make me do squats” got me through it without causing any public embarrassment(!) As I walked into the changing rooms there was a pretty and petite blonde straightening her dress in the mirror. She had on a hippy, blue, flowy, mini dress over a pair of knee-high tan boots. She looked fantastic, you could tell from her face that she felt fantastic and knew she looked good too. It brought back memories of when I reached my lowest ever weight (the bridal lingerie pic to the right there) and how I used to try on dresses I could never afford just for the simple pleasure of seeing myself in the mirror in them. I wasn’t at goal yet but I felt fantastic. Seeing myself like that, I would grow an inch in height and feel a million dollars. It was very same feeling I saw on this girl’s face. It made me smile to think that I will feel that again soon.

As I showered I thought about it a little more. I’d recently read a blog where girls who were trying to lose weight had made really nasty comments about an already slim celebrity. It got me thinking of times where I might have been inclined to be less positive in my thoughts about the hippy chick (or more likely about me in contrast to her, I rarely “compare” per se, but just like how looking at that other lass’s perfect boobs led me to mourn and regret how much I’d damaged my own, I might turn a positive outward thought into a negative inward one) and what the difference might be. I realised that if I were to begrudge her for feeling good about herself, when it’s exactly what I’d like to feel, I’d be declaring defeat of never getting there.

I don’t know a better way to explain it than in terms of food (funny that). Imagine I’m standing in line at a gelato stand because I really really want a mixed cup - one scoop of tiramisu flavour and another of choc chip cookie dough ice cream. I see a girl in front of me buy the very same flavours and start tucking in with sheer delight on her face. I would most likely smile in anticipation, knowing just how good that feels and how fantastic it’s going to be when I get my own pastel coloured tub of creamy goodness. If then the very same scene played out, but this time I watch her taste her ice cream, yet my own request is denied and the shop keeper pulls down the “closed” shutters in front of me, I'm sure I’d be less inclined to feel quite so happy for her. Not in any mean-spirited way of course, I just mean I won't share her joy in anticipation of my own in quite the same way.

I’m not sure if I’ve explained myself very well, but what I took away from it all was the realisation that deep down perhaps I’m finally starting to believe in myself and that I can actually do this again.

If I could only settle my tummy down and finish my document that is ;-)