In March 2012 I moved this blog to a self-hosted site. I’m still Diet Schmiet however! Find me there.
Hello blog followers – I’ve set up a forwarding rule so anyone trying to access my wordpress.com account will be transferred to my new blog. However, if you’re a subscriber you will need to re-subscribe to my new blog. Apologies for any inconvenience and I hope to see you soon at…. http://dietschmiet.me (same scintillating posts, just in a new and improved place!).
Love from me (aka Schmiet / Deborah)
Today’s post was going to coincide with the launch of my newly designed blog, but my brilliant blog host is still tweaking the site a tad, so I suspect we will go ‘live’ on the weekend. Yay!
Instead today I’m going to write about my mother. Well, sort of. (God, I can hear her hyperventilating from 300km away!)
A fabulous blogger, Karen, who is very supportive of me and my blog (leaving regular comments) has just returned from some travel and other commitments so left a few comments on my blog posts overnight (well, overnight here in Oz). One of her comments was about my last post – where I talked about social media and weight loss, fitness etc. My comment about normalising certain behaviour resonated with her and she sent me a link to an old blog post of her own, where she referred to someone training for a marathon… “Cos that’s what everyone else is doing”.
HELLO!? Been there, done that, own the t-shirt!
You may recall a post earlier this year, when I’d decided to follow advice I received and quit my ‘learn to run’ program. The exercise physiologist I mention in that post reads my blog and knew how much I hated the ‘Couch to 5km’ program. She also knew I liked other forms of exercise and encouraged me to DO WHAT I ENJOY. A novel approach, huh?
In Karen’s blog post she talks about working out what WE want. Again… D-oh?! Why don’t we do this? Why do we (and by we I mean me) ’learn to run’ cos everyone else loves running and talks about it on Twitter?
For me, quitting running and focussing on what I wanted to do was very empowering. And, as a result of ‘quitting’ running, my fitness hasn’t suffered at all. I’m gymming five days a week. This week I’ve participated in my usual 5 x 45min classes at my local gym: Faux Zumba; Cardioblast (old style aerobics); Pump; Pilates; and Circuit class. Ta Da! And, I don’t mind going to any of them. Some I don’t LOVE love (Cardioblast can be hard, and I never know what to expect with Circuit!) but I know they’re good for me and I need to keep increasing my fitness.
I left a comment on Karen’s old blog post - saying that I recognised the need for whatever I do to be SUSTAINABLE. I mean, the sane part of me knows this thing I’m doing isn’t a diet. This is forever. I’ve exercised in ways that I’ve burned out previously and in ways that basically weren’t sustainable.
So… I’m back to thinking about my own (darling) mother (Hi mum!) who’s keen to lose a bit of weight. She doesn’t need to lose much - just a few kilograms. She’s quite fit and healthy, although had a knee replacement and so (sadly) is still troubled by that a few years later… and yet – her exercise schedule is amazing for a (sorry mum!) 68 year old woman.
She does marching (I don’t know what that involves and try not to snigger when she talks about it!); tai chi, yoga, Zumba for oldies; disco dancing (again, one can only imagine what this involves!); and hydrotherapy a couple of times a week. She’s also very good at doing the exercises her physiotherapist has given her and does a couple of extra sessions at a friend’s pool. And… before her knee operation she also walked with a neighbour at some ungodly hour every morning.
So, I wanna be like my mum when I grow up. She happily heads off to something almost every day. Obviously her schedule is more flexible now that she’s retired, but she enjoys her exercise classes and maintains a commitment to her fitness. Something I can only aspire to. BUT having said that, I think I’m on the right track by focussing on exercise I enjoy and incorporating it into my lifestyle as much as possible.
Is this a strategy that works for you?
Those following my blog for some time may recall my foray into self-love last year (no sniggering please!) through my belated participation in a 30-day challenge issued by inspiring US blogger Tina Reale (from Best Body Fitness).
Tina and a few other bloggers often write about topics that I tend to ruminate over for a while before eventually offering my thoughts on the issue. And… a recent post of hers has similarly been playing on my mind since I read it a few weeks ago. And it’s particularly timely as I publish this post – on the day which USED to be weigh-in day on my old weight loss program – a 12 week body transformation challenge.
You may be aware, I’m a huge social media fan. I mean, I’m not as avid as some (am yet to delve into Pinterest and the like) – and recently wrote in my other blog about my binge-tweeting habit, given the minimal access I have to social media during the working day; but I must confess, I like connecting with others in 140 characters or less.
Which brings me back to Tina’s post about social media and its relationship to our health and fitness goals. As I read through her list of positives (support and accountability) and negatives (stress, bizarre trends which become the norm and the comparison trap) I found myself nodding in agreement. I mean, HELLO?! Do I feel like crap when I read about others running 10km, when I can’t even run 1km? Yes! Do I feel lazy when others are doing double training sessions or participating in some burpee or planking challenge? Hell yeah!
One of the reasons I actually pulled out of my former weight loss program was because it became a bit overwhelming – the focus seemed to be more on the program itself, than what I wanted to get out of it. I don’t want to sound overly critical – I’ve written a few times about the cult-like following the program has in some respects – although I know it achieves results and some participants are wedded to it for life. But it can be so ‘in your face’…; and some of that (I believe) is solely a result of my (and others’) use of social media to engage with other participants.
I have a habit of checking Twitter and Facebook when I wake in the morning – before I even stagger leap energetically out of bed. And (while I usually have plans to exercise at lunch or after work) I start the day feeling like a big fat failure because at 6.30 or 7am, others have been up for 3 hours running 20km or half marathons or similar.
Even though I’ve quit that weight loss program, I’m (happily) in contact with those who are continuing, so each Wednesday morning I’m confronted (first thing) with everyone’s weight loss results. And, I’m reminded of how I lay in bed last year filled with a sense of dread and depression as I read everyone’s news. I’d eventually get on the scale myself and if I’d had a good loss, I’d be ecstatic. Until I read of others’ results that is… and then I felt envious. And angry. ‘Braggarts,’ I’d think to myself about those reporting big losses each week. (And yes, I know that’s completely irrational and not true!) And naturally I only focussed on those who had lost more than me, not those who lost less. To them I sent comforting ‘don’t worry’ tweets; unable to be that generous to myself!
I’m conscious that once upon a time we would have no idea how people all over the country did at their weigh-in, IMMEDIATELY AFTER their weigh-in. I mean, how would we have shared that information before the damned (though now desperately-revered) World Wide Web?!
Although, of course I have the option of avoiding Twitter (and Facebook) on a Wednesday, or avoiding it completely. I mean, I DO realise it’s all self-inflicted: I fall into Tina’s ‘comparison trap’ because I’m a competitive bitch who always wants to ‘be the best’ or who wants to ‘win’.
I do, however, also realise that my frustration is AGAIN being directed at the wrong target. (Twitter, other tweeters, other dieters and the like!) Even before Facebook and Twitter (yes youngsters, such a time DID exist!) I did Weight Watchers and used to chat to another girl at my meetings. I quite liked her and we met for an occasional walk during our lunch break. It was fine while I was doing okay, but as I started to flounder I found myself less enthusiastic about sharing my results each week – resentfulness creeping in as she continued to succeed. (Yes… I am indeed a biatch!)
So it seems that AGAIN (like my post about the wretched bathroom scale) I’m shooting the messenger. It’s not the fault of Twitter or Facebook that they can make me feel like crap; and frankly much of the time, they cheer me up.
As Tina suggests, they offer me connections I might not otherwise have had. They offer me virtual friends with similar interests all around the world. And they offer me an easy way of keeping in contact with those I just don’t get to see often. In reality, people who read this blog know more about me than some of those I consider to be my best friends, but who I just don’t see much of nowadays.
Another well-known US blogger, MizFitOnline, left a comment on Tina’s post, suggesting that social media is indeed a double-edged sword. And it’s true. On one hand, I receive a HUGE amount of encouragement from my online friends, and also feel a sense of accountability or obligation (in a positive way). But on the other, my world is shaped by what I read…. I started a running program, though I hate running because EVERYONE else runs and they love it. How do I know that? I read it on Twitter. Everyone else is super-motivated, participate in ridiculous challenges and their commitment never wavers. How do I know that? I read it on Twitter. No one else eats chocolate or chips or the like when they’re trying to be healthy. How do I know that? Because I DON’T read it on Twitter.
It’s on Twitter or Facebook, so it must be true.
I haven’t quite worked out how to get the best out of social media, without also the worst. I suspect it’s human nature for us to compare ourselves to others and that even the most sane do it. But I’m hoping that the therapy I’ve started will help me deal with my need to only either ‘win or opt out’ and to avoid constantly feeling like a big failure. But until then I’ll just have to focus on the positives!
The Biggest Loser started here in Oz over a month ago. It launched to much TV-land hype and blogosphere disdain. As well as the usual ‘the show is too fake, sets up false expectations and features unsustainable approaches’ bagging, it got a caning for its promotional approach. (For my international readers I should note: bagging and caning = Oz words for criticism. I like to think my blog posts are as educational as they are informative. *Sarcasm*).
Touted as The Biggest Loser – Singles, all of the ads featured the contestants moping about being single and how they won’t find love until they lose weight. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Many viewers (and non viewers) criticised the show for implying that no one likes a fatty. Even I cringed each time I saw the ads. HOWEVER I cannot talk, as I say the exact same thing. Not about others – cos there are a lot of overweight people in relationships and I’m always gobsmacked when their partner is vaguely normal. I mean, how on earth did they find someone to look past the outer layers? I’ve just always assumed that I’ll remain single while I remain overweight.
That aside, I haven’t actually watched TBL for a few years, although I occasionally tune in just for the finale in the hope that the shocking makeovers motivate me to get my act together as well. And by then I don’t know any of the contestants and have no vested interest in who wins. It’s just all about the changes.
The show itself no longer holds any interest for me. I hate the competitions and hate the unrealistic environment. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want someone to lock me up and force me to lose weight. I’m pretty sure I’ve prayed to be knocked unconscious for a few months to a similar end! And… I did pay a nice sum of money to go to a Biggest Loser-style fat camp a few years ago.
However, while I know the show’s about breaking people down and building them back up, I really just can’t stand to watch it. On top of the annoying contestants and competitions – it also makes me feel bad that I’m not achieving what people there are achieving. Ridiculous as that sounds.
However – unfortunately on Friday night I caught the end of the show which featured an interview with someone who’d been voted out. It was one of those check-ins a few weeks later to see how life ‘on the outside’ was going.
“Great,” she said, “I’m doing 5 hours of exercise a day. Two hours of cardio in the morning. Strength work at lunch for an hour and then two hours of cardio at the end of the day.”
WHAT. THE. FUCK?!
After I picked myself up from the floor, I had to remind myself that this THIS IS A COMPETITION. D-oh! I thought my old weight loss program’s expectation of six days a week of exercise (burning 500 calories a day and 1000 on Saturday) was unrealistic.
I mean, I know in (the) TBL house contestants do a ridiculous amount of exercise. My fat camp (based on that concept) involved 3-5hrs of exercise each day and consuming 700-900 calories. Completely unsustainable in the outside world if one is to have a life of any kind. And yet this girl IS in the outside world – supposedly easing back into ‘normality’ I would have thought. And yet, she’s doing five fucking hours of exercise a day! (And yes, I do swear more when I’m gobsmacked!)
She then showed her food consumption to a doctor assessing her biological age (or something; I was channel-flicking by then as a result of my frustration). I almost gagged. Now I know that I am a bit weird when it comes to greenery, but her three meals included half a forest and a couple of tiny bits of white chicken and fish flesh.
How long will this person be able to eat like that?!
When I left fat camp, the owner suggested we continue consuming minimal calories and over-exercising UNTIL we hit our goal weight; and then ease off, which – he said – is what he did (having been on the show himself).
I realise people go on TBL to achieve results and so I don’t blame this girl. I don’t even blame the show. In fact I’m not even sure there’s any point to this post other than me having a rant.
I’ve been on some stupid diets in my time. I’ve yearned for quick results on many occasions. In fact, I can’t promise I won’t be swayed by a convincing ‘magic elixir’ even now. I can understand anyone wanting a quick fix. But even I wasn’t prepared for my reaction to the program last week. For some reason it was particularly confronting. The girl’s efforts reeked of desperation and sense of urgency intimated something. Does she want to look great by the finale? I wondered. Does she hope to get back onto the show by having lost a lot of weight on the outside? I wondered. Or, does she want to win the money? I wondered.
Perhaps the show’s paying for 5 hours of personal training a day and she doesn’t have a job. Or maybe she’s under pressure fromthe show’s producers. Who the fuck knows?! And maybe she – and others on the program – will keep it off after the cameras and fans disappear. Perhaps – like so many of the previous contestants, she will become personal trainer and be committed to a life of clean eating and exercise. And if she, or her fellow contestants do… good on them!
BUT… if I do sit down to watch the finale, I will HAVE to re-read this post to remind myself of the bizarre lengths these contestants have gone to in order to drop huge amounts of weight in a short time as I already know I’ll be comparing my own pitiful efforts to theirs. And I don’t want to AGAIN feel like the bigger loser!
As you hopefully know, I ventured into a psychologist / dietician’s office this week. Happily the therapist in question also mentioned that after 20+ years in practice, she’s also doing a PhD in something to do with obesity and… ummm… can’t remember… mental stuff. You know… that mind/body shit I’m always going on about, which hopefully means she’s well-versed in long-term aberrant dieters like myself.
Anyway, so far so good. Obviously appointment one was mostly about: who I am and how did I get so fucked in the head. Well, almost… but not really. But as I’ve been through ‘first dates’ (with therapists) a few times now, I knew what to expect.
And… I’m actually pretty good at divulging my life story. I obviously enjoy talking about myself (I mean, HELLO!?!) and I like to think I’m pretty astute (and I mean that in a non-arrogant way… I hope) when it comes to knowing myself and what I SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be doing. Etcetera.
So, I’m pretty good at laying myself bare. “These are my faults!” I announced… though she probably could have named them herself after my hour diatribe.
The dietician/psychologist mix sounds like it’s going to work for me. As well as cognitive based therapy (CBT) I have to confess I’m happy she’s a bit of a psychodynamicist (not sure if that’s a word, but I mean someone with Freudian roots).
I don’t think she’ll be like the Freud-loving psychiatrist I saw for two years while at Uni in the late 1980s… during which time we hadn’t moved out of my childhood. He would sit there and scribble notes madly as I talked. There’d be silence as I looked out of the window waiting for him to finish writing. Then – without fail – he’d look intently at me and ask “What are you thinking?” I always wanted to say, “I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck is he writing?‘” But I didn’t. Cos I was nice back then. I was a ‘good girl’. I behaved. In public. I mean, I possibly had exasperated tantrums in front of my parents… but in front of everyone else I was perfectly sane and balanced. And in control.
After talking about my long history of eating issues (starting when I was 15 in 1983), we talked about my mindset issues. Well, the therapist didn’t use those words, but something about my thought patterns, beliefs, attitudes and habits and the like. They won’t be easy to change, was her advice. So I gather the old ’21 days and it’s a habit’ thing isn’t exactly a cure-all response. She said it is unlikely that even after 18 months of changed behaviour, my thought patterns will also have changed.
That kind of makes sense to me. My secretive and obsessive issues with food and exercise and twisted body image thinking started nearly 30 years ago. They won’t change overnight.
Amazingly, she thinks I’m kinda smart and self-aware. Which adds to the challenge, she said. Perhaps if people aren’t as self-actualized the ‘a-ha’ moments come earlier?
My favourite part of the appointment though was when she talked about my ‘mad monkey mind’.
Initially I thought it was a label she was applying to just me. (And, actually felt kinda chuffed by that!) But she talked about some experiment which shows that a monkey’s mind will control its will and body to its detriment. The monkey trap goes something like this: you wedge a large piece of fruit in a container which is stuck to the ground. Once the monkey reaches in, it’s unable to pull its paw out with the fruit in it. So, while it hangs onto the fruit, it remains trapped. And yet, even as a hunter approaches, with its life at risk… it doesn’t let go.
I Googled it later. As you do. There were some references to ‘greed’ and resulting ‘destruction’. But the mad monkey’s mind, is apparently unable to rationally realise that more food will be available elsewhere. It’s stuck in a behavioural loop where, to survive, it MUST have that fruit.
The therapist explained this to me as I discussed my constant need for instant gratification (binge-eating, over-eating, unhealthy eating) DESPITE my desire to be slim or ‘normal’ and ‘happy’ and the fact that I knew I couldn’t be so until I lost weight. (I’m all about the short-term gain and long-term pain!)
I have a couple of things to do before my next appointment in just over a fortnight. It seems I will get homework. And… it seems – any change is up to me. Surprise surprise.
However, I’m happy to do as asked. If it will help. Cos I need it. And in the interim, I’ll think a bit more about my mad monkey mind…
I wonder if many of my readers are old enough to remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Although, it is possibly one of those movies that lives on through cult-like followings. Just like Maria Carey’s Glitter. Oh… wait….
Anyhoo, as I was contemplating a title for today’s blog post I was thinking about my sense of ‘anticipation’ and bizarrely found it hard to say in a way OTHER THAN to spit it out, a la Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-Furter…in the song “Sweet Transvestite”.
Which is where I’m at. I must confess that I’m a bit like a tightly coiled spring, ready to be released; or Jack in a Box, ready to be sprung. Or something.
Because FINALLY I’m trying something different on the “I’m-not-dieting” front.
I was uncertain about whether or not I wanted to talk about this in my blog. I know you may think that there are no limits to my over-sharing… but it may astound you to know I too have boundaries. There are HEAPS of things I don’t talk about in here. (I am sure your minds are boggling at that fact, given how open I often am in this forum!).
Not only am I unsure about talking about this in an over-sharing way; but also I am loath to talk about something which may not work. I don’t want to be one of those people: you know the kind… ‘all talk’. I mean, I know that I often identify issues I have or behaviour that I find hard to act on – but I don’t feel like I PROMISE to do things which remain undone.
We all know those people. The ones who have great plans. They’re going to travel. They’re going to study. They’re going to start a business. They’re going to start a diet. I’ve half-heartedly done it on the dieting front: STARTED a diet which will be the diet-to-end-all-diets. But I learned some time ago, to not claim it to be the much-longed for panacea. In fact, I have so little confidence in most things I try to do, I rarely believe I’ll succeed so am reticent to promote it too widely!
However… I’ve pondered over this and decided to share.
After work today I’m seeing a dietician/psychologist. The person in question is both, and was suggested by someone who thought the combination could be ideal for me. I’ve had to wait for the appointment, as seeing my GP for a referral was – bizarrely – more difficult than seeing the specialist.
And more confessions: I’ve seen therapists before – something I’m not sure I’ve shared here previously. Some good, some not so good. Obviously. Given I’m still a bit f*cked in the head and not ‘all better’ my previous therapy didn’t ‘cure’ me. Not that I expected it to.
The most successful therapist I saw was the most recent (though that was almost a decade ago). The person in question specialised in working with people with eating disorders. I often arrived, as painfully thin young women left. Naturally, I quit my sessions after about a year, despite some progress. I don’t know why exactly. It was a bit logistically difficult to get there, but that would have just been the excuse. Not the reason.
So here I am again. Nervous but buoyant. With antici-PATION. Although I know there’ll be no magic elixir. I know that it’s up to me to do the hard work and make the changes. The dietician / therapist will not appear with a magic wand (although… if she could I’d be mightily grateful!)
So why am I telling you this, rather than keeping it to myself (in case it doesn’t ‘work’ and to save myself any additional shame/judgement because I’m seeing a ‘shrink’)? Because part of me wants to acknowledge that there’s nothing wrong with seeking help when you need it. I’m a big believer in outsourcing to specialists. It is – after all – a key justification in having a fortnightly cleaner for a one-person household. And that’s what I think I’m doing.
I don’t know what sort of school my saviour therapist hails from: Cognitive Based Therapy, or perhaps she’s a Freudian…. who knows and I’m happy to play that by ear – and let her have her way with me… in a manner of speaking.
At least I’m trying something different. I recognise my ‘thinking’ needs some work (As does my behaviour – obviously!) and I’m getting some help. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Today here in Oz it’s the 29th February. Another blogger called it a ‘bonus’ day. Although it’s coincidental… I think it’s kinda fitting that I’m trying something new today. What are YOU doing with YOUR extra 24 hours?
* I should mention that when I made the appointment (I made contact by email, as I hate calling people) I flagged that I’d have a referral from my GP, but suggested my blog would be a better source of background information. God forbid she is actually reading this! And if you are… no pressure…. really!