Tag Archives: determination

A Stroke Of Genius

So much for my plans to slip into one of those vibrant kaftans and glide around like some exotic creature from a bygone era…cavernous as they are, they don’t bloody fit me! The trying on session didn’t go well from the start if I’m honest…in my head, I’d hoped I might totally rock the Nana Mouskouri look but the reality was nearer to Demis Roussos – and if you don’t know who either of those people are you’re far too young to be in my blog, get out immediately!

Despite the acres of funky fabric there’s a sneaky little side seam in a kaftan which makes the fabric cling to your torso whilst lots of folds of fabric float around the sides. I shit you not, I looked like a sausage roll in a frock. So I shall launder them and put them in the skinny drawer to join the holding pattern of stuff that will fit me ‘soon’.

I did a really tough double session at the Kingdom of Pain last night, I was half dead by the time I got home. Let me tell you though, I’ve taken a few things on board from our friend who wrote the latest guest post and despite my screaming muscles, this morning I’ve decided to embrace the soreness as a signal that last night I worked. Today, every time I move and my abs or my quads or my arse cheeks twinge with a sharp reminder at how hard I worked, I shall have a little moment of celebration, you know? I will visualise every twinge pushing me one step closer to Skinny Town, because actually that’s exactly what’s happening.

I am seventeen days into my renewed resolve, and I couldn’t be happier with how my food plan is going. I managed 11 days’ worth of willpower leading up to Christmas before I fell off the waggon, but I’ve gone beyond that milestone now, and even my binge on the first of the year can’t really blot my copybook. I’ve found the sweet spot again and I can’t begin to tell you how great that feels.

I love waking up in the mornings feeling skinny. Not feeling guilty because I fell at the last hurdle and sank half a packet of Jaffa Cakes and a Daim bar with my suppertime cuppa. I love not waking up with indigestion because my body’s been fighting to process whatever crap I pushed into my face right before bed. Not carrying a heavy heart filled to the brim with guilt and disappointment because I let the asshole voice take the wheel…all of a sudden by focusing on what’s going well, I’m in control again.

Despite a working dinner a couple of days ago, where the menu was awesome and the desserts were to die for, I behaved. I even behaved with a smile on my face, because no asshole voice muscled in on the deal and tried to persuade me otherwise. Some of the people I was with ate dessert, but I didn’t and I didn’t care. It looked all kinds of awesome but I wasn’t interested, because I’m on it.

I’m trying my best not to feel cocky…pride comes before a fall and all that. But I’m in a good place, and I can feel you all cheering me on. On Sunday I saw a steady stream of folk checking out the Shitbird Says page even though I don’t publish as such on the weekend. Nothing to see here except my conversation with the scale. You remember, and I’m incredibly lucky that you care enough to make sure I’m bringing it home. Under your watchful gaze I feel compelled to try my absolute hardest.

It’s a stroke of genius, if you think about it 🙂


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Packing Away The Attitude

Well first of all, let’s have a resounding cheer for those amongst us who hit the new year feeling blissfully happy and proud at how well they coped with all the excesses of the festive season…yeee…what?

Ah. Not just me then.

If you did it, if you pulled it out of the bag then you’re my hero. Personally, I’ve been on the ropes a bit, in fact I’m not going to lie, sometimes I wasn’t even in the fucking ring. I was doing so well too. Even I can see that the timing was shit…after my major-league wobble I managed eleven straight days of clean eating, right up until the day before Christmas  Eve but then the wheels fell off my very fragile food sobriety once again and it’s been open season in the space between then and now.

I can only liken my Christmas to the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, where some poor bloke is elbow deep in mud with bullets whizzing perilously close to his tin hat as he tried to navigate the battlefield and claw his way to the other side. Except in my case they weren’t bullets, they were chocolates and cookies and salty snacks. No cheese balls, in case you were wondering…I didn’t cross that line. Yey me. However, it was the single piece of restraint I managed to show, and it was more symbolic than waistline-friendly.

Well, I say fuck it…that was last year, right?

I’ve packed away my Christmas decorations this morning, and I’ve stuffed my Christmas Eating Attitude right down to the bottom of the box, next to the really shit baubles, you know the old tatty ones that get strung at the back of the tree where nobody sees? As I taped up the box for another year, it felt a bit like that Biggest Loser episode, you know the one where they climb a big hill wearing backpacks containing the equivalent amount of weight that they’ve lost and then they lob it off the top of the hill? They all cry and congratulate each other and then go home and hit the gym for last chance workout.

I had a false start yesterday. It was the first of January and it was a Sunday, so two new starts for the price of one…a new year and brand new Weight Watchers week. I made it ’till about 4pm and then I blew it. I was feeling really sad after a visit to my Godmother who is terminally ill. When she was first diagnosed the doctors said that they couldn’t cure her, but she’d probably be able to rub along for a good few years yet. Now they’re not telling her that any more. And I know it’s part of the circle of life, but it seemed like a good reason to eat everything that was left in my Christmas cupboard when I got home and then sit and cry about how unfair life is.

So today is my actual day one. I haven’t changed my weigh-day, and I’m not about to take the piss by insisting that I wait until next Sunday because otherwise it’s not a full week…today is it.

I know I have to make some changes. I need to get more accountable, you know? I mean sure, I already share with you my losses and my gains, but the overall pattern gets lost in the mix and I can hide from it too easily by cracking a joke here and there, so here’s the thing…I’ve been tidying the blog up over the last few days, getting ready for the new year and archiving stuff properly and as part of that I’ve made a new page – the Shitbird Scale now has a voice. And there, every Sunday, I will post a picture of our weekly conversation.

Shit the bed, did I actually say that out loud?

Well, it seems I did. And look at what the fucking hokey cokey diet has done to my weight loss…my regain was 15lbs prior to stuffing the Asshole back in his box before Christmas, and now it’s morphed into a 22lbs regain. I’m 22lbs heavier than my pre-Cuba weight. That means I’m 22lbs further away from my goal weight of 147lbs. All because I’m a muppet.

So the box is taped shut, my Christmas Eating Attitude is packed away and today, so far, feels like a new start. One minute at a time. I have 120lbs to lose and I’m going after it.

Who’s with me?

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One Whole Week

When I stepped aboard the Shitbird Scale last week and the number forced me to acknowledge exactly how rebellious I’d allowed myself to become, I took it on the chin. As the week went on, I resisted the temptation to check in every day, so between you and me I approached yesterday’s weigh-in with not a little bit of trepidation…lets be honest, there hasn’t been much good news coming out of my bathroom of late.

I’d had a good week, so I was confident that the needle wouldn’t have moved up. Given my recent trajectory that’s progress in itself, right? I was hoping for a solid two pounds off. I felt like I deserved two pounds, because I’ve tried really hard to kick the Asshole voice into the long grass and focus on my input this week. One of the biggest revelations for me over the last year or so has been that taking care of the input is my job, and actually all the scale needs to do is report the output. It’s less about the number, and more about my side of the deal.

Except the bitch in my bathroom used to toy with me…she seemed to get off on messing with my mojo by giving me a different reading within seconds of the last depending on which tile in the bathroom she happened to be sitting on when I hopped aboard. and I played right into her hands…best of three. No, hang on a minute, let’s make it best of five. Or ten, or fifteen…maybe I should take an average…? No wonder it twisted my melon.

Although initially I baulked at the price, I think choosing this particular Shitbird Scale when the old bitch hit the skids was one of my better ideas. I mean obviously we did the customary weigh-day waltz around the bathroom to get the best possible reading, but unlike the last one, Shitbird scale held the line – it didn’t matter which tile it stood on, the number was the same. There was a definite air of it is what it is, fool…take it or leave it, you know? And since the number was three pounds lower than last week, I’ll take it thank you very much.

Three pounds. That has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?  And it feel like a solid three, because it wasn’t a one, then a four and a two before it landed on three. Times past, when I’ve been awarded a good loss and I’ve declared a successful week, the bitch has been known to snatch it back the following day and revert to something less impressive. Rarely did it happen the other way around, although to be fair I wasn’t kidding when I hinted at the best of fifteen…it’s not unheard of, as rituals go.

The thing is, even before I clocked the number, I felt calm and self-assured on the inside. I’ve stopped bouncing from feast to famine, you know? This week, I managed to get a grip. And it’s fragile, I know that, but it’s there and it’s holding. I’ve been the one behind the wheel this last week, and the Asshole voice wasn’t even holding the map.

Seven good days. Seven days’ worth of skin in the game through a week that was as challenging as it gets – I’ve had two Christmas-related social events, two off-site meetings where lunch was out of my direct control and one night out with my boy where I selected carefully from the menu based on what I could have rather than what I wanted, and immediately followed up one sensible choice with another as I avoided the Ben & Jerry’s concession in the cinema. I didn’t even try and lick the counter as I walked past.

That’s progress folks  🙂

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They Weren’t Kidding!


It’s hard not to feel a bit intimidated, when you open your eyes to greet the day everyone’s been talking about in hushed tones. In all the boomph we got sent before we even set off, it said day four of our trek was the hardest and now it was here. I sort of had that feeling in the pit of my stomach, you know the one…it felt like I was about to sit an exam, or walk the green mile to the gallows.

It didn’t stop me eating a hearty breakfast mind, come on we were staying in a proper hotel. The night before, at dinner, the absence of rice and green beans was a cause for celebration in itself and the buffet had been superb, so despite my love affair with the lumpy mattress and wafer thin pillow (which wasn’t a tent and a ground mat so who really gave a shit about the lumps) I was out of bed as fast as my poor worn out chunky legs would carry me. Which wasn’t that fast, to be fair.

Safe to say that by the time we walked out of the hotel, I was carb’d up and ready to tackle the day head on. It didn’t start badly, apart from another one of those killer hills. But we soon started heading down into a sort of national park area so the paths were well walked and not bad at all. I kept checking in with myself, you know? Well that’s another ten minutes done, and that wasn’t too bad. Only six more hours to go…I wonder if this next bit is the really hard bit..? 

We ended up deep in a valley after a couple of hours’ worth of walking and we had a pit-stop and posed for some pictures next to a waterfall, which was beautiful. We were dwarfed by the cliffs rising up either side of us and that’s when it dawned on me that there might be a bit of climbing involved to get out of here, you know? We were maybe three hours into the day at this point so I knew any minute now all the stuff that made day four qualify as the hardest day was about to jump out and say BOO.

Call me Mystic Meg, but I wasn’t wrong. As we started to retrace our steps, my spirits lifted when I thought that perhaps we were just going to go back the way we came, and they’d been winding us up about this being a tough day but our pocket-sized guide was waiting by what couldn’t even be described as a turning off the path, pointing with his machete and indicating that we should follow him. And that’s where the day started to live up to its advance publicity.

After fighting our way down a very muddy and treacherous slope, clinging onto trees which dispensed a waterfall of red biting ants every time you touched them to steady yourself, we emerged from the forest briefly and crossed the river using a succession of smooth, slippery and very wobbly stepping stones which were not arranged in a very customer-centric way…Mother Nature, eh? What a bitch.

How on earth I didn’t end up arse over tit in that river is beyond me and there was nothing graceful about my progress. Tom Thumb was watching me with that look on his face and you know what, I’d had enough. As he put his arm out to steady me on a particularly wobbly stone I could see the for fuck’s sake expression about to make an appearance and I lost it. He got it both barrels.

Don’t you dare look at me that way! I might be old and fat but do you see me giving up? I can do this the same as everyone else so take your head for a shit and let me get on with it…okay, I didn’t say the take your head for a shit bit out loud, I just thought it. But he got the message, and credit where it’s due from that point on for about the next six kilometres he man-marked me as we made our way through the jungle.

This was the hard bit. This is what they’d been saving up for us…no national park walkways here, in fact it was completely virgin rainforest. We were climbing, with a sheer drop to one side of us and he was actually clearing a path with his machete as we went. This was the one day I wasn’t at the back of the pack, I suspect because after my outburst he took personal responsibility for getting the fat cranky old woman up the hill.

And that was a mixed blessing. I couldn’t linger, or pause to catch my breath because I had to watch his feet, and plant my feet where his had been a moment before. Thank God he had short legs, right? I would have split my difference otherwise. There was no pausing to admire the view because we were so deep in the jungle there was no view apart from trees as far as the eye could see, falling way way down to the river that we’d crossed, and towering way above us as we climbed out of the valley. I didn’t dare look down because I’m terrified of heights and we were literally clinging to the hillside we were climbing.

And so it continued, for a good two hours. Stepping up and over tree roots, fighting with the biting ants, slipping in the mud as we climbed and climbed some more. Every step took us about a foot higher, I mean I don’t think I’ve ever climbed anything so steep. I recall listening to the sound of his machete swinging at a branch here and a vine there, all the time trying not to actually shit myself with fear. My heart was doing its best to beat its way out of my chest and I thought it was never going to end.

But then it did. We emerged from the canopy of trees and clambered down some rocks which looked like a giant staircase and there, right in front of us was the most stunning lagoon, with two waterfalls cascading down from a monstrously tall cliff, I mean it was spectacular. And what made it all the more special was the fact that very few people will ever get to see it. It’s buried deep in the jungle but we were there…and we’d fucking well walked there.

I’ve got to admit, I had a moment. I shrugged my backpack off my shoulders and sat on a big rock overlooking the lagoon, and before I knew it there were tears rolling down my cheeks…I couldn’t help it. It was so beautiful, but it wasn’t even that, you know? I couldn’t help thinking about twelve months before, when every step had been painful and I’d struggled to walk beyond a couple of hundred yards. This felt like the moment that I could officially declare I’ve claimed my life back. I’m doing things I never thought I could possibly do, and I’m living the dream.

I’d found it really hard, that killer trek between the two waterfalls, and I totally get why they’d called out day four as the hardest day…they weren’t kidding. But you know what, I didn’t find it any harder than anybody else. We’d all found it hard, because it was bloody hard but we’d all done it. I’d done it. And the emotion of it all caught me unawares. I thought about my dad, and wondered whether he’d be proud of me as I sat on my rock and cried like a big girl’s blouse.

We had another long steep climb ahead of us to get out of the jungle and meet the truck, and that nearly polished me off on top of what we’d already done. Nearly, but not quite. One foot in front of the other, and repeat.

I had a finish line to cross tomorrow after all… 🙂


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Not Giving Up. Ever.


I’d love to give you an update on my weight loss, given that I’m six days into season two with my head fully back in the game but you’ll never guess what…the bitch in my bathroom has conked out. Kaput! I’m not exactly heartbroken, in fact if I’m honest that scale was in the bin before I’d even finished doing my happy dance. I had a cheeky little mooch around Amazon, and there’ll be a new bitch in town by Wednesday.

So I thought I’d continue with my jungle tales this week – I was planning to anyway, but something rather extraordinary and totally unexpected happened on Friday (for those of you in the know, shhhh in the thoughts thread!) which I don’t want to tell you about until I’ve shared with you all the highs and lows of the trip.

Can you believe I’ve been home from Cuba for six weeks and I’ve still only gotten around to telling you about the first two days? It’s ridiculous how time flies, but I’ve been somewhat preoccupied by the power struggle raging between me and my asshole voice. I’ve had a handful of emails from folk in the posse eager to hear about the rest of the trip, so I’ll pick up where I left off in Hiking In Rollerskates, which saw us marching into our second camp.

I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome that place was. The camp on our first night had been very pretty, and we’d had a great night as we all started to get to know each other but the facilities were a bit hit and miss, and if you didn’t like beer, your only other option was water. I’m not being funny right, but when you’ve drunk three fucking litres of the stuff during the day, it’s never going to be your tipple of choice when you’re trying to kick back and relax, you know?

This camp was different. Still pretty, still rustic and still very basic, but it had a proper bar. And better than that, when we arrived, hot and sweaty and wiped out from what had been a really tough day of walking there were ice-cold drinks lined up on that bar waiting for us. And they had coke! I mean it wasn’t exactly coca-cola, it was their locally produced version which had at least a tablespoon of sugar in every mouthful but in that moment it was like nectar. Especially when it had a large slug of Havana Club thrown in for good measure… 🙂

They’d pulled out all the stops with a hog roast, and that night will stay with me for a very long time. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. I was one of the first to bed at around 11pm, even though I desperately wanted to stay up…I was knackered. My Cuba Libra tab at the bar was already flirting with double figures, and no way could I have managed day three with a hangover so I turned in, and fell asleep smiling in my tent to the sound of raucous laughter floating on the breeze. I think the more hardcore contingent were up till around 4am. Hats off, right?

Our guide, the pint-sized action man who still wasn’t convinced that fat old women had any place on the trip was busy multi-tasking as I emerged the next morning, doing one-armed press-ups outside the tent of our lady doctor (who was young and very attractive) whilst simultaneously ogling her bum as she bent down to tie her laces. I barely registered on his radar as I walked past, which amused me no end…even his peripheral vision was tuned into her impressive norks.

After a breakfast of rice and green beans and yet more prison bread washed down with great coffee, we walked out of camp and almost immediately went underground into some caves. We walked for maybe 500 metres through the tunnels, passing lots of bats and the resident owl. It was a really tight squeeze in some parts, and we had to crouch down and walk bent in two but I fitted in all the tight spots and didn’t get stuck, not even a little bit.

I didn’t feel like a fat girl…I was doing it, just like everyone else and I couldn’t stop grinning. Me, in a cave with a head torch and everything, I mean this was verging on extreme sport, right?

Day three wasn’t bad at all. There were some challenging climbs of course, and some descents but nothing quite as steep as day two, and it was a bit less muddy so the walking was a little bit easier. And I think we’d all started to acclimatise to the heat too, and find our rhythm. The folk up ahead at the front of the pack set their own pace, and stopped every couple of kilometres to wait for those of us at the back.

When we caught up they’d set off again, and repeat. They walked with pace, and had several rest stops, where me and one or two others at the back walked steadily but hardly stopped at all beyond a couple of minutes here and there to have a drink, or take a picture, so we must have looked like a big unwieldy caterpillar as we made our way through the jungle.

We trekked for maybe five or six hours, and then met the truck, which took us to an amazing place for lunch, a restaurant with tables open to the elements on one side and incredible views across the valley.  And although you don’t much feel like moving when you’ve had a good lunch, we weren’t quite done. The truck dropped us back at the edge of the rainforest and we trekked for another couple of hours…this is the point that I had my second wobble of the trip.

It was towards the very end of day three, when we were almost at our hotel and the going got really hard. We were out of the jungle by this point walking on roads which were so steep it was hard to catch a breath. It was raining but still ridiculously hot, and the hills were relentless…for maybe 45 minutes or more it was just one after another after another. On the very last one I remember thinking that’s it, I’m done, I’ve got nothing left.

Ever since the start of the trip, the guides had said day four was the hardest, so I’m walking up these hills, utterly spent after two uncomfortable nights in a tent with hardly any sleep, hot, wet and fighting the urge to cry, knowing that it was going to be even harder than this tomorrow and wondering if I had enough in reserve to complete the trek…it was a real low point and I started to really doubt myself.

But then I started thinking about my dad, and what a fighter he was, and I thought about all the people who’d supported my journey. How much belief every single one of those folk had that I’d cross the line, and that somehow allowed me to tap into my reserve tank, you know? I was able to dig deep enough to push on because when I thought about all that stuff, I knew right there and then that I’d never give up. Never. When the hotel finally came into sight, with its hot showers and air-con and beds and pillows and better still all our main luggage lined up in the foyer I let go a few big fat tears out of sheer relief.

Day three of five, done. You don’t need me to tell you how awesome that hot shower was, or how comfortable the bed was…let’s just say that was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, and leave it there. And funnily enough, by the time I woke up the next morning I was full of optimism that day four’s ass belonged to me.

Hard? Maybe…but so am I 🙂

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