Tag Archives: insecurity

Fabulous Is A State Of Mind

This weekend has been a tough one in a lot of ways. I’ve been spending time with my Godmother, who sadly is approaching the end of a long and very privately fought  battle with cancer…she didn’t even tell me she was ill until the back end of last year. She’d have my hide in a sling if she caught me feeling sad, mind you.

Her perspective, shared yesterday as she lit up her ever-present cigarette and poured herself another very large slug of whisky, was that we’ve all got to die of something, and at eighty two, providing she can depart this world on her own terms she’s had a bloody good life and she’s done fighting thank you very much.

Her Ab-Fab attitude to life has always been utterly infectious. She’s a big lady – even now, her doctors are scratching their heads at why she’s not losing weight when every rule in the book says she should be. We did chuckle at that yesterday, especially when we unearthed a pair of vinyl-clad bathroom scales from the bottom of her wardrobe which were the size of suitcase…a proper throwback from the 1970s. And several kaftans from the same era, which she insists were the reason she got fat in the first place – you could get away with murder under that much fabric, so she did.

As we systematically set about clearing out cupboards, with her directing operations from a distance we talked, I mean really talked, about her life. It’s been a life lived in technicolour, no doubt about that…she and my mum have been best friends from the age of three or four years old, but where mum was always a real homebird, ever since I was a little girl I’ve known my Godmother as the glamorous auntie who used to breeze in, dolled up to the nines and dazzle me with tales of travel to faraway places. I think that’s where I get my itchy feet from to be honest. Funny thing is, I never remember her being fat.

I said as much to her yesterday, which made her snort with laughter. Well my darling, being fat never defined me like it has done you…

Fuck. That stung a bit. A killer line, delivered in a way which was devoid of any malice, just completely matter of fact. But as soon as she said it, I knew exactly what she meant. Being fat has defined me, or should I say my weight has defined me, for pretty much my entire adult life. Hers never did. Looking at those kaftans yesterday which were loud and exotic and certainly not designed to let whoever wore them blend into the background, it was obvious that it would never have occurred to her to feel apologetic for being fat. Nor should it have.

So why do I? I mean, it’s less of a sharp and pointy feeling these days but it’s definitely still there…given a preference I’d still much rather blend into the background in the hope that nobody notices that I’m fat. I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be wearing the sort of brightly coloured garments which could probably be seen from the moon…and yet. Two of those kaftans came home with me yesterday.

On the basis that I’m the wrong side of fifty now, I’m allowed to look a bit retro, dare I even say eccentric – it’s practically the law – so I figured it would be a nice homage to my aunty if I adopt the fuck you attitude to being fat, on the odd occasion when I’m feeling brave enough. It can’t hurt to try it in for size, right? I have a holiday coming up in around a month, so it’s a perfect opportunity to be loud and exotic.

Watch this space…there may be pictures 🙂

By the way, there’s a very thought-provoking new post on our Thoughts From The Posse page today…one of you lot, doing what you do best and making me think! Enjoy 🙂

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A Bona-Fide Badge Of Honour

I might have mentioned before that when it comes to exercise I’m all about the gear. The number of times I’ve been fully kitted out in the right gear for this activity or that is ridiculous, only for said equipment to quickly find itself out of favour and stuffed in the back of a cupboard, where it’s usually stayed until the point I admit to myself that my dalliance with whatever it was had lasted for just a brief moment in time, and now the gear is surplus to requirements.

I’ve always been the same, you know? I like to look the part even if I have no idea what I’m doing. In my early teens when I was learning to ride horses, I’d leave the house looking like I was about to put in a clear round at Olympia with my pristine jodhpurs and hacking jacket finished off with shiny boots and a blue velvet riding hat. I must’ve stood out like a sore thumb at the stables, where I was surrounded by lots more teenage horse-lovers, happily milling around in their mis-matched tops and bottoms, usually finished off with a pair of wellies caked in horse-shit and a shapeless old pullover.

I was the fat one that never broke a sweat, although to be fair my reluctance to join in with the mucking out of stables was more born out of a decision on my part not to bend down in jodhpurs. They’re not the most forgiving of garments, and my hormonal teenage self was already regularly locked in dialogue with the Asshole voice about what I must look like from behind. Conscious even then about the size of my arse, I felt that I looked the part, if I could just stand still with my back to a stable door and sort of…pose.

Looking the part has always seemed quite important. Fast-forward a number of years, and I had to go to court to support a friend of mine who’d witnessed something dodgy. She was giving evidence and I was fascinated by the pomp and ceremony of it all, but utterly distracted by the very tatty robes worn by counsel. I remember thinking to myself that surely if I was earning that much money I’d get myself down to the robe shop for some new ones immediately. I’d want to look the part.

Incidentally, I tapped one of them on the shoulder and pointed out that his robe had a big rip in it, I thought maybe he’d trapped it in the car door or something and hadn’t noticed…he gave me a death stare and walked off. How was I to know that ripped robes are a thing amongst barristers, because shiny new robes scream novice, and experience is measured by the number of rips in your frock? Weirdos.

I’ve certainly never worn any kind of exercise gear often enough to wear it out, in fact this is the first and only time I’ve managed to wear something in. My friend on the other hand has just worn out her first pair of trainers. It’s a big moment…like me, it’s only in the last year that she’s come to appreciate the whole exercise thing, and she wouldn’t mind me saying that like me she’s also spent her life going up the scale, and down again.

As we sat on the cool-down mats earlier this week after an hours’ worth of boxing, we collectively admired her big toe, which was all but poking through the top of her trainers and we basked in the pride which came from slaying them. She was proud, and I was proud by association, I mean worn-out trainers are a bona-fide badge of honour, right? They’ve been worked. And as much as my OCD demands that I look the part, in her shoes – busted up as they are – I don’t think I’d be hot-footing it down to buy new ones either.

Sadly, there’s no sign of my trainers getting ready for that big fitness studio in the sky just yet. Work to do then, eh? 🙂

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Not Giving Up. Ever.

never

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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I Didn’t Even Notice

I had dinner last night with all my colleagues at work – our boss is leaving next month and last night we met the lady who’s joining the business as his replacement. It was really nice to meet her in a social environment first, and one of the things our team is really good at is being sociable. I think it’s fair to say that we all enjoyed the evening, and both our new boss and our team passed muster on all fronts I think…we passed each others’ tests.

Do you know what I didn’t think about, until I was in the car on the way home? What I looked like. This time last year I would have been completely pre-occupied with that, you know? Before, during and after the event. What would she think about the way I looked and what assumptions would she make about me based on first impressions? Were all my chins going to be distracting with their ongoing momentum as we chatted, and was my menu choice going to be scrutinised as part of her assessment of me..? Ahhh…that’s why she’s such a tub of lard! Bad choice, fatty…

Of course she wouldn’t have thought that at all, in fact she was probably far too daunted at the prospect of walking into a restaurant to meet a tightly-knit team who are collectively devastated at the prospect of losing their much-loved leader to pay much heed to anything other than hoping we liked her, but as a seriously fat girl I somehow always managed to make it about me, like I was some kind of special being requiring separate consideration.

I was quite comfortable last night. I fitted on the chair, which in that restaurant in particular used to be a worry – visiting it in past times meant sitting gingerly on small round seats and to be honest back in the day I could’ve done with one whole chair under each bum cheek. We sat in a different spot last night, they’d reserved us a long table with a bench running the whole length. I fitted in, and I wasn’t squashed. No need to push the table away and eat at arms length to accommodate my bulk…I was comfortable.

And you know what, I felt nice. Relatively speaking of course, because I’ve got a long way to go yet but I was wearing new clothes, in a size 18 – that’s a 14 to my friends across the pond – which is where I was aiming to get to before my holiday. They weren’t straining at the seams either…they fitted me just fine.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice that I felt nice until I thought about it afterwards, because I was too busy being in the moment. And that’s huge. I can’t even tell you what it feels like not to be preoccupied, worried, obsessed even by the space I’m taking up in the world and what people might think about it, to the point where enjoyment and being present in any moment is eclipsed by the cripplingly dark shadow of self-consciousness. God, those were dark days.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses last night…faced with a menu stuffed full of fat-girl-wet-dream fodder, I’ve got to be honest, making skinny choices brought on a momentary strop in the Asshole corner of my mind. I didn’t choose the deep fried breaded cheese with onion marmalade, which made my mouth water before I’d even finished reading the description. I would have killed my granny for that appetiser, but the strop passed and what I had was lovely.

I got over myself. On a scale of  one to ten what I ate was a tiny bit naughty but nobody’s going to throw me in jail over it. It qualified as a treat without kicking the arse out of it. No guilt this morning, or feeling that I’ve gone off-piste…it’s all good.

Choose this, get this…I’m learning 🙂

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I’d Rather Be Dodgy…

dodgy

It’s weird you know, I’m fifty years old and I’d like to think I’ve learned a few valuable life lessons along the way. I’m still learning, in fact this journey in particular over the last few months has peeled away a lot of layers and revealed things about me to myself that I don’t think I ever knew. If someone had told me at the very start of this journey that that would happen it might have spooked me a bit, I mean it could have had disaster written all over it, right? We all know about Pandora’s box.

Happily, as I’ve uncovered stuff, talking it through with you lot has helped me to work through it, in fact it’s been like six hundred words of therapy every day. I’m more grateful than I can tell you for the fact that you all listen to whatever comes out of my head, and then empathise, and relate, and chip in with your own perspective.

I must admit, I’m totally unguarded on here, and I’m sure occasionally I’ve been guilty of over-sharing, but I’d hope my words come across to you as authentic. It’s my journey, as seen through my own eyes, and whilst I might crack a joke or two, those of you who’ve sussed me out will understand that’s my default way of dealing with difficult, you know?

So I had an email yesterday morning from one of my most loyal supporters who was absolutely outraged that someone had awarded a ‘poor’ rating to something I wrote a couple of days ago. And bless her, she even felt the need to apologise on their behalf. I was so touched at the way she had my back, but to be honest until she pointed it out, I hadn’t actually noticed.

See, I don’t think too much about the star ratings widget…it’s useful in the way it allows me to see which posts you enjoy the most, and I love that it generates a favourite posts list – new folk who wander into the blog tend to poke around in there, and it gives them a good flavour of what we’re all about. I’ve never really thought about it in the context of people passing judgement on my writing, daft as that might sound.

I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t like the fact that someone thought my words weren’t up to scratch, but I wasn’t especially worried about it. And this little storm in a teacup demonstrated perfectly to me just how far I’ve grown in the last few months. At one time I would’ve been absolutely gutted.

I would have read, and re-read the post, trying to pinpoint the exact bit which sent someone’s opinion of me plummeting downwards. I would’ve chewed myself up about it and then probably headed straight to the Hobnobs. I wasn’t good enough, look it’s there in black and white, I’m officially rubbish. POOR!! I need a hobnob immediately to make me feel better.

This time, I re-read it once and thought you know what, it’s probably not the most entertaining post I’ve written but actually, it helped me. And let’s not forget, I write for me. Writing my thoughts down on that day in the way that I did helped me to find a link. And the links I’ve gathered over the past ten or so months are the reason I’m still here, sashaying along on this road to Skinny Town.

So I’m happy with those words even if they weren’t to someone else’s taste…they served me well. They had a purpose. And if I tried to be funny when I wasn’t feeling funny, that’s when I stop being authentic, right?

I don’t much fancy getting another ‘poor’ though. Ever. So I changed the descriptions, ‘cos I can do that. ‘Poor’ is now a bit dodgy, and ‘awful’ is now a steaming pile of shite. I sincerely hope nobody ever thinks that, but at least if they do it’ll make me chuckle, and I’d rather be dodgy than poor any day of the week..!

Have a great weekend everyone…see you on the other side 🙂

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