Your Health and Weight Story – what are you telling yourself?

What story are you telling yourself? Have you ever had one of those moments when something you have been pretending is so fine is actually not? And until someone calls you on it, you were quite happy to continue to sail along the sea of denial? I had one of those moments this week when my beautiful dog Lulu, unfortunately pulled one of her claws out of her paw.  Akin to ripping off a nail, I knew it would be painful and took her straight up to the vet. After tending to the problem at hand, the vet gave her a general check-up and proclaimed that Lulu was in good health with the exception of one thing.  At this point, the vet started to look a little awkward. She said, “Lulu appears to be carrying a bit too much weight and I am struggling to find her ribs, have you looked for them lately?” Well. Lulu is a Miniature Schnauzer and alternates between extremely fluffy or shorn like a sheep. Given that the weather is getting a bit chilly, I have decided to keep her fluffy for a bit and have been telling myself that while she does appear rounder than usual, her fur must be quite voluminous. But, back to the vet who has me pinned under her watchful gaze, waiting expectantly for some kind of explanation.  I am wildly casting my mind around for some good answers and clearly coming up with none, so she starts firing questions at me.  Are you giving her too many treats? Is she being fed from the table? Is she being exercised regularly? Are her portion sizes too big? While I am doing my best impersonation of a rabbit in the headlights, I then start hoping fervently that the vet does not look at Lulu’s medical file which lists my occupation.  As a Dietitian. The anonymous quote that I love to share with others now floats through my consciousness, “Knowing and not doing, is the same as not knowing.”

“Knowing and not doing, is the same as not knowing”

Of course, I wanted to deny all of the obvious reasons as to why Lulu was ballooning. But, whether you have two legs or four, the inescapable biological fact is that if your weight is increasing, there can only be two possible avenues.  Too much going in (food) or too little going out (exercise). It’s simple yet so complicated.

In my case, reflection on ‘how did we get here,’ forced me to realise and admit that Lulu’s food intake was not being measured (and visual judgement is NOT the same as actually measuring), the kids were giving her their leftover bits and pieces and if she put on her puppy dog eyes whenever food was near, she might just get some. From little things, big things do indeed grow.

Have you been in that position where the blinkers are on and you’re telling yourself one thing but doing another? It might be what you are eating (or not), how much exercise you are doing, how you manage your stress levels or even how much sleep you are clocking up.

Within moments of my revelation with the fluffy one, the vet had several of her staff in the room brandishing written material and providing verbal advice. It’s the same with our own health and well-being, sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious to us.  And sometimes you need support to turn the ship around.

 Do you need to check the story you are telling yourself?


Easter Boombalatta

Resting between Hot Cross Buns
Resting between Hot Cross Buns

I love, love, love Easter.  Mostly for the subtle change in the weather, the smell in the autumn air but also for the chance to spend time with the family and as my kids say, a spot of chillaxing. For me there is always a slight frisson of fear that accompanies Easter as some years ago I learn’t a lesson that returns each year with EB. Most people wouldn’t consider Hot Cross Buns and beer to be a winning combination but as a newly minted Dietitian they were gold. Behind my odd eating habits there was a carefully crafted strategy.  But lets go back to the beginning…. 
When I graduated from uni, work for dietitian’s was thin on the ground in Perth and my only true hope of a job was someone falling off the perch. Time was of the essence so it seemed like a fine idea to put all my worldly belongings and my prized green Gemini on a truck and send it across the Nullabor. The lure of my very first grown up job took me to Cootamundra, a tiny little sheep and wheat town in NSW.  I found myself in the Nurses Quarters in my single room overlooking a parched paddock inhabited by three lonely sheep wandering around. As sad as they looked I did note amidst a bucket of tears that at least they had two friends. And therein lay my first problem. I was a no mates with not a single prospect in sight. Enter the Hot Cross Bun. Their comfort was immense and my love affair was immediate and oh so enduring.  I am thankful that way back then, the little fruity delights didn’t appear on the shelves on Boxing Day because the collateral damage would have been quite literally enormous. Whilst comforting myself with the Easter goodies (and perhaps a few other food delights) I set about formulating a plan to gather some friends.  Cootamundra, like many other country towns had a happening pub scene and with ten of them in a 500m strip catering to 5000 thirsty townsfolk they were clearly the path to friendship. I managed to gather some lovely friends and we had some hilarious times (I think).  After six months of swilling beer and a concerted effort at eating every Hot Cross Bun that wasn’t nailed down, my boyfriend at the time started making comments about the extra ‘bits’ I had acquired.  I was indignantly upset. How dare he tell such lies! More time passed and unbeknown to me, more bits tacked themselves onto my body. In hindsight I think the beer may have affected my vision. I can only imagine the shaky confidence that the locals had in their new and only Dietitian who was advising them on losing weight while she was fattening up like a little pig.  Eventually the evidence became too great even for me and in a pivotal moment when getting out of the bath, I had to face the fact that I had morphed into something like a Shar-Pei dog, the ones with many folds of skin.  With a successful deposit of 10kg of heavy duty weight, the golden run of beer and Hot Cross Buns was over. Its fair to say that the road back was long and arduous and the vision of the first hot cross bun on the shelves each year never fails to remind me of what could have been. Anybody else out there hiding a love of hot cross buns?    

Chewing the fat


Ros Thomas Chewing the Fat

A clever friend of mine writes a very entertaining column in the West Weekend Magazine each Saturday and a recent edition was too good not to share.  It is below in its entirety but you can also see more of Ros’s insights here.


Ros Thomas, The Weekend West Magazine, Published February 2, 2013

A few weekends back a girlfriend and I were at the beach for our first swim of the summer. It was an overcast morning and the water looked dark. We were trying to stave off the inevitable shock of cold water by discussing our chances of getting eaten by a shark. She turned to me and said: “Any self-respecting shark would take one look at me and say: Geez, I’m not that hungry.”

A real friend doesn’t lie about her weight. A real friend understands that a woman’s weight can be central to her mood: thin = happy, not thin = grumpy. My bathroom scales are an electronic slab of nastiness hell-bent on destroying my morning.

A nutritionist once told me: ”Do not weigh yourself every day, it’s bad for your mental health.” But most mornings, I roll out of bed, skip to the loo and then step daintily onto my scales. It takes about three seconds for them to calculate how many squares of cooking chocolate I had the night before and deliver up the numbers that have me inwardly cursing (and outwardly cranky) for the next half hour.

If the figure is really offensive, I move the scales around the bathroom floor, hoping a second (or third) try will give me a more considerate read-out. Sometimes I hold onto the door frame and voila! I weigh the same as I did when I was 18. Self delusion makes me thin.

When I ring a girlfriend to say: “Good morning, I am a circus tent” she doesn’t reply: ‘Hey, I’ve lost three kilos and I’m back to what I weighed on my wedding day.” Instead she sympathises: ”I weigh the same as the day I gave birth to my third child.”

My Adonis does not realise that all nearly all women obsess about their weight, usually to their partner’s detriment. (The fatter we feel, the thinner our libido.)

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not so shallow that our weight is all we care about. We have discussed at length our disappointment that even the head of the CIA can’t have an affair without getting caught. We worry Julia Gillard was talked into becoming a redhead by her hairdresser boyfriend. And then we go back to our weight, because society demands that the female of our species should always be pert and thin. Any woman who has had children or is within fifteen years of menopause knows pert requires surgery and pert andthin is a pipe dream.

I have two lovely pals who meet with me every Friday morning. Our husbands think it’s a weekly discussion to exchange housekeeping tips, and how to serve up more marital happiness. But really those girlfriends come to my house to find out what the scales of injustice say. Having starved ourselves all morning for ‘weigh-in,’ the more sensible one of us records the offensive number of kilos in her diary. Then we put the bad news behind us and get down to the more important business of tea and cake.

I wouldn’t miss those Fridays for quids. They began five years ago when we decided one of us might need a weekly catch-up to help her endure the horrors of chemotherapy. (We didn’t need to weigh her to know she was thin.)

Since then there has been a wonderful survival story, one last baby, two husbands’ vasectomies, two new places to live, one new career and several sets of hateful scales. Cancer free and in perfect nick, the most disciplined of our threesome now sympathises with the two of us whose blasted weight has stayed more or less the same, always five kilos too many.

We still de-brief every Friday, except now we use ‘weigh-in’ as an excuse to check up on each other and restore some girly equilibrium.

What Friday weigh-ins are good for is motivation. The three of us come away hardened with steelier resolve to be Elle McPherson pure about what we eat. (Usually sabotaged by Troy Buswell self-control.) On occasion our iron will has lasted a whole week – the record is three months -but usually we’re texting each other by Friday night: “Do organic brownies count?” (Apparently, if they came from the health food shop, they have no calories.)

For me, trying to lose weight at this time of year is hopeless. And pointless. There are too many good things to eat. So I’m going to move those scales around the house until I find that elusive G-spot  – G for gravity. That’s the spot where a slight incline confuses the scale’s pea-sized brain into thinking I’m three kilos lighter. I have high hopes for that bit of the kitchen floor that dips as it merges with the pantry. If my plan fails, I’ll just use the stupid scales as a step-up to reach the top shelf. I’m sure that’s where I hid the last of the cooking chocolate.