Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Last Friday night, a crazy little man approached me from behind, grabbed me around my waist, pulled my backside towards him, and pushed me down, further to the ground, so that I was practically facing the floor.

From that position, he wanted me to dance.  I knew this, because he screamed at me to do so.  In Spanish.

I'm not Spanish.  But with long dark hair and an olive complexion, and being prone to hang out in flamenco dance classes, visiting teachers from Spain naturally mistake me as being Spanish, too.  When I lived in New York City, teachers would be especially confused when, upon asking where I was from, I would answer, "Australia".  I would let them be puzzled for a few seconds before adding, "But my family is from Greece".  They would nod their head, understand, and for about five minutes, communicate with me in their broken English.  But after a while, they forgot and reverted to Spanish, and so rather than fight it, I've learned to speak their language, if only just enough so that I can understand when I am being insulted.

I would like to think that Manuel Betanzos was not directing his tirade solely against me when he screamed, "Es muy feo!!!!" (It's very ugly! - as in, this scene before me, it is very ugly), but it would be unwise to assume that he was cutting me up with the daggers in his eyes by sheer coincidence.

My reward for being a good 12wbt'er for a month was to attend the Manuel Betanzos workshops in Adelaide last weekend.  That meant 10 hours of serious dancing with a very serious (but wonderful!) flamenco maestro, over the course of 4 days.

Practically, this meant 10 long hours of staring at myself very hard in the mirror as I tried to bring out my inner flamenco.  Or flamenca.  You get my drift.  The point is, that was more time than healthy individuals should spend examining every lump and bump on their body, even if it is because they are trying to coax it into flamenco dance mode.

Truth be told, while I was practically electrified with inspiration from Manuel, I was left completely and utterly depressed at how unskilled a dancer I am, and at the state of my body.

Crazy as it might seem coming from a 39 year old, I really can get better.  I can get good, even.  And all of this running around the neighbourhood at ridiculous hours of the morning and turning into the Mother Teresa of holy eating is the catalyst to a new flamenco me.  It's only going to get better from hereon.

Hell, by December - when the next flamenco workshops on my calendar are scheduled for - I'll have my flamenco body back.  Then there will be just the small matter of my technique.

I can hear Manuel shouting, "Practica, practica, practica!!!!!".

Ok.  I will. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


When watching the Mish Vid on the "Motivation Myth", I really did exercise my little brain cells, and I had something of an epiphany.

Yes, it is bad to use motivation as a reason for exercising.  It's bad, because being motivated is something that we need to add to our normal state of being in order to do something.  And so if we don't adopt that thing, it implies that we won't do what we should be motivated to do.  It actually gives us an 'out', too: put on your best whiny voice, and say, "But I'm not mooooootivated to go outside in the freezing cold and run today".

Oh, but of course.  You're not motivated, and so how could you do it?

So, if we want to ensure that we run up those hills and sweat our little guts out, we need to lose motivation as a reason for doing something,

And that is where JFDI comes in.  I can say it here.  Just Fucking Do It.  

You know that's what she says to her clients in real life.

That is, we just do.  We do it.  No particular reason.  Kind of like we breathe. It just happens, all on its own, without us being motivated to do it.

If we are really attached to the concept of motivation, perhaps we should forever definite it in its opposite, negative (the but-I-don't-want-to) sense .  It's paramotivation: it's that thing that stops you from doing something.

Thus (and I'm really sorry that I'm beginning to sound like my Logic 101 lecturer; oh God, please don't let me grow a long white beard and start shopping for plaid shirts), our default should be that we JFDI.  That's what we do.  If you don't wan't to do it, then you are paramotivated.

That is, we don't need an excuse to exercise.  It's because it's something that we just do.  It's our normal state of being.  The abnormal state of being is when we don't exercise; that's when we're suffering from paramotivation.

Sounds like a yucky disease; thank goodness I'm cured.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

No. I would not like a side of duck fat with that.

And no, Dad, I don't need you to drown that innocent slab of feta cheese with olive oil.  It has no fewer calories because it's full of first press goodness and from the olive tree farm of that guy from your village.

Just like any good 12 stepper who has successfully completed steps 1 and 2 on the program, I appreciate that I'll probably always be suffering a food addiction of sorts, but right now, the delinquent voices in my head that urge me to eat a lovely soft and delicately iced fingerbun have quietened down.

And so the battle of the moment is not within.  It is with my father.

When I was 16, my mother took off overseas for a few months.  Upon her return home, her first words - wailed even before she had given us a hug and kiss hello - were, "What have you dooooone to her?!".

It was my father, my brother and me at the airport, and so there was no mistaking who she was talking about.

And I knew what she was talking about.  I broke down right there and then, and revealed all.

"Mum, he kept on cooking this stuff - mountains of it, so many dishes - and when I said that I couldn't eat it anymore, he said that he had cooked it especially for me, and so I had to."

My mother nodded in sympathy.  She understood.  Her size 6 frame of the 1970s had ballooned to a size 12, and she knew that succumbing to the pressure to eat from the man who demonstrated how much he loved you by cooking several delicacies (enormous pot of chicken hearts, decorated in olive oil, fresh herbs, lemon and garlic, anyone?  Followed by an enormous bowl of fish soup at the bottom of which you will find a gluggy gelatinous  fish eye, if you've been a good girl) just as a way of saying, "Good morning, darling" on a  rainy Sunday.

Thankfully, with my mother back home, my father's holiday leave finished and he went back to cooking his extraordinary culinary creations only on the weekends, rather than every day.  I lost weight, and didn't turn into a porker of considerable concern until a few years ago.

Ordinarily, at my age, and married with two children, my (now retired, with way too much time to cook) father's pathological need to cook several banquets a day fit for the most carnivorous of kings would not be a concern, even if I wanted to lose weight.  However, we're living with my parents while our house is being renovated, and so we're constantly being slammed with culinary crimes against all manner of beasts and face further threats of the same every day (this morning, my father literally said to my husband, "I bought a goat to cook for you".  Not a side of goat. A whole freaking animal.).

We are talking about a man who, last year, commissioned (in the way that one might commission a piece of artwork) several different tradespeople in Adelaide to make him a custom-made spit.

Anyway, you can see where this is going.  My beef stroganoff or vegetable pitas don't cut it.  And further, my father is positively offended by the very idea that someone else might cook at home.  But I've just had to be very firm, and explain that I really do still love him and that I really do appreciate his cooking, but that turkey legs don't conform to the rules of my program if they are drowning in olive oil, and that given the holy eating practices I've now adopted, duck a l'orange as he makes it will make me ill, not to mention the vegetables so sweetly drenched in duck fat.

His brain gets it, but his heart is heavy.  By rejecting his lamb, I'm rejecting him.  I am however choosing to be healthy for my own family, and right now, that is more important.  And I believe that as I look more and more like that healthy person, my father might just ask me to cook for him one day soon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Flu: Friend or Foe?

When my throat started to tickle, I thought perhaps it was just being playful.  When my ears were blocked up, I actually convinced myself that some water from a swim two weeks ago had moved position and might have moved into my ears, on the last stage of its journey out of my head.

But when I had a coughing fit in the middle of reading Hairy McLeary to my daughter, and she asked me if I had just thrown up in my mouth, I knew that it was serious.

I have the flu.

Okay. I admit it. I could be exaggerating; it might just be a cold.  But a very real one.

I am Dramatic Mediterranean Woman.  I like to think of myself as the real life version of that Latino chick on Modern Family, but possibly less gorgeous, and armed with a law degree.

Back in the day, I did used to get around town like that.  Even get around the office like that.  I recall that this was around the time that the Chief Magistrate appealed to the profession to please show some respect to the court and - "this is directed at you, young ladies who batter your eyelids at us from the bar table as if that is going to hypnotise us into overlooking your ineptitude" (if you read between the lines) - please refrain from wearing such low cut tops and skin tight minis and those impossibly high f**k me boots into court, and for goodness sake, can you at least please wear a blouse over your lingerie when you step into the courtroom?

(But PS, they said, feel free to wear such delightful outfits if you go out drinking on Friday night.)

I wish that I was being Dramatic Mediterranean Woman again and exaggerating. 

But enough reminiscing. I'm in Fattie Land now.  With a head full of goobers.

And I'm not sure if I'm relieved or distressed, excited to sleep a little more, or antsy because I just need to get out and run.

I do have the bug. The running bug. (Of the 5.5km I ran/jogged on Sunday (in 40 minutes), I must have jogged at least 4km of it, as I would have walked for less than 10 minutes.)

But this other bug is very real, and I've decided to acknowledge its existence.  I've been the heroine before: you know, the I'll keep soldiering on and pushing myself even though my body needs every ounce of energy to fight this virus inside of me kind of heroine.  And many times before, it's taken me weeks, even months, to get better.

Well, I want to get back out there and run through the freezing, dark but not at all forbidding morning, poste haste and so this morning, I chose sleep.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Body says no. Head agrees, temporarily.

This morning, my body said no, and my head didn't talk back.

You might be able to guess that talking back normally comes quite naturally to me.

My husband and I both work, and in similarly demanding jobs. Just as we share earning a living for the family, we share other aspects of our family life and responsibilities. For example, I have one of those wonderful husbands who doesn't 'help me' with raising the children, or 'help me' with the housework; raising the children and doing the housework is our responsibility, and so we share it.

And last night, my husband shared bubs with me, which is to say, it was my night to wake up with her and feed her, and his night to sleep.  One of the greatest gifts that my husband has given me for the 12wbt is that on my nights with bubs, he allows me to hand her to him (because, invariably, she's taken advantage of our vulnerable sleepy state in the early hours and has used her bubsy gorgeousness to persuade us to carry her into our bed) so that I can work out.

This morning, after I handed bubs to my husband, I went downstairs and fell asleep on the couch.  I know this because at 7.05 in the morning a great big angry man (read: formerly loving husband) was yelling, "Didn't you work out!  But you gave me bubs!  Never again!".  My eldest daughter gently stroked my cheek.

We have so much to learn from our children.

My husband had calmed down by the time I had my shower, and all was forgiven, particularly when I casually walked into the kitchen wearing quite a snappy little outfit that begins with a pair of shiny heels, silky stockings and a pencil skirt.  It ends with a knowing smile: despite a few slip ups, I am doing well.

I tried on this pencil skirt 10 days ago.  My hips would not cooperate at all with my efforts to wear it.  Same hips are now much better behaved, and are clearly slowly being whipped into shape.

The great thing about training in the morning is that if you do something very bad and unnatural like attempt to sleep for more than 6 hours overnight, you can sacrifice something else in your day so that you can reschedule your workout later on. And during this deferred workout, you can punish yourself for being a naughty afternoon exerciser (after all, you've missed out on burning those morning fat cells) by putting some of those 300 pushups in the bank at the end of your training session.

Call me a masochist, but I am really looking forward to a spot of self-flagellation this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Smashing it"

So, this morning, I ignored the stares of the cool kids (although if I drop the paranoia for a second, they probably didn't give  me a second look) and hot footed it to the local gym.

Oh, if only I really had hot footed it.  Instead I hot-automobiled it.  Right into a ute's back end which was hanging soooo far out of the car park that it was practically pleading with me to smash into it.

I'm the daughter of social workers.  I'm very obliging.

Thankfully the only thing hurt in the incident was my bank balance (I could practically feel the insurance excess draining out of my account as I walked around the back of my car to check out the damage).

I got back into the car and parked it perfectly into the very carpark that I was trying to avoid when I completed the fancy manoeuvre into the ute, and did what is my usual response to any kind of stress: I cried (but this time, sans the chocolate fix). Not for too long.  The reality of having a 3.5 year old and 7 month old at home has quite the effect on what I previously thought were involuntary teary episodes; I'm the queen of the high quality but superfast cry.  Kind of like a cat nap: minimum time, maximum benefit.

Quite unlike exercise, however.  No matter how fast I run, 5 or 10 minutes is never going to cut it.

Which is why I got out of the car, walked up the stairs, into the gym and straight onto a torture machine.

And there (and on a second likewise sadistic contraption), I smashed it for the second time today, and all before 7am!

And I finally did the time trial (I told you I wasn't one of those organised people): 1 kilometre in 7.5 minutes. There was no way I could have done that 10 days ago.  I was a strictly 30-second-jog person way back then.

Wow, aren't online calculators useful.  That would be 8 kilometres an hour.  Big catch, I appreciate: there is no way that I could have kept that up for an hour.  But let's not dwell on the fine print.  I'm definitely getting fitter.

What a crazy concept this is that these health and fitness people share: that if you eat better and exercise more, you will get fitter.  And you'll lose weight!  Remarkable.

That's the thing that has struck me this last week.  I've obviously not been engaged with myself or with reality: I've been in a chocolate-and-general-carby-crap coma.  Well, I've snapped out, and things are much clearer now, thank you (even if my back windscreen wasn't!)

I am smarter than a donut

As I was (finally) watching the Mish Vid on cravings, I started to wonder what all this fuss is about food.

I mean, it's just molecules of stuff, some yummy, some yucky, some healthy, some heartburn material . . . you get the drift.  But it's just foreign material that exists in space, and every day, we all select a teeny tiny portion (yes, even a 2 litre tub of Maggie Beer's best icecream barely registers as a microscopic dot compared to the whole entire universe) of that material that we call 'food' to pop into our mouths.

As a result, we can function as human beings.

But depending upon whether this food stuff is good or evil, it performs a magic act on our insides (like making our eyes bright, our skin clear and our arteries clutter-free), or alternatively, curses us with thunder thighs and jelly bellies.

So why do we eat the donuts?  Are they possibly not inanimate objects at all, but baddies conspiring to make us fat?

Why don't we just eat pineapple instead?

I love myself too much to let a donut outsmart me.  I will ingest those forces of evil no more.  I choose to only pick out the best that the universe has to offer into my (thankfully changing, albeit slowly!) body.

I'm tempted to write, 'My Body is my Temple' but that's quite wrong on so many levels and that's a conversation better had over a few drinks (I'm thinking dry martini - minimum calories, maximum punch) than a blog.

All that need be said is that I am smarter than a donut.