I’m like Gwyneth Paltrow!

Okay, okay… maybe not. Gwyneth Paltrow is an uber-rich, Oscar-winning celebrity who is reed-thin. I’m a not-too-rich, not-too-famous, not-entirely-thin… okay, make that fat… middle-class-mom and I couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag!

I guess the only things that Gwyneth and I have in common is that we’re both married to talented musicians — and we both have 2 kids of similar ages… girl and boy… with girl being older than boy.

AND… it so happens… that I think I have Gwyneth’s outlook on food — well, apart from the fact that she doesn’t eat “four legged creatures”, that is.

I was watching Gwyneth on Oprah a few days ago. Gwyneth exercises like a fiend in order to maintain her sylph-like figure. She doesn’t diet. She loves food too much to diet – or to have to restrict herself from desserts and french fries. So basically – she eats what she wants (within reason) – and then exercises like a mad woman – 6 days a week – to maintain her weight.

I suspect it’s the route I’m going to have to take too. I just love food too much to restrict myself to a bland menu of “diet food”. Yes – I do want to eat healthily… and I do want to cut down on the chemicals… and I do want to contain my binge-tendencies… but I still want to enjoy my food! I want to savour each bite – like the French do!

So – Heather’s Grand Change of Attitude #1:
I no longer view the gym as an evil torture chamber… designed to punish and inflict pain and suffering on poor little me.

I shall, instead, view the gym as a place of nurturing and nourishing. A place that cares for my body and me. A place where I can grow stronger, healthier and fitter by the day.

And… Heather’s Grand Change of Attitude #2:
I’m slowly opening up to the idea that it’s OKAY to actually ENJOY cooking… and enjoy eating… and enjoy entertaining. It’s possible to experiment with new dishes and new tastes without this whole “cheating” or “forbidden food” idea.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are NO forbidden foods! There are NO ‘illegal’ foods! Silly rules & restrictions simply bring out the rebellious child in me. I choose to make wise decisions and behave like an adult around food!

Oh – and by the way – I’ve lost another 2 kilograms / 4.4 pounds. Without dieting! Without eating bland, revolting rabbit food!

Yay-Hooray! x


Not the most refined of the gym-bunnies!

One of the main reasons why I’ve avoided anything that smacks of “GYM” my whole life has more to do with insane insecurities – rather than hatred of all-things-exercise-related.

Gym… I believed… was a place for thin, healthy people. Gym was for lycra-clad ladies… and iron-pumping tough-guys. The gym change rooms mortified me; thin, buck-naked women strolling nonchalantly around… chatting to friends… discussing diets (as if they need to diet!) whilst I huddled morosely in the far corner, trying my best to change underneath a towel – (and realising fully what a silly, insecure scaredy-cat I must have looked like in the process!).

Today, I noted with pride, that I stood up without a towel (gasp!) wearing only my knickers! This was unheard of in the past (bearing in mind that the last time I went to gym was… about 5 years ago).
If I stood up whilst in the process of getting changed – it would mean that somebody might actually see (gasp!) my backside in all it’s glory – without the camouflage of clothing! I’ve always been horribly embarrassed of my bum. And yet – today – I stood up and allowed the world to view my backside!! Or rather… a lone cleaning lady who was too busy scrubbing the scale to notice (or care). Still… it’s a milestone.

For years (when at gym) – I have carefully selected the exercise equipment furtherest away from people. I didn’t want the first available treadmill. I wanted the treadmill tucked away in the corner. The one that didn’t have a rowing machine or a bicycle positioned directly behind it where an exercising person would (or so I believed) examine my jiggling arse as I puffed, wheezed and limped my way along the treadmill’s runway. I’ve always imagined that any person exercising behind me on the cardio equipment would have to be fascinated with the sight of my bum. Surely thin women would be thinking: “Sheesh! I’m glad that’s not my arse!”… and surely men would be thinking: “Sheesh! I’m glad that’s not my girlfriend’s arse!”.

As it turns out – I’ve now come to the conclusion that most people actually don’t give a shit. They’re too concerned about their own wobbly bits to worry about mine.

This belief was reinforced yesterday when I noticed a girl (fatter than me)… (treble gasp!)… who entered the gym. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody stared – as I assumed they would. Nobody cared. As it turns out – the people who attend gym aren’t there to stare at the bodies of other people… people at the gym are far too concerned with their own bodies to bother about the size and shape of other people. This, let me tell you, is an epiphany for me!

I haven’t quite got to the stage of using the interesting looking cardio machines with the roller-blading motion which are positioned next to the coffee bar… (think wildly exercising bums-in-motion just centimetres away from the vanilla latte)… however (!!) – I have used treadmills and stairclimber machines which are positioned directly in front of other exercising people. Again – it might not be a big deal to most people – but for me it’s an enormous milestone!

The less I care about what other people think – the better! As it is, I’m not the most refined of gym-bunnies. My sweat-towel is an old, greying nappy, for goodness sake. I have 2 gym outfits which are rotated like clockwork: a white T-shirt, a grey T-shirt. A pair of black tracksuit pants. A pair of black stretch pants. I don’t know how half the gym equipment works – but I’m not too embarrassed to ask anymore. I can only run for 1 minute stretches at a time… (well “jog” is probably more honest than “run”) – but I’m getting better! And each day, I’m improving… and the biggest surprise of all is this: I’m actually enjoying this gym experience!

Good grief – who knew!!??

Am I happy being fat?

I just wanted to clear this up so there’s no confusion: I’m not happy about the fact that I’m fat! My struggle with binge-eating has been the bane of my life for… well… most of my life. I remember bingeing from as early as 9 years old! I used to steal money from my Mom’s purse, sneak off to the shops, buy as many chocolates that I could afford (R5 could buy a lot of chocolates when I was 9!)… hide the stash under my pillow and methodically eat the lot until I felt sick enough to throw up. However, I could never manage to get myself to throw up… although I tried on a number of occasions. There was a time in my life when I sincerely envied bulimics. Sad, I know.

The Beautiful Life Project is all about loving myself right now – exactly as I am – in spite of all the stuff that needs working on… but there’s a clear distinction that needs to be made here. I’m not saying: “I’m perfect as I am – I love me!”… I’m saying: “In spite of the fact that I’m far from perfect – I am still worthy of love and respect and especially from myself!”.

The truth is, I don’t accept my fat and I’m not proud of the state of my body. Years of self-hatred, self-abuse and self-neglect have left my body in a physical state which leaves much to be desired. I have been overweight, unfit and unhealthy for years. This is not acceptable.

However, the key difference between the ways I used to treat myself 2 years ago and now is this: Instead of lecturing myself, criticizing myself and hating myself for being such a ‘failure’… such a ‘loser’… such a ‘weak-willed moron’… I now believe that I’m simply worth so much more than what I’ve allowed myself to believe over the years.

Self-respect includes the respect of one’s own body. My body is a precious, priceless creation – and I only have one body to live out this life with (and I have much to do. I have no intention of dying young!). I can’t use and abuse it until it malfunctions and then demand that God replace it with a newer, younger, healthier version… no!

If I truly love and respect myself – I will learn to love, respect, nurture and nourish this body that houses my soul. And yes – that includes losing weight, increasing my fitness and strength, eating healthily, taking care of myself from top to toe.

Do I love myself? Yes… well – at least a lot more than what I loved myself last year this time. It’s still a journey though.
Am I happy being fat? No! I deserve more than a tired, worn-out, unhealthy, unfit body.

I know that there are numerous “fat acceptance” groups out there – who proclaim that they’re happy with their bodies… that they’re happy being fat. I don’t believe them. Apart from the comments and the criticism of others… apart from being unable to fit into aeroplane seats, movie theatre seats and decent clothing… there’s still the awful physical side of being obese. Constant exhaustion…. swollen ankles… inability to walk long distances or to climb a simple flight of stairs without puffing – and I won’t even mention all of the medical woes!! I simply can’t believe that anybody could be proud or happy about being fat!?!

I remember a family member saying to me: “You should just accept the fact that you’re never going to be a supermodel. You’re a big girl – it’s how you’re built. Just accept it!”.

No flippin‘ way! I’m not expecting to be a supermodel. I have no desire to be a size 0 stick insect… but I will not “accept” the state that my body is in! I deserve more than to live out an unhealthy life in an unhealthy and overweight body! And I’m not “built this way” either. I’m fat because I’ve binged on an obscene amount of junk food in my life – not because I’m “built this way”. I’m not in denial. I got myself in to this position – and… of this you can be sure… I’m going to get myself OUT!

PS: And I’m not a “big girl”. I was a normal sized child. I have narrow shoulders, small wrists and a small waist. I’m not “built” to be big!
PPS: And I’m writing this from the gym computers again. I’ve just worked my butt off. I now visit gym every morning (except on weekends). This is only my second week here – but I feel so much more confident about ‘sticking to it’ this time… because now, I see gym as an exercise in self-love… rather than a torture session designed to punish bad weak-willed me.
PPPS: Thanks so much to those of you who have been so encouraging during my process of transformation. I appreciate you more than you could know! xx

I’m at gym!!!

Unbelievably, I’m typing this whilst sitting at… wait for it… GYM! Now, I know that the dreaded gym isn’t everybody’s cup of proverbial tea – but, unbelievably, I have thoroughly enjoyed this morning’s work-out!

I joined yesterday – after a very determined resolution to make 2009 a year of putting my self-love theories into action and respecting my body enough to nourish and nurture it with good food and a healthy lifestyle which… obviously… needs to include exercise.

It’s also rather convenient because it’s just down the road from Morgan’s school… which pretty much leaves me no excuse to avoid it!

Morning routine now as follows:

7:00am: Wake up. I don’t need an alarm clock. The kids wake me up every morning without fail. I get Morgan dressed, pack my gym bag and get myself dressed too.
7:50am: Drive Morgan to school to get her there by 8am.
8:15: Arrive at gym.

This new gym is a brand new schnazzy Virgin Active at the Brightwater Commons. It’s close and convenient with loads of parking… and all kinds of cool extras like computer stations (which I’m using right now)… KAUAI for coffee and healthy food… and all kinds of interesting exercise options (which I’m not brave enough yet to try – but will keep you updated!).

I spent 30 minutes doing cardio – and I ran… (yes! RAN… for 5 whole minutes – although not all at once). For me – this is a h-u-g-e deal. I know there’s loads of fit people who can run for miles without breaking a sweat – but I ain’t one of them! For me to jog or run for a solid minute is a huge achievement… ( just so you know).

I really like the treadmills here. They have touch-screens and you can watch CNN while you exercise. There’s also a fan that blows cold air into your face if you want it to. I need to buy some ear-plugs though. I also need to get a water bottle.

I sweated horribly though – which is probably good, although I hate to sweat. Enjoyed a nice cool shower – but forgot my towel and shampoo at home (long story)… but in a nutshell… I’m now sitting here at this computer station feeling wonderfully refreshed and invigorated. I’ve just enjoyed a Mango Bang smoothie and I’m feeling rather smug and very optimistic about the year ahead.

Will keep you posted… but I’m going to sign off now and plan a healthy-food menu whilst lounging on Virgin’s funky couches. I feel so cosmopolitan!


Testing out the Powerplate!

Anyway – so, Wendy and Priscilla of Refresh Health & Beauty have generously offered me unlimited use of their Powerplate machine. It’s a formidable (and expensive) looking thing… and I must admit, I was a bit suspicious of it.

“A big, expensive machine that vibrates”, I inwardly scorned, “Sounds a bit hocus-pocus to me. I don’t see how it can offer any kind of long-term health benefits!”.


The other day, Suzanne and I rocked up to sample the Powerplate. Wendy was most helpful and most hospitable (as always!)… and Sue and I enjoyed coffee and a chat before I donned my old, holey tracksuit pants to “exercise”. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting to work up much of a sweat. It’s a machine that vibrates, for goodness sake, how could it possibly require physical exertion to stand on a machine that vibrates!?

Uh… famous last words.

Wendy had me stand on the machine, hold the handle bar thingys and do a simple squat. Not such a big deal… a squat isn’t the end of the world. But then she turned on the powerplate… and suddenly, the squat wasn’t easy at all! I can’t remember how long I was required to “hold” position – something as piddly as 15 or 30 seconds – but boy! It burned!

I remember yelping to Sue, “You won’t believe what this feels like!”… and she kind of gave me that “Yeah, whatever!” expression.

My powerplate session lasted about 20 minutes. Wendy had me lie, stand or squat in various different positions – which I then had to hold – while the Powerplate did it’s thing. By the end of the session, I felt like I had just undergone a thorough work-out! Sweat and all! I even felt a bit wobbly and shaky… and given, I am unfit – but the Powerplate machine is more than just a big, vibrating monster! Even Suzanne, who was mocking me from the couch, gave it a go. Sue is much fitter than me – and as soon as she got on the Powerplate, she was giggling and repenting for thinking that I was over-exaggerating!

So… just wanted to say: Powerplate does work! Go and visit their official website if you’re interested in all the technical, scientific hoo-ha as to why it works. And remember, if you’re in the Joburg area… Refresh has a separate cottage which houses the Powerplate. You can exercise in private – and then have a shower afterwards… and coffee or juice served by the ladies at Refresh. Great way to start the day!

Unfortunately, I live just a tiny bit too far from Refresh to visit them on a daily basis. They’re a 30 minute drive from my house (in good traffic… in bad traffic, at least 45 mins)… so distance wise, it’s impractical. But I certainly need to start exercising!!! I’ve been procrastinating and putting it off for wayyy too long! I just need to find somewhere close and convenient that offers a whole variety of different options (I get bored easily – especially when it comes to exercise!). And I’m more than willing to hop on any Powerplate again!

So… thanks, again, Wendy & Priscilla!

Friday and going strong…

Hey – I’m still going strong on this no-diet, healthy lifestyle thing! And I haven’t obsessed about food at all! I’ve just finished my fat-free-smoothie which I made with bananas & ff strawberry yoghurt (very yummy)… and I’m packing for our weekend trip.

Nick and I are going to the Drakensberg for the weekend – my Mom is looking after the kids. The plan is to keep it healthy – and my first step was to buy healthy (yet tasty!!!) food for our 4 hour road trip. So – I have a cooler bag filled with nuts, seeds, mini carrots, snap peas, fresh fruit and a LF, healthy pasta salad I made. Really – all the fuss I’ve made!!

A healthy lifestyle isn’t so hard after all!

Will blog again on Monday… xxx

More success!

I’ve just come back from a date with Nick. He took me to watch the stage production of Beauty and the Beast (loved it!) – and we had supper at an Italian restaurant.

Normally – (if on diet) – an evening like this would bring on all kinds of stress and anxiety… ie: “What if I cheat on my diet?” “What if I lose control?” – “What if the restaurant offers nothing that’s on my legal-list-of-foods-I’m-allowed-to-eat?”... blah-dee-blah-dee-blah!!!

I had a wonderful evening with Nick! Totally relaxed at the restaurant and ate like a normal person! Did not binge! Did not pig out! Did not order the most fattening, filling meal on the menu! Did not quaff down large, chocolate-coated dessert!

I ate:
2 small pieces of freshly baked bread with smidgeon of butter.
Fillet steak with mushroom & wine sauce.
Mashed potato & roasted veggies.
Plus a grapetiser red… and about 5 black winegums during the show.

For me – this is all GOOD! I was relaxed, I didn’t obsess over food, I enjoyed my meal – and I did not pig out! Yay!

Just thought I’d share before going to bed!