Preggie Exercise & The Chat Burning Zone

A while ago, The Sister asked me what blog name I was planning on giving my son. Since I called my daughter The Princess, it follows that I would call my son The Prince. But two days ago, an actual prince decided to make his appearance on exactly the date that I was due to give birth – Monday, 22 July 2013. And my son decided not to make an appearance on the day he was predicted to arrive.

“Stuff being born on the same day as the future king of England!”, he thought.

Like The Princess, who frolicked inside my belly for an extra week before I demanded to be induced, my son appears to be very comfortable in utero. Anyway, since he will not share a birthday with the most famous prince in the world, I think it’s okay to call him The Prince, alongside his sister, The Princess.

One of the reasons why an overdue baby can be bad for the self-esteem, is that the dreaded number depicting what one weighs on the scale has more time to climb. With The Princess, despite her above average birth weight of 3.66kg, I managed to contain my weight gain to a fairly respectable 12kg, which I understand is considered normal for someone who is not underweight – something I have never been accused of. On Tuesday I hopped on that hateful machine, just for a laugh, and my weight gain had gone from 12.8kg one week earlier, to a whopping 14.2kg. The Prince better justify this being one BIG baby!

One of the ways I have tried to (unsuccessfully) to contain my pregnancy weight gain, has been through exercise. Unfortunately, however, when I was five months pregnant, I started to feel a stabbing pain in my right side every time I did any cardio exercise. I couldn’t even walk around Sandton City at “speed”, so going for runs (which were becoming uncomfortable anyway with my growing belly) and even walks around the neighbourhood, became impossible.

I have never been very motivated to do my own workouts in a gym. I either need to be in a group training session or a I need a personal trainer to keep me in line. But being pregnant, super hormonal and having to entertain a busy toddler all day during school holidays, weekends and the many public holidays that surface in South Africa around April and May, changed my view of solo gym sessions. Suddenly, Virgin Active and its Club V for kids could offer me multiple solutions:

1) a way to burn off just a few bites of the truckloads of chocolate my hormonal self was insisting on consuming

2) a brief break from childcare and a change of scenery

3) a chance for The Husband and I to work out simultaneously over the weekend or on a public holiday if he wasn’t cycling

4) fun for The Princess in the form of a million toys and games that were new and novel

There was only one problem: despite having successfully started playschool in late January at 21 months, The Princess wasn’t interested in being left with childminders, despite the fact that she was in Toy Heaven. I knew this because she screamed the house down on more than one occasion when I tried to leave her at Club V.

I almost gave up, but on Easter Monday, I was determined to make Club V work for us. And somehow, it was suddenly like sleep training – a relatively small amount of pain for many years of gain. She screamed for a few minutes when I left the room and then fell silent as the childminder managed to distract her. I crept to the elliptical trainer, put one earphone in and waited for my name to be called over the intercom to come and placate my hysterical child – as had happened many times before.

But the announcement never came.

From then onwards, I struggled to get The Princess to leave Club V. I had to pretend that I was leaving her behind. Sometimes even that didn’t work.

So, since Easter, I’ve had no excuse not to frequent the gym. There was no way I could bounce around with my big belly in a group exercise class and so the elliptical trainer became my friend. Some days, the pain would surface during a workout and I would have to severely decrease my intensity. After my 20 minute time limit was up, I’d climb onto the treadmill. If I kept my speed down to embarrassingly low levels, I could walk without pain in my side.

Although I have never been the sportiest or fittest chick in town, my Type A personality means that if I motivate myself sufficiently to go to the gym, every second must count. I must achieve maximum efficiency – within my own (fairly great) physical limits. I must be – as a very wise late friend of The Husband’s used to say – “a legend in my own lunch box”.

Before I was heavily pregnant and before this stabbing pain from exercise began, I would look at women talking on the phone on the treadmill with internal disdain. If you were able to have a fat chat, you weren’t pushing yourself sufficiently, right? Or, if you were holding on to the bar you were wasting your time. If you were walking at a speed of 5 or less and no gradient – and God forbid you were talking on the phone, messaging, looking at Facebook or holding on – you may as well be lying on the couch since you certainly weren’t going to break a sweat.

When my neighbour was 38 weeks pregnant a few months ago, I asked her how she was feeling. She sighed, looked at me and said: “You know what, Natalie? I just don’t think our bodies were meant to be shared.”

There have been days during this pregnancy when my neighbour’s words have rung so true. Not least when I’ve been on the treadmill. On those days, I have smiled to myself, smiled at the women scrolling through Facebook on their phones next to me and I’ve been reminded of that classic scene from the movie “The Switch” with Jennifer Anniston and Jason Bateman. (The movie in which Jennifer Anniston’s character is the platonic BFF of Jason Bateman’s character and she decides to get pregnant via a sperm donor.) Jason Bateman’s character’s personality is definitely Type A and contrasts sharply with that of his colleague. The two men are at the gym, each side by side on a treadmill when Jason Bateman’s character looks over at his colleague and says with raised eyebrows:

“You’re eating a chocolate bar? On 4?”

To which his colleague replies indignantly: “I’m in the fat burning zone!”

I draw the line at consuming chocolate whilst actually on the treadmill, but for the last few months I have been exercising in what I term “the chat burning zone”. I catch up with my phone calls, I post status up-dates on Facebook, I tweet, I respond to sms’s.

But I don’t hold on to the bar. That would really be letting myself go 🙂

Jennilynn’s Amazing 20kg Transformation

As regular readers of this blog can attest, I’ve sometimes used this platform to vent about my dieting triumphs and tribulations. Because I feel that dieting is such a quintessential part of my blog (and my life), I’ve created a special page for it: On Diets & Other Disasters which lists all dieting-related posts.

I spent over a year shaking off 8kg of pregnancy and post-pregnancy pig-outs, followed by a further 4-6kg of post-married travel indulgences which I’d been carrying around for four years before falling pregnant. It was a long, hard slog, filled with cheating, going off the rails, getting back on the bike, trying new diets, taking up running again, personal training, you name it… I tried most things. Unfortunately, before I fell pregnant for the second time, I was still around 4 – 7kg and plenty of toning away from my goal weight and my dream body. I sometimes look wistfully at the bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the back of the drinks cupboard that I have vowed to myself I won’t touch until I reach my ultimate goal weight one day… and wonder if I should just pop the damn thing already…

But in December last year I saw a picture of an acquaintance and Facebook friend, on Facebook, that completely blew my mind. Jennilynn Barnard announced proudly to her friends that since April 2012, she had shed 20kg. When I saw a picture of Jen sporting her new, smoking hot body, I changed my goal: I will not crack open that bottle of Veuve until I look like Jennilynn. Here’s what Jen looked like before her transformation at 76kg (she is 1.62m tall):

Jennilynn: 76kg, April 2012
Jennilynn: 76kg, April 2012

And here’s what she looks like now:

Jennilynn, 55kg, December 2012
Jennilynn, 55kg, December 2012

Pretty impressive, huh? And this is a REAL person whom I actually know.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good, inspirational weight loss story, but to see someone that I know make such a transformation got me so excited that I asked Jen if I could “interview” her for my blog. This is her story in a nutshell:

I met Jen in Stellenbosch in November 2010 when we were both bridesmaids at a mutual friend’s wedding. At the time, she probably weighed somewhere between 65kg and 67kg and she looked pretty good. As the talk between four bridesmaids and a bride invariably would, it turned to the topic of weight. Over the few days I spent in Jen’s company, she often referred to times when she was much skinnier and I could sense that although she did not look particularly overweight, her weight really bothered her. She also told us that she had gained around 10kg in recent years, mostly the result of losing her beloved dog, Holly, and also as a result of hormone treatment she needed to take whilst she was an egg donor (which she hastens to add was an incredibly rewarding experience despite the negative aspect of weight gain).

But when I interviewed Jen this year, she told me that she has struggled with her weight since she was 18 (she turns 31 this month), she’s always been an emotional eater, she has tried every quick-fix diet known to man, she has lost weight, picked it all up again and then some more when going off the diet… and has just generally had an unhealthy relationship with food. After Jen got married in 2011, she gained a fair amount of weight (eventually getting her to 76kg in 2012) through her and her husband’s love affair with take aways – they’d apparently work hard all day and get take-aways at least five times a week.

One morning, Jen and her husband, Ashley, were watching SABC 3’s magazine show, Expresso. The show was calling for entrants into the USN Body Makeover Challenge. Ashley turned to her and said what no man in his right mind should EVER say to the love of his life:

“You should try that, honey!”

Jen was understandably livid, wanting to know if he thought she was fat, if he thought her body needed a makeover, etc, etc. Still fuming a few days later, she relayed this experience to a friend. I can only assume that this friend of Jen’s is either practically a sister or had recently experienced a severe blow to the head, because, instead of making Jen feel better about her body, she proceeded to show her a recent photograph, declaring:

“See how much weight you’ve put on since you got married, my friend?”

Fortunately, this didn’t cause Jen to knock her friend to the floor. Instead, she bravely absorbed this girl’s words and decided to go straight to USN’s web-site to download their twelve week diet and exercise plan. Over a five month period from April to September 2012, Jen lost around 10kg – a great, steady, but intense weight loss achievement, if you ask me. She says there were times when she wasn’t all that strict, particularly during a two-week overseas trip near the beginning of her diet when she went off the rails and regained most of the starting weight that she had lost. But when she returned home to Somerset West, she got back on track and achieved her 10kg weight loss. During this time, Jen mostly followed the eating plan on USN’s site. She also religiously followed their gym programme – going from someone who loathed doing resistance training to absolutely loving it – and she finally had the confidence to take up dancing again which she’d given up at the age of 20. (She now does weight training three to four times a week and cardio three times a week.)

Then came Expresso and USN’s call for Cape Town entrants for their annual challenge. From September to November, Jen went into competition mode, not drinking one drop of alcohol, as one example and she lost an incredible 10.5kg in only three months – the greatest loss of all the Cape Town contestants.

That was when Jen started mentioning her amazing transformation on Facebook and posting pictures of her shoot as one of the competition finalists, looking absolutely fabulous in a bikini on Camps Bay Beach. Despite being married to Ashley, a total beach junkie, Jen hated the beach because she never wanted to be seen in a bikini. Only eight months later, she was being interviewed in her bikini on national TV! And she looked phenomenal. In the lead-up to the announcement of the winner, I followed all Jen’s posts on Facebook, watched all her interviews on You Tube, voted for her and eagerly awaited the announcement of the winner on the Expresso show one Friday morning in December. I was so excited when she won, I was practically in tears. Of course I was biased because I know her, but I really felt like she had made the most impressive transformation and therefore wholly deserved to win.

Well done on your win, Jen, and, most importantly, on your amazing new body! And thank you for sharing your story with me… Here is a video clip of Jen describing (in her bikini, of course) how she and her dog, Seba, both trimmed down:

Jennilynn on beach

Jennilynn strapless bikini

On Cupcakes & Frozen Custard in New York

As friends and regular readers of this blog well know, I am fascinated by diets, weight, food, fat etc. So basically, I’m a girl 🙂 In all seriousness, I know thin girls, fat girls, slightly overweight girls, super skinny girls and obese girls and no matter our size, most of us obsess over our weight and/ or food in some form or another. I may be on the slightly more obsessive end of the scale, (if you’ll excuse the pun), but I’ve come to realise, over the years, that I’m a lot more normal than I used to think, in this respect. And so, it should come as no surprise that when I travel, I can’t help taking note of the food/fat phenomenon amongst other cultures (for example, on the ski slopes of Austria in 2010). My trip to New York at the end of May was no exception.

My main observation was: THERE ARE NO FAT PEOPLE IN NEW YORK! I looked and looked and searched and searched – purely out of curiosity –  and I honestly couldn’t find any. I’m sure they must exist somewhere, in some part of the city…(and no, I did not leave Manhattan) … but they weren’t making themselves evident during my three day visit there.

As a case in point, The Sister and I stood in a 45 minute queue at The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, trying to buy one of their famous burgers.

Home of delicious burgers in Madison Square Park, New York

The kind folks from The Shake Shack have a method designed to a) keep their long-suffering queuing customers in good humour in 30 degree New York heat and b) entice you with their yummy, junk food. What they do is they hand out free nibblies. The Sister and I got handed a tiny, teeny pot of something that resembled ice cream. For all my food weaknesses, I can usually say “no” to ice cream, but it had been a long wait and I decided that one little bite wouldn’t hurt. The waitress handed it to me and declared it to be “frozen custard”. Now, I have tasted custard, I’ve tasted yoghurt, I’ve tasted frozen yoghurt and I’ve tasted ice cream and I’d like to declare that the American innovation   known as “frozen custard” is un- frigging – believable!

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed in awe. “This is amazing!”

“What’s the difference between ice cream and frozen custard?” I asked The Sister (given that they look so similar).

Before she had a chance to answer, I heard a Southern drawl from the person next in line. She spoke as though she truly, in her heart of hearts, understood my excitement at my first taste of frozen custard and she explained the difference with a dreamy look in her eyes. I don’t remember the details, but I do recall her looking at me sadly and explaining that one of the key differences was that frozen custard had more fat in it, than ordinary ice cream. I believed her – frozen custard definitely tastes way too good to be true. The point is, this very sweet, very friendly Southern gal was the only person I saw who actually looked like someone who would know the difference between ice cream and frozen custard in the whole of Manhattan.

Instead of queuing for burgers at The Shake Shack, I saw New Yorkers with bodies to die for doing the following:

… sunning themselves in Madison Square Park, right next door to The Shake Shack

I mean, why wouldn’t you lie around in your bikini in the middle of the city if you look like a million bucks in your teeny weeny bikini?

… doing yoga in Central Park

…and running and cycling in Central Park and all around the city. Before I left for New York, I asked The Husband what he thought I should not miss out on, given that I had only three days there. Being the sports obsessed psycho that he is, on the top of his “to do” list was: a run in Central Park. And so, on my second day in The Big Apple, The Sister and I got dressed in our running kit, caught the subway to the Upper East Side and set off on a 5km run in Central Park.

Entering the famous Central Park for the first time…

It was a Sunday morning, overcast but not cold, so yes, it was a perfect day for some cardio but I have to say that never, ever have I seen so many people being so active in one area at one time. I kept on wondering whether we weren’t perhaps running “against the traffic” – we just passed jogger after runner after cyclist after walker after runner after sprinter after roller blader. The throng of exercise freaks seemed absolutely endless. Then, the next day, we took a stroll along the river, heading towards Wall Street and the Financial District. That morning was absolutely sweltering and yet, once again, we passed a constant throng of people running, cycling and playing tennis. Watching all of this was so exhausting that we were forced to stop for breakfast. This is what a place called Bubby’s in Tribeca ordinarily serves one person:

Breakfast for one, at Bubby’s, New York

The sight of all these ripped people (and the sight of our neighbour’s gigantic portion and the organic/ grain-fed/fair trade/ local farm-around-the-block price tag of $22 per portion) led us to share one between two…

Besides endless amounts of cardio, the other potential secret to New Yorkers have for limiting calorie intake is the institution of “brunch” over the weekend. On my first day, The Sister made “brunch” reservations for us – at 12:45pm. As far as I’m concerned that’s almost a late lunch, but as I would learn in the coming days, “brunch” in New York is basically any daytime meal eaten over the weekend. And you can’t eat two brunches in one day, can you? So, with a mere change in terminology, you have wiped out one of your three meals for the day. Pretty neat, huh?

Still, the extent to which New Yorkers are in shape is completely at odds with the extent of tempting yummies on EVERY street corner. Red velvet cupcakes, cheesecake, giant chocolate chip cookies… delish tasting calories are simply ever present in this town. And someone has to be consuming this stuff, or else the gazillion bakeries simply wouldn’t survive. The only possible explanation is that there are just SO many people that when you divide the calories up between everyone who can only but indulge from time to time, that leaves you with an insufficient number of calories for a red velvet cupcake boep… that’s my theory anyway.

Because cupcakes truly are the epitome of evil. I found this out when I picked up a stash of American magazines at the airport. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, the state of Massachusetts had attempted to “ban school bake sales of non-nutritious foods”:

Long live the Great American Cupcake!

While people with mouths rejoiced in Massachusetts, The Sister and made like her fellow New Yorkers and brunched on brown rice sushi at Dean & Deluca after our run in Central Park. We couldn’t quite face the soy milk cappuccinos, though.

Maybe next time…

“Brunch” at Dean & Deluca




Man Cannot Live By Chocolate Alone

This is a magnet I’ve had on my fridge for years. I’m starting to think it may have been subliminally fuelling my love of chocolate…

It’s Monday today, which means my new diet starts today. (If I had R1 for every Monday that I intended to start a diet, I would be a bazillionaire.)

I think I need to change this slogan. I need a little inspiration from Little Britain’s Marjorie Dawes, the delightful Group Leader of her local Fat Fighters club. Here’s a quote from the rather voluptous Ms Dawes, who is trying to introduce her members to a new, zero calorie food substitute:

“Dust. Anybody? No. High in fat? Low in fat? Dust…It’s actually very low in fat. You can have as much dust as you like.”

Awesome. New motto:


Granted, about a month and a half ago while I was standing on the Weight Watcher’s scale, holding my breath, sucking in my cheeks, wearing a dress so light it could be mistaken for a nightie… I had officially lost 10 kilograms since 22 July 2011. And yes, I remember that fateful day in July when I stepped onto the Weight Watchers scale and told the Group Leader that her scale was definitely broken as there was no way in hell that THAT number represented my weight.

But since the happy 10kg loss I have backslid somewhat a gained a kilo or so. Now, my goal of losing millions of kilos before leaving for New York on 25 May is no longer possible. Isn’t it amazing how time flies when you’re stuffing your face?

The Husband’s cycling buddy went on one of those insane diets where you lose like 5 kilos in 15 seconds. You know – those lovely diets where you inject yourself, eat two steamed peas for breakfast, drink a putrifying shake for lunch and snack on dust, air and your own saliva. She lost 5 kilos in two weeks, to be precise and went on to lose 14kg over three months. I know I should be happy for her but I am absolutely GREEN with envy. I decided drastic action was required.

So I checked out her diet and was really keen for a split second, but I’m just not big on jabbing myself daily like a druggie. And The Husband has been known to pass out at the sight of needles, so he’d be no help with my morning stabs. I also have an absolute abhorrence for shakes. Five months of Herbalife in first year varsity means I cannot stomach the smell of a shake – milkshakes aside, obviously. Five months of liquid for breakfast, liquid for supper. (The Herbalife plan allowed you to splash out and eat solids for lunch – YEEHA!). Of course I lost a fortune of weight but the minute I ate solids again – even just a freaking toasted sandwich now and then – I packed on the weight.

So that put paid to the 14kg in five minutes cycling diet, tempting as it was, seeing the results in the flesh.

I then voraciously consumed Tim Noakes’ theory which states that a high protein/ low carb intake is the business. But The Husband’s uber lean cycling friend who lives off things like chickpeas, lentils, wheat free Bircher muesli and fruit (and has body fat of about 7%), told me it was a bad idea. I trust thin, healthy people, so I took his word for it.

Okay, so then I checked out Dr Dukan’s diet on-line (“five million French people can’t be wrong”) but then I remembered reading a blog post last year by Mushy Peas on Toast. She started on Atkins, lost 2kg in a month, decided it was B.S and moved on to the Dukan Diet. Dukan is the diet that Tim Noakes implies Elizabeth Hurley got Fatboy Shane Warne onto. (Apparently Shane Warne is now looking rather ripped, but clearly I’m behind the times because I thought Liz Hurley was married to a Pakistani cricketer – can’t keep up with these celebs).

Anyhoo, so “Peas” from Mushy Peas on Toast tried Dukan with her colleague. Here’s what her colleague said about the experience:

Eating only skinless chicken breasts for 3 days made (me) go on a weekend binge fest that involved making love to vatfuls of cake.

Not ideal. With all the kiddie birthday parties The Princess get invited to I am confronted by alarmingly yummy butter icing cup-cakes. Mmmm.

So I scrapped the idea of the Dukan diet. I then got obsessed by a diet that my new mommy friend from down the road told me about: Healthpoint. I was ultra keen until a Google search revealed that this is an Amway product. I am not buying YET another diet. If I could get back all the money I have spent on diets and pills and shakes over the years, I’d also be a bazillionaire. So there went Healthpoint.

I then walked past the dieticians in Atholl Square and their first opening was this Thursday. Are you kidding me? No ways. First of all, you can’t start a diet on a Friday and second of all, this is freaking urgent, people!!!

Then I remembered a dietician I used to go to years ago. When she first handed me her diet plan I asked if she was trying to kill me. I later discovered that a friend of mine was also seeing her. She was referring to her as The Food Fascist and that set off a recognition trigger in my brain – OMG! Same girl! Aptly named, I have to say. Nonetheless, her very spartan diet did actually work, so I figured I’m going to do a combinantion of Weight Watchers and The Food Fascist’s diet and I’m going to go to my weekly Tuesday weigh-ins at Weight Watchers just so that I have an affordable policeman involved. There’s something about stepping onto the scale under the watchful eye of someone else, that can actually alter behaviour…

On The Food Fascist Diet I get to eat the following: (it’s so spartan, I can actually type it up for you in like 10 seconds).

BREAKFAST: half a cup of cereal with milk, 1 small fruit

LUNCH: 1 tin of tuna OR 2 eggs OR 2 small chicken breasts AND 2 teaspoons of margarine

SNACK: (Yeeha! I thought she’d outlawed snacking): 100ml Activia yoghurt OR 1 small fruit

SUPPER: same as lunch but can substitute with two hand size portions of fish

Veg (and dust) are free, but the good stuff like butternut and pumpkin are limited to one serving spoon full, so there goes my favourite butternut and avo salad from Tasha’s where they give you like half a butternut…

When I did The Food Fascist’s Diet in 2008, I lost 3.8kg in two weeks but I’ll settle for 3kg in 18 days. I’ll worry about the other 5kg post New York when I plan to drink my body weight in cocktails on top of the Empire State building or wherever it is that New York people drink cocktails. Everywhere – if The Sister’s stories are anything to go by.

Sounds like a plan.

Diets are always good in the planning stage.

Fortunately for my master plan, we had date night at DW Eleven-13 this Saturday night – i.e. BEFORE the commencement of The Food Fascist Diet. Oh my greatness, the food was amazing. And original. Normally, I am not a big fan of original and experimental. I like the food I know and like and I want it to taste GOOD. And I don’t want teeny, tiny French sized portions. And that’s what I like about DW. The overall cuisine and influence I would call French but the portions are Saffer size. Not ridiculously huge, but substantial. No room for dessert and side orders if you have a starter and a main which is just how I like it.

Plus, even though the chef and restaurant have won awards they are completely not up their own arses. They are so NICE – it’s really refreshing. When you call to see if they can squeeze you in last minute, they try their best. They don’t scoff and clear their throats and condescendingly tell you to call two weeks in advance.

Divine, divine up-market, fine dining restaurant. I highly recommend it.

Right folks, with the distant memory of DW‘s lamb and porcini lasagne, I’m off to measure out my half cup of All Bran. Eighteen days and counting…

New York, Crispy Cassava Snacks & Kit Kat Singles

The Princess first started to display signs of separation anxiety around 7 months or so. I think around 8 months is text book or something, so I wasn’t too surprised when it happened. Yesterday, however, her separation anxiety reached new heights. I literally had to go to the toilet with her on my lap. Her reaction was so violent when I tried to put her down that I thought she actually might injure herself if I laid her on the floor – albeit right in front of me – with her toys.

Fortunately for me, around the time her separation anxiety started, she became a Daddy’s Girl through and through. There was about a week where she would cling on to me and then she started putting her arms out for her Daddy while I was holding her and refusing to come to me from her Daddy’s arms. Part of me is mortified by this, but in many ways it makes life easier. For example, the guilt at jumping on a plane bound for New York will be cushioned by the fact that she will be having a ball with her Daddy for the four days I am not here.

Yip, for four days I will be trying to keep up with The Sister’s glamourous new life in New York City. On Saturday, I got an e-mail saying that she was about to head off to a private party in a loft apartment in Tribeca and that she thought she’d wear her leather pants. My knowledge of New York has been almost exclusively gleaned from Sex & the City. I don’t know where Tribeca is and I don’t own leather pants. When I started writing this blog, it was 11:49 on Sunday morning and I was still in my pyjamas. Not because I went clubbing until 4am that morning but because The Princess and I were embroiled in a battle of wills from 8am to 11am. She was supposed to go down for her morning nap at 8 or 8:30 at the latest and she finally, finally passed out at 11am. That’s a three hour long sleep battle with a ten and a half month old and I felt as though I had just run a marathon. I can’t imagine anything more exhausting. I can’t imagine that a 17 hour trans-Atlantic flight and four-day jet lag can come close.

So, in some ways, I am very ready for New York at the end of May and in some ways, I am so far from being ready. When I booked my flight, I set myself a goal to lose 8.5kg in the 17 weeks before leaving for New York – an average of 0.5kg per week. Sounds healthy and feasible, right? But it’s now three weeks later and whereas I should have lost 1.5kg, I have  lost only half of that – 800g. So now I have exactly 14 weeks to lose 7.7kg. I may need to move the goal posts a little but many kilos are going to need to be shed before I see myself in leather pants…

Enter the dieter’s version of crack cocaine:

1) Crispy Cassava Snacks from Woolworths.

1 small 20g packet = 1 point on Weight Watchers, out of a daily total of 20. Not bad, right? The bonus is that there is so much sh*t on these bad boys that one tiny little packet burns the living crap out of the roof of your mouth, thereby making further eating for the day somewhat painful. A dieter’s dream. My personal faves are the “Cream Cheese & Chives” variant. I find the “Vinegar & Lemon Pepper” flavour tastes like a lemon and I’m also not such a fan of the “Lightly Salted Flavoured” type. Lightly Salted Flavoured: sounds wrong, I know, but that’s what it says on the packet.

2) Kit-Kat Singles.

1 “finger” = 1 point on Weight Watchers. Totally worth it to satiate those chocolate cravings.

I was about to eat the whole bag bag on Sunday as I sat in my pyjamas, hair unbrushed, feeling totally mangled by my sleep fight with The Princess, while The Sister must surely be tottering home from her Tribeca loft party in her heels, ready to sleep off a hangover until midday. Fortunately, for my waistline, The Sister called just then. She said the loft was amazing, there were waiters serving French champagne and little canape thingies. It was, however, mainly populated by thirty-something New York women, looking for husbands. (Evidently, you can say this when you’re 28, you’ve just moved to New York and you’re blonde and hot). Unfortunately for all females concerned, men were apparently thin on the ground and the uber eligible bachelor owner of the amazing Tribeca pad was firmly up his own arse.

And it is armed with this information about the trials and tribulations of New York singletons, that I find the strength to put away the packet of Kit Kat Singles, brush my hair, slap on some make-up and walk to Tashas with The Princess in the Jozi sunshine.

Back on the Scale

I am proud to say that my holiday reading was entitled The Self-Hypnosis Diet. And I actually read it from cover to cover, while in the land of du vin, du pain et du Boursin (the land of wine, bread and Boursin cheese – and if you have not sampled the latter, go directly to your nearest good Spar or Woolies and indulge. It is to die for).
Anyway, so whilst in France, I was reading this book. I even listened to the accompanying CD, consisting of trancework. Trouble is, you have to lie down and close your eyes to do trancework and for me, lying down, closing my eyes and not sleeping is just an impossibility. The authors do say that the “message” contained in the trancework is “still received” by the unconscious mind – even if you are asleep. If this is the case, then that is indeed a score. Lose weight while you sleep. I like it.
Perhaps my unconscious was not hearing so well, though, because in the past three weeks of taking a sabbatical from Weight Watchers, I managed to gain 0.8kg. I suppose it could have been worse but of course I would have preferred no gain at all. I guess those many, many glasses of French wine and all the yummy French restaurants had to go somewhere. So now I have a measely 2.4kg loss to report over a 7 week period. Not exactly the stuff that dieting records are made of.
The plan of action to step this up and get serious again is to run a half marathon. There, now that I’ve written that in black and white and posted it to a public domain I will have no excuse but to do it. Else I will appear lame. And that’s because I will be lame. I planned to start running yesterday but found myself lying in bed absolutely paralysed with fear. Fear of the pain and exhaustion that running when you’re not running fit, causes. Whilst in France, I announced my running plans to The Husband, which is another sure way to make them stick. He suggested “we” (which means him running way, way ahead of me) enter the Irene half marathon because it’s “flat”. After consulting a friend who’s an experienced runner, I heard a different synopsis of the Irene half. There’s only “one bad hill”. Hmmm. Sounds alot scarier already…
During the same wave of enthusiasm for half marathons that hit me in France, I suggested to my half-sister, an East London resident, that she and I do the Surfers half-marathon in East London next year. I was initially attracted to the idea because it’s only 16km, instead of 21km, but here’s what expert friend had to say about the race:
Nats, the Surfer’s is an awesome race, but don’t be misled by the
distance, personally I think its much harder than an ordinary half
marathon.  You run in the middle of the day, boiling, start off running
on soft churned up sand, and about three quarters into the race you have
to run over boulders for a good stretch. You also have to swim through
2 rivers (on the upside, there are young hot life guards to help you
The Husband also swears he’ll run this race with me, but I’ve heard that one before. Shame, his ego just can’t handle running as slowly as I run and after the first five or ten minutes, he starts to speed up… he can’t help himself… and before I know it, he’s gone. Maybe I can try to make him jealous at the prospect of hot, young lifeguards hauling me across a river… That said, I’m not sure I want to suffer the indignity of being hauled across a river by anyone… Oh boy, what have I got myself into?
On a less exerting note, I have booked myself in for my very first hypnosis session. The Self-Hypnosis Diet inspired me to the extent that I want to try hypnotherapy for weight loss. Obviously I’m hoping that the therapist unlocks some sort of childhood key to my weight issues. The authors give an example of a chick who discovered during hypnosis that her granny told her that ice cream would always make her feel better and so in her adult life she ate loads of ice cream and got fat. Simple. Key to weight issues unlocked. I’m hoping I also get to blame someone from my childhood for my food addictions. I can just hear The Mother Figure rolling her eyes right now and going “It’s always the mother’s fault!”
Anyway, let’s see what the therapist uncovers on Thursday. Hopefully I’ll manage to go into a state of trance instead of a state of deep sleep as I am most probably about to do right now. Yip, it’s time for The Self-Hypnosis Diet CD. Hopefully tonight I’ll be able to advance beyond track 3: “clearing the past”, before I pass out.
Night, all.

Diet Time. Yuck.

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, The Princess has sprouted her first tooth. It appeared to my complete surprise. I hadn’t connected the drooling, the munching on toys, munching on my shoulder or anything she coud find to munch on, to teething. I thought she was way too young. But on Wednesday, sure enough, we saw a tiny white thing pushing through her lower gums. And then this morning, lo and behold, a sister tooth appeared right next door! She sure is in a hurry, this little one. Ironically, as Mother Nature prepares The Princess for her introduction to solid food, her Mommy is, for trillionth time, re-analysing her relationship with food. Not because she wants to but because a clinically diagnosable addition to shortcake Tumbles has pushed her weight into the SUPER SCARY zone.

This is a zone I could only abide being in whilst carrying another being in my uterus. For my non-pregnant self, it’s simply an unacceptable place to be. And so I took myself off to Weight Watchers on Tuesday – the Australian-born answer to global weight loss. I was not the only one feeling fat and wanting to do something about it. Women were queueing out the door of this Weight Watchers meeting – fat, seemingly thin, clinically obese, average – women of all shapes and sizes were there. As I neared the front of the queue, I began de-robing. I didn’t want even 100 extra grams to show up on that scale – I removed my fleece (yes, I very occasionally go out in public in the clothing equivalent of a pair of Crocs and yes I do know that fleeces are one of the biggest fashion faux pas ever to hit the streets but they are just so warm, snuggly and comfy and when you’re having a fat day…Sigh. Having said that, there is never an excuse to don a pair of Crocs. Not for comfort, not for anything!). Anyway, so I removed this embarrassing article of clothing lest it add 50g to my weight. I removed my watch. I removed my jewellery. I removed my hair-clip. Sh*t, I would’ve stripped naked if I could – and I removed my shoes. When I got to the front of the queue I took the deepest breath I could muster and climbed on the scale in my socks.

“We weigh with SHOES ON!” screeched the Group Leader in what sounded like horror??, when she looked down and saw me standing on the scale in my socks.

From her reaction, you’d think I’d really just stripped naked instead of simply taking off my very large, very heavy seeming, takkies. (I was already wearing a fleece so I decided the outfit couldn’t get any worse and I threw on a pair of running shoes that morning).

Seriously, weighing oneself with shoes on? Who ever heard of something so ridiculous? Shoes must weigh at least half a kilogram.

And they do! I know this because Ms Group Leader made me put them back on and get on the scale again. A whole 400g of shoes! Who wants to weigh 0.4kg extra? I don’t care if you can mentally deduct the 0.4kg in your head, don’t they understand that the number that pops up on the scale can by psychologically damaging to a girl? What’s more, half the chicks were wearing long boots and those puppies must weigh a ton. I swear, next week I’m taking a pair of those little R20 flip flops you get when you have your nails done and I’m stepping on the scale in those.

“We weigh with shoes on for hygienic reasons,” said Ms Group Leader. And then it dawned on me. Some Australian probably sued Weight Watchers way back when bare feet were allowed on the scale. She probably picked up some gross toe fungus and needed someone to blame.

Anyway, with or without shoes my scary number needs to come way down. Of course I spent Tuesday eating all the yummies things I could find, thinking “Diet starts tomorrow!!” and on Wednesday the fun began – writing down everything you eat, tallying up your points, adding your bonus points for exercise. The whole thing actually appeals to my analytical side.

As of tonight I am four days in and so far so good. I haven’t had a shortcake Tumble in… yes, it’s also only four days. But four days of dieting always feels like four years of normal life…And tomorrow we have lunch at the neighbours and they’re half Italian so things could get messy… Wish me luck. Only like 10 odd kilos still to go. Oh God.

Now I’m Fat AND Old

I’m on a bit of a campaign to spread the news of how hard it is to have a kid. None of this sugar-coated B.S. when people ask me how it’s going and I coo: “Ah, it’s a miracle!” Nope. I tell them it’s unbelievably, incredibly, mind-blowingly HARD! Why? Because NO-ONE TOLD ME! So I figured I’d tell anyone who wants to listen.

I was on this trip when The Mother Figure’s best friend asked me how things were going. When I told her just how tough I thought mommyhood was, she said the following – wait for it.

“Well, the thing is – you’re not that young anymore.”

WTF? She’s calling me old? I was practically speechless.

“Er…really?” I said.

But what I was thinking was, “You’re not young AT ALL, Grandma!” In fact her grandkids are basically my age. Okay, fine they’re pushing twenty but that’s not that far off 32. Which is apparently half dead. Bloody hell!

I think she saw my look of horror because she went on to clarify by saying that 32 was old to be having one’s first child.

“I mean, I was finished having my babies by the time I was 26,” she said.

I was like, “Maybe, but that was in days when women were named Fanny and no-one found it funny. This is the 21st century and 32 is the new 22 for Christ sake!”

Okay, that’s not what I said but that’s what I was thinking.

I’d thought my post pregnancy troubles all had to do with my expanded waist-line. But now I was fat AND old and I just can’t seem to shake the last 3.5kg of baby boep. And the only reason we’re talking about 3.5kg of lovely lard is thanks to an earth shattering bout of gastro that shed 3kg in something like three days. The gastro was so bad, I thought I was dying so I didn’t even care about the kilos when I was hunched over the toilet bowl – and I do have to be half dying not to care about kilos. The Best Friend, however, didn’t quite see the serious side of the situation.

Best Friend over phone: “Hey. How’re you doing?”

Me: “I’ve just had the worst gastro of my life. I thought I might be dying.”

Best Friend: “Shame… More importantly, though, did you lose weight?”

Me: “I’m horrified. I’ve just told you I was practically dying and you want to know if I lost weight? Okay, if you must know, I lost three kilos.”

Best Friend: “So unfair.”

Me: “I know.”

The issue with the remaining 3.5kg (oh, and the additional aspirational 5-10kg I’ve been trying to lose since I was 14, but one step at a time here…) is that my new home away from home is Tasha’s. The Princess is not the best day sleeper but as soon as I wheel her out of the complex gate in her pram, she’s out for the count. And as soon as I wheel her back towards the front door she wakes up – no matter if we’ve been out for 10 minutes or two hours. It’s like she smells home and she’s wide awake. So what we do is we walk to Tasha’s so she can pass out on the way. We’re there in all of five minutes but we need to pass the time while we’re there so The Princess can carry on sleeping. And so…mommy has a decaff cappuccino (the joys of breastfeeding) and then on some days, a large slice of baked cheesecake jumps out at mommy and demands to be eaten. And all the while The Princess sleeps like a dream…I guess the beauty of a sleeping baby is almost worth all the calories that come along with baked cheesecake.

Anyhoo, enough calorie counting. It’s 10pm which means it’s bedtime for the likes of us “old” mommies.

In Search of a Sports Scientist

After 3 weeks of Spanish tapas, French baguettes and about a barrel of Beaujolais per day, I returned to Jozi determined to get in shape. I was looking for new inspiration for this very, very, old goal when I realized that there was one weight loss avenue I hadn’t yet tried. I’d tried dieticians, Weigh Less, Herbalife, half marathons, you name it, but I hadn’t actually been to see a sports scientist. Not wanting to discriminate against this branch of the weight loss industry, I resolved to find one.
Yeah, right.
After hours of nearly googling myself into a coma, I had found absolutely nothing. Not a single Doctor of Sports Science to be found in the city of Johannesburg. Seriously. And not because they don’t exist in South Africa. Not at all. They completely exist. They just all live in Cape Town. I guess why would a Sporty Spice who studies sports science choose to settle down in the Big Smoke? They wouldn’t, basically. They’d choose to live in the fair cape where they can hike, kite-surf and ride their bicycles up mountains, every day, from 4pm onwards.
I was lamenting this sorry state of affairs over a bottle of wine with mates. (Couldn’t possibly start the health kick without the help of my as yet, non-existent sports scientist.) And that’s when I realised why all sports scientists live in Cape Town. Their clients all live there. Unlike chiropractors, who would have no clients in Cape Town. Listen to this: one of our banker friends told us that his chiropractor makes so much money in Joburg, he now works “mornings only”. According to Dr Half-Day, long hours sitting behind personal computers have stuffed up peoples’ necks and backs so badly, that he will be in the money as long as people spend vast amounts of time in front of their PC’s.
So Banker Boy was like “Wow! That’s great for you, Doc. Half-days and still making a killing? But jeez, if you’re only working half-day, you might as well move to Cape Town?”
“Nah,” replied Dr Half-Day. “Can’t. Not too many sore necks in Cape Town – people don’t work long enough hours down there.”
It’s Wednesday evening and The Husband and I have just arrived in the Mother City for the quarter finals on Saturday. I may go and hunt down a sports scientist while I’m here – I’ll be sure to start my search and 10am and end it by 1.
Then again, how often does the World Cup come to SA? Maybe I’ll start my diet next Monday…
PS: I did find a great sport scientist on-line: a Dr Ross Tucker, PhD. He writes a blog all about sporty stuff, but he also wrote a phenomenal series on exercise and weight loss – there most coherent, to-the-point writing I’ve come across on the topic. If you want to check it out, here’s the link to the first article in the series.
And yes, Dr Tucker lives in Cape Town too…