How to Train for OCR…

(A script for an instructional video series)

References: see ’How to Dad’ instructional videos on Facebook, or ‘Modern Family’, or ‘Parks and Recreation’.

Background idea: Trainee (praktikanten) has won the opportunity to train with The Team for a few weeks and maybe join a race. (What is the end game? – does she run in a race? A real one? Or a made up one?)

Characters

Trainee: older, round person, with minimal athletic skills, loads of enthusiasm. Dresses in colourful gear. Gets into lots of awkward situations. Says inappropriate things. Doesn’t talk Danish, and no one understands her English. (Does Trainee talk? Or just do weird stuff?)

The Team: (superhero nick names, because they really are quite amazing athletes.)

Michael: (He redefines superhero) The boss, sets the programme, has a stop watch, gives directions, organises the team, can whistle like a back country farmer. Often perplexed by the outcome of the activities.

Wolverine: Showboat. Cheeky smile. Subject of Trainee Bob’s affection, which makes him very uncomfortable, but he tolerates it.

Dr Banner: a bear of a man, a gentle giant, always in the right place to catch/help Trainee if necessary.

Thor: amiable playmate for Trainee, eg happy to build sand castles in the sand obstacles.

Interviewer/camera person: may or may not be needed for every set.

Rules of engagement: The team never makes fun of Trainee. They are always professional and helpful, full of encouragement and do everything correctly. Promoting OCR as open for everyone, where anyone can have a go, where we help each other. The comedy is situational, and in the huge contrasts between The Team members and Trainee. (Is it in Danish? Are there subtitles?)

Episode ideas:

  1. Introductions (Haven’t figured this one out completely yet)Setting: Gym functional fitness room, Crossfit space…

    Interviewer: So, Michael, introduce us to the The Team!

    Michael: Ok, so this is blah blah (introduction to the guys and their credits)… (to the camera) And here is a relative of mine Wolverine, (to Wolverine) and you found our trainee…

    Wolverine: (with a bashful Trainee on his arm) Yeah, she was chatting to all the guys on the weights racks. They couldn’t understand anything she was saying, I think they were quite happy that I collected her. A warning: She gets a bit handsy guys, so just watch yourselves…

    Wolverine positions Trainee on a box and goes to sit beside Thor. Trainee manoeuvres Thor onto the other box or the floor, and sits beside Wolverine. She then takes his arm and drapes it over her shoulders and cuddles in, very satisfied. Wolverine looks horrified.

    Michael: OK, today we’re talking about what to wear. You must be comfortable enough to have full movement of your joints, cool if the weather is hot, but warm if it’s cold…

    Michael removes Wolverine from the clutches of Trainee and uses him as a demonstration model for the sorts of attire that you could wear.

    Trainee: (interrupting, pointing to Wolverine) They’re some sexy trousers that he has on. Won’t they distract the competition?

    Michael: (to the camera) We use every advantage, but generally speaking we are focussed on our own performance and not the other guy’s trousers.

    Trainee: I’d call those trousers ‘motivation pants!’ Motivation for me to go faster and catch up! Do they shrink in the cold water? That could get really interesting.

    Michael: No, they don’t shrink in cold water.

    Michael: Anyway, shoes!

    Trainee: I LOVE shoes!

    Michael: (discussion on shoes…)

    Michael: So, Trainee, will you be joining is for the next training session?

    Trainee: If he’s in those trousers, you bet!

     

    1. How to train: Warming up

    (Haven’t figured this one out, ideas coming…)

     

    1. How to train: endurance, carrying heavy stuff

    Place: Højbjerg?

    Michael is talking to an interviewer, they are seated on the stack of pallets.

    Interviewer: We’re here today at Træen I den fri, So what are we training today?

    Michael: Today is endurance. People don’t usually like this aspect of training, but it’s necessary. One should be able to run around the race course, and that could be on any terrain, so it’s good to practice. To make it a bit more fun, we’re playing a giant game of hide and seek. Trainee is ‘it’. Her job is to find the others and bring them back to base. She’s looking for Wolverine at the moment. She managed to find the other two, although I’m not sure how she did that so quickly? I think she might have bribed them…

    Cut to short shot of Thor and Dr Banner with 6-packs of beer (or energy drinks or energy bars) comparing them to their own 6 packs, they try to hide the beers (or drinks or bars).

    Cut to far-shot of Trainee carrying Wolverine on her shoulder across the field to base.

    Michael: oh, there she is…

    Trainee: GOT HIM! I’M GONNA TAKE HIM HOME NOW

    Interviewer: What’s she up to?

    Michael: I’m not sure… but he doesn’t look very happy

    Cut to Wolverine’s panicked face as Trainee heads of towards the exit/carpark with him.

    Michael: Guess I’d better rescue him… (but he makes no attempt to move)

    Interviewer: How are you going to do the rescuing without moving?

    Michael: Secret weapon. (he pulls a bar of chocolate out of his pocket) She can hear this noise from miles away. (He waves it in the air, and sure enough, Trainee becomes alert. She throws Wolverine onto the ground and comes charging towards the chocolate.)

    Michael: now this is the tricky part… You don’t want to get caught with the chocolate bar.

    He throws the bar to Thor and shouts ‘RUN’

    Thor panics and juggles it like a hot potato ‘WHAT? No way!’ and throws it to Dr Banner

    Dr Banner, also panicking: ‘I don’t want it! That thing’s dangerous!

    He throws it behind a pile of something, Trainee gets to it and there are loud eating noises, much like a Tasmanian Devil.

    Wolverine appears rubbing his head. ‘Took you long enough.’

    Michael: You owe me a chocolate bar.

    Wolverine: I never carry chocolate bars now. Far too dangerous.

    Dr Banner: (talking to Michael) You’re brave having that chocolate bar on your person. We know what happened to you the last time she thought you had chocolate…’

    Thor: Yeah, she thought she saw you hide it in your trousers, and she went in there looking for it.

    Dr Banner: And then she thought she’d found it, but it was attached (they all cringe and make pained noises)

    Thor: And she was so disappointed when she figured out that it wasn’t a chocolate bar.

    Dr Banner: It took ages for you to get back to your normal self.

    Thor: And your girl wasn’t very happy. She missed out on terrific Tuesday,

    Dr Banner: whoopty Wednesday

    Wolverine: Thunder Thursday

    Dr Banner: Freaky Friday

    Thor: satisfying Saturday

    Wolverine: Slow it down Sunday

    Dr Banner: AND More Fun Monday

    Michael: (a bit embarrassed) Um, she’s right there guys (pointing to the camera, girly giggles from behind the camera…)

    Wolverine: (shaking his head, reflecting on the situation) Too dangerous man, just too dangerous.

     

    Message: Just get the training done, Find a motivating reason and then get it done!

    Side message: always have snacks ready to quell the hangry beast.

     

    1. How to train: strength? (ideas coming…)

     

    1. How to train: balance

    While Trainee does a lot of plank, Michael does a lot of stuff really fast in the background while he’s supposed to be watching the stopwatch… hand stands, push ups on one arm, swinging on bars, balancing stuff, and checking Trainee with the toe of his shoe…

    Message: practice, practice, practice…

     

    1. How to train: grip? (ideas coming…)

    Message: practice, practice, practice

     

    1. How to train: Many training modes are useful, mix it up, be open to all sorts of ideas, even zumba.

    Michael arrives to training and is horrified to find everyone dancing to latin music. He stops them all and sends them outside, and they all go to leave. Just as Trainee passes him to leave the room, he catches her arm, looks around to make sure that no one is watching, and they dance a few quick steps before they exit.

    Message: Never miss an opportunity for extra balance practice and core training!

     

    1. Safety around the course (watch your step)

    Michael: You must be aware of what’s happening around you on the course. Know where the dangers are.

    Trainee is walking passed the pit wall and she waves a greeting

    Michael: (waving) WATCH OUT! (Pointing to the danger)

    Trainee falls over the edge (while it looks like she does fall over the edge, the camera pans up before she hits the ground as Michael runs over to see what has happened, so it only looks like she fell over the wall)

    Camera picks up the action as Michael looks over the edge to find Trainee in the arms of Dr Banner, who caught her. Thumbs up all round!

    Michael to the camera: Yes, he is THAT strong! It’s hard to believe… (to the camera) However, YOU’re not going to have a Dr Banner to rescue you, so, for goodness sake, be careful around the course!

     

    (Another option is that Trainee has landed on top of Dr Banner and flattened him, and she jumps up to greet Michael

    Trainee: I’m fine, Boss! Not hurt!

    Michael: That’s great, but what about Dr Banner?

    Trainee helps Dr Banner up, he’s a bit dazed, but gives a thumbs up,

    Dr Banner: I’m fine… I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, but I’ll be OK…

    Michael to the camera: Yes, he is THAT strong! It’s hard to believe… but, for goodness sake, be careful around the course!

     

    1. What to eat.

    Today we are talking about how to feed yourself for training. Everyone has brought along their favourite snack.

    Thor: blah blah blah about snack that he recommends

    Dr Banner: blah blah blah

    Michael: blah blah blah

    Wolverine: blah blah blah

    Trainee: Banana. And I keep it here. (proceeds to put it in her pants)

    Michael: What are you doing that for?

    Trainee: That’s what he does! (Pointing at Wolverine.)

    Michael: um, that’s not a banana.

    Trainee: oh (disbelieving). Oh (comprehension). Oh (interest, raised eyebrows).

    Cut to Wolverine who has his shaking head in his hands.

    Trainee: (raised hand like in the classroom) And if you want to bulk up, you’re asking the right person! Put peanut butter on EVERYTHING! Well not your girlfriend, or at least you should ask her first. That sounds like fun, but it’s just messy.

    Michael: (slightly uncomfortable) Um, Thanks for that. (To the camera) Anyway, eat up people! You need fuel for the race.

     

    1. Monkey bars (value: we help each other)

    Michael gives instruction about different techniques of swinging, and there is general discussion about preferred methods. Michael appoints Trainee to catcher duty. And they head off to practice.

    Dr Banner: (quietly) but we don’t need a catcher.

    Michael: I know, but it gives her something to do, and I think she might actually be able to help if you did fall.

    Traineetaks a great interest in how Wolverine is managing his monkey bar practice, and manages to be a nuisance trying to help him down, even though he doesn’t need it.

    And then it is Trainee’s turn. She climbs up, and it takes all 4 of them to get her safely through one section. (I can’t visualise this yet…)

    Message: Wolverine: When you’re on the course, be prepared to help, and to be helped.

     

    1. Irish table: (value: we help each other)

    Demonstration of techniques. Trainee tries, but it isn’t good. She gets hoisted onto the table and hangs on for dear life. And then she is coaxed over the other side, hanging from her hips, then ribs, boobs and then onto the ground. Kisses the ground. Remains in foetal position.

    Thor: (to the camera) Give it a go! Be prepared to help each other.

     

    1. High rope net climb (value: we cheer each other on)

    Michael gives instruction about getting over the net. Trainee cheers everybody over the high net, but then it is her turn. The team is randomly hanging and sitting on the ropes and they start saying ‘Your turn!’ ‘Up and over!’ (Camera angle from the top of the rope net) She looks horrified and runs off. As they watch her attempt to escape:

    Wolverine: Where is she going?

    Dr Banner: I think she said that she has chocolate in her bag.

    Thor: who’s going to go and get her? No one really wants to get between her and chocolate…

    Michael: give her a bit of a head start, then we’ll go round her up, this can be her endurance training today… OK, that’s far enough, you two go that way, we’ll go this way, and we’ll bring her back here.

    Cut to fast sequence of Trainee being herded back to the rope net (like Benny Hill chase scenes). Eventually they are all at the base, and then they get Trainee over the top.

    Dr Banner to finish with a statement about give it a go, you will face some fears, but just do it!

     

    1. Walls and pits, sand and mud (sometimes we get dirty, sometimes we get wet)

    Today we’re going to learn about getting up, over and down a wall.

    (# I can’t find the pre-story connection for this one, but somehow they end up talking around a fire or something, doing a kind of wrap-up feed-back session of the day, discussing how dirty they got…)

    Thor: Yeah my socks are a mess, I need to soak them overnight. And my shoes will need a scrub too.

    Dr Banner: I managed to slide down the hill on the grass and I have some grass stains that I’ll have to take care of when I get home… Do you guys have any suggestions for grass stain removal? (discussion about detergents and washing methods)

    Wolverine: I managed to get some mud up my back from running so fast around the track…

    Michael: I managed to get completely wet when we were out in the water, but I’ll just rinse my clothes in some fresh water and they should dry off OK… What about you Trainee?

    Camera pans to Trainee, who is mud from top to toe, she fell into a mud pit somehow and now she is like a human mud popsicle. She spits out a gob of mud, and mumbles:

    Trainee: I’m fine, Might just dry off a bit before I catch the bus…

    Thor: Remember to pack some big plastic bags in your kit for training and race day, and some extra bottles of water for rinsing; you never know what kind of mess you will be in at the end. But Have fun!

     

    1. Tarzan swing (ideas coming…)

     

     

    1. First aid (ideas coming…)

     

     

    1. Hair care:

    Knowing that you’re looking good always helps your performance, so take a couple of moments to think about your appearance. (Initially a tense and uncomfortable discussion about personal hair care for men… It’s a short discussion, because there isn’t anything to talk about, quite literally for some of them!.)

    Guys, at some point you may find yourself with a lady friend on the course, and she gets her hair messed up. You need to know how to put it back together…

    Cut to competition of guys fixing hair braids and ponytails on their girls.

     

    1. A new type of obstacle: Sensitivity training.

    Cut to guys on a course coming to a station in the race. There is an upset woman that they have to calm down before they can go on.

    Discussion about who has the most experience with women, ie how many years of training albeit with a single test subject or partner, but how this conflicts with keeping that specific test subject or partner happy by not getting into compromising positions with other women/people. Conclusion that they send in the single guy, but he needs lots of instruction before he goes… Various options include taking flowers, chocolates, cake, coffee, (poking her with a stick to see what kind of sad she is displaying is discarded as an idea), patting her on the shoulder, apologising outright for being male, (add other ideas here).  Eventually the single guy is sent in and manages to placate the situation!

    Comments like: that was hard, man. Not sure if I could have done that.

 

My dad was a hero

I wrote this to record a family event for my nephews and nieces. A chance to see something of their Granddad Keith Blaikie. But it is something that I have wanted to do for me also. This is what I remember of that week starting March 1, 2003.

I was in bed when the phone rang. It was Friday 11:30 pm. This was the time of cordless landline phones, a time before cellphones. My flatmate took the call and brought the phone to me. It was Mum. She was upset, ‘Dad collapsed today. He didn’t come home for afternoon tea, so I went to find him. He was unconscious. Sal (the little Jack Russel terrior) was with him. We got the ambulance for him. We’re in intensive care now, in Invercargill, Auntie Esme and me. Victor is at home, Mervyn (the neighbour) is with him, to help call people, to let them know. The doctors say it’s a massive brain hemorrhage. He won’t survive it, but it could take a day or so for him to die.’ She was being very brave, but she was empty; shock and denial at war with the pragmatic, do-what-needs-to-be-done attitude that we grew up with. We knew this day would come, but when it finally arrived, it came as a violent surprise. We mostly saw humanity at its best that week and after, mostly…

‘I’m coming. Leaving right now. I’ll pack a bag and I’m on my way. Where do I park when I get there?’ There are weird practical things that have to be talked about at times like this. It’s surreal. Like the next conversation I had with my flatmate at midnight on a Friday about what I should wear to my father’s funeral. I packed as many options as possible, threw everything in the car, and sped the 3.5 hours to Invercargill’s Que hospital. I found a park, and then I was face-to-face with the forbidding entrance.

There is nothing welcoming about a hospital, especially at 4 in the morning. Someone told me how to get to intensive care, and there was Mum and Auntie Esme, sitting on awful chairs in the awful waiting room. Surrounded by pamphlets of all sorts of health related trivia. We camped in this horrible little room for the next 36 hours, along with other families who were facing critical care situations. But they knew that they would get to take their dad home and yet they acted like theirs was the most devastating trauma in the whole world. Meanwhile Mum, my elderly aunt and I had to sit on wooden stools in the corridor while that family asked for ‘privacy at this difficult time’. We took our awful coffee and waited outside. Laughing hollowly at the insensitivity of some people. It was actually good to get some space from their ‘Shortland Street’ style drama.

Since Mum’s phone call, there had been a lot of activity. I was surprised to find Dad was on life-support machines. But they’d found out that he had opted to be an organ donor from his driver licence data, and he was a perfect candidate. Dad had just filled out the paperwork for a new licence and they had just discussed at the farm, a few weeks before his collapse, how good it would be if he could donate, but how unlikely that would be. Little did we know what was coming… It turned out that I knew all of the nurses who looked after Dad during that time. The most wonderful, beautiful human beings. Such kind support at such a traumatic time. The doctor on the other hand, Peter, was almost incompetent. Not at his medical job. But terrible at relating to other humans. Especially given that it was his responsibility to sit with us and discuss the option of Dad being an organ donor. He started this conversation in the ward, surrounded by all the other people and staff, until he was loudly interrupted by the voice of the doctor working on the patient behind the next door curtain, telling Peter to wait until he could assist. We found out later that the next door doctor had been through a similar situation with his own father about 6 months before, and he couldn’t stand by and let our doctor botch it all up. And so we moved back to the awful waiting room (the drama queens had left to take their dad home by now) and the conversation about which organs they wanted to take began. We were handed two double-side photocopied sheets that simply listed every organ or bit that they could possibly use, and we had to put a cross in the box next to each part that we would consent to being taken. I was surprised to find that we could have said ‘no’ at this point. But we didn’t. Peter started to go through each body part on the form, (which actually looked like it was the fiftieth copy of a fiftieth copy), one by one, explaining what the body part was and what it could be used for. At one point, Mum and I joked that they probably should take the lungs, they’d only been used for smoking for 60 years, there was probably a few more years left in them! Peter was confused and assured us that in that case, they, um, probably wouldn’t want the lungs. The other doctor almost rolled his eyes, and he took over saying that they would like us to release the kidneys and liver, maybe the corneas, we didn’t need to worry about the rest. And then it was done. Mum signed the papers very matter-of-factly. And then Peter informed us, with a sigh of relief that his responsibility was over, that all we had to do was wait for Dad’s brain to swell to the point that there was no brain stem function. And then the transplant team, who were patiently waiting he told us, would fly in and ‘retrieve the organs’. Note the wording there, how the sense of ownership has shifted from the donor to the transplant team. This phrase has become abhorrent to me, but it has become part of the vernacular of how medical people talk about donor organs, in an attempt to depersonalise the operation. How dare they assume ownership. Bastards. All you can do in the face of such insensitivity is stand for a while with your mouth wide open in amazement, and then shrug it off with a disappointed smile. There were too many other things to deal with, there was no energy to give him a couple of barrels, or even the brain/heart space to comprehend how badly we had just been treated. He wouldn’t understand anyway. After all, he had done his job. And Dad would have really been proud to know that the last act of his life was to give other people a chance at a better life. He had lived his life trying to make that happen for us and others. In that sense, what was happening was a continuation of how he had lived.

We slept that night at Carole and Ray’s home, which was nearby in Invercargill. It was a relief to get out of that awful waiting room, to eat some good Southland cuisine and put our heads on a pillow for a few hours. At lunchtime on Sunday, they assessed that there was no brain function, and they declared that Dad was dead. (‘They’ is the doctors and the hospital system, not the nurses. It felt like the nurses were the only human contact during this time. They were a source of kindness and comfort. Quite different to the rest, who were a great meat grinding machine.) The announcement was surreal, because the heart monitor and the life support system were still operating. But he was gone. And it still hits me like a tonne of bricks. He was gone. My dear, kind, quietly spoken, wise, community minded Dad was gone. The quiet wit, the cheeky smile, the laughter, the stories. Reduced to memories. And I wailed. I couldn’t help myself. The loss was so terrible.

Eventually, the wave of loss subsided and we were faced with mundane realities. The transplant team would be in later that afternoon. The operation would happen later in the evening. Did we want to come back and visit Mr Blaikie in the morning? You bloody bet I wanted to check what those bastard butchers had done to my dear old Dad! We’ll be back! I swore a lot in my head in those days. But I was all quiet business on the outside. There was a funeral to organise…

We went back to Carole and Ray’s place for afternoon tea and to pick up our stuff. While we were there, relating our stories, venting a bit, they noticed that an unscheduled plane flew in. So the transplant team had arrived. And my heart broke all over again. But we had stuff to do, so we got in the car and headed home to the farm. The news at the farm was not so good. The whiteware seemed to have all gone out in support of Dad. The washing machine had died. The dishwasher had died. And there was something wrong with the zip (the industrial sized water boiler, ironically dying just when we needed it). And then there was the news that my brother, who lived in Australia, was not going to make it home. He had been on his way to Nepal to go trekking. A family friend had managed to intercept him in Singapore and gave him the news on Saturday morning. We had hoped that he could then just get on a plane and come home. However, the ground staff insisted that they couldn’t get his stuff off the plane and that he would have to continue to Kathmandu, where he could then arrange to get home. This was a lie. If someone doesn’t get to the gate on time, they will ‘deplane’ that someone in a matter of minutes, no problems. They were just being shits. Anyway, my brother was in a mood to accept their advice, and got on the plane. Only to find that once he got to Kathmandu, the next flight out was in a week. What do you do in that situation? Wait in Kathmandu for the week, get the next plane out and miss the funeral anyway? Or go on the two week trekking trip and make a trip home to NZ for the scattering of ashes later? So he went trekking. Surreal. I don’t travel Thai Airways, and I distrust any official at Changi.

We rested as well as we could because Monday was FULL ON! A trip to Invercargill (1 hour each way) to check on Dad. The nurses had laid him out in a private room, and we were free to stay as long as we needed. Then we had to make a trip to Balclutha (50 minutes each way in the other direction) to see the Funeral Director, and buy new whiteware, then back to the farm, where the visitors had started to arrive. And then there was the funeral to arrange: pall bearers, minister, eulogy, songs, funeral service sheets, food, venues… Everyone thought it was a good idea for me to sing, so I arranged a duet with my long time singing partner, Rob, and that also meant arranging a piano player, and a practice on the morning of the funeral! My brother organised a couple of the most unlikely ushers to help people to seats and to hand out service sheets. Their comment was that they should’ve had a pen with them, because Francie’s friends were all stunners, and they needed to be collecting phone numbers! Of course they are typical blokes and did not follow up on anything. And it was tuberculosis testing week for the cattle, so they needed to be mustered in and antibodied on Tuesday, and then mustered in and read on Thursday. The funeral fitted nicely into the schedule on Wednesday. TB testing is normally a large job carried out by the vet, and at a particular time, so rescheduling would have been difficult. To be honest, Dad would have said that the TB testing should take priority over his funeral! The farm always took priority. Friends of my farmer brother just turned up to help. They were brilliant. I always had respect for them as good Kiwi blokes, but this was their was to show love and respect. Farming communities are amazing communities. We would just ask for something to happen, and it happened. The funeral afternoon tea for over 600 was just catered for, no problems. The whiteware just arrived and got installed on the day it was bought. Food, flowers, washing, dishes washed, visitors… It was heart warming and comforting. And then it was over. And we picked up the pieces and carried on.

Sixteen months later, I went with my Auntie Esme to an Organ Transplant memorial service at the cathedral in Christchurch. It was a wonderful service except for the part where the chief transplant surgeon had the podium. During that very sensitive time, he talked about how important it was to be able to harvest organs for transplant, and how difficult retrieval could be. Again, notice the language. Appalling. I was so angry. ‘Harvest’. ‘Retrieve’. But this was in stark contrast to the testimonies of organ receivers, who talked about new lives, and gratitude. And I reaffirmed for myself that we had done the right thing. Regardless of the brazen insensitivity of the medical profession, Dad would be very gracious and forgiving, and very glad to know that his organs had gone to two people, one for kidney transplant and one for liver/kidney transplant. How wonderful it is, that we have the technology to do these things! How heroic it is that people, and their families, choose to be organ donors if possible! How thankful I am that I grew up in such a wonderful community. One that recognised the quiet contribution of my Dad, and honoured him for it at the end with the same kindness and service. My Dad was a hero.

Caitlyn likes baking.

This is my little niece Caitlyn. She is absolutely gorgeous; the most precious little body on the planet earth (along with her brother and her little cousins); a wonderful little gift that appeared in my family about 15 months ago; a treasure; a delight! As my Mum (Nana) says: absolutely perfect. She spends her days following her big brother, Josh (4) around, exploring and discovering, laughing and playing, and sometimes crying and being grumpy, but that’s OK because she is just sooooo precious, special, adorable (add any descriptive word denoting how wonderful she is). Just thinking about her brings great warmth to my heart and inner being.

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In these pictures, she and Josh had been helping their mother with some baking, which means that Josh had been allowed to stir the ingredients, and then lick the spoon. In a particularly generous moment, he gave the spoon to Caitlyn, and she got to taste uncooked cake mixture for the first time. Not quite in the prescribed diet for one so small, but it happened, and it seems she enjoyed it. A lot.

At times when I find myself near the bottom of the nutella jar (or the peanut butter jar, or the packet of biscuits, or the cake of chocolate, or all of the above…) I, too, have found my face and hands sticky with evidence of the feeding frenzy. Often it has been unconscious; just stuffing food (calorie laden food, never carrots or cucumbers) into my body to fill some gaping, aching hole that has appeared on my insides. This hole has nothing to do with physical hunger or appetite. It has everything to do with pain, loneliness, frustration, feelings of unworthiness, self loathing… And my way to dull the ache, to find a little bit of comfort, has been to stuff food into me. During and after the feeding, I descend into a particularly derogatory, lengthy and extremely depressing self loathing speech that lasts many hours, sometimes days. It continues in my head, on repeat, very loudly. And it’s hard to stop it. And of course all of the feeding leads to weight gain… which sets off the destructive internal dialogue, which excavates the pain hole again, which then leads to more feeding… and the cycle continues unless it can be broken…

I have had to learn how to recognise when these episodes are approaching, and then circumvent them, and if that doesn’t work, to learn how to coach my way through them, down from them, and away from them. The books talk about learning how to love and accept oneself. (Geneen Roth: ‘Feeding the Hungry Heart’ is fantastic!) I’ve struggled with that concept for a long time. Its hard to change a lifelong habit of the terrible self talk. To find and implement a new mantra, or series of sentences to counter the screaming voices, is a difficult thing.

But I have found an answer for me! These pictures! I would never talk to Caitlyn (or ANYBODY else) the way I talk to myself, so I imagine that the precious little person in these pictures is me. The part of me that has succumbed to the pain of life with a food stuffing frenzy, is just like this precious wee cherub. To beat her with harsh words, put-downs and more punishment is completely abhorrent. (How could any one do that to a little kid anyway?!? but that’s a whole other blog rave…) She needs cuddles and a wash. She needs kind words and guidance. She needs love and affection. She needs assurances and hope. And that is what she will get. And this is what I will get too. From me, to me. Keeping these images on my computers and in my brain helps me to keep a constant smile on my face and forgiving attitude of myself. The way that I talk to myself has completely changed. And life is so much better. I still find the pain hole every now and then, and stuff it full of food, but the frequency is less, and I can mindfully watch what is happening, and climb out with less damage. I really hope that everyone can learn how to talk to themselves with love and support, with peace. And finding a picture like one of these could be the key for you.

What is your experience?

Trainer Guy is off to conquer the world!

Trainer Guy and his brother, Nicolai, are going to Obstacle Course Racing World Champs in Canada in October 2016 (think ‘mud run’ but on steroids) and they need some financial support to get there, and eat something, and sleep somewhere… If you would like to help them fulfill their dream then please check out https://sponsor.me/OCRBrothers or Trainer Guy’s facebook page: OCR Træning – Michael Schjøtt. Just to clarify that they offer some pay backs for your generous support, one in particular is ‘mand kram’ which means something like a bear hug with a pat on the back. I am very happy to collect these particular paybacks for you and get them to you at some later stage (maybe) if you can’t get to Denmark to collect yourself. Very, very happy to do that. Sigh, smiley happy face, dribble. Just saying, I’m happy to support the team! I like to be helpful. And I like hugs. Especially from fit young fellas in form fitting Skins gear. More sighs, happier smiley face, dribble is getting a bit messy…

Tape Measure update…

I got the tape measure out a couple of days ago because I was curious. I’ve lost 20 cm from my middle and 10 from hips and 10 from chest, in 10 months. And the numbers put me in a typical UK size 16! Dreams do come true! (Actually my dream is size 14, and I can’t imagine size 12, but maybe that’s possible…) Trainer Guy is very proud of me, but he does say to be cautious about dreams of shrinking too much, because we might be fighting my genetics, and they might compromise my fitness dreams: rowing at NZ masters games, the top of Invercargill climbing wall with Amy, Olympic triathlon and an obstacle race before I’m 50… I’m looking forward to the next 15 months! What about you?…

‘My Fitness Story’ or ‘Frances Blaikie – Aspiring Ninja!’

I watched a bloke lead his bike down some stairs yesterday. He had the front wheel under control, but the back wheel bounced around all over the place. Baboing, Bading, Bagang. My rear-end used to act in a similar manner. I had control of most of the front section of my chasis, (I’ve spent a LOT of money on bras over the years for this purpose), but my rear section would jig about with a mind of its own. It was relentless in exercise classes – although I admit that I was always glad that at least one part of me had so much energy. It’s almost gone now. Just the odd wobble bobble, definitely no Baboing, Bading, Bagang going on back there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a sizable caboose, and I want it to shrink some more, but my motivation is that it be small enough so that I can run, jump and lift myself around obstacle courses and life in general, not because I feel the need to conform to someone’s ideal body shape.

My story is not one of enormous weight loss in a matter of weeks. I wish it was. I have wished for a story like that for over 40 years, but apart from biennial yo-yo dieting where I would lose the same 10 – 15 kg over 5 months, only to pile it all back on in a small amount of time, my journey so far has been one of the fat kid/teen/adult, somewhere between 30 – 50 kg overweight according to the ideal weight charts or BMI measures, which are crap measures anyway, but the ones that I have been measured against none the less. When you meet me you get a beautiful warm smile, someone who is smart, funny, intelligent, good natured, talented, super good company, empathetic, supportive, basically a wonderful person; the strong, successful, organised, totally in control professional woman (seriously: any single Dads, brothers, whatever, feel free to send them my way, I am that fabulous! They will thank you). What you don’t see is the constant struggle with shyness, a fear of just about everything, and the small amount of self confidence that gets me by. And you never hear the inner critic that is hammering away, ALL OF THE TIME, about how useless, stupid and ugly I am. That is the same voice that sends me into my fridge and cupboards to find almost any kind of food as a form of comfort and solace. So while my intermittent dieting episodes were reasonably successful attempts to drastically alter my eating habits for short periods of time, they never addressed the important behavioural issues regarding my relationship with myself and my preferred drug: FOOD! Well, not vegetables, I am suspicious of vegetables. And porridge. There is nothing comforting about porridge. Once my will power had been exhausted I reverted back to old, safe, destructive habits. A classic, tragic story. That is until I found Geneen Roth, and later Libby Weaver. And later still wonderful role models in Xena (Warrior Trainer), Trainer Guy, and a bunch of wonderful gym buddies!

I have spent the last 12 years learning to live by Geneen Roth’s eating guide lines: A rough summary would be: I can eat whatever I want and whenever I want (Yes, you read that correctly!), but I try to recognise the difference between when I’m physically hungry and emotionally hungry, and if I’m physically hungry then I try to eat what my body wants, not what my brain/heart wants; I try to make nourishing food choices (see Dr Libby for many wonderful options), which as time goes by involves vegetables more and not sugar. This has been a complete surprise to me and my colon. Whatever food that I choose, I must enjoy every mouthful! YES! No matter what I have chosen, I am allowed to enjoy it! Because there must be a reason that I feel that I need it, and so I am allowed it. But I must try to stop eating when I am full, even if that means leaving food on a plate. In this manner I am learning to trust my body, and nourish it, and my body is slowly changing so that my frame does not have to carry such a burden around anymore.

From Dr Libby I learnt to be kinder to myself. I try to stop listening to the nasty inner critic. Just stop listening! Shut it down. For so long I was powerless against the voice, but I am in charge of my brain chemistry, and so I am in charge of what I listen to, and how I treat myself. I would never say to anyone the things that I have routinely said to myself for years. Nor would I let anyone say those things to anyone else. And so I protect myself like I would protect a little kid from verbal abuse, take the devastated and hurting little me in a comforting embrace and turn off the ugly voice. Nobody should have to listen to that nonsense. EVER. I have also learnt that it’s what I do 80% of the time that makes a difference, so I try to make good choices most of the time and cut myself some slack when I feel like I need something that nourishes my heart more than a carrot could ever do, although that behaviour is changing slowly.

It’s been a long journey, and it will continue until I expire. It takes a lot of energy, patience and time to listen to my body, make nourishing choices and filter my thoughts, but I will enjoy the journey! Every single mouthful and burpee! It turns out that there are ways to construct my life so that my resolve to nourish my body and soul can be sustained. Instead of making the number on the scale the ultimate measure of success, I choose fitness goals. My mantra these days is that I want to be fitter, faster and stronger than I have ever been. Any body composition change is a welcome consequence of my new eating habits and fitness goals. The exercise is about claiming my body back, so that I can do the things that I want to do when I want to do them. In the last 10 months I have lost 11.5 kg of fat so that I have just sneaked into the healthy %fat range, I have managed to gain some muscle mass, and I am wearing the smallest dress size of my life! I can run, jump, burpee, push-up, squat, deadlift and so many other things, and it feels REALLY good. I don’t think there will ever be a finish point, because there is still a number of fat percentage points to drop and fitness goals to meet, like being able to make a pull up. How cool would that be?!

But I didn’t do this without some impressive help. And now I will introduce you to some of the key supporting actors in my recent journey: Xena and Tainer Guy.

In January 2014, at the age of 46, I joined a gym that had a programme called ‘Slank’ in Danish, ‘Slim’ in English. They offered exercise classes for us rounded individuals and a weekly personal consultation to monitor progress and to help with a diet and exercise plan. At the time I was not able to run or jump, and I was wearing clothing in very large sizes. I desperately wanted to change. One of the instructors was this incredibly energetic, competent and intimidating woman called Signe Hostrup Nielsen. Signe is pronounced like ‘Xena’, as in the warrior princess, which is actually an apt comparison for this AMAZING and motivating instructor. I persevered for 10 months and managed to lose 12 kg while increasing my fitness to the point where I could actually jog to catch the bus and complete a whole hour of HIIT functional training, but medical issues struck (menopause, OMG, it is horrible!) and I put the weight back on over 5 months. I continued with ‘Slim’ because I had met a heap of really cool women, all struggling with the same issue. It was like finding my tribe in the middle of Denmark, a country full of beautiful thin people. We learnt that we could push our bodies to do soooo much more than our brains thought was possible, if we could just switch our brains off. We learnt to challenge ourselves and each other with exercise, and to achieve. I managed to keep a degree of the fitness, but I couldn’t shift the weight because my eating was out of control again. Xena, Warrior Trainer, was a constant support over this time, but I wasn’t ready to make the necessary eating changes and so I did fitness so that I could hang out with my new posse. And then ‘Slim’ was cancelled as a programme and I was lost. I tried to continue by myself by scheduling classes that Xena instructed, but I wasn’t making any progress in terms of my fitness goals, or in getting my food choices under control.

August 2015 I decided to make a major change and get myself a personal trainer to kick start some changes. I approached Xena, Warrior Trainer, as the obvious choice for the job, but she couldn’t train me. I remember she looked at me, smiled knowingly and then said that she had THE perfect trainer for me. That we would be a great match. This guy was tough but just what I needed! Hold on a minute, she said ‘guy’? A man? My heart went cold, and it must have shown on my face, because she assured me that he didn’t bite… often. And so she recommended a young bloke, Michael Gabelgård Schjøtt, henceforth known as Trainer guy because I can’t pronounce any of his names correctly (or Young Mister Cutie-pie McHardbody, but that’s just between you and me). The best thing that has happened in my life in a long time. (Apart from that hindbærsnitter and latte last week, they were very good!) He is half my age, half my mass, and seriously FIT! No, not like that. Well, yes, a bit like that… But he’s the kind of bloke that goes out and runs 10 km because he’s bored, the kind of bloke that is off to obstacle course racing World Champs soon so that the other racers have some decent competition, the kind that runs and jumps and acrobats and punches and swims, and just about everything you can think of. He’s basically a ninja. The thought of confessing to this kind of bloke that I absolutely really needed that cake for emotional support or that I didn’t get to that spin class because the couch was just too comfortable was slightly appalling. And he was probably going to weigh me! Horrific thought. I’d rather have a pelvic exam. But I was desperate to try anything, and so I agreed to meet Trainer guy. Now, from the reaction of a lot of my women friends of a particular age and stage, this sounded like the beginning of an erotic novel with me as the main character. I can state categorically that it has been nothing like that, at all, nope, nothing. More like T1000 (Terminator 2 reference) meets Bender (Futurama reference).

I remember the beginning like yesterday. A very traumatic yesterday. We talked about goals. He immediately assured me that weight loss was a simple process and we could easily achieve a massive weight loss (oh the wisdom of a fit young fella. He knows me better now and would be less blasé about stating such things). I assured him that I wanted to focus on getting fitter, faster and stronger, how I’d tried for 4 decades to lose weight and never achieved any long term effect, so I was very reluctant to make any kind of weight loss a focus of our time together. I remember his face at that point, firmly set in an expression that spoke louder than words: ‘Did I just hear her correctly? She’s been on a diet for 40 years? And no weight loss? How can that be possible? It’s so simple…’ To his credit, he did not question any of my statements, just shrugged and smiled and asserted that we could do what I wanted! We would focus on fitness goals. But then he wanted to record a start point. And the start point required stepping onto the dreaded machine. Oh the horror of anyone, let alone a bloke, knowing those most personal and devastating of numbers. My age and my weight were both required for the machine to crunch some numbers about body composition. I gingerly stepped on, and we waited for the stats. Horrific. My bottom lip trembled, my throat closed over and tears welled up in my eyes, I was weighed down with equal loads of embarrassment and judgement. In my mind, every gram counted heavily against my self worth, and it crushed my soul. Such an unpleasant and emotionally charged moment. But he didn’t notice. Or he knew to ignore me. He just took a photo of the avalanche of information that the machine spewed forth. I breathed deeply and stared at the paper. He talked about what some of the numbers meant. I kept up the deep breathing and made grunting noises. I was just grateful that the dreaded tape measure did not make an appearance. Instead he talked about keeping a food diary for a few days so that he could see what he was dealing with (his words, not mine). I confess that while I filled it out, I deliberately didn’t send it to him, or ever bring it up again. It was an interesting exercise though, on the days that I recorded stuff, I was eating VERY healthy. On the other days… well… stuff happens so let’s move on. There is something about being accountable and writing stuff down that brings the issue into clear focus though. Since then I have learnt to make nourishing choices for my body. Not all the time, but maybe 80% of the time, and that’s a good goal to have. Finally we trotted off to learn some exercise techniques, and that was the beginning of a fun fitness journey with Trainer Guy!

We didn’t go near that horrendous machine for 3 months! It was like freedom! And now we only visit it every 4 or 5 weeks, and only if I ask for it. It can be a useful number but I just have to remember that it is only one statistic in a large number of other achievements. And slow progress of fat loss of 1-2 kg per month will hopefully mean that my new healthier habits will be sustainable long term. In the first 3 months, we did lots of learning to enjoy exercise. There were many challenges and many achievements. We focused on getting me fitter, faster and stronger, and it worked. I made massive progress in terms of stamina and strength. My back stopped hurting. My times on the rowing machine improved. And my clothes fitted so much better. In fact, I fitted into almost everything in my wardrobe. Everything, except my skinniest pair of pants, which I had never been able to get in to anyway. Why did I have them? Because I was always going to shrink… Why did I keep them? I tortured myself that maybe, one day, I would be able to fit them; maybe, one day I’d be small enough. I should have been kinder to myself and just put them in the op-shop and bought new ones that fitted. They are actually too big now. But I still should have found things to wear that made me feel gorgeous at all stages of the journey, because this journey isn’t going to end soon and I need to learn to celebrate everything along the way.

I remember thinking after our first session that you know it’s been a hard training session, full of lunges, squats, box jumps, push-ups, planks…, when you are standing outside your apartment block whimpering and snivelling because the idea of climbing a couple of flights of stairs is too horrendous. I’d managed to drag myself around the grocery store before trudging home, and I thought about cracking open the cereal packet and camping at the front door for the night, but then it started to rain. I managed to get up the stairs, and as I collapsed onto the couch I was unabashedly proud of what I’d completed that night, and looking forward to the next time!

Sometimes, communicating across the language/cultural barrier can be awkward. I live in Denmark but I don’t have to speak Danish in my day to day life and so my Danish is terrible. Trainer Guy is Danish, and while I think his English is fantastic, he is not so confident speaking English, but we have training sessions in English anyway for my sake. And along with the language obstacles, there are also body language norms that are not always easy to negotiate. But the pearls of wisdom are still there in the conversation! There was a day when Trainer Guy greeted me with a small smile thus (verbatim): ‘Frances! You looks beautiful today.’ My heart just stopped. I don’t get greetings like that very often, in fact, never. It’s a shame that I have to admit that I looked around for this other Frances that he was greeting, but there was no one else. The compliment was out there, I had to choose what to do with it… Now, Danish people don’t move any muscles in their faces when they talk, there is no facial expression at all, so I wasn’t really sure if he was being sarcastic or not. He could also have been missing something in translating from Danish… Ah, well, doesn’t matter, I chose to believe he was being sweet. It put a big smile on my face! He could do nothing wrong that day, nor at any time since. At another point early on when we talked about setting goals, I made some smart comment about wanting to be a swim suit model, to which he replied earnestly, ‘Frances, you are a BIG lady.’ Pause with meaningful look into my eyes. ‘You are! You are NOT a small lady, you are a BIG lady.’ My face at that moment was trying to communicate that he should stop talking, I got the point. But instead he understood from my expression that I didn’t believe him and so he continued, ‘You will NEVER be a small lady, you will always be a BIG lady. So we must set goals that are realistic for you, (another meaningful pause)… because you are a BIG lady, NOT a small lady.’ And he was absolutely right. It was actually liberating to hear those words without any kind of judgement attached to them. They were simple statements of fact, communicated honestly and without any form of malice. I am tallish, I have wide shoulders and hips, and I am strong, and I like it like that! Thank you Trainer Guy, I am proud to be a Big lady!

He’s not always so earnest. He can be a cheeky brat. But this is why Xena, Warrier Trainer, thought that he would be good for me. I get bored with ‘serious’. One day I was instructed to do press-ups, and lots of them in total, but spread over a few sets, and I should do them correctly, no more talking and no cheating. He wanted me to complete them with speed and power, to imagine I was a Ford Mustang! Speed and Power Frances! He then said quietly that we were really working with something more like a Fiat Panda, but he smiled sweetly and said I was to think Ford Mustang! Go! Apparently I wasn’t getting my nose close enough to the floor, the instructions were, ‘Lower Frances, lower!’ So on the next push-up my helpful Trainer Guy, wanting me to experience exactly how low I should go, casually put his hand in the middle of my back and pushed. My arms collapsed and my nose was planted firmly in the revolting gym mat, to which he commented with genuine surprise, ‘What are you doing down there?’ I just grunted. It’s hard to do anything else with your face planted in the mat. But I got back up and finished the set. Fiat Panda, my foot! Can’t keep this Ford Mustang down. Even when he’s making a small joke at my expense, I still get a confidence boost!

It’s not always him dishing out the raz though. You see, when I get tired, I feign memory loss about how to perform certain exercises, and then he helpfully demonstrates the exercises I can’t remember. So I get to rest and watch while the delightful young man shows me how to do burpees and push-ups and whatever else he thinks is fun. That puts a smile on my face! The down side is that eventually he will say ‘your turn’, and I will attempt to emulate his very competent performance. I doubt that that puts a smile on his face. More likely he’ll shake his head and sigh. I like to finish with an air punch and exclaim at the improvement in my execution! He will probably reply with something wildly encouraging like, ‘Well…, let’s just say that it’s going in the right direction…’ High fives all round! Money well spent!

Some weeks I’m completely intimidated by him and only do as I’m told, no monkey business. But other weeks I’m in hyperactive mode and I cannot help myself, I have to be a clown. Trainer Guy just takes whatever arrives at the door and goes with that. One week he greeted me with a big wave and, ‘FRANCES! Hva’ sa?’ (What’s up) and I replied, ‘BONJOUR!’. Both he and the woman behind the desk looked a bit confused, and while trainer guy shrugged his shoulders and grabbed his jersey and stop watch from below the desk, (oh, how I hate that stop watch, 30 seconds on that thing feels like 5 minutes), I explained to the woman that I was being posh because I’m a lady after all, and I added an Audrey Hepburn hand flourish for emphasis. Trainer guy sprang up from behind the desk to say, ‘No you’re not. You’re a beast. Kom så (come on), we’re off to lift heavy stuff today.’ As he marched off to the free weights area, I galloped and skipped along behind him exclaiming, ‘I am SO a lady!…’, ‘Ohhhh, how much are we going to lift today?’, ‘I really AM a lady. I CAN be very sophisticated.’ ‘YEAH! Back squats!’, accompanied by a small jump in the air with little hand claps, ‘Ohhhh, so 60 kg to start with, like a warm up then?’ followed by cheeky giggles and a hulk impression. Trainer guy just looked at me deadpan and shook his head, ‘yup, a lady.’ Some days he really has to earn his money.

Trainer Guy is a wonderful role model for self confidence. He just enjoys living in his body. He doesn’t care too much that he isn’t such a big bloke, or that he can’t compete with big heavy lifters, because what he can do, he does really well, and he loves it. Some races match his skill set and other races do not. Whatever the race, he just gets in there and gives it everything in the tank. Now that is a wise way to live. Stop comparing yourself to other people, be prepared to try anything, find your strengths and what you love doing, and do that. I would love to enjoy living in my body. To be so comfortable and confident that I could run, jump, bike, dance, climb whatever and wherever I wanted. To just be happy with how I am made. And just LIVE! One of my mantras is ‘No more thinking, just doing!’ so no more second guessing and talking myself out of things, I have permission to explore and experiment and just do it! Confidence comes from just doing it.

There have been a few confidence wins over the last few months. One such time was when I tried on and purchased a pair of size 44 jeans (size 18)! I had not been able to squeeze into something so dainty in over 25 years! I got the zip to the its zenith in the try-on room and said, ‘Done deal!, we’re goin home!’ I’m glad that I waited to do the sit-down test on my bed at home. I could bend into the correct conformation and actually sit, but the tension was too much for my stomach muscles and I uncoiled onto my bed with a lot of force. Getting back to standing position required a roll onto the floor and an undignified downward dog style climb up some furniture, but the zip stayed up and no seams popped. BooYah! And now I have size 42 jeans!

One week at training session, Trainer Guy had me jumping onto a half bubble. The thing is about 50 cm in diameter, one side is hard and flat, and faced the floor; the other side is a half bubble of air-containing, pliable plastic. I was supposed to jump from one foot onto the bubble, land on both feet, and then jump back off again. It was placed about 3 meters from a heap of windows. And I’m petrified of it. The idea of jumping on and off things just stops me in my tracks.

‘Jump!’ …

‘Frances, I said JUMP!’ …

‘Why aren’t you jumping?’

To which I replied, ‘Actually, I’m afraid that I will bounce across the room, out through the window and into the car park.’ With a cheeky grin, Trainer Guy (remember: my height but HALF my mass, standing on the other side of the bubble, in front of the windows) extended his arms in front of himself, and declared, ‘I’ll catch you Frances! You just jump!’ Gotta admire the committment of the guy. What a very sweet offer! However, cute as he is, he cannot change the laws of physics. I pointed out that he would make a very bony cushion, and we would both probably end up through the window and in the car park. He was a bit offended by this observation because he thought he was up to the task if necessary. But then I jumped on and off the bubble a heap of times without incident and we both let out a sigh of relief. Inwardly I was making giant fist punches at the sky! I enjoy jumping on and off stuff! I conquered the half bubble. And confidence builds with every jump.

Sometimes random people have had an enormous and unexpected impact on my fitness journey. After certain kettle bell (KB) exercises at the gym, I like to place the offending article in its place on the rack and address it with a little dance that I call ‘take that, mister KB, I just OWNED you!’ This dance involves hand pistols, a Billy Idol White wedding smirk AND a hippy hippy shake shake. I do this with reckless abandon partly because I have believed that, as a person of round proportions, I am basically invisible and unnoticed in the sea of beautiful people, and therefore nobody would notice me gyrating in the corner. It turns out that one of the fit young ladies, whose prowess in squats and pull-ups and ALL other crossfit stuff is something I envy, had noticed. She came up to me after one of my workout sessions and said that she had been watching my progress over the last few months, and that she was really impressed with the hard workouts (credit to Trainer Guy, he’s always challenging me), that I had made massive improvements (more credit to Trainer Guy, he’s not satisfied unless it’s right), and that she was inspired to do better because of seeing me improve! I was bowled over! and quietly appalled at the same time. She didn’t mention my little dances. Perhaps I should holster the hand pistols, and restrain the hippy shake shake in the future. Nahhh. Victory over the KB should be celebrated! Spread the joy!

Small changes in habits can have big consequences, and this is certainly true of me and my food choices. Trainer Guy likes to recommend more vegetables in my diet. I usually screw up my face and make gagging noises, but he is right, and I have included more vege. One day he recommended one type in particular. He actually rubbed his six-pack (there is nothing about his abdominal region that suggests ‘tummy’) smiled dreamily and said, ‘mmmmm, agurkene er lækert!’ (mmmmm, cucumbers are delicious!’) in much the same way that I would talk about chocolate self saucing pudding. I was confused. I have obviously missed something in life. The cucumbers here in Europe must be a different breed to any that I’ve tasted before. Needless to say, I purchased one! It sat in the fridge keeping the 2 month old cabbage company for a day or two. Considering the rather sensual recommendation, I was expecting an almost orgasmic experience when I ate it! Sadly, that was not the case. But I did feel good about feeding my body nourishing food, so there was something satisfying about the experience.

Trainer Guy is a big fan of functional exercises in a high intensity interval training (HIIT) format. The point is to get your heart rate through the roof for many intervals of time. It turns out that there are other unexpected ways to get ones heart rate up and add to the HIIT volume… There is one exercise in particular where I’m supposed to hold my elbows at my waist, and rotate my hands from in front of me to the side. Apparently I don’t hold my elbows close enough to my body… Next minute, Trainer Guy is standing right behind me (full body contact! Well, hello there!), his arms around me (quite a feat considering he is not such a big bloke and I still have a reasonable girth), his elbows holding my elbows in place and his hands on my arms pulling them into the correct motion, and he was saying something in my ear about correct position of … Good god, I can’t remember! To be honest I was just trying to remember to breathe. And then the instruction was over and I had to continue on my own, with heart rate suitably elevated, weakened knees and some deep breathing. As far as surprises go, this one was not unpleasant. Unfortunately, or fortunately for my heart’s sake, my performance of this exercise has improved and I don’t need such intense instruction anymore.

My fitness journey with Trainer Guy: Part ninja, part T-1000. Enough of a drill sergeant that you want to hit him, but enough of a cheerleader that you obey the orders and say thank-you for the pain. Enough drive and achievement that he is both inspiring and intimidating, but with enough cheek and humour that you know your session is warmly anticipated, and that you are his focus for the next challenge on the carefully devised torture plan, which probably includes burpees. He really likes burpees. All sorts of burpees. He isn’t Bob Harper, but he comes pretty close!

Xena was right. Trainer Guy was a good match for me! I was ready to do whatever it took to change habits of a lifetime regarding food addiction and lack of exercise, and he was ready, with a smile and gentle chastisement, to push me to do the best that I can. The exercise sessions, both with him and the ones he planned for me to complete by myself, have been challenging and fun, and I’ve achieved a lot. But there’s so much more that I want to do, and that’s just exciting! I’m learning to nourish and love my body with exercise, beneficial food and kind words, and that is bringing peace and calm to my life. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been, and I’m enjoying every step.

Stories from the last 6 months…

Here is a collection of incidents from the last 6 months… I’m trying to put them together into an article/essay for a competition run by ‘Fit Bottomed Girls’ on FaceBook about ‘My Fitness Journey.’ It’s not going so well, so far I have made 4 completely different versions… Deadline is this Friday… I hope that I can find my voice and message/story this week… until then, here are a bunch of stories featuring Trainer Guy and Mr Music…

7 Oct 2015: You know it’s been a hard training session, full of lunges, squats, box jumps, push-ups, planks…, when you are standing outside your apartment block whimpering and sniveling because the idea of climbing a couple of flights of stairs is too horrendous. I had dragged myself around the supermarket after training, and so I thought about cracking open the cereal and camping at the front door for the night, but then it started to rain…

23 Oct 2015: I post this for me. After 9 weeks of small changes and focusing on fitness for fun (yes it is possible), and feeling heaps stronger and changing shape and NO weighing machine, I succumbed to the temptation to ‘just check’ the dreaded number on the scales. It told me I have managed to lose 5kg of fat and gain 3kg of muscle for a net loss of 2kg. Cue disappointment, frustration and tailspin into self loathing. It’s crazy that one number can have so much power. Especially in amongst so many other positive numbers, and good results…

12 Nov 2015: So I had personal trainer day today. As part of a new program (Que? a new program? I just got the last one sorted) I was instructed to do pressups, lots of them in total, but spread over a few sets, and I should do them correctly, no more talking and no cheating (who me? Cheat? No way. Look over there, at that interesting thing flying past the window. hey! I’ve already done 5! no you haven’t Frances. Pushups Now! Man, He’s tough this bloke.) He wanted me to complete them with speed and power, to imagine I was a Ford Mustang! Speed and Power Frances! He then said quietly that we were really working with something more like a Fiat Panda, but he smiled sweetly and said I was to think Ford Mustang! Go!

13 Nov 2015: Continuing the theme of push-ups from yesterday… Apparently I wasn’t getting my nose close enough to the floor ‘lower Frances, lower!’ So on the next push-up my helpful trainer bloke, wanting me to experience exactly how low I should go, casually put his hand in the middle of my back and pushed. My arms collapsed with the end result: my nose planted firmly in the gym mat, to which he commented surprised ‘what are you doing down there?’ I confess that I thought to myself ‘a somewhat vindictive, hyperactive individual pushed me!’ But I got back up and finished the set. Can’t keep this Ford Mustang down!.

17 Nov 2015: I watched a bloke lead his bike down some stairs yeaterday. He had the front wheel under control, but the back wheel bounced around all over the place. Baboing, Bading, Bagang. It reminded me that my rearend used to act in a similar manner. I had control of most of the front section of my chasis, but the rear section would jig about with a mind of its own. It was relentless in exercise classes – Although I was always glad that at least one part of me had so much energy. It’s almost gone now. Just the odd wobble bobble, definitely no Baboing, Bading, Bagang going on back there.

29 Nov 2015: Big news in my life: I have tried on and purchased a pair of size 44 jeans (size 16)! I have never been able to squeeze into something so dainty in my whole life! I got the zip to the its zenith in the try on room and said ‘done deal!, we’re goin home!’ I’m glad that I waited to do the sit-down test on my bed at home. I could bend into the correct conformation and actually sit, but the tension was too much for my stomach muscles and I uncoiled into the straight conformation with quite some force. Getting back to standing position required a roll onto the floor and a undignified downward dog style climb up some furniture, but the zip stayed up and no seams popped. BooYah!

1 Dec 2015: When tripping over something at the gym, most people try to stop the fall with their hands. Not me! I used me teeth and my chin! To connect with a window ledge… Not such a great idea. Lots of blood… We (i.e. me and trainer bloke) had to unhook my lower lip from my bottom front teeth…! Wish I’d taken a photo cos that was gross! Trainer bloke wanted to help with some kitchen utensils. I said no, breathed deeply, and did it myself. There were a few tears when I got home, lots of ice, but should be good as gold in a day or two. Two fat lips, one chipped tooth, and broken skin on my chin. Trainer bloke reckons that it’s not so bad given that big lips are fashionable at the moment. He also told me that I was still just as beautiful as always…? Que? Thankyou? I think?… Actually he was very kind and helpful, but oh dear, he’s a bit cheeky sometimes.

14 Dec 2015: So, trainer bloke has started greeting me thus (verbatim): ‘Frances! You looks beautiful today.’ Isn’t he adorable?!!!! He’s Danish, they don’t move any muscles in their faces when they talk, there is no facial expression at all, so I can’t figure out if he’s being sarcastic or not. I choose to believe he’s being sweet… He could also be missing something in translating from Danish… Ah, well, doesn’t matter, it puts a big smile on my face!

18 Jan 2016: Post-holiday blues are setting in… Maybe a session with trainer guy will help. I can feign memory loss and he will helpfully demonstrate the exercises I’m having issues remembering. So I get to watch while a rather fit young bloke shows me how to do burpees and push-ups! That puts a smile on my face! ?The down side is that eventually he will say ‘your turn’, and I will attempt to emulate his very competent performance. Maybe that will put a smile on his face? More likely he’ll shake his head and sigh. I will finish with an air punch and exclaim at the improvement in my execution! He will reply with something wildly encouraging like ‘well…, let’s just say that it’s going in the right direction…’ ? high fives all round! Money well spent! Post holiday blues burpeed into next week!

21 Feb 2016: I am really looking forward to personal trainer day this week! There is one exercise in particular where I’m supposed to hold my elbows at my waist, and rotate my hands from in front of me to the side. Apparently I don’t hold my elbows close enough to my body… Nek minute, trainer guy is standing right behind me (full body contact! Well hello there!), his arms around me (quite a feat considering he is not such a big bloke and I still have a reasonable girth), his elbows holding my elbows in place and his hands on my arms pulling them into the correct motion, and he was saying something in my ear about correct position of … Good god, I can’t remember! To be honest I was just trying to remember to breathe. And then the instruction was over and I had to continue on my own, with weak knees and some deep breathing. As far as surprises go, this one was not unpleasant  . Suffice to say, I’m pretty certain that I will need lots of instruction in that particular exercise for many weeks to come…

4 March 2016: After certain kettle bell exercises at the gym, I like to place the offending article in its place on the rack and address it with a little dance that I call ‘take that, mister KB, I just OWNED you!’ This dance involves hand pistols, a Billy Idol White wedding smirk AND a hippy hippy shake shake. I do this with reckless abandon partly because I have believed that, as a person of round proportions, I am basically invisible and unnoticed in the sea of beautiful people, and therefore nobody wold notice me gyrating in the corner. Anyhow, one of the fit young ladies, whose prowess in squats and pull-ups and ALL other crossfit stuff is something I envy, came up to me after my workout tonight and said that she had been watching my progress over the last few months, and that she was really impressed with the hard workouts (credit to Trainer guy, he’s always challenging me), that I had made massive improvements (more credit to Trainer guy, he’s not satisfied unless it’s right), and that she was inspired to do better because of seeing me improve! I was bowled over! and quietly appalled at the same time. She didn’t mention my little dances. Perhaps I should holster the hand pistols, and restrain the hippy shake shake in the future. Nahhh. Victory over the KB should be celebrated! Spread the joy!

18 March 2016: Amongst other things, Trainer guy demanded a heap of burpees at training this week (56 of the sodding things, full body contact with the floor or they aren’t counted!) At one point a drop of sweat rolled passed the corner of my eye and down my cheek, much like a tear. He said, ‘no, Frances! no crying until you’ve finished! Even better, no crying till you get home!’ My eloquent reply went something like ‘Grrrrrrrr’, and he said, ‘I’m lucky I’m cute aren’t I?’ Yup.

19 March 2016: So I had half a glass of port tonight and then did some piano practice – BINGO! The uptight perfectionist in me was paralysed and the feel good groover was cut loose and I had the Forrest Gump theme rocking! Another dose of this marvelous elixir did not correlate to further improvement, nor even a repeat performance. And I’m not sure if this is an appropriate therapy to help me concentrate while the lovely young piano teacher sits close and holds my hands, I might find the feel good groover saying things like, ‘you’re so pretty… I’m gonna call you Dreamy McMusic.’ Alas, we don’t have music for 2 whole weeks! So I will have to be content with burpees and young mister Cutie-pie McHardbody… Sometimes it feels like a T1000 (Terminater 2 reference) coaching Bender (Futurama reference), both musically and physically, but we persevere! Cheers!

3 April 2016: Me!!! Transformation happening!! Slowly…guns

10 April 2016: This week’s gym training had me jumping onto a half bubble! The thing is about 50 cm in diameter, one side is hard and flat, and faced the floor; the other side is a half bubble of air-containing, pliable plastic. I was supposed to jump from one foot onto the bubble, land on both feet, and then jump back off again. It was placed about 3 meters from a heap of windows. ‘Jump! … Frances, I said JUMP! … Why aren’t you jumping?’… ‘Actually, I’m afraid that I will bounce across the room, out through the window and into the carpark…’ With a cheeky grin, trainer guy (my height, HALF my mass, standing on the other side of the bubble, in front of the windows) extended his arms in front of himself, and declared, ‘I’ll catch you Frances! You just jump!’ Gotta admire the committment of the guy. What a good bloke! and what a very sweet offer; however, cute as he is, he would make a very boney cushion. He was a bit put out by this observation and thought he was up to the task if necessary, but then I jumped on and off the bubble a heap of times without incident and we both exhaled a sigh of relief.

11 April 2016: Last week at piano lesson, I was getting a bit frustrated with myself for not getting everything, or anything, right. It turns out that when this happens, I start using expletives like an Irish sailor! (I am guilty of doing this with trainer guy as well, but he just looks at me straight and tells me to breathe, I think he is also secretly impressed with the vehement vocabulary) Mr Music tends to hover behind me and point out the things I’m doing wrong, which is not really helpful… Last week he tried something new: he put his hands on my shoulders and then he massaged my neck muscles and gently stroked my shoulders, while quietly asking me to play him some beautiful music… and he didn’t stop with my shoulders till I had finished that page… Oh my word. I forgot all the swear words, heck, I almost forgot my own name, and those notes were swimming on the page so there were still lots of mistakes, but I definitely have a more pleasant memory association with that particular piece of music! Severe case of Warm fuzzies! And there was a repeat performance this week!

13 April 2016: Trainer guy out did himself tonight! It was weighing day and I have made progress! He reinforced that for me it must be slow and steady, it’s about life style change, being able to continue with new habits for the rest of my life, and it’s happening! He commented that it would actually go faster if… And then he said the three little words that I’ve waited my whole life to hear… YOU ATE MORE!!! I switched directly into dream state… Finally something I’m good at! This is better than any vacuum cleaner guy, or shoulder rubs from Mr Music. Trainer guy just found the express lane to the deepest part of my heart! (which I believe is actually shaped like a chocolate muffin) ? I absolutely adored him, for the count of 30 seconds and then the shine of my new found, chocolate flavoured love was tarnished to a dark shade of puke green when he felt the need to clarify that I should be eating more VEGETABLES. A bitter pill to swallow. But I steeled my resolve to establish new habits, and I have already packed my mid afternoon, carrot and hummus snack for tomorrow, and I’m just a little bit excited

16 April 2016: So the other day trainer guy recommended more vegetables, and he recommended one type in particular. He actually rubbed his six-pack (there is nothing about his abdominal region that suggests ‘tummy’) smiled dreamily and said, ‘mmmmm, agurkene er lækert!’ (mmmmm, cucumbers are delicious!’), in much the same way that I would talk about chocolate self saucing pudding, or shoulder rubs at music lesson. I was confused. I have obviously missed something in life. The cucumbers here in europe must be a different breed to any that I’ve tasted before. Needless to say, I have purchased one! It is sitting in the fridge keeping the 2 month old cabbage company. I might just crack the little beast open tomorrow…vegies

17 April 2016: Me and my new friends: carrots, cucumber and pepper! Considering the suggestive aesthetic of this snack plate pre-preparation, and the rather sensual
recommendation, I’m expecting an almost orgasmic experience! Here goes! Wish me luck!!!

18 April 2016: At music lesson tonight, my duet partner got ALL of the shoulder rubs and gentle counting taps, she even got a hand massage and helpful arm guidance to help her with the musicality of our piece. All I got was a poke in my shoulder with one pointy finger and, ‘What ARE you doing to the music?!?’ Hurumph

ensemble19 April 2016: This little ensemble got an outing today! It’s so anti-Danish aesthetic that it is probably illegal, but no one seemed to even notice. Those pants helped me warm up with 2 km on the rowing machine in 7:56 min! Trainer guy said, ‘New pants?’ I said, ‘yup.’ He said, ‘they look like a party’ I said, ‘yup, there’s a party in my pants…’ We both giggled. I said, ‘sorry, that was a bit rude’ he said, ‘yup, gonna cost you 5 extra KB swings. GO!’ Oh maaan.

24 April 2016: Tempting fate by sitting in the window of Emmeries in my saturday morning outfit (because everything else is in the wash), and munching hindbærsnitter and cafe latte (not exactly healthy choices), I wonder who will catch me…? I don’t really care at this point, it tastes bloody good!!!

8 May 2016: Trainer guy greeted me this week with a big wave and, ‘FRANCES! Hva’ sa?’ (What’s up) and I replied, ‘BONJOUR!’. Both he and the chick behind the desk, Maren, looked a bit confused, and while trainer guy shrugged his shoulders and grabbed his jersey and stop watch from below the desk (oh, how I hate that stop watch, 30 seconds on that thing feels like 5 minutes), I explained to Maren that I was being posh because I’m a lady, with an added hand flourish for emphasis, much like Audrey Hepburn. Trainer guy sprung up from behind the desk to say, ‘No you’re not. You’re a beast. Kom sa (come on), we’re off to lift heavy stuff today.’ As he marched off to the free weights area, I galloped and skipped along behind him exclaiming, ‘I am SO a lady! Ohhhh, how much are we going to lift today? I really AM a lady. I CAN be very sophisticated… YEAH! Back squats! (Small jump in the air with little hand claps) ohhhh, 60 kg to start with, so like a warm up then?’ (Accompanied by a hulk impression) Trainer guy looked at me flatly and shook his head, ‘yup, a lady.’

18 May 2016: I had my mid morning banana snack this morning, chatting to the guys in the office about random stuff. When I had finished I wandered around the office to dispose of the remnants in the food bin, chatting with people all the time. I do like to chat. About 40 min later I visited the rest room and as I passed the mirror I noticed a 7cm piece of banana string stuff stuck in my hair, hanging at the side of my face!!! As I frantically removed the offensive appendage and checked for other unwanted fruity adornments, I wondered perplexedly – How on earth did THAT get there?! I didn’t recall brushing the banana through or near my hair?! I did remember picking some of those string things off the banana body though, so I must have casually wiped it into my coiffure. But mostly: Why did nobody tell me it was there?!?!? Horror! Did they really not notice? They are all blokes, but come on! THERE WAS BANANA STRING STUFF IN MY HAIR! For a long time!

24 May 2016: One of the blokes rushed into the office from the lab the other day and asked me, ‘Frances! Do you have nail polish with you?’
Ah, no. I carry many things, but not nail polish.
‘What about hair removal strips?’
Que? Ah, no. I think it’s safe to say that no woman carries hair removal strips for that emergency hair removal situation. And what exactly are you doing in the lab?…

25 May 2016: I was listening to Pink sing ‘F@*cking perfect’ this morning, brilliant song! Absolutely want EVERYONE to know that in their inner core! And then I walked passed a window and saw myself just as I was singing along to the end of the chorus ‘You’re @>€%* perfect to me!’ It was powerful. I told me that I’m not just barely acceptable, I’m absolutely perfect the way I am! And no one else’s opinion mattered for that one moment. I want to figure out how to live in more of those moments.dress

28 May 2016: All the squats are working! Party animal ready for town!!! Dress from Barcelona, jewelry from Paris, makeup from Sydney… It was an international effort.

 

22 June 2016: A day to remember – I made it into the healthy %fat range!!! Just under 34%.

Every gram counts.

I arrived home from the gym today to find this text on my phone from the gym: ‘Kære Frances Helen, du har en vejledning i morn (date and time given). Ta’ dit træningstøj på og mød op i receptionen. Vi ses.’

First point: I don’t have a new preferred first name. Danes like to use both of my given names. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because there are only about 20 approved given names for each sex here, and so people distinguish themselves by double-banging their first names, so there are lots of Poul-Eric’s, and Neils Christian’s, Helle-Kristine’s, Dorte-Marie’s etc, and so they apply it to me. There are also only a few family names, and they are usually first names with ‘sen’ tacked on, indicating ‘son of’ in case you couldn’t figure that out. I actually spent happy hours reading the phone book when I arrived because I could not believe that there were multiple Torben Torbensen’s, or Erik Eriksen’s, or Rasmus Rasmussen’s, or Jens Jensen’s, or Christian Christiansen’s… On a slightly different note, some Europeans have tried to call me Helen for some reason? No one has been able to explain why they would chose what is obviously my second name. The upshot of all this name culture is that I often have a double banger first name! Very posh.)

So I translated the text as: ‘you are getting weighed tomorrow. Get your training gear on and meet the trainer at reception, see you.’

Kære Frances Helen, du har en vejledning… I kept reading it and started hyperventilating. That really looked like ‘weighing’ to me, and, along with visiting the dentist and being in close proximity to a wasp, being weighed, by myself or someone else, is something that I dread! My personal trainer bloke wants to weigh me?!? No, it can’t be true. He knows how much I hate that machine. I know that our relationship is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, but does it have to end like this?

I remember the beginning like yesterday. A very traumatic yesterday. We talked about goals. He immediately assured me that weight loss was a simple process and we could easily achieve a massive weight loss (the wisdom of a fit young fella, he knows me better now and would be less blase about glibly stating such things). I assured him that I wanted to focus on getting fitter and stronger, how I’d tried for 4 decades to lose weight and never achieved any long term effect, so I was very reluctant to make any kind of decrease in the dreaded number a focus of our time together. I remember his face at that point, firmly set in an expression that spoke louder than words: ‘did she just say that? How can that be possible? It’s so simple…’ But to his credit, he did not question any of my statements, just kind of shrugged a ‘customer gets what customer wants’ shrug, and then he wanted to record a start point. And, that start point required stepping onto the dreaded machine. Oh the horror of anyone, let alone a bloke, knowing that most personal of numbers. I gingerly stepped on, and we waited for the stats. Horrific. My bottom lip trembled, and tears welled up in my eyes, equal loads of embarrassment and judgement. In my mind, every gram counts very loudly against my self worth and self esteem, and it’s soul destroying. Such an unpleasant and charged moment. But he didn’t notice and just took a photo of the print out that the machine spewed forth with his tablet. I breathed deeply. We talked about what some of the numbers meant. More deep breathing. I was just grateful that the dreaded tape measure was not produced as the next round of torment. Instead we talked about keeping a food diary for a few days so that he could see what he was dealing with. I confess that I filled it out, but I carefully didn’t send it to him, or ever bring it up again… It was an interesting exercise though, on the days that I recorded stuff, I was eating VERY healthy. There is something about being accountable and writing stuff down that brings the issue into clear focus. And finally we trotted off to learn some exercise techniques, my happy place!

Since then we haven’t been near that machine. 3 months of learning to enjoy exercise. Lots of challenges and lots of achievements. We have focused on getting me fitter and stonger, and it has worked! I can do stuff I have only dreamed about doing! Made massive progress in terms of stamina and strength. My back doesn’t hurt. My times on the rowing machine are improved. And my clothes fit better. In fact, I can fit into almost everything in my wardrobe. Everything, except my skinniest of pants, which I have never been able to get in to anyway. Why did I buy them? Because I was always going to shrink, so I would need them one day… Be honest, we all have those purchases, somewhere deep in our wardrobes… Why do I keep them? I torture myself with: maybe, one day, I will be able to fit them, maybe, one day, I’ll be small enough. I’m beginning to think that I should just put them at the op-shop and get new ones that fit.

The idea of getting weighed tomorrow has sent me into a complete spin. However, I’ve been to weight watchers on numerous and, it turns out, fanciful quests to shrink. There, you pay money to get weighed at every meeting. One learns a few tricks…

I have already packed my gym gear for tomorrow:

1. the shortest pair of lycra shorts I can find! Reasoning: lycra is light and ‘short’ means less material therefore trimming a few grams from the final number,

2. a rather obscenely small, stretchy, sleeveless top, again going for small amounts of light fabric. In summary, if he insists on weighing me, then I will assault his senses with my wardrobe choices. Nobody is getting out of there unscathed.

3. underwear will need to be a careful compromise between functional (I fear there will be upwards of 60 burpees tomorrow, one needs supportive structures to cope with that kind of extensive and explosive movement) and lightweight. Every gram counts.

Other considerations include:

4. water intake will be carefully allocated to the morning, with frequent visits to the toilet to squeeze every last drop out of the bladder during the afternoon. Although I have to be careful about the hydration, because the machine actually estimates your muscle mass on the electrical resistance that it senses, and this is affected by the amount of water in your body. If I don’t have enough water in me, then it will forecast that I am all fat and no muscle. So some water is necessary, but not too much. I’ve downloaded and read the instruction manual for the machine you see, and I know how it works, always be prepared. And my blood sugar level is sensitive, so I will need to eat at the usual points during the day… Let’s be real here: unless I take a very strong laxative right now, then my food intake is not going to affect the result too much, but I know people who have done things like that, just to get a shrunken number. It’s going to be tricky to prepare properly for the post-weighing training session without hydration and a bit of food directly beforehand, but we must focus on the goal… Every gram counts.

5. Face cream, hair products and other additives should be keep to a minimum. Every gram counts.

6. Shaving. No more need be said except that every gram counts.

7. Cut all nails.

8. I wonder if there is time to get a haircut?

9. If I am relaxed, then my body will eject unwanted negative energy and water, so I must spend the morning looking at pictures of kittens and chickens.

10. I need to go to sleep right now to get the prescribed 8 hours. I also should have turned away from all of my electronic devices about 2 hours ago, so that the light sensitive, sleep inducing hormone melatonin could permeate my body and help me sleep better. Dammit.

At this point, the crazy was losing its power and I began to question my translating skill so I threw the text into google translate. ‘Vejledning’ directly translated is: way wire, or a guidance/instruction/lesson, not a weighing. My trainer bloke had simply remembered to put my appointment into the system earlier than he usually does it, and the system had texted me to remind me to meet him.  Oh well, I know that ‘it’ will come in a few weeks, and I’m prepared for it! I wonder if fit young fellas have any idea of the ordeal that weighing is? The lesson is that it only matters to me in the end. And I am learning to give it less importance, but, for today, sadly, every gram still counts.

 

A couple of little stories…

10 April:

I ended the work week with a rubber band bombardement of my colleague – a pretty little spanish man who is very good at just about everything – EXCEPT PINGING RUBBER BANDS ACROSS THE ROOM!!! I had stockpiled my ammunition during the day from seruptitious forays to the plastics department display in the other building and I was ready! At 4:30 I yelled ‘beer oclock’ and started my assault. By 4:32 I had him cowering behind his desk when he pleaded for mercy, so I called a ceasefire to show him how to shoot a rubber band – BACKWARDS, INTO HIS FACE! HA! Ceasefire over amigo! One last barrage on my way out the door, (and a quick wave at the boss, who had watched everything from the other building) – hometime! The trouble is, he will practice now, and probably get good at it… I will need to be alert for ambush… On a less combative note: my evening’s entertainment is planned:

Frances Blaikie's photo.

7 May

I have a fish. He is called Cat, because I would rather have a cat. Yesterday, Cat made a heap of eggs. Two repersussions of this event: Cat is a she. And I think I will call her Chicken from now on. I like chickens.

17 July

So I had a lovely afternoon out with a gentleman friend recently, and he dropped me off at my place right on dinner time. I mentioned that I had been shopping and that I could whip us up something to eat! He immediately declined and declared that he had to go home and vacuum his house. I was stunned, actually lost for words. As a first thought: how attractive is a bloke who recognises that a space needs vacuuming and proceeds to do something about it! Better than cake!!! Virtually speaking, I had to pick my knickers up off the ground where they fell, I mean, Vacuuming!!! That deserves a Friday dance* with double thumbs up! But as he took off around the corner I thought, wait a minute, if I had the choice of free food or vacuuming, I’d happily live with inches of dust for weeks and line up for kai time! So, was that the biggest brush off of all time? Well, bloke, have fun with your vacuum cleaner, my knickers are now stapled securely to my singlet.

*Friday dance: feet hip width apart, legs slightly bent at the knees (I don’t know where else you would bend them, but just to be clear – knees); elbows at the waist with forearms and hands directed away from the body, in front of but slightly to the sides; Make movements like one of those dashboard Hawaiian dolls, with hips and arms not really coordinated; now for the piece de resistance – gesticulate with fingers, you choose how many, 1 or 2 is a natural choice, and pump you arms up and down in front of you in time to the music in your head, or as you sing at the top of your voice ‘IT’S FRIDAY, FRIDAY, FRIDAYYYYYYY!’ Great for stess relief. Depending on how much you value your job: it is generally advised that it should Not to be shared with the boss, or indeed directed at the boss if they are in the room, but that is, of course, your decision.

1 August

I have decided to buy flowers instead of chocolate on those days when I just need something to cheer me up. I found these yesterday and I think they are the most delicious shade a pink! I smile every time I see them.?Frances Blaikie's photo.

31 Aug:

Just back from 2.7 spinning classes! I couldn’t finish the scheduled 3, but ‘go me’ for getting that far! So, why on earth would anyone do such a thing? A challenge was put forth by my favourite spinning instructor – he’s going on holiday to Florida tomorrow, so he thought it would be a wonderful idea to do 3 hours of spinning as a send off, with a bunch of other crazies. I chose to accept the proposed challenge, and proceded to prepare with some carbo-loading – mmmmmm I like cake… When the day came however, he claimed he still had packing to do so he couldn’t join us for the last TWO classes. Hmpft. How much packing does one need to do for such a trip: visa card, passport, sunnies, G-string… packed! Well, that’s how I’d pack. ? Oh, and about 6 kg of sunscreen.

 

Walking Uncles dog…

I was staying with my uncle in Melbourne recently. He has a dog. Not a huge dog, and not a small dog, just a normal collie-sized dog. Dog requires walks quite often. On this particular day, Uncle was agitated because he needed to go and do radio announcer stuff, or talk english with someone who needed to practice english, (he’s a very community minded bloke is this uncle), but all of this community spirit was going to rob Dog of a morning walk. I sprang to the rescue and announced that I would take Dog for a walk! Have you ever taken a dog for a walk? Yes! of course! a couple of times I have been in charge of a dog on a lead. How hard can it be, I thought, you hold the lead and walk. I did need some instructions on poop collection, (uncle assured me that Dog had already had an early morning ablution stop and there should be no need for poop collection on this particular outing, but just in case he showed me the hand in the plastic shopping bag technique, where you insert hand into bag and proceed to extract the poop from the ground, kind of like mining, but on a smaller scale. He cautioned that one should always check for those pesky holes at the seams of the bags, because things can get messy otherwise – at which point he gave me a meaningful look over his glasses. I understood completely! and shuddered at the thought. Having been cautioned on the particulars of poop picking, and armed with a reasonably sized plastic bag, I was granted access to the leash, and Dog and I set off on the normal route.

Now, reader, I imagine that you think that you know what is about to befall and befoul this innocent dog walker, but you cannot imagine the enormity of the issue that was lurking in the bowels of that medium sized dog…

Dog and I walked serenely for about 100 m. Just far enough to get away from the anonymity of the big road and into the uncomfortable familiarity of uncle’s neighborhood. The day was a balmy 33 degreesC, and we were enjoying a pleasant stroll when Dog hesitated for a second too long and proceeded to ‘assume the position’. Horrors! With a final squeeze, the last of the steaming stool curled onto the grass and awaited removal. The aroma of the stuff! My eyes were watering, the gag reflex had kicked in, my bottom lip was trembling, why did I offer? Why did I do this to myself? Now I had to get the bag from Dog’s collar and extract that delicate morsel from the grass… Just do it Frances! no thinking, just doing! Get that bag on your hand! Check for good seams. Make a quick survey of heap size to make sure that you can collect the entire poop in one scoop just in case you have to make contingency plans for a second run… nope, think it will fit in one handful. Gag, gag, DO IT! Crouch down as far away from the bomb site as possible and reach in from the side, head half turned away, breathing through the side of your mouth and clenched teeth, just enough eye contact to make sure of poop contact. Contract hand in pincher movement, make sure to surround and collect as much as possible in one swift scooping motion, going back for seconds is going to be difficult. Do NOT rip the bag or force the seams! And now the great gob of excrement is cradled in the palm of my hand, Oh dear, the texture of the stuff! What has uncle been feeding this dog! No more thinking. I pull the sides of the bag over the squishy mass in my hand and quickly tie a knot with the rest of the bag! whew! We won Dog! Me and you against the poo, and we won! But what to do with the poo? Uncle had told me that, in the unlikely occasion of such an incident, one should attach the encapsulated brown nugget of stench to Dog’s collar. And that is what happened. After a few more deep breaths of fresh air to calm my rattled nerves and squirmy stomach, we saunter off down the street.

But we were not finished… No. I think Dog knew I was a newby at all this. His insides had been preparing for this for days! squirreling that stuff away into every nook and crany of his digestive tract. Three more times we had to stop, THREE! Now I only had ONE bag… but I got creative. There was no way that I was releasing that deliciousness from the secure bag to put more in, that was a step too far. But neither was I going to scamper off and leave those delightful trifles on the footpath. So for the next ones I had to hold the previously packaged poop or poops, which were slowly cooling and congealing inside the bag pocket, AND create a new poop pocket just above the previous knot with which to scoop. By the end of our walk I had 4 pockets of poop in that plastic bag! Dog had a necklace of poopy pearly plastic goodness! which he seemed to be completely unaware of. Thank goodness the seams held together, because the load was quite large, and I had run out of energy and willingness for creative problem solving at that stage.

So, we made it back to Uncle’s house. With Dog appropriately exercised and evacuated, I could wash my hands, and face, and have a bath, and change my clothes… Mental note to self: if there is a dog walking opportunity in the future, take a bag full of bags.