Tag Archives: diet

Physique Fail.

Hand-drawn Cartoon: An elderly lady stands in conversation with wild-hair Kate.  The old lady is pointing at Kate's stomach.  Kate is wearing a black dress and pearls.  The old lady's speech bubble contains a picture of a baby and a question mark.  Kate's speech bubble contains a picture of McDonald's fries and a full stop.  Caption reads: "Awkward..."

I have a problem.

Everybody thinks I’m pregnant.

I have started to keep a bitter tally of the well-meaning parish ladies, hapless school dads and soon-to-be-mortified kinder mums who have leaned in conspiratorially whilst casting affectionate glances at my belly and asked when the baby was due.  That’s my lunch you’re looking at, folks.

Food babies: I can’t seem to eat a meal without entering a phantom gestational stage.  If the meal were to contain wheat or onion or – God forbid – beans, it’s enough to send me well into my second trimester.  And my weakness for liquorice jubes doesn’t help matters.

You might remember my attempts at running.  I had great hopes that my weekly lolloping through the park might eventually result in a non-pregnant physique.  Running gave me lovely, slender arms and legs, all muscular and lithe, which only helped to accentuate my completely unaffected designer bump.

So I got this DVD – Pilates for Dummies – and I think I might be too dumb for it.  This impossibly cheerful American lady in a leotard contorts herself into myriad positions whilst reminding me to “pull my navel to my spine” and “maintain the ‘C’ shape”.  By the time I’ve convinced my body to bend into a lame counterfeit of leotard lady’s, the children are all out of bed and decide it’s “jump on Mummy” time.

Then I thought about Shape Wear.  Those magic underpants and skirts and things that try to compress your stomach and all your vital organs into a shape approximating that of a photoshopped model.  Last week, I went on a special date with my husband.  It took me twenty minutes to successfully climb into my brand-new Miracle Pants and another ten to stop bits of flab from poking out in strange places.

It was as we were dropping off the children at my parents’ (all dolled up in my LBD and expensive lipstick) that I ran into the school secretary from my old primary school.

“What lovely children you have!  And are you…?” she beamed, nodding at my midriff.

I shook my head apologetically.  Her eyes filled with panic, but her smile stayed valiantly in place.

“Well, what I mean to say is, you always look so lovely…”, she finished lamely and we quickly ran away from each other.

Now I’ve decided the problem is not me, it’s OTHER PEOPLE.  Surely there should be some rule: Don’t Ask a Woman if She Is Pregnant.  Simple, straightforward, easy to follow.  If a woman approaches you with a prominent bump, panting, and says “Please call me an ambulance – my contractions are two minutes apart!”, you should blink and say “but, whatever for?”

People are stupid and they have no social skills.  This righteous anger has carried me all through the week.  Yesterday, I was chatting to one of the kinder mums about school holidays.  “Having both of them at home full-time is too much for me,” she said, “I don’t know how I’m going to cope when the next one comes”

“Oh, I didn’t realize,” I say, frowning at her stomach, “are you expecting?”

Her face fell.  “When the next school holiday comes,” she said in a small voice, “because, um, it’s longer…”

I felt horror-struck.  There was nothing I could do.  I knew from experience that any backpedalling I might attempt would only make things worse.  I could already see that she had retreated inside herself, and that her head was helpfully playing a reel of Stars Who Lost Their Baby Fat Whilst Still in the Delivery Ward and Thigh Gap and Disney Princesses Whose Waists are as Narrow as their Necks.

The pause that followed was very pregnant.  I had become my own worst nightmare.  I reached into my pocket.

“Erm … would you like a liquorice jube?”

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Fun Run Fail.

T Shirt

So, it all began a few months ago when I realised I suddenly somehow weighed more than my husband.  All of Mr Knightley’s quiet and persistent bike rides to work and lunchtime swims were paying off.  I was now the heavier spouse, by a full 1.4 kilos.   This would not do.

So I figured out a plan.  I would download the Couch to 5k app and follow the baby-steps program until I could run 5 kilometres without lapsing into a coma.  At the same time I would sign up for a fun run to encourage me to stick with the program.  I would become Fit Woman.  I would post images of my fit and muscular self online with the caption “I lost all my baby weight in just two years!” and everyone would hate me.  It was the beginning of a new day.

At six in the morning, three mornings a week, I would toddle out of the door in my two sports bras (necessary) and my running clothes and listen as Johnny Dead, the friendly zombie trainer in my ear phones, told me when to walk and when to run.  I would like to say I bounced out of bed and ran with joy through the park whilst meditating on the wonder of nature, but I did not.  The whole time I had to run, I was thinking “I hate this.  I hate this SO MUCH.”  But I figured it was like medicine.  I just had to take it.  I didn’t have to like it.

I signed up for a 5k fun run that sounded like my sort of thing.  You wear white and run along and get pelted with different coloured cornflour so by the end you look like an extra from Doctor Who – Day of the Rainbow.  And then there’s this wonderful festival at the end where everyone dances and throws colour simultaneously in beautiful clouds “like nothing you’ve ever seen before”.  It was going to be awesome.

The weeks rolled by and I stuck with the program (hate it).  After a bit, I also went on that stupid no sugar diet for a whole month (after which I went to a doctor who said “don’t be an idiot: you should be on low FODMAP instead”).  How much did the weight fall off when I was running five kilometres three mornings a week and eating no sugar or carbs or – you know – food?  NOT AT ALL.  Not one kilo.  I’m not one to obsess over body image (most times of the month) and I went on the diet to fix up some health issues, not to get skinny, but I kinda hoped that weighing less than my husband might be a happy side effect to all that salad with no dressing.  Sigh.

I moaned about this disaster to my husband.  “You probably need to do more anaerobic exercise.” he said, matter of factly.  “Your body’s hanging on to all its fat because it thinks there’s a famine.”  Very interesting.  Very informative.  What Mr Knightley did not realise was that the correct response was “Oh, my beautiful darling wife.  You are the perfect shape and quite lovely to behold.  And, what is more, I would love you at any size.  Please, do eat some chocolate.” When I sulkily pointed this out, however, he promptly repeated the required response verbatim, and, whilst I declined the chocolate (sugar), I did feel a little better.

I don’t think I was breaking any speed records while I was on my morning training runs.  At one point, as I was shuffling along the path, a lady managed to overtake me WHILE SHE WAS WALKING.  But I would always do a big sprint for the final stretch.  I would imagine myself near the finish line, loping along like a gazelle, so gracefully that you didn’t even realise how incredibly fast I was moving.  My friends and family would watch on, mouths agape:
“Is that Cathy Freeman?  No – it’s Kate!”
“Kate?  But she is not sporty!  She is not athletic!”
“That’s what I thought.  But LOOK”

And all the kids I went to school with would be there – remarkably all still school-aged.  And oh, they would stare and they would call out:

“We were wrong not to pick you for our team, Kate!”
“We were wrong not to pass you the ball!”
“Go, Kate, GO!”

And I would burst triumphantly through the finish line and everyone would cheer.  All of my former PE teachers would rush in and hoist my slender frame onto their shoulders.  And not one of them would look disappointed or exasperated.  And off we would go to a little card table set up with little ribbons on it.  And I wouldn’t get a white “Merit” ribbon, or a brown “Participation” ribbon or a pink one that said “I Ran in a Race”.  I would get a blue one, on a little gold safety pin.  And it would say “First”.

Finally the big day arrived.  After negotiating hordes of people and jams of traffic, I stood with my sister Cindy in the “Start Zone”, stretching my limbs ostentatiously and bouncing from foot to foot.  A couple of my friends were in the race too, but they were taking their kids in pushers.  I informed them self-importantly that we would quickly become separated as I would be moving too fast.

After what seemed like an eternity, we shuffled through the “Start Zone” arch.  I thought it was the starting line, but it wasn’t.  I tugged self-consciously at my regulation white t-shirt.  I had ordered it months ago, thinking by the time I got to the race, I would be a ‘medium’.  I was wrong.

An hour later, we made it to the real start line.  Cindy and I rubbed our hands together and tried to muster up some of our original enthusiasm.   There were so many people it was hard to really run, but we jogged rather slowly, and I tried hard to look impatient, like a Serious and Important Runner.

We spent a lot of the race stopping and starting and trying to run around people who were, for some reason, walking in the opposite direction.  The track was often too narrow for anyone to more fast and when we got to a ‘colour’ section, everyone seemed to stop and queue up to get colour thrown on them.  I never really fell into a rhythm.  But it was still fun to be out running with my sister.

When the finish line came into view, I turned to Cindy excitedly, “Let’s run really fast to the finish line!” I exclaimed.  So, we darted off, nimbly avoiding the thick crowd of people who were walking slowly (and failing to keep left – ahem!).  I could feel my legs gearing up for a triumphant sprint.  The finish line was approaching, my speed was increasing … and then I had to stop short.  There was a bunch of people ahead of me taking a group photo.  Hm.  I scooted around them and started up again. And stopped again.  And again.  It would seem that everywhere I turned, people were stopping to take selfies and tweet their friends.  This was a moment, it would seem, so precious that it could not wait until AFTER THEY CROSSED THE FINISH LINE.  In the end, I performed a half-hearted waddle through the victory arch and stalked off to find my family.

Mr Knightley and my brother Greg (back from Japan!) were sitting with the kids at the side of the track looking weary and bored.  When they saw Cindy and me, however, they summoned up encouraging grins and cheered and took photos.  Cindy had to rush off to catch her train (the run had taken a lot longer than any of us had anticipated), but I was grimly determined to make it to the special rainbow end-of-race festival.  It was supposed to be magical.

We moved with the crowd at glacial speed to collect our colour packets and proceed to the party zone.  There was a sound stage with music playing and a small crowd of people dancing so enthusiastically I suspect they might have been paid to be there.  People around us were having little colour fights, but there were no amazing rainbow clouds, nothing that looked enchanting, like the inside of a dream.

I looked across at Mr Knightley.  He was Over It.  It was past lunchtime and we’d left so early that he’d hardly had any breakfast.  There were crowds of people everywhere and none of them seemed to know how to behave rationally.  I could see it in his eyes.  He just wanted to find a nice dark room and curl up into a ball for a few hours.  The relief that flooded his face when I suggested we go home confirmed this hypothesis.

I opened my colour packet up and had a brief powder party with Matilda.  I deliberately accidentally spilt half of it on the ground.  I’m the one who has to wash these clothes, you know.  Then we began the long trek to our car.

After we’d battled traffic chaos and dropped Greg off at his car (the closest he could find a  parking space was several suburbs away), Mr Knightley turned to me apologetically.  “If I don’t eat something soon I’m gonna go nuts.”, he said.

Which is how we found ourselves inside the nearest fast food restaurant stuffing our faces with Red Rooster Tropical Packs.  This is pathetic I thought glumly I hardly ran at all and now I’m eating bad food.  I’m never going to weigh less than my husband. 

Then inspiration struck:

“My darling love,” I cajoled, “you really, really must eat some more chips!”

The Icing on the Cake

Rainbow Cake

I should probably warn you in advance: I suspect this post is going to be a bit boring.  My aim has always been to create a blog that makes you feel like you’re sitting at my kitchen table having a chat.  Well, today I think it might be me droning on a bit and you might need to alternate between nodding politely and staring wistfully out my virtual kitchen window.

The thing is, I’ve given up sugar.

I’m not usually a candidate for the latest fad diet.  I like to eat food and most of the time, I’m happy enough with how Iook, bingo wings and all.  But I’m sick of feeling sick, and I think this might be the solution.

For at least a year now, it seems I couldn’t eat anything without blowing up like a balloon (stop casting knowing looks at my belly: I’m NOT PREGNANT) and yearning to snuggle down for a nice, long nanna-nap.  I thought I might have Coeliac disease, like my mum, but the test came up negative.  I gave up gluten anyway and it seemed to help, but the problem didn’t completely go away.

I’ve always had a bit of a mania for sweet things (remember this and this?) and sugary foods seemed to give me a reaction as well (though I was very reluctant to admit it).

It was my mum who worked it out.  “I was thinking,” she said to me one Monday afternoon, “you might have”, she lowered her voice, “thrush.”

The temperature of my face rose by several degrees. “Uh, nope, Mum, all fine in that department, thanks!”

“No, I mean, in your intestines.”

“Is that a thing?” I whispered.  I’m not sure why we were whispering in my kitchen, but it seemed right at the time.

It turns out it is a thing.  In the garden of my small intestine, the yeast plant used to live in harmony with all the other germ flowers.  But now it’s all overgrown and causing all manner of troubles.  Symptoms include bloating, tiredness, sugar mania, brain fog and … sorry … um … what were we saying?

One of the ways to control this monster is by cutting off its food supply.  This means no sugar (or grains or lactose).  A second is to dose up on natural yoghurt and probiotics.  And finally, I needed to attack the yeast with some anti-fungal pills from the chemist and natural remedies like garlic.

I got really keen on the whole diet idea.  I wrote a long shopping list and filled my trolley with nuts and salad and hommus and plain corn chips and salmon and steak.  Every time I cooked a meal for myself I felt compelled to photograph it.  Look:

Omelette

Mmmmm….

Pumpkin Soup and Salad

Ohhhhh…

healthy snack

Aahhhh…

Steak and salad

Yummm…

So you can see I had plenty of good food to eat and no need to go hungry.  Things were going pretty well on Day 1 of the diet.  I spent the whole morning feeling all virtuous and smug.  I am now Healthy Woman.  I will battle this gut thrush with everything I’ve got!  Natural yoghurt?  Yes please!

But then it was 3:30pm.  I wanted something sweet.  It was feeding time for the Yeast Beast and the Yeast Beast wasn’t happy.  I had the sugar shakes.  I started pacing around, fantasising about drinking maple syrup and eating sugar by the spoonful.  This wasn’t just a change in diet.  This was going cold turkey on a strong chemical addiction.  I went to bed early that night to escape the withdrawal symptoms.

The second day was not much better.  On the third day I thought I’d try a home remedy.  Garlic was supposed to be good at attacking yeast and raw garlic even better.  So I chopped up two whole cloves, stirred them in some natural yoghurt and tipped it on my salad for lunch.  It burned my mouth when I ate it, but I continued with grim determination: take that, gut thrush!

Garlic was my constant companion for the rest of that day.  I could taste it in my mouth, I could smell it, I could feel it coming out my pores.  It was so intense.  I was a walking garlic cloud.  All I could think about was garlic.  It was a nice change from fixating on sugar all the time.

I’m a week into it now and while I’m feeling a lot healthier and more energetic (and thirsty when I need to drink, and sleepy when I’m tired), it’s still a struggle.  I realise now just how much sugar I used to eat, from the hidden sugars in sauces and processed foods, to all the little bits of sweet food I would eat throughout the day, like an alcoholic taking nips from her hip flask.

Today is Halloween, and more than any other year I am cursing the American holiday that is growing in popularity over here.  Everywhere I go I see decorations of sweets and lollypops.  I’m scared I’m going to relapse and go demand lollies from my neighbours dressed as a half-crazed sugar junkie.  “Trick or treat, damn you! TRICKORTREEEEEAT!!”

I think I need to go munch some garlic…

Soul Diet

So I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about food.  It seems everyone is on a special diet to help them feel better.  So we go gluten free, low FODMAP, cut out milk, limit caffeine, cut out processed food, go organic free range, eat brown-not-white, and avoid flavour enhancer 621 (it makes me hyper).

I suppose it’s all about looking at what we put into our bodies and how it affects our wellbeing.  As far as conversations go, it can be a deathly boring subject, but it got me thinking – what kind of diet is my soul on?  What do I watch and read and do that is healthy for my soul?  What do I watch and read and do that is toxic?

pizza

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Catholic.  One of the – I don’t know – “membership requirements”? – that we have is that we go to Mass once a week on a Sunday unless we’re really sick or something.  Please wait a minute whilst I shudder inwardly at the abysmal grammatical mess I just created.  I don’t even know where to begin fixing that sentence.  Please forgive me.

Maybe a new paragraph will help.  A lot of people I know take issue with this obligation and think my church is a cranky parent who likes to make rules and boss people around, as if the church itself is somehow separate from the people that form it.  These people say things like “it doesn’t really matter if you go to church or not, so long as you are a good person” (because it’s one or the other – take your pick) and “you don’t have to go every week – it’s too hard.  Just go when you can – God will understand” (because parties, sport and wandering around Bunnings should always take priority over your spiritual health).

The thing is, Sunday Mass is supposed to be the minimum I do to look after myself and my community spiritually, and if I commit to it regularly, it becomes a part of who I am.  It makes me think of something my friend did the other week.

I had some friends over at my house to watch the Grand Final / gossip and eat food whilst the Grand Final was playing.  My friend, whom I will call Lydia, turned up with bags and bags of fruit (and a cask of delicious vodka cranberry, which counts as a fruit), which she then proceeded to transform into healthy fruit platters.  As we munched strawberry and pineapple and felt very virtuous (and drank vodka cranberry and felt rather tipsy), we praised Lydia and her healthy generosity.   It was at this point that Lydia made a sheepish confession: she had eaten KFC for lunch and the fruit was part of a rueful attempt to get back on track.

I feed my soul a lot of junk food.  Every day I feel like I battle an onslaught of Buy-Now-Pay-Later, Post-Baby-Bikini-Body, Give-Your-Little-Precious-a-Head-Start-in-Advanced-Calculus, Kim Kardashian, First-World-Problem-Facebook-Rant, What-Does-Your-Loo-Say-About-You, Miley Cyrus, She-Bought-a-Jeep, Seven-Signs-of-Ageing, What’s-Hot-and-What’s-Not, Who-Wore-it-Best, Adultery-Dot-Com.

One hour a week feeding my soul fruit in the form of Sunday Mass doesn’t seem like a big ask.  I need to be challenged on the way I treat those around me.  I need to be reminded that what I buy really isn’t that important, it’s who I am that counts.  I need to love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and love my neighbour as I love myself and all that.  And it’s the minimum, it really is.  And sometimes I only do the minimum.  Far too often I turn up at Mass only to realise that the last time I spent in prayer was a week ago in Mass, whilst holding a wriggling baby and saying “Shush”.  I need more wholefoods in my spiritual diet.  And I need to cut down on the junk.

fruit

So what does this mean?  Here are some things I need to work on:

  • I’m cutting out the sort of radio where the announcers make a career out of being cruel and then cut to a song extolling the virtues of anonymous sex before half-an-hour of blaring ads.  Light FM might be a little daggy, but it’s got my vote.
  • I’m not ready to cut out TV completely, but I want to cut right back – especially the sort where I’m just staring at the screen for the sake of it, to ‘relax’.
  • If I were to spend as much time catching up with those friends who give me joy as I do fiddling about on social media, I would be a much happier person.
  • I need to stop reading the sort of magazines that teach me to hate my body and feel depressed and wrinkled and fat.
  • I need to spend more time with God in prayer.

I had a plan for that last point this morning.  I set the alarm for six o’clock and snuck downstairs for some quiet prayer time and maybe a sneaky bit of blog time as well before the rest of the family got up.  I started digging around in search of the nifty devotional I’d recently purchased when I heard the distinct clomp-clomp-clomp of a small person making his way down the stairs.  There stood Harry, tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, wearing only his night-nappy (he’d thrown a tantrum the night before and refused all pyjamas that didn’t have Batman on them.  His Batman pyjamas were in the washing machine.).

“I want a cuddle, Mum.”

I tried to patiently explain to Harry that it was “still night time” and that he could “go back to bed had have a bit more sleep”.  Harry shook his head.

“I just want a cuddle, Mum.” and settled himself on the couch.  I sighed and continued my search for the devotional.  Harry giggled, “I’m right here, Mummy!”. He thought I was looking for him.

And so I made my prayer whilst holding my three-year-old third child, feeling his small heart beat in his narrow chest and smelling his golden hair.  I gave thanks for him and his healthy, sturdy little body.  In a few short years, he won’t want to be held like this.  Last night I was short-tempered with him.  He kept climbing on me in a bid to win my attention.  I’d had enough of being a Mummy for the day and I just wanted five minutes with NOBODY TOUCHING ME.   So I prayed that God’s grace might enter my life, that His light might shine through all the cracks of my shortcomings and imperfections.  Most of all I prayed that I might remember to pray when I needed to most.  It was beautiful and profound, it really was.

Then Harry dirtied his nappy and woke his baby sister and poured cornflakes all over the floor.

But I picked up the broom with a serene smile (after changing two nappies and fixing two breakfasts).  I felt peaceful and recharged.

It’s amazing what a healthy diet can do for you.