Feb 3, 2013

Mass Effect

Let's talk about mass. Because quite frankly, it's weighing on me.

It's been years, if at all, since I publicly griped about my size on this site. One, because it's generally boring. Two, because I've never really been, for want of a more PC phrase "fat enough". And three, because I've never wanted to make slimming pledges I knew in my heart of hearts I probably couldn't keep.

But I feel I need to write about it now, because it's become an issue that I no longer feel I have any control over. I need to take some control back, and perhaps clearly elucidating my thoughts can be a small step in that direction.

I have reached - for me, it is important to note - the "fat enough" stage.

I can't even bear to tell you what my mass is. I can't bear it. I'm ashamed, and embarrassed.

But I will tell you these facts.

I am 20 kilograms over my "ideal" mass.

I am 15 kilograms over my "goal" mass.

And I am 10 kilograms over my "that's really the upper limit" mass.

Much of this mass gain has been in the past 7 months, after I badly injured my left ankle the start of July, then spent the rest of winter hibernating in a den of carbohydrates.

It was only in September that I got the diagnosis of a torn tibia-fibular ligament, and with travel and starting a new job, then Christmas, now floods, I've yet to get the physio I really need for it.

But that doesn't really matter anymore. The ankle is well enough to move. I just haven't been moving it.

And so I'm comfortable writing here now because I realise this isn't about me, as good-opinion-seeking Natalie, wanting to hear platitudes of "You're not fat".

I'm writing because I am carrying too much mass on my frame. Yes, I'm tall, and I'm still in relative proportion, and they are the only reasons it doesn't "show" as much. What you don't see is the pain in my knees and ankles, which surely would be helped by having to haul less mass around. You don't see the increasing tightness of my bras, as my bust inflates. You don't feel the weight of excess flesh on your thighs, feeling like you're wearing sacks of flour strapped just above the knee.

Exercise - I've got to get back into it. I bought a FitBit late last year and have been wearing it religiously to monitor my steps every day. My target is the baseline 10,000 steps a day, but often I fall short, around the 8000 mark. But if I keep at it, and finally get into a daily walking routine, I might start seeing... I don't know. Something. Anything.

Diet-wise - I don't know what I'm going to do. I have all the knowledge for a healthy diet - lots of vegetables, lean protein, small amounts of carbs and sugar. And yet, I get bored cooking. I don't know how to make enough exciting healthy dishes. I don't have time, for God's sake.

My biggest problem has been junk food. I'm constantly snacking, constantly looking for something to put in my mouth. It's must be the same motor memory as smokers. I'd say I self-medicate with food, but that wouldn't be altogether true - mostly I'm just eating things because I can't stop eating things.

However, in July 2012 I made a promise to myself to cut out McDonald's and KFC for a month. I had the habit of dropping in and grabbing things off their $2 menus. It was a bad habit, so I stopped. For a month. I did it. I did have KFC later in 2012, but have stopped again as of January 1. And apart from the odd ice-cream or drink, I have not had any McDonald's food since July.

Good habits can be formed.

So I'm going to try something this month that could be tangentially beneficial.

I've placed a self-imposed ban on buying any new clothing, footwear or make-up.

This might not seem like much to those of you averse to shopping, but wandering through the Queen Street Mall is one of my key ways of relaxing.

This is not financially disruptive - I never buy ridiculously expensive stuff, and almost always buy on sale - but it is a way of hiding my increasing mass. "Nobody need know the size", I think, or "This brand always runs small", as I reach for a looser garment.

Well, bollocks to that. Time to face facts. I've got a shitload of clothes. I recently gave five bags of no-longer-worn gear to a charity shop, and I've still got a wardrobe full.

I'm going to try to wear all them across the month of February. That's 28 days of outfits. Once an outfit has been worn, it can't be repeated. I *may* have to reuse some bottoms as I don't have as many skirts and pants as I do tops, but I'm going to limit it to twice for each garment.

I'm pretty sure this is going to be as hellish as all get-out, and require a fair bit more planning than I probably realise. But I'm going to give it a go.

If nothing else, it should confirm to me exactly what doesn't fit/what I don't like wearing anymore, and I can reduce my wardrobe down even further. Then, come March, I can re-examine what it is I actually want to wear, and what I need to do diet/exercise wise to make it happen without the heartache.

I started on Friday 1 February with this Maiocchi cherry dress:

It's a lovely frock, but already getting tight across the bust. And while I was wearing it, the cherry pin at the front of the belt just popped off as I was walking. Just popped off! That's not a good sign.

Then on Saturday night I dressed down to attend Cliff Richard in concert:

It's nothing fancy, because I had the realisation that I probably shouldn't burn the nice stuff too early. On the plus side, this outfit plus accompanying multi-coloured Converse sneakers meant I got asked for ID at the casino as my Mum and I went in to have pre-Cliff dinner. Why yes, I could be under 18, thank you for asking.

Every few days I'll post more photographs - mostly so I can keep track of what I've worn.


  1. Good luck,

    really engaging article, given how many posts there are out their on weight/mass stories but I was interested in reading yours.

    Almost enough to forgive you for sucking me in with a title that made me think it was going to be about the game.


  2. Swim and eat regular high protein, low ish carb meals. Breaky and lunch should be your large meals while dinner should only me small. My husband has being doing this and using Rapidloss, he's lost 20kg in 2.5 months, and as his physical therapist wife I'm very pleased with the results :) have a go and keep at it, but, you're gorgeous regardless :)

  3. Hi guys,

    Thanks for your comments so early on!

    Apologies for the title, Barnes, but I made a conscious effort to talk about my mass, rather than my weight. Weight is such a loaded term, and I don't want it to engender particular feelings in other people. The fact is, I have too much mass. Making it a problem of physics rather than a socially unacceptable size issue might make it easier for me to do something about. Particularly since The Wah is a physicist. :)

    Hi Anonymous - that's good advice, thank you. What is Rapidloss though? I've never heard of it. Also - are you a physio in Brisbane? I'd love to find a good one. :)

    1. Hi GC, no I'm not a Physio, I'm a human and equine Bowen therapist. I can however recommend Kerrith Matyear at Pine Rivers Physio & Sportscare. :)

  4. This is not a plug for anyone in particular but,,, if you want good, quick, flavoursome, low cal meals, have a look at Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals
    The Ancient Man

  5. Jamie Oliver's website has some great recipes too if you want to dip your toe in the water.

  6. Congrats, Nat. Great post. It's a bit of taboo, but mass has been something that's been a big deal in my life. I've lost about 18kgs - I had the same wake up call that you had some years ago. I got onto weight watchers and started dancing and never looked back. Sounds easier that it is - it's hard work, but completely worth it to have a body that feels strong and agile and I feel like it'll last the ages. And to be honest, it's quite fun. The first week is the hardest then it's all excitement from there when you see how easily your body responds to good food and movement - sort of like it's programmed to do that.

    So now, I'm a walking ad for weight watchers. I hate cooking like my treats (including chocolate, carbs, fast food and a couple of drinkies) so it really works for me. And the dance speaks for itself.

    Good luck hun. You've also made me reflect on the ridiculous amount of clothes in my wardrobe - which is to-die-for but I still keep buying stuff. I'm thinking of having my very own 28 day challenge.

    Inspiring stuff. Good luck!

    rachael j

    by the way, you look gorgeous in the Maiocchi cherry dress. I've been coveting that for a while

  7. I had good luck with The CSIRO Diet, which comes in the form of a book with all the maths you need to work out your correct kilocalorie intake and a tolerably decent cookbook to go with it. Some of the recipes are bad, but several are good enough that they're part of my standard repertoire of yummy things to cook even when I'm not dieting.

    The key for me was to get used to how it feels like to be surfing 1000-3000 kilocalories per day under what you need to maintain your weight and to keep reminding myself that if I felt hungry I was winning and being awesome.

    Another thing I discovered is that I'm just not able to stick to a diet when I'm under a lot of unrelated stress. Willpower is a finite resource and sometimes you need to save it for something besides not eating. You can always get back on the horse later.

  8. On my weekly weigh in this morning I was 87.9kg which is too much but better than it has been for months and the trend is in the right direction.

    My diet is crap and I don't really exercise.

    So far today I have had coffee but junk food coming real soon now.

  9. Check out the MyFitnessPal app. Easy to track calories and exercise and gives you a target. Also tells you exactly what that KFC Tower burger cost you.


  10. Hi Natalie,
    My man has been reading your Blog over several years, with a regular "you must read this, Natalie's so clever/bright/funny/naughty/insightful" he passes the best on to me to read. Mass Effect stopped me in my tracks! What is happening here, don’t punish yourself with a no new clothes policy and delay the real task “reducing body fat” with the distraction of reducing the wardrobe. THANK GOODNESS FOR PAIN, the body’s only way of getting your undivided attention.
    Everybody knows the answer to weight loss, all together now 1...2...3... EAT LESS, EXERCISE MORE. But if it is so easy to achieve, we wouldn’t have a multimillion dollar weight loss industry. Yet all the clues and answers to your dilemma are in your blog, re-read it and remember “If beating yourself up was a good way to change behaviour, you would be perfect by now. That’s a very ineffective way to change anything First step: STOP EVERYTHING. Sit down and prioritise. 1. REPAIR THAT INJURY: any physio is better than no physio at all, we have one of the best in Brisbane, but you must be prepared to DO the work to aid recovery. 2. Set out a GOAL PLANNING SHEET for weight reduction, “not weight loss” no one likes to lose anything! Make sure your goal is SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible. 3. Lay out a WEEKLY PLANNER to help manage your time, enter your job, all commitments: social, family, time for research, Blogging, eat, sleep etc. 4. Keep the wardrobe plan going but turn it into a positive action, a quick 1 hour try on- takeoff, will tell you what fits and what doesn’t. Move the TSRN (too small right now) items to the far end of wardrobe, these are your rewards, as you drop the weight you move 1 item up from there to replace 1 item that is now too big and which has moved to the Op shop bag, slowly each week you gain a reward and reduce quantity, without spending any money. Keep the pictures coming; your male fan club love to see you do dress ups. Do an outfit of the week and ask for positive input only.
    Hope this helps,
    The Coach.

  11. Hey guys - thanks again for your comments.

    I'll have to have a look at Jamie Oliver's stuff, although I'm wary it will take a lot longer than 15 minutes to cook. :)

    Rachael - if that's the Rachael I think it is, I can't imagine you 18kg heavier! That is inspirational. I did try Weight Watchers some years ago in preparation for a play. Lost about 4/5 kgs, but put it on once I stopped. :(

    Naut - I actually have My Fitness Pal on my phone, but unused for months. Got to get back into it.

    The Coach - thanks so much for your kind words. I hope you enjoy reading here too, thank your husband as well. :) You've delivered some good advice - I'm going to proceed with the wardrobe challenge, although I take your point about it being a distraction! I will try to follow your advice on the physio and eating too. :)