Friday, 23 March 2012

I accidently lost my running group and achieved a personal best

I was having a terrible day on Wednesday.  I felt mentally and physically exhausted and was having thoughts of I want to give up.  However I'd made a committment to join the Sydney Northern Beaches group for our Hump Day run at 6pm that night, and I am a woman of my word.

Looking from Queenscliff SLSC at bottom of picture
to Manly and North Head Reserve in the distance
So I turned up at Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) thinking "I'll just walk this one in and a tick a box".  As we were waiting for everyone to arrive, I'd only half listened to the discussion on where we were running and then once someone said "let's run", I took off and was with the first 3 runners. 

As we got near Manly Beach, I had to stop for a pee.  I told Jenny, who I was running with, "you go ahead and I'll catch up".

I came out of the bathroom, ran to the Manly SLSC and up the stairs behind the club, thinking I was following them.  But as I came around the corner, I couldn't see anyone and I thought "oh they must have decided to run up Darley Rd (the hill behind Manly Beach) after all", so that's where I went. 

I thought I saw a familiar running shirt in the distance, so I kept running up the hill trying to catch them. I didn't stop - past St Patricks College, Manly Hospital and through the gates of North Head.  At the School of Artillery (where they film the Biggest Loser), the path ran out and that's when I realised I had got it so horribly wrong (or if I kept running, I would wind up in Sydney Harbour) that I turned around and ran all they way back to Manly SLSC.

And guess what I found?  My running group, doing stair runs.  It turns out they had only run around the corner to Shelly Beach and wondered where on earth I was.  So I did a stair run and by then it was time to turn around.  I did interval runs back to Queenscliff.

After just on an hour of running I'd done 658 cals, run a massive hill that I would never have believed I could run, and ran a personal best distance of over 9kms.

Sometimes its amazing what you can do when you don't have time to think about whether you can or you can't, you Just Flipping Do It and I felt fantastic.  My awful Wednesday turned out to be one of my best days yet.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Help! - "when I let go of who I am, I become what I might be'", but how?

This week I am the lightest weight I've been since I was 16.  I never thought I would get there and yet I've chipped away at it and its become a reality.

I'm now down to the last 10 kilos of a 43 kilo weight loss journey.  I can see the finish line.  But it just seems so far out of reach and I don't know mentally how to get there.
I have been trying to lose weight for soooooo long - for more than 30 years - I don't know anything else other than trying to reinvent myself and shed kilos.  I know with change that you don't wake up one day and things are different in your head; its a gradual process and I'm at that point that in order to reach the finish line I need to have a different dialogue in my head.

Experts say that I should visualise what I will look like.  To be honest, I can't.  I have no reference point for what I look like being thin because I never have been.  I don't know what life is like as a thin person because I've never been one.  My gut instinct is telling me that I need to visualise myself this way in order to get to my goal weight.  It's a struggle.

I have changed so many habits that I once had that I no longer recognise the person I once was.  She's gone. But the new me hasn't quite emerged.

I know I can sustain the changes I've made.  There is so much I am doing right that I am seriously worried I have reached the point of complacency about finishing that last part of what I started; that my thinking is 'near enough is good enough and 90% will do."  Is it laziness?  A fear or failure?  Or fearing that I don't have it in me to be perfect?

And yet I realise there are more habits I need to change.  I've gone from dumping weight, to tidying up my body and now I'm almost ready - but not quite - to start the fine tuning.  I feel like an organisation expert that's tackled a hoarder's house that you see on lifestyle TV.  So much junk has been thrown out, things are looking tidier and better, but its only now that we're almost at the point of starting the real glamour makeover.

I think back to times in my life when I've been successful in order to draw upon lessons that I can apply.  I remember after 4 years doing my Masters degree part time, my last subject felt like it was the hardest and the one I didn't want to finish.  I completed it, but by then getting that degree was no longer that important to me.  It was a matter of applying myself and having a daily battle with an inner dialogue of "I'm over it.  I'm battle weary.  I'm exhausted.  I just want to finish."  I hear that voice now and I don't know how to quieten it.

I am determined.  I have no more weight loss failures in me.  My thinking has to shift from 'losing weight' to creating a healthy, slim and fit me but I don't know how to make that shift.

I want to reach the point of being 'normal'.  I want to live life without a weight problem.  I want to be the best version of me.  But I need help to know how I run the last 2 miles of a battle-weary marathon race to my finishing line.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

We're working for CONTROL 99, not KAOS - 10 Tips and Tricks for Busy Lifestyles

I have worked in jobs where the hours are erratic, long or driven by events oustide your control and where overseas travel frequently interrupts 'normal' life.  I have, however, managed to lose weight while being pulled in a million different directions.  If the excuse "I'm so busy" is one that causes you to lose your motivation or give up 5 days out of 7, here's some tips and tricks that helped me Get Smart about sticking to my goals that might just work for you.


Up front, be totally honest with yourself and say "I am completely committed to reaching the goal I have set myself for this month." If you can't do that, don't bother trying to hold yourself to a standard you never intend to reach and then find at the end of each week you're saying to yourself "I missed it by that much"  All it does is set you up for failure and a conversation in which you beat yourself up.  No gunnas or woulda-coulda-shoulda conversations.  Just say, "I AM doing this."


For those who remember the TV show Get Smart, you'll know the inside joke about this one but for super busy people, you need to be organised.  If you work in a client-driven role or one where tight deadlines are a feature of life you need to get your exercise done in the morning.  Diarise it.  Really.  Diarise it.  When someone wants your time and you look in your diary, it will be there as an appointment that can't be moved.  Remember, most clients are flexible.  If the proposed time for a meeting clashes with your workout, go back with 3 possible time options that you can do.  You'll be seen as solution-oriented.

If you have a breakfast meeting, diarise your workout for lunchtime or the evening and GO.  Or get up earlier.   And go for the most convenient option.  If that means joining a gym 1 block away from your office, then that's the one to join, not the one that you are unlikely to get to.

Make sure you use time in your weekend to plan and shop for the week ahead.  Whether its cooking up a batch of meals you can freeze, having all the groceries you need for the week or diarising your workout - do it.

Planning also stops you from going through a whole week where you rollercoaster along out of control and then spend Friday night after drinks at the pub online with Calorieking trying frantically to remember what youv'e eaten, praying somehow you didn't blow more than 1200 (hopefully nutritious) calories on any given day and then finding you're scheduling in 6 hours of gym time on the weekend to make up for workouts you didn't do and lack of control over your food during the week.  If you think you're fooling anyone with that routine, the scales and your body will set you straight real quick.


There are times when working back late is simply unavoidable.  Typically your boss wants to lessen the burden of the team staying at work until midnight, so he / she orders pizza for the team.  My rule of thumb with office pizza is, each slice is another piece of fat on my ass and acknowledgement that I've lost a piece of time in my life for other things. I don't do pizza.

There are 2 tricks;

a) if you have a freezer and microwave at work, keep a frozen meal e.g. Penang Chicken, Mexican Cottage Pie (Lean Cuisine if you must) that you cooked on the weekend in the freezer at work or buy a salad at lunchtime you can keep in the fridge if it looks like you're going to be back late.  This way you have a healthy option on hand you can reheat or access while everyone is tucking into pizza.  I promise there will be people eyeing off your healthy option wishing they were eating that instead.

b) if you can call for pizza, you can call for healthy food too.  If you work in the CBD or a business area, chances are that local restaurants will do take out.  Grab a menu and have it on hand in the office.  Is there a local Japanese where you could order a bento box, Chinese where you can get a vegetable stir fry?  Try ordering that instead and be prepared to pay for something healthy if the boss won't.


Make your lunch at night before you go to bed and grab it in the morning to take with you.  This means you don't have to leave the office at 3pm searching for something to eat and finding all that is left is the last of greasy food or Maccas because the salad and sandwich shops have packed up for the day.

Keep snacks - fruit, muesli bars, rice cakes - at the office in an airtight container near your desk so that when you have a morning coffee, you are not tempted by the biscuit jar.  I can attest that the biscuit jar was one of my worst downfalls - ever!  I also think cleaning your teeth after lunch is another way to stop the afternoon munchies.

Eat your afternoon snack before you leave the office at night.  This will stop your car driving on autopilot through the fast food drive thru to pick up fries when you realise you've yet to cook dinner and you're starving. 


So you've left the office, you're on your way home and realise there's nothing in the house to eat.  You stop at the supermarket and suddenly aisle 4 is whispering chocolate to you and aisle 6 is screaming CHIPS!.  Remember this - shop the perimeter.  Supermarkets put all the fresh healthy food on the perimeter of the store and all the 'dead' food in the middle.  Stay on the perimeter and you can grab fruit and veg, meat, milk, bread and eggs - enough to whip up quick stir fry when you get home and have something healthy to get you out the door in the morning.


Client meetings or events that become lunches and dinners are unavoidable however most CBD restaurants have their menus online.  Check out what you are going to order before you get there. Order entrees only.  Go for something healthy. Avoid the breadbasket.    If its a set menu, eat only 1 course, or eat a third of an entree and a third of a main course, skip the dessert.

Don't underestimate that clients are sometimes very happy to have meetings during office hours.  Everyone values their time, use yours and your clients effectively.  Client lunches 5 days a week may not be necessary.  Look around at the men and women who are Sir Lunchalots - do they have the body you want?


I've worked in some seriously high stress jobs but often never felt stressed.  That's because I used to eat my stress;  biscuits, muffins, raisin toast in the morning, and lollies, chocolate, cake in the afternoon.  None of it filled me up, it only made me crave more.

Sometimes when I was in a job I hated, I'd get out of the office for 5 minutes and go for a walk or to eat lunch at 3pm and find myself eating garbage for something to do or to make myself feel strong enough to go back into a toxic work environment.  I should have addressed my work situation not medicated myself with food.  The trick was to listen to what was really going on in my head and deal with it, not avoid it, and to value myself enough that I was in control of my time, not at the mercy of pleasing everyone else.


I've worked closely with a number of CEOs, company chairpersons, and the like.  I can assure you, most of them have a pretty balanced life.  They have reached the top because most of them know how to delegate, how to prioritise, how to stay focussed on reaching their KPIs and goals that they have to present to a board each month.  Most consider their time very valuable, not only in a monetary sense, but in terms of how they spend it.  They are conscious of the fact that because they are constantly in demand, they have to control and set the framework for when they are and are not available, not say yes to everything and hope to god it works out.  They are expert at being visible within the organisation and being invisible.  They do go to the gym or go for a run.  They do switch off technology at certain times of the day.

For some of us it is a difficult but necessary lesson to learn (and it was a painful one for me) that the words 'doormat' are not tattooed on your forehead.  You have to learn when to say yes and no, when it is reasonable to do so, and understand that you don't have to explain your reasons.  It is enough to say "Sorry about that but I am not available that night, I have an existing committment I can't change."  or "That time is already taken but I do have these dates and times available."  If you tell people its to get to the gym or to have a life or to have time to cook dinner, they will make judgements about how to spend your time based on their values, not yours.  Don't feel the need to always explain yourself or be talked out of what is important to you.


I guarantee, the moment you look at your email, listen to your messages, or open your office door, the day can very easily get away from you.  I'll confess there are times at night where I'm alone in the office and loathe to shut down my computer because I have the vain hope that answering a couple more emails will somehow lessen the burden of my workload the next day.  Guess what?  It won't.  They will still be there along with a thousand other things. 
Use your time wisely.  Don't make work for others by, for example, sending 'cover-your-ass' emails and you'll notice others will start to reciprocate.  Use meeting times effectively.  Learn that you don't need to be first to know or at the centre of every bit of news, gossip and announcements.  Technology is designed to assist us, not drive our lives.

Stress and 24/7 lifestyles release cortisol into our bodies which makes it harder to lose weight (another lessen I learned the hard way).  Make sure you take time to do things you enjoy and have some quiet solitude and time for yourself.


Put a note on your bathroom mirror, or in front of your computer of positive statements about yourself or your committment and read it aloud each morning to keep it fresh in your mind.

At night have a journal beside your bed.  Each night, write a page of whatever is on your mind so that you can park your worries, clear your head, and leave behind the cares of the day.  Taking care of your mind is vital to taking care of your body.

Losing weight and being busy can be done but you have to be prepared to do the work.

I will write tips in another post on losing weight while travelling.  Are you busy?  Do you have any tips that work?  Please feel free to share them here.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Yes Pollyanna. There is something to be glad about.

My Dad used to say I was like Pollyanna (remember the movie with Hayley Mills?). I was always 'glad about everything.' 

That kind of optimism, or playing the 'glad game' of finding something to be glad about in every situation, has helped me in some very challenging situations throughout my life.

Last week however, I was struggling to play it.  I spent an entire week feeling mentally, physically and emotionally like I was wading through concrete.  I had NO energy on any front.  My responses to people and situations had me saying afterwards "for goodness' sakes Jacqueline, lighten up!"  I struggled with constantly being hungry and craving foods I normally would not and have learnt not to eat.  I ate a bag of lollies (haven't done that for 5 months).  I ate a malteser chocolate bunny and a blueberry muffin.  Despite Mish-style conversations with myself like "don't do it" and "no excuses" I did it anyway.

I missed a day of exercise because I felt like crap and I started to withdraw because I felt I had nothing positive to contribute and that I had stopped my journey while everyone else was charging full steam ahead to the finishing line. 

After a week of ruling out possibilities, I reasoned it had to be something physical.  Eventually I stumbled on to the fact I might need to increase my Vitamin B intake.  On Friday I did just that and have been feeling back on top of my game ever since.  What a difference.  By Friday night I felt so good I cranked out 678 calories at the gym in an I-am-smashing-it workout.

In the past after a week like that, I probably would have fallen off the wagon and got into a lengthy conversation with myself where words like 'failure' and 'hopeless' and 'impossible' and 'can't' would have featured heavily. 

But this time around, I focussed on positives.......

1. I have wonderful 12WBT friends that won't let me slip off into the darkness so easily.

2. Despite the snacking, I still managed to do 80 - 90% of what was expected of me. The odds for success are stacked in my favour. This was a setback, not a failure.

3. I am the closest to my goal weight that I have ever been in my life. I have made progress that has amazed me.

4. I am not the person I once was. I try new things: gym classes, running events, workouts, meeting new people etc.  I know I can be successful. 

The new me is really a return and opening up to the authentic me; the one who always used to play the glad game.
And so it is this week that I am reminded how much I have to be glad about.  I am so glad to have found the 12WBT and all the wonderful and beautiful crew and friends who share that journey to great health with me, and whose committment to being the best version of ourselves is as firm, sure, and cherised as my own.

Blogger Challenge #1 - Introduce Yourself

Thanks to Whirlsie (blog Nutritionally Yours) I am joining the blogging challenge for Round 1 2012.  I will still continue to write additional posts.  This weeks challenge is to introduce yourself.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes you, you?

I am a small business owner of a luxury travel goods company in my mid 40's living in Sydney's north.  Although I was born in Manly Beach in Sydney, my childhood was spent living here, there and everywhere as my father's job in the construction industry meant living in three different states in Australia as well as stints in Singapore and Indonesia. 

In adulthood, I continued to travel for work and pleasure but after a second stint as an expat which started in Saigon and ended in Singapore, I decided I needed to put down roots in one city.  Sydney has been my home ever since.  I have a close-knit extended family and I have two naughty beagles who love to chase rabbits on their morning walk.

Why did you decide to do the 12WBT?

After a lifetime of being overweight or obese, I have tried every diet that every existed.  Some with more success than others.  Some diets were doomed to fail and others, the failure was my fault.

I had been doing Weight Watchers for 2.5 years and lost around 17-20gg but it was incredibly slow and I hit a plateau for 18 months that I simply could not shift.  Given how many people have had success with WW, I kept blaming myself and persisting.  I finally decided there had to be a better way and kept searching and stumbled upon 12WBT after reading an article in the Women's Weekly.

What are you hoping to achieve through the program?

To be within my healthy weight range for the first time in my life
To be normal
To not have a weight problem
To not be the biggest person in the room. 
To fully participate in life rather

Why have you decided to blog about the 12WBT? What will be the main focus (eg, food, exercise, a bit of everything?)

Initially it was to be accountable and to find a place to work through issues by writing about them.  In the process I discovered that so much of what I have felt or experienced in my journey to weight loss resonates with others and that by sharing with gut-wrenching honesty the ups and downs of changing my life, I may be able to help other people be successful.

How will you be exercising this round? Gym, home, outdoors or a mixture?

I work out at North Shore gym - a combination of machines and classes.  On Sundays I join the Death at Dee Why group for an outdoor workout and when life events takes over, my fall back position is to do one of Mish's Crunchtime DVDs.

What is your greatest strength that will help you?

Resilience and laughing in the face of adversity and, sometimes, embarrassment.

What are you afraid of?


What are you looking forward to the most over the next 12 weeks?

Reaching a healthy BMI and hopefully, my goal weight within that range.

What is your downfall? Food? Exercise? How will you overcome this?

Snacking. Snacking.  Did I mention snacking?
I have got my own snacking sheet and worked out calories and portions.  I will also be tracking my snacks so that I stick to 1200 calories per day.

If you had to pick one word to motivate you over the next 12 weeks, what would you choose?


Friday, 24 February 2012

Snacking (or managing the thing that derails me most)

I have my inspirational 12WBT friend, Mary Crea (Splasharama), to thank for this post. 

I have always had a problem with snacking. I can have a beautifully measured out, stick-to-it-100% breakfast, lunch and dinner and then wave goodbye to all my hard work with uncontrolled snacking.

Last round Mary helped me enormously with her tips, advice and blog post on snacking.  This last week I have fallen off the rails for a number of reasons including snacking (which I'll write about in another post).   

In getting real with myself, I realise I can no longer pretend that my snacks are less than the amount of calories they actually are or less than the amount I actually eat. 

I don't eat the type of snacks I once did, I've tried new things thanks to Michelle's 12WBT and Mary's list of snacks and like Mary, not everything is completely Mish-approved.  My purpose in listing them below is to get a real grip on exactly what goes in my mouth, what portion I need to measure, and to plan snacks a whole lot better so that I stick to my 1200 calories per day.  Now that I've done this exercise, I feel more in control but also horrified by what I did before and the BS I told myself.

I highly recommend you do a list for yourself of things you actually eat.  The good, the bad, the ugly to get a real handle on what you are doing.  As a starting point, here's my list and Mary also has a great one on her blog at





Banana (medium)

Carrot (medium)
Apple (medium)

Celery stick
Orange (medium)

Strawberries - 250gm punnet


Blueberries – 150gm punnet

Sunrice Multigrain 5 thin rice cakes
Dates – Fresh 1x 10gm

Vita Weat Lunch SoyLin Slices 1

Ryvita Original 1 cracker
Muesli Bars & Biscuits


Uncle Toby’s Crunchy Choc Bars

Honey            2 teasp
Special K bars

Vegemite       1 teasp
Be Natural Trail Bars Berry

Marmalade    2 teasp
Sunrice Apple/Cinnamon Rice Cake

Hommous      1 tblsp


Bread 1 slice

Cottage Cheese lite - 1tblsp

Raisin toast regular slice tip top
Ricotta Cheese lite   - 25gm

9 Grain Multigrain
Butter                       - 2 teasp

Lawsons Grain Bread
Yoplait Forme Yoghurt - 1 tub

Mountain Bread
Skim Cappuccino 1 med 300ml

Lindt 70% chocolate 10gm piece

Popcorn Coolpak Sgl Pkt 20gm
Trail Mix Sanitarium ¼ cup

Almonds Raw 10 nuts

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A letter to a friend about self-worth, perfection and sabotage

In response to a post yesterday, I wrote this letter to a 12WBT friend whose name I have changed to simply 'friend' for obvious reasons.  I hope it helps you......

Dear, Beautiful, Friend,
I know what it is not to love yourself; to loathe yourself so much that you wonder how others could possibly like, let alone love you.

I know what it is to think your worth is a direct reflection of the way you look.

I know what it is to look in the mirror and think the situation is hopeless and to spiral downwards further every time you fail at weight loss or have a temporary setback.

I’ve heard that negative dialogue in my head a thousand times that is so strong, it takes you straight to a point of sabotage so that no one needs to do it for you; you do it all by yourself.

Friend - the moments when I feel that way these days are minimal. I found myself some years ago feeling so utterly exhausted from hating myself that I had no energy for anything. I reached the point where I said to myself that hating myself hasn’t worked, so I may as well try thinking I’m OK.

Losing weight, changing your life, does not have to be about perfection or being the most inspirational weight loss success story for everyone else. All it requires you to do is do your best every day and be true to yourself; to make good choices more often than bad choices; to go out of your comfort zone to help you get to a better place.

I no longer think of losing weight in terms of perfection and failure or trial and error. I think of it as trial and success. I keep trying what works, understanding what doesn’t, learning from myself and others, and I keep practicing the behaviours that work for me.

Losing lots of weight also involves losing a whole pile of emotional baggage. Sometimes you can discard a bag pretty easily, sometimes you’ve got to unpack and examine the contents carefully because there are some things worth keeping and others that need setting fire to!

 Friend, when I last saw you, I could see from your appearance and in your eyes that you had made progress.  Despite the odd glitch (which we all have), you are doing a great job. Keep making small changes and it will add up to a big change. Most of all, trust that 'your man' and all of us (your 12WBT family) think you are just wonderful and beautiful inside and out. As you learn to feel better about yourself and to see yourself as we and others see you, the greatest love of all - learning to love yourself - will happen.

Stay strong.


As a Post Script I want to add that since I commenced 12WBT in Round 3 last year, I have changed so much as a person.  Practicing self-care - through good nutrition, being active every day, participating in life, making positive changes, trying new things and meeting new people - has had a massive impact on how much I love myself and enjoy life.  I truly believe, thanks to Michelle, the support crew and 12WBT family, that you can make the impossible, possible.