The Pudgy Woman Muses -Motivation, Memes and Minimising Mummy Guilt.

The internet is a wonderful invention. So much information on so many different subjects and more porn than you can shake a stick at, (in fact there are many niche sites dedicated to videos of people shaking a stick at it. Apparently). It has also spawned the devil that is social media, a devil that sucks up hours of my life as I read articles, look at videos of people icing cakes or stapling Go Pros to their dog’s head to see what they get up to in the day, writing witty posts, showing off about how very interesting my life is, trying to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers and, more importantly, trying to avoid the worst thing – the motivational post-er.

I hyphenate the word for three key reasons:

  1. Post-er – Noun: One who constantly posts motivational posters/memes or messages. See also: annoying arse, sycophant, person who rarely takes their own advice.
  2. Post-er – Noun: A post about how to live your life, which can also be seen hanging in a frame on the wall of a dodgy car insurance office under the heading ‘teamwork’ or ‘success’ or ‘determination’, and which are normally situated in the staff room by the noose from which people hang themselves after staff briefing.
  3. Post-errrr – Exclamation: What one says in response to the phrase ‘Have you seen Collin’s new meme? Yes, another post! Errrrrr!’


Let me give you some examples of the most nauseating ones I have seen so far…



OK – if by it you mean running, the answer to why is probably ‘because the sleeve of my cardigan got caught in an ice cream van window’. The answer to how is ‘reaching for an extra flake’, and any other questions would be met with a ‘why are you still asking questions? Just unhook me, my Mr Whippy is melting!’


I am particular nauseated by the motivational post and/or meme that covers relationship advice.

Like this…


Good advice, as long as the light bulb didn’t shag your sister.


Here are some others that actually make me dry retch. You can feel the arrogance oozing off the page…



Ohhhh, right. Thanks for that outstanding piece of advice. Mind. Blown. ‘Don’t’. Brilliant.



Bite me.



Undermines my message.


I do like this one though…


Allow me to move on to my next point – the annoying banality of it all. Look at this phrase…

Always remember.

Yesterday’s today is the beginning of a new today tomorrow.

A load of bollocks, right? Makes absolutely no sense at all.

Now look at this…


I made this meme.

I guarantee that you can take any old bollocks, stick a glacial landscape behind it, and you’ve got words of wisdom to live your life by.

The main problem I have with these posters, truth be told, is that they make me feel guilty, guilty for not running or swimming or dieting or spending less time snarling at motivational posters. I am fully aware of what it is I need to do, and I’m happy for those who do it, I guess I just don’t want a slogan and some clipart reminding me that I have been sitting down for five straight hours, and the Tim Tam I lost an hour ago is nestled and gently melting under my left boob.

Yes, there are lots of things I should be doing – travel, adventure, reading books, progressing my career. There are lots of things I need to do – hoover under the beds, clean the oven, talk to my husband. It’s all a bit overwhelming at times, and the guilt can be overpowering.

So, I have made a decision. I will not feel guilty anymore. I will take a proactive step in getting rid of the guilt. And in order to start that off, I have decided to compile a list. An anti-bucket list.

Now, an anti-bucket list (a fucket list perhaps?) may sound like a negative life draining exercise to some, but to me it has actually been quite life-affirming. I have realised that it is perfectly OK not to want to do things. Not thinking about all the things I really ought to be doing has freed me up to do all the things I actually want to do, and at no point will I be bombarding you with motivational posters about how many Krispy Kremes it is possible to fit into your mouth at once (discovered through extensive doughnut-based research)…

1.The first item on my anti-bucket list follows a conversation I had with the minx (now 7, can you believe), who berated me at Sea World on the Gold Coast for not wanting to take a pleasure flight (an oxymoron if ever I saw one) over the coastline. The conversation went like this…

Minx: Ooooo, Mummy! Let’s go on a helicopter, it will be fun! Shall we go? Shall we? Shall we?

Me: Absolutely not.

Minx: Arrrrrrrrrrr. Why not?

Me: Because I can’t think of anything worse.

Minx: I can think of a lot of things that are worse. Being eaten by a bear, for instance.

Me: Yes, but I would never put myself in a situation where I could get eaten by a bear, just like I would not get myself into a situation where I’m hurtling through the air in a metal ball of death, held up by two rotating, metallic lollipop sticks.

Minx: Are you scaaaaaaarrrrrreeeed? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Me: Yes, yes I am.

Minx: Oooooo look! A seagull!

Thank God for short attention spans.

So, there is number one.

I will never want to fly in a helicopter.

2. The second one is very similar. The thought of sitting in a flammable wicker picnic basket under something that can set fire to wicker picnic baskets, namely fire, weeping uncontrollably as someone points out the hill we’re about to career into is not appealing. Hence, number two. 

I will never want to fly in a hot air balloon. 

3. I never want to sit in a cage and look at Great White sharks. I’m not even going to explain that one.

4. I never want to go to a Robbie Williams concert. In fact, I would rather set fire to my armpits. In a hot air balloon.

5. This next one I have made mention of before, as it comes straight from the eye level shelf of Satan’s Pantry. I dislike a range of foods – marmalade, grapefruit, Camembert, spinach – but at least they are aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye. But what the fuck was God thinking when he created the oyster? Picture the scene if you will…

St Peter: Morning, God. Fifth morning to be precise. Time certainly does fly. What’s on the agenda today then?

God: Well, Pete, I was thinking that today, I would create all of the birds and all of the living creatures of the ocean – ACHOO!

St Peter: Gesundheit. Well, that sounds delightful. What have you done so far?

God: Well, you see this here? This tiny, winged creature with a long tongue and frantically flapping wings? That’s a hummingbird. AAAAAASSSSCCCHHOO!

St Peter: God bless you. I mean – never mind. That is quite beautiful. What else?

God: Well, here, I have lots of shells lined up to make into crustaceans and other delights of the ocean. Ah-ah-ah- AAAACCCHHHOOOO!!!!

St Peter: God, I’m not being funny and I’m not telling you what to do, you being the creator of all things and that, but I really think you ought to have a rest today.

God: Rest? Rest? If you check my diary, Peter, I think you’ll find that rest isn’t scheduled until the day after tomorrow. Oh, here comes another sneeze. It’s a biggy. Pass me a hanky will you?

St Peter: I don’t have a hanky. Here, use this!

God: AAAAAAACCCCCHHHHOOOOOOO!!!!! Yikes – that was moist. What the hell have I just sneezed into?

St Peter: A shell. Sorry, it was the first thing that came to hand.

God: Blech. That looks gross. It’s sort of swimming in there, like a tiny floating island of phlegm.

St Peter: Ewwww! Throw it away! It’s making me feel sick.

God: Now, now, let’s not be hasty. Want not, waste not and all that. We could do something with this. We could market it as a tasty snack or amuse bouche. It could be served in fine dining establishments all over the world or in shitty seaside food vans on the east coast of England. Just put a lemon wedge on the side of it and voila! We just need a name…

St Peter: OYSTERS!!!!

God: That’s a great name! Did you just think of that?

St Peter: No, I threw up.


Et voila, the next one on the list of fuck its…

I will never, ever eat an oyster.

6. I never want to record my life’s activities on a GoPro. Mainly because people don’t want to watch a close up video of my forehead as I eat a Toblerone and complain about the pain of eating triangular chocolate whilst binge watching Geordie Shore.

7. I never want to have a colonoscopy. Or anything with the suffix –oscopy. As I keep telling my husband, I do not want anything shoved down the back of my throat or up my back passage thank you very much. I realise that this is not something that anyone wants to do, but I felt it needed saying.

8. I never want to watch videos of doctors lancing boils or pimples. I mean seriously. What the actual fuck?

9. I never want to trek the Himalayas. If I want to get dizzy and short of breath, I’ll reach to the top shelf for a custard cream.

10. I never want to get a Brazilian. I really can’t think of anything more humiliating. I mean childbirth strips you of any human decency and decorum. By the time the 20th person had ‘examined’ me in the labour ward, I felt like Sooty and, after 48 hours of labour, it got to the point where I was so tired that I didn’t care if they were actually doctors anymore. But at the end of all that, I had the minx, and you do forget all of the cripplingly embarrassing stuff. But with a Brazilian, you have someone buggering about with your bits, pouring hot wax on your foof and ripping it back off again, seeing what God gave you and how much fur he covered it in, and I’m sure there must be an odour. I’m guessing it must be like trying to pluck an otter. Anyway, I digress. I’m imagining that the pain is unimaginable, and at the end there is no baby, nothing to coo and blow raspberries at (I would hope anyway). Just a bald front bottom. And two weeks later, you’ll be sitting in a meeting, desperate to scratch your undercarriage when the hair starts to grow back, attempting to sit in different positions, shifting around in your seat to relieve the insane itching. No thank you very much.


So there we go. I must say, I thoroughly recommend this exercise. It is quite liberating. It has also appeased some of the ‘mummy guilt’ I feel on a daily basis. You know the kind, ‘if my daughter sees that I am afraid or I have any kind of negative feelings about anything, then she will turn into a psychopathic serial killer, or worse, an estate agent’. I now just explain to her why I do not want to do something, and I am not afraid of admitting my likes and dislikes – I just try to do that in equal measures. Basically, I try to remember…




The Pudgy Woman Muses: The Day Spa

The day spa. To some, a relaxing break away from the rigours of the modern world, a chance to unwind and recharge. To me, a series of interesting episodes resulting in a slightly deflated sense of self-esteem and an (one hopes) amusing blog.


We, that is the husband, the now 6 year old minx and I, went on holiday a few weeks ago for the first time in a long time. We decided to treat ourselves and so stayed at the RACV resort near Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Very nice, except for the 8 hour a day teeth-shattering din coming from the mechanical digger as they ‘improved the toddler pool’. But I digress…


On one of the last days of the hol, I thought it might be quite nice to have a couple of treatments done; I believe that this is what is referred to as a ‘mani/pedi’. I arrived and filled out the new client form, you know the kind of thing; name, age, number of facial wrinkles, square acreage, likelihood of heart attack due to vigorous massaging, problem areas (it took all my will power not to write ‘Wolverhampton’), allergies (should I put ‘cat hair’?), and so on. My beautician, a pleasant girl in her 20s, then led me into a room to wait while she prepared the tools of her trade. Three other people were waiting in there for their various treatments, all wearing white robes and towelling slippers, enveloped in enormous beige leather chairs, reading Vogue and drinking water with slices of fruit and various herbs floating around in it. Intermittently, one of them would choke as a rogue slither of mint found its way to the back of their throat, and then they would submerge into their chair once more and go back to their browsing. Everything was tranquil and scented, yet strangely uniformed. ‘Oooo, it’s like being in a cult!’ I offered. No one laughed, although the man in the corner did inhale a coriander stalk.


Finally, it was time to be pampered, and after 8 and a half minutes of trying to hoist myself out of the low-level, overly-cushioned arm chair, I was led to the salon.


I am sure that most, if not all of you reading this are aware of the procedural routines of the ‘pedi’. First, I was invited to sit in what is best described as a leather throne-ette, my feet set to soak in scented oils, looking down on the head of the young girl who was going at my heels with a board covered in, what appeared to be, industrial grade sandpaper. It is difficult, in these moments of decadence, to quash a burgeoning feeling of superiority. I imagined myself, regal, poised, looking like an Egyptian goddess, smooth of skin and neat of cuticle, like this….


It wasn’t until the sun started to set, casting a shadow over the Gold Coast cityscape, and slowly revealing my reflection in the floor to ceiling windows that I realised what I actually looked like was this…



Burgeoning feeling of superiority duly quashed.


(I would like to take a moment here to reassure everyone that at no point did I get naked. I may not go for many pedicures, but I know you don’t strip off. Well, not at the RACV club anyway.)


I actually do not find the whole spa thing relaxing, in fact I find it quite painful and stress-inducing. I am not questioning the professionalism of the young lady who was pumicing my hard skin with an angle grinder (it wouldn’t have surprised me had she flipped her head forward to reveal a soldering mask, a la Flashdance), it is not her fault that I do not take care of my extremities, but after she had hacked at my cuticles with what felt like a pair of pinking shears and a hoe, I had had enough. My feet are also very sensitive, so the strain of trying not to accidently kick her in the face every time she touched my toes, and remaining composed and not giggling like the village idiot was actually quite exhausting. Paying for this kind of pleasure/pain experience is akin to paying for bondage, I suppose, except with pretty nails and (to quote Four Weddings and Funeral) far less call for condoms.


The questions then began. Now, I do not count myself as a particularly ‘girly girl’. I don’t wear dresses, and I don’t spend a lot of time on my hair because the result is always a bit, well, drag queen-y. My fingernails fend for themselves most of the time, and the only colour my hands normally see is green from when I use the side of them to wipe marker pen off the board after my Year 10 class. So when she began to ask me things like ‘metallic or matte?’ and ‘what colours do you normally where?’ and ‘are you more of an autumnal?’, I was slightly at a loss.


I pick pink. It seems the right thing to do.


Half an hour later, she has finished exfoliating and massaging and wiping the dead skin of her implements and she asks me one last question.


‘Are you still happy to go with the pink?’


This of course sends my mind into a spiralling vortex of doubt. Am I still happy with the pink? Is this the right shade for my colouring, my eyes, my hair? Come to think of it, how happy am I in general? How happy are any of us, really? Does the vibrant colour of this hot pink nail varnish not mock the absurdity that is the unending turmoil of life in the 21st century? And what the fuck is autumnal?


‘So then, pink?’ She wakes me from my reverie.

‘Yes. That’s lovely. Thanks.’




Of course, as you have come to expect from these offerings, dear reader, this is not the most uncomfortable experience I have ever had at a day spa. Oh no siree Bob.


Now at this point, if I were you, I would stop here, go back, and read the blog entitled ‘The Fat Start Sobbing’. I promise you that this story will knock that one into a cocked hat. It’s a doozee.


Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin…


It all happened about 5 years ago. I had just had the minx, and my sister-in-law had come down from Derby to Surrey for the weekend. As a treat, my husband had organised a lovely London mini break for us – a night in a hotel, plus a meal at Bruno Loubet’s restaurant in St. John’s Square (quite wonderful), cocktails, shopping, you know the sort of thing. We had a lovely evening, eating delicious food, drinking an assortment of brightly coloured alcoholic beverages and then walking 3 miles back to the hotel that was actually only 400 yards away. But, again, I digress…


The next morning, my husband had booked us into a small day spa for a relaxing massage before hopping on the train back home. It was a pokey little place, but it was busy and lively and we sat and waited as two quite petit Asian gentlemen scurried around with towels and fragrant candles, hot rocks and CDs of pan pipe music.


‘If that’s the masseur, I’m not going in Jane. I am not going in. I am not being massaged by him. He’s tiny, and he’s a man. No, no, no, no, no!’

Enter tiny Asian gentleman. ‘Michelle?’

‘Yes that’s me.’ And in I go. Typical bloody Brit.


My diminutive masseur was called Andy (not his real name I suspect). I dutifully lay on my front and prepared myself for the treatment.


Now, massages are one of those times where you get lots of time to think about stuff. And we should all know by now that for me this is not necessarily a good thing. Indulge me, patient reader, as I take you on a journey through my day spa thought processes. And these are in order.


Michelle on a Massage Table

  1. Oh God! Did I shave the back of my legs? Or do they look like two extras from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
  2. What must it be like trying to massage my back? Is it like trying to fold Play-Doh?
  3. Lying on my front is not at all comfortable. My boobs are blocking my windpipe and when I roll over, I’m going to have to extract my nipples from my nostrils.
  4. I’m fairly sure I didn’t shave the back of my legs. Christ.
  5. If you press my back with the flat of your palm, does it leave an impression like a memory foam mattress?
  6. Ooo. New development. Heartburn.
  7. When I get up, will the hole my face is compressed into have left a permanent imprint, like my cheeks have been squished in a lift door?
  8. This pan pipe music is doing my head in.
  9. Yep, definitely didn’t shave the legs. The clasp on his watch strap just got caught.
  10. Oh God. He’s going to ask me to turn on to my back…


And ask he did.


‘Andy’ holds up a towel the size of a flannel, barely big enough to cover a wasp’s wedding tackle, and as I manoeuvre my bulk onto my back (which is like trying to juggle a trifle), he chooses this exact moment to say…


‘Have you always had a problem with your weight?’

I shit you not.


‘Pardon? I mean…pardon?’

‘Your weight. Has it always been an issue?’

‘Well, not really. I mean, I’ve just had a baby and, and, well, I…’


Of course what I should have said was, ‘It’s only a problem for you ‘Andy’, if that is your real name, as you’re the one who’s just been wrist deep in my ‘weight problem’, with the very real probability that you’ve lost one of your friendship bracelets in the folds of my back. Now off you fuck and fetch me the manager!’ But of course I didn’t, because I’m British and what we do is look sheepish, apologise for the flaws that we have, the flaws that we don’t have and the flaws that we may develop later in life, and then write a passive/aggressive blog about the incident 5 years later.



And he kept going. He asked me if I ‘think a lot’ as I seemed very tense. Tense? Tense? You’ve just called me fat when I was at my most vulnerable – naked and oily, with the only thing between me and an arrest for indecent exposure being a tiny towel-ette.


And then, as he left the treatment room, he stopped, touched my arm and whispered, ‘Don’t worry. It will be OK.’ At which point I burst into tears.



The funny thing is, is that this wasn’t the first time this has had happened to me. At my first ever massage, the woman (an ex-PE teacher with arms like Lou Ferrigno) called me overweight and then questioned whether or not my partner was keeping me that way to make him feel better about himself.


Honest to God. You could not make this stuff up.


I return to my original point. Spas are absurd. We pay money for people to cut bits off us, paint us, feel us up and call us fat, in the vain hope that we look a little bit better for a little bit longer.


So I’ve decided to save my money to spend on a flight to England, and then a taxi ride to a pokey little day spa in London, to find a man named ‘Andy’, to call him short, tell him I hate the pan pipe, and make him cry. Don’t worry ‘Andy’, it’ll be OK. Oh, and I found your friendship bracelet…

…The Fat Starts Sobbing

Enough time has passed, my friends, not only since my last literary attempt but also since the incident which I shall now recount – and when I have finished, you will realise why I have waited six weeks to report back.  Firstly, let us recap.

When I last left you, dear reader, I had embarked on a health and fitness regime which included ‘The Visit’, whereby a yapping wee slip of a thing shows you around a gym’s facilities and sells the benefits of exercise to you, followed by squeezing my ample frame into ill-fitting Lycra, and finally meeting Dave, the personal trainer, and discussing my current health.  All good so far.

Oh, the exuberance and new-found confidence with which I bounded to the gym the following Thursday evening, an evening which promised a renewed energy for running and leaping, squatting and thrusting, steaming and sauna-ing. As always though, patient reader, this enthusiasm would soon be extinguished, like the proverbial pissed-upon firework.

The evening began with the afore-mentioned ‘Lycra Olympics’ which includes the hurdles (trying to get my legs into stretchy jogging bottoms), trampolining (half an hour of bouncing around the room as I attempt to hitch them over my hips), gymnastics,(throwing myself around the floor, waving my arms in the air as I try to trap two rolls of back fat into a top befitting the gym) and finally the marathon (the 10 metre walk to the car, which leaves me puffing and panting – never a good sign).

A ten minute drive later and cut to me sitting in the Camry trying to get all unfortunate noises out of my body before the onslaught. This includes; burping, farting, sneezing (which, at my age, may also involve both burping and farting as well as, let’s face it, weeing), swearing, grunting and hiccupping. God knows what I must have looked like.   Imagine the scene; a pudgy, middle-aged woman, apparently suffering from a most unfortunate case of Tourette’s, sitting in an ill-lit car park on a wet and windy Thursday evening, rocking gently and exuding intermittent noises; ‘Burp, fart, bollocks, achooooo, fart, hic, hurrrrrrrrrr, burp, bugger it, faarrrrrrt, arse.’ (I would like to state at this point, that other than the swearing I am in no way capable of producing that much noise in terms of oral and/or anal flatulence – although I can make myself sneeze, a skill which will never get me on ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, but which has been an ice-breaker at parties. Really bloody boring parties).

I digress…

David is fifteen minutes late, in which time there has been a build-up of unfortunate noises, but no time to worry about those, I have a cross trainer to tackle!

‘On ya get mate!’ chirrups Dave. He calls me ‘mate’ a lot which I actually find quite emasculating. Surely the very nature of my skin-tight jogging bottoms quite clearly demonstrates that I am in fact female?

‘On ya get mate! Let’s do a quick warm up and then we’ll crack on!’

I leap on to the cross trainer with all the grace and dexterity of a dead gazelle, the pedals shift under me and the machine spits me off the other side disgustedly. Dave catches me under the armpits expertly.

‘Don’t worry mate! I’ve got ya!’ What a tremendous start.

He manipulates the buttons as I set off with misplaced enthusiasm, my legs becoming a blur as I swish them backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. The energy produced by the chaffing of my thighs could have powered a small Australian township, and I’m quite surprised that the friction of the Lycra didn’t cause a bushfire. Dave had cleverly covered the controls so that I could not see the time completed, but after what seemed like an eternity, the side effects of not exercising for two years became horrifically apparent; my lungs began to burn, bile started to rise to the back of my throat, the rest of the gym’s patrons became a set of shadowy figures and my legs began to feel like two alien tentacles. Finally, he allowed me to step off the contraption. I heaved and spluttered, desperately trying to catch my breath and regain some of my previous composure.

‘How, pant, long, cough, was I, wheeze, on for?’ I manage to gasp.

‘Three minutes.’


‘Ok mate, let’s try some lunges!’  Now, there are three phrases in the English Language which fill me with dread more than any others; ‘Mummy, look what I’ve done’, ‘Sorry, we’ve sold out of Crunchies’, and ‘Let’s try some lunges’.  It is not easy for a lady of my ample frame to manoeuvre herself up and down using the strength of just her thighs – it’s not easy to manoeuvre my frame out of a chair using my legs and an industrial winch, so the thought of lunges made me sick in my mouth a little bit.  Dave approaches me brandishing a ski pole.

‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a rectal exam!’ he quips. Oh good, because that’s what put me off the gym in the UK, all the rectal exams…

The idea was to use the pole to push myself back up once I had managed to lower myself down. Five reps on my right leg went ok. Then I got a little cocky…

As I lunged forward on my left leg, my right leg decided that it had had enough and was off to contact its union about the amount of overtime it was being forced to do. I felt it buckle under me, but there was nothing I could do, and my arse acted as a pendulum propelling me backwards.  I fell on to the floor with an almighty thump, and then bounced across the laminate a little. It was like a scene from ‘The Dambusters’ – had there been any German fighter pilots in there, I’m fairly sure they would have shit themselves as did Dave, who again attempted to catch me.  When he realised that he was not going to save me this time, he waited until the bouncing had stopped and then endeavoured to pick me up. Unfortunately, he is lighter than me so the effect of this was beyond comedic to the, by then, dozen or so onlookers. Imagine Torvill and Dean’s ‘Bolero’, the bit where he pulls her majestically over the ice. Now imagine that Christopher Dean is dragging a sweating mass of amorphous, undulating cellulite across a laminate gym floor, with a slight, moist squeaking noise emanating from under its crotch as it fails to get its feet down to stand up. That is what we looked like. Surely this can’t get any worse, I thought.  Oh, how wonderfully naive…

I watched Dave stalk off to the corner of the gym and listened with horror at the metallic rasping sound as he dragged a bench over to where I was standing. Not step-ups, please not step-ups…

‘Right mate, let’s do some step-ups!’  Not since Adam has a man misjudged a woman so completely. What Dave had failed to realise, is that my right leg had won its tribunal and had convinced the rest of my body to go out on strike with it.  Five step-ups later saw me sitting on said bench with my head between my legs, trying not to vomit, a damp rag on the back of my neck and Dave’s constant droning,’Wellatleastyoumadeitiherematethat’smorethanalotofpeoplewouldhave blahblahblah.’

The fact that the first training session I have ever had consisted of falling off a machine, falling off my own legs and then passing out seemed not to phase our Dave.

Of course, I went home and burst into tears, out of a kind of angry self-pity; however undeterred I returned the very next day and tried again. On my own.  Very slowly. And three weeks later, I can complete a good 15 minutes on the cross trainer and I actually look forward to going – which is something I never thought I would say.

Now, if I could only give up my penchant for Tim Tam sandwiches, I’m sure the weight would just drop off…

When The Going Gets Fat….

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon as I looked back over the blogs I had hitherto written, and as I reached for another double-coated chocolate Tim Tam, I came to the startling realisation that I don’t ‘alf moan a lot – people are better looking than me, thinner than me, have better experiences at the beach than me, make better pork pies than me and so on. There also seemed to be an inherent irony running through these pieces, an irony that had maybe already dawned on the casual reader but not as yet on myself; on the one hand I moan about Melbourne’s beautiful ones, but on the other I proclaim the virtues of heart attack-inducing fatty foods. Something had to be done to straighten out this paradox.  One slightly obvious epiphany later, it was with a heavy and cholesterol-crammed heart that I decided it was time to join the gym in a vain attempt to make this pudgy woman slightly less pudgy…

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not overly insecure about the way I look – I’m couldn’t care less what people think of me in any respect (I wasted most of the eighties concerned about that), and I’m not vain but, as discussed in my first blog, 40 has made me very aware of what I am, and what I am is, shall we say, plump. It gets to the point where your body refuses to put up with any more and all the muscles in your body scream, ‘I can’t do this on my own man, I need your help.  Put the frickin’ donut down man and throw me a bone here. I’m dying I tells ya…’  (apparently my muscles talk like a detective from a 1970s cop show). There is also that moment of realisation that if you do not start to make some lifestyle changes, there is every chance that you will not be there for your child and you will not get to see those important moments in her life; her graduation, her wedding, the first grandchild, and you of course scupper the chance to embarrass her at every given opportunity throughout her life, just as my father did to me (but we’ll save that for another time).

So, after deliberating, researching, eating marshmallows, gargling with Gaviscon and deliberating some more, I decided to do something about my health and ever-expanding waistline.  Now, there are stages one must go through when deciding to join a gymnasium. Stage one, the visit, which consists of an over-zealous teenager bounding around your ankles, yapping about the virtues of their leisure facilities, like a puppy with a new chew toy.

‘And here we have a steam room and sauna. Do you think you’d use something like this?’

I nod and smile.  Me sit in a steam room, feeling like an over-sized dim sum? I don’t think so.  And I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a very hot, wooden room, breathing in other people’s sweat and farts.  The last time I went in a sauna, the bench was so hot that when I stood up it had branded my buttocks like a flame-grilled Whopper.

‘This is the class exercise room. We have many classes; body pump, body jam, body move, body shop, body work…’ What about body bag, because that is what you’ll be dragging me out in.

So, her boundless enthusiasm, and my husband’s knowing nods compel me to join, and I am dutifully equipped with a membership card, bag and water bottle. Because that makes it all so much better…

Now, stage two.  Let us imagine the preparation the pudgy woman has to go through to get ready for the gym.  Imagine trying to pour a half set vanilla blancmange into two piping bags – a tricky task full of patience and manual dexterity, quite possibly messy, with a lot of spillage – and now imagine me putting on Lycra leggings.  The two tasks are remarkably similar.  Now, let us stand back and marvel at the results – not particularly attractive I grant you – it’s like looking at two stockings full of walnuts.

Bending over to put my trainers on is a feat in itself as, to paraphrase the great Ronnie Corbett, I have to think of other things I can do while I’m down there, mainly so it is not a wasted trip. God only knows what the view from behind must be like while I am grappling with my shoelaces whilst also trying to breathe in an out – probably like two little boys trying to escape out of a collapsed tent. I then equip myself with the items I presume I will need to join the buff and the beautiful; iPod, logo emblazoned gym bag and water bottle, and of course a portable defibrillator, you know, just in case. There is then the small matter of the necessary paperwork – is my will up to date?  Where is my Medicare card? Have I notified all family and friends of my impending exercise and possible subsequent demise?  And then off I go…

With all the gear and no idea, I trot off to my first session – and when I say trot I of course mean drive.   I have my first session with my personal trainer; let’s call him Dave, because that is his name. He is ten years older than me which is a bonus, the last thing I need is one of Zeus’ minions stretching out my thighs as I sweat like a navvy on a shipyard. He also has a bit of a paunch – ironic, but still oddly comforting. We chat. He asks me about my goals (not dying being the main one), my exercise regime (errr, walking to the car?) and my diet (all the major food groups; pasta, bread, butter, steak and Smarties. I’m one Krispy Kreme away from type two diabetes).  Then he asks me to do some stretches to assess my gait, posture and strength.  The only trouble is that he asks me to do this in the foyer, in full view of the beautiful young things that also frequent this gym. I had to squat and twist, lunge and reach, with one consistent and droning thought passing through my mind – ‘don’tfartdon’tfartdon’t fart’.  In an hour, Dave had made up his mind about me and what I needed in terms of diet and exercise and had convinced me to join him for a late supper and a movie. That last bit is a lie – he instead came up with an eating and exercise plan which I am simply desperate to get started on. My first real session is tomorrow – oh joy.

Oh well, a journey of a hundred miles beings with a single step, fail to prepare, prepare to fail, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels and all that bollocks…