Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#Acwrimo: Goals

Setting goals for this November's #Acwrimo - the academic's version of the better known #NaNoWriMo is a tricky one for me this year.

The premise of #Acwrimo is to set ambitious writing targets to encourage productivity throughout the month, then to make a plan for success and commit to that plan publicly on twitter.


I hesitate to overschedule myself as I expect to be 'holding the fort' and looking after my three little people for the majority of November since my 'long suffering' husband is rather 'over committed' (how he ended up with a 4500km cycle ride to do just when I'm trying to finish my thesis, well, that's another story altogether).

So, my 'SMART' targets will not seem particularly ambitious.


  • Revise my three thematic analysis chapter for submission to supervisors on 2nd December


  • Realistically I can manage 1 hour per day every day in November from 8pm to 9pm. In addition to that I have childcare 2 days per week so I will aim for 5 hours or 10x20min pomodoros on those days.
  • I have three chapters to work on so I will spend one week on each chapter and then go back to the weakest chapter for the final week. That's up to 17 hours of work on each chapter.

Making it happen:
  • On the 30th/31st of October I will carry out a writing audit to analyse where each chapter currently stands, this will allow me to ask for any imput from my supervisors early in the month.
  • I will clear my desk/inbox etc. during the day each day so I have no distractions.
  • I will make sure to have dinner ready early and to keep the children's bedtime routine nice and tight.
  • If working at home is too distracting on daycare days I will stay on campus.
  • I will turn off the modem if I find the internet to be a distraction between 8pm and 9pm each night.
  • I will not use the time for reading, blogging or anything other than writing and editing my chapters.
  • I will update on twitter with my progress each day for motivation.
  • I will update the spreadsheet with my progress each day.
  • I will update my blog with my progress each week.

One hour of serious editing every day in November will get me to the stage where I have three revised chapters to send to my supervisors at the beginning of December and will put me back on track for submission early next year.

No excuses!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Social Media for PhD Candidates

Just to mix it up a bit, some thoughts on getting into social media for PhD candidates...

The truth is being a PhD candidate can be pretty lonely. You might be lucky enough to be working as part of a great research team, or to have on campus study space that facilitates communication and the development of friendships with others candidates, but at times, and for many of us most of the time, we spend our days working in isolation.

Social media doesn’t replace departmental seminars and morning teas, reading groups and skills sessions, but it is an alternative for those who are unable to access such things and complements them for those who can. Social media is a contested space within academia, but it deserves consideration for the advantages it offers PhD candidates and early career researchers.

I only started delving into social media forums for academic purposes a couple of months ago when I was unable to join in with a real life #shutupandwrite session held by my university due to lack of childcare. I found that a virtual #shutupandwrite with others on twitter provided great motivation for me. Social media includes many forums but blogging, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn seem the most popular amongst academics.
There are some simple rules to follow as you launch yourself into the world of social media (#socmed) in an academic capacity: 
  • ·      What you say online will live forever. Be professional
  • ·      Develop a consistent professional profile for networking
  • ·      Consider separating your ‘work’ and ‘friends & family’ personas online
  • ·      Observe a little until you understand the etiquette of #socmed.
  • ·      #Socmed is a two way street. Give and you will receive.

What might you gain from using #socmed?
  • ·      Make connections and build collaborations, learn about conferences and events
  • ·      Develop important academic skills
  • ·      Publicise your research
  • ·      Recruit research participants
  • ·      Carry out ‘netnographic’ data collection
  • ·      Obtain 24/7 support. When your lab partner has gone home for the night or your spouse is asleep #socmed is always there.

And what are the risks?
  • ·      Your thoughts are now in the public domain, be careful sharing your research
  • ·      Unprofessional conduct can come back to bite you
  • ·      Social media eats time for breakfast, lunch and dinner; before you know it it’s 2am and you want to be up at 6am to catch a live twitter chat on literature reviews
  • ·      Other academics may be wary of social media, its merit is considered unevenly between disciplines and institutions. Be aware that others may be less enthusiastic than you.

Want to start?

1) Check out a couple of blogs. There are hundreds of great blogs out there, some discipline specific, some offering advice on research techniques, writing and academic life, many of which you’ll find via twitter mentions. So as not to overload you I’m just going to suggest starting with the first couple of blogs I came across.

Thesis Whisperer (on twitter as @thesiswhisperer)
Patter (on twitter as @ThomsonPat)
PhD2Published (on twitter as @PhD2Published)

2) Sign up for Twitter. In the search box type in some of the following: #phdchat, #ecrchat, #phdadvice, if someone says something you like the sound of click on their name to check out their profile, follow them if you are interested, they may well follow you back. Search for academics in your field, check out who they follow and follow anyone who seems interesting. Then just listen for a few days until a particular topic takes your fancy and you are ready to weigh in on the conversation.

I know that there are a million resources out there, but it would be crazy to overwhelm you already with a gigantic list, just start small and each connection will lead to another, and before you know it you will be over run with information, inspiration and hopefully motivation to get on with the job.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Visualisation Technologies in Makeover Practice - Part I

This is an extract from the section of my thesis I am currently working on/editing. Three x25 minute twitter #shutupandwrite sessions have got me to this still rather rough stage, but on the basis that a done blog is better than no blog here it is.

Makeover Practice – Visual/Visualisation Technologies

Whereas the question used to be about how women were represented, in visual art, media or film for example, now we need to consider that what stands for ‘representations’ of women are virtualised, hyperreal simulations of women. They no longer re-present women, they (re)create them. These simulated bodies can be developed from scratch without taking into account any actual female bodies, they represent not what women are (passive) but what women could be (active).[1] They really are ‘dream’ women.
By allowing the simulation of women’s bodies computer imaging technologies create new expectations of womanliness and femininity as bodies are coded and recoded in the virtual arena. They enable the creation of bodies from nothing, and these bodies simulate the female body, rather than represent it, that is to say that the creator is not constrained by the actual physical dimensions of an initial image, as they would be if using Photoshop or similar technology to manipulate an image. As Balsamo discusses, the creation of virtual bodies is limited only to the imagination of the creator. “The virtual body is neither simply a surface upon which are written the dominant narratives of Western Culture, nor a representation of cultural ideals of beauty or of sexual desire. It has been transformed into the very medium of cultural expression itself, manipulated, digitalized, and technologically constructed in virtual environments”.  (Balsamo 1996, 131)[2] The simulated, or virtual woman’s body is coded female, it needs only to be read by the viewer as a female body, not to be an accurate representation of what a female body actually is.  The laws of physics need not apply to the simulated woman, thought she may seem real at first glance, we have to consider whether she would actually be able to stand up and move around if she were made of flesh and blood. Could Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), the original simulated woman, really have fought like she did with those breasts.

Makeover Context

In terms of Makeover Culture Visualisation technologies are the technologies of dreams, fantasies and futures. They range from something as simple as a mirror, to sophisticated medical imaging equipment, to visual media technologies and play a key role in creating dissatisfaction with what is and driving the desire for constant improvement that is the heart of neoliberal makeover culture. Through visual media technologies, women are bombarded not only with (heavily edited) pictures of real women but with simulations which represent what women could be, not what they are. So much so that ‘real’ women’s bodies can no longer be defined, indeed may no longer exist. Our technological ability to conform to virtualised ideals means that real bodies have been dieted, exercised, plucked and excised out of existence to comply with the expectations set by the virtualised hyperreal[3] bodies of media, film and computer games.
Visualisation technologies enable users to see what was previously unseen; in the context of this study they enable the visualisation of makeover outcomes. Through the mediation of experts, these technologies enable women to visualise the potential of their bodies. The technologies are therefore implicit in the creation of new bodies.
Even the simple mirror enables the body to be seen in ways that it cannot be seen without and a common device used in makeover television is using mirrors, photographs or video to enable the participant (and the expert) to see the body from all angles and in great detail. [Ten Years Younger – puts the participant on view in a glass box, Trinny and Susannah make participants stand in front of a full length mirror in their underwear, How to look good naked uses mirrors and video footage to get up close and personal with women’s bodies].

Visualisation Technologies and Cosmetic Surgery

The use of imaging technologies in medical situations is another important area. Many of these technologies were developed for medical reasons such as ultrasound scanning and CT scanning which enable doctors to look at what would previously have been unseen.
Cosmetic surgeons, and their sales teams, make excellent use of visualisation technologies. Starting from the before and after advertisements in the back of popular women’s magazines the visual image is critical to the cosmetic surgeon’s trade. Lo-tech methods include the use of mirrors to and tape measures to examine the body and drawing the changes directly on to the customer’s skin.
In the hi-tech arena photography and video shows the body as it is and computer based imaging is used to design, visualise and materialise the post surgical body – the after body – to help convince the customer to go through with the surgery. The technology -  its expensiveness, its modernness, its exclusiveness - contributes to the authority of the ‘expert’ surgeon, as if their authority is developed/evidenced through this technology.

[1] The move from passive to active involvement in makeover practice is key to my thesis and is developed in depth elsewhere
[2] Balsamo, Anne. Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.

[3] This section will be developed to reference Baudrillard on simulation and hyperreality.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing for Readers

I'm struggling through a chapter draft this week. It needs to go to my supervisor early next week if I want any chance of staying on target. In the hope of feeling vaguely productive I thought a blog post might be in order. An interesting comment from a sewing blog I read made me think about how well blogging, as opposed to thesis/book writing fits into makeover culture as a whole, her comment that a blog is always a work in progress, much like the body in makeover culture (see Jones 2008) made me realise that my blog will never be finished, never be perfect, and will always benefit more from progress (i.e. actually writing something) than from perfection.

A while back I was set the task of translating my research for a lay audience, a 500 word summary of what I am looking at. I thought I would drag it out to have a read through this morning and here it is.

500 Words Revised for Public Audience

Over the last three decades our bodies have become increasingly important to our concept of ‘self’, so much so that it has become difficult to separate ‘body’ and ‘self’ in our minds. We see our bodies as enabling or blocking our happiness, our achievements. “I’m too fat too make friends, or get that new job”.... our bodies become an explanation and an excuse for our failure to achieve our goals and even prevent us from setting goals altogether. The thought that if only I were thinner, prettier and younger I would be a better, smarter, more successful, happier person nags in the back of our minds.
Where once to be ‘oneself’ was to be an individual today the majority of us want nothing more than to be ‘normal’. The body, as our most visible expression of ‘self’ has become a key tool of social acceptance, so it is not surprising that work to normalise the body has become critical to our perception of happiness and personal wealth. The 21st century body is not a natural thing but a man-made one. Modern technology supports us all the way as we attempt to make our ‘always already’ technologised bodies/selves over into clones of the images that we are bombarded with everyday in magazines and on TV. Make up, cosmetic surgery, expensive gym and beauty equipment are all today considered normal technologies in the creation of the beautiful self.
If the ‘me’ we want to be, is to be found through experimenting with and ‘making over’ our bodies it is not surprising that we are avid readers of women’s magazines and follow cosmetic surgery and weight loss programs with great interest on the television. The media both drives and enables conformity by dictating a modern feminine ideal and presenting us with the inspiration and encouragement we are looking for. Femininity is no longer measured through a woman’s relationship with her husband and children. Now, perceptions of a woman’s femininity are based on her body.
The increasing importance of the body in our society suggests that our body obsession will continue to increase over the next decade. As technologies such as cosmetic surgery become increasingly affordable more of us will take drastic measures to conform. Western women today may claim to be in control of their lives and their bodies. But is the pressure to conform to the feminine ideal still a result of patriarchal control as argued by the second wave feminists in the 1970s? Or is the toned, tanned and trim body genuinely the result of a self-imposed discipline? Many women see the feminisation and sexualisation of their bodies as a tool which enables them to achieve their goals. Through physical discipline they maintain control of their bodies and use them to their own advantage. But all too it often seems that the perfect body is always just out of our reach.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

500 Words: The Authority of the Expert

 This is the first in what I hope will be a series of approximately 500 word pieces that I am developing for my thesis.

Throughout the makeover narrative the lead role switches between the participant (the leading lady) and a supporting cast of experts. The surgeon-expert plays the role of advisor, supporter and critic and the makeover ‘subject/participant’ puts themselves in his hands.

The surgeon-expert, vocally supported by a team of lifestyle experts, wields authority over the body of the makeover participant in the broadest of senses. He, (the surgeon in makeover television is almost exclusively male), is both authoritative – his knowledge and skill lending him the right to make recommendations on surgical procedures to the participant whose final decision is controlled by his authority; and authoring – he is the author/(w)riter quite literally writing the changes onto the body in ink, he authors the new ‘after body’ (Jones, 2008) with the tools of his trade: marker, scalpel and anaesthesia. His authority is generated through his position as a medical professional and reinforced through the support he receives from the other experts, the recommendations of the participant’s family that she needs help, his history of successful surgeries and happy customers, his marketing materials (websites, glossy brochures, TV appearances) and, significantly, through his own aesthetic presentation and demeanour.

She, (the makeover participant is predominantly female), surrenders her body; the ‘old body’, first conscious and then unconscious, which is restrained in its ability to resist such convincing authority. This ‘surrender’ is in direct contrast to the importance given in the narration to the active role of the participant. However, once the participant has seen the possibility of the ‘new body’, as proposed by the surgeon-expert, and demonstrated through visualisation technologies, she cannot unsee it. Her authority, that is her right to write her own body future, is overwritten by that of the surgeon-expert. From the moment that she walks through his door she is expected to bow completely to his will. She is bullied/cajoled as necessary to get her to do so. If she refuses to go through with the surgery her relationship with her body is always already influenced by the memory of an ideal could-be/should-be possibility that she will now be unable to achieve.

Many of us never meet the surgeon-expert face-to-face but his authoritative vision/visualisation of the participant’s could-be/should-be body, and by extension all of our could-be/should-be bodies, as presented to us through the media frenzy of makeover culture, leaves an invisible but indelible mark. The surgeon is not only writing the participant’s body future, surgical or otherwise, but also contributing to our own, whether we accept or reject his claim to authority.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making Over – New Hair


Another step in the makeover process.





Monday, March 28, 2011

12WBT, Update

Well, I’ve been fairly slack on the posting front but things are going well on the 12WBT front, a loss of 4.5kg so far, halfway to my goal weight for this program. I feel great, a little tired but that’s not related to the 12WBT, just a few late nights backed up with early mornings, and small children who think that sleep is a four letter word.

On the food front, I’ve veered away from the program a bit in the last week or so, but what’s really great is that I’ve begun to identify where I was going wrong with my eating before hand. I eat a relatively healthy diet (although never enough veggies) and I eat sensible meal portions, but I am caught out every time by chocolate and lollies/sweets. It’s not an emotional eating thing, more a boredom thing. When I am bored the first thing I do is head to the fridge and check if there’s anything good to eat.

So the solution is easy, no chocolate, lollies, biscuits or cakes in the house. I will still snack on cheese and crackers but at least I am getting protein and calcium there, or grapes/fruit, but at least I am getting some fibre and vitamins.

Here’s a picture of my favourite lunch so far, I think I’m going to have it again today :).


Lentil and Beetroot salad with Feta Cheese, snowpea sprouts and spinach.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

12WBT, Week 1 Day 3

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Today’s lunch, delicious again, although I missed the carbs a little this time. All going well so far. The first weigh in was this morning and I’m 0.6kg down, since Sunday, so a great start, some people are posting big losses already but I’m happy with my little loss, just hoping to keep going at a similar rate for the next 11 weigh ins.

I have been feeling hungry, but I think it’s mostly in my head because I feel hungry straight after eating a huge plateful of food which can’t be right. Apparently the hungry feelings pass after a week or so, here’s hoping that’s true! The food has been fantastic so far, so tasty and obviously healthy. Chicken and a million veggies for tea tonight with a mustard sauce, trialled it last week so I know it’s a good one.

The exercise is going well, over 2000 calories burnt for the week already. Running, Strength training, core work, tick tick tick.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

12WBT, Week 1 Day 1

So here it goes, week 1 day one, I’m hungry, only in my head though, breakfast was good (muesli with milk and a banana) and lunch was delicious.

makeover concept

Carrot tabouleh and hummous wraps. A great start to week one, and I know dinner will be good (Chicken with veggies and a mustard sauce) because I make it as a practice meal a couple of days ago.

Today will be a core and stretch day for me, I’ve jiggled my program around to fit half marathon training in as well as keeping the core and strength sessions and some circuit training as well.

I’m feeling good about it so far, the pre-season has been valuable but I think makes the first day feel a little less exciting, even though I’ve not been good with my food for the last couple of weeks, just been exercising more. I’m mainly looking forward to having an excuse to prepare food that the family wouldn’t normally eat (but that I love) as I’ve spent the last few years eating chicken and pasta.

So here it goes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Commitment

12 Week Body Transformation Pre-Season Task 5

Task 5 was a tough one for me, to make a commitment to myself, to Michelle and to others in my life who should support me during the 12WBT. I don't feel quite ready to commit yet, but my commitment is as follows:

I am committed to putting my all into my workouts and not slacking off with excuses as I always have in the past. I am committed to not settling for an OK time when I could have a great time if I put the effort in. I am committed to not stopping at 12 reps if I can do 16, to continually raising the bar in order to progress not stagnate. I am committed to burning calories and burning muscles. I am committed to fueling my body for health and exercise and I am committed to cutting out the crap.

This is my committment to you and to myself.

So that's it, I have to do it now. No backing down. I AM COMMITTED.

But am I? I still have a lot of self-doubt, I'm not good at dieting, I don't really believe in diets, and I know, it's a lifestyle not a diet, I know the theory, but in reality it involves restricting some of my regular (not healthy) foods and eating more of the good stuff, so it is a change in diet. I need to get my head around the change to make it work, I'm going to go back to excuses again (and I suspect again) until I make it right. I want this to be a success.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gearing Up

Gearing Up!

12 Week Body Transformation Pre-Season Task 4

Task four of the 12WBT is 'Gearing Up'. This task was a much easier one, well, apart from the fact that it seems to have inspired an intense desire to go out and spend spend spend, which I am NOT allowed to do (I'm saving up for end of round treats, not allowed food treats and the alternatives are much more expensive ;)). It's all about planning to succeed. Making sure you have the right tools to make the job as easy as possible and to eliminate as many excuses as possible. In reality the number of things you actually need to get fit is pretty small, but there are a heck of a lot of wants in there too.

It was all about planning where you are going to train:


and then making sure that all the equipment needed is on hand.

Well, for me, I prefer to train outside as much as possible and as my main fitness goal is a half marathon then a lot of my sessions are going to involve pounding the pavements and I'm pretty well set up for that. New running shoes, tick, Heart Rate Monitor/GPS, tick, water bottle, tick, running clothes, tick (a whole cupboard full much of which hasn't seen the outdoors for a long time, it's almost (almost I said) as good as having new kit).

There may be times in the next 12 weeks that I need to revert to training indoors, if my husband is away for example, so if and when that occurs I'll be heading off to the shops to get some workout DVD's. One DVD I want to get anyway is some kind of Pilates program so I'll be looking around for a good one as a treat for hitting my 1 month goals (which I am going to do!).

lthough I don't have a problem with the gym, and I live in an apartment building with a gym, I much prefer to be outdoors, however the gym will come in handy for targetted strength work especially in the evenings if it is dark/cold/wet etc. so I will aim to get in there at least once a week, but if I can't get there I have a fit ball and some weights at home and even though we live in an apartment we still have stairs!!! so if all else fails I'll just have to run up and down them a few times after the children have gone to bed.

For me I think the key to keeping motivated with my exercise will be variety.

The other kind of gear is food/weightloss related, I have enough to make do in the kitchen, but I think I might have to invest in a good set of body composition scales. I also need to choose/set up a journal to record food intake, exercise and everything else related to the challenge.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GOAL! Setting my goals for the next year.

12 Week Body Transformation, Pre-season task 3

Goals for 2011

The third 12 Week Body Transformation Pre-Season Task is GOAL SETTING, now I love the theory of goal setting and I have trained people in goal setting in the past, I definitely encourage it, but you know, there's those excuses again, no time to set goals? Not worth it if I don't think I can achieve them? oh and so many more. So i sat down and did it, and added my comments on what I need to do to make those goals a reality.I've started but I'm finding it difficult to see beyond the 12 week program. I'll be back to revise these as I go along.

1 month goals (by 21st March 2011) and how I will achieve them

Run/walk 10km in 1hr 20 minutes Keep running 3 x per week, build up to 5km run by end of pre-season (21/02/11). Introduce ‘long run’ tomorrow (30/01/11) starting at 40 mins run 8 walk 2 (DONE). At current pace 10km should take around 1hr 20 so adding 10 mins per week (at 8+2) should get there comfortably without injury. Want to be able to run 5K easily by the 29th of Feb to start ½ marathon plan.
Get into a stretching habit after training Stretch every time until it becomes automatic Learn new stretches, maybe find a stretching DVD? Develop a regular stretch routine for upper/lower body, post run and post gym. Stick a big STRETCH sign on the fridge and the bathroom mirror.
Try a new sport or class Going to book a badminton court and play with Sam one day when the girls are in daycare. Can book 4x1hr for $50 on special during February.
Lose 4kg – taking me to 68kg Follow 12WBT eating and training plans, ignore negative self talk, fight off excuses. Find training buddies virtual and in real life.
Introduce 8 new dishes to our family mealtimes This should be easy following the meal plans , need to adapt them a little for the children and resist eating the difference. I want to introduce more veggies, more pulses, more fish in particular. Make time to shop at the market – maybe a regular time with a friend?
Eat 3 serves of veggies EVERY DAY Buy a wider variety of veggies, eat some vegetarian meals, allocate more time for cooking, do some cooking in advance to have veggie dishes in the freezer. Frozen veg are ok some days but should mix up with other veg too.

3 month goals (by 21st May 2011) and how I will get there

Half marathon (29/05/11) sub 2:12 for a pb Make time for long runs, increase to 4 runs per week, follow Hal Higdon running plan and 12WBT for strength. Get up early and run before it gets hot in Mar. 12 week training programme to start on 28th of February!!! Run with Sam when possible for tempo runs and with the pram if necessary. Get over fear of running with the pram, it's not too much hassle and we can end up at the park.
Run 10k in 60 minutes Consistent training, running hard not just cruising along, start tempo and interval training as soon as I can run 30 mins without stopping. I need to be able to do this to get a half marathon pb!
Swim 1500m in 30 minutes General fitness, swim at least once a week. Losing weight should help with this as should upper body strength work. Renew swim pass.Try a new or different sport/class each month Squash, tennis, trampolining, dance class, maybe do a week’s trial at a gym to try out some classes one week. Try a Zumba class and a Bodypump class.
Lose another 5kg taking me to 63kg Follow 12WBT eating and training plans, ignore negative self talk.
Look good in a size 10/12 Eat well and tone up, especially arms, shoulders etc.
Introduce 8 more new dishes to family mealtimes Should be easy with meal plans, but determined to increase the variety of what we eat, particularly eating more veggies etc.
Eat 5 serves of veggies per day at least 5 times per week Just do it.

6 month goals (by 21st November 2011) and how I will get there

Maintain weight Give up chocolate and sweets, keep on healthy eating plan
Maintain fitness Join the gym for variety if budget allows
Melbourne Marathon 2012 (09/10/11) – Marathon sub 5 hours Keep running consistently after ½ marathon, 20 Week marathon training plan to start immediately after half marathon (should be 22/05/11). Plan babysitter in advance so that we can both run.

12 month goals (by 21st February 2012) and how I will get there

Maintain weight Keep up healthy eat plan, Give up chocolate and sweets
Maintain fitness Just keep training. Set new goals for motivation, try new sports and classes.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

12 Week Body Transformation, Pre-Season Task 2

The second task in the preseason of the 12 Week Body Transformation was pretty confronting, we were asked to list out all of the excuses we use not to exercise or to eat well, and then look at possible solutions to those excuses. Looking around the forums it was obvious that I wasn't the only one who found this to be a bit of an eye opener, so many silly excuses, so much time wasted, so many opportunities missed. So here are mine, there's a lot of them and I'm sure that there are more that I haven't thought of. It's frightening when you think back on how you have been sabotaging yourself for so long.

Internal Excuses and Solutions - these are the excuses that we make up to get ourselves out of doing what we should be doing.


I can start next week Start RIGHT NOW, pick a very specific time to start

Too tired Will be less tired if I exercise, and anyway not going to go to sleep, will sleep better after a run. Just a short run is better than nothing so go and do it.

It’s late/dark Go to the gym, only has to be for 20 minutes, get out for a walk before dinner with the children.

Uni work Be more organised, spend less time on the computer in the evenings.

Too busy Haha, not really, only busy not doing the things that I should be doing.

More like too lazy What a silly excuse, I’ve done it before so know that I can do it and enjoy it. I know that every time you do it you feel more motivated.

I feel guilty going out and leaving Sam/the children They’ll be fine together, they’ll be better off with a healthier wife/mum, maybe we should all get out together.

I don’t want to get injured (so I’ll take it easy). Build up sensibly but still need to push it more than I usually do. If necessary get physio/massage before any injuries become an issue, lots of stretching and core strength work will help as will a varied program and good technique will be important too, I’ll be less likely to get injured when I am lighter and fitter.

I’ll do it later Do I really have time later? How likely am I to do it later? Wouldn’t I prefer to do something else later, or have an early night instead.

I’m too slow/not going to beat my pb 1) Does it matter 2) I might if I try hard enough

I’m not getting any faster/seeing results Maybe need to change things around, try a different program, or get a reality check from someone else – difficult to see it myself.

Want to sit on the sofa It’s not even that comfy, can sit there all night AFTER the exercise has been done.

Need to use the computer Need to limit computer time, don’t really need to use it as much as I do, spend too much time doing nothing important.

I’m not motivated/don’t feel like it Need to just start with 10 minutes, even a walk is better than nothing.

I have no goal to aim for Find some goals – Half Marathon pb this year.

Inlaws reaction Won’t be as bad as I anticipate and I shouldn’t let it stop me. They’ll get over it pretty quickly.

Don’t want to overdo it Listen to my body, just get on with it, don’t stop unless it hurts.


Last chance to eat something before starting ‘diet’ Nope, not allowed, have something good, first chance to eat something good on the new program.

Going to start next week Nope, going to start RIGHT NOW

I’m hungry Am I really hungry? Have a drink of water, have I eaten enough throughout the day? How much exercise have I done, analyse and make a conscious decision as to whether more food is really needed or not.

I deserve it because I have done some exercise Have something healthy first, I deserve to treat my body well.

I’m breastfeeding Which means I can eat more healthy food, but not crap.

I don’t do diets/don’t like diets But I keep gaining weight, so I need to make this a permanent change, not a diet, a new lifestyle.

Dieting is bad for you But eating healthily isn’t

Too busy Prepare some healthy snacks/freezer meals in advance. Have lots of fruit/veg in the fridge.

Too tired Too tired to eat? As above.

Eating to treat myself Treat my body well, reward with something healthy, or none food related. (Computer time maybe?)

Eating to cheer myself up Better to cheer myself up by going for a run, or having a long hot shower, then eating something healthy. Find non-food alternative treats/mood boosters.

Family/Inlaws reaction Won’t be as bad as I anticipate and I shouldn’t let it stop me. They’ll get over it pretty quickly.

Cooking for fussy eaters Will have to compromise, some nights they will have to eat it, others I’ll have to create an alternative/add extra pasta etc.

I’m addicted to sugar Have to get over this addiction, it’s bad for me, it’s a bad example to set for my children, don’t need it. I can’t just eat a little so best not to have chocolate/sweets/biscuits in the house at all. Stock up on healthy snacks and treats instead.

I have trouble keeping focused Make dates for regular workouts with others, pick challenging but realistic events/goals to work towards. Keep changing things up to make it more interesting.

External Excuses Within My Control and Some Solutions - these are things that I can't change, but I can change my attitude to them and stop them from preventing me from getting to my goal.


It’s too hot (coming from a colder climate this is a real big one for me) Head out early, don’t be such a wuss about it, don’t wear too much, take lots of water, have a cold shower afterwards or end up at the pool/cool down in the sea. Go slower shorter if it’s really bad, but at least get out there and try, it might not be as bad as I think it is going to be. If it’s hot on race day I’ll still have to race so better to be used to it. If it’s over 30 degrees then what about a swim instead.

Too hard to exercise with the children Run with the pram, check out the crèche at MSAC again, do an indoors exercise session while they sleep. Do something together, even if it is a slow walk it is better than nothing and is good role modelling to them.

Getting pregnant, I’ll lose all the good work I’ve done so why bother Can still exercise, not a reason to put it off, should make things easier during pregnancy if it happens. Can maintain weight during pregnancy. Might even help to conceive. Will make recovery and getting back to a good place easier afterwards and if not then at least I’ll be fit (any have run a marathon).

Sam being away Will have to exercise on uni days, maybe someone can watch the girls for an hour one day. Run with the girls in the mornings? Crèche? Find someone to workout with, or somewhere the kids can play at the same time. DVD’s in the evenings after bedtime.

Deadlines Need to plan well, get some work done in the evenings (when not exercising), I don’t really have that many deadlines so should be easy to do.

Meetings Should be able to plan around them, they’re pretty infrequent.

Travel Hotel gym, run to explore new places, take it in turns with the kids.

Equipment Already have gym ball and weights, need to get them out again. Can use the gym. Have HRM and SDM. Can use the bottom step of the stairs.

Don’t have gym membership so can’t do classes/Can’t afford it Don’t need it, lots of other options, get workout DVDs, prefer to be outside anyway, have weights at home/gym in apartment, renew swim membership next time there is an offer.

It’s raining But I like running in the rain so I have no idea why I use this excuse. Same goes for it’s cold out. The worse the weather, the better the ‘glow’ afterwards.


Nothing in the fridge/cupboard Most likely there is, but if not the supermarket is open, no need to get takeaway, and there’s always a healthier option anyway.

Someone else is cooking Eat more of the healthy stuff and less of the less healthy stuff, can make up for it at the next meal with a ‘clean’ meal or do a little extra exercise if necessary.

Children won’t eat what I cook Keep trying, they will get it eventually, it’s still important to offer them variety and encourage them to eat healthily and to model this eating style. They won’t starve if they miss one meal and they can always have supper.

Sam always has supper Have to tell him not to offer me any, doesn’t mean I have to have it too if I haven’t done a good hard session. Look at a few healthy options for this time of night in case I get hungry/bored.

External Excuses Outside of My Control - These are things like sick children, injury, things that happen and need to be lived through and ways to make the best of the situation.

Sickness or other family catastrophe Workaround, be realistic, get back to it as soon as possible, do my best.

SO, I'm working on these, already went out for a run in the heat this morning, just a little one, but I was there and very pleased with myself, drinking lots of water now to make up for it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

12WBT, Signed Up

I’ve been away from this so long that it’s barely worth mentioning – a second daughter, who arrived now 12 months ago is my only excuse for falling off the wagon with my own ‘body project’.

So here is my new 'Makeover Concept' Practical Assignment

I’ve have signed up for Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. What a fabulous concept, in 12 short weeks my body (and mind apparently) will have been transformed. A new me?

The programme combines a calorie controlled diet, 6 training sessions a week, and ‘mindset lessons’ aimed at getting you in the right mental and emotional state to transform.

Although I'm no serial dieter, I have tried and failed in the past, I have also been through periods of my life where I was super fit and reasonably healthy and that has all fallen by the wayside as well. So, I am thinking about how am I going to make it work for me this time. Diet wise, in the past I have always get bored around 6 weeks having lost 5 or 6 kg, just enough to start feeling better about myself. I'm hoping that Michelle's holistic body and mind approach might be more successful in terms of ongoing motivation for me.

I'm mum to two small people, living in Melbourne, Australia although originally from the UK. I moved here with my husband more than 5 years ago and our beautiful girls were born here. I love to run, but the joy goes out of it somewhat if I go over 70kg, so at around 73kg now I'm not getting much out of it. I want to be marathon fit again this year and to get my weight back down into the mid 60s so my goals for the 12wbt will reflect those aims.

This is what I am thinking.
1) Make sure to take time out every day for me, but not just sitting on the computer surfing the 'net, time to exercise, to read a book (you know, one of those things made from paper and card), or just to be, but mainly to exercise.

2) Set some really clear, specific goals – a race or two to run, a new recipe every week etc.

Anyway, pre-season has started and the program proper starts on the 21st of February, apparently it’s tough, but actually I think this is going to be fun. It starts with 8 tasks over a 4 week pre-season and this is supposed to be key to the program - getting fully prepared so that you have NO EXCUSES later on. Then 12 weeks of hard work, not much for a total body transformation.

Task one, introduce yourself, is done, here and on the forums, and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the rest.

I'm going to commit to coming into the blog weekly to update my stats and progress. So Let's Go!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Body History

Body History

As part of my research I am collecting body histories, I hope that these will help me to develop an understanding of my research participant’s motivation and desire to implement changes in their bodies.

Starting with my own…

I guess my earliest memories of my body are of doing gymnastics around the age of 8 or 9, I wasn’t very good at it, I couldn’t jump the horse or walk the high beam, but I was better at that than I had been at Ballet, my mother tells the tale of the Ballet teacher telling her that I was never going to be any good at it so I might as well go and do something else (hence the gymnastics). But I tried hard and worked through the junior grades and have the certificates to prove it. In fact, I was never really any good at sport, or at least that was my perception. Again my mother challenged the Physical Education Teacher when I was about 13 who gave me a D on my report card. I mean I could swim 5000m without stopping and I ran 4 or 5 times a week, but that D stuck with me, I was awful at ball sports, anything requiring hand eye co-ordination, and that, according to my school, was what mattered.

I was tall in primary school; I was taller than the headmaster, tallest in my year by a long way. I did gymnastics in a green leotard – oh so fashionable, with my legwarmers and everything – and I was called the jolly green giant. It was a friendly nickname, nothing malicious about it, I didn’t mind, my friends were tiny in comparison. First year at senior school, again I was tallest, for most of the first and second years in fact, then everyone started to catch up. I only grew 3 or 4 centimetres after starting senior school, by the end I was probably in the bottom quarter height wise.

I matured early too, got my periods while still at junior school and started wearing a bra before anyone else. It never bothered me. I was still the only girl in the class who didn’t run to the toilets to change for sport, and it never really changed. I never had a problem stripping off for a poolside change (towel strategically draped obviously if there were boys around).

I have no recollections of feeling shy of my body, hiding my body at all. It was just a body after all. I’m still the same now, communal changing rooms aren’t fearful places for me like they are for some people, although I’m a little more wary of full length 360 degree mirrors than I used to be.

At 17 I worked as a pool lifeguard, shorts, t-shirts, not a great look, but I wasn’t exactly big. I ate chip butties all summer and supplemented my diet from the chocolate machine (which regularly spat out free bars which of course I ate as well) and the older girls used to say “just wait until you hit your 20s you won’t be able to eat like that any more.” The summer before I went away for Uni I worked at the pool again, 12 and 14 hour shifts if I could get them, I went to the gym in my lunch breaks, ate badly, lost weight and started Uni lighter than I had been for a long time. I was confident, outgoing and had lots of fun.

As I went through university and beyond I gradually got heavier, but it never bothered me, I went to China for a year and ate out every night with obvious consequences. I always say that I was 8 stone 11lbs when I met my husband and 11 stone 8lbs when I married him 7 year later, I’m lighter than that now by half a stone, but no where near my lightest weight.

After university I went on my first diet. Started on New Years Day as all good diets are supposed to do. Lost a stone and then got bored, gradually put it back on again. Dieting was never really my thing. When I was getting married I refused to lose weight, why should I have to lose weight just to look good on one day. I still felt fantastic in my dress, looked good in the pictures, and had a fantastic day.
I moved abroad, did lots of exercise and got down to 68kg, so that’s about 10 stone 10lbs, what does 68kg mean for me, it means I can run (as opposed to plod), it means I can crack 60 minutes for a 10K race (I know it’s not fast but it’s good for me). Then got bored, and gradually put it back on again, hovered around 73-73kg for a few years and then fell pregnant.
Now I loved my pregnant body, never once did I feel that I had to control my body during pregnancy, never once did I worry about looking fat. I was pregnant, I was supposed to look fat, or at least bigger than usual. In fact, my legs and bum got smaller when I was pregnant, my arms were less saggy, my face was slimmer, it just had this great big bump out front, not a pretty football up the jumper bump, no teenage boy pretending to be pregnant look for me, a proper fleshy, female, pregnant bump, never mind a cushion up the jumper, I looked like I’d got the whole duvet shoved up there.
Post pregnancy my body has been of less concern to me in a real life setting, but increasingly of interest from an academic point of view, hence the fact I’m thinking about it now. I’d like to get back to 68kg, but there’s no sense of urgency. I don’t feel that I have something to prove. I promised myself a new pair of jeans when I hit 68kg because mine keep falling down but it’s not making it come around any faster. I just don’t care enough.
It’s not that I lack awareness of my body, I don’t wear a bikini, I don’t flaunt my body in public, I’m just more comfortable in my body than the average person. I’d like to care, I just don’t.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Mother's Body, My Body and My Daughter's Body

A while ago, I wanted to write a book called, My Grandmother's Corset, My Mother's Barbie, My Plastic Surgeon and Me. I liked the title, not so catchy but a clear indicator of the content and romantic enough to (hopefully) catch people's attention. I wanted to write about women's body image across generations, and more precisely the importance of the waist in body image ideals.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve just finished reading Susie Orbach’s Bodies (Profile Books, London, 2009), - hey, that’s a 2009 book that I’m reading in 2009, how up to date am I! - It’s well written, easy to read, engaging and accessible. One thing that really struck a cord with me, Orbach talks a lot about the influence that parents have on children (and the adults that they become), and it has revived my interest in those cross-generational aspects, the legacy - my original book idea was to look at the legacy of the corset - of my grandmother's body to my mothers, my mother's body to my body, and my body to my daughter's body. Well, yes, it's obvious that parents influence your children you might say, everyone knows that, but she’s talking about the influence of parents on their childrens' bodies. No, not just the way they dress, hold themselves, present themselves, not even just in terms of how thin or fat they are. Their ACTUAL bodies, how their bodies grow, and I find that a frightening thought; that my actions now, my sufficient or insufficient parenting will influence my daughter’s body for the rest of her life.

Looking at things analytically, I know that there are things in my life that are reflective of my mother’s influence on me. My inability to go on a diet – yes, very funny – to stick to a diet, the fact that I’m generally so comfortable in my body that I don’t have the motivation to diet. My mother dieted when I was younger, and she still does, I remember her going to Weightwatchers meetings on a regular basis for a while, and I always remember her coming home one evening and reporting the leader’s comment to one particular women who was whinging and making excuses for her failure to lose that week “You’re here because you’re fat, and you’re fat because you eat too much”, it’s funny what you remember. But that didn’t result in me always wanting to go on diets, in me being insecure about my weight in general. I guess, from a purely practical point of view, I had a healthy diet, at least while that diet was under the control of my parents – largely but not exclusively my mother. And as a result I had a healthy body, I was active, I was social, I didn’t have trouble fitting in, so I had no reason to dislike my body. My parents were important in the creation of that body.

So back to now, is there any sure way to ensure that you pass on to your children your good habits and not your bad ones? To make sure that they grow up to be confident and happy with their bodies? Whether I make my daughter finish all the food on her plate or not, will it really make any difference in the long run? There are things I would like for my daughter that don’t come naturally to me, I never wear makeup, glamorous is not second nature to me, I can’t for the life of me walk in high heels. I wish a was a bit more everyday glam, a bit more naturally elegant. I wish that I cared a bit more about the way I present myself. I dislike people who look great but don’t look like they’ve had to make too much effort to get there, but I still want to be them.

Maybe I'll still write the book one day. It's on the ever growing list. Now I have my own daughter though, I may have to change the title to include her too, which would probably make it too unwieldy, and knock it down from the bestseller list...

Questions Raised

  • How do I instil a sense of beauty and natural elegance into my child when I don’t have it myself, or rather how do I make my child what I am not and should I?
  • If I like my body, does that mean my daughter will like hers?
To Do
  • I have my second batch of interviews to arrange for next week, the questions will remain largely the same but with an emphasis on collecting more of a body history and background which it is hoped will help to develop the data collected.
  • To begin with I am going to attempt to write my own body history - which will follow in the next post.
  • For writing practice I am writing up a book review of Orbach's Bodies - I'll post that here too.