You know how I know how there’s no God? Comfort Eating. What a bullshit concept. There’s very little comfort in it, if you ask me.
I hate exercise. HATE IT. Yeah I get it, it’s good for you, Nature’s anti-depressant, blah blah blah, you won’t know yourself…fuck the fuck off! I just DON’T. LIKE. MOVING. Unless it’s to turn arse-cheeks and reset the butt-groove in the couch after a two-hour marathon. And don’t tell me that’s not an effort. You’re also not taking into effect the amount of times you’ve to lunge forward to click the ‘Continue Playing’ button, lest you end up staring gee-eyed and a paused screen for the remainder of the night until sunrise (or your bladder, whichever comes first) alerts you to the fact that you may have to vacate your trusty cosy haven of sloth, otherwise you’ll end up with some serious stain issues on the couch. Take it any further, and firefighters will have to crane-lift you and your new furniture-shaped adult diaper to the hospital so the doctors can try and separate your bloated flesh from the leather settee it appears to have fused itself to. I’m not even joking; it’s a thing. I saw it on Nip / Tuck.
It’s all well and good lauding exercise as Nature’s Anti-Depressant, but that just means that in my opinion, Nature is really shit at making anti-depressants. Gimme hard chemicals any day. Nice little pills wrapped in foil, like tiny promises of mental peace & quiet for anyone who opens them. They’re fantastic. They have the ability to stop me running, crying and terrified, into the arms of complete strangers on the footpath because I’m too afraid to walk a few blocks down the road to Dunnes. You know what else comes wrapped in foil and makes me feel better, Nature? Chocolate. Chinese Food. A kebab at 3.30am after a night of delicious gin (which doesn’t come wrapped in foil, but it sure as shit makes me feel better).
Some would say heroin and meth also come with a foil accompaniment, and to those I say shut up; this is my blog where I’m ranting without fear of logic or consequence jumping in. I’m venting. You want calmly presented facts and all that shite? Go look up some medical journals and feel smug while the rest of us enjoy a good mental blowout. We’ll all behave again tomorrow. If you’re going to keep reading; suspend all realities and known benefits of exercise, and join me in my Circle of Hate.
You know what else is utterly cock-rotten about exercise? It interrupts my day. I’ve become quite used to spending up to twelve hours a day worrying incessantly about nothing and everything, while trying to write some coherent thoughts as a thousand voices roar behind me into my ears that I’m complete shit. I’m an expert at Anxiety Management; well, to be more accurate, Anxiety is an expert on J-Ro Management. It gives me full-time hours and expects me to work weekends and nights at a moment’s notice, and if I could turn in some reports on why I should never leave the house and socialise with mates again, that’d be great. It’s the mental health equivalent of that douche-bucket manager in Office Space.
Also can we take a moment to call bullshit on all those exercise videos with women who don’t sweat? They can kiss my fine white Irish plus-size arse. There they are, sighing gently through The Insanity workout with only a little ‘eeek’ or ‘oooh’ emanating from their perfectly over-glossed lips in between the kind of fitness regime that I’m pretty sure was previously rejected by Navy SEALS or fucking Black Ops for being ‘A tad harsh’. All of these skinny bitches in the background behind their slave driver / trainer grinning widely and yipping in between sets as they’re tortured are the best living example of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve witnessed since Patty Hearst. Sweat? NOT ONE DROP. Oh no, not these gals. Sure, they’re lightly misty across the face, but they just look glowy and dew-fresh, like a Stephanie Meyer vampire walking around in the sunshine. In the meantime, just getting in the main door of the gym makes me look like this:
Anyway, I joined Zumba. I know it’s not the ‘in’ thing to do in the face of all things TRX and Crossfit and TR-fit and Cross-X (or whatever the fuck they’re called – are they the same thing? I bet they are the sneaky bastards), but as I mentioned in my previous post “Life As A Living Before Picture“, my lung capacity is in dire straits, and I’m tired of breaking a sweat and needing my inhaler every time I so much as open a book, so I decided to jump in at the deep end and really give them something to give out about. It seems to be working. I’m pretty sure I left half of one on the floor at my very first class. Must check with reception to see if anyone handed it in.
I would never submit you to an actual video of me trundling my sweaty way through a Zumba routine, so to get a fair idea, please watch this clip of a cartoon potato giving it socks to a dance choon.
The girls in the class are all lovely, mad eejits…and you kind of have to be. To engage in a ferocious cardiac workout like Zumba is (despite what others think, it’s fucking INSANELY tough) for a full sixty minutes in front of a full-length mirror, stuck in a body that you hate, wishing the inches away as you pound the floor, and still have a laugh with those next to you, tells me that my fellow Zumba hostages are a decent bunch of lasses. Added to which our instructor Sarah is a legend of a woman, part insanely happy Energiser Bunny, part Drill Sergeant. The best way to be when you’ve someone like me in your group.
So onwards I waddle, trying to get myself together. Some friends have told me that I’ll eventually get past the seething hatred I have for moving, and be all super-psyched about the prospect of getting up and out to burn away the calories in time. To them I say “I love you, but take a look at who you’re talking to, and revise that statement.” I’ve been on this planet a good while now at this stage, and I have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, liked ‘activities’ that involved leaving a couch or a bed or the house when there is no discernible threat to my person from fire, flood or famine. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it, sure anyone with a toast crumb-sized piece of common sense knows that it’s the only thing that’ll shift pounds and make you feel better while you get your eating habits in order. So it’s a necessary evil in my world. Doesn’t mean I’ll be a fitness fanatic any time soon. I’ll leave that to all my fabulous fit friends who enjoy a couple of 5K runs of a weekend while I slave over a hot laptop trying to make a name for myself writing shit like this.
So to all those who love a good calorie burning session in whatever form takes their fancy; rock on, you mad, jammy fit, well-toned bastards. I’ll stick to flipping the bird at my workout gear and undressing my couch and fleecy blankets with my eyes. In the meantime, I’ll still continue to venture out to Zumba on a regular basis to engage in a fat-threatening habit that may, if I stick with it and remain consistent, actually be responsible for me needing to invest in smaller jeans and taking longer to use up my inhaler, as opposed to taking longer to, you know, GET UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS.
Better keep at it, so.
Lads, I’m overweight. And I’m not happy about it.
Now before y’all start with the polite usually expected cries of “Would you goWAY out of it, sure you’re only a tiny thing, shut up t’fuck or I’ll slap the fringe off you..” (I have very colourful friends) and all that shite, let me say this: I’m not fishing for reassurance, or platitudes. Well, not this time anyway. The fact is; I’m very overweight for my height, and I know this because of science. So there’s that. Also, I’ve come to realise a few things in my thirties. I’m very aware of my mind, and my body, and how fucked up the relationship is between the two. It’s basically Sid and Nancy up in here, but without the stabbings and heroin overdoses. For now anyway. Fuck knows what’ll happen in my forties.
(Self-portrait. At least my arse is smaller here.)
I’ve never been particularly obsessed with chasing the Body Beautiful, unless it was on a 6ft plus hunky man-beast covered in tatts who had a thing for shorties with big bums (I’m sure there’s a magazine or website that deals with that). I guess when you’re as far away from society’s idea of female perfection as I am, it’s quite liberating really. I can’t try and dress the same as a woman who is 5ft 8in and 8 or 9 stone and still expect to look my best; all I can do is become the most happy, confident, sexiest version of myself that I can be. There’s no danger of looking ‘almost but not quite’.
(Tess Holliday – Goddess. I wish I had a tenth of her self-confidence. Click on the pic to find out more on how awesome she is)
I looked elsewhere for style icons and role models, and I found that my soul did little happy skips whenever I saw unbelievable looking women of all shapes and sizes rocking alternative styles and particular the 50’s and Rockabilly era. They mixed raven-black hair with shots of savage daring splashes of fantastically slutty fire-engine red lips, nails and scarves, or went cartoon-style with hair colour and wore daring, almost drag-style make-up, with eyebrows that should have had their own acting agent, so dramatic were they one and all. And the best thing? ALL shapes & sizes of women looked fucking awesome in this stuff. Curves were celebrated, as were slim figures. It was just about being a self-confident, striking, sexy woman, whatever shape you were. It was perfect for me.
Until I became uncomfortably overweight, then nothing felt right.
Apart from being only 4ft 9in, I was never skinny. It tormented the shit out of me during adolescence, as did my height, which I now realise was because at that age I always thought I was going to get a growth spurt and stretch like a string bean like everyone else on the planet seemed to be getting, the jammy bastards. That’s the kind of thinking that a lack of knowledge about genetics and general laws of physics will get ya.
I would grumble and grouch every few years about my shape without doing very much about it, and I was lucky enough that I didn’t digress very much from a certain point on the scales. When I entered my thirties, I really enjoyed my shape. I liked that I had curves, I joked about my sticky-out bum, but secretly liked that I had something to work with. I was smug as anything when the big booty craze kicked off and all the Kardashians ran around swinging their badonka-donks in people’s faces. I was totally fine with being both petite and plus-sized. But in the last year, there’s been a slow and very definite creeping up of pounds happening that I’ve only truly realised in the last two months. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed, it’s more that I was ignoring the changes that were happening because I didn’t care about what I was doing to myself. There’s that wonderful mind / body toxic relationship again.
Particularly in the last four to five months, I think I was probably in a bad depressive phase. Looking back on it with a clearer mind, I would eat lots of food at really odd times because my sleeping pattern was fucked, like I would cook a dinner for myself at 2.30 in the morning and devour it like it was my last meal on Death Row. I also developed a sweet tooth which I never had before; I could put away a Wonka Factory-sized amount of Kinder chocolate in a single episode of House of Cards, and not even taste it. All my serious stresses and anxiety and financial worries and personal issues all got drowned out by the sound of me chomping on carbs and sugar and cans of full-fat Coke. Who’d have thought that none of that would solve my problems??
I’ve found myself coming out of the fog of what was a pretty shit time, and not without some baggage. Unfortunately for me, that baggage was an extra 2 stone trying to find a way to get settled on a body that essentially had no room for it. Being under 5ft, every extra pound looks like 2. I took a good, long, hard look at myself cosmetically, and physically. I weighed myself for the first time in aeons, and nearly died of shame when I saw the number staring back at me. I’m not going to tell you what I weigh; that’s not important, and also it’s all relative. All you need to know is that it’s not a number someone of my height and build should be carrying if there was a history of heart problems and blood pressure issues in their family.
Suddenly lots of things made sense to me. My asthma had been a lot worse in recent times, which hadn’t been a problem when I first moved into town because I walked everywhere around town. Come March / April of this year, I was finding myself out of breath and needing to use my inhaler by the time I made it upstairs and in the door of my flat. I didn’t feel like me, like I was wearing a layered-up fat suit under all my clothes and I couldn’t relax in myself. I was overheating all the time, the slightest exertion had me sweating and breathing like Tony Soprano. I know – I’m a sexy fucker. Calm yourselves, lads.
When the opportunity arose to work in Dublin covering social media for the International Literature Festival, I went for it all guns blazing. However, I’d forgotten one very important thing. Dublin city centre is fucking HUGE, and all the festival events were spread out EVERYWHERE. Timings and street layouts meant that you could head back to Limerick on The Green Slug in the time it would take to try and get a bus from one place to another, so walking – correction, brisk walking – was the order of the day. Suffice it to say that I nearly collapsed and died a few times and arrived at various cool artsy events looking like I was about to go into labour. That inhaler earned every penny that week. It was also the reality check that I needed to be able to admit to myself that yes; I had gotten fat.
So here I am now, all pudge and no pride. I’m angry that I left myself go as much as I did, but I also know that I couldn’t do anything about it until now. My mental health is stronger than it has been in quite some time, so it’s a good time to kick my own ass and make small manageable changes to fix myself. My self-esteem is in the gutter at the moment because I don’t like what I see in the mirror, or how I feel physically, but I’m dealing with that. I find the whole process easier if I can treat it as a kind of project; taking the personal stakes out of it and looking at it from an outside perspective. I guess that’s why I’m blogging about it too. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not fishing, I’m very realistic about the fact that I’m unhappy with how I look and feel, and that I can look and feel better if I make a good solid plan…and revitalise my big sticky-out bum 🙂
I think I’m writing this in the hope that maybe a few months down the line, I’ll look back on this post as a shiny, upgraded, fitter version of myself and remember what it felt like to be standing at the foot of a mountain (already out of breath and sweating, I’ll bet), and getting ready to start the climb up to where I could be happy in myself and a whole lot healthier. I’m not looking to be skinny; like I said before, I LOVE being a curvy girl. I’m just not healthy or happy in my skin at the moment. I’m sharing these thoughts with whoever’s reading this in order to unburden my soul and take ownership of my current situation by laying down a marker for myself. So, in a way, this is my ‘Before’ snapshot. When will the ‘After’ one be posted?
Who the fuck knows – I mean, they still sell Kinder eggs in shops don’t they? Bastards.
After all the craic of Saturday, where I went to the Edinburgh Dungeon and made a new pal, I was all set to rock out the door on Sunday to hop on an open-top bus and go Full Tourist around the city. I was pure excited, having visions of dressing up like a victim in an anti-mugging campaign; neon fanny-pack, Edinburgh Castle novelty baseball cap, my passport in a stupid-looking yoke around my neck, and my phone in a clip belt. Alas, this unnerving vision of sexuality was never to come to fruition – for two reasons.
The first being that when it comes to weather, the ‘Burgh can be a temperamental finicky bastard, so grey skies and wetness in the air were all around. The second reason being that I was completely wrecked. I seem to have a very short shelf-life for the outside world, and it gets shorter depending on how I am in myself. When I’m out, I enjoy every minute, and do my best to soak up the experience of whatever has lured me from the comfort of a couch-fort and a computer screen. But after a while I reach a very definite point where my brain turns on a dime, and the urge to run screaming back indoors is almost a physical one.
It’s a strange sensation to explain to those who don’t suffer with mental health issues. Christ, it’s difficult to explain to myself at the best of times. It’s not a panic attack as such; rather it can feel like the energy level bars on a video game screen depleting into the red and you’ve limited time to get back to base to recharge, or it’s Game Over. It comes out of nowhere, but it makes its presence known. It has no real logic, but your physical brain tries to attach it to something tangible to try and make sense of it. Which, cruelly enough, adds to the weight on your shoulders. I’m aware enough now (thank the Gods) to read the signs and know when to tap out of a situation and retreat to base camp where possible. Jaysus, I’m very high maintenance. It’s all a bit of a cunt really. But, I digress.
So after being sensible and staying in on Sunday and, as my sister says, ‘having a serious chat’ with myself, I woke up on Monday seriously excited to be getting tattooed for the day. There’s nothing more handy at keeping you in the present and worry-free than sitting for almost seven hours while someone etches ink of many assorted colours deep into your skin with needles. It’s not for everybody, I’ll give you that, but God I fucking love it.
I was greeted at the door of a gorgeous Georgian building just off Princes St by one of the coolest guys I’ve ever seen. David Corden, one of the most talented tattoo artists on the planet, is working out of his home studio while he gets ready to open his shop, Semper Tattoos & Piercing, in the next couple of months. Big smile, all style, he grabbed me in a massive bear hug and introduced me to Michelle Maddison, the unbelievably talented woman who was going to be using me as a human colouring book for the day. She normally didn’t work Mondays, she told me later as she worked away using pretty much every gorgeous colour on the spectrum on my upper arm, but my subject matter was what sold it. “It was Jem And The Holograms, how could I not?” she laughed.
We were kept company outside the sterile studio area by Dave and Kelly’s French Bulldogs Chopper and Bronson. A pair of four-legged, big-eared happy-out goofy legends who loved hanging with humans who gave them loves and attention. I loved them! We had Netflix on in the background while Michelle worked, and she gave me Dealer’s Choice, so just for something to focus on when the pain got a bit iffy, I stuck on some Alan Partridge. Not my smartest move. Can’t be laughing while someone is doing some precision-level permanent needlework on your skin. Thankfully, Michelle is steadier than a neurosurgeon, and I’d seen all the episodes before, so it was less of a guffaw and more of a knowing chuckle to myself.
In the end, I broke my own personal sitting record for getting tattooed. Previously having sat for three and a half hours at a time for larger pieces, this one clocked in at a whopping six and a half hours. I was very glad of the Mars Bar I’d scoffed just before we began. I was quite proud of myself, but I think I’ve found my limit now. By hour six I was sweating and drawing inspiration from Tyler Durden in Fight Club and trying to find my cave and my power animal, who was hopefully a cheeky foreign-sounding meerkat armed with a cold water spritzer to douse my arm and bring sweet relief.
By the end of the session, I was rewarded with the most colourful, awesome eye-catching tattoo on the planet. It’s a tribute to my childhood in the Eighties, and my adoration for Jem And The Holograms, which, to me, was the ultimate feminist cartoon for young girls. Who needs Girl Power when you had Synergie and could fool your fella into two-timing you just by wearing extensions and giving him a different name? (Poor Rio. Mensa was never going to have his number on speed-dial, that’s for sure.) Michelle is one of the coolest, most lovely people I’ve ever met, and her eye for colour is almost painful, it’s so beautiful. She has a blog of her own talking about her tattoos and showing her work, as well as detailing her experience of upping sticks and moving to Edinburgh to start a new life for herself, with all the perils and pleasantness and pitfalls in between. Click on my Jem tattoo pic below to head over to her fantastic blog.
In a side-development, I discovered that both Dave and Michelle were both massive fans of the artwork of my first cousin and veritable Instagram royalty Morgan, whose Instagram profile (@c0dex) is a showcase of some of the most gorgeous animation-style artwork you’re ever likely to see. Fucking hell, this Interweb is small. But mighty. Check out one of her awesome drawing pieces below:
That night I headed back to the apartment, with an arm twice its normal size but a hundred times more colourful. I’ve always hated my upper arms, they’re the features guaranteed to ruin my enjoyment of any pictures where they inadvertently show up. Why would I draw attention to them so, I hear you ask? Well precisely because I hate them. Why not paint them with something that brought me so much joy as a child and turn that hatred on its head? It’s a lovely experience to look into the mirror and instead of feeling despair at my shape, feel happiness and remember the excitement of getting up at 7am on a Saturday morning as a kid to watch a girl band kick ass and make me feel like I could do it too. It’s not for everyone, this business of getting inked, but it’s what does it for me.
I find myself going into an almost meditative state, getting in ‘The Zone’ while you and the artist reach a certain level of peace and quiet as the picture starts to take shape…which Michelle and I then smashed to smithereens by reading the holes off various exes who had done us wrong and comparing horror stories. It was fantastic.
And with that, my last night in Edinburgh was upon me. Without knowing it, my friends Bryan and Mags had given me the gift of a proper break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and I’d been able to assess some stuff and sow the seeds of ideas and plans for the future on a professional and personal level. To me, that was priceless, That, and I had the company of Arthur, the cuddliest and most affectionate cat in the United Kingdom. I’m very grateful to know the people (and animals!) that I do. They’re the cat’s pyjamas, so they are. (I’m not sorry for that)
All excited and gooey from tattoo juice, I wrapped my arm in cling-film (unpleasant and a complete head-wreck for the night) and threw myself head-first into a fitful sleep. For I had one more Edinburgh adventure ahead of me the following morning….
Tune in next time for another instalment of J-Ro adventures!
There’s something very sinister going on within the internet, and I’m here to expose it. It’s time for us to fight back. First, it gives the impression that women who are on the brink of giving birth to a child should be strapped into dungarees and made paint an entire house by themselves (and flippin’ well smile while doing it). NOW it appears that no pretty young lady in any stock photo of a bathroom is safe.
I’m talking, of course, about the fact that women are apparently not allowed sit in baths without being flanked by as many open flames as possible. It’s hardly HER idea – I mean, think of the logistics. You don’t fool me, Internet. SO MANY QUESTIONS…..
1: Are they lit before she gets in?
Why would she do that to herself?? She’ll be trying not to burn her fanny off while getting a naked leg over these open flames and the rim of a bath, stepping barefoot into what is essentially a home-made hot skating rink.
2: How the fuck does she get out afterwards?
I have no answer to this. I find it hard enough, what with being on the petite side. It’s like trying to scale The Wall from Game of Thrones.
3: Does she sit in the bath and try with all her might to blow out a few hundred candles all around her?
Not at all. Sure, she’s only a woman. She’d be all dizzy and faint from all the relaxing pretty smelly things she douses herself in after a hard day trying to drink water without spilling it all over her face or while trying to eat a salad alone without laughing. Also, and this is the most important thing:
4: WHO THE FUCK IS TAKING THE PICTURES AND WHY AREN’T THEY SAVING THESE POOR DAMP GIRLS??
So many victims; unnamed, unsaved, their skin wrinkling like raisins while they sit stewing in their own filth waiting for those bastard candles to burn themselves out. Rumour has it they survive on a diet of suds, face flannels and the slimy skins from those old Musk bath beads lying around the edge of the bath behind the taps from gift baskets that their granny gave them when they got all those points in their Leaving Cert in 1997.
This is a gallery dedicated to all those poor souls, fates unknown, whose suffering is now emblazoned across the realm of the cyber-world for all eternity. Vaya Con Dios, pretty ladies.