How a Cherry Pie and a DeLorean was my undoing

A few months ago I signed up to Michelle Bridges’ 12-Week Body Transformation (12WBT), a 12-week online weight loss program.  So have I lost any weight? Yes, I did, in the first three weeks. But today, 16 weeks later, I really don’t know what I weigh, and I don’t care about the number anymore.

At the end of week 4 of the program,  I stepped onto the bathroom scales with anticipation. I then stepped off them with horror. I was incredulous to see that I had in fact gained 800 grams in the past week!

I had tried really pretty hard, but had still gained. I was so frustrated with myself, the scales, and those pesky, impertinent 800 grams, that I ate whatever I wanted that whole weekend – and it was a four-day weekend (we went away during school holidays) including one night in a hotel where the buffet breakfast was included. Here is just one of the delights that I ate…

Take that, 800grams. Mmmm it was good though. Worth every damn calorie.
Take that, 800grams. Mmmm it was good though. Worth every damn calorie.

After that weekend I was well and truly off the Weight-loss Wagon, straight onto the Shuttle Bus of Shame, which delivered me quickly to the Den of Denial.

As the weeks rolled on, I would simply delete any emails from Michelle Bridges, and was pleasantly surprised not to receive any “Alexandra, you haven’t weighed in for a while!” notifications.

But then came Week 12’s email. The subject heading was “Finale Workout and Party”. I clicked on it. “Maybe I could join them for the mass workout?” I thought,  riding in the DeLorean of Delusion*.  I thought of last year’s group workout, and remembered how in a strange kind of way, I had actually enjoyed it. But thank goodness I came to my senses and realised that, since I hadn’t even gone for so much as a walk since the day I ate a beer truffle at ten in the morning, a sudden mass aerobics class may not be such a good idea, not wanting to have a massive heart attack and all.

Delorean DMC-12
My DeLorean of Delusion looks somewhat like this.

Then I received an email about joining the next round of the 12WBT, which was to start in a week’s time. I realised that would mean another finale party and a chance to frock up with hair and makeup! I seriously thought about signing up again and having another go,  just so I could get to that finale party.

But before I could enter those credit card details, I pulled into the reality station. This online program has not worked for me twice now, what makes me think number three is going to be third time lucky? Apart from the saying, “third time lucky”. I can’t pay good money to do a 12-week program just to have a makeover and go to a party.  So no workout, no party and no “body transformation”!

Instead, I have my memories of last year’s finale workout (didn’t go to the after party then either), and I share them here with you now…

I recently took part in a mass outdoor workout which was the culmination of my attempt at Michelle Bridges’ 12-Week Body Transformation (12WBT) I fell off the wagon many times during the 12 weeks. Actually, I completely gave up in week 4 (I did still read the weekly emails). But I thought I had nothing to lose by giving this mass exercise class a go. It was free, and it was in a park near my dad’s place, handy for babysitting Spider Boy.

Once I started the class, I thought about stopping. But, it wasn’t too hectic, I was keeping pace. Hey, maybe I could do this.

“Right everyone, great warmup!” boomed Michelle’s glamorous man-assistant, a muscly tanned young man with his radio mike and headset. The Warm Up.  Oh yes, I’d forgotten all about that. 

I thought about stopping again, just escaping now.  But I give up on so many diet and exercise attempts when they get a bit hard. I caught a glimpse of another woman’s T-shirt with the words, “Pain – it’s only temporary!” on the back. I took it as a sign – I had to finish this damn workout – even if I was wearing a singlet with the words “Bust a Move” on it above a dancing cartoon cow that was actually part of a pyjama set from Target.

So I busted my moves amongst the positive pop psychology-sloganed lycra. One thousand people, mostly women between 20 – 50ish from all over Australia. Some in sensible workout gear, some dressed up. There was a Wonder Woman. There was a flock of fabulous fat fairies in green wigs and matching tutus. A clutch of elves in blue T-shirts from Canberra wearing silver sequinned elf hats. 

The punters were keen – I saw two plastered limbs but their owners still moved what they could. It was one big arena of positivity (with ample water, sunscreen and uplifting, gym-style music pumping motivating through the speakers). It was Priscilla Queen of the Desert meets Alex Queen of Desserts, meets Oprah, meets Aerobics Oz Style. In fact, you could say it was a Disco in an Unlikely Place.**

The initials JFDI appeared on many T-shirts.  “Just F—ing Do It!”  I really need to embrace JFDI.  And following on from that, JFFI (Just F—ing Finish It) and not to mention my all time favourite, JFSI (Just F—ing Start It) in the first place.

Glamorous man-assistant told us to “Grapevine” , a move I haven’t seen since the early 90s (oh who am I kidding, it was the late 80s), at Healthlands Bondi Junction. 

“Class over!” he finally boomed as I huffed and puffed. What? Already, it was only ½ hour in to this “endorphin extravaganza”. 

“Cross-over!” he boomed again as he executed his nifty footwork. So not only am I unfit, I’m deaf as well. 

There was one foray into group activity where we had to break off into small teams and actually engage with sweaty strangers. This was getting a bit too “boot-camp” for my liking. I stared longingly at the gate bordering the workout area, about 50 metres away, thinking ‘Do I make a run for it now?’ because Lord knows that’s what I felt like doing. Engage with complete strangers when I’m red, sweaty, unco-ordinated and un-plank worthy?

There was a row of Michelle’s minions at the gate, blocking it like a row of bouncers. There was no escape. Face your fear, Alex, be an adult, finish something, JFFI! So I stayed. I planked, I conquered. I JFDI (Just F—ing Did It)! I had little breaks here and there, but it was ok. There was no pressure, everyone was there to have a good time, and I really did.

Apart from a small bindi injury sustained during the mass plank-off, I came through the workout unscathed. Red-faced (literally) but unscathed.  And more importantly, inspired to get moving, and JFDI! (and finish it.)

Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT definitely has its merits. Thousands swear by it and it obviously works for them. While I am extremely impressed with, and have been sporadically motivated by Bridges’ drive, enthusiasm and amazing positivity, I found the program’s expectations of me were a little high. I think it’s great for people who like structure and are motivated by the group, competition and challenges in general. My failure on the program was to do with my own character flaws (laziness, procrastination, tendency to hide in the Den of Denial, compulsion to make butter from cream etc.etc) rather than anything to do with the 12WBT itself.

I am now trialling the 5:2 diet by Dr Michael Mosely, who to me, is the Kevin McCloud of science and medicine. This diet is also known as The Fast Diet – not because it’s fast (damn it), but because you fast for two days a week (limiting your calorie intake to 500 per day) and “eat well” for five days. Every week. Forever.

Hopefully I can “JFDI”. I will keep you posted.

*The vehicle you think about time-travelling in when you really want to go back to the 80s, while being deluded that it is in fact possible to go back. Especially if you play Huey Lewis and the News on your tape deck as you wish, hope and pray. Can also be a metaphor for any journey of delusion you are on.

** A time or place of unexpected joy.


    • Thanks Tim! That Butterfield Diet Plan was hilarious! There’s certainly truth in what he’s saying! That whole “diet” mentality can indeed backfire. Love the “during-dinner mints”!

      • Alex, if you’re interested in losing weight the non-fad way, my wife helped me slim down by giving sensible for-life pieces of advice. I was a chubby 83kg (at 180cm tall) when we met, and I’ve now been comfortably hovering around a quite respectable 71kg or so for the past few years – yet still enjoying my chocolate, pizzas and curries. I’ve still got a little bit of a beer-belly (a small one) that it be nice to be rid of, but it totally doesn’t bother me and am very happy wearing fitted t-shirts etc.

        The key things that I’ve incorporated into my life have been:

        – Be aware of the fat content on all purchased shop products. Fat = fat! For example, I like pizzas but most typically have 30g+ fat for the whole pizza. At that level, a whole pizza should only a rare treat. However, there are 2 or 3 brands in our local supermarkets at a much lower 15g fat, and importantly are still very tasty. 15g fat isn’t so bad for a meal (lower is better obviously), so I have one of those pizzas once a week and don’t feel I’m missing anything. Note: I mentioned “purchased shop products” because it isn’t feasible to check when eating out, so in those cases I don’t worry too much, and just be sensible and truthful with yourself 🙂 For example, we went out for a curry last night, and didn’t think about the high volume of fat there – I was just enjoyed it!

        – Be aware that fat in snacks before sleeping won’t be burned up as the body shuts down for the night. For example, I used to have a bowl of cereal if I felt peckish, whereas now if I feel I really need something (and a cup of tea won’t do) then I might have a cup of hot milk (skimmed of course). Similarly, we often eat dinner late, e.g. 9.30pm – 10pm, but if even later, say 10.30pm I’ll be wary about eating snacks with the meal (e.g. zero breadsticks instead of 1 or 2 that I sometimes have).

        – Treat myself properly! I like chocolate. If I’m going to eat chocolate I make it worth it! Instead of munching through Mars bars etc, I’ve got a supply of pricier high quality chocolates that I treat myself to: 3 or 4 pieces in one sitting, once a week – often when relaxing on Sunday evening. I would count a surprise one-off morning beer truffle as such a treat if it was appreciated and remembered as something nice (not something guilty). Example: I’ve got a chocolate advent calendar this year containing high quality praline chocolates. I’m going to fully enjoy making my way through that!!

        Importantly, this is all natural to me now. I’m reasonably happy with my weight and am totally enjoying what I eat. I don’t feel deprived of anything. I like walking and try to do that when I can (nothing excessive, no hill climbing), but I don’t jog, swim, cycle, or go to the gym. My wife has told me about calories a few times, but that hasn’t sunk in yet. Fat content is easier to imagine as fattening 🙂

        I’m sure you’ve read all of these kind of things before, but it can’t help to be reminded.

  1. Thanks for all the great info Tim – and it really is. Sensible and not extreme is the way to go when trying to lose weight. In fact the whole “diet” mentality is a recipe for failure because the feeling of deprivation just leads people to feeling bad and wanting to eat more. It really is about incorporating sensible bits of advice into your life. Sounds like what you’re doing is great because you’re being mindful re your eating. And you’re right – it is about being mindful and appreciating the better-quality foods rather than mindlessly scoffing Mars bars just because they’re there or because it’s a long held habit.

    The “Fast” Diet (5:2) I mentioned in this post, I find quite hard to do, because I have felt really deprived and hungry on my 500 calorie days. But it’s basically eating the way our distant ancestors did. The idea with this diet is that the body goes into repair mode when it’s not processing food, so it leads to improvements in other health markers like blood-glucose, cholesterol etc. I think it would take some time to get used to the fast days. A lot of research has gone into this way of eating and I believe that for people who can do it, great. But at the moment I am just trying to be sensible and not overdoing it on the frozen yoghurt after dinner!

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