Tuesday, 5 February 2008

"You're not thin......"

It seems this just isn't my week.

Sometimes it goes like this in Dubai - you go along attending an endless string of brunches and buffet dinners, have amazing layovers to wonderful destinations and just live a charmed little existence all round.

And then the inevitable thing happens. Someone upstairs looks down and chooses to burst your happy little bubble at the worst possible moment. That moment was January 30th, the day of my encounter with the crazy passenger on my Entebbe flight. It continued to include my traffic fine and also extends to my trip to the pharmacy today.

Whoever thought a simple trip to the pharmacy could be so humbling? And also make you want to punch a complete stranger in the face and THEN have the ground open up and swallow you?

I've worked out that people in Dubai have no tact. At all. I've contemplated this and while I think language barriers and cultural differences are partly to blame, the plastic society we live in here has extended to everyday interactions with complete strangers. No one is remotely worried about offending or doing the right thing by anyone.

Let's start at the beginning shall we?

I'm 6 feet tall. Well, 1/4 of an inch shorter if you want to get technical, but saying "I'm 5 foot, 11 inches and three quarters" sounds pretty wanky, so lets just go with 6 feet. I also weigh 77kgs. Well within a healthy weight range apparently, but 5kgs heavier than I was when I came over here two years ago.

When we joined, we'd hear whispers on the cabin crew grapevine about the 6kgs cabin crew pile on within their first 6 months here. This is apparently due to lack of sleep, disturbed sleeping and eating patterns, jet lag and the need to eat plane food. There's no PARTICULAR need for us to eat that crappy stuff that all airlines try to pass off as food, but when you're in a tin tube for 14 hours, you're bound to get a bit peckish. When you combine that fact with the small amount of absolutely ridiculously unappetising food that's loaded for the crew to eat, it's inevitable that you'll end up munching on garlic bread or mashed potatoes.

BEWARE: such food is loaded with carbs, calories and all sorts of nasty stuff that's SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to make you feel full and have a slight effect of constipation on you. This is so you're not up and down, up and down to the toilet for the whole flight. We have only got about 8 toilets on our biggest aircraft and when you divide that by the 400 or so passengers we carry at full capacity, it's not likely that there will be one moment those 8 toilets aren't occupied.

So, when we look at the hideously unappetising trays of crew food that consist of shriveled and dried up celery and radish sticks and the occasional cherry tomato or banana or slice of cake, it's not too astounding that we're going to eat the onboard food.

When you combine all this with the complete lack of energy we often feel, the constant jet lag and the overwhelming desire to just schlep around our apartments in our pjs for most of the day while we watch dvds, it's not too hard to believe we're going to put on a few kgs.

What is interesting is how hard a time we're given about gaining weight. I won't go into specifics, but to cut a long story short, if we gain or lose any more than a certain weight, we can be removed from our rosters and sent to "fat camp". This pretty much entails keeping a diary of every scrap of food you eat and every ounce of exercise you do for a certain period of time, until you lose the weight and the fat camp nazis are "happy" with your "progress".

So, with all that in mind, I consider gaining 5 kgs over TWO YEARS not to be the worst thing in the world. After sailing through the first 1.5 years of my contract without finding jet lag to be too much of a problem, all of a sudden it's hit me. 2 years and 3 months into it, I'm sleeping a great deal more and have developed stranger eating habits. I'm ALWAYS hungry. I don't have worms, so it's something to do with all the odd hours that I eat at and my crazy metabolism that just doesn’t know what to do with me! I wouldn't say I'm super strict with what I eat at home, but it doesn't involve a lot of oil, fatty foods or too many chocolate or sweets. Although like most girls I AM very partial to tim tams!

What I've put this weight gain down to is purely a lack of exercise. A former pilates addict, I'm struggling. I'm 25 and have realised that I don't LIKE how I'm feeling.

So, in a valiant effort to turn it all around (sounding very Oprah inspired!), I made some crazy champagne-influenced new years resolutions this new year:

1. Eat less food.
2. Eat at proper times- as much as flying can allow.
3. Do 400 sit-ups a day - 200 each morning and 200 each night.
4. Go to the gym for 1 hour every day that I'm in Dubai.
5. Try to go to the gym on layovers - if my gym gear fits in my bag - need to maximise shopping space!!

I can say that all 5 of those resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps slightly unrealistic I hear you ask? Most likely.

So, going all Oprah again I decided it's time I'm taking action! A friend of mine at home has informed me that protein shakes are a sure way to drop the excess weight when combined with a good workout regime. After doing some minor research on the net and being confused by words that I still don't know the meanings of, I decided to enlist the help of a mate who uses such shakes.

So, feeling all good about it we set off to the pharmacy together. Now, here's where I should mention that Chris takes protein shakes that are designed to BOOST muscle mass for men and I am aiming to tone up, trim down and LOSE weight. So essentially we're looking for different products. A little stumped, we asked for help.

Our friendly little Indian pharmacist obviously had no idea about his products, but was very good at talking crap. He tried to sell me all manner of things until Chris put his foot down and said "we just want a powder for now". Well, he's clearly up on his fat loss, metabolism building, protein enriched pills, but Mr India was seriously lacking when it came to protein powders.

He started babbling that too much protein will turn into fat and that wouldn't be good for me. When I questioned him about this, he looked at me and said that too much fat wouldn't be good for me because "you're not thin......"

You can imagine I was really impressed with this and wanted to shout at him "a size 12 is NOT FAT". Instead, I swallowed my shame at having love handles, selected a chocolate flavoured powder, handed him back his rip-off pills and left.

I'm pleased to announce that the shake tastes fantastic, a bit like chocolate cake mix before it goes in the oven. So, up your arse you smug little pharmacist. I plan to prance back in there 5 kgs slimmer in a few months - not that he'll remember me.

After he pretty much told me I'm fat, I couldn't help but think "this wouldn't happen in Australia....."

There's no place like home. Now where are my Dorothy slippers?!


Anonymous said...

Hey Pinkpoodle...
First of all..you are totally thin! I think you look fabulous; it sure sounds like the man in Dubai was lacking some intelligence and decency. Anyway, as someone who has a kind of similar all of the place busy lots of travel lifestyle as you - I have encountered similar problems. So, I thought I'd give you some tips a personal trainer gave to me when i was in the same dilemma:
When you are travelling - do body weight exercises - like lunges, squats, push ups..etc. you can also take one of those pilates stretchy bands with you ?
Going for a run is actually an awesome way to get over fatigue - unfortunately when you have been flying all night, its about the last thing you feel like - but do try it anyway - when I go for a half hour run after a long flight /lack of sleep, I feel heaps better and then you SLEEP better which means you wake more refreshed!
Protein shakes are great if you are on the go. They are easy to store and make and travel with. The reason they are good for you is because they will encourgae your body to get rid of fat and gain lean muscle - lean muscle is good because it takes your body 200 more calories a day to have an extra pound of muscle on your body which means you lose fat whilst doing nothing but having some extra muscle in your body.
And the man was so wrong - sugar or carbs that are unused as an energy source will turn into fat - protein is not the same. Women lack the testosterone to get really big without drinking protein pretty much non-stop and lifting heaps of weights - so you won't get big by doing protein/resistance training - you just get lean muscle.
I carry fruit, nuts, yogurt, and carrots with me all the time for when i get peckish - and protein powder - its awesome.
Don't stress too much about the plane food - if you have to eat it, then you do, but try to include MORE vegetables, soups, lean protein (fish, chicken, tofu)
and fruit.
Hope this helps.
I felt terrible before, but after i saw him and started following some of these tips, I felt 100% better and did lose weight and tone up. But most importantly, I felt a lot less tired!

Ange x

Anonymous said...

Hope you are better. I was just reading your entry ´I have an African arse´and nearly died laughing. You must write your memoirs.