Monthly Archives: January 2013
So my Mum…
This Mum of which I speak is my grandma, who’s raised me since I was 5…man I feel like the author of The Babysitters Club repeatedly explaining my backstory on here as I tend to do…admittedly if her series was being read by a tender but delicious few!
Anyway…I digress. Probably cos I don’t really want to write it: but here it is.
Mum’s cancer is back. It’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma again. Given the alternatives that were being investigated it is actually a positive outcome.
Still, it has rocked me. The past few weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been seeing heaps of her though, which has been truly wonderful. I feel very lucky.
Lucky to have this time with her. Lucky that she has made it this far (she’s 89 in a few weeks and determined to make it past 90!), lucky that she has seen my wedding and met all three of my children, to the point where all of them will have memories of spending time with her. So, so lucky.
Back in 2007, deciding to move to Canada was a really tough call, given that I’ve spent most of my life worrying about her dying at any moment. It’s a hangover from experiencing grief early on. I still have to, on occasion, talk myself down from thoughts that loved ones will disappear suddenly. Then…three weeks before we were due to leave, she underwent tests for leukaemia. “Mum,” I said to her. “It’s okay, if it’s bad news, we’ll just cancel the trip and stay. It’s no big deal. Really. Canada will aways be there.” She called me a few days later: “It’s not cancer!” We all breathed sighs of relief, celebrated and off we trundled to the big beautiful red and white flag in the snow.
A few weeks later, a Skype call. Only in audio, as the computer was crap. “So they’re putting me on this new medicine for the thing.”
“What is it exactly?”
“Non, oh what is it? I wrote it down. Hold on a moment, oh non, non-Hodgkins lymphoma,” she says.
“Lymphoma?” I say. “But Mum, that’s cancer, isn’t it?”
“Well, no, not really.”
This is the Mum of which I speak. This woman.
I am astounded by her attitude. I feel so grateful to have been raised by such a strong, character-ful, positive, optimistic in defiance of life’s shittiness-at-times and truly magnificent woman.
She raised my sister (then 2, a toddler for crying out loud) and I (5) from the age of 60 (!), as a single parent AND while grieving the completely-out-of-the-blue death of her daughter.
She is something else.
She has made me who I am.
Of course, she wasn’t perfect, nobody is. But now that I’ve had my own kids, I FORGIVE EVERYTHING. I had no idea the extent of what she did for us – and I mean, everything, the feeding, the lunch boxes, the driving, the noise (dear God, the noise!), the money, the cooking, the cleaning (and she kept our home spick and span!) I understand this now a little bit more at least, and cannot even comprehend how she did it. She is almost beyond human in my mind. She’s my role model.
When somebody commented recently to her about my housekeeping abilities (or apparently infamous lack thereof), she simply smiled and said “Well, Jenny’s NOT a housekeeper! She never has been and she never will be. I used to walk by her bedroom and just shut the door.”
As she recounts this to me one afternoon, she stares me directly in the eye and smiles: “And you’re NOT a housekeeper!” Magically, she says this to me in a way that doesn’t feel like a passive aggressive jibe, but like a compliment. Hmm, I think. I’m not a housekeeper. Damn straight! “Thank you!” I say. “Thank you Mum! I’m NOT a housekeeper! Thank you!” We hug.
OTHER THINGS HAPPENING LATELY:
- have spent a stunning summer at the beach as often as we can get there. My kids have learned to boogie board, including my scrummy Cassidy. Boarding at age 3. I am so boasting about that!
- my new up-and-coming website (this blog is gonna be moving soon to http://www.jennywynter.com you see) has been hijacked and apparently is redirecting all mobile devices to some Russian porn site. If that’s your thing, then you’re welcome. For all others, my huge apologies, I am trying to sort it out shortly, comrades! Vodkas all round. The new site WILL be up and running pretty shortly!
- I live-tweeted my way through Labyrinth! It’s been on my to-do list for a while and was suitably fun. Some tweeps joined in who weren’t even watching the movie (other than in their head.) Hehe. Thinking of making it a regular tweetable movie club.
- got some new headshots done. Just plain actory-ones for my actory-aspirations.
- WE BOUGHT A TELEVISION. Inconceivable. We haven’t had one for nearly a decade (by choice) and already I’m rather horrified by the amount we’ve had it switched on at home. I blame the Australian Open.
- my head has been turned to a pile of melting mush by the umpteen logistics involved in taking the new show PLUS Betties PLUS a set (still haven’t quite worked out how the heck I’m getting my giant gum ball machine down to South Australia!) down to Adelaide Fringe. It’s coming soon. And even better…tickets are actually already selling. So yes. I’m full of anxiety and excitement. Anxietment!
So an overdue update on my health-spiration change. I’m absolutely ELATED to tell you that I’ve lost 8kg since starting out in late November. I truly cannot believe it, namely because a) my thyroid condition makes it damn DAMN hard to lose anything and b) I have not even started an exercise plan. I’ve joined a gym, but haven’t even set foot in it. I know. Lame, lame, lame.
But…I’ll be getting in there shortly (I’m aiming for at least twice a week in the name of being realistic), so am hopeful that it will help change things up even more once the eating thing settles in and I hit any plateaus.
The best things I’ve learned (I take no credit for these by the way, they are tips and thoughts from others who are helping me on the way):
- there’s no point in a diet, only a lifestyle. It can’t just be “I’m gonna eat well until I get to my goal.” It has to be a change for good.
- reframe what you think is “good food.” For example, on the cruiseship, I was bemoaning how hard it was to be in front of all this amazing array of good food (dessert buffet anybody?!) and not able to eat it. My fellow comedian (and extremely buff and healthy guy!) Mad Mike Bennet challenged me on what I thought “good food” was. Once I started viewing the foods that were healthy, wholesome, clean and helpful to my body as “good foods”, it was a heck of a lot easier to stick with the plan!
- I pay attention to how foods make me feel. And…the good food DOES make me feel good. Lighter. Not bloated. Cleaner. The other day on my cheat day, I started eating some chocolate and honestly, I couldn’t even finish it. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED. I felt so ill. It was great!
- I have just started another DietBet. The first one I won and more than doubled my money. I think I’m just one of those people who NEEDS competition – or at least accountability with the bonus of my money being on the line – to succeed!
- protein, protein, protein and veges, veges, veges. If I had to sum up the one principle I’m basing this whole eating lifestyle on, it’s just prioritising these every time I eat.
- cut out sugar (replace with stevia). I haven’t completely cut out fruit, but I am minimising it.
- drink water, drink water, drink water. Even on days when I’ve slid on the diet (particular over Christmas), I’ve made an effort to keep drinking, no matter what.
- eat regularly, even when you don’t feel hungry. Just eat the good stuff!
- find substitutes. For instance, I have a soft drink habit (diet ones, Coke Zero, etc. but still. Not great for your body!) which, while not eliminating it completely, I have cut down MASSIVELY by replacing with soda water. My fridge is always full of it now, I add a bit of lemon, some mint (if I can be bothered making the trek out to the garden. I am beyond lazy, I know) and it’s working. Apparently all I seek is fizz and I feel suitably treated.
I got an email from a friend the other day asking me if I could share some of the eating tips I’d been raving on about, sent to me by my friend Dave. With his permission – and his disclaimer that he’s mainly paraphrasing other peeps who now what they’re on about – I’m sharing his email below. I need to stress that I have absolutely NOT followed this diet strictly, nor have I followed any “diet”, but the principles have helped massively (e.g. protein/vege rich, having a cheat day, drinking heaps of water, etc.) I would say I’ve stuck to his advice about 85% and have had AMAZING results even just with that.
Over to Dave:
If it’s weight loss, you might want to consider trying something that I used to drop a lot of weight this year, a modified ketogenic diet. Essentially it’s a diet that lowers the amount of carbs and sugar consumed, which makes your body burn fat and protein instead. (Think Aktins without the nasty side effects.)
The goal is to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking. When your body releases insulin to combat ingested sugar and carbs, it starts storing anything it can find as fat.
Try this for say 2 or 3 days and see if it works for you. If so, you can give a shot for reals. If not, nothing lost. When I’m doing it full on, I give myself 1 day a week to eat whatever I choose (helps with cravings etc).
So, for 2 days, eat nothing with sugar added. This includes lactose (milk sugar) etc. For breakfast, have 30 grams of protein (your choice), a handful of veg (avoid carrots and tomatoes), 2 eggs however you choose, and either beans or lentils (for the added protein, plus this is your carbs…)
For example, I have 2 fried eggs (yes FRIED!!! with butter), refried black beans, a handful of spinach, and chicken.
For lunch and dinner, I have protein (30gs), beans of some kind, and veg. I’ll skip the beans with lunch usually.
Because you’re not consuming lots of carbs, the fat in the food you’re eating will keep you full until your next meal, so you won’t feel like snacking. If you do, and can’t stop, try pepperoni (make sure it has minimal carbs and no sugar), and a small handful of almonds or cashews.
Just before bed, you can have a small spoonful of peanut butter (to regulate your blood sugar through the night. Also, LOTS of water. Try for 2 litres a day. (You can’t drink much else, so why not!). Artificial sweeteners should be kept to a minimum, but a little splenda in your coffee/tea or a diet coke won’t hurt.A glass of red wine is ok too.
There’s more to it, but try that out and see how it works. If you avoid sugar for 2 days, you should see your weight drop like crazy. My first week I was down I think 7 pounds. After 6 months, my cholesterol levels are fantastic, and doctor’s check up was great. (I need more vitamin D, but you shouldn’t have that problem in sunny Oz).
Exercise is fine, but real weight loss is diet based. If you go hard on cardio etc, you’ll need to eat more to compensate, (and most people grabs carbs, which completely ruins the effect.) So if you do hit the gym, go easy on the cardio, or have something carby 30 minutes before.
You need to know a couple of things:
1 – the initial giant weight loss is the result of you burning up your glycogen stores (sugar your body stores). You won’t see a massive continual drop like that, but it’s a great way to start.
2 – every 7 to 10 days, you’ll need to load up on carbs in order to raise your leptin levels (we don’t want your thyroid to start shutting down). This is what we call “cheat day”. It’s wonderful. From wake up to bedtime, you can eat ….anything. Yup. anything. In order to limit some of the damage, a bit of exercise 90 seconds before eating and 90 minutes after (like 1.5 minutes worth) will help. Try to poo that day as well. Coffee helps, or prunes, or magnesium.
Apart from helping with cravings, cheat day raises the amount of calories your body expects, so that you don’t plateau (body gets used to less calories, stops losing weight). After cheat day, it might take a day or two for that glycogen to drop off, don’t panic.
Drinks LOTS of water still.
3 – If you want the full meal deal, the program I followed is called “The Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferris. Don’t worry, he’s not a diet guru or anything. He’s a bored rich guy who started experimenting with weight loss etc. This is his results.
Other good reading is “Why We Get Fat” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. It explains the whole slow carb theory, and such.
Even after 9 months, it amazes me that I can eat like this for a day or two and lose 2-4 pounds (after a cheat day).
Hope that’s helpful, let me know what your’e doing! If there’s one thing that’s helped me stay committed on this journey it’s having other people to support, encourage and commiserate with!
One of the Betties other halves took some SMASHING photos all Woodford long, including of the wondrous onstage birth of Wonderland!
Thank you Leonie! xxx
I have splattered them all over my new Wonderland page over here if you’d care to take a peek.
PS if you live in Adelaide, a heads-up that there are only 14 subsidised tix left through Bank SA’s Support Act Program, where you get your ticket for $10 and they chip in the rest. If you want to grab a cheapie, I would jump to it!
I am a (somewhat ashamed) New Year’s Resolution kinda gal. But…this year, I’ve opted out of making any of my traditional ridiculous claims to heights-a-lofty, and instead decided to keep it simple. My goal? To enjoy it.
A few triggers for this:
1) Earlier this year, I got an email from my literary agent. She commented that I’d been so busy this year and asked a very simple question: “are you enjoying it?” Now, whether or not she meant that to rock my soul, so that I’d think deeply about whether I was in fact, enjoying the ride, or whether she was simply making small talk, we will probably never know – it was, after all, written some months ago, so I doubt she’d remember her original intention even if I questioned her on it, which I wouldn’t, given that I do not wish to annoy her with my overly analytical and self-obsessed ways. YOU, however, person who has actively sought out such punishment…HOLD TIGHT! It made me question myself. Am I enjoying it? Am I? I was unsure of the answer.
2) On my first cruise in November (which I LOVED, by the way, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total Scrooge Mc-Hate-Life!), I had a moment. There I was, sitting in the most crystal blue water I have ever had the tremendous fortune to set eye on, let alone my swimsuit clad bod in, when I realised to my horror, that despite this moment where I was essentially LIVING INSIDE PINTEREST, I could NOT relax. My mind would not switch off. It just wouldn’t. It’s not that I was wound up, it was merely that state of “rolling through my to-dos, should-dos and what-ifs” like the scrolling flight charts in the world’s busiest airport, showed itself for what it was: my default setting. I was mortified. If I couldn’t relax enough to enjoy paradise, then where and when the hell could I?
3) Finally, at Woodford just gone, I realised that something ain’t working in Jenny land. I appreciated the week, I enjoyed myself massively onstage (truly, it seems sad to me that this is the one place I really can relax and have fun, but this said, it causes me tremendous anxiety and physical pain both before and after the show goes on!) and of course, love that my family truly embraces and leaps on the week of festivities with rabid enthusiasm. BUT…again, I don’t think I really enjoyed it. And this is Woodford! If you can’t enjoy Woodford (when the weather is good, of course!) then what can you? I feel like I was so focused on the next gig, the next gig, the next gig, that I couldn’t really just let go and savour the wonders. I was too tense and preoccupied. Mostly with myself. And I hate that. I want to change that. I want to act professionally without taking it all too seriously. I want to appreciate the privilege of being able to perform (I still remind myself before I step onstage sometimes just how damn lucky I am to be alive and walking out there) and indeed, to appreciate and enjoy the tremendous honour of living in a world where I can actually do this for a living. I feel like a spoiled brat even being all “poor me, I don’t truly enjoy my incredibly privileged life!” but therein lies the problem. I KNOW I’m privileged. I KNOW I should be grateful. And I am. I just need to work on how to relax more so that I can appreciate the ride more. Otherwise, really. What is the point in any of this?
I want to change. I want to focus on learning how to relax, stretching every day, treating my body well (thus far I have lost 8kg since I started eating well, so incredibly happy and encouraged by that!), planning more down-time and banning myself from any work-stuff, being more organised in my work-time so that I can be more productive to free up other time, so that I can take the time and effort to really enjoy and savour my family too.
What about you? Are you making any resolutions, complex, simple or somewhere in between?
What a week. I don’t believe I’m out of line speaking on behalf of the entire clan when I say that we’re sore, tired, high, low, socialised up, gigged out, rocked in the spaces between and now facing a house that looks like a shaken snow-globe. Such is the roller coaster marathon of wonder that is a season spent at Woodford Folk Festival!
My Top 5 Personal Highlights in No Particular Order:
1. Debuting WONDERLAND!
With the first EVER performance of this new show (yep, the one that’s coming to Adelaide Fringe and Brisbane Comedy Festival shortly!) I was understandably nauseous about this one. BUT…I’ve gotta tell you, the moment the curtains opened, the band kicked in (they ROCKED IT SO BAD I NEARLY SWEATED PRIDE BEADS!), I looked over and saw the Betties being all Betty-ish, I took in the ridiculously awesome set (designed by extraordinardo incarnate Dan Endicott, who took my instructions of “Well, I know it’s crazy but I’d love a giant gum ball machine that actually WORKS!” and turned them into even more amazeballsness than I could have ever hoped for)…I honestly had goosebumps.
It was way too much fun. I’ve got plenty of tweaking (and more writing!) to do between now and it’s resurrection in Adelaide (opening night is Friday February 15th) but I am just so relieved and elated that WE HAVE GOT A SHOW, PEOPLE!
2. Hanging with Betty and the Betties!
3. Having Utterly Fabulous Hair All Week Long!
After 13 years of coming to Woodford (as a performer for nearly half of that), this one marked a turning point in that for the first time ever, I had a wondrous man of Edward Scissorhands-like-hair genius stroking my tender locks each and every morn. Even to be able to type that sentence is a dream come true. Derek from the fabulous Pink Salon (if you’re in Brissie you really MUST check these guys out) was on Betty and Jenny hair patrol and my oh my. I don’t know how I will ever go back.
That the top of my crown looked so well spruced came in particularly handy during a surprise photo op with Australia’s very own PM. Whoda thunk?
PLUS…Derek’s daughter and my own (who became little partners in crime around the festival all week) succumbed to the allure of the Betty hairstyle and by the end of the week, became our very own honorary Betty Juniors!
The Great Debate!
Doing the debate is always one of my favourite gigs of the entire festival, however it is also the one that causes the most turmoil to my digestive tract. Fortunately, being able to meet Rod Quantock (a long-time hero who, it turns out, is not just hilarious but the sweetest man) AND Kate Miller-Heidke (whose Mum I met at a gig last year, after which she came to see “An Unexpected Variety Show” in Melbourne, love her and Kate is as gorgeous in person as she is onstage) within 10 minutes of going onstage to debate my buttocks off, was soothing balm for the affirmative team’s soul.
I should also point out that I have such strong memories of being a punter in the crowd and watching these debates – they were my only “I cannot miss that!” events each year, and thinking how much ridiculous fun it would be to be up there doing it. Dreams can come true. They really can.
Camping With Friends!
Between the half a gazillion gigs, my favourite thing to do in between was as little as possible back at our campsite. Hanging with friends and family that we otherwise don’t have nearly as much of a chance to catch up with properly throughout everybody’s highly busy years, this was just the bomb. And that almost all our fellow campers had kids as well was organic icing on the gluten-free cake.
PLUS…Just Soaking Up General Woodfordia Goodness!
Last year we got home from Woodford and my littlest was all fired up about doing somersaults. This year? We can hardly pry the ukelele away from him. This morning he woke me up by singing “I love you Mummy, I love Ella, I love Caleb, I love Daddy, I love myself!”
Thank you Woodford. Til next time. xx