Monday, 24 May 2010

Caught red-handed

We've all done it. Said something we shouldn't have - and immediately regretted it. Whether it's having a crafty bitch and being caught out, or making a controversial joke in the wrong company, it's a horrendous feeling.

Luckily for the majority of loose-tongued people, this feeling is one that lingers a few days and quickly dies a death. A new piece of juicy gossip replaces it and all is practically forgotten, with the culprit having well and truly learned their lesson.

Shame the same can't be said for poor Fergie. A woman who's made more fatal errors of judgment than Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig on the battle of the Somme, she's enjoyed a few tabloid-free years before once again being slaughtered by the press.

Candidly claiming she was so broke she "didn't have a pot to piss in," the Dutchess thought she was chatting to an international business tycoon when she offered to 'open doors' and set up a meeting with her Trade Envoy ex-husband. And all for the measly sum of £500,000.

Unfortunately for her, the businessman was actually an undercover News of the World reporter with a camera hidden somewhere in his lapel. That camera was whirring away as she pocketed her £40,000 deposit. And the story was soon splashed over the front cover of every red-top in the country, leaving her highly embarrassed (yet again) and with no other choice but to make a public apology.

You've gotta hand it to Sarah. It's probably the most spectacular gaffe of the year so far (with Gordon's 'bigoted woman' coming close second). But it's the latest in a string of faux-pas made by the former Princess since marrying Andrew in 1986. In fact, the woman's committed social suicide on a number of occasions, with the long-suffering Queen finally washing her hands of her and encouraging other red-faced royals to do the same.

But is all of this Sarah's fault? Okay, she's lived a privileged life most of us could only dream of. Never has she had to brave the tube at rush hour with someone's sweaty armpit in her face. Come winter, despite being dogged with debt, she's the first to hop into a first class seat, champagne glass in hand, headed for sunnier climes and some millionaire's luxury yacht.

She's also peed a considerable sum of cash up the wall when most responsible adults on a divorce settlement of £15,000 a year might have saved a few pennies for a rainy day.

But being posh doesn't mean she's the sharpest tool in the box. Neither does it mean she's streetwise - least of all when it comes to the media. You'd think with all the millions the royals had stashed away they might have sent the poor woman on a media training course. Prince Philip really should have joined her...they might have even been able to haggle a BOGOF deal.

Her latest slip-up was crazy behaviour even by her standards, but it's also desperate behaviour from someone who should have just been paid off by the tight-fisted royals in the first place. If the £15,000 a year settlement rumours are true, it's a surprise she's even got a roof over her head, never mind a pot to pee in.

So come on Queen Liz, pay off Fergie's debts and buy her a place in the Caribbean. That way you may never have to read about her again. For another few years anyway...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The joys (and pitfalls) of the comfort zone

Last weekend I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of the usual lie-in, lunch and shopping, followed by a few mojitos, I attended a 2-day ‘inspirational and motivational’ course.

Always the cynic, I was sceptical from the start, refusing to wear my name badge and darting towards an empty seat on the back row (in case I fell asleep or needed to make a quick getaway).

The minute I sat down I’d resigned myself to the fact this course was going to be utter rubbish. No doubt the speakers would be preachy and unqualified do-gooders and it would be a total waste of time.

As time went on, my train of thought lost all sense of logic. I looked around me. No one looked like my kind of person. They all looked a bit weird. It could be a cult. What if they brainwash me and then, when I’m least expecting it, kidnap me and bundle me into the back of a van?!

I felt tense. I was outside my comfort zone and I definitely didn’t like it. I longed for my familiar Saturday routine; my lie-in and shopping. Panicking slightly, I checked out the windows to see if they provided a viable escape route.

All of a sudden I was brought back to reality by the sound of a woman’s soothing voice. I thought I may as well hear it out for a while. I could always scarper at break time if it wasn’t my kind of thing.

Fast-forward an hour and I was on the edge of my seat hanging off the woman’s every word. My earlier fears had completely vanished. I’d learned it was perfectly normal to move outside your comfort zone. In fact, by getting out of bed and attending the course I’d actually taken myself into ‘stretch zone’ without even realising.

I pinpointed my fears and ‘limiting beliefs’ and found myself telling total strangers my life story. The speakers encouraged us to set lifetime goals for ourselves and break them down into five achievable steps. Suddenly my crazy fantasies and daydreams actually became realistic.

By the end of the course I felt on top of the world. I’d realised my biggest limiting belief was a lack of confidence in myself and my general ability. I always look at others and think they're better than me.

But last weekend changed my entire way of thinking. Obviously I’m not planning to become an egotistical bag of hot air any time soon, but I’ve definitely got some new-found self belief. I've even decided to leave my job so I can focus 100 percent on becoming a journalist. 

The moral of the story? Ditch the shopping and take yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while. You never know where it might get you.

Monday, 3 May 2010

An ode to mayonnaise (and all the other fatty food I no longer eat often)

I treated myself to a pea-sized portion of full fat mayo on my sarnie today. Doing so made me think back to the days when I would slather the stuff over everything I ate, blissfully unaware I might as well be wolfing down a lump of lard.

After a night at the student union it would be considered almost rude not to head to the local kebab shop for a large portion of chips, cheese and mayonnaise. Followed by a greasy fry-up the next morning and a burger with chips between lectures.

From the way I've just described my student lifestyle you'd think my physique was comparable to a spacehopper. But it was actually the opposite. I was 8 and a half stone and a size 8.

When I started working I learned the importance of being healthy. No longer could I rely on getting my energy from long lie-ins and my exercise from throwing shapes on the dance floor.

Developing 'office arse' scared me into action. As each day passed I could feel the gradual expansion of my bum as it started spreading itself across my office chair...and it didn't feel good. Then, whilst shopping in H&M I caught sight of my cellulite in the mirror and nearly dropped dead from a heart attack.

So, I started eating my 5-a-day, cooking from fresh and even (in a desperate attempt to maintain my weight) subscribed to Good Food magazine. Okay, admittedly I only choose the tasty looking recipes, which generally aren't in the 'Super Healthy Suppers' section, but there's no doubt I've cut out some serious calories.

Not to mention joining the local gym and vowing to do four workouts a week. After a hellish session on the treadmill and cross-trainer (my fourth in the space of 5 days), I decided to weigh myself. Feeling completely smug and very proud of myself, I was imagining huge weight loss as I stepped onto the scales. After all, I'd virtually killed myself over the past few weeks with my heavy exercise regime. I'd envisaged I'd dropped at least half a stone, if not more!

I gasped loudly as I found out my true weight...and not in a good way. A million thoughts instantly flashed through my mind, the first being that the scales must have been broken. I mean that was the only way. How, how could I weigh an entire stone more than I did at Uni? It was just so unfair and seemed clinically impossible.

After I'd calmed down a tad, a light bulb pinged inside my head. Instead of focusing upon the weight I was, I need to be happy with the weight I am. It's unlikely I'll ever be a size 8 again, but I'm a size 10 which isn't exactly massive. Living in London and being constantly surrounded by willowy women who sashay past in their Chanel sunglasses and trendy clothes made me lose a sense of who I am. What I hadn't thought was they probably survive on a lettuce leaf a day to maintain their weight.

One of my best friends - a qualified nutritionist - once told me I could eat everything as long as it was in moderation. So I spread some mayo on my sarnie then had a slice of my brother's birthday cake. And guess what? I didn't feel guilty at all.