Ren’s Rules for Losing Weight (Part 2 – The Exercise Bit)

Exercise used to be a dirty, dirty word in my house.

To some extent it still is.

I dislike the actual doing of exercise but it’s something that must be done.

It’s a necessity. I am sorry to admit it but it’s one of those things that you need, not only to keep your bits working like they should but it’s actually great for brain health as well.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but as someone who is depressed a lot of the time, exercise floats my boat almost as well as a good session between the sheets – y’know what I’m sayin’?  Good hormones are released when you exercise and all your bits feel better for being used… I feel spasmodically awesome when I leave the gym all sweaty and doing an impression of a tomato in ill-fitting workout gear.

In other words, you need it.

Don’t make excuses to avoid it.

“Oh, I’m too unfit/injured/unwell!”
No you’re not.  If you have legs that work, you can use them.  If you have arms that work, you can use those.  And even if they don’t work as well as they should, you can still use them a bit.

I know someone who has very bothersome knees and she’s managing to get around the block on a regular basis.  My friend Janet busted her ankle earlier this year and deals with daily pain and soreness and puts me well to shame with going to the gym every day bar Sundays …or… one day… I am sure she rests at least one day a week… Anyway, point is, you can do it.  I started off with chronic back problems and I still have very bad hip and lower back problems that I need to be very careful of but 50kg lighter makes doing exercise a hell of a lot easier.

The trick is to start with baby steps.  Throwing yourself into a gym routine can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re starting big, like I did.  I lost 20kg before I even thought about doing water aerobics or going to the gym. That was a long time.  I was seeing a personal trainer though – less daunting to face one fit person rather than a whole room of them.  I also hired a treadmill for a few months and then bought a $50 exercise bike off ebay.  I bought a freakin’ dog that needs walks almost every day!  These are the sorts of baby steps anyone could handle.

“I don’t have enough money to hire gym equipment/see a PT/go to gym.”
Oh yeah?  Rubbish.  Ok, maybe personal trainers are a bit of an expense, and hiring a treadmill can hit the back pocket rather hard, but there are alternatives to everything.

DVDs are a great way to work out in the privacy of your own home. Most of them are priced between $10-$50 depending on the theme of the program.  You can get everything from fun Zumba routines to step aerobics to complete body shreds.  Minimal outlay to maximum benefit.

No one says you have to leave your house and spend more money, either.  You can use kitchen chairs, benches or coffee tables to do squats, sit-ups, push-ups and more. Hell, I do stomach crunches laying on my bed! You can use soup cans, bottles of water, a couple of small cats or books as weights.

And you know… walking is free.  Find time. I used to go walking during my lunch breaks at work. I found a nice trail by the Yarra and I walked it. And I made it a game – there were other regular walkers too who I made the effort to beat to certain points along the way.  I’m sure some of them thought me quite insane and a bit stalkery…

And seriously… my gym costs me $11.50 a week.  I can go in there as much or as little as I like. It’s open 24/7.  It’s not THAT big an expense.  Look up Jetts or Snap Fitness.  An aerobics session costs me $10.50 for 45 mins.  A personal trainer costs me $35 for a 40 min session.  Weigh up what works for you… um, no pun intended.

“But everyone will be watching me and thinking bad things about me!”
Well, yeah, maybe.  There are shitheads and douchbags everywhere. But you’ll find that they are not the majority.  I can promise that most folks in the gym are too busy doing their workouts to care if a yet another fat sweaty person is on the treadmill beside them.  From personal experience most will probably approve of your presence, particularly if you become a regular. You might even make some new friends and inspire others.

“But I don’t want to!”

Do it.

My routine is generally a 30-40min run on the crosstrainer or an up-hill walk on the treadmill and then 10 mins on a rower, and then weights, weights and weights.

Cardio is great for heart health however in order to lose weight effectively you also need to build muscle mass – that involves muscle building and toning exercises.  If there is one piece of advice I would impart it would be to make sure you get the all clear from your doctor before starting any gym routine.  I would also invest in at least ONE session with a trainer so you can learn to use the equipment safely and get a basic routine set up.


Ren’s Rules for Losing Weight (Part 1 – The bit about Food)

Preamble:  When I first started writing this blog post, I had no idea how long I’d be writing for, so I am breaking it up into parts. Enjoy and take from it what you like.

I’ve been doing this weight loss thing for a while now.  Pretty much all my life if you wanted to count the number of times I’ve attempted and failed and from what age I started – which would be around 13, if I remember vaguely correctly – so 20 years worth of knowledge there.  I pretty much know what works and what doesn’t.

I am totally an expert at what doesn’t, as it happens.

Just so you know.

YEARS of study there too.

Because I’ve lost a fairly substantial amount of weight this time around, more and more people have been asking me what my secret/method/process/whatever is. It’s always so disheartening for me because I know what the reaction to what I have to say will be.

Oops. Unintentional rhyme.

Anyway, the reaction is always disbelief and disappointment or a telling silence.

I will be honest and say that it’s starting to get to the point where it’s making me angry.

I got an email from a friend of a friend who was very impressed with my weight loss and, I quote: “You’ve got to have some advice!”

I do. But I’ve come to the conclusion that most folks don’t want to acknowledge the cold, hard truth of the matter. It’s too simple and it’s too hard.

Source: via Erin on Pinterest


Look, I am really, really sorry but THERE IS NO MAGIC CURE FOR FATNESS. There really isn’t.  I WISH there was.  I, of all people, know how hard it is to be huge and deal with the mental and physical ramifications of being morbidly obese, let alone deal with what society at large thinks of fat people and what it can do to relationships.

It hurts. A lot.  All of it fucking hurts.

But it’s fixable if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do it.  I have friends who’ve proven that a little effort on your part reaps great rewards.

And that’s the key; EFFORT.  Not “will power”.  EFFORT.  Having “no will power” is just a quick way of saying “I am too lazy to put in the effort I know it will take to do this”.

Ok, so here I will break down what you need to do to be successful in getting fit and losing weight according to Ren.

Because it’s all about me, after all.

Disclaimer: I am speaking as a middle-class female in her mid-thirties who got up to 152kg at her heaviest but was still mostly healthy (heart, lungs, blood pressure, etc).  This works for me but it may not work the same for you. Consult a medical practitioner before you do any program that involves food and exercise to make sure there are no particular health concerns you need to be aware of.

Ok, food.  You need to eat.  Regardless of how big you are, you NEED to eat and you need to eat a good balance of food. That includes trans, unsaturated and saturated fats – yep, all are good for you in various ways as well as being bad for in vast quantities – vegetables, fruit, dairy, carbohydrate in all it’s forms and water.

If you’re an especially big person, you need a LOT of food.  When I first joined Weight Watchers, the number of daily ProPoints I got to play with was a whapping 51.  That’s a lot of food to play with.  To put in perspective for you, a 36pp day (which is what I am on now) is a three Weetbix and milk breakfast (7pp), a baguette with ham, cheese, egg, mustard, salad (12pp), a fruit & nut bar (7pp) and dinner, say a bowl of tuna casserole worth 10pp. Add to that your recommended serves of fruit and vegetables which are points free and you have a crapload of food.  Imagine 51pp. Fuck me laughing. I was lucky to get to the high 40s most days when I initially started.


Yep, I’m spruiking Weight Watchers and the points thing again. NO, I am not being paid to do that.  I have tried EVERY single diet out there from shakes to subscription-based meal delivery to silly TV fad diets. (Anyone remember Kick Start? The Water Diet? The Cabbage Soup Diet? The Fruit Juice Fast?). Nothing worked. Of course I would lose some weight but then I would get bored, or hungry, or just be jacked off with the low quality of the food (do NOT believe those Lite & Easy ads, folks) and I would end up having huge binge-outs and gaining even more weight than I’d lost.

For the record, I am totally against shakes. They’re not good for you. It’s not food, it’s just a chemical compound mixed with water and a little flavour.  You don’t need that shit in your body.  Plus you’re starving yourself and that’s just fucked up.  I did that and got sick and gained back everything that I’d lost and twice that.  DON’T DO IT.

Don’t do anything that starves your body or messes with it’s functions.  That includes diet pills too.

Anyway, I digress…

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate will not hurt a diet, even if you have a little piece every day.  The trick is not eating the whole block, ya know?

EVERYTHING in moderation.  That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned with Weight Watchers.  You don’t have to deny yourself anything, you just need to be smart about it.  Pre-plan for the possibilities of not-so-smart food choices; this I need to do pretty much on a daily basis.


The most common thread amongst dieters that I’ve found is the moment that they start thinking of dieting as a system of restriction and denial, they fight against it.  God knows I did. I wanted all the stuff that I thought I wasn’t “allowed” to have.  The more I thought of it as “not allowed” the more I craved – and then I caved and bought a trolley full of shit and ate it… and then felt pathetically ashamed of myself and guilty as hell.

If you look at diets as a restriction you will not enjoy the process of losing weight.

Look at a diet not as a diet but as a guide for both portion sizes and meal content. Nothing is set in stone.  Don’t think of food as what you “can” and “can’t” have because ultimately, our favourite things fall into the “can’t” category. And that sucks.

Source: via Jack on Pinterest


Think of alternative recipes or options for favourite meals. If you like chicken burgers from KFC, try a chicken wrap from Nandos.  If you like macaroni and cheese, try a pasta bake that includes vegetables and flourless cheese sauce.   If you love pizza, try throwing one together yourself on a bit of pita bread. If you like to munch something during a movie, go and buy a big bag of grapes and eat those – this is something I’ve just started doing in lieu of popcorn and lollies and ice cream and it’s great.

It will take some practice and time, both of which require a hell of a lot of patience, but you WILL learn what balance works best for you.

You just need to keep at it.

You Yangs – odd name, lovely place.

A few days ago I went to the You Yangs in order to scout out some likely locations for a photoshoot I am planning.

The Ashbird (otherwise known as my brother in-law – “Ashbird” is now an inside joke) and I got sufficiently lost trying to find the You Yangs.

Please note… I CAN SEE THE YOU YANGS FROM MY HOUSE. You wouldn’t think we got lost.  But we did.

We got oh so slightly losted. We were following signs but we still got losted.

Getting to the You Yangs via the freeway is slightly convoluted. Because there is a sign for the You Yangs (eventually) on the freeway… but they do not tell you that you need to take the Lara turn-off.

So, folks who are going to the You Yangs via the freeway? Take the Lara turn-off.

We drove through scenic Lara… and drove some more through Lara… and some more.

And then we saw the You Yangs!

Seriously, we just needed to drive towards the big hilly thing that I could see from my main street. Instead we drove around it halfway and then came up it’s arse like something that… goes up something’s arse.  I have no idea where I am going with that. It’s too early in the morning and I’ve not slept much.

We scouted. There’s some pretty spots around Big Rock but the population of picnickers may make for some difficulties, particularly if it’s a sunny day as it was last Wednesday.  I may try to make the shoot happen on a work day that isn’t a school holiday… which will likely see a whole bunch of school kids there doing abseiling, or something just as exciting but also very much INMYWAY.

A trip around the Great Circle Drive didn’t prove fruitful at all, aside from finding a pleasant little oasis of a picnic spot where there is a little pondy thing.  I thought about tossing my model in there but I really don’t want her to get bit by the millions of DEADLY TIGER SNAKES that are in the area.

(And let’s not forget the King Browns… Seriously Australia? Did you HAVE to have every venomous, man-killing reptile in the world???)

So… the You Yangs may be a bust in terms of my photography project but there’s some definite possibilities if we can’t find anywhere else with the look I was going for.

Here’s a fine-artish shot I took of said little oasis of prettifulness.

You Yangs, Victoria, Australia -

bellabox – September 2012

A few weeks back I got the September bellabox.

Initally I was REALLY impressed with the haul in this box. Lots of stuff to try, decent sample sizes (or in some cases full sizes) and all useful products. I was a little sad I didn’t get any of the cosmetic products, it is mostly skincare but it’s all good.

I don’t have any photos for this one as I haven’t had time to do that, but there’s links all over the place. But here’s a product picture from the bellabox website:

bellabox - September 2012


The first product I was happy to receive was the Bioderma Sebium AKN. This creme is lovely but there really wasn’t enough in the sample for me to make any statements as to whether it improves the condition of my skin – you really need to use it over a couple weeks at least. I did notice this made my skin very soft and I was happy that it didn’t cause any burning like a lot of moisturizers do. I’ve heard lots of good stuff about Bioderma and I am tempted to buy this one but it’s a little costly for the amount you get. The full size is $24.95 for 30ml.

Still with the Bioderma range, I also got the Sebium Foaming Gel. As cleansers goes, this stuff is also pretty nice. Again, it’s a very small sample so I can’t really say whether it would improve my skin over time but it’s pretty good at cleaning the skin and getting rid of makeup residue too. It’s $24.95 for 200ml, which makes it a real temptation to buy.

The next thing I pulled out of the box was a full size Australis Lashtastic mascara! Yay! I’d been after a new mascara to try so I was happy. The particular one I received was the TLC Conditioning Mascara. I’m not usually precious about stuff like packaging but I did love the pink chrome. (Please excuse the girly moment.) Now, generally I like Australis. They do a few good things and the mascara was pretty good but I had problems with the brush. I prefer brushes that are full and thick so I can avoid clumpage. This brush was way too thin and sparse so I got clumpage to the extreme. I had to comb through my lashes to even things out.  You can get Australis in pretty much any pharmacy/drug store or department store.  They usually sell for around the $10 mark (sometimes more or less depending on where you go).

Right… onto the truly sucky item in the box, because there had to be at least one. True Solutions All Day Moisture SPF 30+ Tinted Cream. OH MY GOD THIS SUCKED. I am blonde. I am fair. I burn just looking out of the window on a brightly overcast day. Anything with a little sun protection is great but this stuff was awful.

Let me list the awfulness;

  1. It had the same texture and smell as sunblock. And not very good sunblock.
  2. SPF 30? MY BUTT. If there is actual sunscreen ingredients in this product, there isn’t enough. I put it on and went out for a couple of hours on a sunny, 25 degree (celcius) day. I was in the actual sun for probably an hour at most. I. Got. Sunburned. Not terrible sunburn but I was definitely sun-kissed.
  3. The colour darkened on my skin. It was a pretty good match as it came out of the bottle but within 20 minutes it had either naturally oxidized with the air or reacted to my skin and got darker. I had that lovely foundation mask thing going. Not impressed.
  4. I’d like to know where the “all day moisture” part comes in. My skin was so dry from using this that I had to slather my face in rose hip oil to make it feel better.


I could put all this down to my super-sensitive skin but the ingredients are all in things I’ve owned and used without problems before.

This costs $60. Don’t bother. There are better and cheaper products out there.

The next product I got in my lovely bellabox was the Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk.  My friend Tam put me onto the wonders of dry shampoo as I hate washing my hair on a daily basis. Naturally oily hair shouldn’t be washed daily! It just encourages more oil!  This stuff worked rather well, smelled ok (they sometimes smell a bit obnoxious) and was easy to use though I would never use dry shampoo on really dirty hair.

Last but definitely not least was what I think was the surprise for everyone who got the September box.  You Me & Everybody Sumptuous Skin Mousse.  It’s a body lotion/moisturiser that’s a mousse!  The novelty was fun. The product was actually REALLY good.  It wasn’t sticky and absorbed pretty well into the skin.  We got the full-size product for this one, and $14.99 for a can isn’t too bad as far as moisturizers go.

So yep, that’s everything that was in this month’s box. Overall, I was pretty pleased. I was also pretty darn jealous of the folks who managed to score the cosmetic products.  There was Guerlain L’Or Radiance Concentrate with Pure Gold and Savoir Faire Concealer which I would have kicked kittens for. KITTENS.

Anyway, September was another fun edition from bellabox. Totally worth the $15.

Finding a Voice

Every time I watch this clip, I get the chills.

You knew she was the winner the moment she opened her mouth.  And of course, she thrashed the competition soundly.  This was one of the few “realty” television shows I kept an eye on. Seal’s reaction to Karise was amazing and brought tears to my eyes. I think that, apart from the first 30 seconds of the clip where she starts singing and blows all the judges minds in one fell swoop, is my favourite bit.

He does it again while she’s singing “Stay With Me Baby”…

(Though I am of the honest opinion that the person who put the poor girl in that dress should be fucked and burned. It is HORRIBLE. ANYWAY…)

Her first single absolutely blew me away…

Capsicum Egg Rings

Please don’t think I am stealing anyone’s thunder – I’ve had these photos sitting on my computer for a few weeks now.

Ever since I saw this:

Image from

… I knew I had to try it.

Because I love fried eggs.

Hell, I love any eggs.

Eggs are ambrosia to me.

And this idea was too cute not to try out.


I did this:

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings -

Then I did this:

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings -

And ended up with this!

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings -

Comments about my dirty stove top will be STUDIOUSLY IGNORED.

(And for the Weight Watchers – the ProPoints value of this is 7pp. 6 for the eggs and 1 for the salad dressing.)

New Directions

Last night I re-wrote my About Me page.

Then I started thinking… what the hell do I want for this blog anyways?

I’ve come to realise I will never be one of those sorts of bloggers that churns out giveaways and do sponsored blog reviews for money. I’m not a mad crafter, a rampant Christian, or fashionable enough to be a fashion blogger. I’m not part of the “mommy/mummy” set so I do NOT identify with women who have a bajillion ankle-biting sprogs and feel the need to write about how awesome they are at parenting all whilst praising Jesus and creating wall art with paper mache and melted Crayolas.

I like people who are as snarky, foul-mouthed and irreverent as I am.

And I would totally do the pin-testing thing but I’ve been beaten to the punchline by Pintester. (AWESOME funny blog, that.)

So… yeah. I’m returning to normal Ren posting. I’ll do my weekly “pinteresting” blogs because they’re fun, and my Sunday memes, and the occasional bloghop… but I’ll be concentrating on Ren stuff. Life, love, obsessions, pets, photography, art, writing, and me. This is all shit that made me happy. I’ll still be a part of Nuffnang because opportunities through them are pretty fun. And of course I love reviewing stuff, even if it’s stuff I have personally bought.

But yes. Getting back to me now.

Me, me, me!

Big Sky -

And you can get the above image as prints or cards or posters at Redbubble:

Big Sky, mounted/framed print -

Lurking in Melbourne: The Writing’s on the Wall

Union Lane, just off Bourke Street.

Much of the fantastic graffiti which I photographed some months ago has been covered by taggers and rubbishy vandalism. There hasn’t been much of an update for a while, it seems. Having said that, there’s a section of wall that shows a lot of little scribbles from people passing through. Some of them are funny, some of them are heartbreaking, some are poignant, and most are just rude.

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Don't Count the Days

Don’t count the days.
Make the days count.

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - You Suck

Yep. And some days I feel it too.

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Fist Me Maybe?

Hey I just met you… and this is crazy…
But here’s my number…

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Sometimes...

This made me stop. Normally my eyes would start bleeding at the rampant abuse of the written word but…

“You know sometimes, more often than not, I think about dying.”

“Fight off your demons. Write songs in your sleep. We love you. We miss you. I love you so much that it hurts my head.”

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Saved the world?

Did he?

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Street Art in Melbourne

If you’re an Instagram user and love Melbourne… (And don’t think I missed the juxtaposition of the “Fuck off” with my watermark.)

Lurking In Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Tumblr

Follow the tumblr!  Consider this a free ad.  PEACELOVEHAPPINESS.

Tell ’em Renlish sent ya.

Lurking in Melbourne: The Writing's on the Wall - Seeya!


Shenanigans of the Faithful

Just a pre-warning to my more sensitive viewers… There is content here that involves swearing.

And perhaps some inappropriate jokes and pictures.


I don’t do politics. I don’t do religion. I hate both with a passion… so much so that I avoid overtly faithful blogs – even though they might have KILLER recipes for stuff like ginger cookies and lemon meringue pies. (Damn you, Pinterest!)

But I am so disturbed by what’s happening in the world at the moment with those of the Islamic faith that remaining silent on the issue is killing me. It’s particularly worrisome when you’ve got a mate who works for the American Embassy as a consulate official. No, not in those areas of the Middle East where people have recently been murdered but all the same, she’s at an American consulate and therefore a target of much hatred depending on who’s looking. And she’ll be staying with me for two weeks come Sunday morning. Yay!

(Though the bitch’s plane gets in at SPARROWS BUTTCRACK OF DAWN O’CLOCK! Not happy, Allison.)

Anyhoo… a riot happened in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday… a mob of Angry Muslims(TM) took to the street, declaring a jihad on anyone who didn’t support the Islamic faith and death to the person who created some ridiculous video on Youtube.

Look, I have never really had a problem with anyone wanting to live in this country. You can be from whatever race and creed and I’ll happily support you.

I’ve only ever had a few requirements for newbie citizens…

Read more