As the old year ended, I was confronted by an article written by Samantha Maiden in the News Ltd Sunday papers about politicians losing weight. 

Sorry about the hold up, kid. Pic: Digitally altered

Sam had initially selected me as a successful example of size reduction. Come the last Sunday of the year, I was feeling appropriately affirmed by the anticipated lauding of my dietary achievements.

As dawn broke I leapt out of bed, into the car, and off to the local shop to pick up the Sunday Herald Sun. But as I opened the paper my bubble burst. Compared to Bob Baldwin’s shedding of 70 kilos, my paltry 4 kilos represented little more than a foregone Sunday roast. Indeed in the article itself, my role was simply to play foil to Jamie Briggs’ effort of losing 17 kilos, inspired by people continually telling him that he looked as fat as me.

Thus the New Year began with my feelings about my own weight having returned to the same depressed place that had ushered in every New Year of my life. I dealt with the situation by eating a satisfaction flavoured ice cream topped with lashings of guilt. It felt good.

And so it was, that on a family holiday to Adelaide, I took my kids on the water slides at the Beach House in Glenelg.

Water slides define childhood. They are wet and messy. Their fun is based on an out of control rush that prompts screaming and laughing. Your body is tossed this way and that, and then thrown up against the chute as you round a corner at high speed, and finally spat out with a large amount of water rushing up your nose.

The kids were excited about jumping on the slides and so was I. Going last, I watched as three of my children successfully launched themselves down the slide at inappropriately short intervals which had the pool attendant agitated. I waited the required time and then took my turn.

I hurled myself down the slide, but then, after ten metres, I stopped. Something was wrong. I frantically pushed with my hands exhibiting the same grace as a sprinting elephant seal. But after much exertion I had progressed only five metres.

Realising that the cause of my inertia was that I was way too fat for this ride, I lay flat on my back, motionless, on a water slide. I was an offence to physics.

In order to move I tried everything. I flapped my arms with vigour yet moved but an inch. I lay still and straight, hands by my side and head back to reduce wind resistance: I didn’t move at all. Indeed I was about to roll over and attempt crawling down the slide.

Then I heard the inevitable: screams and giggles as kids jumped in the slide and came up behind me. As two girls careened into my back they yelped with surprise and then sighed with the knowledge that their anticipated rush had ended before it had barely started.

With embarrassment they asked if they could give me a push. By now my humiliation was complete. Personal dignity had been totally surrendered and so with a whimper I gratefully accepted their offer of propulsion. They pushed with their legs and it bought us another few metres. Slowly we edged our way down the slide, with every minute adding another child to our blockage.

Meanwhile, outside the Beach House the slides curl themselves about the building so that passers-by can watch the silhouettes fly down the ride. On this occasion, spectators gathered to witness an ever growing blockage building up in the tube. The slide had constipation.

With every new addition to our caravan the pressure mounted. I feared that if I became too waterlogged my body might form a perfect seal with the tube risking a slide explosion.

After what felt like an eternity, I eventually popped out the end like a champagne cork with a dozen children spilling out behind me. They ran as fast as they could away from me, back up the stairs, to the entry of the slides, to make sure they were ahead of me in the queue lest I had any intentions of having another go. They needn’t have worried. That was as likely as me doing a bungy jump.

The event has left me scarred. My confidence is shot. If six months on a treadmill can result in this kind of a train wreck then what is the point? It is a question with which I wrestle.

I continue to trek to the gym in a hang dog fashion every morning. But I must confess, every night before it is chocolate and ice-cream which occupy my dreams.

Lord, give me strength.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • acotrel says:

      05:36am | 24/01/13

      I have live in Benalla for about 13 years.  I’ve never seen our water slide operate.

    • Fred says:

      07:46am | 24/01/13

      I hear the Hot Air Balloon industry is thriving in Benalla Acotrel?

    • Mack says:

      12:00pm | 24/01/13

      @Fred, Acotroll FILLS the balloons…..

    • Ben says:

      12:43pm | 24/01/13

      Another one of Abbott’s broken promises, Acotrel?

    • Cry in my Gin says:

      01:51pm | 24/01/13

      My dog is brown.

    • Mahhrat says:

      05:38am | 24/01/13

      From one lardarse to another, best of luck mate.

    • Brett says:

      06:37am | 24/01/13

      This article was very amusing. You are a better writer than you are a politician.

    • Philosopher says:

      06:55am | 24/01/13

      Very amusing Richard! Makes a refreshing change from the drivel that Kevin Andrews prattles on about in his own, uniquely schoolmarmish way. But yes 4 kilos in six months is a bit slow. Dump your personal trainer and begin anew!

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:10am | 24/01/13

      There could be a trend emerging as the weight of pollies was a subject of an opinion piece yesterday in the SMH.

    • Christian Real says:

      07:18am | 24/01/13

      Maybe you should contact your both Local Government Representative and your State MP.
      13 years is a long time for your waterslide to be out of action

    • Eskimo says:

      07:44am | 24/01/13

      Getting on the treadmill or exercise bike is pointless. Read ‘You are your own gym’. The accompanying app is about $2. It will change your life.

    • Jax says:

      07:55am | 24/01/13

      Burning calories on a treadmill or exercise bike is pointless?  Burning calories is burning calories, no matter how you do it..

    • Lucas says:

      09:47am | 24/01/13

      It isn’t pointless but if you are doing slow pace constant cycling, it isn’t going to do a lot. Set the bikes computer (or use your wristwatch/clock/phone) to do interval training - 30 minutes a day - hard work. It will work, you will get skinnier but first you need to get really tired, sweaty and most likely in some pain.

      Congrats on the 4kg though, the first ones are the hardest to lose despite what the “plateau” people tell you. The decision to change your weight and start to move the scales is a big one, once you’ve started it is just a matter of keeping on pushing yourself, as exercise gets easier - keep making it harder for the big losses.

    • Rose says:

      10:04am | 24/01/13

      I’m not sure why you think a treadmill is pointless, all activity has benefits.
      The thing with weightloss is that it’s much like giving up smoking, it won’t happen unless your head is in the right place. When working in community pharmacy I spent a few years doing weightloss counselling. Countless people would come in because they felt like they should want to lose weight, their partner, parents or friends etc were hassling them about weight or there was some other external trigger for doing it. None of these triggers work long term, these people fall off the wagon pretty quickly, even if early results are good.
      Then there were people who came in who wanted desperately to lose weight, they were their own motivation. These people didn’t find it ‘easy’ to lose weight necessarily, but they did find it do-able and maintainable.That’s because they were completely mentally geared up to doing it.
      If your heads not in the right place, it doesn’t mean don’t try, just don’t be surprised if it is harder than you thought. Little successes or lessons learnt will quite probably help get your head around what it is your trying to do. A lot of these people have been overweight their whole lives and can’t actually conceive that it’s possible to be in the healthy weight range. It may take several attempts to really decide you want to do it. The other thing is, if you fall off the wagon, big deal, too many people beat themselves up and see it as proof they weren’t meant to lose weight. Those with their head in the right place acknowledge they slipped up and then try to do better next time. The occasional slip does not indicate failure, it indicates that you are human.
      The battle is as much about a person’s mentality as it is about their diet and exercise regimes.

    • lostinperth says:

      10:16am | 24/01/13

      @ Rose

      very well written, totally agree. Losing weight is as much about what goes on between the ears as what is lost off the tummy.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:20am | 24/01/13

      +1 to Rose.  As far as making several attempts to do it is concerned, there’s a good line from Rocky V: “It ain’t how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up again.”  (Or, perhaps more accurately, “Muhhh muh-muh doon.  Sabuht huh munny tums yuh guh hup.”)  All it takes is for the latter number to be larger than the former.

    • Paul says:

      12:08pm | 24/01/13

      Buring calories on the treadmill is a mugs game… do you really think you will sustain that for the rest of your life??  Change your diet - trust me on this!

      The way I lost 19 kilos last year was to go onto Lite n Easy 5 days a week (on the 1500 calorie meal plan)... the other 2 days I let myself eat whatever I want with no guilt, allowing me to go out to lunch/dinner and still “live”.  The proof is in the pudding folks.

    • Rose says:

      01:39pm | 24/01/13

      Good job there Paul, people decide to do something about exercise and you think it’s best to slap them down, excellent plan!! Is a treadmill any less sustainable than a commercial diet like ‘Lite ‘n’ Easy’?
      How about “you’re doing the treadmill, good for you, do you want to mix it up a bit and do this or this as well?” Words of encouragement are what people need to keep them motivated, not getting shot down for making it to the first hurdle.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:15pm | 24/01/13

      He does have a point, Rose, as did Eskimo who made the original post.  A treadmill or exercise bike on its own won’t solve a weight problem if there’s no significant change in eating habits.  I think there’s a decent number of studies out there that suggest exercise can sometimes contribute to weight *gain* because it makes you hungry and/or thirsty, and you therefore eat to excess, thus wiping the exercise’s benefits.

      There’s also the fact that, if you’re restricting the number of calories you’re eating and also exercising heavily, at first at least it’s a double whammy to take: your body probably isn’t used to exercising, so you tire quickly, and on top of that you’re trying to exercise with less “immediate” energy available, i.e. energy directly converted from the proteins, carbohydrates and lipids in the food you’re eating.  People’s physiology is conditioned to hold onto acquired weight if possible as a survival mechanism, so rather than start burning fat for the same energy your body will crave food first.  These are serious impediments to people trying to lose weight: you have to have sufficient willpower both to exercise *and* override your screaming mind and body that are demanding high-carb foods.

      Basic “maintenance” cardio to condition the heart, as set out by most reputable health authorities, is 30 minutes of walking for an adult, nothing more.  That’s as distinct from the exercise required for serious weight loss.

      One weight program I’ve seen (that I won’t name) had a good handle on it psychologically: to a lifetime overeater, the problem is the person has fragile willpower already to contend with.  Then you whack deprivation on top of that.  Then you whack heavy exercise on top of that.  For most people it’s just too heavy a load to take, and it results in failure.  A different approach is required at least at first: either you restrict your calories and do moderate exercise, or you do heavy exercise and make sure your calorie intake doesn’t increase.

      I don’t discount there will be people with strong wills who can do it all at once, but the vast majority of failure of weight plans suggests most people simply don’t work that way.  In most cases, something has to (and does, statistically) give.

    • John says:

      07:50am | 24/01/13

      You can excercise all day long but of your diet is crap than you will stay fat. conversly you dont have to excercise much, but adjust your diet and you will lose weight. I spent about 2 years trying to lose weight without any significant inroads. After adjusting my diet and most importantly my meal sizes the weight fell off. I now find it scary the amount I used to eat compated to what my body actually needs to sustain itself.

    • Rex says:

      08:31am | 24/01/13

      John, you have hit the nail on the head. t is not so much what you eat but how much you eat. Most people would be horrified to see how much (or little) a standard portion is. We dont need more than that

    • Bernadette says:

      09:12am | 24/01/13

      So true John. It’s 80% diet, 20% exercise. From someone that constantly battles to stay at a consistent weight I know there is no more truer saying than “You are what you eat”. As soon as I have a binge it’s straight on the waist line and a couple of weeks of strict clean eating to get it off again! The older I get, the harder it is - oh the see-saw I ride! If only I didn’t enjoy food and wine so much!!

    • Chillin says:

      08:18am | 24/01/13

      It’s a thyroid problem!

    • Rose says:

      11:18am | 24/01/13

      Unlikely, but worth checking out, along with a general health check before commencing any weightloss program.

    • ontheriver says:

      08:24am | 24/01/13

      Thank you for an amusing read and giving your perspective of an individual suffering through our “National crisis” that is obesity.  But oddly - you appear to be trying to take responsibility for it yourself instead of calling for a ban on fast food advertising and a tax on sugar!  Please encourage all others in your profession to take on the same level of common-sense and move away from the “nanny state” mentality where the Governement must fix all our self inflicted ill.

    • Borderer says:

      08:43am | 24/01/13

      Well at least you’re trying to do something about it, that’s half the battle, realising there is a problem and actually doing something about it.
      A lot of people gain weight because they eat until their full, not watching their portion size, the fifth slice of pizza isn’t helping…
      Try drinking water instead of softdrink, juice or coffee, I’m not saying give up coffee, just limit the cups and enjoy them when you have them (so no nescafe instant rubbish).
      Finally, booze, start volunteering to be the driver more often or drive to drinks and staying off it. When you do have it, make sure it’s the best, no cask wine or VB, make sure when you do indulge you make it worthwhile.

    • Kathy says:

      08:48am | 24/01/13

      Thanks for the laugh! I laugh with you not at you because I can relate smile

      On the weight loss side, I do a huge amount of exercise, play basketball 3 days a week, am training for a duathlon, and will move onto training for rowing when that finishes. Yet I am still overweight. Why? It is because of what I eat. (and no, I am not one of those skinny little things that complain about half a kilo - I am 20kg overweight)

      You can’t out run a bad diet.

    • Mack says:

      12:12pm | 24/01/13

      Cut out sugar - this automatically cuts out cakes, lollies, soft drinks etc. Cut right down on rice, pasta, bread, alcohol. Keep up the exercise regime and you can’t help but lose weight.

    • Rose says:

      12:59pm | 24/01/13

      Actually, from my experiences I wouldn’t necessarily be advocating cutting anything out completely, it often just leads to a sense of deprivation and an eventual collapse of the diet. I would recommend that instead of complete abstinence, people control how often they eat treats and how much they eat at a time. Each person needs to work it out for themselves, but often a person who seems to give everything up ends up having a binge, beating themselves up and allowing it to reinforce that they are a fatty forever. If you allow yourself the occasional treat, think weekly not daily, then you learn to absorb real life into your diet.

    • flocculant says:

      09:30am | 24/01/13

      Nice how a politician attacking himself silences the trolls for once.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:31am | 24/01/13

      I was moved by the piece.

      The water slide story made me cringe in sympathy.  It sounds like Homer Simpson at Mount Splashmore—until you remember it’s real life.  You’d be coming into that humilitation after a lifetime of being self-conscious about exposing as little of your white, flabby excess flesh to the sun as you can get away with.  And the venue for your humiliation is not the beach where at least you can hide in a sand dune or rely on people being distracted by hot chicks giving themselves skin cancer; the venue is rather a public pool where even the pervs have nothing better to look at.  Against that background, having this happen to you would be a really hard punch in the guts.

      But the part that struck home hardest was this bit:

      “Thus the New Year began with my feelings about my own weight having returned to the same depressed place that had ushered in every New Year of my life.”

      Christ Jesus, that’s sad.  Mainly because for a lot of people who’ve never been able to control their weight over their lifetime, it strikes so, so true.  New Year’s resolutions are bad enough because you don’t keep the ones that are largely immaterial.  They feel worse when you’ve tried to keep the same resolutions again and again and the evidence of your failure is there staring at you every time you undress to take a bath.  Or a shower.

    • Pattem says:

      12:33pm | 24/01/13

      @St Michael, you stated: “The water slide story made me cringe in sympathy”.

      Glad to know it wasn’t empathy…

    • Roxanne Ford says:

      09:36am | 24/01/13

      Thanks for the big grin you gave me.  Dreadful personal memories came flooding back!  Hang in there.

    • Chillin says:

      09:38am | 24/01/13

      Australians eat too much, it’s a national past time.  Until you understand you eat too much (and usually too much crap), you won’t ever crack the mystery.

    • mark says:

      09:47am | 24/01/13

      Three words “give up sugar.” It’s easy to to and will result in life changing movements in weight.

    • Trying says:

      09:59am | 24/01/13

      I’m only trying to regain my flat, OK flatish tummy. A week of yoga and healthy dieting and I’ve definitely lost weight. Why, oh why is it so quickly undone with the smallest indulgence?
      I’m an Aussie, and I do not over-eat, or over-drink for that matter.  I eat healthily, not a lot of junk.
      I agree though, so much work for so little gain, it’s just not sustainable if you want to live!

    • Ash says:

      10:06am | 24/01/13

      I understand your embarrassment. I am about 30kg overweight and my fiance is quite thin - we went to Wet ‘n’ Wild a few years ago and got into one of those two person tubes, the attendant made us get out and swap positions as I needed to be at the back as the heavier person. It was a little embarrassing, I don’t like that I’m so much larger than my fiance (he never puts on weight) but I am working towards it (sort of) and know that it’s my diet letting me down (for example, this morning for breakfast I have an iced chocolate). Oh why are the yummy foods so bad for you?

      Keep at it.

    • Pattem says:

      10:42am | 24/01/13

      So Ash, which way are you working on this issue…fattening up your fiance could be the better option, you know!  smile

      If you think he just burns it off, you are not trying hard enough.  MORE FOOD!

    • JN says:

      10:26am | 24/01/13

      Don’t give up mate. In addition, don’t let anyone tell you exercise is pointless. Truth is you will lose far more weight from correct dieting, but it is entirely possible to be at your target weight and totally unfit. The real benefit of weight loss is how good it makes you feel and exercise is an integral part of that. As people above have said, cut sugar, fat and carbohydrates from your diet. If you can keep your fat instake to less than 45g per day you are on the right track. Eat much smaller portions of food more often to raise your metabolism. If you have the time lifting weights helps - muscle mass burns a lot more energy than fat. Try and drink less booze. Make an attempt to change your lifestyle permanently - ride a bike or walk instead of using the car or public transport. Take up active hobbies. They are small changes but they all add up to a big difference.

    • Pattem says:

      10:45am | 24/01/13

      And I thought the term Fat Cat referred to CEOs with bulging wallets.  Silly me!  So it actually refers to Politicians caught in polypipe.

      Maybe Richard can become out first POLYPIPTICIAN…

    • Harquebus says:

      11:05am | 24/01/13

      Enjoy your fatness while you can. Peak oil mates, peak oil. Obesity ain’t gonna be a problem.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:32am | 24/01/13

      Well, there are cars that’ve been converted to run on animal fat…

    • Harquebus says:

      01:11pm | 24/01/13

      Breed ‘em fast and breed ‘em big.

    • St. Michael says:

      01:27pm | 24/01/13

      And keep them away from Flash.

    • the phantom says:

      11:06am | 24/01/13

      Big Joe Hokey and Sophie Mirrabulla lost 120 kgs betweem them
      and there still fat pigs!

    • jgm says:

      11:28am | 24/01/13

      Stay classy.

    • Dave C says:

      11:38am | 24/01/13

      So what was Kim Beazely then????

    • the phantom says:

      12:51pm | 24/01/13

      Dave C saysQ
        So what was Kim Beazely then????

      A legend!!

    • the phantom says:

      11:06am | 24/01/13

      Big Joe Hokey and Sophie Mirrabulla lost 120 kgs betweem them
      and there still fat pigs!

    • FZR560 says:

      11:29am | 24/01/13

      It was that good, it needed to be posted twice. Someone of your intellect should probably get 2 votes, come election time.Do you think it would make a difference?

    • St. Michael says:

      11:50am | 24/01/13

      It’s possible the phantom is the kid in the “Gaming Addiction” article further up…

    • Bruno says:

      11:44am | 24/01/13

      HAHAHAHA you fat bastard

    • Ben says:

      12:22pm | 24/01/13

      Hi Richard. I was wondering if we can kill two birds with one stone here. Just last month you were telling the world about the ordeals of international travel. Just a thought: if you shifted from first class/business class to economy you’d find you’d probably cut back on the kilos a bit, plus you’d save the taxpayer a few dollars.

    • Baloo says:

      01:51pm | 24/01/13

      I haven’t been able to enjoy water slides ever since my grandmother told me my uncles job at a water park when he was young was to pick the razorblades out that people had put in them.

      Whether she just wanted to scare me or not, I still think about it every time.

    • Philosopher says:

      02:26pm | 24/01/13

      that old urban legend! Still, one can never be too careful…

    • Cry in my Gin says:

      01:56pm | 24/01/13

      Great article. Laughed out loud and had visions of Homer Simpson getting craned out of Mt Splashmore.
      Other than that you, as a politician, you suck.
      Take up writing frivilous rubbish, at least it is amusing to read.

    • KimL says:

      02:51pm | 24/01/13

      I think anyone in the Public eye should be reasonable trim to set an example to others particularly children. Gaining weight is so easy, I know I gained a kilo over Christmas, getting the kilo off will take a bit longer than the Christmas break, and you doing it naturally, that is to be admired. Amusing story thanks

    • ol matey says:

      03:14pm | 24/01/13

      So… You had no foresight that you were completely incapable of achieving a smooth ride, you immediately blocked the progress of the people, you sat there and did next to nothing other than flail about like an idiot, everyone looked on, knowing there was nothing they could do to help except wait, look, and laugh, and you wrote a memoir about it.

      Oh and there was some story about a waterslide as well?


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