Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011, you awesome thing you!

Sitting here reading all the "happy to see the end of 2011" messages on my Facebook friends statuses, I have to admit, I have a few mixed feelings about this.  It's 7.30pm on December 31st, and up until now, I was ok to see the back end of it too...  but then I started thinking...

Seeing the year draw to a close, I'm left pondering just what it is I've achieved this year - whether I've actually "produced the goods" and what I've done to make my year worthwhile. Think I can safely say that 2011 has been a year unlike any other for me. Literally. Going 'public' with my story in January, then going 'national' in February with my Commando Challenge... things have NOT been the same since!

I've been on a rollercoaster ride like no other - up and down, fast and slow, faster faster faster, think you're going to vomit, then it momentarily stops... then off it goes again!   I think I've felt every damned emotion I could feel this year, have had more meltdowns and breathroughs in 12 months than I have in 12 years!  I've laughed and cried more times than I can count... and I wonder if I actually get to say I've "lived" a little this year?!  I'm not sure on that one, so it's time to put a little "recollection" onto the page...

My year in review, goes a little something like this...
  • Started my 'Aim to Change' blog in early January - according to my '2010 reflections' I'd had a really trying year - overcoming some of my personal obstacles (like exercising in public) then  having seen my dad struggle with his health so much, it prompted me to start going 'public' with my story... and in doing that, spiraled a whole new succession of opportunity and events that I would NOT have seen coming for 2011.
  • Started the year at over 115kgs. An appointment with a cosmetic surgeon for an early review on my prospects ahead, and I was encouraged to drop to 90kgs before I even considered my surgeries. I promptly signed up for private health cover, and walked straight into the gym thereafter - one of my biggest, boldest moves to date!  Before this, I was not ready, nor brave enough to venture down the path of "the gym" - but this was the driving force I needed to embark on one of my biggest and most loved activities of 2011.
  • February saw a little kudos fly my way via the Commando's congratulatory video on BLC - this was a really big thing for me. Up until then, I'd said 'no' to publicly acknowleding my weightloss (had lost 77kgs at this point) because I still felt like I was teetering on failure.  When I was approached for this, I couldn't help but say YES - lord knows how much I love Steve, and this was just a little bit of fun for me!  Little did I know what it would mean just a short time later... 
  • March saw me undertake the Commando Challenge - BLC offered me an opportunity to take my losses one step further; challenging me to drop to 95kgs, in order to go "dine with The Commando". My story went national, I was given weekly challenges, daily exercise routines and got totally swept up within the challenge itself.  One of my first challenges was to "dream towards 2012" - well, I'll revist this one later... I'm getting a bit teary just overviewing it at the moment!!  Onwards... !! 
  • April - I was whisked off to Sydney (something I've never really done before) and given the opportunity to actually TRAIN with Commando Steve!!  It was well and truly one of the biggest eye-openers to date and was just simply AMAZING!  An experience I couldn't have imagined I'd ever be brave enough to do before, and there I was, in the big city, training with Mister Muscles!  By the end of the month, and as the Challenge drew to a close, I was losing my momentum - my body was fatigued, my mental state was in crisis - I'd been swept up so much in all these new activities, the crazy new exercise routines and food, dealing with all the people and forums... I was slowly (but surely) losing my footing.  I barely scraped it through the Challenge, but made my goal! (phew)
  • By the start of May, the challenge was finished and I was off on another whirlwind trip to Sydney for the photoshoot for BLC - another eye opener, and VERY much out of my comfort zone!  Before I even had time to really digest what it is I'd just done... I was on my first ever plane ride down to Melbourne with the group of ladies who had done their 12wbt challenge (that I'd paralleled doing my BLC challenge) - off for the festivities and excitement, and a whole wad of new experiences and social outings I've never had in my life before... 
  • By the end of May - I was in Sydney for the celebratory Commando Challenge dinner, and was also scheduled in for my first stint with TV - an interview with Today Tonight... and boy was that an eye opener too!  Having my story go even MORE public, the momentum I was trying to keep up with right about now was beginning to take a HUGE toll.... but I was still riding the wave, and holding onto the surfboard for dear life!!
  • By June I was in a bit of a state... I was mentally and physically fatigued, my business was on the back-burner and my income shot, I had people contacting me from all across the country, and I felt obligated to answer EVERYTHING.  I was exhausted and emotionally spent, and my body gave out beneath me...  The weight I'd lost during the Challenge was already starting to come back on (because I hadn't lost it properly to start with!) and my mental state was completely shot. 
  • July was much of the same - and a noticeable absence of my blog posts and activities is testament that things weren't "ok" in Camp Amy for the middle of the year. I was spent...  Trying desperately to keep my control, and failing dismally... 
  • By the time August rolled around, I was ready to kick my own butt back into gear - and come mid-month, I was back off to Sydney for an adventure with my gorgeous girls, and overcoming some more of the hideous fears and hurts that were plaguing me. I climbed the Harbour Bridge - one of my most momentous events of the year!  ... and followed that the next day with my first ever fun-run, the City to Surf... instantaneously igniting some serious fun-run-bug in my belly that I've NOT been able to shake since!!  These weren't "public goals" - these were for ME. This was Amy doing things for Amy, and the intense feeling of liberation and actually feeling 'alive' was nothing short of insatiable!  I wanted more...
  • September was my "running month" - with another TWO fun runs on the agenda! So inspired by the runners of the City to Surf, I started to teach myself how to jog...  I did my local Bathurst jog, and then flicked back off to Sydney (Again?! How's that for the girl who'd never really traveled to the city before 2011!) for the Sydney Bridge run - both of which I LOVED.  All the while I was pushing my limits in these new fitness activities, in the backburner, my head was swimming. Fighting the emotions and demons, and trying desperately to hold it together...  The big blog post I wrote here, I can't bring myself to read again. I know how much I've struggled in the last few months, and how much I've fought to push through...  The emotional rollercoaster, the tears and hurts, the fatigue of it all - THAT is what happens when you purposefully change your life - and whether I liked it or not, it had to be experienced...
  • October, the "dark started to lift" a little - I embarked on Round 3 of the 12wbt - not as a weightloss thing, but focusing solely on my fitness. What I GAINED out of that round was an amazing network of local ladies - a social factor "in real life" (as opposed to all the amazing internet friends and network I have) - and started pushing me in different ways.  I had to "front up" to meet them - actually "walk the talk" and work with people, not just hide behind the computer...  HUGE opportunity for transition.  The shy girl had to come out of hiding... 
  • Come November, and I was very much struggling with who I was, where I was going, and why I was doing it... Minimal exposure on my forums and blogs, just thinking thinking thinking thinking... I was pretty much 'lost' at this point, and the blog post that went along with it didn't necessarily go into the finer details... but I was a mess, and I needed out, and I was pretty much prepared to walk away. A holiday down to Melbourne/Geelong was on the cards, and this proved to be one of my most strategically placed activities of the year. I went and participated in the first Melbourne City to Sea (sister-event to City to Surf) and LOVED it. The couple of months lead up to this, I'd been training like a demon - my weight didn't budge, but my fitness was through the roof!  I was IN LOVE with my gym sessions - Pump and RPM as the mains - and was now training regularly around Mount Panorama, even lapping with 12kgs on my back the week before my race! I was primed, focused, and freaking DETERMINED - I was fighting, for everything...  Trying to prove to myself that I was capable and deserved what I'd achieved - struggling to not let the negatives take over and bring me down.  By the time I finished my 14kms, I was a wreck.  Physically and emotionally spent... I collapsed shortly thereafter.  Left to my own devices without a goal in sight, I ate myself into a food coma, and took a much needed breather from EVERYTHING. Found out about the Geelong fun-run the weekend after, and lined myself up for that - "when in Rome!"...   This one was just for me - and I LOVED every minute of it.  I ran with the crowd, and enjoyed the experience.  I didn't have a goal, I was just ENJOYING it!  I came home happy to 'walk away' if required by then, but the Universe had other plans for me...
  • Hello December!!  Boy oh boy you've been a rollercoaster ride all on your own!!!  Coming back from Melbourne, I was contacted as one of the Woman's Day weightloss competition finalists, and a little hiccup later about my sizing (given I'm still not "little") and my poor little head was in meltdown mode AGAIN!  Struggling very much for the past half of the year with my self-perception and body issues, being very 'touchy' on these subjects, it doesn't take much for me to lose my footing when it's brought up!   Being approached by BLC to become one of their campaign girls for next year too - and my head was SWIMMING.  I wasn't overly confident in my ability or acceptability to do any of this stuff - but a chance encounter trip with a couple of my local Bathurst ladies to see a taping of the BLC contestants for 2012, and it was the little boost and insight that sparked the next phase!  Seeing so much of their haunts and pain as they spoke to the audience, I saw so much of myself in them, it drove me...  EVERYTHING I do - my forums, my website, my story, the people I help and mentor - it's to help them empower their way OUT of that pain. It's the pain that breaks me - it's what drives me to instigate even more change - and it's the REASON why I do what I do now...    I went off to Sydney (again!!) and stood in front of a camera, not for self-publicity or to pat myself on the back (I don't need to do that) but because I'm passionate about reaching out to those struggling at home.  I stood in front of another camera the day after, and faced more of my fears head-on.. again, to reach the people at home who need me.  I sat down after both of these and cried - I'm still a work in progress, I'm still fragile, and I'm still bewildered by why people put me up on such a pedestal when I'm "just Amy"...  but I push myself to do this, there's a gut-feeling I have that I NEED to be doing this...
  • Heading off for the 12wbt mass training session and Finale Party just a couple of weekends ago - and I can't believe that we've capped the year off with a bang!  As one of my most fun events of the year (I got to be ME!!!) - I celebrated with a bunch of my gorgeous local ladies, stepped out in one of my smallest, most daring outfits of my LIFE - and was, again, well and truly out of my comfort zone, yet not at all phased by it...  In just the space of 8 months, my whole attitude to things has changed entirely!
* * * * *

Going back to that Commando Challenge from March - "Dreaming towards 2012" - recapping on my goals and aspirations I'd "put out there" from earlier this year... Let's have a little squizzy at what I wanted to do and where I'm up to...
  • Getting to 90kgs - given all my meltdowns and body issues the latter half of this year, I'm still working on this one!  Though I started the year roughly 115kgs, and now about 98kgs (having been down to 95 as my lowest, and the spikes, and plateaus I've been riding since) - I'm ok with this!!  My fitness is phenomenal, and I have MUSCLE definition that sits on the scales too, so very much ok with this!  I'm down to a size 14 top, size 16 bottom (was a 16/18 top, 18/20 bottom early in the year) - and I RUN in this body!!!  Am SO not apologising for my size!!
  • Travel - this one's still on my agenda, though with all the tripping around I've done this year - including my first ever plane flight to Melbourne in May (I've now done TWO!) - and all the tripping backwards and forwards to Sydney - my confidence levels in doing these things is so much higher!  More trips on the agenda for 2012, and maybe even something overseas in 2013 when I sit down long enough to work and fund it, haha!
  • Leave Bathurst?!  - Don't know about this one!  There's "opportunity" on my horizon here, and I think I may have to stick it out just that little bit longer and take advantage of the amazing network of professionals at my disposal who WANT to work with me!  I can always move and extend 'later'... !! 
  • Romance - Ohhhh did I really have to put that on my list?!!  hahaha...  Well, let's just say this year has seen a few new developments on this one too - a few dates, a few heartaches...  Nothing solid, and I still have no idea how to deal with boys - but they're not quite as "alien" as they used to be...   (no starting rumours thank you very much!!!)   Now, if they'd just stop making me want to run and hide, I'd be right.... !!!
  • Harbour Bridge - check!!  Snorkeling on the Barrier Reef and a 'hot lap' on my beloved Mt Pan - both on my 'to do' list!   Though, the way I run on Mt Pan now, I hazard a guess my lap is pretty damned hot already, haha!! 
  • Wearing a real dress - CHECK CHECK CHECK!!  I've bought and worn a few of them this year - I'm VERY excited to mark this one off my list!  I even bought another new one recently - such an amazing feeling for the girl who couldn't buy clothes at all... !   As for the 'swimmers in public without the shorts' ... well... that'll stay on the list until my surgery goes ahead - so that may very well be revisited again! 
  • 2012...  hit my ultimate goal weight.   YES I WILL!   You better stay posted about that one, you'll hear me screaming from the rooftop the day that happens!!! 

* * * * *

If someone had of told me at the beginning of the year that THIS is what my year would have amounted to, I'd have laughed at them!  Literally!!   Running with 84,000 other crazy people in Sydney; stepping up for three professional photo shoots; climbing the Harbour Bridge when I'm scared of heights; wearing an insane short, sleeveless size 'M' zebra print dress; actually going on a date; shopping and buying size 16 clothes; living and LOVING the gym....  oh my god...

I ALREADY have goals for next year (forward planning was never my forte - I didn't want things I had no intention of achieving on my conscience) - my first fun-run is booked and paid for!  I've got dates for future fun-runs already penciled in. I already have two holidays on the agenda to take with friends.  I have two magazine appearances hitting in January.  My website is in further development so I can extend my reach and help even more people.  I have a network of local professionals I want to start working with to make what I do REAL.  I have courses I'm looking at doing.  I am a work in progress and I'll be pushing to make even more changes in the next 12 months... but my body IS amazing, my fitness IS amazing, my health IS amazing, and I'll be working on my head to make sure I can start seeing that!! 

I don't need to sit here and say "farewell" to 2011 nor say how happy I am to see the back of it.  I've had one of THE biggest, most trying, daunting, painful, emotionally explicit years of my life.  I've transitioned in ways I NEVER thought possible, fast-tracked so much stuff in such a short space of time...  my head is swimming!!   I have NEVER had a year so full of LIFE as I have had this year!

THANK YOU 2011 for being the most amazing year of my life...  I am so very grateful for all the opportunities and people you've brought into my world. Can't quite bring myself to say 'farewell' to you, because you've just opened up the door to another 12 months of AMAZING - and I can't freaking wait to let you in!!!   2012 is going to be BIG!!!



Monday, December 12, 2011

Fun runs, photo shoots, wild weekends and 'finales'... part three

PART THREE!!   (... oh yes, we're not done yet.. but we're on the homeward stretch!)

After a much needed sleep, I woke up in my North Sydney motel room feeling MUCH more in the zone. I was prepped for the photoshoot ahead - it was to be a professional shoot, not a "look at me, look at me" type glamour shoot, so I was already in "business mode".

A text message shortly after, asking if I could come in earlier, and I was up out of bed, with my breakfast on its way down, showered and out the door in time to head to the studio early.

I walked into the studio with butterflies in my tummy - but nowhere near as nervous or anxious as I'd been the day before. This shoot was for the Biggest Loser Club - and as soon as I walked through the door, I recognised the faces of the team that I'd dealt with earlier in the year, and immediately I was at ease.

Photo studio
There were other gorgeous "success stories" being photographed and styled as I entered - and I had the opportunity to meet a few of the BLC members who had found some fabulous success on their programs, with some amazing weightloss numbers! The ladies looked fabulous and were beaming - and I was just so happy for them, to have the opportunity like I'd had earlier too.

I was greeted with a "It's AMY!" by one of the forum members who, unashamedly, told me she's been stalking me for ages (hahaha), hellos from the stylist and makeup lady that had "glammed me up" earlier in the year, and I was popped up in the makeup chair to start the transformation.

Glammed up with my
long hair extensions!
The face was easy... the hair came next! This one was a "glamour" shoot, so it was all about the hair, makeup and dress.  I was given gorgeous black hair extensions that were just SO long, I nearly wanted to run out the door and keep them!! I was in heaven with that hair - and was so sad when they were cut short... (sigh!) - but they weren't cut without a photo first!   I now have grand illusions of having my hair properly extended, and walking around like a total diva... I was just SO in love with it that super long length!!!  hahaha!

Off to the stylist I went next, and was put into a little pink dress... LITTLE being the word!  After so much 'drama' about my sizing, I've come to realise that I'm simply NOT the size I think I am - I was wearing a size 12 dress at one point when I was trying styles on for the Woman's Day shoot, and here I was in a tiny little pink number!!  (this one I found later when I was shopping in Myer, a Leona Edmiston number, and it was about a size 14 I believe...!!)

Cute little pink dress
... my 'casual' outfit
Out I stroll in my cute 'casual' look - little pink dress and red canvas wedges - and was poised in front of that camera in no time!  The photographer was giving me pointers and we were talking about angles, and beaming that smile of mine.  The photography team were taking the usual snaps - stand there, smile, show how excited you are about how fabulous you look!  SMILE SMILE SMILE!!   (... hey, it's what I do best these days!!)... and we're done!

Off to the stylist for the round two glamour shots - and she's decided to go with the dress I bought with me - my little red/black number, and my red patent heels!  I didn't actually know I had to bring anything with me, it was sheer fluke I'd brought my dresses (multiple!) - they were in the bag ready for the end of the week Finale party - given I hadn't made up my mind which one I was actually going to wear!

So my FAVOURITE red/black dress came back out for its second showing!  It first appeared at the Michelle Bridges 12wbt Finale Party in May - and back out again for this shoot - I was pretty chuffed to get to strut my stuff in this one again!

... and then they sprung it on me. My shoot for this shot was to be 'morphed' with my old photo... I stood there and gave them a silly look and asked what they meant - when I asked what old photo they had, then saw it on screen, ohhhhh my god, my heart sank and I had heart palpitations. Starring at me from the computer screen was THE old before photo - THE photo of where it all began...  The one where I was as round as I was tall, and looking decidedly revolted in EVERYTHING.

My fav red dress and shoes -
I styled myself, haha!
I was to stand there in a similar pose - and as I walked back to my spot, I just shook my head...  How do you stand like THAT version of yourself when you know you're so far removed from it?!!  They took my shots and asked me what I'd lost - when I told them, they just shook their heads and threw much praise my way...

I couldn't SEE what was happening on the screen next to the photographer, but the team were gushing over the transformation - the 'morphing' of the photos from old to new - and I was told it was AMAZING!  I don't know that I was ready to see it morph like that anyway, and I hazard a guess it's why I didn't run up and have a look at the end. After the breakdown the day before, I was a little too fragile, and just let it be...  I'll see it when I'm ready!

Thinking "that was a wrap" - I strut out of the set and head back to the team, only to be asked to go next door, with my stylist in tow. I was to be filmed this time...  SAY WHAT?!!

Standing in front of the TV camera (for the second time in a matter of two weeks, haha) my knees started buckling underneath me! My hands started sweating, my head started whizzing around... The producer was talking to me, giving me directions about the questions he was going to give me - and prompting me to answer for the testimonials we were filming.

I went blank.

I laughed and told him that he wasn't allowed to film me talking gibberish, that I'm much more fluent talking with my fingers (haha, you wouldn't have guessed that at all would you?!!) - and I kept having to ask him to repeat the question, because my brain would NOT compute!

When he asked me one of the biggie questions - which went along the lines of the biggest changes/benefit I've had from my transformation - I choked up entirely. Given my issues the night before, my over-zealous brain-busting about my mortality... I got a little emotional.  I wasn't in a room on my own - I had a producer, TV cameraman, a sound guy and a computer fella all staring at me... and here I was explaining that I never intended on being here, that everything that's happening now is just the 'cherry on top' - was never part of the plan, and why my life "as its changed" hasn't really changed (in that context)... my life has really only just started...

I honestly can't remember what I said now, it's like my brain just shut down to 'protect itself' - and I walked out of there a bit "vague"!!  All I remember was praising the forums as being one of my biggest benefits of the Club, and having likeminded people help me along my way - and the diary helping to teach me the habits that have helped reshape my lifestyle, which is why I'm still doing what I do today. Anything else... err... hopefully it wasn't just gibberish!!!

Afterwards, the ladies and I were all seated in the lounge area "talking shop" - again, it's what you do when you've been on this MASSIVE weightloss mission and you're with other likeminded women! We were talking about the shoot and feeling very conspicuous in our new bodies - the dresses and how it's changed things not only for ourselves, but our extended families and networks. It was FABULOUS and put me very much at ease again, both in who I was "in that moment" and why I was there. I LOVED it...

I walked out of there a happy girl - and hopefully the photos and filming come across NOT like a scared broken little girl, but the empowered Amy, ready to tackle the next phase of her mission...  because that's EXACTLY how I felt when I walked away!

* * * * *

After the photoshoot, I hit a cab and then a train on my return trip to Penrith. It was my sister's birthday the following day, so was staying at her place to help her celebrate.

Thursday rolled around, and I crawled out of bed - a somewhat lazy "catch up" day it became, but decided in my infinite wisdom that I had to go shopping at Westfield up the road.  "Had to".. haha!  I actually had a dress I needed to return to one of the shops, and by the time I plucked up the courage to venture out into the city, find a car space and turn off the engine, realised I'd left the blasted thing behind on the bedroom floor!

Oh well.. need not waste the opportunity, right?!!  SO off I went on a shopping spree - walking around like I owned the place!  I bought myself a new size 16 linen skirt (that's right folks - linen - NON stretch!!!) - a fitted black singlet top (yep, SINGLET - no sleeves!!!), some new jewellery, and fake eyelashes...  (haha, I'm a bit addicted to those - two photoshoots with falsies, and I LOVE how they make my eyes look!).

Stalking Santa...
I was stalking Santa around Target, and chuckling at myself for being so juvenille...  Finding all sorts of bargains on sale - like the new workout gear I got for $10 a piece, and a pair of gorgeous teal green canvas wedges that were reduced!  Feeling a bit chuffed with my purchases, and rather fatigued... by the time I left the shopping centre, my sis had finished work and was ready to get picked up at the train station. We had grand plans of hitting the gym - but between her over-eating the birthday cake they'd force-fed her at work, and me being overly tired... we opted for sitting on our butts and chillaxing!!

... but not before I dragged her home and back to the shop to take back that dress!!!

On the return trip, I walked in and was greeted by a green dress that I just HAD to try on at City Chic (now that I've discovered how great I look in green!)... there was two others nearby that went into the changeroom with me. Only for the fact that they were all too big (they were all a City Chic XS sizing mind you! I used to barely fit their biggest gear and now the smallest sizes are TOO BIG?!), my bank balance sighed in relief when it went back up with the dress return, as opposed to down!

Not feeling overly satisfied with my shopping experience, my sister suggested I have a look in Crossroads downstairs... There was a Crossroads downstairs?! How did I miss THAT on my first trip?!  Down the escalators we went, and straight in the door...  Off to the changerooms I went with a dress and skirt in my hands, and yep, both fit, both went back out the door with me!!  (they were both on sale too, SWEET!)

.. now I had another dress on my 'hit list' for the Finale party - I had FIVE now to choose from!!  Talk about giving the indecisive girl too many options... !!!

Coming home, it was decided I'd stick with just the three options (life's tough!) - and I re-packed my bag accordingly for the trip to the city the following day...

* * * * *

Next morning I head off with the Bathurst Girls - who diverted through Penrith to pick me up. Gearing up for a big couple of days ahead, we hit the city, parked the car, checked into the YHA at The Rocks and caught the rest of our wild crew!

I designed this!!  :D
There's about a dozen of us local Central West girls from the 12wbt this round - and it has been one of THE BEST things I have found with the program - the formation of our local team "Grid Girls" - duly named for our crazy Mount Panorama training grounds!!

The support and camaraderie from this crazy bunch of women is just fabulous! Never really been part of a group like this - have ALWAYS been the odd one out...  To be one of the girls, and to have them "look after me" the way they do, I feel very blessed to have found them.

... particularly given the last six months of mental games. Having a social outlet like this, and being able to extend to new people for friendship "in real life" has been a godsend!  I've trained with these girls, I've been praised by these girls...  and I have nothing but respect and love for them! They're just FABULOUS!!

We went off together for the 12wbt Workout and Finale as a team - and were geared up to celebrate our 12 weeks together.  These ladies are AWESOME - they've achieved some phenomenal numbers in the last few months, and their drive and enthusiasm is quite contagious!!   When I'd voice my frustrations, they'd help push me back into gear... and when I'd hit Mount Pan with them, they'd tell me I was a freak (hahahaha!!) - you gotta love that!

Grid Girls at lunch!
SO we converge on Sydney together - and head off down to Circular Quay on a quest to find some lunch!  It's a great big "meet and greet" - for those of us who hadn't had a chance to formally meet each other beforehand (given we all communicate in a Facebook group ordinarily - we have members all across the Central West) - it was lovely to finally get bulk of us together, at once.

We head back out and decide to hit the shops... uh oh... more shopping?!!

Hitting Myer in the big smoke!
Myer this time... the great big huge shopping centre!  I was lost in five minutes... haha!  Walking around eying off all the fashion, I spot a 'clearance' rack and head straight towards it. First thing I pull out is a gorgeous red leather jacket, half price - only $4,500!!!!   Yeah... time to walk away... !

Spotted the Leona Edmiston section, and found my pink dress that the BLC stylist had put me in the day before!  Half price, only $160!!!   EEK!  Time to go...  Budget only extends to Target and Crossroads at the moment...

A text message after to find out where the others were - and yep, I'm officially lost!  In and out the same two doors a couple of times (with a stint of circular walking in the middle) and I have to laugh at myself a little...  Considering I was the girl who NEVER liked shopping, HATED being seen in a department store (or supermarket for that matter) - I was the girl who'd be up to her eyeballs in anxiety in such a crowded, public spot as I was...  and yet here I was, walking around, lost, quite calm and composed?!!  Again, who is this girl?!!

I smiled... sent an SOS to my girls, and found them shortly thereafter.  ... but I smiled. I was actually ok.  This is stuff I'm starting to really enjoy now - never thought that was ever possible, but I can actually handle being a part of the crowd now.  It just amazes me that it's come around like this...

Off to dinner that night, with sore, sorry, shopped-out feet from all the walking - an expensive piece of barramundi, a lychee cocktail and some fabulous company later, and we head back to the YHA to relax.

... but I wasn't done.  My girls (Allison and Emma) prompted a late-night walk over the Harbour Bridge - and I jumped at the chance!  I threw on my joggers and singlet, and out the door we went for a walk.... only I couldn't contain it this time, there'd be no walking. I apologised in advance to the girls, and said that I just HAD to run - I just HAD TO.

.. and run I did!  Music going off in my ears, my joggers and I took off - it was GORGEOUS up there!  I hit the end of the bridge, took the stairs down, walked around the end and waved to the Harbour Bridge from the other side!  THIS was the area I was staying just a couple nights before - the motel just up the road.  This was my second chance to run this bridge... and run it I did!

Return lap, I passed the girls and said I may or may not hit a third...  Got to the end, but I wasn't done - and back off I went for another one!  By the time I finished and head back to the YHA, I'd done over 12kms (four laps), I was sweaty and hot - but totally EMPOWERED.  I'd run my bridge!!

... and I slept like a log...

* * * * *

Up bright and early on Friday morning, the Grid Girls and I ate our kick-starter breakfasts and head off for our 12wbt giant group workout!  We were PUMPED!!!  We were decked out in our new singlets - looking like a powerhouse team - and ready to show them all what us country chicks were made of!

Registration and meet and greets - I caught up with a few of my gorgeous onliners and just enjoyed the ambiance of the grounds.

At one point I was ushered away to go and talk on camera (say what?!!  ANOTHER TV camera in my face, haha!) - and I gushed on about how I'd focused on my fitness this round, that I was smashing it, and I had the most awesome team mates out of the experience!  .. or, at least I HOPE that's how it came out.. hahaha!

gonna make you sweat!
The training session was FABULOUS!  Michelle Bridges came out on stage, and pumped up the massive crowd (about 1200 of us insane people training together) - and we were off!

Stretches, hip thrusts, arm punches, hand clapping, pushups, tricep dips, knee repeaters, running... OHHH my gosh - it gave us a run for our money!!!  It was structured the same as a gym-style body attack class, in the humidity of the day (thankfully we didn't get rained on, but god it was a stinker!) - and we LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

Lots of patting each other on the back afterwards and thinking we were a bit awesome, the Grid Girls all left the fields a little sunburnt, pretty sweaty, but a whole wad of awesome!!!

* * * * *

Got in trouble for taking
this one... haha!
But the fun didn't end there! A quick costume change for me, and the girls took me off to the CBD so I could hit Capitol Theatre to attend Mary Poppins!!

I'd booked in tickets to see the show for my sister's birthday before Mish Bridges had announced her finale party date - and it clashed. Thought I'd have had to sell or forfeit them, but a sheer stroke of luck (again?!) and I was there in time to sit down and enjoy the show with my sis!!

It was MAGICAL!  The theatre was gorgeous, the stage set was spectacular, and it was upbeat, entertaining and just plain FUN!  I had to duck out a little early, so I could make it back to The Rocks to get ready for the Finale party, so missed a little of the back-end of the show, but was so glad I fit that into the schedule.  My week was so jam-packed, getting to sit down long enough for that too - I was just HAPPY not to have had to miss it in the end!

* * * * *

Back at Camp YHA - the girls were near ready by the time I ventured back in.  I was sunburnt, sweaty and felt feral - and they were made-up, hair-styled and looking FABULOUS!!

Jumping in the shower, I was getting more and more anxious as the minutes ticked over... do I dare wear THE dress?  I really didn't think I had the confidence to pull it off - but with a little prodding (and it being so freaking HOT and humid) - the very short, very tight, very white, very little zebra dress was laid out to be put on...

Fighting with my trying to put on my fake eyelashes (whose idea was that?!!!) and I was getting more and more worked up. My belly was churning, and I was bright red - the sunburn on my face wasn't helping, and the girls were pretty much ready to leave without me!

Throwing on the balance of my makeup, chucking on the shapewear underneath (ALL HAIL THE SHAPEWEAR!!!) - I slipped on the zebra dress, got two glorious thumbs-up from my room mates, popped on THE red patent heels and jewellery, and off we went!


THE Zebra dress!

This was the moment for us - the culmination of hard work and commitment - and we were geared up for a freaking fabulous night!  I stepped out of the taxi with the girls at the pub nearby the event hall, and we found the balance of our group.  The girls praised the dress and told me I looked fabulous - which was EXACTLY what I needed to hear - my knees were shaking. I've NEVER been SO bold or confident enough to wear something so short, least of all strapless, least of all white and totally fitted..

.. and the funniest part to it all was the fact it was a St Vinnies purchase I'd found when I was down in Geelong just a few weeks prior!!  Of all the new glamour dresses I've bought lately, it was my tiny second-hand cheapie that won!   AND it was a size M - all of maybe a 14?!

That was enough for me - I was on a total HIGH after that! That's all I needed - to cut the crap and just HAVE FUN!  This was the stuff I've been working towards - being empowered enough to be ME, to step out of my comfort zone and take that leap of faith that things are actually better than I believe they are - that this body (with all its flaws) is actually OK!!

... and boy did I have fun!!  I spent bulk of the night dancing and hanging with my girls.  I had the opportunity to meet some other amazing 12wbters, and was introduced to quite a few others by my "unofficial media representative" Allison, who introduced me like I was a celebrity!!!  (hahaha... bless her!!)

I had THE best night - the red heels came off in favour of black ballet flats, and that was just the green light to dance the rest of the night away... and dance I did!  Out in the middle of nowhere, on my own if necessary... I didn't care, I just LOVE dancing!!    .. and I spent bulk of it jumping around like a monkey, too much energy for my own good!!!

The party wrapped up by 11pm, and by the time we ventured home, I think we were all pretty much exhausted... !!  Sitting on the side of my bed, my poor aching feet told me the story of what I'd just done for the night (hahaha), but I was on such a high, it took me a good couple of hours to calm down enough to sleep!

Waking up at 6.30am for an early-morning departure back to Penrith (to pick up my car) and I was, no word of a lie, walking around like an old woman!!!

My bones ached. My joints were on fire. I was bent over like a candy cane... I looked and felt a little bit like death - and considering I barely drank anything the night before (well, albeit a few glasses of champers - the first two went straight to my head, haha!) - it was like a hangover from hell, but all in the body!!!

I shuffled out the door and head back to Penrith feeling mighty sore and sorry for myself... and the girls dropped me off at my sister's door and left me to my devices.

Walking through the door like a broken woman, my sister prompted some bacon and eggs for recovery - and ofcourse I couldn't say no!  (haha.. you wouldn't either!). After my recovery breakfast, off I went on my trip back home to Bathurst.... my week was officially over!

Stopping off at Katoomba on my way back home - it was a strategic pitstop to wake me up... proved to be a bit of a "brain catchup" point for me. Standing at Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters, I just had a stupid grin on my face...  Here I was "enjoying" my day again - without even over-thinking it, worrying about it, feeling guilty or pressured (which is usually how things are for me, when you always feel like you don't belong)... I was just ME in this moment, and I'd just come through one of the biggest weeks of my entire year!

I shuffled back to my car and drove the rest of my trip home, with my little head just mulling over what all this means and how this entire last few months has impacted me...

* * * * *

When I started this round of the 12wbt I was fighting with my body and head. I'd stalled on my weightloss - that pesky up and down 2-kilos was driving me NUTS.  I'd failed a 12-week structure before this round, I just wasn't ready for it...

This one was different. I changed the angle. I wasn't worried about weightloss this time (came at it from a "it'd be nice, but it's not my goal" type angle)...  No, this one was all about fitness for me.

Looking back at how intensely I've adapted my training and how much I'm IN LOVE with this new level of fitness, I can see now why it meant so much this end of it...

The scales didn't do much for me this round - but my body shape, endurance and fitness are on a whole new level!  I've done it the RIGHT way this time - and ironically, I'm still heavier than I was six months ago!  I might have only just cracked back into double digits recently, but my health and food is the best it's been in months.

I have muscles - my calves are AWESOME (and I'm super proud of the shape they're taking - that's my work right there in full view!!) - my arms have definition coming through - my shoulders are more toned and my collar bones are more prominent.  The saggy neck that I despised so much a few months ago is reshaping, my butt is starting to disappear a bit too...  I can fit into a size 14, I even fit a size 12 at the start of the week!  There ARE changes going on!

My fitness is INSANE!! I've trained consistently for MONTHS, building up to my key event in Melbourne - my 14kms... Knowing full well it was only a couple of years ago that I could barely walk a few steps down the road (in the cover of darkness - that emotion is as raw today as it was then...)  - I am SO SO SO proud of myself for achieving what I have in such a short space of time.  I never knew I could do that, I didn't ever assume I'd WANT to try that!  .. and here I am, since August, having achieved FIVE fun-runs already, walking laps of Mount Panorama (some with 10-12kgs on my back!), purposefully looking for training possibilities and training buddies, and LOVING the change in my attitude.

The scales have got NOTHING on what I've achieved this round - they say NOTHING.

My insane fitness and the huge stamina and ability to push my body through the limits - THAT is what I've achieved this round.

My new body shape, and the fact I've dropped another dress size, even though the scales are still high, and can totally rock a short, fitted ZEBRA dress - THAT is what I've achieved this round.

I have a group of amazing women in my local network now who help cull the loneliness - THAT is what I've achieved this round.

I have had the opportunity to extend my story and reach others who are just starting out on their weightloss mission - THAT is what I've achieved this round.

Before I went to Victoria, I felt like a failure... That I hadn't achieved anything in the last six months and was very much going backwards with my mission and goals.

I was SO very wrong, and I apologise to my body and my head for berating them about it.

I see now what we've all been working on so aggressively the last few months - more so in the last 12 weeks - and I have nothing but praise now.

I'm a different girl... AGAIN.  I've grown and matured - my confidence is at an all time high.  I fight and I conquer, and I'll KEEP fighting, because I'm not done yet!

The universe has plans for me - I see that - and I'm open to them now.  I WANT to help and be helped - and the more I give of myself, the more I'm receiving...

It IS all coming together - sometimes you just have to get to the Finale to realise what it is you've busted your arse to achieve for so long!

...  and now I can't wait for the next chapter!

This year has been PHENOMENAL - and with Christmas and New Years just around the corner, I'm SO excited to see what it is that 2012 has in store for me...  I honestly and sincerely can't wait for the adventures I have coming my way.   I have a feeling they are about to rock my world even more!!

THAT is what I've achieved this round...  and I've already got the beginnings of a new goals list for the new year...  I do believe this is where I finally get to say....



Fun runs, photo shoots, wild weekends and 'finales'... part two

"Last time on (insert your favourite TV show here)".... haha...


Feeling a little unsteady on my feet, but in a MUCH more positive zone than I'd been in the few weeks (or months for that matter) beforehand, I was all geared up to just "get back into it" - GAME ON?!!   ... but my basic lifestyle and income have taken a huge whammy this year, and "reality" was forcing me to focus on my business and get that up and running smoothly again, and just leave the weightloss for a while. Nope, the game wasn't back on...

My body was responding to the clean eating - I felt better (inside and out) - and I was 'ok' with where I was at, in general.  Was ready to "walk away" and just start ENJOYING this new-found confidence that I hadn't actually given myself time to take in before - enjoy the new body and the revelations of being so fit and healthy. Get back to being a normal person - whatever 'normal' happens to be these days?!!

I've spent over 3.5 years so intensely focused on the scales - the thought of "giving up" was NOT an option - more a 'forfeit' and walking away for a while to actually have a life was really appealing. I've never really "had a life" - and I was torn between going out there helping everyone on this frenzied "must help everyone!" agenda OR re-negging on the mission and being 'selfish' so I could keep a roof over my head and go back to just being 'Amy'... though in saying that, I don't know what "being Amy" really is anymore?!

The mind games and tug-of-war between trying to look after just me VERSUS trying to look after everyone else - which has all escalated in the last six months - I was overwhelmed with the thought that I was potentially forfeiting all the experiences that I still put (unintentionally) on 'layby' thinking I haven't done enough - waiting until I'm smaller when I'm 'allowed' to have them?!

All the body-image issues I've been dealing with in private (the excess skin and feeling like a freak of nature... the self-hatred I'm fighting... the embarrassment and frustration of a body that doesn't "look" like a weightloss success - making me feel like a hypocrite!)...  I was ready to walk away, it seemed like the easier option... until I could appreciate ME amidst it all.

I don't "dislike" what I've achieved (quite the contrary) - more just disappointed in how I look with the after-math of excess skin, and my coping mechanisms are well and truly out of whack (clearly - 4 kilo holiday gain told me that! Went into major self-sabotage mode when my focus was gone!).

The appeal to just be 'average' for a while and just go back to being the nothing 'Amy' was tearing me to bits!    What does it feel like to be someone who is MORE than just a number on a set of scales?!  A weightloss "personality"...  that's the only reason I have the networks and affiliations I have now - because I've lost some weight?!  Who am I without all that... ?!

And just as I settled myself to do just that - to walk away and learn who AMY "without weightloss" really was, the Universe threw me a freaking spanner!

* * * * *

No photo compilation would be complete
without a giant BL screen behind us!!
Knowing my headspace was out of whack, one of my gorgeous local ladies (Michelle) threw me an opportunity I didn't even see coming!  She had tickets to a special taping for the Biggest Loser tv program - an episode where the contestants from the new series (to air early next year) came out on stage, one by one, and "exposed" their demons and reasons for the weight to the audience.  A confronting experience for anyone - least of all to a room full of strangers...

I had NO idea what I was going for initially, but said YES without even thinking twice! A road-trip with a few of my local Bathurst ladies (yep, business got put on the back-burner again...) and I was out the door and in the car with them before I even had time to really unpack the suitcase from the last trip... !!!

I say this with a smile - because it was only yesterday that Michelle said to me that I have a way of "getting into my head at just the right time" and saying something that would spark her back into gear. Well Chelle, this was YOU repaying that favour - this came at the right time for me. At the very moment I was about to 'walk away' (and I was hurting for it...) - this pulled me back in!

Sitting in the audience for the taping, and having the new contestants walk out to talk to us - one by one - my heart broke for each of them. I saw so much of myself in their words - the pain on their faces, I recognised in the mirror... Their stories and angst, their hurts and fears, their 'hope'... it was all right there, raw and emotional and like a stage production of ME, and my stomach churned the entire time.

They WERE me. It was only a couple of years prior to starting my own weightloss mission, that I'd  applied for the TV show too - and shamefully submitted my huge photos and story, not really having the heart or belief behind it. I put on a hideous amount of weight AFTER that application (which obviously was rejected!) - and it was only sheer dumb stubborn luck that I chose to start my mission on my own, because I couldn't rely on the one-off chance of getting onto the show to help "save me"...

Sitting there in the audience with tears in my eyes, and the biggest lump in my throat... I don't know whether I was struck with a sense of accomplishment or pride that I HAD done this on my own - without the TV cameras, without the trainers... or whether I was just so goddammed relieved that I wasn't "there" in that zone anymore.  I wanted to go up on stage and hug them, tell them it would be ok, that they just had to stay focused and there was going to be good and bad days...  To throw the negatives out the window, and push for a better future - leave the crud and the hideous demons behind... and let themselves actually LIVE.

I sat there and felt EVERY emotion... it cut so deep, yet so empowered by the realisation of what I've already done... it was another mini-breakthrough for me. It hurts - not physically - but the emotions to all of this is what's gripping me right now... and it was a slap in the face to realise just how much of a hold they can still have on me, when I've worked SO hard already and you already KNOW that you're far more advanced than you ever were... but still so fragile.

Me and my best bud, Steve!!
Wiping away the tears and trying to compose myself at the close of the taping... the audience was given the opportunity to meet the Trainers - Michelle, Shannan and Commando Steve were floating around the audience having photos taken and being swooned over, like the crazy celebs that they are!!

I had my chance to catch up with Steve - and a photo and hug later (that was worth the trip alone! haha) - was feeling MUCH more myself!

"...just insert gibberish here..."
I even ended up with a camera in my face, and dragged poor Michelle into frame for moral support (haha)... was still so rattled, the only thing coming out of my mouth was pure gibberish - so let's not assume we'll see any of THAT footage anywhere!!!  (... or if we do, please forgive me for talking nonsense!!!)

A photo with Shannan, and watching my other ladies swoon over the trainers (to my amusement!) - and a few photo-bombings later (hahaha... can't help myself!) - we were buzzing!

Invading Chelle's "Mish Moment"
Heading off to the car park we go, and by a chance of sheer luck, we spotted Shannan on his way to his car - and bailed him up for another photo - WITHOUT the crowds!!! He stopped to acknowledge us - have a chat. The girls hit him up with some questions, and he graciously answered in his very enthusiastic way!   ... and then it happened...

Allison (who I've now deemed my unofficial 'media representative', hahaha) - blurted out that I've lost nearly 100kilos.  He spun around in my direction, held my arm, and his jaw fell open.  All that came out of his mouth (and all I can remember, haha) is him saying "Shut up!  SHUT UP! NO, there's NO WAY! You haven't.. You couldn't have?!!" 

Ahhh Shannan, you made
my day!!
I didn't know what to say!  I'm sure I went a lovely shade of red...  He told me straight out that I did NOT look like someone half my former-size - that he's seen the after-math of massive weightloss, and I didn't look at all like I used to be nearly 200kilos!!

When it came up about my excess skin (the issue that's been plaguing and hindering my headspace the last six months) - he praised me some more, gave me the name of a surgeon that his clients have worked with, and praised me again!

Again, it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear - given my anxiety about my body, and feeling ENORMOUS in half my size!  Considering I was standing there in a fitted, sleeveless top (only the second time I've done that in my life!) I was pretty chuffed!!  The universe was throwing me loops again!

Turning around, we spotted Commando Steve in the carpark too (again?!!!) and naturally we had to go and harass him some more...  ANOTHER group photo shot, and we literally got in our car buzzing like women possessed!!

An AMAZING, highly emotional but freaking awesome day all round!  Heading to bed later, after being on such a high, we were just exhausted!   .. but coming home the following day, I brought back another small chunk of self-confidence I didn't have prior, and for THAT I was truly grateful!

* * * * *

As though that wasn't enough - the Universe had even MORE up its sleeve for me!

Coming home from holidays, I was contacted by Woman's Day magazine - I was a finalist in a weightloss competition, that I'd forgotten I'd even entered!!  (haha... I didn't actually put much effort into my entry at the time - was in such a bad headspace, thought I didn't deserve to be in there at all... how's that for the Universe throwing me a new one!)

I was asked in for the group photo shoot for the following Tuesday - just a week later... again, before my bags were barely unpacked!

In the midst of this, the Biggest Loser Club also contacted me to feature me in their upcoming campaigns for next year - another opportunity to reach people and show them that real weightloss CAN be achieved. Again, as sheer dumb luck would have it, the marketing lady met me at the BL taping to discuss it... The Universe was conspiring again!!

I was on such a high from my 'wins' and feeling in such a better zone than before, I couldn't say anything but YES - there's a rhyme and reason for everything, and the Universe was telling me something here...   I simply wasn't done, and it wasn't about to let me walk away...

Catch was, the BLC photoshoot was the Wednesday... so as fate had it, I was booked in for two photoshoots the following week - one after the other!   ... and the 12wbt finale party that weekend!

I cancelled my week entirely and designated it "Sydney Week" - Monday travel, Tuesday photoshoot in the CBD, Wednesday photoshoot in North Sydney, Thursday my sister's birthday in Penrith, Friday and Saturday 12wbt finale at The Rocks, Sunday home...  (ahhhhh... )

* * * * *

As with all things 'Amy' - there's always a catch... (haha...)

It was the interview with Woman's Day that nearly became my undoing... When asked what size I was for the stylist (about a generous 16, and still registered in about 100kilos)... it was questioned whether I was 'suitable' to be a finalist when I was "still technically quite overweight" and not fitting into the BMI chart. I was questioned about my photos I'd submitted - because I don't "look" like a 100kilo girl (which I don't!! That's how deceptive it all is!) and asked to resubmit recent shots. Without going into all the finer details, I was nothing short of gutted.

I was VERY upset - the mind games of my warped body image, my hideous self-hatred of my excess skin, the pressure of NOT looking like a successful weightloss 'after shot'... THIS was the exact reason why I was so broken about it all - I felt critiqued and humiliated, that I hadn't done enough to pass 'approval'. I cried... broken, painful tears of feeling like a complete failure, that I wasn't worthy of my message (the very one that's taken over my life!!!).

Being as emotionally-invested as I am about HEALTHY, realistic weightloss - and talking so candidly to you all about the ins and outs, the hurts and the horrors - the feedback I get from just being honest is HUGE. I know I'm not the only one out there struggling with these things - I don't always have the answers or insights, and clearly I contend with and approach things in my own time for my own benefit too - but I was GUTTED that a glossy magazine would consider a HEALTHY size 16 "not viable"...

... and I voiced it. It's a VERY rare occasion that I stand up and voice my very strong opinion on things when there's confrontation on the line (I'm extremely non-confrontational) - but I felt obligated to all of YOU to have this one be acknowledged. I wasn't speaking just for myself, but for all of YOU out there who struggle on a daily basis to be happy in your skin - and the criticisms that we face on a daily basis for being bigger than what society expects... well, I couldn't let it slide.

When I voiced I was upset on my Facebook page (at the time - without having gone into the details) - the support and messages I received were so overwhelming - I couldn't do anything BUT turn around and make sure that 'the voice of reality' came into play.

I dare say bulk of my emotion hinged on the fact it felt like a impromptu 'critique' on my current body, and had pretty much negated all the work and 'wins' I'd been working so hard on the few weeks prior. Trying so desperately to 'love the skin I'm currently in' and then having it taken away with one misunderstanding...  wow...   it's just so easy to lose what you've worked SO hard to build up, and THAT was having a huge impact on my reaction to it all.. 

I wrote a very honest, very candid letter to the editor, and explained how intense weightloss is on your head and your emotions - how hard it is not to "live up to the standards of a chart" or society, when your body doesn't fit the expected - how outdated and inefficient a BMI chart truly is (particularly when you're carrying 10kilos worth of excess skin, and are fit and healthy beneath that - or when a muscle-clad footballer can be classified as 'obese' just because of the scales) - and just how distorted the message to real women is out there when we're simply NOT all a skinny size 10!!  ... and left it up to them whether they keep me in the competition or forfeit me. I assumed I was already on the culled pile, and voicing my opinion was only going to help put me there!!

To say I was emotionally-unbalanced after this, another understatement... but I've NEVER been SO passionate, so determined in my life to make sure that I was standing there representing REAL WOMEN as I was on the day I wrote that email!  It was never "about me" as such - I don't need to pat myself on the back (I'm still a work in progress, I'll do all the patting I need to do when I reach my goal) - but in the meantime, everything I do here, on the website, in the forums, on my group pages... it's for the benefit of someone else - to have them see that it's OK to get out there and achieve, and to empower them enough to make the changes in their own lives that changes the course of their thinking and life too...

... and the only reason I had the confidence to do THAT, was because of you guys!  I was representing YOU.  I'm SO passionate about all of this, it's some of the hardest things us women (and guys) have to deal with in our weightloss efforts... the self-criticism is one thing, but I was out to prove a point...

Needless to say, the lovely team at Woman's Day were pretty gutted themselves when they realised how upset I was - and I was asked to stay in the competition and be featured, to make sure I DID still get my message out there to the ladies who need it - all 100kilos of me!

* * * * *

... and there I was, at the beginning of the next insane adventure...

Trying to fit in as much as I could for my clients (and keep everyone happy) - AND fit in a few workouts and lose those extra holiday kilos before the looming photo shoots, the balance of my week was nothing short of MANIC! I still fit in a lap of Mount Pan before I left, ate clean and mean, and looked and felt as strong as I was "going to get" given all the circumstances of the previous few weeks... !

... packed enough gear to last about a month, and off I went...

* * * * *

Walking into the studio for the Woman's Day shoot on the Tuesday, well, I was nervous... Stylists and photographers didn't phase me - I mean, I've done it once before, so I wasn't worried about 'that' so much...

More along the lines of anxiety meeting the team that I'd just bitten the ankles of, and how they'd react to me in person! I'm not an overly 'in your face' person - quite the opposite! Still VERY reserved - "friendly" but still quiet (hard to break the shy girl syndrome even now!!)... but the team were lovely, and very accommodating!

The gorgeous Tanja strikes a pose
with me... haha!
I was there with a fellow Aim Trainer, Tanja - she's been in the forums alongside me for years - and who has transformed herself in amazing ways too. We stayed in the city the night before, and had the opportunity to formally meet each other, and "talk shop" (as you do, haha) over dinner...   THAT in itself was one of the biggest bonuses of the opportunity - getting to meet the gorgeous people in my network that I've spoken to online (but not met in person) is a HUGE thing for me!!  These are the people that I spend my time mulling over issues, and kicking butt's with - they're the ladies (and guys) that I DO all this for - and they're my unending support base in return!

Our third finalist was amazing too - having lost over 80kilos herself - was lovely to meet another weightloss champion whose not only changed her life, but is extending it out to others aswell. SO many amazing entries, and so many weightloss success stories out there (as we were shown) - it really was high praise that the three of us had been chosen to stand in there... 

".. just a bit of makeup.."
Getting to do this with Tanja was AMAZING - to see her have this opportunity, to be made up and get to strut her stuff - even more so...  We were made up, and styled - flicking around the room in dresses and posing like we knew what we were doing!

Not as glamorous as it all seems - it's actually quite taxing!!  By the end of it all, we were pretty spent.... Talking about the reasons why we did this for ourselves, our 'journeys' (I don't rate that word, haha, it implies you have a final destination - to me, there's no end... it NEVER ends!!)  - I found myself voicing something I hadn't really acknowledged before... and funny that it should just come out of my mouth in this environment...

When I said I didn't expect to ever be there - I was shushed and told "ofcourse I would have had to be there, that I deserved it"...   but it wasn't in 'that' context in which I'd initially referred.  I meant, I had no intention of EVER being here... I had no intention of making it past my 26th birthday - least of all make my 30s... I never ever gave myself foresight for a future.

I didn't elaborate or go into it - I don't really know why it came out at the time like that... I've never really talked greatly about it, or used it for 'material' before - but whatever that moment was, it just hit me... If I'd have ever done what I'd intended, I'd have never been able to experience any of this...

Everything that I'm doing, that I'm achieving, seeing, developing... they were never part of my plan. I never expected any of this. I didn't expect anything - I didn't WANT anything...

What I do now is for the sole purpose of reaching out to the girls at home who FEEL like I used to - and speaking so candidly about these things (as it's become more and more apparent why I subconsciously do all this and what drives it)... I'm SO desperate to talk to those girls, and make them NOT hurt the way I used to...

... but again, it takes its toll. I'm still fragile, and I forget that it wasn't that long ago that I didn't believe I deserved a future - let alone the "festivities" of running around enjoying this success (... which, ironically, I'm still trying to ENJOY, haha)...

Sneak-peek of Woman's Day
photoshoot image...
I LOVED the shoot - the team were fantastic.  My dress was awesome (well and truly out of my comfort zone again - I bypassed it initially thinking I looked terrible, but the team told me otherwise, so I put my trust in them - and did wonders for my confidence, AGAIN).. and once again, I didn't know who that girl was staring back at me from the screen!  She looked amazing, but my head couldn't register it...

I walked out of that shoot absolutely emotionally spent and a whole wad of overwhelmed...  I still can't connect with 'her' - whoever that was on the screen, she LOOKED happy and confident, and yet I was a mess inside...

I wanted to crawl under a rock and just sleep for a month!  I checked into my second motel of the trip in North Sydney, and stepped out onto the balcony of my room... Was totally overcome with emotion at this point - I didn't recognise ME in ANY of this - this wasn't my life, not my norm.. and having dug up the raw emotions of my mortality (when I usually have that one well and truly under wraps...) - I was feeling about as alone as I could have possibly been.

I just had to WALK. I just had to move... I had to go somewhere, anywhere, I didn't care where, didn't even know where I was going or where I really was (me and my lack of direction)... I just had to move FORWARD.

A stroll over the Harbour Bridge
I walked out the front door of the motel and head for the Harbour Bridge... At this time of day, there was heaps of people on their way home after work - and heaps of them were ear-phones in, running across the bridge.

I was eying them off with so much envy, I just wanted to do the same... but I was void of energy, lacked the confidence to be seen doing it, and if someone had of looked at me sideways, I'd have burst into tears...

I walked the entire length of the bridge, found The Rocks, head to Circular Quay and stood there checking out the Opera House... Realised what I'd done and felt pretty chuffed that I'd managed to find that on my own (again, something others take for granted - these are the things I would NEVER have done 'before').. and head back to the motel in reverse, to grab some dinner and relax...

I found Circular Quay!
Back at the motel, I turned the shower on, and stood there for a minute with the water belting me in the face... Desperately trying to calm down, knowing full well throwing a tantrum at this point in time would do me absolutely NO favours on the 'professionalism' for the following day...

My head was still churning over, constant drivel about never going to be here, missing out on everything, six feet under and you'd have missed out on all of this, being ungrateful for what I have achieved, what I'm yet to experience, just have to suck it up and get over it, stop throwing everyone's praise away like I didn't deserve it, fighting with the belief that I'm still ugly and noone wants me versus all these people constantly telling me I look 'great' - I sure as hell didn't FEEL great...  I just wanted to shut it all off - just a mish-mash of drivel going round and round my head...

View from my balcony
I stuck the plug into the bottom of the bath and filled it up with water... then sat down and cried...  Took too much energy standing up, I just needed to get rid of the emotions. No point bottling it up any longer - if that was going to work, it would have gone by the time I came back from my walk.. but nope. A good old cry does wonders sometimes!

Washing my face in my bath water, had to have a little chuckle at myself when I was peaved that I didn't have any bubbles in the bath... it was missing bubbles!!  ... then realised, like a jolt to the head (as usual) that I was SITTING IN A BATH TUB!!!  Like a normal person... The last time I took a bath was when I was a kid. I haven't fit into a bath since... (swimming pools don't count!!!) - I was sitting in the bottom of the shower, in a normal sized bathtub, having a bath...

Can we say WIN?!!!   I could have cried about that too, at the time, but it was "just enough" to get my head back into the zone and make it ok...  I climbed out of the bath, spotted myself in the mirror, looked away, got dressed and climbed into bed. No more punishment, time to turn it off.  I slept like a log...

* * * * *

... and again.. to be continued!  (told you this one was epic...!!!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fun runs, photo shoots, wild weekends and 'finales'... part one

Ohhhh my gosh, where do I even begin with the catch-ups on all the events that have happened recently!  It has been an INSANE whirlwind of one-after-the-other events, and I'm sitting here hellishly exhausted, but wanted to get it out before the manic workload kicked in bright and early tomorrow morning, with Christmas right behind it!!

So here goes...  (coming at you in two parts - figured you'd need a break in between as much as I do writing it, haha!)

My Super-Twin Lynda and I with our medals!!
WELL, after a few solid weeks of training, leading up to the Melbourne 'City to Sea' 14kms run, and having my focus so committed on my fitness for THAT event, I pretty much gave up on my weightloss goals. The body wasn't in the mood to entertain any of those shenanigans, and I was busting some serious tail in prep for my next major event without really seeing any downward-scales results! (super frustrating...) 

Busting-butt so much, in fact, that the same two-kilos kept creeping up and down, up and down on the scales for the past FIVE months - and very much doing my head in!!  BUT my fitness - and my 'reason' - was flying in leaps and bounds!
I was training consistently for weeks and weeks, with major sessions including a lap of Mount Panorama with 10kgs on my back, the following week with 12kgs on my back, and the following week after that, a double lap (over 12kms no backpack!!) - and that was on top of my usual routines!  I was fighting through hideous blisters, and pain through my joints - but I was pushing through it in a way I've never had focus nor drive before!

Heading to Melbourne, I was so primed for my 14kms, I set out to crack it in two hours - and was ECSTATIC when I came in under my goal - I ran longer stints, and pushed myself as hard as I could go. The body was fatigued BEFORE I hit Melbourne, but I was "in my zone" and I wanted that goal - and by god, the medal I walked away with for this one was well and truly earnt!!

* * * * *

A little TLC for the soul -
Great Ocean Road
Now that my major event was over, I collapsed! Quite literally... The body was exhausted, my head was in pieces... I wasn't quite "ok" - I'd been so brutally focused on my training, covering up all the gaps in my mindset and 'life' that wasn't exactly working the way I wanted it to... The frustrations of a body that was holding steadfast to the weight, and feeling like a "failure" (despite the intensity of my fitness)...  Just so many mind games, and I really didn't know where to start.

Taking my "focus" away, having already completed my major event goal, I felt suddenly VERY empty. Very deflated. And as my last blog post highlighted, very "lost" indeed... (can read that here).  The head was out of whack, and I KNEW that well and truly before I left for my trip away - it was my strategic escape-route - needed time out, to figure things out, and give myself a breather from my little world.

... but when you do that, you open yourself up to a world of hurt! It's all fine and dandy to "contain and compress" all the issues - but it only lasts until you take off that lid... and they all come flooding out again!

I sat on my butt (for the bulk part - albeit being a tourist!) and took some needed "time out" for the week after my Melbourne run - and gave myself time to just enjoy what I was down there to enjoy...  "Amy Time" - something I really haven't given myself in ages - a chance to reconnect with ME!

So busy appeasing everyone else, trying to do as much as I could for everyone else, and gloss over the things I really didn't have the energy left to contend with - my can of worms was well and truly open, and it was time to sort the buggers out!!

* * * * *
I went kayaking with the fams
... something I'd have never been
confident enough to do before!

A week of 'Amy Time' - and finding a sense of freedom and growth was a self-discovery I've never really had - and was a little overwhelming!

Realising I was a GROWN UP and could do whatever I wanted, when I liked, as I pleased... was a tad upset to realise I was still so "confined" in all my own expectations OR the expectations I believed I still had controlling me!

For an independent, "no-ties", single girl... I was really quite upset to realise how chained to pleasing everyone else I truly am! ... and for what?!  Was it me trying to acquire the acknowledgement of others, or was that me having a lack of self-worth and value still?!

Going out and "just being" or "just doing" all the things that others quite often take for granted - walking through the shopping centre (without being the biggest one there), going for a walk down the beach (in a pair of swimmers and boardies for the first time ever!!), even getting on a kayak and just DOING something that I'm so excited by... they were HUGE things for me! It wasn't a "holiday" - it was learning how to be AMY - "just as she is"... 

SO much running through my head...  Big wad of emotions inside, was just churning and churning...

Got to meet Kelly at the Geelong run -
one of my gorgeous Aim Trainers!
A week of 'no pressure' (but MUCH going on in the head...) - my little trip to Victoria was extended somewhat, to cater for a second running stint!

The Run Geelong - 12kms - exactly a week after my Melbourne - and I went into this one ON MY OWN (albeit with mum and dad chasing me around Geelong with a camera, haha!)  This time I was stronger, faster, fitter, not so fatigued! 

I SMASHED this run and loved every kilometre of it! My body and my head were much more aligned, and the only person I was doing this one for was ME - nothing to prove, no expectations, I was out there RUNNING and I was freaking LOVING IT!

I came in with another fabulous time, and felt so empowered by this circuit - I could FEEL my energy levels on the rise again, my body wasn't nearly as fatigued after the week's break, and I felt so bloody good afterwards! No medals for this one (boooo!) but I walked away a freaking champion after this one - I felt so good!

* * * * *

Hanging Rock
On our return trip, we stopped at Hanging Rock. It was just a few years prior that I'd stopped here with my sister under the guise that I was determined to climb that thing! It was only a few months after I'd started my weightloss, and I was still HUGE - I huffed and puffed and complained the entire way up that mountain, thinking it was ENORMOUS, and wanted to cry... Felt incredibly conspicuous and ridiculous - and didn't dare go to the top. I was in agony - bright red - sweating like a pig... oh my gosh, can still remember it so clearly!!

When we stopped here for a picnic lunch on our trip home, I had no intentions of formally walking the track again.. it just "kind of happened..."  - and even now, I have this smile on my face, because I can't believe what happened!

Out fluffing around with my camera (as I always do!) I started to walk up to the rock faces for a little reminiscent squizzy. I was wearing a skirt, and three tops (I was SO cold, even on a great sunny day - curse of a smaller body not yet thermo-regulating itself properly!!) - and just some little ballet flats on my feet. I wasn't dressed appropriately for a 'workout' so didn't intend on climbing the mountain...

... which I only realised when I reached the first major summit of the climb! Not only had I walked the entire incline, but I'd climbed the rock stairs, ducked and weaved, and made it to the first main area without even meaning to!

To say it hit me with a little jolt of "OMFG" when I was up there taking my photos again is a bit of an understatement... I've been STRUGGLING in a really hideously, intense way with my self-perception and body issues the last six months, feeling like the girl I used to be, just in a smaller package (which the brain can't register)... and here I was, in that exact same place, just a few years later - and I'd barely broken a sweat!! 

My "reality" just started to kick in... I'm not that girl anymore. I'm not that size. I'm not that unfit. I'm no longer the big-girl hanging her head in shame, trying to camouflage her excessive breathing (and nearly passing out!) because she's ashamed of how unfit she is and doesn't want anyone to hear her panting...  I near bounced up that mountain, with a huge smile on my face, and the only time I stopped was to take my jacket off because I was FINALLY WARM!!!!

I had a little WOW moment... got back in the car, and we drove home...  It really didn't hit me until I put my 'before and afters' together when I got home - I'd forgotten I even had the photos from before (in my quest to never have photos taken, it's a wonder they exist at all!), and how funny that they'd replicated themselves a few years later with the 'new me' without even meaning to! I had a third little win on my Melbourne/Geelong trip, and all together, they were the catalyst for what followed....

* * * * *

Coming home from my Victorian trip, with a lack of new goals set in place... I felt a little lost!  I seemed to have stirred up quite the hornet's nest in my head though - the time out was great for the body, but the head was taking a beating! Not in a negative way - more in a "time to work this shit out" way!

Pitfall was bringing home my four-kilo-bloated-belly-baby!!!  I was DISGUSTED!!!  Bad enough I've been fighting the same two-kilo up and down gains, but the moment I saw the scales back up to 105kgs, that was it. There was hell to pay... and noone to blame but ME! I'd eaten hideously - out of my routine and comfort zone, I'd eaten anything that came even remotely close to my face - which included fish and chips, a chicken burger, copious amounts of cookies, ice cream, snacks... I even hoovered a pie on our way home. A PIE!  UGH!  I don't eat that shit anymore... !!!!

Any wonder I felt like an elephant when I walked back through my door?!!  Bloated, bad skin, hideously sick in the belly...

CONFESSION TIME: I haven't logged or tracked my calories or food intake FOR MONTHS!  Time-poor and then pure laziness kicked in. I hazard a guess that irrespective of still eating as well as I do, I was eating TOO MUCH - and that coinciding with the muscle-creation going on in my body - NATURALLY there'd be no movement on the scales!   I was literally maintaining - my fitness was through the roof, but my body was just maintaining itself - huge energy expenditure, huge calorie intake - it was just protecting itself!
... and if I take that even one step further... THAT is the maintenance mode I need to learn IN THE FUTURE!!  When I'm more in my goal-weight zone and happy with my size - THAT is exactly the ratio I'll be working on THEN!

... BUT (for now) - in weightloss mode - too much food and too much over-training CLEARLY doesn't work!

As soon as I got back home, I was back into it! Tracking my food, logging my cals... Nothing special or out of the ordinary in my food intake - I just "went clean" and started eating my allowance each day. The first week home, I did ZERO exercise - but stuck to my 1600cals a day... and within a week and a half, not only had I dropped my insane holiday-bloat, but I'd cracked that pesky "plateau" number that's been haunting me for FIVE MONTHS!!!   I lost a HUGE amount of weight in a seriously short space of time - something I've NEVER seen my body do, and hazard a guess I'd be lucky to see again!!!  7.5 kilos in a week and a half... one word: INSANE!!

I literally just shrug my shoulders with a stupified look on my face! How the hell I pulled that, I have no idea...  All I can assume is that MUSCLE IS KING!!!  That is what I've been working on FOR FIVE MONTHS - and I reckon as soon as I cleaned up my eating, the body kicked straight back into gear! 

There's alot to be said about "taking a break" and letting your body re-adjust itself. I like to think I know what's best - but fact of the matter is THE BODY is the driver - always has been - always will be! It knows me better than I know myself (haha) - and I really need to stop thinking I can overrule what it chooses to do sometimes!!  It's done it before - and no doubt will do it again - it's here to protect me, look after me, serve me...who am I to think I know better?!!  We're a TEAM - and we only work when we work TOGETHER!

A week after coming home from my holidays, I seemed to be back in the game! My eating was fabulous, my body finally responding... A week after my last exercise session (Run Geelong), and I hit a lap of my favourite old river circuit, just to "ease" myself back into the exercise...  (you can only live off "sheer dumb luck" for results for so long, haha)...

I SMASHED IT!!!  Not only did I smash the course 'in general' - but I added an extra couple of kilometres to my track and STILL made it back in just a couple minutes over my previous PB! Can't begin to even express how ECSTATIC I was to do that...

... and a few days later, I hit my old faithful Mount Panorama again... and SMASHED THAT TOO!!!

My body was fighting back!  My weight had dropped, I was back in double-digits, I was fitter, stronger, rejuvenated... even my head was cooperating for a change!

Did I dare say I was finally BACK IN THE GAME?!!

.... and then the Universe spun me around... we weren't done... !!

..... to be continued... !!