After two solid months of pushing my own boundaries and working harder than I have on my health than ever - and coming through victorious (hurdles, challenges, issues and all) - I was very much looking forward to some "down time" and a well-earned holiday away! .... and yet five solid pages later of "itinerary", I'm wondering NOW where exactly I'd actually planned on taking some rest... !!!
You see, when I started the 12WBT (and subsequently forfeited for the Commando Challenge - as per previous blog entry!) with my online network of girls - we knew there was a Finale Party to cap it off at the end. Weeks ago, we put it out there that we needed to start organising this 'event' for ourselves - and as the finale date started to catapult toward us, momentum was definitely gearing up for a weekend above and beyond any of our expectations!
This very unique, very special bond we had together became so much more - these women (as I've mentioned previously) are one of my strongest reasons for making it through my Challenge. Hand-picked, gorgeous-goodness these women are - pure and simply, they're fabulous! We each bring something "to the table" (so to speak! low cals ofcourse, haha) but take so much more from one another, that our network and bond have become really quite unparalleled!
So, naturally, getting the opportunity to get bulk of us in the room together at once was going to be nothing short of INSANE.... and it certainly was...!!! Here's my side of the story....
Amy's Five-Day INSANE Adventure
If you're anything like me, the prospect of traveling seems to flare up some crazy amounts of fear in my bones - for no other reason than lack of experience and confidence.
A few weeks ago, when my Challenge had started to take over my life and interfere with resources - I was at the point of having to opt-out from heading to Melbourne to "party with my girls". We had SO much talk about activities and meet ups - and it broke my heart that I was going to have to forfeit because of a funding issue. (.... not that money was the "only" issue there...?!)
I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT to miss out - that this celebration was for ALL of us on ALL our challenges and successes.... and with our friendship being as strong as it is, I was given the most beautiful gift ever...
The Pand - our wise and generous one - traded in some of her frequent flyer points - bought my plane tickets, and offered up her spare room - just so that I could be there with the girls to celebrate. VERY humbled by this amazing gesture, I couldn't say no - despite the fact that I was fighting off a terrible fear of flying and travel!!
Our very wise Pand caught me out on that one - and again, went one notch higher. She took a flight from Melbourne to Sydney on Thursday night, just to pick me up from the airport and bring me back to Melbourne - so I didn't have to take my first-ever plane ride on my own....
I really don't have any words for how truly grateful I am for that - I've never had the confidence / resources / necessity to travel - I've ALWAYS been envious of everyone else who seemed to have no issue with flicking around place to place... But me, there's always been a hideous amount of fear in the pit of my stomach that I simply wasn't allowed to do it. Maybe it was my size that skewed my view on that - I always feared the humiliation of having to ask for an extension belt on the seatbelt; or spilling my girth all over the poor person sitting next to me... I'd have visions of not fitting into the seats properly; and heaven forbid I was simply too heavy that I weighed that plane down! (mmmm... yep, I truly did believe that too - just like I believed I could break elevator cables, and make step ladders collapse... you name it, I'd envisaged horror scenes with them all cuz of my weight. Hence my sheer avoidance.)
Having been rid of excuses not to come - tickets bought and my "chaperone" locked in - I really had no choice in the matter - my girls would NOT let me back out of it! How could I throw such an amazing gesture back in their face - I'd be ashamed of myself if I did....
SO, it was official! I was off to Melbourne!!!
Beautiful one day, frozen the next.... wait, and I haven't even left Bathurst yet?!! WHAT?!!
Ohhhh yeah, absolutely blisteringly cold morning I wake up to on Thursday - including SNOW about 20mins into the first leg of my journey!!! Driving along to Lithgow, I'm wondering what on earth all that white muck was all over the sides of the road... Yes, seriously... !
Driving further along, it dawns on me - particularly when it's covering all the freaking mountains ahead of me - and I start to get very, very, very nervous...!! I was barely into the first leg of my travels, and I was already encountering something NEW!
I've never actually seen real snow like that before... (I know..!!!) - and the more of it that was spewed all over the road in front of me, the more nervous I became! Just breathe... slow down...
Ohhhh yeah, this was just the first of MANY new things, let me tell you!
Get to Penrith (my sis' place) to leave my car there for car-sitting duties - and then have to make my way to Central Station ON MY OWN! Now, I make no apologies for being quite a "country girl" - and clearly I'm a little naive when it comes to travel - so the prospect of having to hot-shoe it to Central Station for a connecting train to the Domestic airport made me all kinds of queasy...
... and yet I did it!!!! That was THE stipulation - I had to get myself from Bathurst to the airport - where Pand would meet me and babysit me the rest of the way to Melbourne! ... and I did it!! One little win for me!!
Sitting in the airport drinking my hot chocolate and trying to look like I knew what I was doing (hahaha) - Pand flys in after her day's work, finds me, has a chat - then it's "education time"... Off to the check-in terminals, baggage deposit and security gates... All VERY intimidating for a first time plane-traveler... But I'm ok, I have backup! Post-check-in, and a flaunt around the shops in the terminal waiting for our flight out, I'm getting pretty tired by now... It's been a really LONG day! 3hours drive to Penrith (with a snow altercation!!), an hour on the train, waiting it out for the plane... and then we board!
I'd have to say at that point I was a "bit over the whole lot of it" by then, weary traveler and all.... UNTIL....
So despite my uber-tiredness at this point, my VICTORY right here was enough to perk me right up... Was feeling mighty chuffed, and then we took off....
... SO, on landing, we step out and HELLO MELBOURNE! My first-ever tram ride to Pand's house later, and I'm armed and dangerous for the day ahead!
It'd been "pre-planned" that I was to meet up with three of my gorgeous girls the following morning for some serious shopping!
... but after such a HUGE first day of traveling, admittedly, I was pretty knocked around. I'd caught a chill and was fighting off a bit of a bug, so was dosed up to my eyeballs in all things echinacea and natural - NO TIME FOR SICKNESS!!! ... and had a little "slow and steady" start to the day, while Pand hoofed it off to work as normal!
Poor old Melbourne was suffering some crazy weather - and here all I'd packed was skirts! (argh! ... no pants and serious lack of warm clothing in my wardrobe!). Lucky for me, Pand to the rescue (again!) - she'd thrown me some jeans that SHE had shrunk out of... One look at them and I laughed, as if I'd get my butt into those... Desperate times call for desperate measures - my bones and body were aching with cold and I needed PANTS! ... and the bloody things fit! Regular 18!!!!
Meanwhile, during my 'go slow' morning, I'd organised for one of my gorgeous girls to head over my way, and we'd flick over to K-Mart (shopping Mecca for those on a budget like me, hahaha!) - plus I was in search for some serious "suck me in" garments for under my party dress... I was on a mission! ;) (.... and clearly have no shame about telling you guys about that, hehehe!)
Having NO CLUE where I was, I think it was sheer brilliance on Lynda's behalf that SHE managed to find ME at Pand's house - and took over the babysitting duties thereafter! (hahaha...) Have never met this girl before either, but it was like we'd been mates from YEARS back - I refer to her as my "Super Twin" (cuz she's freaking awesome, has lost about 60kgs herself and is a MACHINE on the exercise front!)... and she's very much like me! We're one in the same!!!! (*poke*) She's like my soul sister! (love love!)
Off we trot to K-Mart, just up the road, and go on our little prelude shopping spree!!! Lots of $5 / $8 / $15 bargains later (transition clothes - don't like spending money on things I have no plan on wearing for too long between sizes!!) - and a few "mission try-ons" later - and we're off out the door, yapping away, heading towards a tram to take us to the City to meet the next bunch!
It was a pre-planned "meet and greet" luncheon this one - somewhere we could all meet each other (for those that hadn't already) and spend time together as a group! ... and again, it was like we'd all known each other for years!!! This time I got to meet beautiful Kelly (and hubby!) and gorgeous Annette (and her aunty), Nicole, and Lynda's mum. Pand and Kate (my beautiful Melbourne girls that came all the way to Sydney for my glamour shoot a couple weeks prior) had dropped in during their lunch break, and our entire table just buzzed with friendship!! A great big round table, we sat there and stuffed ourselves stupid with freshly made dumplings of all varieties at the Hu Tong Dumpling Bar - and conversed like we were catching up with old mates! An amazing feeling - that instantaneous connection - yet another NEW moment for me!! Just beautiful!
We split up later, when we'd all had enough of the bitter cold and shopping in general, and Lynda and I head off in search of my "magic dress" that I've been eying off for a couple of weeks on the Dream Diva website... Having stumbled across the shop (YAY!) we step inside to acclimatise ourselves to dress shopping...
Now, given I only discovered my capacity to wear dresses a couple of weeks ago, "THIS" particular dress was a "must try" - was something I'd found online, but needed to try it before I bought it... Meanwhile, Lynda found HER choice dress and subsequently purchased it!!! (WOOHOOO!!). .... oh, and yes I DID buy the "magic dress".... it'll appear at a very special, Commando dinner in a couple weeks time! ;) Stay tuned for that one!! BUT again, another gorgeous NEW moment - dress shopping with my Super Twin (just like best mates do!) - never done that before either... and I hazard a guess that was a first for her too?! Just a beautiful feeling to know you can be so comfortable and ok with someone... doing something SO unnatural!!!
We drop Lynda off at her stop, and then Pand and I head back to her place... Meanwhile, the cold and the fatigue have truly kicked in by now, and my head is caving in under the pressure. I'm FREEZING and I'm in pain - and I had a PT session lined up with Pand when we got home?!! ARGH! Nah, I had to forfeit - I was in no state to throw myself around - despite how much I was really looking forward to it. I'd heard some awesome war-stories about this PT of Pand's, so was itching to get a thrashing, hahaha! Yes, I truly am sadistic when it comes to exercise...!!!
Instead, I opted for a long hot shower, a cup of tea, and armed myself with more echinacea, fluffy socks and my jammies!! ... yep, just like I owned the place... while she head off for her session! It was decided, considering the state of the weather (copious amounts of rain and bitterly cold wind) and my sniffles and lethargy, that Pand and I would forfeit the 12WBT training session the following morning. As much as it pained me to miss out, I couldn't handle the thought of freezing to the bones and getting myself sicker than necessary... so left the others to their devices with that one! Maybe next time! :D
... no rest for the wicked though, Pand and I hit the gym for a Pump class at her gym instead! And I kicked butt!! I was all geared up for some sweat, and despite the minimal lurgies, hit some great weights and burnt through a good cals session! ... and do you know what?! That's the first time I've ever hit a BIG gym like that - not my little local - a big city gym, with big city grunty boys and skinny girls, and I got in there and didn't even flinch!!!! Another victory for ME!
Off to a cruisey lunch at home - Pand's homemade 300cal healthy pizzas (divine!!! Recipe to go up on my webby soon!) - and we unwind a little before heading off to get our Glam on at the hairdressers!
A few of the girls meet up at Pand's place thereafter, all geared up to get ready and head off for our big Finale party! Talk about funny - Pand referred to it as a bit of a "brothel" in there - clothes, shoes, makeup strung everywhere... and not to mention the "can you just do this for me!" and the makeup lessons, hair advice.... ahhhhh! Right about here, THIS was yet another FIRST for me - I've never really been part of a group of women I've been SO naturally comfortable with, to do something like that!! It was awesome!!!! So much fun and laughter - just like we were a bunch of teenagers!!! (I missed out on all that growing up... and again, I don't think I'm alone in this experience either?!)
It was my first ever dress purchase - a City Chic size XS (Extra Small - wtf?!!!!!!!!) - and I couldn't wait to show the girls! THIS is what they'd helped me achieve in the two months of my Challenge - it was as much my reward as it was theirs...
Might sound silly - but I wouldn't have made it into that dress without the love, support and belief from these ladies... That dress meant more to me than some superficial party frock - it was like my trophy for a job well done - a great big enormous FIRST! I stepped out in a store-bought dress, short and sleeveless (both taboo in years gone by) in bright red killer "look at me" heels (another taboo - who wants attention when you hate what you look like?!).
It had nothing to do with how it looked on, nor the sizing - no, it was ALL about how it made me feel - the person in that dress was confident, sassy and walking around like she deserved to be there.... Stepping out onto the streets of Melbourne in THAT dress, with my black trenchcoat and sexy heels... I caught a glimpse of myself in the tram window reflection and had to look twice... Who on earth was that person?! Surely that's not me?!! The enormous smile on her face said everything - just for a minute I remembered and flinched (old habits die hard).... and then let it fade out equally as fast. NO - it was the red shoes and THAT dress that were out tonight, and that was final! ... no ifs or buts...
SO off we go to the party, and hit the other hundreds of frocked-up, glammed-up crazy people at Silk Road! The place was PACKED - and everyone was buzzing! Is this what happens when you put a bunch of serious weightloss over-achievers in one jar together?!! hahaha! If they were feeling anything like ME at that moment, then there's little wonder the place could barely contain us!!!!
Meeting up with the rest of our posse, and lots of "OHHHH my god you look freaking awesome!"s later (and seriously, they did - my girls have worked VERY hard this round and have all come away winners!) - we all cram in like crazy sardines, and off the celebrations go!
A few of us even ventured so far as to hustle through the crowd and join the queue to have our photos taken with Michelle Bridges - and another three-hour (hahaha.. felt like it!!) return trek later, back to the group of girls!
Much free champers later, and we're all rather merry! (hahaha) - and as Annette said in a group post afterwards "What goes on tour, stays on tour!"... so there shall be no tainting my awesome girls here on this blog!!! They all looked stunning, and freaking fabulous!
So up Michelle Bridges pops on stage - and starts her speeches (as she does...). Don't ask me what happened here - but something clicked, something shifted... Standing behind all the girls, I lost the plot. All my confidence flew out the soles of my shoes, my "sassy girl" thing went flying out the window, and I was standing there on the verge of tears....
One of the girls turns around to ask if I'm ok (it clearly registered on my face - I used to be able to hide these thing so well?!! OR maybe they just KNOW me so well, yeah... they just KNOW...) - which ofcourse set off the chain of waterworks - and then I just lose the plot entirely thereafter! I can't really explain it - I don't really know what happened or why the emotions just became so overwhelming... I'd been quite FINE up until that point, then BAM!
I think it just became too overwhelming... So much NEW all at once - standing there in a dress that I was barely brave enough to wear, with a group of women (who I absolutely love to bits) but a connection I've never truly had with friends like that - feeling so WANTED and a part of this celebration (which has never happened before) - it was just really overwhelming.
I've never been part of anything quite like that - I'd usually avoid EVERYTHING from shame, shyness and being horribly solitary... And here I was, defying EVERYTHING I'd been living for the past two decades. It wasn't that I was sad... I think I was just genuinely overwhelming happy... maybe?.... or maybe just outright GRATEFUL is more the word?!
I was SAFE with my girls, I was wanted and respected, and NOT excluded.... and yet I was falling into the habitual trap of pulling myself away and hiding in the corner - just like I've always done (out of sight, out of mind - can't "get in the way" with my huge body if I hide)... and I think part of me refused to do that - I was conflicted, because I'm so gutt-wrenchingly sick of being forgotten and worthless - I was having battles with myself, trying to break the old nasty habit that's always seen me miss out... That's NOT who I am anymore, and me and THAT dress and those red heels refused to go backwards!
.... I have NO idea what was going on "in my moment" there - but my gorgeous girls rallied and fixed me up - they made me ok and put the stupid crazy smile back on my face! For a girl who prefers subtle so she "blends" better; a girl who can't handle being touched (as mentioned before, seriously did believe I made people physically ill) and being hugged repeatedly by my girls; a girl whose shy and unassuming (you just wouldn't know it here, hahaha) - in a massive crowd, going off with her posse.... I was fighting off wanting to revert and run away from it all - fighting to be this new person that I KNOW I am, but just aren't quite used to yet?! .... and it's hard! Very, very hard...
The transition I've been through just lately is HUGE - and I don't often give myself credit for stepping up to these challenges and realising the impact each one of these sorts of things has on me. Every time I push my boundaries, I break through into another level - more confidence, more self-respect, more self-worth... opening avenues I never knew existed to me. I'm so "cruisey" with alot of these things though, I often miss my own signals in the process! Can't quite explain it - but at that teary moment, I'd well and truly underestimated what that night - what this whole few days - had actually done for me. My life had literally just turned another corner.... (I can only recognise that NOW - it's taken me a few days to process it...). When people talk about "life changing moments" - that was one of mine!!
|Suze, The Pand and I get our HAPPY on!|
... and ohhhhh was there dancing! ... yup, all the way through to the wee hours of the morning there was dancing... !!! Have I not pre-warned everyone enough that when I get that bug, it just keeps going and going?!! hahaha... Yup, we lost casualties all through the night - one by one they fell by the wayside... and I danced on!
In the end, it was only my Super Twin and Suze that kept up - and major kudos for those girls! Suze in her heels (feet-killers, haha) - and my gorgeous Lynda who ISN'T a dancer (!!!! - shocked the hell out of me when she said she'd never really danced in public like that before - did I corrupt her into that OR did I just unleash a beast?!! hahaha!). It made me realise, then, that I wasn't the only one experiencing such huge transitions and firsts - we were doing this together, and we had each other's back in the process!
We head off in search of coffees and hot chocolates at 2am! .... ohhh, and cake! ...bed by 3am... cold, exhausted, tired, chocolate and champers infused... but HAPPYYYYYYY!!! It was very much a VICTORIOUS night - you can't be unhappy when you've just beaten some serious negatives into the ground... It was just an amazing night all round!!
Off on the crossy I go for a fabulous 30mins session; followed by a further 15mins on this crazy step/incliney machine which was hammering my glutes! Freaking fabulous - I want one in my gym!!! It just felt great after some serious dancing and walking around the city at 3am trying to get a freaking taxi!!!... (hahaha... she says, with a slight hint of sarcasm!)
Us three crazy people head off for some lunch thereafter - another one of Pand's famous pizzas - and then await the arrival of our visitors for our next scheduled activity!!
Off to hit the notorious 1000 Steps in the Dandenong Ranges - the challenging trail that I hear about ALL the time! The Melb girls quite often hit the Steps for training sessions together, and I'm always envious of their frequent jaunts. SO, it was a "must do" on the agenda when we hit Melbourne!!
Off we head - trainers, jackets, heart rate monitors at the ready! (we're all seasoned pros at this now - we don't just exercise, we TRAIN!) - and off Super Twin Lynda, Muscles Moroney and I head and lead the bunch of misfits!!!
23mins & 30 secs we did our climb!!! .. nearly died, but we did it!!! I can now officially say I've climbed the 1000 Steps with my gorgeous girls (or some of them at least!) - and we did it with a vengeance!!!
Off to the Cafe thereafter for a hot chocolate and a cookie to warm up, but not before I spotted the kids' jungle gym off to the side... erm... what can I say... I'm a child?!! bahahahaha...
BUT where you lead, others will follow - and hey, if *I* am a child... then what's that say about this lot of crazy women?! Yes, we truly are one in the same, hehehehe! ... and PS: I DO fit inside a kids' tunnel - woohoooo!!! (fabulous for the ego... not so great for the knees, hahahaha!)
Home for a hot shower and some serious chillaxing thereafter - my glutes and calves are seriously bitching at me by now!! I say goodbye to my girls - and it breaks my heart... Having spoken so often to these women online, it was just SO natural to be together as a group and laugh, joke, talk to them like I'd known them forever... Broke my heart knowing I'm too far away to see them regularly like this - but I guess that's where the gratitude comes in. The Net and our ability to communicate every day, it's taken distance and obstruction out of the equation so much - wasn't losing them, was just miffed I wouldn't get to hug them!!! (yep... that's how much of an impact these ladies have made - they broke my "don't touch me" barrier; I have no fear of talking to them like I do with others; and I feel so absolutely 100% wanted in their presence).
Back home and I pack my bags - and Pand cooks up a mean steak dinner to cap off my last night there in Melbourne! (spoilt much?!!)
Up at 6am, and ready to roll before 8... Pand takes me off to the Skybus - a fool-proof way of getting rid of me... err... getting me to the airport!!!! hahahaha! We say our goodbyes - and I try not to burst into tears again for the most amazing gifts she's given me - she already knows the impact this has made, and will continue to make...
Off on my own, it's all up to me now to get myself back through the airport! Traveling off on the Skybus at the crack of dawn (haha) and I'm pretty bloody tired right about now! Reflecting back on all the activites, the amazing celebrations, the bonds and friendships that are just so second-nature to us... I'm just dumbfounded... It's all NEW to me, and I've come through it without bruises or pain, no remorse or sorrow (another first!) - I'm truly HAPPY, enlightened and have just come through another challenge with my head held high!!
.... OHHH but there's one more to go... ! Hitting Melbourne airport on my own - I check myself in, load my luggage (20.8kgs of heavy-arse bag, hahaha!), security scan myself and then head off to find a hot chocolate... Standing in line waiting for the lady to make the thing, they start boarding the plane, and the butterflies in my tummy start jack-knifing!!! EEEK! Stay calm... line's long... there's time.... Swig my hot chocolate (was room temp anyway and shouldn't have bothered!!!) - I jump into the queue just as its about to finish, and hop on board! ON THE PLANE - well done me!!!
Feeling pretty chuffed with myself right about now - we take off and up, up and away... ! ... and as we climb higher, and the ground falls away from us... my heart starts doing leap-frogs, and my breath catches in my throat. We're above the clouds - and all I can see is white, fluffyness off into the distance.... I've never seen anything like it in my life - it's the most beautiful sight.... It's like we're flying over the Antarctic! It's just so pure and beautiful.... strip away the shuffling of newspapers behind me and the occasional businessman's hacking cough - and I was literally in heaven! I'm back to that insane "flying" feeling again, and takes all my energy not to burst into copious amounts of tears.... Now we all know that I'm rather "highly strung" of late with all my emotional change-ups, but in that one moment it really did hit me just how different I am....
This adventure was just so much more than just my first plane flight.... It was so much more than just meeting a few friends.... So much more than getting glammed up and having a party.... I'm literally up here on top of the world, and all I wanted to do was jump outside that plane and bounce on those fluffy white clouds in pure happiness! I have never felt so "free" in my life as I did at that moment... It was the most amazing wake-up call of all - there's just so much more out there that I haven't seen or experienced yet, and if it's anything as remarkable or beautiful as those fluffy white clouds, and my five day adventure, then by god I'm a lucky girl... ! I truly have been given a second chance at life... No words can express how grateful I am for that...
SO flicking closer to Sydney - and having successfully won the battle of holding in my tears (didn't want to embarrass myself with Mister Business Man sitting next to me!) - it hits me AGAIN when we start moving along the coast line! THE most spectacular coastline views from my window seat - again, never seen anything like it.... Watching out my window with my mouth open and my nose pressed against the glass again... I am totally in love with flying!!!!
Perfect landing... and I head out, successfully collect my bags and head to the trains! I make my way back to Central Station, switch to Penrith, head over to the Plaza and buy myself some yummy fresh sushi! (... like I know my way around or something, hahaha - yet another indicator that I'm so VERY different! I'd have avoided this like the plague before)... and arrive at my sisters' house to pick up the car later... feeling SUPERBLY CHUFFED with myself - VERY superior!!! I did it - ALL BY MYSELF!!!!
|Katoomba's Three Sisters|
Heading off home, I stop off at Katoomba - one of my fav places - and reflect a little on what it is I've just done... I'm SO very grateful for this five-day extravaganza of opportunities and adventures - feeling VERY loved, and very privileged. Enlightened and confident - and very, very appreciative...
Just as I said my other challenges haven't been wasted on me - neither has this one. Pand, you KNOW what this has done for me already, and I can tell you now, your generosity and support have not been wasted this time either... I am SO very grateful...
I'm a 32 year old who has FINALLY been somewhere!!!! No more hiding, those doors aren't locked to me anymore...
* * * * *
Where on earth do I start to thank these amazing women.... They have had the most profound impact on me, and I am truly blessed and humbled to have their friendship and love. It's incredibly hard for me to register just what capacity these connections have made for me - it's certainly new and very emotional either way.... and more so, when they'll tell you that YOU are the reason that THEY have achieved so much. ... I don't think they realise just how much *I* needed THEM. I am so incredibly lucky to have found these amazing women - and so very, very humbled to call them my friends...
Unless someone has lived a life of restriction (courtesy of weight issues, as in my case) - then they would probably think I was a bit of a nufta with all my fears, emotions and dramas here - but my girls understand me and know why it's such a big thing - and having that pure connection and support base has had a huge impact on my ability to reshape my life into something that I'm proud AND amazed by - friendship like this has been monumental, and I'm SO grateful for these beautiful souls.
My five day Melbourne adventure has been nothing short of AMAZING! It is one of the most prolific experiences of my life, and has just opened my eyes to how much I truly have changed. I've had so many WOW moments in such a short space of time - it's like someone keeps showering me in revelation!!!
.... and it's seriously only just begun! This girl's just starting to spread her wings.... !