Thursday, June 16, 2011

So what if you're NOT an exercise machine...

Now, if you ARE an exercise machine, killing serious cals in your workouts, do about a gazillion gym sessions each week, running out your door and bragging about your multiple-workouts in a row - this one's NOT for you!  You're fine... you don't need me!

Nope, I'm talking to the person whose hiding out in their loungeroom with serious 'exercise envy' because they simply don't know where to start, or are talking themselves out of even trying because they "can't match it with the others".

... and I'll tell you why.

The last two weeks I've copped a serious dose of REALITY.  If you've been following my story the past few months, you'll know that my little world turned itself upside down with the introduction of the Commando Challenge.  EVERYTHING went into overdrive - eating, exercising, blogging, publicity...   turned into a bit of a "monster" on all fronts, so obsessed with that wretched goal that I feared eating, was working my body into the ground, and regretfully... I had a physical and emotional breakdown because of it.  I hit a brick wall with a whopping great thud because I turned my nose up at reality.

.... and it's taken its toll since.  Not only has my body battled pulling ANY numbers since, but I lost the plot - literally - and went into self-sabotage binge-mode eating, emotional breakdowns, enormous self-doubt, and I'm really loathe to say it, but the "black" started to seep back into my psyche.  Then the onslaught of Bathurst's fantastic winter weather hit, and my knees packed it in, mobility became an issue and the 'hibernation munchies' took over...

Tomorrow I lose my gym membership (which was sponsored for three-months for the course of the Challenge) and shattered at the prospect of losing that outlet, promised myself I'd take advantage of my final week.... and you know what, I haven't even walked in there once this week.  I'm just too gutted because I can't financially afford to pay to renew it.   Needless to say, some part of me threw my hands up in the air and said "why bother?!!!" - and I've been fighting it since, somewhat pathetically.

I've been sitting here this week working on strategies to get myself out of this horrible funk, self-analysing what's going on and why I'm so upset, and wondering "what the hell I did BEFORE all this stuff" - publicity, gym, competitiveness - when I used to do this in secret and without a gym - that was working so well, before I turned into the ignorant, arrogant, number-obsessed junkie that I've turned into!

I sit here and read other people 'bragging' about their results, successes, wins and big calorie-smashing exercise sessions, and the lump in my throat is enough to suffocate me.  I'm seriously shattered.  There WAS a time when it was ME sitting here doing the bragging (which in all fairness, before someone takes offense, it's NOT bragging really - it's often someone surprising themselves with something they never did before, so are so excited they just want to share with everyone else!  ... well, that was ME anyway... am sure there's others out there who ARE literally bragging!!!)...   I read this, I congratulate, I fly the happy flag for them...  but I'm hurting.  A lot.

The last few weeks I've been loathe to exercise at all - my mobility is very much hindered with my knees out of action, and it breaks my heart.  My eating-binges have me up and down a few kilos on the scales, and I feel bloated and icky because of it - and just want to hide away in a moo-moo cuz my self-perception is so distorted, I'm back to feeling the way I did three years ago at my heaviest!  I want to hide, I don't want people stopping to stare at my lumpy body, trying to move when I can't...   and I can't even begin to explain how disappointed and upsetting it is to see so few calories burnt when I DO exercise (distorted perception again, because my fitness became so strong, I have to keep working more and more to see the same levels of calories burnt = superior fitness. So going back to 'realistic' routines and smaller burns, I'm so distorted, that I'm severely disappointed..)

It was only a few weeks ago I was doing double classes a day at the gym, or a good solid 2+ hours nearly 6 days a week.  I was kicking BUTT - like a freaking "professional exerciser" - but let's face it, I was so wrapped up in that constant WIN, I was living off adrenalin and so brutally obsessed with my results, I was completely ignorant to the fact I was hurting myself (literally) - and stuffed my body entirely because of it.  I minced my knees, exhausted all the reserves, and my body started retaliating with weird side effects (ones I didn't tell anyone about when they were happening).   NOT realistic, NOT normal... ignorant, arrogant, brutal and quite frankly.... STUPID.

I lost the love of exercise - which broke my heart - because for a girl who could barely move 'before', it's that liberation that I'd fallen in love with... The more freedom I found, the more I loved it.   ... and now, I'm stuck in a zone where I degrade doing something simple (because it's "not enough"), I question why I bother if it's not big or brutal enough, fob-off the basics and opt for hiding instead, because my head-space is so out of whack!

My breakdown the other day was necessary - they always are - it's the trigger-point where I come to cross-roads about what I'm doing versus what I SHOULD be doing.   I sat here and cried, because I miss the girl who was happy to plod along with her weightloss - who rejoiced in losing half a kilo a week cuz she worked to pull that and it IS enough...  who rejoiced in going for a half-hour (!!) walk and didn't care so much that it wasn't burning "over a thousand calories", the girl who ate realistically and was humbled by finding new things about herself and her body all the time that she didn't know she could do...  who didn't feel compelled to hit goals (or hurt herself for them) for a 'deadline' or let someone else's expectations rule her actions! 

I miss her...   SHE was real. 

Yesterday I forced myself to walk to the post office, bank, shop and home.  It wasn't a big walk by any means - in fact, it was nothing in comparison to what I've been known to do...  but it was MY achievement.   My head was telling me to drive, "stay warm Amy, your knees are bad, don't do it... Don't want to be seen in my tracky pants strutting down the main street... You can just hide and do the cross trainer in the loungeroom (which I probably wouldn't have - even THAT strategy isn't necessarily working!)...  It'll take too long to walk there and back - you should be doing client work instead."    BULL.   It took about 40 mins, INCLUDING the stint in the shop... and it made me feel GOOD. 

Simple walk.  Didn't wear my heart rate monitor - because I didn't WANT to know...

SO WHAT if my heart rate didn't reach some ridiculous point that my temples wanted to explode... 
SO WHAT if it didn't even register a solid hour's walk
SO WHAT if someone sees you in tracky pants
SO WHAT .... ?!   What what what what?!!  

I came home really humbled, and really relieved.  I smiled as I unpacked my groceries and made my delicious lunch with the goodies I'd found marked down, that I'd have missed otherwise.  It empowered me enough to strap on my shoes last night and go to my Zumba class (the one I ADORE but have been avoiding too cuz "it doesnt burnt enough cals"... OMG I cry for that... ) and it gave me the spark today to go and have lunch with my friend and LEAVE MY FREAKING HOUSE and be social, when my head is in "hermit mode".

.... and just as we were sitting there having lunch outside today, the sunshine broke out from behind the dark clouds, and I said to Dan, "I'm going to go for a walk! I NEED to walk!"...

.... and I did!

Came home, geared up and walked out the door. I walked for 55 minutes - out to Kelso and back (roughly 5kms).  It was the track I was ECSTATIC to walk not that many months ago, when I'd built up enough stamina and endurance to handle such a long distance.  It was the one I'd fobbed off since, because "it wasn't enough!"  (ouch...)

As I was coming down the back straight on the way home, it hit me....   I was doing what I loved - I'd literally zoned out - had stopped telling myself this was wasting my time, wasn't good enough, my heart rate wasn't peaked enough, I wasn't working hard enough...  BULLSHIT.   My knees were handling it ok, I could feel it in my thighs, I wasn't huffing and puffing (fitness is awesome, but basic movement is bliss) and I felt GOOD.

SO WHAT if I'm not a freaking professional exerciser?!   I stopped loving it when I went obsessive...
SO WHAT if I can't do what I did just a couple of months ago?   That person killed her body because she turned ignorant and pushed herself into dangerous territory...
SO WHAT if I can't match numbers with people 20-30kgs lighter than me.  They weren't nearly 200kgs to start with, and learning how to walk again from scratch!

SO WHAT if you have to start again Amy.... 

I thought of YOU GUYS when I was walking today. The people who are stuck in their loungerooms, broken hearted, hurt, with serious 'exercise envy', wondering how the hell to get up and take that first step...    It wasn't that long ago that I was there with you.   I was the girl who could barely move, was so ashamed it took a good couple of years before I was brave enough to exercise in public...   I was the girl who cried the first time she went outside for a walk, from shame.... then cried the day she pushed a jog into the mix, from pure joy!

Sitting here writing this with tears streaming down my face (again!) - literally with my training gear still on, having walked back through the door and sat down to write this...  I needed to talk to you guys....

I was so relieved and happy to reconnect with the girl who loves to walk, not for anyone else, but because she CAN....   She and I have a lot of 're-bonding' to do again, she's the heart and soul of this whole operation, and she's a little bruised from the abuse she's copped the last couple of months... but  we're gonna be ok, she's pretty forgiving...   But she had a message for you...

I LOVE exercise because it empowers ME, it makes ME feel good. It humbles me because I gave myself a second chance to move, it recharges me and fills me with pride that I CHOSE to do this for the sole purpose of benefitting ME. It works hand in hand with my proactive lifestyle choices, healthy eating and working on the psyche...  everything works together when it's balanced, heartfelt and REAL.

SO WHAT if we're not all insane, maniac-style gym-junkies and professional sweaters?!!    It's not about them, it's about YOU.  Every choice makes a difference. Every step is worthwhile.

SO WHAT I'm doing now... is empowering YOU to get up and make that stand.  Next time you'd prefer to hide away, just don't.  Walk out that door with me in your head - just as I had you with me today.  You only need to take that first step...  the rest is just magic!

Be proud, and just get up and DO.  The smallest things can mean the most!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Two arms and a truckload of baggage

Baggage.  Specifically, “How do you get rid of your excess baggage?" - that was the question I posed to my challenge participants this week.

After suffering a few bristly weeks myself, I thought it would be a good challenge to throw to the masses – something to make them think;  have them assess / reassess and acknowledge a few of the crazy blockages that hit us in this wonderful world of weightloss…

But I knew it wasn’t without a few bumps along the way!   This question was much harder to answer than I anticipated.

Checking in your baggage can be a bit of a rough, bitter-sweet challenge all on its own...  and that's before you even get into the nitty gritty of breaking it down and doing something about it!

Just like the plethora of suitcases available out on the market these days, our baggage comes in all shapes and sizes, all makes and models, and all methods of madness!!   There's no "one size fits all" in this manic side-effect of life, and no one answer to cater for them. 

SO, this is the part where I'm going to tell you that I'm not here to give you lectures, answers, nor pretend that MY methods are the be-all, end-all... they're not!  Nor is my experience with carrying and dispensing of baggage an isolated case (no pun intended, haha) - it's not. I'm just here to tell it like it is - none of this mamby-pamby 'weightloss is wonderful and you'll be forever happy' nonsense - it simply doesn't work that way! 

If things were easy and we didn't need to work on them, then they'd hold little to no value. We value health and happiness - and for that, we must work for it!    Wow, now if only it were THAT simple!!!! 

Nope, with weight issues come A LOT of baggage. Self-esteem and confidence issues, body misconceptions, stereotypes, ill-informed opinions and remarks, nastiness and derogatory statements, unhealthy habits, self-sabotage, negativity in all sorts of forms....  I could go on, but I won't. 

We ALL have issues here - and we're all dealt, and deal, with them differently.  Again, there's no 'one baggage size fits all'. 

Now, I don't know about you, but I only have two arms...  Granted, I've got some seriously awesome shoulders that have been holding up a world of hurt, decades of negativity, and a whole world of self-hatred for the better part of half my life - and hey, they're looking pretty sexy these days with all the weightloss (hahaha)....  but I STILL only have two hands!   There's only so much baggage a girl can carry... 

So what do you do when you get to the point when you simply can't carry more?  What do you do with the stuff that's still dragging behind you, and seriously slowing you down?

I'm no expert here (nor do I proclaim I am) but if you're anything like me, you're a bit of a hoarder. The cupboards are full, there's stuff under the bed, there's things still sitting in bags to give away (but you still haven't managed to take them away yet, 'just incase') and you're still out 'collecting' more. 

So here I am, at the ripe old age of 32, with more sets of luggage on me than even the most seasoned traveler.... and not even one stamp in the passport!!! 

.... and then it hits.  Just when you think you're traveling along fine, you're doing 'ok' lugging all that around with you, something gives - you pull a grief muscle - strain an emotional heart-string - and suddenly it's not so 'fun' anymore being someone who collects all this crap along the way! 

Yup, suddenly you're stuck in the collection depot with a one-way ticket to Breakdown, and not a bloody trolley to help you lug all this with you in sight.   Great. 

.... that's where I found myself the last few weeks.  After a whirlwind of 'new' added to my very huge collection of baggage over the years, it was only a matter of time before I hit the wall, and did myself a 'lugging injury'.  There literally is only so much a girl can carry.... 

Without going into the finer details of who, what, where, when, why (because that's for ME to sit down and sort through) - the process of 'dealing' was brought into the spotlight. Yes, there's a way and means to deal with THE baggage itself, but there's also necessary methods to bring yourself out of the funk that drives you there first, so then you CAN deal with it.  

... and again, no, not all methods are created equal.  What works for one does not necessarily work for another.  What one persons heralds as 'the ultimate answer' doesn't always resonate with somebody else.  We all have our burdens to bear, and we all deal with them in our own ways... 

I'm not about to counsel you here on how to deal with the finer emotional workings of your mind and heart (that's something YOU need to work through - just as *I* need to work through mine)... No, I'm just going to tell you how I bring a little sunshine back into my day, when I feel like all the dark clouds are taking over, and I want to take a hammer to the baggage...!!! 

These are some of MY methods to release the emotions of being weighed down with weightloss and life 'baggage' - and help ease the discomfort and pain.  No, I don't proclaim that they fix the actual problem (that all comes in due course) but they help me get up and keep moving.  These are just methods to ease, NOT cure...

.... and THAT is what you all want to know when I get asked "Amy, just how is it you've done this for so long and not folded?!"....   THIS is why I can do what I do, and continue to keep doing until I don't need to do any more!!   (... and let's face it, this won't ever truly end - this is my new life!)

MUSIC: one of the ultimate weapons in the force against my misery!  I LOVE music. Loud, upbeat, sing-your-guts-out music.  Don't care what genre or artist - if I like it (and I generally do - I'm very eclectic) then I'll listen to it.   If I'm in a really bad way, then I'm sorry neighbours, but we're going even louder, even more upbeat and yes, there WILL BE SINGING.  I'll belt out my melancholy dramatic tunes for a while, release the pain, get my feelings off my chest, sing my agony away....  and when I'm done with the pity-party, it's time to get my HAPPY on...  and that's generally followed by some seriously awesome loungeroom dancing!!  

It heals me.  It changes my focus, it resonates with my soul, and brings a light back into my heart. It doesn't cost anything (aside from purchasing off Itunes!) and you can do that anywhere. You're free to listen to whatever you choose, any old time!  ;) 

MOVIES: I LOVE a good movie - and have been known to just watch them one after the other... if it means I can 'escape' for a while and let myself breathe.  I'm a sucker for a good flick - and bulk of them I'm happy to sit here on my own and devour!   BUT, just as it was on Friday afternoon when I walked into the DVD store...  I needed 'out' - something light and easy!  Nothing dark or depressing (cuz I'm already there).  Skip the romance (there's none in this life, don't need it rubbed in some more).  Avoid things that make you think too much (cuz my brain is overloaded and melancholy enough thank you)...  KIDS MOVIES!!  hahaha....  Yes, they're my 'choice' when I need out.  

I LOVE the heart behind a kid's flick - and I walked out on Friday night with the new Tangled movie (which I loved incidentally) and sat down and watched that with my homemade pizza and sweet potato wedges (that was my way of being rebellious and eating 'takeaway'.... yup, even rebelling against myself, I STILL ate relatively healthy!!!!).   It put a smile on my face, made me laugh, had me awwwwwing in all the right places, and hey, who doesn't love a fairytale right?!!  (yeah yeah, I know...  "get a dose of reality Amy"... PFFT - bugger off!!!  My life has NEVER resembled reality - I'm still waiting for the fairytale to kick in... let a girl live with HOPE!). 

... and as a side note, my jaw dropped when one of the first songs in the movie went a little something like this...  "When will my life begin?"    Yes seriously...  how did they know?!! 

EXERCISE: yeah, don't roll your eyes!!!  As much as we associate exercise as 'work', it's that "after effect" that I'm in love with here. If you feel like crap, exercise - it'll release the happy-hormones, and the feeling of overcoming your emotions, stepping back up in CONTROL and accomplishing what you weren't even willing to bother trying with is a spot-on way of getting the monkey off your back.  

If you can't win, then beat the bloody thing into submission...  Get sweaty!!!   Boxing: beat the living shit out of your demons!  Running: sweat the pig out of your system!  Pump: build your muscles, get strong and tell those bastards to bugger the hell off!    Yup, exercise makes you feisty - and being feisty is empowering. Empowerment is motivating, and motivation gets you results.  You want results, you work for them - get up off your bum and FIGHT! 

CLEAN & ORGANISE: because there's nothing worse than when your mind and heart are scattered, bruised and confused to walk into your home and be bombarded with clutter, mess or 'ick' that just makes you feel worse!   Clear up and clean up - a little bit of structure can really help give you back that sense of 'control' - and that makes dealing with your other bits and pieces a little less hectic.  If that means crying over your overflowing pile of dishes in the sink (like someone over here has been known to do) then DO IT.  OR double-whammy it - loud music AND vacuuming is terribly cathartic!!!  Don't knock it til you try it!  ;) 

Same goes for your work schedules and duties.  Wall charts, diaries and menu plans - know where you're going and you have a hell of a lot more incentive to actually DO THEM and get the results you want.  Even if that means just getting through your very basic list, then so be it - if that's what it takes to start generating more results, then why are you waiting?!

GOAL LIST: this one's a little harder sometimes - particularly if you're struggling to see over the top of your baggage pile...  

Goals are FABULOUS for structure and a 'road map' - but can be very overwhelming and sometimes downright upsetting when you feel like they're slipping further and further away.  I sometimes feel like they're the "X marks the spot" on my pirate map, and just like on the cartoons, the little dotted line that's trying to find that X seems to be going the long way, round in circles, and stopping off at all manner of destinations when that wretched X is still sitting in plain view to the audience!!

But that goals list doesn't HAVE to be big and commandeering. How about breaking it down into sub-goals, mini-mini-goals, or let's face it...  There's a lot to be said about the practical old 'to do' list.  Mine is a big lined lecture notepad where my client jobs, general duties, 'chores' and all manner of things I need to achieve get jotted down.   And because I'm me, they get highlighted off in pink (naturally!) when they're complete. There's a real sense of accomplishment when I can cross an entire page off, full of pink lines, knowing full well I've met other people's expectations, finished MY odd-jobs and I'm already onto a new page following...  

I also schedule my exercise sessions, pre-plan my menus and meals with a scheduled shopping day... and everything else is "on the fly" - based around the fact that I DO have to facilitate time for ME in the mix.  Not always easy, and I know I've struggled a lot with these aspects lately having thrown my entire routine out the window for the benefit of others...  but this was a huge priority MUST DO when I stamped my foot down last week, and said I want my control back.  This is ME controlling MY LIFE.  The outcomes are dependent on me putting in the effort to achieve them.

REWARDS: just as with the goals list, there's no point in having a list of to-do's if you're not willing to reward yourself along the way.  Don't care whether it's because you lose some weight that week, whether you stick to your menu plan 90% that week, whether you did the load of washing that's been sitting in the bathroom for the past fortnight... don't care!  You DO deserve to be rewarded for every positive action you pitch and then deliver in your life.

I'm not saying that means you get to go out and shower yourself in all things shiny (though that's appealing, save it for the big ones!)....  but little rewards and acknowledgements go a really long way.  I've taken to buying little implements for my kitchen - now that I've discovered how much I love to cook and how awesome it is to try new things!  My $2 measuring spoons were a marvel a few weeks ago, and the new $3 grater I bought myself today was because I did my exercise last night, even though I wanted to sit on my couch and throw a tantrum instead... that was my WIN and I deserved to be rewarded for breaking through the negative.  

Needless to say, over the course of the last 3.5 years, I've collected all manner of 'rewards' and tools that help me continue on this insane mission I'm on - none of them have been unwarranted. Some are bigger and more expensive than others, and some were for no other reason than to keep me geared up for the bigger picture ahead...    A little present to yourself goes a long way!

SHOPPING: ... which leads me right into this one!  Not everyone's "cup of tea" or way of releasing baggage, but quite frankly, I find shopping one of my positive tools!   Why?   Because I USED to hate it - despairingly, begrudgingly, blatantly...  I HATED shopping with such a vengeance...   The fact that I am NOT that negatively-geared irked person in a shopping centre now is reward enough!   I shop, because I'm no longer hindered by it...    

It has a dual-purpose for me though.  It MAKES me get out of my house, into a social environment, out of my 'hiding zone' and amongst people.   One of my biggest issues when I'm in a negatively-geared headspace is my ability to switch off the rest of the world and go into hiding (easy to do when you live and work on your own - and have a decade of being a superior hermit already secured in your history).  

This forces me to walk out my door, interact with people (if necessary - granted, you can be equally as lonely in a crowded room...) but it makes me MOVE.  I may feel like hell, but it makes me part of the world.  Whether I like it or not  (and without being too melodramatic....  I'd have preferred NOT) - it forces me out of my funk, switches on the 'happy face' for the benefit of others, and I HAVE to be elsewhere...    It's become one of my assets in the fight against stifling baggage... 

SUPPORT NETWORKS & 'TALK IT OUTS':  not one of my strongest points, and I'll explain why shortly, after all, you'd THINK I'd have this one pegged!

I have a whole network of amazing individuals (forums and social sites alike) that I'm aligned with, who all have similar goals and nuisances with their weightloss.  Their familiarity with my struggles and understanding has - without doubt - had some of the biggest impact on me coming this far on my own in the past few years. Having like-minded individuals prop you up when you're down; when you're faulting everything you do; can't see the light for the big pair of blacked-out goggles on your face; a kind word and a great ear...  these have made a profound impact on me in the last few years.  

I simply didn't realise people existed out there who could understand me the way they do. In fact, I spent over a decade living in the shadow of despair, thinking I literally was alone, and told NOONE of just how hard and bad things were...  THAT is some of the baggage I still carry, still weighs me down - that feeling of isolation has never truly gone away.  I struggle trusting people with my 'issues' - and as such, keep bulk of it hidden well and truly under my belt. Weightloss was one of the foremost issues amongst that 'batch', and the one that I've since been able to take control of...

As you guys know, for three years I went into weightloss mode in dead secret - it was only the online forums that knew what was going on, and that was because they didn't have to see me on a face-to-face basis.  I didn't trust anyone enough to tell them what I was trying to do - nor did I trust myself to accomplish this insane task I'd set out to achieve.  In my mind, failure was the only outcome and I wasn't prepared for yet another public humiliation...  

So you can imagine my surprise when I started opening up to these online strangers.  My history with internet people is rocky at best (I've been burnt before) and my lack of social skills "in real life" leaves a lot to be desired.  Finding connections with people through the internet has been a godsend for me - bouncing ideas, inspirations, successes, triumphs, heartbreaks, frustrations... and friendship  - THEY have been some of my saving graces.   ... and I don't say that lightly. 

I have formed some of THE most amazing true friendships from people hidden behind a computer screen.  These people, I'd do anything for... and it's returned.  I have a massive network of 'Amy supporters' at my disposal now too - who far outweigh the few blips that I've encountered along the way (note: the previous blog post!!!).  The HUGE support from you guys has been mind-blowing, and it shocks me just what an impact that has on ME on a daily basis.  I am truly humbled by that - and it strengthens and allows me to stand up and stay true to what I'm trying to do here, when I'd prefer to run away and hide...  

Having the capacity to talk through your issues with people who truly care is one of THE most amazing feelings in the world - particularly for a girl who simply couldn't voice any of them for the better part of half her life.  It's not always possible for someone to seek impartial help (counsellor, psych, etc) - whilst they ARE there for a reason, sometimes you need something more - that element of true, pure friendship and genuine care - that a "professional" simply can't deliver.   Sometimes it's a simple hug from a trusted friend that completely out-plays a session on a couch with a stranger...

Now, don't get me wrong here.  Professional counselling has its place - and as I've been reminded (a lot) lately, it's an avenue to actually help FIX the baggage and facilitate change where it's necessary.... and I'm all thumbs up and 'let's give it a try' if that's what you're ready to do (in fact, I encourage it). 

But I'm not talking about FIXING the actual root problems here (that's a WHOLE other story) - I'm just talking about methods to dispense the emotional pull of the baggage... "lightening the load" in the interim so you can get up off your butt and get through your day!     Counseling and professional sit-downs aren't everyone's cup of tea, and let's face it, if you're SO excruciatingly baggaged down that you're incapable of moving into that zone... then you're kinda stuffed.  

... and me being the kind of girl I am (and not in a zone ready to tackle the 'professional' stranger talks yet)... that genuine, caring support network is literally like my lifeline.   There's more worth in those words online from people who truly understand than you guys can ever imagine - I value it greatly, and attribute my success (in part) to having someone let me 'talk it out' with them, when ordinarily I simply would not. 

RE-ESTABLISHING SELF-WORTH: as one of the biggest methods for throwing off the negatives, it's one of the MUST DO's when I'm feeling extremely down on myself. With all the self-doubt and negative self-talk, it's a MUST for me to break that cycle - and it's not enough just to think it.

I literally get up off my bum, do my hair and makeup (even more important if I have nowhere to go) and present the version of me TO MYSELF that I want to see, and believe I can be. It might sound silly to some, but a new hair colour, doing my nails, doing my makeup and sitting here in good clothes can actually be a huge catalyst for breaking the downward spiral.  I don't NEED to show anyone else - it's ME who needs to feel and see it.

I've lost count of how many times this one has worked - and after the few weeks of negatives I've had lately, the hair colour is sitting here on my table, my nails are bare ready for the new polish, and I'll be sitting here in a face mask shortly...  because I'm worth a hell of a lot more than toxic self-inflicted voices telling me I don't deserve to feel beautiful.  This is me telling ME I'm worth the time and effort....   

TALK IS CHEAP: and words and empty promises won't actually help you. Don't just tell yourself what you'd "like to do", cut the excuses and just bloody DO IT!  

(That's the one that comes out after I've had a good cry, had a shower and washed it away, replenished with a chug of fresh water and had enough of the pity party!!!  Sometimes you've just got to get a little brutal and quit the wallowing...) 

So there you have it guys. These are just a few of "Amy's Baggage Methods" that I've found work to ease the load when it's all getting a little too heavy. We ALL have issues and hurts - and for the most part, we carry them pretty well!    .. it's just sometimes it all gets too much, and you need to have the tools that work for you "ready and waiting" so you can kick back into gear. 

I'm no different to anyone else.  Just because I've been at this weightloss thing for the long-term and kicked some kilos along the way, didn't mean I left all my excruciatingly heavy bags somewhere along the way!   Far from it actually. 

I'm still very fragile (as I've discovered the past two weeks) and still suffering some serious past haunts (which I thought I'd put well and truly under lock and key in the storage facilities.... oops!)... and having thrown my entire life into a new chapter that I never foresaw, you can imagine how much new stuff got thrown into the mix!  I have new baggage now, that still have the freaking labels attached!!!     (... much like my wardrobe, hahaha)  - and that's all piled right on top of the old stuff!

I 'deal' as I need to deal - it is what it is.  I take full accountability for all the baggage I've checked in - I'm not about to leave half of it lying around waiting for someone else to pick it up or sort it out - that's for ME to do, and I WILL do it in good time...    I know what's there, I'm very much in tune with what it is and how it's ended up there - and when I'm ready, I'll start "bag and tagging it" and trying to figure out if I need it any more.  Some will stay, some of it won't ever go...  but that's ok.   You don't have a 'full life' without collecting some things along the way, right?   Not everything is "throw away" in this society - some of it has its place, whether we like it or not - and it's there for a reason...  if not only to remind you of where you've been and what you've gone through...  and make you appreciate the difference when you change things later.

I make NO APOLOGIES for my baggage, it makes me who I am.  So if I have a few extra bags to add to my collection along the way, so be it - it only serves to make me stronger.  I'll sort it when the time comes and make room for the next batch...  and if I play my cards right, eventually the bags will get smaller, and the LIFE EXPERIENCES I've taken from these will start overflowing my pockets instead...   that's the goal!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Setting the record straight

After some "speculation and expectations" I've been hit with recently, I wanted to set the record straight in regards to the creation of 'Aim to Change' and what it is I'm trying to do here... 

I'm just a normal person who went public with her weightloss. I lost bulk of it "in secret" for three years - and would have happily left it that way, only that it was encouraged by others that there'd be people out there who needed my story...  I know in myself, that *I* was someone who needed that 'hope' too, and despite my concern about being so 'open', went public earlier this year for the benefit of others.   Quite frankly, I didn't need the attention or kudos, but felt obligated to help other people....

Since then, 'Aim to Change' has taken on a life of its own - my blog picked up speed, and then BLC approached me for the 'Commando Challenge' - and things really took off.  Having started the Facebook page, and just recently the 'Aim Train' sub-group - not to mention recent national media exposure, this whole thing has taken momentum I couldn't have predicted nor imagined.

But not without cost.

It's been speculated, and I've copped recent criticism for what it is I'm trying to do here for the public.... so let's get some facts straight... 

National media coverage opened up avenues for people to find and personally approach me with a barrage of questions and commentary... some often pleading with me for help...

Whilst I have no issues with helping people (which is what I wanted to do in the first place) - this has taken a HUGE toll on me both emotionally and financially. 

It is MY hip-pocket that has funded the establishment of these groups, web pages, marketing, group prizes...  and it is MY time that is taken up keeping them going.   I don't do this for financial gain - because there simply is none.... 

I have NOT been paid for any local media stories...  Nor was I funded for my national magazine or TV coverage, and I am NOT sponsored by any companies. 

I was NOT paid for the 8-week duration of the 'Commando Challenge' (despite it running like a fulltime job).  I am NOT paid for my endorsement of the BLC product, nor am I subsidised to be a regular participant and contributor in the online forums.

My website and Facebook groups were self-developed and self-funded and are not affiliated or linked with any financial sources.  My merchandise range is a 'hobby' based line, and runs through a printing company that manufactures and delivers, with the designer/seller making a small (and I mean SMALL) margin of profit.  Any sales/profit from this line has since been re-invested in the 'Aim to Change' activities (namely prizes and postage for participants).

As I am still a work in progress myself, it DOES effect me when I cop criticism or the negativity of others who 'assume' that I'm being funded by all these activities, or when I haven't responded "quickly enough" to their messages. 

Quite frankly, I'm emotionally drained - I'm like a sponge, and the constant questions and upsets I've been fielding HAVE taken a huge emotional toll - and has affected my own goals in the process.  Taking a step back was my way of regenerating, so I can come back and help some more - refueling for the next hit... 

As a self-funded single person, the time this has taken out of my business activities (income source) has taken a huge financial toll aswell...  and it very much upsets me when I'm criticised for trying to 'make money off people'.  My bank balance says otherwise....

In the establishment of the Facebook community, it was my goal to encourage people to step up and "help themselves" (just as I was forced to do three years ago).   I have a network of "weightloss champions" at my disposal, who are all normal people, doing awesome things - and in forming a community of like-minded individuals, who run on that same drive, creates a huge forum of knowledge and motivation. 

I am extremely humbled and proud of the people who help me run the 'Aim to Change' community on a daily basis (who don't even realise they do) - THEY are to be commended for their support and encouragement, and their participation in driving this FREE support group. 

I may be the backbone of this community, but it simply would not run as fluently as it does without the positive contributions of the members that help me keep it going on a daily basis...    (... and for that, I am truly grateful to the contributors).

I am extremely proud of 'Aim to Change' and the messages it delivers to the wider community....  and will continue to develop this amazing "whatever it is" for the long term.   .... but ask for a little consideration from those who question my validity and purpose.  After all, I'm only trying to help...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Operation: Take Back Control...

So for those following the goings on lately, it's been one HELL of a big couple of weeks!  ... so much so, that I found myself in a whole myriard of emotions last night, trying desperately to cling to some semblance of sanity - and ultimately failing miserably!!

I've dubbed this second week of the AIM TRAIN as a "Red Rag" week - in other words, there's been so many ups and downs, bumps and scrapes, triumphs and tears ... as if someone has been waving a red rag in my face. 

All that resulted in was one cataclysmic BOOM at the end - this stubborn Taurean was bound to chuck a wobbly...!

 I wrote to my AIM TRAIN passengers last night the following:
*Steps into the confessional*...

"Forgive me for I have sinned... multiple times... over and over with gooey naughty goodness that serves no purpose but to undermine everything in which I now no longer tolerate...

This week has been terrible... Everything from over-eating until my insides are reduced to a comatose state... through to non-movement of the seriously lazy variety. Oh, not to mention the over-abundance of mental-torture and seriously exaggerated guilt and mind-games. I fear I'm failing at this Captaincy like Ricky Ponting... and I don't want my train to derail entirely because of my inconsistency and incompetency this week.

I can't place blame on anything but ME - though I've been desperately searching for something to point the finger at and exclaim that THAT was my undoing (like the cookie jar today, or the company that makes the nicest dried apricots I've tasted..)... but sadly, since I wisened up and got accountable, I (painfully) have to wear all my foul and poor choices as my own. *sigh* Oh how I wish I could pretend it wasn't my fault for just a minute... maybe the guilt would lessen?!

SO, here I am sitting in the confessional booth, on hands & knees (because that might burn a few extra cals than sitting on my already widening bum)... and praying for a bit of remorse, a slight reprieve and if I'm truly lucky, not too much damage on the scales on Sunday - though I deserve nothing less than an insufferable gain. I don't deserve any miracles in that department, but I think I fell off the train this week and went for a ride on the emotional rollercoaster instead...

Forgive me these Week Two digressions... I shall chalk this one up in my travel journal as the 'Week of the Red Flag' (blog to come later, when I can reduce the emotional pull and figure out what the hell has happened)... and commit to making better food choices from tomorrow; pull my socks up and put my shoes on and exercise; and numb the intensity of the mental games to a dull roar and get my mojo back in gear....

All going well, I can take the train off 'Auto Pilot' for Week Three and really start the momentum moving again thereafter. After all, this destination won't find itself and my passengers need me...

Forgive me... right after I learn to forgive myself.

Yours humbly and embarrassingly,
Over-bloaty Captain Amy"

I have had a SHOCKING second week on the train challenge. Had lost all control of my eating (though once again, the healthy habits I've put so much time into creating kept the seriously bad binging away... just way too much good food and no STOP sign in sight!)... and the lack of exercise has left me feeling lethargic beyond measure.  The change of weather here in good old Bathurst hasn't helped either - the cold is already torturing my knees - they're sore and gritty, and make exercise painful - which makes me want to sit on my butt instead!

BUT those are just the pitfalls of the big one - the emotional hurdles.  The big bad, dirty mind-games that wreak havoc with everything you're trying to do.  "I'm not doing enough, not working hard enough; Have already failed and it's only week two!".    Hmmmmmm she says!

NOW, slip-ups are common and I'm human (so I've been repeatedly told today!) - and it's not for lack of understanding on my behalf that these things will happen.  I just wasn't quite prepared for all of this...

Having come off the back end of the Commando Challenge on a (surprise) high - then my whirlwind, mind-boggling trip to Melbourne - taking some "much needed time out" was my little indulgence a few weeks ago, and really threw all my brutal routine out the window...   THEN I lay down the law, put some new goals down on paper, head out with a new vision and relegated over 130 amazing people who wanted to do the next 12-week challenge with me!

Shocked.... yes!!  Pressure... yes!!

I had it all planned - all envisaged...  There'd be big challenges, big successes, and big celebrations at the end - for us all!   (... and there still will be!)

... but after the past two weeks, things were starting to unravel.  I just hadn't really had a chance to catch them before they took over...

Off to Sydney I went for the Celebration dinner with the Commando - and a HUGE two days there, my whole little world was in a spin. I said it in the last blog - but "whose life is this?!"    I wasn't joking...   I couldn't see MYSELF in all that was happening - trapsing around with a TV camera in my face; dining with a celebrity; flicking around Sydney...  these weren't the goings on from my little safe world, this was very much out of my zone!

Now, I don't mean to sound ungrateful or negative here - the experience was AMAZING!!!   ... but it festered, and I started questioning who I was, where I am, what I'm trying to do...   You know, the stuff you don't truly want to think about too often, because it generally equates to second-guessing what you're doing "right now".   Well, my "right now" is focused on a 7kgs goal to crack my mammoth milestone - and these 'luxury' experiences are so far removed from that focus, it served only to knock the wind out of my sails...   

Coming home, I got caught up in the 'catch-up' - trying to put a routine back into place that was progressively going to pot before my eyes. I was getting frustrated with myself for not being able to cement something tangible - and the more frustrated I became, the quicker I was sinking...

 Enter the airing of the Today Tonight segment  (you can view it here!

Being told it was to air on Wednesday, I spent bulk of the day with butterflies in my stomach and something shoved in my mouth!  I was NERVOUS - 8 hours worth of fluffing around Sydney with the journo and crew, and I had no idea what would come of all that...   The online preview made me cry - and that was just a tiny snippet!  I wasn't even sure I could handle watching the real thing...

... only to have it postponed!!!!   I was getting messages all day - people who couldn't wait to see it, which was then followed by messages of disappointment when it didn't go through.  I spent bulk of my day fielding off messages, trying not to vomit from nerves, and essentially did nothing else but stuff my face trying to smother all the emotions!

Off we go again the next day, and I get the word - right in the middle of a quick shop at Woolies - that the segment is to air on Thursday night.   The pit of my stomach just collapsed, I couldn't breathe, and I felt instantaneously sick.  I did well walking out with a Kinder Surprise as my 'emotional binge' hit  - but that only started the next one...   I ate and ate and ate and ate...   The pot of pea and ham soup I'd slow-cooked overnight, I should have just slopped it in a tub and swam in it - I ate so much of it, it's a wonder it wasn't oozing out of my pores...   I had absolutely NO CONTROL - and the worse it got, the worse *I* felt about it all.

It was nothing short of AGONIZING waiting out the airing of the segment.  I literally had to walk out of my lounge room - it doesn't show on TV here, - had to wait for it to be available online to actually watch it myself.

Meanwhile, my phone was going OFF!  I had multiple messages one after the other - none of which I could actually bring myself to listen to or read.  It was a good hour or more until I felt ok enough to sit in front of the computer, and there were posts EVERYWHERE.

The feedback was amazing - all positive and extremely humbling...  But I hadn't seen the segment, and I was still sick to my stomach with anxiety about it all.  My sis gave me the head's up that it was good, I looked good, the message was good...  but I was still at breaking point.  I literally couldn't breathe...

A couple of hours later, and lots of deep breaths...  and it was available online.  Can't even begin to tell you how nervous I was - but it's like pulling a bandaid, kills like a bitch to start with, but you get over it thereafter...   OR that's what I was hoping for at least?!

I sat here and watched it... and bawled my eyes out.  The story was fantastic - the Today Tonight team did a brilliant job - my message was clear and succinct and it was OK!  It was all ok....  I lost count of how many times I watched it, and I'd still tear up on certain points (that's a given) - but it was good, and I was happy with it, and wow... my story and message is really out there?!

Off to work on Friday, and I wasn't quite myself.  Lack of exercise and having eaten my OLD bodyweight in food in just a few days, I felt nothing short of revolting.  Something just wasn't right.  I was fatigued and drained - and the cookie jar was full.   .... that was until I got to it.  I think I hoovered at least half a dozen biscuits before I pulled myself up - and then the chocolate binge hit.

By the time I got home - all my resolve to actually go to the gym or do any exercise was gone. My knees were sore, my body was repulsed by the crap I'd eaten, and I was going downhill really quickly...

... and then it hit.  Everything.  One thing after another after another.  Bang, bang, bang.  I didn't really see it coming (though normally I would - just too much happening, being thrown around and pulled at from all angles lately really took its toll).... and I went into major meltdown, serious self-sabotage mode.

I can't even remember what I ate... I sat here and cried through most of it. That feeling of being utterly repulsed by my own actions, pulled so bitterly from one emotion to another and just trying to smother it in anything not nailed down in the kitchen...  

I didn't prep myself for this - I thought airing my message so publicly was going to be a good thing, help others and show them it's possible (and it IS!)  ... but I wasn't ready for it, I didn't prep to accommodate everything that's changed so rapidly lately (my emotions in particular), and I'd forgotten just how fragile this girl still is...

... it was being reminded, by words coming out of my own mouth via a TV interview, that did it.  I forget that I used to be "that girl" who'd given up - and I've never seen ME saying that out loud. I was grateful they didn't push the subject (I'm not yet ready to talk so openly about bulk of it, clearly!) - but seeing ME talk about these things was really hard...   I was NOT ready for that.

It's SO different being in front of that camera - I was talking so honestly and openly about these things...  that's ME, that's what I do?!  I can't help it...   But to sit down later and hear yourself say them, was a whole other thing.   To literally hear yourself talk about the number one thing that breaks your heart was too much...   It was the one that pushed me over the edge.

SO, I sat here and sabotaged.  Right to the point of nearly bursting my sides...   EVERYTHING hit - from the dark memories, self-hatred, the loneliness, battling the extremes of your own self-expectations... everything.   I was NOT in a good place, and I was questioning my authenticity for going off promoting a messages that says "hey look at me, my life is great now!" when I'd literally just blown that out of the water, and having so many gaps in my current world that makes it far from perfect!!

One word: hypocrite?!!

Waking up this morning, I thought I was 'ok'.  My confessional to my AIM TRAIN crew was my way of trying to absolve myself and get my clarity back again...

I sent my girls a message to say I was cancelling my bridge climb in August (my milestone celebration) because I didn't feel I deserved it, nor did it warrant a celebration when I felt so revolted in my actions.  The bridge climb signifies two things for me - and without going into the finer details, one is in 'celebration' for the new me; the other is my brush with mortality.  Last night I couldn't justify "celebrating" when the latter was plaguing my head in preference.

.... and I forgot just how powerful these girls are. They know me better than I know myself! (not hard when you're still trying to figure out who that is?!!)   A "counseling" session later from one of these amazing ladies, and already my clouded judgement had lifted.  I'm NOT a failure, I DO deserve to celebrate, irrespective of whether I make my goal or not (which I still plan on doing), that was ME taking a moment to reflect and absolve all that's passed, and it's time to be HAPPY!  I've earnt that, really bad breakdown or not...  It's no longer applicable to denigrate myself, or believe I'm undeserving of happiness - I've bloody well earnt it, whether it's there or not right now isn't the issue.  It WILL happen, but it starts in my acceptance of myself... as a whole person, just as I am. 

A few reassurances and some unbiased butt-kicking to get my priorities back in order...  (the non-brutal variety - the type that helps you overcome the icky and just get going with the good again)... and I was back to planning, back into strategy mode.

... like a red rag to a bull!   You throw crap in my face, and I'll react.  You keep waving that crap in my face, and you better be ready to run...

I reckon I could fit my bike in here too... at a push?!

Operation: Take Back Control went off without a hitch this afternoon.  No more time for tears or tantrums, there's already strategies being implemented for the week ahead to overcome the blip.

I dragged my heavy arsed cross trainer into the middle of my lounge room - to counteract the cold from outside grating on my joints.  It'll get me back to moving again (in the warmth) which in turn will encourage better eating, which will motivate me to leave the house and head to the gym again when I feel 'normal' and not so horribly food-infused bloaty.   See how it works?!   One little change, and the rest follows!

Today I had a VICTORY.  I was well within my calorie allowance and good eating.  I'm back to using the diary for accountability and honesty.  I was on that cross trainer quicker than you could say... well... VROOOOM and spent an hour on it, puffing and sweating away as I watched Hairspray (upbeat musical to make me smile)... and then I hit the kitchen to cook dinner.  Found a new recipe - another success - and portioned out the balance into the freezer.  There's "time out" from my "public duties" on this strategy to recuperate and heal - and a major crackdown on the eating and exercise to see me through the week ahead, starting with fresh grocery shopping in the morning.  My strategy is in place - and my head WILL find its way back into the zone... THAT is my victory.

I have my CONTROL back.   Don't care what damage has been done on the scales - that was the least of my worries...  It's my mindset that copped the biggest whammy, and deserved a bit of TLC.  Tears and tantrums only get you so far - they're valid, but they don't fix the issue.  I get much more momentum in the right direction when I reassess, take accountability and put a plan of attack into action. 

As I was reminded today, so much has happened in the last few months - particularly the last few weeks with my story going so public and the amount of messages I've been receiving (I'm like a sponge - reading about people's hurts effects me significantly) - that I was bound to have a moment of collapse.

I am human, I feel, I hurt... but I'm also a force, and I don't stay down for long these days.  I refuse.  Too much to do, too much I want.  The fire in my belly has never gone out and I appreciate the red rags being slapped against my face - they only make me push harder and prove to myself that I'm not the girl I used to be...

... and I feel 150% better already...!