Monday, August 15, 2011

Build a bridge and get over it...

HELLO strangers!  

Yes, I've been noticeably absent for the better part of the last month... A LOT has happened over winter - both good and bad - and I thought it was about time that I pulled my finger out and spilled the beans... !

No surprises really - winter has been a little brutal. Not just for me - but for many of the people in my circle.  Not just on the whole chill-factor neither, but emotionally and physically.

You see, I came to a crashing halt a few months ago - hit that horrible brick wall of doom - and EVERYTHING went flying out the window.   Knew it was coming - I'd been fighting it on and off for a while before that (all the pressure and publicity with everything really took its toll) and things really started to implode.

I very nearly put an 'I GIVE UP' sign up as a permanent fixture - but as usual, I'm still 20% underlying Taurean stubborn, and it was just enough to make sure I didn't throw it all in completely.

Having given so much of myself away over the months, I basically left myself void of any mojo to cater for the winter - and having my attention diverted to everything else, I really overlooked how much of an impact the winter months DO have on my body and head. In retrospect (as always) the pattern was there - it's been there for the last three years - and this year wasn't going to be any  different.  ... I'd just failed to acknowledge it in my painfully impatient state of wanting to finish this thing sooner rather than later!  ... BIG MISTAKE.

12 weeks ago I initiated a new challenge - and invited everyone to jump on the "Aim Train" with me - to help me ride out the ten-kilo balance that I was so desperate to achieve to finish everything off. I put it out there that I'd be challenging AND celebrating at the conclusion of the 12 weeks, aiming to hit my 'century lost' - my mammoth milestone moment. I 'thought' I was ready for that...  I was very wrong.

Being ignorant to my own seasonal body rhythms and routines, added to the fact that I was so emotionally, physically and mentally drained, I was in for a world of hurt.  

As winter took over, my body went into meltdown - my eating went out the window, my routines were a mess, I was exercising sporadically when my joints and energy allowed. The horrible Bathurst winter hit (worse than last year, I'm sure) and my knees hurt so much I was nearly in tears trying to do basic movements.  It had really only been weeks before that I'd been busting serious butt at the gym for the Commando Challenge, and my fitness was through the roof!   To come back to being virtually immobile on occasions, not only tested my physical capabilities, but my fortitude in forgiving a body that has been so abused for so many years...    I was shattered.

To add insult to injury, my body was in crazy overdrive trying to keep warm. I was cold - brutally cold - all the time, as though my body had no idea how to thermo-regulate itself?!  I've never been this small before, and I guess my body was in a state of shock aswell - my cravings went through the roof!  There were NO triggers in my head to stop me eating - I would eat and eat and eat and eat.... til my belly was near bursting, and STILL my body was telling me it wanted more.  It was as though it was trying to insulate itself with layers of fat again, because we were seriously chilled to the bone?!   I don't understand it, nor do I really know what happened, but add my BODY'S response to winter, and my flagging motivation, lack of exercise and a serious case of the SADs (seasonal affective disorder - a nice dose of icky winter depression to throw in there)...   and it was little wonder that in just a couple of months I piled on about 8 kilos without even blinking.

I chose the path of failure. 

I broke my own heart.

Instead of coming through with my 10 kilo victory... I had a very bruising 8 kilo gain, and ended up in triple figures again (I cried....).  Had it not been for the sporadic exercise, that figure would probably have been double.  Were it not for the fact that about four weeks ago I kicked my own butt back into gear, I wouldn't be able to tell you NOW that I'm "back to where I started"...  

My saving grace was a slight change-up of weather a few weeks ago - a glimpse of sunshine and a serious case of disgust in myself...  One superior kick up my own butt, and an encouraging gym manager (I lost my membership at the conclusion of the Commando Challenge, and didn't have the funds to return - another hit to the efforts).... and my mojo started to return.   I cleaned up my act, stopped stressing over the small stuff, got my arse moving again... lost the gain and am now pretty much back to where I started 12 weeks ago.

VERY humbling experience this winter business. I've seen A LOT of people struggle this year - my circle of friends have all had their fair share of ups and downs along the way too... so I know I'm not alone.  But it feels that way.  The aggravation of being isolated in my own head was nearly my own undoing.  I didn't reach out to people when I should have - I felt obligated to continue being a "pillar of motivation" - which (to me) didn't allow me the flexibility of having up and down months like this... and because others were struggling, I felt compelled to hide my "weakness" (per say) so they would continue to push through their issues and not be dragged down by mine.  

I FORGOT (again) just how fragile I am in the scheme of this complete life overhaul.  I gained kilos.  I lost friendships.  I cried.  I hurt.  I broke through.   Again...

SO, I copped my shitty 8 kilo gain on the chin - and the last four weeks I threw off the veil of self-pity to unleash a bit of a training monster!  I was so revolted in my eating-abuse, and how bloated I felt with just 8 kilos back on, that it left NO ROOM for excuses. My food intake has somewhat improved (hahaha... just took a better structure, still needs cleaning up!!) - but it was about reconnecting with the body, and getting myself moving forward again!

I could FEEL the body coming out of winter hibernation... and she woke up with a screaming determination and was really, really pissed off that I wasn't looking after what she'd worked so hard to achieve!    The body stopped telling me to eat everything in sight, my joints started moving more freely again... and I pushed myself back into forward momentum.  

The last three weeks I've been focused on bringing this baby home. My training has been AWESOME!  Teaching myself how to jog, just last week I hit a new PB on the treadmill - 5.5kms in one go!  Just a few weeks ago, I couldn't even run a solid distance at all - I was jogging "intervals" because my knees couldn't hack the distance - and I could barely do metres at a time.   In just a few weeks I've gone from never having jogged at all, to hitting 5.5kms and craving more!  My weights are all up in Pump - I can now squat press over 25kgs!   My fitness is well and truly back, and my body is starting to move again!   The scales came back into play, and I FEEL strong and ready to tackle the losses over the warmer months.

It's definitely NOT all "doom and gloom".  My 12 week challenge really HAS been everything it should have been - a "challenge" in every sense of the word!  Winter was never going to be easy - I should have recognised that from the three month (or more) plateaus I've copped EVERY year for the past three years I've been doing this!!!   My arrogance to that was my wake-up call this year...   Breakdowns and breathroughs all over again - but as always, I only come out fighting. Stronger, more focused and even more determined to beat this bloody mission one way or another!!

.... and at the close of my 12 week challenge, it wasn't just a "victory dance" I was puportedly to be doing.  No, this one actually turned into something MORE valid than just a pat on the back and a blow-my-own-trumpet kind of thing.

Jax, myself and Lynda on the bridge - climbing high baby!!

On Saturday (Aug 13), I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge! For a girl who has a horrible fear of heights (including dizziness, nauseau and vertigo symptoms... I don't even like standing on a chair!!!)... this was a HUGE challenge I'd set myself. 

It was "supposed" to be a victory moment - get up on top of that bloody bridge, fly my own "look at me, I'm 100 kilos lighter" flag....  but it wasn't.  I haven't earnt that one yet.  No, instead it was a moment of reflection - the girl I USED TO BE would NOT have done this.  I thought I didn't deserve it (given I didn't meet my goal) but I was very wrong...

The mini-victories in the activity alone were worth the effort - fitting in a jumpsuit that would NOT have fitted before. Fitting through the "small spaces" that I wouldn't have attempted before. Walking along narrow, elevated platforms, and climbing steep ladders (that were very nearly my undoing mind you!!) a huge previous no-no! Every time I hit a "snag point" and overcame it, it was a WIN!  I had MANY wins.. but not how I'd initially imagined when it was put on the 'to-do' list 12 weeks previous!

I think I had it in my head that when I got up there, I was going to just "sing hallelujah" - scream and rejoice and carry on about hitting the mother of all milestones...  but it didn't happen like that for me - aside from the fact I didn't meet my goal, the whole challenge became something more significant.  

There was a moment well before the top that I nearly burst into tears (and it wasn't the icky ladder stint that did it, hahaha)....   No, a wave of emotion hit somewhere early on.  I didn't leave "the old Amy" at the top of the bridge like I thought I would.   I left her at the bottom - where she was always looking up, too scared to take that first step, too frightened to move out of the comfort zone and BE what she'd always admired in everyone else.  I left her there.  I didn't mean to, and I didn't even realise until I was already well and truly on my way...   She got left behind.

It hurts a little though.  I KNOW all too well how it feels to be left behind - it's happened my entire life. I AM "the girl who got left behind"....  and I just did that to her!   I feel remorse and sadness for her...  She missed out - again!

.... but by the time I got to the top of that bridge, I wasn't that girl anymore, and I bloody well knew it. I might have complained a little, laughed it off, pretended it was all ok on the way up - but I knew there was more going on than I made out. The smile on my face said it, the adrenalin in my body was telling me, the immediate change of perception proved it.

Lynda & I get our race on!

And if that wasn't enough, the following day (Aug 14) was set to mark yet another milestone for me!  The Sydney City 2 Surf 14kms fun-run was a HUGE eye opener! For a girl who couldn't even walk to the end of the block just a few years ago from humiliation, shame and fear - 14kms with 84,999 of my new friends - just proved to this stubborn Taurean just how different I actually am!!

Well BUGger me, I did it!!
AMAZING event that not only showed me how physically fit I am now, but just how mentally tough I am too.  The 14kms didn't worry me at all - I walked my pace solidly (I'm a fast walker too) - and aside from one regretful toilet break incident (that cost me about 40minutes because of a hideous lineup, mixup, bad choices, long story!  Totally spewing!!!)  - it was pretty freaking awesome to know I had the capacity to get in there and really hit this in the way I did! 

Aside from some seriously stiff hips and joints today, it's a MASSIVE eye opener to what I CAN actually do if I set my mind to it!   ... and just how freaking competitive I can get... hahaha!

... and I've already got my eye on my next two events next month!!  She's got the bug baby...!!!! 

The "slow moving girl" that I used to be would NOT have been able to handle these challenges - on ANY level.  I wasn't physically capable, nor emotionally developed enough. I was riddled with self-doubt and excruciating, paralysing fear of ANYTHING even remotely out of my comfort zone. 

I know "the old me" all too well to know that this weekend was a defining one - not how I thought it'd be, not how I thought it'd feel, and it certainly wasn't as emotional as I assumed.  I just know something changed, and it's taken me a little time to digest it! 

I was on such a massive high yesterday afternoon, despite the body locking up slightly, I could have merrily skipped (like a fairy - with my ladybug wings and all!) the 2 hour drive home from the city, haha   .... but it hit today. Lethargic, stiff and sore... and the impact of such a huge moment for me really struck its chord.

About 170 people joined me on my 12 week challenge, and created the most amazing support group network I've ever seen or been a part of...    In that time, I've watched the others take on their own challenges, push themselves out of their comfort zones, work with what they have to implement and make it better, and extend the hands of friendship to others.  It's beautiful.

It's extremely humbling and I'm VERY grateful to have them do this with me - I genuinely thought I'd let them down when I came out the end of this "just the same" as when I started....   but I'm NOT the same....

She's still there at the bottom of that bridge...   she didn't jump off the bridge (like I had imagined).   No, she just let me go.  No need to carry on or make a fuss - we just parted ways - I walked forward and she stayed behind. I have no doubt that if I turned around, there'd be a shadow there to remind me of what I used to be, but that's where she has to stay now. No turning back.... there's no point.  I'm too far ahead now, and we're too different.  She let me go.

I didn't fail.  Winter taught me resilience, determination and strength.  Again.  There's lessons in EVERYTHING, and though I don't always like to hear it 'at the time', I always come out better for it in the end.  I earn what I achieve, and I'll continue to work to get to my goal. 

I'm not putting a time frame on "the balance" anymore.  Nor am I going to throw my numbers around like they're part of the weekly lotto!  They're sacred. They're personal. They're part of ME - and what I do from now on will reflect my new-found self-respect and determination.

I'm still here to help inspire and motivate - I love people and I love having the capacity to help them change their own lives...  and I'll do that in a way befitting my capabilities.    ... but it's time to knuckle down and keep the fire in my belly burning for ME. 

There's more challenges ahead - and even more victories - and I can't wait to see just what I'm going to prove myself wrong with next!   I have SO MUCH to do.... !!!!

So technically I didn't 'build the bridge'... but I sure as hell got over it!!!  ;)