Monday, December 12, 2011

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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


  1. Feel like I am on the fast train back to weight gain now the 12wbt is 'over' - thank you for the read.....I am going to get my runners on a go for a walk....need to try and get back in the zone! Alison Birkett

  2. Thank you so much for your honesty - even for those of us with less to lose, the emotions are similar and we all completely 'get' where you're coming from...meanwhile you've come so far! And for the record, you do look amazing!!!

  3. I have read your posts for years on the biggest loser club, now Facebook :) Each time I read that you are feeling down, I think why? You are a gorgeous well articulated young woman with the most amazing smile and character. You say you want to go back to your normal life? Going back to your normal life means going back into hiding not allowing the world to see the real you and share the amazing person your are. You have been given a chance of making it big! Write a book about your weight loss experience Amy, I and many others would be sure to buy it. It is all good on Facebook and writing your blog but it would be great for a lot of men and women to be able to have some of your inspiration sitting beside their bed, in their kitchen etc.. :)

  4. Hi Aims,
    You are such an inspiration and yes - surgery is (and should be) an option for you - especially as you've got so much life to live! I had surgery after my weight loss and I'm so pleased that I did. You can contact me via my site if you have any questions.
    Cheers and best wishes
    Liz N