Monday, December 12, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I went blank.

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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


THE Zebra dress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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