Saturday, December 1, 2012

The skin I'm in... part 1

Indulge me for a moment, while I manifest the courage to say goodbye to the 'old body'...

In "two more workout days" I go in for my first-phase reconstructive body surgery.  That's the crazy label I've given it, because one surgery won't be enough, and my first-phase is all I can afford at the moment.

Today I've woken up with really flighty butterflies in my belly, and I'm feeling a tad sick. It was to be expected - but given I was quite smug last night, thinking I'd spent bulk of the week "uncharacteristically calm" - I realise now it was just the calm before the storm!

Last Monday was horrible - I think I'd over-dramatised the "one week from today" factor in my head, and woke up feeling like a giant was sitting on my chest, I could barely breathe...   Spent the rest of the week calm, collected, and then the excitement set in - I was just SO excited.

When I went to order my Bank Cheque to pay the surgeon on Wednesday, I took one enormous gulp and ran through the doors to have the teller draw the funds.  One of the staff saw me standing there waiting - she was the lady I'd dealt with when taking out a loan to buy my car - and when I explained I'd found one cheaper than my budget, it meant I could use the balance for my surgery (instead of eating into my surgery savings) and that it was happening on Monday - it really struck me what I was about to do.  I sat down at my desk on my return sweating like crazy but SO excited and happy!  I went to take a huge-grin selfie photo - and then lost it entirely, and sat there in tears instead!

The next day, I head off to the clinic to pre-pay the surgeon - and get the thumbs up all was scheduled and ready to go.  The phone call from the hospital to confirm, and my time to come in, what to wear, what to bring, what to eat....  oh my gosh, my head was spinning.

But I was SO, SO HAPPY.  This was really happening... I was about to "get rid of the belly skin!!!".

If you'd have asked me a few months ago how I was feeling about my body, my answer would have been less than diplomatic.  You only have to read my FB posts or blog to know this year has been less than "spectacular", and how disappointed and let down I feel after so much disciplined work.

I got jack of all the headgames and heartache that just seemed to be pulling me backwards... and if you know me, know my words - you'll know that backwards is NOT the direction I go.  It's "ALWAYS FORWARD" - always.

When the surgeon pulled out the forms a few months ago - nearly exactly a year after our first consultation - because I was beside myself with hatred, upset and "I just don't know what else to do!".... the mixed emotions that came with that "reprieve" were about to give me one hell of a run for my money.

The last few months I've been focused beyond belief - more than ever before.  I had a goal - a big one - and I simply wasn't willing to mess it up! It was the opportunity to make this right - to give myself a fighting chance against the 'backwards' and make sure I kept building on all the beautiful things that have been transforming over the last few years.

I simply wasn't about to let this skin I'm in destroy me.  No way.

I HATE that it's come to this - and here comes the conflicting headspace that I've been fighting the last few months!!   What hurts me is that I see no valid reason to cut a perfectly healthy body to pieces - I have trained SO hard the past three months, eaten so well, nurtured my body - and I have the changes to show it! (albeit under skin that I can't physically see... !!!!  Argh!).    ... but when I stand in front of the mirror and have to SEE what this body looks like after all that stellar effort, it hurts.  It stings.  I look like people's "before photo" - not someone whose literally halved herself in a quest to completely change the direction of her life.  GIVE herself a life.

I've had people say to me "you're so lucky" and "I wish it was me!" - and whilst there's no malice or negativity behind the comments - I guess for me, the bigger picture (the 25+ years of fighting obesity, self-hatred, self-destruction) - I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy!  My first-phase reconstructive surgery won't FIX all my issues - it certainly won't take them away or erase them out of my heart...   It's just superficial - an extreme way of trying to create future potential and possibilities that are still eluding me.  It's certainly no "means to an end"  - and it's not the "reward" I'd once thought it'd be when I'd hit my goal ("goal" .... even that word makes me cringe these days...!)

No, this whole thing has become something different to me.  There's an element of FREEDOM that comes with this one - and just acknowleding this at the moment is making me upset....  This afternoon I go for my final Pump gym class - and already the prospect of doing my final pushups with bellyskin hovering just a couple inches off the floor has me in tears.   (#Argh!  I'm SO gonna cry at the gym this arvy.... haha!).   The prospect of being able to wear a pair of pants that actually FIT - I've never been able to wear pants! (I HATE stretch pants, they do nothing for my roundness!!!)   The thought that when I sit down, I don't have to pull my bellyskin into a comfortable position....  Being able to do a starjump and not have the after-shock of follow-through skin to embarass me.  Possibly not having to worry about the under-belly sweat running down my legs on a really hot day, and trying - ashamedly - to hide it (the heatwave that's just hit was a cruel reminder of that one).    Maybe, someday, being able to look at myself in the mirror and actually being able to like what I see. (I'll put a TBC on that - that's a huge one, I don't have an end date on that, if ever).

In taking stock of what's happened in the past - what's happened during my changes - and what's about to happen... it hit me last night, the 'fear' that I hadn't actually acknowledged....  It just took a while to come to the surface.

The surgery doesn't scare me - bring on the scalpels I say (minor eep!).  The prospect of "what happens after" is still swirling in my head - the fears of what I don't know or how to be this person in a body this size that I've never been privy to...  it's still scary, but not paralysing.  I even came to a calming conclusion that I was actually somewhat OK with those things!!

No, it was the "saying goodbye" to the skin thing.  I'm an extremely sentimental girl - probably somewhat freakishly (haha) - I take a great deal of meaning in little things - moments in time - the whole works.  I find it incredibly hard to part with 'things' that mean something to me - and I guess the skin is no different. God, it's been attached to me for 33 years for crying out loud - it's not something I'd just "discard" without at least a few tears, right?!!

But I think it goes beyond the heart-strings here...   My skin has protected me - it's shielded me.  Through all the yucky times, and the redevelopment process - it's looked after me.  It's the 'armour' - it's kept me safe.  While the girl inside has been changing - learning - getting more confident and brave enough to stand up and be seen - my skin has been shielding me, covering me, giving me the time to change.

What happens when you take away your 'security blanket'?    I'm really disappointed in myself that it's taken me this long to recognise this - that it isn't my SKIN that's made me hate myself here...  It was an easy excuse, and easy out - far easier to blame what I can SEE than acknowledge that inside, there's this fragility and fear I'm still working through. 

My SKIN is what's kept me honest and accountable this year - it's the reason I pulled rank on my shitty eating habits and the 'it's all too hard!' mentality and put on 8 kgs over winter - when I had my breakdown and was forced to reevaluate who I am NOW (versus who I was in the past).  My SKIN bore brunt of the blame for the backwards self-hatred spiral - and yet it was the REASON I pushed through and fought harder, to turn it around.   I always thought it was a horrible reminder of all the bad times, the negativity and the disappointment - but I think I was very wrong....

I'm HUMBLED by the skin I'm in - we may not see eye to eye sometimes, but it's been my godsend after all. Saying goodbye to that is incredibly hard - and not for the reasons I'd assumed for so long.  This has been a LONG TIME COMING - and starring down the barrel of what's about to happen in just two days....  far out, I knew the tears were coming... but I certainly didn't see this little revelation coming!!

So, what do you do when you're about to say goodbye?!  Where does it go when they cut it off?  Does it just go in the bin?!!   Do I have to have a funeral for my skin?!  How do I pay my respects to a part of me that's been so pivotal in turning my life around?! 

Maybe I need to ponder that some more...   I have two whole days to do that.

Breathe.... !!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweat, 'that dress' and Emazon

It's happening.  It's REALLY happening.  My head has just been BUZZING since the weekend - and nothing has been able to wipe the smile off my face!

This is really happening.

For over 12 months I've been working on "the skin issue".  Over 12 months of fighting against the pain when I ran; the feeling of 'grossness' and 'freakiness'; the sweat rashes; the downward spiral of my mental health just because I LOATHED the body that was "leftover" after all the weightloss.  So bitterly disappointed, given I was still "too big to be a role model" (words that still ring in my ears) - and still feeling like there was something wrong with me...

I've fought my way through this year's breakdown, the subsequent meltdowns, and came to the crashing realisation that I simply couldn't do this alone anymore.  ... and called in for reinforcements. A bold move on my part, given my lack of "being able to ask for help" in the past.  This was strategy - I simply couldn't fight this alone anymore.

So one by one, I aligned myself with professionals - CHAMPIONS - who could help me facilitate the changes in my body and mindset that would help me get further AWAY from the degrading self-hatred that was ruining me.

Four goes it took me to be brave enough to front the Surgeon for the second time (just as I mentioned in the previous post) - and four lots of tears before I walked in that door, he handed me the form, and the decision was made.

... but it still wasn't real.  It felt like an illusion - far away and far too "day-dreamy" to bring me what I needed.  It was an easy escape surely... ?!

So I embarked on the 12wbt - with no other goals than pure fitness-related (given my weight wouldn't budge)... and diligently followed the meal plan the first few weeks.  I was so excited with bringing structure back into play - but a few weeks in, the lack of results (no surprise there - body and I were at loggerheads) and my emotional imbalances took over again... and I fought with it the entire way through the rest of the program.

I felt like a deadset failure.  My weight fluctuated up and down, I'd cry myself to sleep every night, I'd fight with my body and the frustration.  Again, I called in reinforcements.

Working with my Kinesiologist - a gorgeous friend of mine - he deliberately started picking me to pieces.  My body was shot - my headspace was ruined.  They were feeding off each other - and I was getting further and further "toxic" in all aspects, because of it.  So he started working his magic...  Week after week, he'd pick the next ailment - he'd push my emotional barriers (and generally have me in tears!) - and if nothing else, I felt like I had a guiding hand and a friendly hug each week to help me on my way.  It was my godsend.

When the emotions simply wouldn't let up, and my sanity was starting to waver (even more than normal!) - the nightly tears, and losing it multiple times at work...   I was scared.   The fear of returning to a state of depression (like the one that stole a decade of my life) sent me straight to my Naturopath.  My next reinforcement strategy.  I was so relieved when she said I was in a state of anxiety - and as she said, she simply wasn't surprised, given everything that had happened and what I was about to face.  Armed with a bottle of natural pills, I walked out the door.... and the next day, felt the relief already!  I've been on the tablets ever since - and it's already helped ease my nightly-tears, helped calm my nerves, meant I could focus and make rational decisions again, and my eating has improved three-fold.  For the first time in a long time, I was starting to feel like MYSELF again.  These tablets I'll be on pre and post-surgery - to make sure I can stay calm and rational through all the changes that are about to happen.

After booking my surgery, I was determined to make sure my body was at its fitest - make sure I was super healthy before I cut myself to pieces.  I embarked on a self-imposed "50 days of Fitness" challenge - which ended exactly on the 12wbt Finale weekend!  I'll confess, that when I set that up for myself, I didn't actually assume I'd do it... least of all see much result out of it, given I was still doing "the same old, same old"....   boy was I wrong!!

I just went about my usual training - Pump and RPM as my base, a lap of Mount Panorama occasionally on weekends.  I really didn't think anything of it - until I started getting feisty and pushing for higher PBs!  The 16kgs weighted lap of Mt Panorana that I did a month ago is still fresh in my mind - it's one of my proudest HEAVY achievements and it surprised the hell out of me what my body was capable of doing (and OMG I'm still reminiscing about those DOMS the week following, haha!).  My other major achievement, the 30kgs squat track in my Pump class that I now do as my regular weight - I was SO excited about hitting this marker, that it gave me the confidence to step it up to the next notch...  signing up with a PT and hitting the weights room.

I hit my first full session with my new PT on Monday, and am still walking slightly funny... haha!  He keeps asking me how I am, and "at the time" I thought the session was easy - that I was "all good"... ummm.... !!!!!!    He's a huge part of my strategy now too - a couple of sessions pre-surgery (I have one left next week) - and then it's all POST-surgery toning and rehabilitation when I get out.  He will help me reshape the rest of my body - and keep me sane (ie: stop me trying to destroy myself when I can't see the results!) - and I can't wait!   He's a MACHINE - and I'm so excited to bring that into play! 

... and little did I realise - while I was just "going through the motions" with my training during this couple of months, thinking my body was doing nothing (cuz the scales sure as hell werent)...  my body was in a whole new phase of transitioning.  Whilst I'd focused purely on fitness and strength to be super healthy for my surgery - my body was morphing again... !  I was just too distracted to see it!

Reluctantly doing my weigh-in and measure-up at the end of the 12wbt, I was feeling really deflated about the whole thing.  Big failure...  I even waited until it was too late to make the numbers 'official' because I was already believing I'd done nothing.   Ohhhh how wrong I was!   6cms off my hips - THE only place on my body I rarely lose because of the skin... and five kilos off - I was pretty "ok" with that!!!     Hell, I was MORE than ok with that when I saw the photos... (but now I'm just getting ahead of myself.. haha!). 

When I hit Sydney for the 12wbt Finale last Saturday, I was SO enthusiastic for the group outdoor workout!  Armed in our "army greens"  (the 30+ers group uniform!) - I ran out there like a crazy person!  NOTHING seemed to phase me - strutting my stuff in costume (that's a first!) - meeting new people and not wanting to run away and hide (another first!) - and then absolutely BELTING OUT the outdoor circuit (equivalent of a full-on Body Attack class - the one that I NEVER do because it brutalises my knees and I'm too unfit!) - and yet I smashed that out like I had no issues at all!   I was SO hot and sweaty by the end of it all, but totally pumped and left with a giant sense of achievement in my puffed-out peacock-style chest!!

... but it didn't end there.

Glamming up that afternoon for the Finale Party... I didn't really have much "grand hope" on this one!  I'd taken my dress (last time I took three choices because I couldn't make a decision - this time it was just one - and I prayed I'd still fit into by that night!!) - and figured I'd just make a little effort to look nice.  Try and make myself feel better - after the months of thinking I looked like shit again... (!!!! I know... don't say a word...!)

Makeup, eyelashes, hair extensions in - I was just in "experimentation" mode more than anything - just wanted to FEEL good about myself - in amongst a sea of sexy weightloss goddesses... I didn't really think I'd feel that great at all... but I'd give it a go at least.  I'd already tried a few things on at home beforehand, just to make sure I'd have the confidence to do it on the night...  Figured if I chickened out, I'd just go back to basics.

Wiggling my way into my dress as my final thing to put on - I breathed a sigh of relief realising I still fit into the bloody thing (mind games... hate them!!) - then took myself to the mirror.

... and stopped dead in my tracks.

I didn't recognise her.  I did a double-take.  The person in front of the mirror, surely that wasn't me?!  I'm pretty sure I let out a few expletives in my head at this point - I know damn well there was a LOT of OMGs coming out of my mouth!!

My roommate was having her own moments like that - in her tiny brand new dress (she's lost over 40kgs herself, and had a successful 11kgs loss that round, even with an injury) - both of us stood there gaping at the mirror, and loved what we saw!!! 

Too excited to cry (haha, how's that for a first!!!) - we set off for the party!  Fast forward to entering the building, chasing glasses of champagne, nibblies and general mingling.... it was GAME ON for FUN!!!   Manda and I spent the entire night strutting our stuff, DANCING (dancing, dancing, dancing!) and having as much bloody fun as we could fit into a handful of hours!   We were there until the music stopped, and were the last ones in the photo booth before they shut the doors!   We staggered out the front door to the bus on our way back to the hostel, and were so merry (ahem, slightly bubble-induced giggly wobbly... err... !!!) - but we were just on top of the world!   Whilst the bubbles may have played a slight part in that - I do believe the emphasis is truly on the SLIGHT.   There was far more going on here than intoxication.. haha!

... and then there were the PHOTOS!!!   These have got to be some of my most favourite shots I've EVER had taken - I'm so proud of these!   Yes, my body has changed shape again (I have SHOULDER MUSCLES!!!) - and yep, that dress is super flattering and I'm loving the look... but more importantly - I'm HAPPY!!    My face says it all!

But it didn't end there...

Sunday morning, up bright and early (err... scratch the "bright" somewhat...)  - it was off to a special session with Emazon.  Now, I had NO idea what to expect from this - but I'd heard only good things about this powerhouse woman and her "ways" of transforming women's minds...

... and I knew I was in dire need of some help in that department.

I'd been offered a place at the session, and I simply couldn't say no. After the months of mental hell, and despite my strategic help from my CHAMPIONS - my mindset was still stuck in the 'shit zone'.  I knew it was time to try something radical.

I don't really know how to explain what happened during the session - or how to describe what this session actually IS.... but something shifted.  Something magic happened.  Something clicked - FINALLY.

Early on in the course, I was in tears - Emazon doesn't mince her words.  She speaks the truth.  She's a no-bullshit woman, and her philosophies are so acutely aligned with my own... it STUNG to hear those home truths come back into play.  Things I already knew - like the limitations of my "superficial thinking"... the struggle of overcoming the barriers holding me back.

Everyone takes something different out of her class - but my messages were as plain as day to me.  Every time something would come up, it's like a light would go off in my head.  Every. Freaking. Time.

1.  Numbers are NOT my friend - they will NOT make me happy.
2.  I am far more than just my weightloss - this simply does NOT define who I am.
3.  My 'superior self' does NOT tolerate being used.
4.  My 'Red Woman' will NOT tolerate degradation to meet other people's sub-standards or superficial conscripts.
5.  I AM a fighter - there's a strength in me that has guided me through hell, and has ALWAYS known what to do.
6.  The barriers and set-backs have been there FOR A REASON.  Every time I fuck it up, it sends me back to get it right...
8.  There is FREEDOM in honesty and integrity - and I embody both of these things already.
9.  My passion and purpose is already there - it's already shaping me.
10. Who I am, as I am, in this moment - is enough.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

I have others - but I'm still brewing on the power of these as they are right now.  I can match past events and outcomes in my head to these statements - making them even more powerful and the understanding even deeper. I KNOW this was what I was meant to hear - and I know the timing was absolutely perfect.

Her class empowered me - it gave me an energy.  It was pure self-recognition of who I am and what I've done, and what I need to do next.

EVERYTHING that I have done in preparation for my surgery - EVERY strategy and stepping up to make this work FOR THE RIGHT REASONS was validated in this session.  Everything.

I walked out of that room about a metre taller, and weighing ten kilos less!  I felt like months of fear had just been lifted off my shoulders - the "what ifs" were gone.  (What if I still look like crap after surgery and still hate myself?  Why do I feel like a failure and cop out for the surgery?  What happens next when my weightloss is over and I'm not "anything" anymore?  Who AM I in all of this when I feel like absolutely noone?!)

I had three key words at the conclusion of our course that have stuck with me since...  Three of the most powerful words I've attributed to myself, possibly EVER?!

- Validation - everything is starting to make sense, it has reason and purpose - it's "meant to be". The good and the bad - everything!  The hurts and tears were valid - they were there to teach and guide me.  When I do things for the RIGHT REASON - when I align to my true beliefs - the hurts simply don't hurt anymore.

- Consolidation - everything feels like it's finally coming together, all the work and the strategic planning, even aligning myself with my Champions - it's all coming together now.  The fact I can now see WHY I have endured what I have makes this one even more powerful - and simply understanding that trusting myself (faith in that inner awesome driver) is paramount to my happiness....  now and in the future. 

- Humbled - there's a huge sense of relief within me right now.  There's a higher power driving this train, and she's freaking AWESOME.  She's known from day one what we needed to do - and just went about and did it.  She's guided me the ENTIRE way through - endured the heartache, the tears, the tantrums, the self-abuse both physical and emotional.  And she's fought for me, AND against the negative me - time and time again - she's never left me.  She's the fighter - and I'm so incredibly humbled to FINALLY realise she's right there within me.  She IS me.

SO, with less than two weeks left before I head into surgery - I feel like the neurosis and the hatred of the past 12 months is finally starting to subside.  Finally.  All that work has been for EVERYTHING!!

This is really REAL.  No more tears.  No more fear of the unknown.  I'm so incredibly proud of myself and SO happy right now.

Less than two weeks....    !!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Permission to be proud

I don't really know where the last twelve months has gone - it's mid October, and I'm currently in preparation for my "next chapter" - I feel like I'm holding my breath in anticipation of what this means or what happens next, but it's meant that I've been 'reevaluating' what's happened in the past year that's lead me to this point.

My surgery is only a few weeks away - and yesterday I pushed myself to go and do my mandatory 'bloods' (so they have something to compare against later, and check that I'm healthy etc) and then filled out the hospital form and emailed it in late last night. I've had to do these since late August, just wasn't quite ready….   Booking this in officially was my next major step to making this a reality, and it's taken me a good few weeks to get it together enough to do it.

Prior to talking to the Surgeon I questioned whether I deserved the help, whether I was just opting-in for an "easy way out", and I was petrified that surgery wouldn't give me the answers or results that I need. As it turned out, it'd been nearly twelve months since I'd seen him last, and my weight hadn't changed - but so much else had, and with so many beautiful new things in my life, they were being undermined by the sheer hatred I have for the body I've been left with. Unfortunately.  The skin had contributed to so many negatives, that it was pulling me backwards… the strategy, then, became surgery to help me push forward. 

The last twelve months has proven to be my hardest year yet - and it makes my head spin at the thought of what's happened in such a short space of time. In terms of weightless: nada, zilch, nothing - I've just gone up and down, backwards and forwards in the same 10kilos bracket. Over winter, I stacked the weight on found myself quickly heading back up to the 110kgs mark - but have pulled that all back off since, and turned my physical fitness around 150%.  In terms of 'life' - well it's thrown me around like never before - but I won't say it's without merit. I've had some beautiful experiences, I've had some hurtful moments - there's been tears and tantrums… and yet I'm still here, I'm still moving.

Yet I found myself the last few weeks still unable to find solace in the positives of this - even after pulling my stubborn head in, asking for help, and turning things around - I still couldn't find my pride. Somewhere along the line, I'd stopped being proud - shunned myself for the things I'd achieved - I let people take it away from me with their comments and criticisms - I'd lost the energy to contend with it all. I was embarrassed to talk about my achievements, I stopped taking photos, I stopped writing and sharing, helping and being happy, I started hiding again. I let the negatives win, and I lost my pride….

Mid this year I had a major breakdown - it wasn't pretty and it did its damage - but it taught me a lesson too (as things always tend to!).  When I sought help from my Naturopath recently for my emotional imbalances - driven in there by my sheer fear that I was reverting to the old depression days - she had me fill our three hefty questionnaires to judge what was happening, and figure out what impact it was having on my body. The month prior to this I'd been working with my Kinesiologist, who'd basically already told me my body was buggered because of my emotions - they were working against one another, feeding off each other in a negative way. I was going in circles and there wasn't much I could do about it!  But that was the whole point in seeking their help - I can't physically SEE what's happening to my insides, and I needed their help and guidance.  I knew my emotions were shot, but something wasn't right since the breakdown, and it went further than just what was going on in my head!  My body was breaking down, I could just feel it.

My Naturo put me on some tablets for anxiety - she said she wasn't surprised I was as highly strung as I have been the past year, considering how depleted I am emotionally and physically with all the changes the past five years, and the decade prior to that…  She's worked with me in the past - helped turn around a few of my weird ailments (my superior stress levels when I quit my job; my toxicity a couple years ago from the weightloss. She's helped me before, and I went straight in to have her help again).  The Kinesiologist's "magic potion" had been working on helping my organs with the stress and get me functioning properly, internally, again - the Naturo's tablets and mix were to calm my head.  I felt the difference the next day…. !

The last few weeks have been a MASSIVE turn around. I no longer feel like I'm walking on eggshells, and I feel like I can breathe. I forced myself to seek help (I'm a stubborn Taurean, I don't ask for help unless I have to!) - but I bit the bullet, and asked… and I'm so very proud of myself for doing that.

Enter the transition phase of "finding my pride".  As I move into this next chapter - my surgery phase - I knew straight out that this was going to be one of the hardest things for me to do.  Hell, just booking the appointment was a task in itself - and it all boils down to the emotions and my headspace.  Since I booked, I simply haven't looked back.  Yes, I've stalled a couple of times, I've had a cry, I've questioned and had to take a few deep breaths… but I haven't looked back.

So much has happened - POSITIVELY - in the past month, that I'm walking with my head held high again. My training is spot on - I issued myself a "50 days of fitness" challenge to keep myself honest and on track - and 25 days in, I've been working hard at it ever since and already see the physical difference, hit new monster PBs and I haven't even hit my stride yet!

My food intake has been better - now that I'm not EATING my emotions every day (the curse of being an emotional overeater - happy, sad, scared, bored… you name it - I'll eat my emotions… Emotional imbalance = food festival, and is seriously BAD for results!!). I won't say I get a gold star on the food just yet, but there's far more control here than there's been for MONTHS, and I'm a little proud of myself for that. I'll need that control when I'm in recovery-mode and can't train the way I usually do - so it's very much on my agenda at the moment to get a handle on it all

And as for my head….  ahhhh, all good things come to those who wait - or more importantly, those who diligently work on it!  I'm in a MUCH happier, healthier place than I've been for a while - it's meant that I've poked my head out of isolation and I'm "revisiting" the things that used to make me happy - instilled a sense of pride in what I was doing.  Little things - like writing this blog (!), taking photos (god help you all, I'm back to all the "selfies" again… haha!) - finding and booking in new activities to plan my year ahead, and happily thinking 'futuristically'.

My health and fitness are BEAUTIFUL right now - that is my ultimate goal pre-surgery - to be at my fittest and healthiest….  but that was to include my mental state too - and that has a strategy aswell. I certainly haven't gone into this without a plan, and I'm PROUD of myself for doing it this way - for stepping up and asking for help and following through with it.

I have no doubt that the next few weeks ahead are going to be a little rough, and I have those butterflies in the pit of my stomach starting to jiggle around at the prospect of the last countdowns…. but I'm gearing up now for the next chapter, and what it means. 

I feel like I have a world of expectations on this surgery - subconsciously holding out for everything "beautiful" to just magically happen after this bit of skin is gone… but the realist in me says I need to stop dreaming like that.  I've put so much on hold in the past based on me still feeling "freaky" in this left-over body, and it's done nothing but burn me for the past year.  It hurts, and bulk of that lies on ME and my response to it.  I need to take some responsibility for letting that turn negative…

My body isn't foul - it's wonderful. It's amazing what it overcomes - the torture I put it through (literally, I did a lap of Mount Panorama with 16kgs on my back on Sunday - my glutes are STILL giving me hell about it, haha!)… and yet all the crap I've put into my system, all the neglect, the torment…. it's still fighting with me. 

That's my goal now - to stop putting pressure on my body and love it "just as it is" - because when I part ways with this belly skin in December, I'll be saying goodbye to something that's been with me for 33 years.  I'm nostalgic and melodramatic at the best of times (haha!) - but it's true.  I shouldn't be wishing this away, I should be celebrating what it's meant to me, what it's done for me, who it's made me…  I need to convert the negative stigma into something beautiful, NOW, before it's gone.  I need to be PROUD of my skin, and I need to have pride enough to say goodbye, and say thank you with a smile on my face. 

That's my goal in the next few weeks…. transition back into being PROUD.  Proud of who I am, of what I've overcome, of the things I've achieved, of where I'm going.  I give myself permission to be proud… and I bloody well better start believing it.  The clock's ticking… !

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Embarking on the next chapter

I've been sitting on a bit of a secret this past week... and I'm still reeling from what it is I've done!

Have spent the last few weeks in an on-and-off emotional state, trying to piece myself together, trying to figure out what to do next. SO emotional over everything, and not truly understanding why.

I decided I'd had enough of the games, and the anxiety of stepping on those scales after the hideous winter that saw more tears and tantrums than I saw triumphs.  I signed up and committed myself to the next round of the 12wbt (Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation).  I've tried the program before, but I guess I was never really ready for it or it conflicted with all the "white noise" going on in my life that was dragging my focus away (the last 18 months have been ridiculous!).

SO I decided to cut my losses, stop with the excuses and just focus on working on my FITNESS and my HEALTH (my two top priorities - the scales can go be damned!) - given my body won't cooperate to lose any more weight, and the scales only see me upset when they either go back up or haven't budged... again... the same freaking cycle that I've been battling for the last year.  Ugh.   (You wanna talk plateaus - try a freaking YEAR!).

Having put my foot down and giving myself the boot up the backside that I so desperately needed (note: you have to boot your OWN butt - I never expected anyone else to do that for me - it simply doesn't work) - my mindset shifted.   Felt like the old Amy coming back out to play - the Master of Ceremonies was about to unleash the beast!

I'd booked in a follow-up consult with my Surgeon many months ago - and put it off three times thinking I either didn't deserve it because I hadn't made my goal weight / was taking the "easy way out"  (ha! what part of slicing your body to pieces is "easy"?!!) and couldn't justify it for myself (that same old brain spiral that I don't deserve to be happy, sexy, yadda yadda yadda... here endeth that bullshit - I'll spare you from the monotony of my inner monologue - I'm well and truly over it!!).

Many tears and emotional kickbacks the last few weeks as that consult date approached (the same one I was about to reschedule for the fourth time!), and I asked for some guidance from my very close friends - who have been walking beside me on this crazy path for the last couple years... they know how much I struggle, and how emotionally invested and conflicted I am with the "aftermath" of my weightloss. Sometimes you just need a side of rationality, with a dose of sincerity, to help you understand why it is you're so frustrated and upset - and having a group of friends who help prop me up when I'm about ready to fall again... it helped me work through that blockage, and I re-committed to going for my consult.

Breathe. I was now committed to 12 weeks of "healthy" and now committed to seeing my Surgeon for the follow-up consult.

On top of this, I pulled in my stubborn-Taurean head and asked for help from a special friend. He's a Doctor - specialising in Kinesiology and Chiropractics - and as embarrassed as I've been the last few months about "feeling like a total failure" I just knew something was going on in my body that I couldn't understand.  I have literally FOUGHT the entire year trying to change the cycles and patterns of my body - the up and down scales, the hideous cravings, the mental breakdowns...  I simply knew I couldn't do this on my own anymore, because I can't freaking SEE what's happening on the inside.  So I FINALLY reached out for help.

I've been working with him the last couple of weeks from an "inside perspective" - he did his magic Kinesiology voodoo (haha!) on me and has already brought to the surface a WAD of issues that my body is contending with - all crazily intertwined and interlaced, that it just makes my head spin.  Literally.  The first consult we did a couple of weeks ago, he had me in tears!  He's working on my emotions aswell - given that my emotional imbalance is directly affecting my body's state of health (and vice versa) - and a few key questions had tears rolling down my cheeks.  I left there feeling like I FINALLY had hope - I wasn't going mental - there actually WAS something going wrong in my body...  I finally felt like I was moving in the right direction again.

Between the support of my gorgeous girls and my new "Magic Doctor" - I stepped up and followed through on my Surgeon consult commitment. I walked in there last Monday and sat down - I was shaking like a leaf, felt like I was about ready to vomit.  I couldn't remember when I'd seen him last - the first consult was purely for "research" (no pressure) - as it turned out, it was about this time last year.  He'd noted down my weight at the time - and when I told him where I'm at right now - exactly where I was 12 months ago - that's when it just dawned on me that I've spent an entire year fighting the same freaking battle.... months and months and months of anguish, tears, frustration, anger and self-deprecating hatred for what my body looks like now.  12 months of feeling like a freak of nature, having worked my arse off (literally) and absolutely HATING the superficial results.  I knew I'd been struggling really badly the last 6 months, but it broke my heart a little when that timeframe just doubled.  Ouch.

(I'll note here that I DO NOT HATE who I have become or what I've achieved - I LOVE that I turned my life around - but the hurtful part is walking around in a body that doesn't visually show just how much work you've put in doing that...  it simply hurts.)

SO it was GO time - I explained that I simply didn't have the energy or mental capacity to fight this same fight anymore. I love being healthy, and I love that I can "maintain" what it is I've achieved (... clearly... despite the ups and downs, I haven't regained my weight - I'm fit and I have the capacity to eat well.  I'm fighting and working through my emotional issues - but I simply don't have the energy to hate my body anymore... I needed to break that cycle - I needed physical help).

He checked out my tummy skin - and explained what he'd do for the procedure. It's more complex than a basic "tummy tuck" - but only working on the surface skin, as all my underlying muscles are great (small mercies) and this would just take away the huge hanging 'apron' that I've been left to contend with.  It's the bit that hurts me the most - literally.  It hurts when I run, it bounces and stretches, I get sweat rashes and the skin splits, and it throws my hips and knees out - which just causes more pain.  It hangs to the floor when I do pushups, and I can't fit into pants properly.  I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror and my stomach involuntarily clenches and I have a lump in my throat because I just want to cry - I can't "love" this at all. I can't appreciate it - it hurts and upsets me, and it has to go.

He took a photo of my tummy for my file, and pulled out a hospital admissions form.  Right about here is when I nearly vomited - the rush of blood to my head as I held my breath made my head spin - and I think I even held onto the side of the table.  I blurted out something about not doing it too soon - I hadn't really thought about dates, I hadn't really thought about anything but getting my arse into that consult room!!!   When he started filling out that form, it all became intensely REAL.   (... and here come the waterworks, haha...)

I walked out to see his Secretary - who would look after bookings and all the finer details. She asked me when I'd like to do the procedure, and all I remember saying is something about "later in the year, or even maybe next year... I don't really know!  I'm not ready just yet!".   She explained if I wanted to do it next year, I'd have to wait UNTIL next year to book it.  Yep, cut right there - suddenly became incredibly concise - I couldn't WAIT any longer just to make a booking.  I booked in then and there.

December 3rd.  I go in for my first phase surgery on December 3rd  (.. and yep, here I go with the shaking again, haha...!).   This will be my "radical abdominoplasty" as it's been written on my admissions form.  I'm petrified, and yet I'm insanely excited aswell.  I literally don't know whether to laugh or cry!  I walked out of there shaking like a leaf (much like I am just talking about it now) - this is the start of my next chapter.  My very painful "cut Amy to pieces first" chapter - but I know I've been subconsciously waiting and waiting and waiting until I was "good enough" after all this weightloss to start my life properly.... and for some reason (potentially, 'stupid reason') I haven't felt like I was allowed to do that in this "leftover excuse of a body".

So yeah, that's my little secret...  Things are about to get a whole wad of interesting!  I have 12 weeks ahead to fine-tune my fitness, get as fit and healthy as I possibly can for a better recovery and better results - and then off I march myself to tackle the next insane challenge.

Going to need all the support and encouragement I can muster as it gets closer.  I am SO scared!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

She's back!!! ... or is she.... ?!

Feel like I should be sneaking in here on tip-toes - there's an eerie silence and a long overdue "HELLO!" from me on my poor little blog... and part of me (almost) wants to apologise for being so distant and neglectful!

However, such is the way of life, that despite my last post being back in February - so much AND so little has happened in the last (nearly) six months, that it makes my little head bobble around, and I don't quite know where to start!

I find it somewhat ironic (for lack of a better word) that the last post was all about "Finding Amy".  Well, let me tell you right now that I felt I lost her entirely, gave up looking, got the shits and chucked a wobbly (repeatedly)... but amidst all that, I engaged in this funny thing called "life" that I could never have imagined was going to unfold back in February...   Simply didn't see it coming.

In the last few months I've been on an absolute ROLLERCOASTER ride of emotions. There's been times when I wanted to scream from the top of my beloved Mount Panorama that the world was beautiful, that everything in it was a dream, and I thought it couldn't get any better...  And then there were times when I felt like I was in absolute limbo, so broken inside I couldn't breathe.

I liked the first one better... !!!

The last few months have seen me unearth a whole new wad of "life experiences" - well outside my comfort zone and almost verging on 'normality' (if there is such a thing for me?! haha).  Not to overload you with details, but there's been affairs of the heart, failing bodies, holidays and meltdowns - many tears and much 'thought provoking' self-discoveries and growth.

If anyone were to tell me back in February that I was about to be hit with such massive mental and emotional upheaval as I've been through the last few months, I'd have probably laughed at them and questioned the authenticity of their statement!  I might not have been at my mental "fighting fittest" but I certainly didn't think I was anything below 'solid' either.

It was nothing short of a rude awakening, then, when I went from being up on my absolute highest of highs - living on love and happiness, understanding and finally feeling like I wasn't alone anymore - to trying "something I'd never done before" in the form of a counseling session that pulled me, not gently, back to reality that maybe I wasn't quite as 'ok' as I thought I was about everything.

I should explain...  A few months ago, I went off on holidays to Gwinganna - a special health retreat in QLD.  The holiday I won from the Woman's Day magazine competition.  I was all geared up to enjoy this new experience that I'd have never been game enough to do before, but I was "the new Amy" and it was my 'reward' for all the hard work... right?!   As part of the package, I was given the opportunity to do a special activity - and talking to the staff on arrival about my goals and what I'd already achieved and the frustration I was having in my body and head (being so disjointed) - it was suggested that I do a counseling session with one of the therapists at the retreat.  I baulked at the idea - I've never been overly confident with counseling, but I'd had people telling me I 'may' benefit from the help, and felt it may have been the right time to work on the inner workings of my messy head.  Gulp.

I had no idea what to expect, and went in there with an open mind.  The therapist was lovely, and really easy to talk to - and I just chatted and laughed with her, talking about myself and what I'd done, how different I was, how weird it was in this new body, some of the struggles, some of the icky dark past... Odds and sods - but the general consensus was happy and good!  But she broke me... I was doing my usual "just smile, nod and pretend it's all ok" thing - and I guess that's her job, to break through the barriers and really get to the issue.

Some 'regression therapy' and I was in visualisation mode with my old 6 year old self - back to primary school, the first day I was belittled in class. It's always been in my head - always as clear as day - and the emotions and raw nerves that it produced all those years ago came up right then and there, as easy as clicking your fingers.  It hurt, but she had me revisiting this for a reason - the bullying and shame that I've felt my entire life started right there. The self-hatred of my body and always feeling "different" came from these things. She was pointing out that the context of the situation had grown disproportionately over time - that simple little turn of events had grown so distorted in my head that it was impeding who I am today (or more importantly, who I'm trying to be as this 'new me'...)

She had me visualise my current self walking into the classroom to comfort the young Amy, hug her, show her compassion and tell her it'd be ok, not to let the words and feelings upset her anymore, that she was ok just as she was, there was nothing wrong with her. She had me tell her how her life would unfold - what would happen.  She had me tell her who I am today, the kind of person I am now, despite all the obstacles and upsets, and give her hope for the beautiful future she'd be working so hard to achieve.

All these things were so intensely graphic in my head, that all I could do was cry... and cry... and cry.  I could barely mumble words to express what I was saying to "myself" in my head.  She prompted me with descriptions like "you are caring", "compassionate", "giving", "proactive", "happy", "friendly" and "loved".. and the pain in my heart at each new word hurt me more and more, I could barely breathe.  It wasn't that I was trying to convince my young self that this was who I'd grow up to be - I was trying to convince ME - the present me - that this is WHO I ACTUALLY AM. All the beautiful attributes that someone who'd just met me half an hour previously could see, that I was so blind to.  That hurt more than anything - the realisation that I couldn't even appreciate me for being me.

I left there numb, but 'ok' - so much going through my head, and yet somewhat comforted by the fact that I'd "somehow" helped that little girl, given her a piece of my courage that I knew she'd need.  But it wasn't to end there...

I left Gwinganna with a smile on my face - it was an amazing experience overall. The way of life there had really opened my eyes - pushing for healthy mind and body (not just pushing for weightloss and training like a freak of nature the way I'd brutalised myself with the past year, and seeing no results for it!) - was such an eye opener. It fostered a new sense of "self love" and awakened me to how amazing a more nurturing side of good health can be!

But when I returned to Sydney, I was hit by a world of pain. I lost the plot entirely. Pure and utter emotional exhaustion - in fits of tears and not understanding WHY I was as upset as I was. Not being able to verbalise what was running rampant in my head, my heart was aching and I had absolutely no idea what was happening... I really did think I'd lost the plot, that something had snapped inside my (sometimes fragile) brain. I'd never experienced anything like it before. I could barely breathe, I was just so confused. I wasn't hurt from dragging up the past and I was ok with "working on things" for Amy again... so what the hell was happening to me?!! 

I went home a broken woman - a brilliant meltdown at my disposal, and nearly destroying my relationship in the process - I was supposed to be coming home from holidays with a smile on my face!!  Instead, I came home to what felt like an alien home - like I didn't belong. My "safe zone" was shallow and cold, it felt wrong to be here. I didn't belong here, I didn't belong anywhere.  What the hell was wrong with me??!!!

I spent the following fortnight in and out of emotional limbo - I haven't cried that painfully in years (it was so reminiscent of the bad days, I was petrified I'd gone back to that...). I was at the point of pleading with myself to wake up to myself, get on with it and grow the hell up - but the confusion, the hardcore emotional onslaught, the financial issues I came home to, the stress and the anxiety... everything fell to pieces at once, and I was left in a screaming mess. My head finally gave out as much as my body had... It really had been only a matter of time.

.... Fast forward a few months later, and I'm happy to report that things are in a MUCH better place now, and I'm much 'healthier' overall.  Unfortunately, the meltdown left some damage in its wake - an 8 kilo gain, I stopped training and 'gave up', winter cravings hit hard and I ate myself into food comas repeatedly. My joints packed it in over winter - I've never had so much pain in my knees as I've had this year, and I wasn't even training!  I was a broken woman... I distanced myself from here, my Facebook page, my local network and even my closest friends.  I shut down from everyone, I neglected looking after myself, and I lamented being a "failure" and went into a self-pity spiral.

Necessity demanded I get up out of my funk and I found work (being self employed, I had no choice but to seek a new job) - I couldn't even afford cat food, and that was the end of the line for me!  If I couldn't look after my fluffy boy, then that was NOT ok!  A few weeks ago I started my new role with an existing client, and continued part-time work with another - which not only helped me get my structure back, but it forced me out of the house to socialise and deal with people (the easiest thing in the world for me is to shut down, turn off, go mute...) - and put 'scheduling' back into play. It gave me a project to focus on, be proud of and allowed me the flexibility that having an income affords (albeit a small one, but small is better than none!!).  I could breathe again...

Last week I went back to the gym - four months I'd been out of solid training.  A few hits and misses along the way, but four months...  I'm nothing short of disappointed in how de-conditioned I've become. The self-abuse I put myself through - emotional and food based - and how quickly that weight came back on, and how relentless it was on my head - the mental torture is extreme! The hatred for giving up, the remorse, the "see Amy, you ARE a failure!"... oh my god, it was just unforgiving!

Last week I signed up for the 12wbt again - to force structure and goals back onto my agenda.  I'm no longer the girl at 200kgs (she's well and truly gone) - I'm the girl at 100kgs - and irrespective of what's been and gone, the last 18 months have proven to be the hardest by far.  Complacency and exhaustion - they've been my two biggest wakeup calls, that I'd very much neglected areas of my transformation OFF the scales. My breakdown was testament to that - my mental health and the self-talk that I've been berating myself with for months are NOT healthy - and yet that's exactly what I aspire to be, and why I've put in so much work the past 4 1/2 years!   HEALTHY is my ultimate goal - in both mind and body - and yet I'm not living and loving that in the capacity it deserves - that *I* deserve.

I'm finally starting to reign it all back in, and things are starting to make sense.  I don't know if it's a little strange to say... but back in February when I was so hellbent on "Finding Amy" - I simply wasn't ready. I was naive and frugal with my emotions.  It's only now that I'm starting to feel that strength again - feeling and noticing the differences that have come from the past few months - that I can appreciate the transition more.  I simply didn't understand back in February - the life experiences weren't there - the heart break and triumphs weren't there....  You can't value something you haven't achieved yet - but I'm not ready to pat myself on the back quite yet either!!

I know I still have so much work to do to counteract the damage - and I'm slowly... slowly... stepping up and clicking it back into gear.  There's this crazy inner strength I can't even begin to explain, that is pumping in my veins right now - and it doesn't care about what I've done previously or what I've already had to overcome. It's focused on where I am right now - the PRESENT Amy - and the value she has "just as she is, right now."

Maybe, then, I've been going about it all wrong - maybe I didn't need to "Find Amy" at all...  If the last few months of personal growth are anything to go by, there's elements of losing the old and gaining the new that hold intrinsic value.  A feeble "treasure hunt" for something I 'thought' I should have didn't yield results - but the emotional, dirty, gritty, heartfelt up-and-down reality did.

SO with that, I'm not going to summarise up this next chapter with a happy ending (the way I always seem to do, haha)...  I'm still a work in progress, and I'm quite ok with that, for now!  For the first time in a long time I'm excited about the hard work coming up (I say that after a big deep breath), and quite frankly, what will be will be.  Regardless of what happens next, I choose to be proactively happy...  I just need to remember that!

xx  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finding that "Old Amy Mojo"

Well it's Monday, and it's officially the start of Week Four of the 1 Million Kilo Challenge, and Week Two of the 12WBT. Sitting here quite deflated this morning, and I'm a little bit upset about it - the scales and I are at loggerheads. I'm quite a pro at riding the up and downs of weightloss - 4 years of this torture, and the head games that go with letting one ridiculous number dictate your mood - I KNOW better... but today it just feels a little too hard...

Last week was one of my most amazing weeks in this new transition phase of "Finding Amy" - I literally started the week in tears. Valentine's Day. Yeah, need I say more?!   If you read my post from Valentine's Day last year (and quite frankly, I'm not prepared to read it again...), well, it's pretty much the same - just another year later.  THAT is what hurts the most - the void in my life right there hurts every day, but this one day of the year, it's just overly exaggerated, overly intense. It's just everywhere - knew it was coming (no shortage of crap commercialisation everywhere you'd turn!) - so was gearing myself up the few days before it to make sure I could "handle it, without too much issue".

Big FAIL. Woke up, had a text message to say "hope you're ok" - lost it entirely, had my cry, went back to sleep. Woke up, tried again, failed, had another cry, dragged my sorry arse out of bed and had a shower, had another cry...  UGH! Rinse and repeat?!

Anyhoos, needless to say, my day pretty much flat-lined emotionally. I don't care so much about flowers or chocolates - hell, you can buy nice flowers at Aldi for $5 - that's what I did last year!!  No, it's more about losing another year to 'solitude' - I vowed to myself last year that I wouldn't go through this again, that I wouldn't feel this upset or broken. When I woke up and realised I was right back there again, I was just plain hurt that I'd done it to myself... again! It's SO easy for me to shy away from people - it's a trait I've had from childhood - if you hide, you can get hurt, right?!  Wrong...

I was so highly strung by Tuesday afternoon, I sat here about ready to tear my hair out, berating myself for being worthless and causing my own issues; hating my body because THAT must be the reason why I'm so lonely (!!! - don't say a word...); and cranky at my world - again. I sat here at my desk, and watched the clock roll by, closer and closer to my scheduled RPM gym class - I'd even put my shoes and HRM on ready to go, trying to fight the emotions - but the tears were too strong, and I just sat here and cried again, wanted to scream, then let out a loud (sorry neighbours!) "Fu#k you gym!" and flat out refused to go because "it's not helping me anyway"... right?!

Wrong. I instantly stood up, grabbed my keys and towel and walked out the front door to the gym before I had a chance to even slightly think about it again - I was that upset already, there was NO point in the guilt-trip that was already brewing in my head, and the next set of tears that were like a swollen river about to burst through at any second...

Worst RPM performance EVER - but I went. I couldn't look at anyone, I couldn't really talk. I was churning so bad inside, I wanted to vomit. I couldn't breathe, my chest and eyes were stinging. I hated every minute of it - and not because it was exercise (I LOVE LOVE LOVE my RPM classes usually) but because I hated everything in my world, and the 'hate' was winning...  I hate THAT more than anything else, that's the "old Amy"s headspace, and I was shattered that it was so strong.

I walked home post-RPM mellow, but ok. The 'hurt' part was in decline - the day was nearly over - but the anger was starting to rise up instead. Yep, I'd let this one stupid day ruin what should have been another "new day" in my "here and now". By the time I made it home, I'm sure I was growing frown lines the size of canyons, and it was brewing really bad in the pit of my stomach.

A phone call later that night from a concerned friend - lots of tears and a tantrum later - just being able to verbalise why I was hurting so much (which is VERY hard for me to do - I usually talk through my fingers), and not because of the lonely factor, but because of my self-hatred for my body, the hatred I have for what I've done to my life (etc etc - I can't really pinpoint all the reasons) - with someone who understands WHY I feel this way about myself, without questioning, or berating me for being "silly" - was enough to calm me down, and let me breathe again...

I'm a pretty emotional person anyway - clearly - but when you're fighting past demons, fighting for a life you never even wanted, fighting against things you can't necessarily change... it's exhausting! There's no right or wrong answer to weightloss - but it's NEVER been just about losing kilos for me. It's about finding who I'm supposed to be, and making ME believe that I have a reason to still be here. You get to a point where you're so overloaded with emotions and internal conflict - where, in the past, I'd have just let it consume me - I can't let it do that now, but by god, it puts me through hell trying to fight through it.

... but I do. And I know I'm capable of that.  The last few years of breakdowns and breakthroughs have taught me that. As upset and hurt as I am "at the time", there's always reason behind it - and it always drives me to push further and try harder - so that I'll appreciate these beautiful things I'm missing, when they DO come into my life. I can't take them for granted, because I've had to work my arse off to have them in the first place... so I fight for them.

Woke up on Wednesday with an entirely new chapter at my disposal.... like the day of turmoil beforehand had come and gone like a bad storm - but the rain had washed my "space" clean again. I was back on track, eating well and went off to my scheduled Aqua class that night in a really calm, happy place. Did my class, with additional laps thereafter, and left recommitted and focused.

The rest of the week just grew from there - like something had clicked back into place, and I'd found a little spark of the "old Amy mojo" that used to be there!

Thursday I hit the gym for my RPM class (no tears this time!), then, as a total first (as RPM usually smashes me!) hit the treadmill for intervals thereafter - 25mins of fast walk/jogs and I even hit my highest ever 11kms/hr sprints! I was SO excited by that - I wasn't just jogging, I was RUNNING on that crazy treadmill, like a skinny person!!! I bounced home, and wasn't done yet! Walked through my front door, then right out the back door and jumped on the cross trainer for another 10mins, just because I could - and maxed out my calorie burn for the day over 1000!  I was ECSTATIC!!  It's the first time I've had the energy or inclination to hit a huge session like that in over 10 months - not since I burnt myself out with the Commando Challenge have I been able to do it since...  I felt AMAZING!

Woke up Friday morning on a total high - hit the gym by 9am for two brand new classes (I'd issued myself the challenge the night before - do I dare try new classes?!  HELL YEAH!!) - and tried the new Core Challenge class, and a Lite Pace aerobics class thereafter. Feeling SO good over the course of the day, I ended up running out the door in the afternoon for ANOTHER session - two laps of my river (about 5.5kms) - and nearly hit another 1000cals day for the effort!

In between all the training sessions, I was pumping out awesome food from the kitchen too - with the 1MKC really re-inspiring me to hit the cooking; and hitting all my client jobs in the middle - I was well and truly on a roll!  My week had TOTALLY turned itself around - and I was just riding the wave of sheer liberation, and LOTS of emotional relief!

Saturday was no different - I was on an absolute MISSION!  It takes A LOT for me to hit those 1000cals burn sessions these days - but I had the fire in my belly and had conquered a few pretty big demons over the course of the week.

Decided in my "infinite wisdom" that I should issue myself another personal challenge - and hit a "triple threat" sweat session on Saturday with a little gung-ho feisty passion I haven't seen come out in Amy in a really, really long time!!

I hit my Pump class (with my maximum weights on all areas) - followed by my new Body Balance class (that I'd only tried for the first time the week before!) - followed by a lap of Mount Panorama!!

Hitting the Mount, quarter of the way around, the rain drops start hitting me in the face... By the time I'd climbed to the top, it was pouring - but I had the biggest bloody smile on my face as I hit a jog across the top - the raindrops pelting me (mercilessly) in the eyes!!  On the decline, I took up my usual jog (albeit a little slower, given the slippery factor) and jogged the length of the decline, racing the water running down the edges of the track - rain streaming down my face, my shoes were totally drenched, my music player died, I couldn't see through the rain - it was the most AMAZING FEELING and I was absolutely loving it!!!   Funnily enough, I wasn't the only idiot out there at the time (haha) and the guy on the other side of the track who jogged the length of it parallel to me, I raced him down to the finish!  I STILL managed my course in my lowest ever PB time, despite the heavy waterlogged joggers squishing under my feet!!!  It was just plain AWESOME!

Three hours later, over 1000cals burnt - drenched to the absolute core... I felt ALIVE!  THIS has got to be what living is all about, right?!    I was LOVING it - and by god, I want MORE!!!

Sunday rolled around, and I'm off on - yet another - new challenge!  More "new" to add to my repertoire - Dragon Boating!  After such an intense training week, my poor little stiff and sore body "should" have been in Sunday rest mode - but I'd said yes to going out there with a couple of my local 12wbt ladies - and (as per my self-imposed declaration that I should stop hiding away from the world and opportunities - courtesy of the start of the week's "I've lost another year" reflection and tears) - out to Chifley Dam I went!  An hour later, my shoulders were were telling me I'd done alot more work than what my piddly little "220cals burnt" reading said - and this morning, the bones in my butt are VERY much telling me that I'm not the size I used to be (not enough padding for wooden benches, hahaha!!).   As for Dragon Boating - LOVED IT - and very much looking forward to doing more of it!  That's my third time 'paddling' - and that kayak of mine (that was bought about a year ago now, and STILL hasn't seen water yet!!) - needs to stop resting against the wall - it's now on the "near future" agenda to launch that baby!

... As for my mood this morning. Well, I'm a little disappointed in myself.  After such an amazing week - fighting through the hurt and finding myself rejoicing for so much "new" and rejoicing in finding a taste of that "old Amy mojo" - I'm disappointed that I've let the scales overrule that this morning.

I see it ALL the time with others - myself included - where we let one stupid, absolutely meaningless number on a set of scales override all those beautiful feelings and "wins" - just because the numbers "don't comply".  I know all my work will probably show up - later - and clearly all that work I put in last week was more for the benefit of my SOUL rather than the freaking scales... I know this, I've got this!  I'm better than this bullshit...

SO - I'm giving myself the "SUCK IT UP" and "pull your head in" cards today. Back to focusing on really good food (and not overindulging - nor self-sabotaging... both of which crept in last week because of the emotions)  - and I'm issuing myself more challenges again this week, in light of how AMAZING I felt for it last week!

I have Pump and Body Balance again tonight - and already aligning the rest of my week to look similar to what I pulled last week - and I'm stepping out of my comfort zone again by the weekend, with a social night out with my local 12wbt girls (many of which I haven't met before - that's always really really hard for me... I'm still very shy, still very reserved, still very insecure...).

No more pity-party for one over here - it ends the minute I click 'post' on this blog.  I want more of that amazing feeling I had last week - it's infectious - reconnecting with that "Old Amy Mojo" is my number one priority this week.  The scales can get stuffed!!

* * * * *

I found this pic this morning - when I was sitting here trying to fight the negatives... and I couldn't agree more, so wanted to share!  I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY - because it DOES make me feel alive!!  That's what this is all about, after all!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding Amy, Fun Runs & Food!

So it’s been a pretty amazing couple of weeks – with the advent marking of the “Finding Amy” challenge I set myself, and the start of the 1 Million Kilo Challenge, I have to say I’m a little bit chuffed!

The food on the 1MKC has been gorgeous – and rekindled my love of cooking, and all things “kitchen adventure” again. I’ve been posting up the pics of my creations on Facebook, a little bit excited about what I’ve been eating and just how well I’m doing following a structure again!

Funnily enough, not once have I counted calories in the past two weeks – just been following the base menu, and eating my way into taste heaven!!

My first week, I dropped two solid kilos. TWO! Admittedly, I was as shocked as anyone – the portion sizes are huge, the amount of food I was eating was so much more than I normally have… and I was still indulging a little on the side (ummm… peanut butter jar, my arch nemesis!!!).  Two kilos later, and I laughed a little – as really, it’s the same two kilos (within the five) that I’ve been battling up and down with the past 10 months, so I don’t see this (yet) as some miraculous transition!!

Bring on my next physical challenge, however…. ! 

Off to Dee Why for a girl’s weekend (4-5 Feb) – and, more importantly (haha!) the first of MANY of my (self-confessed obsession) fun-runs for the year. The Sun Run – 6.5kms of gorgeous track from Dee Why to Manly, starting at a killer 6.45am!!!   Rocked up the night before with the girls, and really didn’t sleep well that night – storms and humidity, oh, and sharing a sofa bed with my bed-hog sister (hahaha) and being woken up at the crack of dawn by the event setup people downstairs at 3.30am… makes for very little sleep, and a grumpy-bum Amy at 5.30am wakeup!!!

.. but I have the bug, and I LOVE the run – so off we trot out the front of our apartment, and “greet the sun” and toddle off for our first fun run of 2012!

Lynda, Andrea, Amy, Annalee - we love medals!!
I managed to pull my 6.5kms in just under 46mins, and to say I’m a little chuffed is a bit of an understatement! Have had some troubles with my hips and knees lately (in trying to run-train) and yet I pulled bulk of this course in jog-mode!!!  Happy camper here, when I pretty much kept pace with my Super-Twin about a minute ahead of me (a much more seasoned runner!) – I KNOW I’m on the improve!! 

Grumpy bum with a medal (hahaha) – the girls and I head off, after a much-needed shower - for a well-deserved Brunch, with our stunning Dee Why beachfront views right there for the taking!  I’ve never done anything like this, so it was pretty awesome to just sit and enjoy our delicious goodies on what felt like such an indulgent holiday!! 

… but it didn’t end there!  Dropping my sister off to the train station thereafter, the girls and I hit the shops – a spot of retail therapy anyone?!!

Heading into Warringah Mall, it was a little like walking into a different city – HUGE!!!   Now don’t laugh, but I’m a country girl – heading into the “big smoke” for a shopping fest into big centres like Westfield or the CBD are a big deal for me – but this shopping centre was just plain AWESOME!!  You could literally get lost in there, and they’d need to track your credit card purchases just to find where you were last seen before ending up on the Missing Person list…

I DID contain myself, however (easy to do when you’re broke, haha) – but still managed to find myself some gorgeous $70 black boots for $20 and a pair of new workout pants, also $20 down from $70! (girl can shop!!)

Some food, some spending… we were back in the car and feeling rather drained by this point! Heading back to the apartment, we decided to hit the beach for a little R&R – and take advantage of the GORGEOUS summer weather that finally peeked its head out to greet us!!   (the day prior, it was absolutely pouring down, and I was highly disgusted!! Hit the beach in weather like that, and it’s the biggest let down ever, haha!)

Popping on the swimmers, and loading up on sunscreen, we hit the gorgeous Dee Why beach, ready to soak up the rays!  Now, it’s a pretty big moment for a girl like me when
1. You hit the beach (when you don’t have that access normally)
2. You hit the beach in swimmers and boardies and actually take your tshirt off (when that’s NEVER happened before!)
3. You hit the beach in swimmers and boardies and actually GO IN THE WATER for a  swim!!! 

First time EVER for me to actually get into the water – not just walk along the edge as I’ve done in the past (fully clothed, highly anxious about being seen, very much hurting inside that I was too ashamed to actually go in…).  Big moment for Amy!

I wasn’t exactly “all inspiring” and super confident in the water – but I went out far enough to do some paddling and get thrown around, and far enough to make me want more next time!!  I was enviously watching some little kids having surfing lessons, and just how confident they were – next time I hit the beach, I want to try and go out with a boogie board or something! As long as a shark doesn’t eat me, or I end up drowning, what’s the worst that could happen?!!  Hahaha!!

Back at the apartment for my second shower of the day, and getting ready to head out to dinner with the girls… and I get a message from a friend who’d read a Facebook status update about me at the beach, he just happened to be across at Narrabeen! 

Completely out of the blue chance meeting – I FINALLY get to meet one of my online friends that I’ve been in contact with for AGES. Sitting there having a chat with the gorgeous Dee Why beach in the background, watching the world go by (well, kids, dogs, skateboards, semi-naked elderly men in speedos… hmmmm) and I’m feeling rather chuffed, in general!  He totally made my day when we had to have a photo together, just so he could show his mum that he “met Amy” (that girl from the magazines, hahahaha!!!)… and off I toddle to meet up with the girls for dinner thereafter.

Gorgeous barramundi dinner with the sun setting on the beach beside me… and I’m feeling preeeeeetty fine right about now! Pretty exhausted too, mind you… !!

One more stop on our way back to the apartment – an ice cream cone (naturally!!) and a walk by the beach… then ‘home’.  Not much after that, we were all that tired by then, we were out like lights by the ripe old hour of ohhh about 10pm?!!  Hahaha!!

Day Two of our Dee Why Adventure – and I’m up bright and early, well, early.. not so bright…. !!!   Lynda’s already out the door for a walk, but me taking a little longer to adjust to it being morning (as usual – I don’t DO mornings ordinarily, and this was the second one in a row, ouch!!!) – and I stick the headphones in, leave the joggers on the floor and walk out the door.

I have a beach to walk!!!   Another first, I’ve never gone for an early morning beach walk quite like this. The sun rising over the water was just stunning – and watching the surfers hit the waves on their early morning paddles, and walking along the clean sand… it sounds a little cliché to say it, but it truly was cleansing. I was tuned in to a Sydney radio station (no idea what I’d found, just something random) and next thing I’m listening to – of all things – the Beach Boys!! 

An enormous smile just spread over my face – I just wanted to raise my hands up in the air and scream – that whole feeling of happiness was just SO empowering and SO liberating!  Funnily enough, moments like that usually make me want to cry, but nope, I was in heaven baby!!!  I walked all along the shoreline until I found the catchment area – then turned around and walked all the way back, to the Dee Why beach pool and was greeted by the stunning rock formation on the other side!

Heading back towards the apartment, and I ran into Lynda, and we head back to pack up and (very reluctantly!) leave our magic little spot…. But not before another Brunch together!!


Heading back to Bathurst after such an awesome weekend, was feeling pretty content with my little part in the world… but reality can be a tad brutal sometimes, and whilst I’d been riding very high on my ‘holiday high’ – the next couple days I came crashing back down…  It’s hard coming back home after such a beautiful getaway – albeit just two days – but between the sunshine, the beach, the company and my little run achievement, was finding it hard to come back to normal and be ‘ok’ with things again… 

It would have been SO easy to just pack up and run away right then and there, but it’s not time for that yet…  It put thoughts into my head though, and made me realise how much I AM missing out on, how much I really do need to push further afield, and how much more confident in doing that I truly am. Every little step like this is growing my life – and the more it grows, the more I want!!

I had a couple of minor meltdowns after this – just a few frustrated tears – but nothing I couldn’t really handle. Just little insights into what Amy truly likes and what Amy really enjoys… and didn’t even realise how much it correlated to this  whole “Finding Amy” thing – the timing was purely coincidental.  You just “forget” sometimes, how much things have changed – or you get swept up in so much every-day life that you sometimes forget to dream a little too! Sitting on a beach – totally foreign to my little world – and I could have sat there for WEEKS and been completely content to stay there! Coming home to an empty house (albeit with a happy cat!) and back to trying to salvage my business, and it just had me wondering how much of this is really ME, and whether this is the reality I truly want for myself…  I think I deserve more!

SO, with that little insight, it was onto week two of the 1MKC – and back to the structure that would help me get that ‘more’ in the future. I don’t expect change without hard work – nothing has ever fallen into my lap – and if I want the ‘dreams’ and that beautiful awesome feeling in the future, then I have to be prepared to work for it…

Week Two on the program, and I’m just in LOVE with the food!  Dishing up awesome things like the Sticky Chicken, and just enjoying my work at the gym. I’ve slightly changed up my classes in light of the beating my hips and knees have taken with my running training, and adding in things like low-impact Aqua classes (with additional laps to make up the shortfall – god, I’m stubborn!)… and I even went so far as to try a brand new class – Body Balance!

ANOTHER monster win for Amy!!!  Body Balance was one of the classes I’ve been avoiding because I simply thought it would hurt me more than help. As much as I knew the stretching and movement would be beneficial – the last time I tried to do yoga or pilates, it hurt me so bad, I was nearly in tears. Laying on my back, I could barely breathe with the pressure on my lungs…  the pressure on my spine would nearly cripple me… I couldn’t hold poses because my muscles weren’t strong enough… kneeling was impossible (and I mean that in every sense – I literally couldn’t bend my knees properly, least of all rest on them – if anything it was one at a time, and for a few seconds at most and I’d be nearly in tears…). I’d tried pilates DVDs at home, and end up sitting on the floor crying because it hurt my body so bad that I just gave them away “until later” when the “fat girl rolling around the floor hurting herself” wasn’t an issue anymore…  hence (at least) four years later, and I haven’t even touched, the fear of the pain was too intense.

Enter my first ever Body Balance class here – and to say I was a little nervous… again with the understatements!!  Friday rolled around, and I’d already aligned myself up for my Pump class – that was no biggie, I ADORE Pump! For whatever reason, I got all-inspired and super-determined to try BB afterwards… and for the rest of the day, I sat here with knots in my stomach, fending off wanting to vomit with the anxiety that comes from stepping outside your comfort zone, and NOT wanting to humiliate yourself!!!

Off to Pump I went – upped my chest weights and cranked out a fantastic session! … then took off my shoes and stayed for the BB class. 

 … but who looks like a silly duffer NOW Amy?!!  I absolutely NAILED that class – LOVED it to bits!!! The movements weren’t natural for me (yet, that comes with practice!), but my flexibility was fantastic – my holds were strong – my knees held out – I found muscles in my body I didn’t quite know existed (haha – that’s pretty exciting too!!!) and I just felt SO BLOODY GOOD afterwards!!  Achievement AND double-whammy workout – life was good!!!

And it was only going to get better… 

* * * * *

It was only on Wednesday that the Biggest Loser show I'd been privy to watch being filmed a few weeks ago, finally aired on TV – when the contestants came out to tell the audience about their weightloss stories, etc.  Sitting there re-watching it, and reliving those emotions that had been so raw when we’d been there, it was just a little reminder of why I’m doing this again… another little piece of the puzzle falling back into place.  And right when I thought that was another little ‘win’ moment for me - I had another dose of fame hit, albeit not so pretty!!!  (haha)...

Just what the girls and I had been avoiding while those cameras had been rolling – the tears streaming down my face, the puffy eyes – by the end of the show, I was a MESS – and Michelle was the last contestant to come out to tell her story, and sing us a little song…  She dedicated it to “all those people out there with a weight problem – because unless you have that issue, you have no idea how hard it is…”  …. Well, THAT was what had me bawling my eyes out (I couldn’t have agreed more) and THAT is the prolonged closeup audience shot they aired nationally right after she said it – with yours truly bawling her eyes out for the whole country to see!!! 

When I sat here watching it on TV, my jaw dropped when I realised it was me… then I had a fleeting gut-wrenching-heartbreaking moment seeing myself so emotional like that…  then ended up in a fit of laughter when I realised EVERYONE watching that show was watching me bawl my soggy eyes out!!! We've since dubbed that the "Snot Shot"...

.. and yep, didn’t take long!!  Posts on my Facebook wall, text messages… hysterics ensued!!  I even had one of my lady’s in my RPM class the following night introduce herself to me because she’d seen me on TV the night before… with “that shot”… hahaha!!

* * * * *

Saturday 7 February – and I was off on a roadtrip with a couple of my Bathurst 12wbt girls to see the “Biggest Loser Reveal” – the makeover show!  A huge day ahead, we left Bathurst and head to the city for the 4.30pm audience registrations.  An hour later, and we FINALLY got moved out of what I'm calling “the holding pen” (like a herd of sheep we were…!!!) and marched down to a studio door. We were ushered inside and prompted to go and look at the contestant’s photos against the walls – these were their “before shots” and we were all there standing around looking at the photos and footage that was playing… whilst being filmed doing so!

… Then I ended up with a camera in my face!!  How often does this happen?!!   I’m like a magnet, I tell ya!!!

I was asked some questions – things like who I was following on the show (which as much as I’m there to support them all, I’m a Graham girl – he’s our local boy, and as I’d met him when he came back to Carcoar briefly a few weeks ago with Commando Steve – I have a vested interest in how he’s going!  I just KNOW what he’s dealing with…)…   Can’t even remember what else I was asked – I get so nervous and tongue-tied – and had people recognising me, which just made me blush every time and want to hide under the seats, haha!!!

So yes, it was bound to happen that floating through the Biggest Loser audience on the Saturday, I’d be spotted…  I also spotted a fair few of the other ‘regulars’ that frequent these events, so it’s becoming quite funny to keep running into them like this!

… and offcourse, no BL event would be complete without seeing Mister Muscles!! As the Trainers were introduced and strutted down the catwalk, I waved and he turned and spotted me, shot me a smile and that was it – my night was complete!!  Hahaha! 

Six hours later, and some very amazing transformations – and tugging a little on my emotions – with another 3.5hour drive home ahead of us… and I was pretty exhausted by it all. A little highly strung on the emotions – this whole business of focusing on them being single and how the weight would somehow miraculously make them desirable, is having a really hurtful impact on me…

I left the taping feeling quite downtrodden – a couple of the contestants are ALREADY finding romance, and here I am still struggling to figure out where I fit in the world, four years later.  Made me feel a little like a failure, if I’m quite honest…

… but a phone call from someone who understands why I’m hurting like this (as he’s lost about 120kgs himself – I kid you not!) and I was feeling a little less disjointed about what had just happened, and why I was so upset about it…  I think I was more tired than anything, but given how crazy excited I’d been all day and for bulk of that taping, it really only hit in the last couple, when it ground down to a couple of raw nerves, and I lost it…

I guess in all this “Finding Amy” business, there’d be no miraculous immediate transformations or transitions – I’m finding me bit by bit – and it’s not always easy!   Every day I’m working on this new challenge, I mark it off on my calendar – it’s a “victory” to me, and so far I’ve stuck to it for my two weeks…

I’m taking my control back, I’m loving eating again, my exercise is fantastic, I'm down three kilos, I have new goals on the horizon and little adventures like this along the way are making me aware that I may actually be LIVING a bit of a life?! 

I think there’s a lot of people out there who look at what I’ve done and think I must just be “brimming full of self pride” and that things have all just fallen into place with my weightloss… but I’ve worked my butt off for 3.5 years in solitude, 10 months with publicity – and the latter has shaken me something severe. 

I guess, in my head, it’s kind of like a snow globe – everything was stagnant, and had its place… it was cold and silent, and just sat on the shelf, people looked in and saw what they saw and didn’t really see anything else…It looked 'ok' from the outside...

Then it all got turned upside down – and everything became fuzzy, erratic, disjointed, and all the pieces floating around were just randomly falling…  I’m still trying to catch all my pieces and figure out where to put them, and they won’t ever go back to where they were to start with (which is ok!) but it means I have to adjust to the new scenery – and I’m still catching my pieces as they fall…

I won’t say I’m disliking the changes or what it’s doing for me – because I’m far stronger, flexible and confident than I’ve EVER been in my life… but two weeks in, and I know I still have a way to go yet… but it’s happening… and I have to admit, I’m really relieved.  I know she’s still in there, and she’s still willing to fight…