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  :)