Whatever does not destroy me…

… makes me stronger.

084I’ve been struggling with injuries again in the last couple of weeks. Missed workouts, no running, pain, physio, massage, dry needles, pain killers, more massage. All the fun of the fair.

And then there’s the head. I know I’ve written before that I can be black and white in my thinking – and injuries really bring that out. I get disheartened, feel out of control – my eating plan takes a hit, and I’m left wondering if I can keep this up, whether it’s even worth it. Straight away I’m thinking about how I never hurt myself when I didn’t work out. And maybe this life isn’t really for me – that maybe I won’t be able to sustain it. And that I’ll fall off the wagon, and go back to the girl – the fat girl – I was before.

My trainer, as usual, has been fab. Encouraging me to keep moving, doing the things I can do, and working on fixing things so I can get back to working on the longer term goals. To understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. To get back on track. He’s had an injury recently too – we’ve been able to compare notes on the relative benefits of treatments, and the frustration of not being able to train properly.

But it was one of my CrossFit coaches who really helped me out this week. His words of wisdom were something along the lines of that, unfortunately injuries are part of training… it’s the price you pay for not sitting on your arse and being unhealthy.

It would be better without the injuries. Before I started to train, I didn’t get injuries. But he’s right. Because I also didn’t get the exercise highs, or the satisfaction of setting goals and achieving them. Of being fit and strong. And healthy. Of being able to do things that most people can’t. And hell, I’ll say it, I certainly didn’t look this good!

So… I’ve worked out that I need to take time to get better. To get back into it gently – not to rush and ruin all the healing. To take some time to reassess the goals, and figure out an alternate route to get to the same place.

And to keep trying to shift this all or nothing thinking. Not to be quite so hard on myself. Forgive myself for the slip-ups, and remember that it’s the long game that’s important. That this is the new normal. The challenge is, of course, to remember this next time it happens – and not be beating myself up for two weeks before I figure it out again. *Note to self.*

I’m also on twitter.

Also – shock – I’m not the first person to deal with this… there’s some good advice in here.

I want to inspire people…

I want someone to look at me and say, “because of you I didn’t give up.”

When I made it to the 50kg goal a while ago, the owner of my gym asked me to write a testimonial for his website. I wasn’t keen – I still hold on to a lot of shame about even having to undertake this journey – but he said he thought people would be inspired by my story. He also said I could be anonymous… guess I’ve blown that now.

I’d never thought about being inspirational. This was something I had finally felt motivated to do, and it was for a very personal set of reasons – I hated myself and my body, and I knew I was going to make myself sick if I didn’t do something to change. I remember saying to him at the time I hadn’t done it for anyone else, I’d just done it for me.

It took me a long time to even feel proud of what I was achieving. I was dogged and determined in my approach, but it felt like it was punishment for years of “bad” living. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to talk to people about what I’ve done, and acknowledge and feel proud of what I’ve managed to achieve.

So it was pretty special today when my little brother told me he was proud of me.

We spent the day driving up the coast to go to a funeral. Not the most pleasant of excursions, but it gave us hours in the car together. We talked about his kids, our work, the rest of our family – all the regular stuff. And then on the way home we worked our way around to diet and exercise.  He’s put on some weight lately, and he is finding it really hard to do much about it between long hours at work and a busy family life. He started asking about what I was eating, how I was exercising – how I’d “done it” – and how he might be able to change things around to fit into his life.

And I felt inspirational, right there.

When I was at the gym tonight, my mind kept wandering off thinking about who I’d found inspirational when I started. There were lots of people who were supportive – my trainers, friends, colleagues who all went out of their way to encourage me, especially at the beginning when it was really hard – and thank you to you all. But actual inspiration? Really that was just one person – my friend Marie. She’d lost a lot of weight, and more impressively, has kept it off.

Marie and I had worked together years ago, and when I came back to Sydney, she encouraged me to join her gym. And it was her success that inspired me to face my fear and call Jace, go and meet him, and go to my first session. She has supported me ever since, but part of getting through the door that first time was the inspiration that I took from her story – the belief that she gave me that this might be possible.  What I saw in Marie’s story was someone like me, who had done the thing I so wanted to be able to do.

Google tells me that inspiration is defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative. Marie’s success made me believe I could do something, that I could make a change, that this time it could work.

Because you can know all the statistics and the facts, you can know you should do something, you can even know how and where to do it, but sometimes what you really need is to know is that someone else has been there before you – someone real, someone like you – and that it’s possible.

So, I’ve decided to breathe deeply, and get more comfortable telling my story, because maybe it will be the thing that makes someone else feel that it’s possible for them too. And wouldn’t that be a cool “new normal”.

I’m also on twitter.

At some point in your life, you’ll have to trust yourself.

I suggest you start today.

I’ve said before I can be a bit black and white in my thinking. In my natural state, I’m in or I’m out, I’m on or I’m off. I’m going hard, or I’m going home. I’m eating well, or I’m bingeing on junk. I’m running a marathon or I’m sitting on the couch.

So this week was always going to be tough for me. I have been waiting for months to have a little medical procedure done – nothing major, but it involved cutting and stitching. And I knew they would tell me I couldn’t exercise while it healed. And I have been trying to prepare for that.

Well, when I say trying to prepare for that, I was looking for the caveats. I was hoping they might forget to tell me I needed to rest. Or that I might feel so great post-procedure, I’d be able to run straight back to the gym for a quick afternoon session.

Because I don’t trust myself to take a week or two off, and be able to get back into it. I don’t trust myself not to plonk myself on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of chips, a pizza and a tub of icecream and return to normal. Not the new normal… the old normal, the one I’ve just spent fourteen months working off.

I am trying to learn to trust myself more. To understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. That a week or two off doesn’t mean it’s all over, and it’s a bust. But I have to admit that I am struggling.

I have hated my body for a lot of years. I hated the way it looked. I hated that it let me down. I hated that I couldn’t control it. In the last fourteen months, I have learnt to control it. Mostly. I have learnt about calories in, calories out. I have learnt that I control what I eat, and I control what I burn.

But I am feeling very out of control today. In an effort to maintain control I walked for a couple of hours (walking is the caveat, by the way – I can walk because I can walk without sweating). I have been extremely careful of what I have put in my mouth. I know I am winning the calories in, calories out battle today. But I am feeling really anxious, and really out of control. Really uncomfortable. And I don’t like it.

On Monday I was congratulating myself for being able to have a night off over the weekend, and get back into routine, and understand that having a night off was OK. Today I am terrified that a week or two might be too big a test for the new normal, and that I’m not ready. That I might fail. And go back to the old me. The one I wasn’t proud of, and that I didn’t like.

I guess for now all I can do is what I have taught myself all along… to keep taking it one day at a time – one meal, one decision at a time. To trust myself, until it starts to feel better.

But if anyone has some handy tips or caveats… please, feel free to share. I’d be glad to hear them!

I’m also on twitter.

Don’t let the weekends ruin your progress…

… fight hard towards self control.

It can’t just be me. Weekends make it harder to stay on track. Something about the lack of routine… and so many opportunities for brunches, lunches, dinners, parties, each with their own traps and pitfalls.

I try and keep some routine in my weekends, because I know I do better that way. Saturday I head out to an 8am Pilates class, I stay on for the TRX class – so by 10am, I’ve burnt a few calories. Then brunch, catch up with friends… sometimes a massage or a trip to the hairdresser. The rest of Saturday is usually taken up with weekend chores – shopping, cleaning, washing – all the regular stuff.

Sunday is harder – I try and get in an early run, but I’m more likely to stick to it if I’ve organised someone else to go with.  Catch up with some friends, recreational shopping. Sunday afternoon I try to reserve for food prep and planning for the week ahead. Sunday night I sometimes have friends over for an early dinner before we plunge back into another week.

But even with a bit of a routine, there are little traps. Like brunch. I love coffee. Really, really love it. One brunch date with good conversation could easily cost me 500 calories in coffee if I’m not careful. I have to be constantly vigilant. Moderation in all things. Including milky lattes. Even when it’s skim!

But then there are nights like Saturday. A friend’s birthday drinks. I don’t drink alcohol all that much any more, so I volunteered to be the driver. The fact we had to get a cab home probably tells you some of what you need to know here.

We walk in. “Would you like a lemon martini?” Martinis are a particular weakness of mine. Start the night off with a kick, I think, why not? Then there was the first top up. Still time to stop, I think, we’re using small glasses. You can finish up here and still drive home, I think. At the second top up logic and experience told me I was in trouble. Then we shifted to the French champagne, and I knew I’d lost the battle for the evening. Enjoy yourself and grab a cab, I think. Shortly after, I pretty much just stopped thinking for the rest of the night…

And that’s ok – it doesn’t happen often, and it was a great party.

Not so long ago, a night like that would have thrown me right off track. I tend towards “all or nothing” in my thinking, so a big night would have meant I’d fallen off the wagon, and I would definitely have written Sunday off too, maybe longer. But Sunday I got up (late and seedy, I admit), and gave myself permission to skip the run. But I had an egg white omlette with micro greens salad (and a couple of small skim lattes) for brunch, went for a walk into the city with a friend, and spent the early afternoon trying on a few frocks (and buying a couple), then I cooked a healthy dinner and had an early night. And this morning, I got up in the dark and went and trained.  Right back into it. The new normal.

I guess what I’ve learned over time is it’s OK to have a night off, it’s OK to have a few drinks every now and then, it’s even OK to skip the Sunday run occasionally. This is about the long game. It’s about getting most of the meals right, and getting most of the workouts done. It’s about having enough of a routine to cover me most weekends, so they don’t ruin my progress. And even though it still makes me nervous, and more than a little anxious, I can breathe deep and know that the work I’ve put in last week before the party, and the work I will put in this week after it, covers me.

And the biggest thing to remember is it’s not how I do every weekend anymore. Because doing it that way all the time can stall my progress – and I work too hard the rest of the week to do that.

I’m also on twitter.

Losing weight over the phone

We hear it in the news all the time.  In western countries, obesity rates are rising. Dramatically.

In my own country – Australia – over 14 million people are overweight or obese (Monash University Figures). That’s from a population of 23 million.  And there’s lots of reasons for it – cheap, fast and plentiful energy-dense food. More screen time. Busy lifestyles. Less need to move.

Those Monash figures go on to say that if weight gains continue at the current rate, by 2025 close to 80% of Australian adults will be overweight or obese, and that it has become the single biggest threat to public health in Australia.

I’m a pretty lucky person. When I finally decided to get serious about losing weight and getting fit and healthy, I had the resources available to get the help I needed. I joined a good gym, I got a good trainer, I had a group of supportive friends around me. I also knew how to cook, and I’m educated enough to at least know the basics of good nutrition.

But not everyone is so lucky. Like most health indicators, obesity is linked to disadvantage. That means there are a lot of overweight people out there who can’t afford the kind of interventions that I paid for.

Now – I know I had the knowledge to do it on my own. But it was a long haul. I’m a pretty determined person, but I know that at some point on a bad week I would have gotten a bit disillusioned, decided it was all to hard, and consoled myself with a bag of chips, a pizza and a tub of icecream. So would have ended another diet and fitness regime. It had happened before.

Knowledge by itself just isn’t enough. There needs to be a supportive element. But how do you produce that in a way that is accessible to the numbers of people we’re talking about?  How does a health system – which even after massive injections into preventive health over the last five years, still only spends around three percent of the budget on prevention – afford interventions that support so many people to lose weight? Especially when the external environment is working so hard against it.

I read an article this week that gives me some hope. This group telephone intervention would be relatively inexpensive to run, and the results show it was even more effective than individual telephone support, because of the encouraging environment created amongst participants over time.

Now that’s not the whole answer by a long shot, but it is encouraging to see some work being done on interventions that are cost-effective and easily replicable.  Because if we don’t start doing something, as a community we are not going to be able to afford the health bill.

I’m also on twitter.

(I would also like to acknowledge Heather Frey and Lori Shemek for their twitter support, freely given. A couple of timely messages of encouragement, which may not have seemed like much, but were truly appreciated.)


… just take the first step.

So, here I am. The first step on this new journey. My first blog post.

I’m on a quest for my “new normal”.  Just over a year ago I moved back to Sydney, bought a new flat, started a new job and decided I was going to try one last time to “lose weight and get healthy”.

For some background – I’ve been the fat girl for all my adult life – increasingly so as I got older and less active, and life got more complex and busy. And I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like myself, I hated the way I looked, and I was pretty sure I was eating my way to an early grave.  I had tried all the diets, paid out a lot of cash to different weight loss companies and gyms. None of it had worked, and I honestly didn’t have much faith that anything ever would.

But I decided to give it one more go. I decided to be honest, and ask for help when I needed it.  I joined a new gym , I got a new trainer, I got a food diary and I got started.

My first day in the gym was Wednesday the 9th May 2012.  Today I am more than 65kg lighter, and the fittest and healthiest I have ever been.  I run, I play tennis, I ride my bike, do CrossFit, TRX, Pilates and yoga, and I lift heavy things. A lot.

Like all the best things in life, it hasn’t been easy.  There have been tears and tantrums, good and bad weeks, great triumphs and disappointments. I have learnt an enormous amount – about food and exercise, but most importantly about myself – and I have truly changed my life. I have done things, and continue to do things, that amaze me and which I never thought possible.

So now I’m just under 5kg from the goal (turns out everything they say about the last five kilos is true – but more on that later!), and I’m trying to figure out what happens from here. What is the “new normal”? How does this all fit into my life from now on? How do I transition into less structured eating? Can I have chocolate in the house? Is there a place for spaghetti in my life? Do I keep working out like a woman possessed? Can I count shoe shopping as exercise?  Will going shopping and fitting into the pretty frocks ever get old?

But maybe most importantly, will I ever stop being the fat girl in my head?

In the beginning I was too embarrassed to do anything as public as blog about my journey. Since then I’ve gained a bit of confidence, and frankly, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved so far, so I’m gonna give sharing a go. I hope you get something from it, and maybe I’ll learn something from you too. Let me know what you think.

I’m also on twitter – @SportyMaenad01