A pat on my back


If you had told me 2 years ago that I’d be doing unmodified push-ups and lifting weights twice a week and joining a volleyball team, I would have laughed. I would have told you that I couldn’t do that, that weights are frightening or that I don’t do team sports (I probably still shouldn’t be ssssh).

But I made a decision in September 2007. Two decisions actually – one small and one huge. The first decision was that I was going try to stop caring about what other people thought and listen to myself first. That was actually the small decision. The huge decision was that I was going to move overseas in 12 months. That was huge, admit it. But my small decision was hardly that small either. I realized that I was (still am in some ways) totally hung up on appearances and possible judgements and perceptions that I shied away from doing things in case I screwed up. In case I didn’t do well because 15 years ago I screwed up when I tried that and I’m never doing it again.

Case in point: I got my learner’s permit at 16. I went for a driving lesson with a complete idiot as my driving instructor. She had me going at a snail’s pace in 2nd gear for the entire time and leant out the window yelling “get out the way! Learner driver!” No I’m not joking. I didn’t get back into a car for a year.

Case in point 2: I tried out for my school’s netball team in grade school (yes, I am going back that far!) – my school was huge and had 5 teams per grade, A through E. I tried out and some stupid mother told me that I wasn’t even good enough for the bottom team. I was worse than the girls who were cross-eyed. I never tried out for another team sport again.

I could come up with a million different examples but you get the point. I struggle with not embarrassing myself; with expectations and with perceived judgements. Because they are really perceived now. Nobody tells me that I “can’t” anymore – I do that myself. But I made the decision to stop doing that.

So I lift weights and strive for the heaviest I can lift and still be able to get 3-4 sets of 12 out. I push myself when I realize that I got to 12 easily. I am working on banishing negative self talk when I’m playing volleyball (that’s a challenge and I’m aware of it). But the fact that I signed up for volleyball is a huge step in itself: I opened myself up to potentially screwing up and embarrassing myself in front of people I work with. Huge step.

So I’m proud of myself, even though I STILL can’t serve and get the ball over the net. I’m proud of myself for being a work in progress and becoming someone who tries things instead of wussing out. I’m proud of myself for becoming someone that people ask advice from. That’s kinda huge. I need to remind myself how proud I am when I start letting things get me down and wishing I could hide.

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Moving on to bigger and better things


My new goal (as I mentioned yesterday) is to move from weight loss to maintenance and building more lean muscle. To help me get there, I’m upping my protein and lifting heavier (thanks Mizfit!) and after just one training session, I’m feeling awesome about it.

A couple of NSVs that I have to share:

I was doing single dumbbell rows and after one set with the 12lbs, I moved up to 15lbs. That’s huge for me, considering that 6 months ago I would have probably fallen over with a 15lb weight in my hand, much less be able to do 12 reps and 4 sets of it. I’m pretty stoked about that.

We ended the session with a plank. Usually, I get to a minute but I’m struggling by the last 10 seconds. Today, I got to a minute. I got to a 1:15. I got to 1:30 and then I collapsed. Considering that when I started this journey 9 months ago, I couldn’t even do 10 seconds in plank position, I’m REALLY stoked about this. Next time: 2 minutes (but don’t tell my trainer)!

Now if my hip would stop hurting, I’ll be a happy camper entirely. I have one leg *slightly* shorter than the other (about 1/2 inch or so) so the right hip aches occassionally. I know that network chiropractic helps it but the money aspect is huge at the moment, so I have forgone it since I’ve been in Canada. I was hoping to get back to Melbourne at the end of September and book in for a few sessions but alas, my visa is not sorted yet so my trip is postponed until at least December. I think I need to get myself a few sessions here otherwise lunges will be permanently on the no-go list and while I’m not a fan of them, they do burn mucho calories and work those muscles.

One thing I’m definitely proud of is the fact that I’m not afraid to tell my trainer when I need more weights. I never used to trust my strength and ability before. I’m more confident now that I CAN do it. Sometimes I do overestimate and again, I’m not afraid or shy to say Whoa! That’s way too heavy and know that I’m not chickening out. I no longer think as a weak chick. I am strong.

I am a STRONG woman. Hear me roar.

Oh, and my new protein shake? Rocks as a shake, not as perfect on the oats – I need to rejig the oatmeal recipe (less protein or more oats and water) but as a shake I’m loving it.

Some perspective


Note: I am having a good body week so this post will be filled with unicorns and kittens.

I looked at some photos online the other day (reacquainting myself with my facebook page which I have neglected for this lovely blog) and I realised how amazing perspective is. I was a hair model in April, which had me wearing an elaborate hair style, pretty dress and shoes and parading down a catwalk while hair dressers oohed and aahed. I had some friends take a whole lot of photos of the weekend and I felt good. Good not great, because I was constantly looking at the other real models and comparing myself. I am not a model. I’m a normal chick with a normal body. But the whole time I was there, I was paranoid that someone would suddenly look up and realise that I was too big/not pretty enough to be there and throw me out. In short (because yes, I am short), they would realise I was an IMPOSTER!

So when I originally looked at the photos, all I saw was the fat. The fat on my arms, the fat on my legs, the way I was so much shorter than everyone else. I saw all my flaws and could not really appreciate the beauty of the day.

This weekend, looking at the photos, ALL I saw was how gorgeous I looked. I couldn’t believe that I looked so good. Now I’m not trying to sound like an egotistical biatche here, but I seriously looked good. The dress they had me in was a hot pink halter dress that emphasised my waist. The hair was HUGE but awesome in a fun way and all I could remember was how fun it was.

What’s changed in 3 months? I began to love my body, to appreciate my body and to realise that, while I am short and will always be short, while I have chunky calves and can’t change that, my body is GREAT. It’s healthy and it’s strong. The only part of my body I don’t like? My lungs. They’re scarred and damaged and they don’t allow me to live without worry. But the exterior? It rocks.

When you think about it, nobody else notices the flaws if you don’t point them out. If you make them an issue, they’re huge. Those chunky calves I hate? Only I notice them. My flabby arms? Aren’t REALLY so flabby and anyway, nobody else even sees them. Only me. And now I don’t even see them.

I’m not advocating blind ignorance but it’s amazing what an attitude adjustment can do for your perspective. Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment got me thinking on this (seriously, if you don’t have her bookmarked, you’re missing out). How do we create body confidence? And I do think it’s about body confidence. I’m not saying I love everything about my body, but I love my body in general. I’m all about improving bits and pieces (stronger arms please) but when I walk around, I feel good in my skin.

I have no tips or tricks here though. It’s taken me a while and it’s an ongoing process. There are times when I have mucho hate for the bod. But it really generally figures on the internal stuff – the lungs which make it hard to breathe, the lack of energy, the constant coughing. The external stuff doesn’t let me down and I love it for it.

When is enough enough?


I have a small addiction to confess.

I am a magazine whore.

I buy countless magazines every month and devour the contents. My addiction over the past year has been for fitness mags – Self, Shape, Oxygen among others. The problem though, is that each magazine has a different audience and I find myself buffeted by contradicting advice, trying to live according to each’s rules, as it may be.

Every month there’s a new diet plan, new must do exercises, new goals to strive for. Low carb, low fat, high intensity, low intensity, fat burning, muscle building. It gets really tough to figure out what the ideal is anymore.

But the biggest thing I notice is how some of these magazines (okay, most if not all) are about low self-esteem. Actually, they’re about how you’re never good enough. If you’re still following last month’s diet, you’re behind the times. You should always be looking for the next fix, the next body part to improve, the next makeover. Why?

Because what you are is never enough.

Has anyone ever read the forums on self.com? They’re full of girls with some serious ED issues. “I’m 5″4 and 120lbs. I need to lose 20lbs fast.” “Why are my inner thighs so big?” “How can I stop my legs from jiggling?” “I exercise 5 times a week and I haven’t lost any weight yet, what’s wrong with me?” I know that the forums aren’t moderated by self, but it’s a big reflection on the magazine I think. It promotes constant dissatisfaction with your body and, in essence, with yourself.

Now you may say that I’m putting too much emphasis on the role of media and what about personal responsibility. Fair enough. So here’s my personal take.

I have never been an obsessive person. I’ve approached this weightloss and fitness journey rationally. I set a goal and I’m achieving it. It’s not a 4 week miracle approach by any means. It’s taken me 10 months to lose 15lbs really and change my body. Not something these magazines claim as a success story on their covers.

But over the past week or so, I’ve found myself striving for more. I set a goal. I achieved it. I set another one, 5lbs lighter. I’ve achieved that. I started asking myself this week “how about 5lbs more?” and then I stopped. I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking I always need to be striving for a lower dress size or smaller waist. But every magazine I pick up (except Oxygen, I love that magazine) is about losing weight and dropping a dress size FAST. Where are the stories about maintaining a healthy weight? Where are the stories in these influential magazines about forgetting the number on the scale and focussing on health? They’re there, it’s true, but they’re few and far between and they’re not on the covers.

My attitude this week has scared me a little. I found myself falling into the never-good-enough trap; the good food bad food trap; the you’ll-be-happier-if-you-lose-5lbs trap.

So no more Self magazine. No more Shape. No more Glamour. I need to stand up and say enough is enough. I’m not striving for a makeover anymore. I’m made over. I’m me and I’m not changing.

An epiphany


I had one on Friday. An epiphany.

I realised that I love my body. I really, really do. I love my body not in a I’m-trying-to-convince-myself type of love but a I-really-really-love-my-body type of love.

How did this come about you ask?

When I signed up for more training sessions with J, the Devil in Disguise, I negotiated 2 free nutrition sessions with the gym’s health centre. So I sat down with Mr Nutritionist to discuss my eating and my goals.

Mr Nutritionist: How much weight do you want to lose?

Me: Ummm … maybe 5 pounds but that’s not really important

Mr Nutritionist: Okay, so what dress size are you aiming for?

Me: Actually, I’m pretty happy where I am at the moment. I’m more focused on being healthy and aware of what I’m putting into my body. I’d like my body fat % to go down but otherwise, I’m happy with where I am.

Yes, that’s right. I’m happy with where I am. Impressive. Me, the weak, body conscious girl is happy with where she is. There’s always room for improvement, but my improvement is not focused on a lower number or a smaller size, it’s focused on being healthy.

Wow.

I said it so casually that it didn’t actually sink in until yesterday. Yes, he gave me a program and I’m following it as best I can just because I know that I wasn’t getting enough protein and fibre, but it’s not a weight loss thing (aka ‘diet’) and it’s not because I’m ashamed of myself. I have a strong body and I want to fuel it as best I can.

This is a huge thing for me. My mother, bless her soul, is from the generation where you’re on a constant diet. Every weekend she talks about how ‘bad’ she’s been and how she has to get back on track on Monday. She’s always trying to lose those last 10 lbs and denying herself. There’s always a body part to conceal and be ashamed of. This is the household I grew up in – a mother who hated exercising so controlled her body through food. She tried the meal replacements, the soup diet, the cabbage diet, eating grapefruit, low-carb, no-carb and throughout, tiny, tiny portions and then binging on ‘forbidden food’ only to start another diet the next week. She tried Jenny (hated the food), Weight Watchers (took too long), SureSlim (worked but omg, turned her into a food nazi and a bird with all those frigging seeds). She has a myriad of food intolerances (real unfortunately) which cause her to break out in eczema if she tastes fruit or milk and I’m convinced it’s got to do with her love-hate relationship with food her whole life.

For me to get where I am now is a huge thing and I’m so proud of myself.