I remember not being able to lift myself out of the swimming pool as a child.
It sucked because everyone else seemed to be able to jump out of the water with such grace and ease and there was I, struggling like a whale in captivity.
But I was a quick learner - and to avoid any negative attention I stayed within reach of the stairs so I could exit without having to be ashamed of my inability to support my own weight. I lived in a mildly anxious state at all times and encouraged myself to plan for the easiest ways to blend in to the areas of life where I might be singled out. Living in fear of someone noticing my inabilities often kept me a step ahead. For that reason the shallow end and stairs were my secret weapon against standing out at the pool - assuming that people weren't looking at me in my swimming costume of course.
On a plus side, I could always tread water effortlessly due to my incredible buoyancy.
Although I love swimming now - it wasn't always a favourite. As a pre schooler I refused lessons. My mum would take me to our local swimming baths where I would attempt to learn. I would travel the shallow end with my arms dividing the water in front of me in big waves, hoping that no one would notice I was tall enough to walk and wasn't swimming at all.
Eventually it all clicked and when I finally got it, nothing could keep me out of the water. I started a badge program in elementary school but shortly after realised my athleticism did not match my enthusiasm and I refocused that energy into other things, like looking intimidating in the playground so no one could pick on me for being fat. I spent many happy Saturday afternoons swimming with my Dad and enjoying it as a recreational activity. He always bought me food afterwards, so I was happy.
Don't mention 'P' and swimming in the same sentence
Swimming lost it's allure for a while and I got so fed up with it that I started telling my swim instructor that I was on my period. Every week. Week in and week out I would slip on the handy blue shoe protectors and signal that my name required a letter "P" in the register. It was after 4 weeks of writing P next to my name he finally suggested I go to the school nurse and talk about my situation. Periods weren't month long things - who knew?
The school nurse was quite concerned about my predicament. Naturally.. a 4 week period is a pretty big deal. I put her mind at ease almost instantly. I explained that I simply didn't feel like going swimming anymore, so I said I was on my period week after week because it was the only way I could avoid going in the pool. Can't blame a girl for not wanting to get her hair wet, can you?
I realised how lame I was being so I diligently set my alarm clock for 5:45 am and joined the swim team for early morning practise. I put in the effort and even got quite fast, but I still couldn't lift myself out of the pool.
With each year my body got bigger and bigger, but I never used that as an excuse to not go swimming. There were times when I felt insecure as my body wobbled about in the water - but I did not let it stop me. I even went on a first date at the river and I can tell you - nothing makes your heart sink faster than a locker key in the deep end than the suggestion of swimming as a first date. Still - I did it, and it went swimmingly.
I ain't no swim suit model and maybe I never will be or ever want to be - but time after time I would try and get out of the deep end without the stairs. Time and time again I would fail.
Then one evening at the Y.M.C.A during an epic adventure of me as a pirate/kraken/deep sea monster vs my boys on a pink water mat, I put my hands flat on the side of the pool and I lifted myself up out the water.
With my arms fully extended, I lifted my body up with no intention of getting out the pool. All these years later - finally strong enough.
"Hey! look what I can do now!" I shouted to my boys and they cheered for me as I held myself there for a few moments. Then listened to them scream as I went back to pretending I was a giant squid.
Sometimes, even when you have tried 100 times and you're ready to give up, 101 might be a success and you will only know if you keep trying!
I was in ER the other day and you know that feeling where you're so mad you think...
FUCK IT. I'M GOING TO EAT A WHOLE PIZZA/CAKE/COSTCO MUFFIN TRAY ... AND I'm going to drink a box of wine..... and then I'll feel better!
If you read that and thought "NO.. I've never wanted to do any of those things", you are either;
A) Incredibly lucky... and kudos for never using food/drink to self medicate. You're my hero right now.
B) Lying. Come on. A whole muffin tray is a delicious way to burn through a week of calories.
And yet isn't it ridiculous to think that by eating a pizza or a whole bag of mini eggs we are going to feel any better about ANYTHING?
Whaaaaat? Pizza DOESN'T make everything better?
A valid question indeed. The answer is sadly, no. It does not. After bad news in the ER I was almost ready to jump into maximum pizza eating mode, but I didn't. WHY? (and the answer has nothing to do with me being off dairy - true story)
It's all got to do with habits. Recognizing them - Analyzing them - and changing them.
Wait up... before we get to the WHY I didn't speed dial Panago - I need to tell you why I was in ER in the first place and what made me mad.
In December I fractured my foot. I had been teaching Zumba on a spring loaded floor built for gymnastics and tumbling and just as I launched into a side step during the second warm up, I rolled my foot into a part of the floor that had an empty air pocket. OUCH. No big deal though, I carried on and sucked it up.
Never having had an injury before and being an optimist, I figured it would be back to normal in no time. By January I was noticing how much less I was enjoying walking and decided I should get it checked out for real.
My X-ray came back with what the Dr suggested was a fracture that had healed all by itself and the extra pain that I was experiencing was in fact the bone growing (or something). "Cool" , I thought. So I carried on in pain and with a limp.
It kept on getting worse though. And a limp is only cool for a pirate or a gangster, of which I am neither.
I continued teaching Zumba twice a week and heavily icing my foot in between. I walked less than usual and when I was no longer the leader amongst my fitbit friends, I knew something was up. If you invite me for a workweek challenge, you better be bringing your A game, that's all I'm saying.
So what have my broken foot and pizza got in common?
When I left the ER I was under instructions to purchase a walking boot. Ain't nothing sexier than an airboot. My mood took a sharp turn to shit. Then, I was instructed to REST my foot as much as possible. No more dead lifts and not teach my Fit By Design Zumba classes for a few weeks. I was sitting there with a very distinct resting bitch face, knowing I had just entered into what used to be a dangerous habit loop. I tried bargaining with the doctor, threw some humour at the sitaution and told him he could see my foot on instagram later on as I took a picture of the X-ray. I felt totally deflated.
A few weeks prior I had started training with Robert Petrie, F3FIT to learn the fundamentals of lifting weights properly and to get really, really REALLY strong while minimizing the use of my foot. Stopping would be a huge blow and knowing I was letting down my wonderful Fit By Design Zumba crew down SUCKED. That's where a pizza could have made me feel oh-so-much better.
My habit loop:
CUE - Bad thing happens (broken foot, need a cast, can't do exercise)
ROUTINE - I immediately want to eat whole pizza, cake,
REWARD - I feel much better. Comforted. Happy. Safe
It makes me feel sad to admit that's how I've dealt with emotional problems. Until I took the time to learn about my habits, I might have always relied on this way of dealing with negative things. Now you may be wondering...
How can I make myself more awesome by learning about MY habits?
This is an awesome question and I can suggest grabbing a copy of The Power of Habit and turning into a hermit for 24 hours while you learn everything you can about why you do the things you do.
Now what ?
So while I rest as much as possible, I am able to still focus on good nutrition. Drinking plenty of water. Doing what I can for weights without using my foot with some nifty modifications to my plan (thanks, Robert) and only thinking a lil' bit about pizza while I limp along with this ridiculous airboot like a gangster-yo.
p.s) My plan is to lose 80lbs by the end of year. You can keep me accountable and cheer me on (please!!) by following my instagram @beboldstaygold_
On paper, this year could have been the worst. It certainly had its moments. Without dwelling too hard, I can conjure up a dozen reasons why this might have been the best year of my life.
I started the year on a high. Having worked through a serious slump from the death of my Dad in the summer of 2014 it took me until October to really regain control of my life. After a lot of introspection and some counselling with Angela Clark (ROPC) I was able to push forward and gain the momentum that would carry me through 2015. I'd already reached the point of wanting more from life and was feeling unstoppable by the end of the year. I remember so clearly thinking, 2015 would be the best year of my life and I documented it as such. With so much to look forward to, I couldn't wait to welcome in 2016.
In January, instead of starting where everyone else was (feeling ready to jump on the fitness wagon) I was already 10lbs lighter and ready to keep working hard to reach my goals. Practically every year of my adult life, January had been a month for making changes.. this year, however, I was already on my way.
The weight loss momentum did continue throughout the year as was sped up significantly at the latter end of February when I, for a short period of time, gave up eating.
Apparently, nothing makes you lose your appetite quicker than your husband deciding to leave you.
I say this in jest, and we all know (well, you probably don't know) but there was no correlation to my size and my relationship ending. That didn't stop a few people from sending me their pity in forms of condescending "it doesn't matter that you're fat, you'll find someone else to love you" remarks. As if that were the sole purpose of my life? I brushed that off to the kind of awkward thing blurted out when you don't know what to say to someone in their sorrow. I wouldn't have known what to say either. Maybe nothing needed to be said. In many moments, the best form of understanding was a hug - and I got plenty of those from cherished people in my life.
I tried to listen, gracefully, to the many varied and somewhat puzzling things people told me while I digested the information. I'm not going to say it wasn't horrible and a struggle - but it became quickly apparent to me that the only solution was moving forward, in the knowledge that the universe had something bigger and better planned for me.
Even that was confusing to some people. After that many years with someone, shouldn't I have been crying myself to sleep with a picture of him on my pillow?
Maybe... but I've never been conventional.
Not to say there weren't moments of real despair. Moments where I wondered if I would be able to drag myself out of the darkness and find anything positive to cling on to. For those of you who have suffered from depression you will know the pain I talk of. It's real. It's not something you brush off and walk away from easily. I can be grateful that in my toolkit I have the ability to recognise this destructive melancholic behavior and dig my way out.
Instead of following the typical "must hate my ex" strategy I chose to be grateful for all that we'd had. Instead of hating, I sent love. Not in a romantic way of course.. but in a genuine hope-you-are-happy kind of way. For the children, my thoughts and actions were to always put him in a positive light - which at times, was a struggle - but for the most part, sincere. Sometimes I hated him a bit too. After all, I'm not a fucking angel.
One of the discoveries I made this year was how many generous and kind people are in my life. I always knew I was blessed with the most amazing friendships, but rediscovering some of them was a highlight of my year. Some people, of course, made a dramatic exit and a few others slipped away quietly but everything happened just as it was meant to.
Despite the very obvious change in my life this year, it has been better, if not the best year to date and that has very little to do with anything external -and very much to do with me stepping into my personal power. This year I realised how much I had to offer. Not shallow friendship or meaningless connection but a genuine passion for living my life with purpose.
Right to the very last days, this year has been full of love and laughter.
And with an even greater level of optimism, I feel 2016 is going to be my best year yet! Not because I am giving up anything, or making pointless resolutions, but because I refuse to make excuses for myself.
I am no longer worried about the fear of rejection. Fear of not doing it perfectly. No longer will I carry that crippling doubt on my shoulders.
It has been a year of self discovery and acceptance. It has been about looking at myself and liking the person I see, flaws and all.
It has been about acknowledging the value I bring to every relationship and seeing the value in every transaction.
Stepping into 2016, I can walk my dog with my head high, smiling at every person because I want to. Because I am filled with a joy of self acceptance.
It means I move into the year acknowledging that I'm confident, I'm happy, I'm exactly what you see"
and I love myself.
Thank you for being part of my life.
I woke up this morning thinking about motivation to get things done. The motivation we all need to shine in this life. And not for our partners, our kids or our friends... but for ourselves.
The ability to jump out of bed on a Monday and think..
DAMN WOMAN. You're amazing. Go chase that dream. Think big. Spread some love.
What could I tell you that you haven't already heard before? I am almost certain that today you will see many beautifully illustrated graphics telling you to go out and get the things you want.
Be inspired. Take a chance. Learn to shine. Yadda Yadda Yadda.
It doesn't matter how many times you hear me, or some other random person tell you, "you've got what it takes - you're brilliant, your time is now" ....
It's all bullshit when you're not in the right frame of mind.
Maybe It's not your time right now. Sorry.
But what if.... play along with me now.. if today actually WAS the day? What if today that you're life changed forever because you made the decision? What if these words were the catalyst in making those changes?
Now let's be under no misconception here. I'm not big headed enough to expect my words to change your life. I'm not asking you to credit me in the screen play when you get famous for living the life you've always wanted. BUT... what if you were just a little more open to change? What if, today, you felt worthwhile enough to say YES to yourself? What if this was the push to get you started?
Throughout my life, many people have inspired me to make a change. I can and will write a whole series of blog posts about them.. and they have shifted my expectation of what being alive means to me. There were times when I was so closed to the idea of change because I found it insulting that anyone would expect me to be any different than I was. What was so wrong with me?
I had it in my head that any change was admitting I wasn't perfect (who is?) and I was scared of what to expect if I did change.
During a smoke break in a day long training course I was delivering, a delegate told me I reminded me of her dead sister (her words, not mine). That's right. HER DEAD SISTER.
Turns out she was overweight too. That hit me like a tonne of bricks. She went on to tell me, that even though she didn't know me, she wanted me to lose weight and stop smoking, because I was going to die. WOW.
An extreme example of motivation. I felt offended, upset and surprised that a complete stranger, that I had to go back into a classroom and teach for the rest of the day, was bold enough to comment on my life choices without even knowing me. I'm not often (ever) left speechless. I was catching flies that day.
It took a while for that to sink in. No one wants to admit their failures or worse, have them pointed out to you in the middle of a training course.
I didn't stop smoking for another 4 years after that. I am still losing weight. and I still think back to the balls of that woman, who since became a great friend to me, who had the guts to make an impact in my life in the boldest way.
It can get frustrating seeing people make the same choices over and over, expecting to get different results. Why sugar coat it? Something needs to be done differently.
If you want to be HAPPY and you are currently UNHAPPY with something. Logic says you have to CHANGE something. It doesn't matter how many motivational posters you see, or how many people are jumping around willing to support you. Until you are ready. nothing is going to change.
Chances are, someone else in your life recognises that you have been unhappy with something. They can see that you need that push, but they don't know how to tell you, or worry that when they tell you, you will be insulted and feel even worse. They too might awkwardly blurt out something about their dead sister. It might be offensive in the moment. Go easy on them - because they might not know how to help you start. Don't wait for them to point out the things they think you need to change. The person that knows you need to change most is YOU.
and you are the only person stopping you... so...
What if today was the day?
There have been times when I have reached the end of the day, and without having to count up the calories, I have known how utterly terrible my choices have been.
I mean, sometimes… sometimes… you accidentally eat a doughnut.
And by sometimes, I mean always. And by doughnut, I mean box of doughnuts.
And as I sit there, with my sugar glazed lips, biting into that moist dough, I am looking at the remaining box thinking "stop looking so delicious would ya!"
Trouble is, for a person like me, a lonely doughnut isn’t enough. Not when you have an insatiable appetite for refined carbs and sugar. It only makes sense to wash it down with a bottle of wine, a bag of chips and the last stash of Halloween candy in the freezer. Just kidding, there is never any leftover Halloween candy in my house. And so the cycle begins again.
One doughnut to blame for a day of bad choices – might as well, right.. I mean.. it couldn’t hurt? Which leads into two days. Which leads into three and before you know it, that small moment of weakness became a week of bad choices and in my case, if I’m lucky, only about a 7lbs gain.
Best of all…..I can’t even remember what the doughnuts tasted like.
You make one bad choice and it's full on FAILURE. Failure before you succeeded. Failure to allow yourself to succeed. And you convince yourself that you can eat all the doughnuts and start again tomorrow until you make the next mistake.
Failure is that comfortable place we hang out in when we’re not ready to really work hard and get what we want.
It’s so much easier to admit defeat and blame your old ways and your lazy, miserable doughnut loving self, than to empower the "doughnut in moderation" version of yourself that is just desperate to succeed, but so scared to fail. Again. And again…
That was how my 2014 panned out. Despite some great efforts and successes throughout the year – my heart was elsewhere and although my intentions were good – my ability to make it happen....didn’t work out. There were many doughnut days.
I realise how hard it is to admit you fucked up.
I realise how hard it is to take action again.
I realise how embarrassing can be to admit you tried and failed.
But I also know how awesome it is to succeed. So keep going anyway.
Tonight I found myself looking for an excuse to get an ice cream. I didn't need one or even really want one - but the convenience of being in the city and opportunity to take my dog out for a walk lended itself to the possibility of a peanut buster parfait. I walked out the house with the full intention of buying something.. sundae? maybe a blizzard? By the time I had got to the end of the road I was debating the size - should I get something big or small. I asked myself if I really wanted the ice cream? I said "Yes" DUH!!
But I stopped myself from walking down a block and turned the corner. I asked myself again if the best version of myself wanted that ice cream? I broke the cycle of failure in that moment by saying no.
I'll admit - I wasn't as strong yesterday when I was eating the top of a defrosted cake that my friend had given me - but I never claimed to be perfect....and as the summer draws to an end and we're in "back to school" mentality, the doughnut days of summer are over and we can choose to be successful once again.
I don’t often appear outwardly nervous and yet today, when I was “representing” Fit By Design at the Gran Fondo in a physical capacity, I felt outside of my comfort zone. You see - 'fat girls' are just not 'fit girls' in the eyes of the many.
By "many", I of course mean those small minded people (not you!, you're awesome) who figure I just practice eating all day so I can win big at the pie eating contest. One day I'm bringing home that $100 grand prize I tells ya.
Sometimes I forget that I have to go out into the public where people will judge me and make assumptions about me; whereas, in the safety of the Warrior Women tribe I am surrounded by such positivity that I can’t help but feel encouraged and not under the kind of scrutiny of the public eye.
This is not the first time these feelings have come up and it probably won’t be the last time… so as I waited to “perform” with fellow Zumba instructor, Andrea, I wondered if I would always feel this kind of fat/fit anxiety?
I saw several people with phones, taking pictures, and I reluctantly admit to myself, probably making videos. GAH!
All the while I am dancing and smiling, but secretly worrying that one day I will see a video of me shared on Facebook where people are laughing and mocking me. It’s an interesting thought that I choose not to dwell on too much.
Just because something could happen – doesn't mean it will.
Just because someone takes a video of me, or takes my photo – doesn't mean that it is going to start a fat bashing revolution on Facebook – and ultimately, if it did, it might be good advertising for our Zumba classes! (See you Monday nights at 6:45pm, River City Gymnastics, Kamloops)
Just because I am not the stereotypical sized Zumba Instructor, it doesn't mean I can’t and don’t give it all I can (and feel strong and sexy and awesome!) Because when the music is playing (albeit a bit too quiet today) I am going to try my hardest to channel all my energy into you getting us both a great workout –and this is one form of exercise that is burning off my fat like nobody’s business!
The most important thing is not to do with my size, or my ability to instruct. It is to do with that big leap outside of my comfort zone I call...." Fuck it. I’m doing it anyway."
We all need a little of that once in a while.
Here's my question to you:
What are you going to say "Fuck it! I'm doing it anyway" to?
I would love to hear your thoughts!! and maybe even see you at Zumba :)
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..