Self-Care is Key!

self care burnoutIt’s been ages since I have blogged on my personal page. I have lots going on right now and I have decided that I need to make some time to attempt to process some of it. I have been focusing on my career for several months, doing posts on my other blog, The Mindset Effect, as well as working and meeting university commitments for the first practicum experience of my master’s degree.

I’ve been finding that time for myself has been rare. I’m still doing personal training sessions twice a week, which is going well (and is a whole other blog post). Getting out of bed for those 6am sessions is really tough! I keep telling myself that I need to get to bed earlier and it rarely seems to happen. Something else seems to crop up. Every. Single. Time. I am making a concerted effort though.self care hardest job

With all of my commitments, and with the current summer heat, which always takes a lot out of me, I have been pretty stressed. I promised myself last year, when I knew what 2014 would look like on a weekly basis, that I would make time for me. Take it one day at a time and make sure that I spent time every day or two doing some self-care practices. And the academic year hasn’t even started yet! So I know that if I continue to do the same thing I am doing now, for the rest of the year, I am going to fall over pretty quickly.

Work has been crazy. Exciting. But crazy. As of March 1 I will be working 3 days per week even though I am employed for 4. My practicum requirements for uni dictate that I do at least 1 day at a placement. And I need to do another day on campus. So that means I really need 6 working days in the week to do everything. Doesn’t add up, right? So, I have applied for study leave. And have been told I need to keep my work output at a 4-day-a-week level. With the help and support of my colleagues we have developed a plan to make that happen. And the preliminary response from clients has been nothing short of phenomenal! Not that they know why we developed the plan in the first place, but they don’t need to know. The bottom line is that this plan will help a lot of people develop their resiliency and capacity to handle stress in the long-term. It complements the organisation’s long-term strategic plan on building up client capacity, it will keep my stats up, and it will allow me to complete my degree requirements without having to reduce my income and risk the roof over my head. A win-win all around.

self care fill cupThe stressful part of all this for me is that the phenomenal response not only indicates how our clients are craving opportunities like we are offering. It also shows me that I could spend more time implementing this plan than doing the other work I do. And it means that I run the risk of overloading myself by trying to get everything done and end up burning myself out.

So I need to make sure I take care of me. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Don’t try to do everything and be everything for everyone. Self-care is key. I need a mantra. Self-care is key. Self-care is key. Self-care is key. Self-care is key . Self-care is key . Self-care is key!!

self care meditation silence

 

Am I in Denial?

My previous post on trauma was written in the way I usually write; by simply allowing my fingers to do their thing on the keyboard without censorship. At the time I felt ok about what had come out, like I had some kind of resolution and a ‘next step’ to take. Well, I took that next step last week – I went to see my psychologist. I feel … I don’t know, really.

We talked about things for a bit, I caught her up with what’s been happening in my life and then she tells me what she thought of my post on trauma. Great insight, until she got to the dot points. Then it was “you don’t want to own your trauma”. At that point I looked at her with puzzlement. How could a series of dot points mean I don’t want to own it? I thought I was doing a quick summary so I could use the list as a reminder to speak with her about it.

And then her explanation hit a nerve. Big time. I find it so easy to support other people through their stuff, to help them confront the tough, traumatic things in their lives. I ask the tough questions and it gets emotional and messy and uncomfortable and scary. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to go there for myself. It hurts. The thing is, I don’t have to do anything with my trauma. I don’t have to respond in a certain way. I can allow it to be there, to sit with me, to accept that it’s mine. To accept that is a part of my past. That it’s there and it’s not going anywhere. I keep asking the question about how I can do things like that. How can I deal with this, how can I deal with that? The question is, how can one do anything with something like this kind of trauma? Trauma that has been an insidious part of your life for a long time and has not been acknowledged until recently. Trauma that has put a load of stress on your system that you have essentially ignored for 30+ years. What can you do, really?

I think one of my main issues has been allowing my emotions to sit with me. I’ve always hidden them, turned away from them and avoided them. It’s become a long time coping mechanism to hide from them so much that I don’t realise they are there. I’ve been working on being more aware of them, allowing them to surface naturally. And not being afraid of them.

It’s certainly a process! One that I don’t have a clue how to do. And that is upsetting. I guess a big part of everything I have worked on in the last 2 years has been to deal with and recognise emotions I never have before. And I have come to this point, where I can recognise that there are issues.

I am unsure what to do. The prospect of “owning” that trauma fills me with anxiety. There is so much of it sitting there and I truly don’t want it. If I take it I worry that it will totally swamp me. If I were working with someone else I’d encourage them to do it slowly and to take small steps. My mind is going a little nuts with it.

Nothing new there!

*Breathe*

 trauma

Balance, Security and Safety.

So. It’s been a full on couple of days! Kiniesiology, psychology, personal training, Emazon and work. And at the end of it I feel completely wrung out.

Which is fine, because I feel like I have the next piece of the puzzle in this transformation thing. In fact, I feel like I have all the pieces. Now what I need to do is put them together in a way that makes sense to my greater mind. I’m hoping that won’t take too long. Obviously there is no timeline on it though, so I’ll take it as it comes.

I also feel …. Clear. Centred. Peaceful almost. Relief. Definitely relief.

*Breathe. Release.*

My training has begun to evolve. From the aim being about fitness and stamina to being about focus, mental wellbeing and coming away from each session feeling centred and at peace. Feeling strong. Feeling safe. Feeling grounded. Feeling like I have just gotten exactly what I needed to suit me in that moment. To suit my body, my mind and my spirit.

It’s been a natural evolution, one that I am happy with. I feel much more in tune with myself and every session I feel a little more able to voice my truth. To ask for what I need, to share what is in my heart and feel safe in doing so, regardless of the outcome. To not be attached to the outcome. The words and actions of others are not my concern. They come from a different place. I come from a place of never being allowed to voice anything. Never allowed to express my feelings, to give my opinion. It was never valued or respected and I learned that to protect my inner self I had to hide those things, whether positive or not.

So now, every time I can open my mouth, detach myself from any kind of outcome, and simply voice what is in my heart for the sake of allowing it out, I win. I win self-respect and I win self-love. I win self-care. Every single time I ask for what I need, I change old patterns, decondition old neural pathways and allow myself to create new patterns and ways of being. Every. Single. Time.

And every time I allow a little more of my true purpose and destiny into my consciousness, it opens up my entire world as well as new doors leading into my future.

*Breathe. Release.*

 breathe out bullshit

Judging Transformation

A few months ago I responded to a post about how people judge their transformation process by saying that I had a bit to say about it and that I would get back to it after I finished my uni assessments for the semester. I never ended up getting back to it and had a gentle nudge to do so today. So here I am.

So many people judge their transformation by the numbers on the scales. SO many people. The entire “weight loss” industry is flooded with programs that focus on reducing numbers. And when the programs don’t work, people are led to feel inadequate and unworthy because they couldn’t make it happen. The whys and hows of this is a whole other blog post that deserves more attention than I am willing to give it, so I am not going to focus on this. Instead, I want to share how it has been for me.

find self at end of journey

I began my “journey” near the end of 2004 following surgery to reduce the size of my stomach. At that time I was in a place where I didn’t believe in myself. In any way. I felt worthless, useless and unlovable. And I ate those emotions every day, to the point where I didn’t even know some of them existed. I was depressed, sad, angry, confused, lost. Plus a whole host of other things. And I never allowed myself to even acknowledge those feelings were there.

The surgery allowed me to start the process of rebuilding myself. From the inside out. In the 18 months afterward I worked very hard on my fitness, attending gym sessions 4-5 days per week. At the peak I was there for 3 hours; 20 minutes treadmill, 20 minutes x-trainer, upper body weight routine, followed by an aqua class. I then spent some time in the spa before having a shower and going home. One time I remember spending a full hour on the x-trainer before doing my weight routine and then an aqua class. In that time I dropped 60kg.

After 18 months I moved states to be closer to family and a couple of months later got full-time work. At this point my gym routine fell over. I was really tired all the time, doing work that was challenging and stressful and I didn’t have the energy to keep going. I was told several times that I “should” get back into it and I felt the pressure. But I didn’t. 6 yrs went by and I regained 20 of those kg.

Fast forward to 2012 and I began the 12WBT program. In 3 rounds (9 months) I dropped 30kg, taking me back under the amount I had previously dropped. At that point things somewhat fell over again. I got sick (headspins) and spent 3 months trying to figure out what was going on. My doctor ended up telling me I had Meniere’s Syndrome, which is basically fluid between the ears that impacts balance. I had to stop my training.

My focus has changed since then. Rather than focusing on the numbers I am focusing on self-care and self-love. Nurturing myself, listening to my body, mind and spirit and giving them what they need to function optimally. It’s a very different way of being that takes a lot of getting used to. In the time I have been doing this the scales have said that I have regained 10kg.

I don’t care. Well, a part of me does. At one point I got seriously frustrated with the scales not moving. My head got really messy with it all and for my own sanity I had to ditch the scales. I’ve pulled them out of the cupboard several times since then and each time I step on them I get a pang of frustration that they aren’t shifting. Then my brain reminds me that the fluid my body holds onto with my lymphedoema does some crazy stuff and sometimes the numbers get messed up because of it. And then I remind myself that my nutrition intake isn’t always the best and I need to “fix” it. And then I get frustrated with myself cause “no matter what I try nothing works” *rolls eyes at myself*. And so it goes in circles. Around and around and around. Nothing is ever good enough (story of my life). When will it ever end??

*sigh* relax

So I have put the scales away again. Because I know that I am so much more than the numbers. They can never define me. Ever.

The numbers haven’t shifted in any desirable direction for about a year. But when I look at other things there have been huge shifts. I described earlier my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. I now have complete certainty that I am enough. Just the way I am. Right here, right now.

The way I think about myself is completely different. Professionally I have gained a heap of knowledge about the human mind and how we respond to stress and this has given me a new awareness and insight into the way I cope with things. I have taken action to deal with those things and while the process is ongoing as I continue to learn more, where I am now is worlds apart from where I was even 12 months ago. After so long spending my life eating and numbing my emotions, I am now able to acknowledge and recognise them. I allow myself to feel them. I acknowledge my right to feel them. I am learning to deal with them without resorting to food.

I am learning to speak up for myself and voice my truth. I am learning (and coming to terms with) the fact that my future is full of possibilities. I am learning to listen to myself. To trust that my inner voice is right (for me) and is worth listening to. This process has led to a more natural way of eating. I have found recently that I am naturally eating the less processed, healthier foods. And my training has transformed as well. It’s no longer about fitness. It is now about listening to my mind and body and giving it what it needs. I’m working on being able to walk away from each training session with a feeling of peace, calm and strength. Using it to nurture and care for myself in the way I deserve. With love. Increased fitness is just an awesome side effect.

THAT transformation is worth so much more than the numbers on the scales. Every step I have taken has led me to this place, right here and now.

And right here and now is where I want to be, because where I am heading is full of lights so bright I am going to need sunnies. 🙂

authentic beauty

Trauma

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to put it on here, so thought I would catch up 🙂

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trauma

Ominous. Threatening. Fear.

I’ve had this blog post running around in my head in the last 24 hours or so and as I sit here to start writing it, I feel like my fingers are a little unsure of what to allow out. But since I do my best (and most powerful) writing by simply allowing it all to flow, I thought I would just start and see what came out.

I have had a really difficult couple of weeks at work with some very emotional topics. I see a number of people who have been traumatised by events in their lives, which has a pretty big impact on the body, mind and spirit. One in particular left me carrying a whole heap of “stuff”. You know the whole theory about being able to hold it together during a crisis and then falling apart afterward?

Well, I did that. My client needed me to be strong and to ‘carry’ her through the crisis. I did that. And then I fell apart.

At the time, even after debriefing with a colleague, I knew I was holding onto some of the stuff. I just didn’t know what. Two weeks later I was able to discuss it in some greater depth in an attempt to deconstruct it and discover what it all about. This conversation occurred yesterday, and let me tell you, the deconstruction was seriously deconstructed!

trauma not just imaginationIt took a bit to work through the jumbled mess that was in my head. We discovered that … I am procrastinating on writing the words. I don’t want to say it out loud … I was traumatised. By supporting my client through this stuff, I was traumatised. See, I need to say it twice to really get it out there. This stuff was huge. The type of huge that is major responsibility and decision-making that has a significant impact on people’s lives.

It left me feeling like I had a big, grey, ominous, heavy cloud hovering over me. With the incredible support of my friend and colleague I discovered that this trauma had reminded me of all the other times I have been traumatised in my life that had never been acknowledged. My history has been to “soldier on”, pretend things never happened. And then to eat. And eat. And eat, so I don’t have to acknowledge and deal with any emotions that might be sitting there inside me. Numbing myself has always gotten me through in the past. It has helped me survive the trauma.

This time I began the same routine. My first instinct was to stop at KFC. But something inside told me that this time needed to be different. This time eating wasn’t the answer. That voice was small. But it was adamant. And certain. So I didn’t stop, which is a proud moment for me.

Yesterday I got a lot of stuff out of my head. But it is only the surface layer. There is so much more there. Every single time something happened in my life that was never talked about or dealt with. The times that were talked about and partly dealt with. The times that were acknowledged and the times that weren’t. so much stuff sitting in my head and heart. And on my body.

As I have been told several times before, this is my time. I no longer need the protection the food has provided for me in the past. I am destined for amazing things in the rest of my life. My past experiences have taught me incredible things and now, as I receive one more key to unlock one more lock, I gain a little more insight into how big my future really is. I need to take my next footlight and start unravelling and acknowledging each of the traumas in my life …

  • The deaths of my parents and brother.
  • The bullying I received as a child.
  • The feeling of not belonging in my own life or friendship groups, even in my own family.
  • Coming home one day to find my friend and housemate in crisis and having to support her, and then not having any support to process what happened.
  • Being used as a punching bag by my sibling as a child.

So much stuff. And given how bright my future is, so so worth the process. I need to do this to be able to live my destiny.

Bright. Light. Destiny.

hardships destiny 

If I had a guy …

If I had a guy to be by my side I would want him to love me for who I am, regardless of what I look like. I would want him to support and encourage me to spread my wings and fly. To share my gifts and talents with the world. To hold me up when I feel like I am falling.

authentic beauty

He might tell me something like this …

“I love every bump and curve on your body because it has helped make you who you are today. And I love who you are. You are beautiful in every way possible. Your eyes, your hair, your nose, your arms, your fingers and toes, your hips, your back and stomach. Every single part of you is beautiful. It has character. It has a story. A story of hardship and pain and strength and overcoming abuse. A story of joy and dreams and fulfillment and courage.

Your hair is soft and shiny, just like your personality. Your eyes show me expressions of the pain, hurt, sadness and vulnerability you have experienced at different times in your life. Every time you look into my eyes you show me your depth of character. You tell me your story.

The edge of your jaw and your mouth show me how compassionate and articulate you are. The curves of your shoulders have carried the load of other people’s worries and troubles for many years. Your chest holds your heart. A heart that loves and cares deeply for others. A heart that is full of compassion and empathy.

The band of fat around your stomach has protected you from all the attacks you have received through your life. The hurt and impact of the bullies that teased you when you were at school. The shame you felt at not being good enough to belong. Your stretch marks show me the courage it has taken for you to endure the words from all the people who told you that you would only be beautiful if you lost weight.

I love the cellulite and dimples all over your legs and hips because they show me how strong you are. You have stood up in spite of everyone who tried to bring you down. Those legs have carried the weight of so much pain and suffering. And they are all the stronger for it. STAND UP!

I love the pocket of fluid in your belly and the swelling of lymphoedema in your legs because they have withstood the attacks from all the people who have tried to crush your spirit. Those legs hold your spirit safe and will allow it to flourish and fly when the time is right.

I love your brain. It holds all the memories of your past. All the hurt and shame and pain. All the courage, determination and certainty. All be strong be fiercethe knowledge and skills so you can live your dream and make the world a better place. The power. The love. The thoughts and feelings. The wit, humour and intelligence. The values and reason and justice. The passion, loyalty and sensuality.

I love the length of your slender fingers and the fragility of your wrists. They tenderly hold and comfort the people who are experiencing their own pain and sorrow.

You have so much depth. So much strength and skill. I love that you have taken your past and made it a story of triumph, learning, fulfillment and happiness. And that you continue to do the work that will make your life even richer”.

I don’t have a guy to say this to me, so I am choosing to say it to myself.

I love you Ali, for all these reasons and more. I love you simply because you are on this earth.

beautiful right now

How Do You Judge Your “Transformation” Progress?

I have so much to say on this post and the ways in which what it discusses impacts my own life and journey. Right now I need to think about how I want to formulate what is in my head. I have one final assessment to do for uni this week and I will then sit down and spend some time thinking, formulating and writing here.

I am STRONG!

It’s been a hell of a few weeks. I’ve barely had any time to breathe. Assessments due for uni, clients in crisis at work and a very messy house because I have had neither the time nor the inclination to clean. I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed.

grounded

I think one of the few settling things in my life has been my twice weekly personal training sessions, and even though I have had to shuffle some of them around because of work commitments, I am realising that their regularity and content has actually been keeping me somewhat centred amidst all the turmoil. That is a new statement! Had no idea it was in my head until it came out of my fingers. And yet I realise the truth of it. My training has begun to help me keep myself grounded.

That feels good to say. It helps me to cement the reasons why I got back into training and to continue reaching for and achieving my goals.

When I started training with my new trainer we set some one-month goals and 4 weeks later spent an entire week achieving them. Not just achieving them, but completely smashing them. In those 4 weeks I went from barely being able to walk for 5 minutes on the treadmill to sustaining it for 20 minutes at a higher speed AND incline. I completed a zumba class (not well, but it got done), I leg pressed 100kg and I did assisted shoulder presses with 15kg (which I thought was 12.5kg). And although I could see the improvements I was making and on the surface I acknowledged them, I don’t think it really sank in.

strong workout

Since I’ve been doing the 12WBT one of the biggest focuses amongst a lot of people has been fitness improvements and how strong people are becoming. This has been said in reference to me just as much as for others. Characteristically me, I have minimised my achievements the entire time. Something I have done time and again, with much of my life. My work achievements, my education achievements. My friendships. Any compliments. Pretty much everything, really.

So, I had a light bulb go off in my head after my training session this morning. It’s been building up for a few weeks I think. The last couple of sessions we have been focusing on setting new goals for the next month and I have set a few doozies. Wall sits, isometric holds, shoulder presses, zumba class, x-trainer intervals (10 min, lvl 4-7), treadmill (incline 7, 15 mins, 2.7kph), and boxing rounds without stopping. This morning we set some benchmarks for the wallsit (65sec) and isometric hold (125sec). I did 10 min on the treadmill at 2.5kph at 6% incline and 3 sets of 8 reps for military shoulder press (15kg). This one hurt like hell. And despite my brain trying to shut it down with excuses, I did it. Unassisted. It actually felt natural for me to just get in there and get the job done instead of debating it over and over in my head.

It felt good. I felt strong.

I shared my achievements with a friend and work colleague after discussing some pretty horrific and traumatic stuff that I experienced with a client last week. When I shared with her that I felt strong she pointed out my skills as a clinician and how much I have helped and supported people, even through some of the most traumatic stuff you can imagine. She then pointed out the work I have done to make changes in my personal life. Strength. Incredible amounts of it.

It hit me this morning that I have a lot of strength physically from my training. And after the discussion with my friend it hit me again that I have it in my work and personal life too.

I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. Really.

All these things are things that I never thought I would be able to do. My work, my Master’s degree, my physical health, my friendships.

And yet, here I am. Right here, right now, with all of it.

So much strength. Limitless possibilities.

~~ I AM STRONG!! ~~

strength letting go

 

The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

Be very aware of the advertising you see. It’s not always in our best interests. The key message? Be aware of your body, get in tune with it, listen to it and follow its lead.

Reembody

The Reembody blog, up to this point, has been a thoughtful exploration of human movement, a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

Today, however, I’m mad and I’m going to tell you why.

I have been planning a blog post for a while on fitness misinformation, and it was originally going to be the same kind of thoughtful deconstruction found in my other installments. But then I read this and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever found in my newsfeed: so beautiful, in fact, that the rest of the health and fitness propaganda floating around Facebook like turds in a pool started to really, really piss me off.

So thoughtful deconstruction has been postponed for another day. Instead, we’re going to take a good look at a few of those turds and get pissed off together because, when someone preys upon your insecurities in an effort…

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