People need to read this. Hear this. And LIVE this! Every single one of us. Xx
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.
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??
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. 🙂
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 🙂
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!
It 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.
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.
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 the 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.
I was reading a blog entry today from someone who has recently begun following my blog and had a lightbulb go off in my head right in the middle.
“So THAT’S why I’ve never felt like I’ve loved anyone” is the message my brain gave me.
The blog I was reading is by a lady named Sindhu. She came by to visit after reading a comment I had made on another blog. So, of course I had to have a poke around her site to see what she writes about. The first entry I read is about self-love and how, no matter what happened in her life and the differences between her and other people, she has always had this inner capacity for a healthy dose of self-love. This has enabled her to be resilient, self-sufficient and to have an endless supply of love for the friends and family members in her life.
Here is where the light bulb hit me. I have written before about how I ate my emotions. I avoided my feelings. Every single one of them. Hate, love, anger, confusion, frustration, joy, gladness. I could continue writing a huge list here but I am sure you get the idea. No matter the emotion, it either didn’t register on my gauge, or barely made the mercury rise above zero. They were all there, but all buried so deeply below the surface they were like an iceberg. 10% above the water and 90% below, hidden from view. Hidden from recognition. And hidden from the knowledge that I was entitled to experience them.
The thing is, my feelings FOR other people were exactly the same as they were for me. Iceberg-like.
I was 18 the first time I acknowledged to myself that I had FUN on a night out (a friend’s 19th birthday party). People would hug me and tell me they loved me, and I would say the words back to them, but I wouldn’t feel them within. While other teenagers were fawning over the boys in school or the celebrity superstar, putting posters up, writing love messages all over their school folders and pencil cases, I kept my distance, kept to myself, and found it really difficult to understand how they could feel that way.
It did occur to me sometime in my mid 30’s to wonder why I seemed so different to everyone around me, but I never got much of an answer. It was kind of like I was separate from myself.
You see, I always knew, from a very young age, that I was unworthy. That I did not deserve to be loved. That I didn’t deserve to have friends. At least any real ones. Two of the three friends I did have during school were always fighting amongst themselves and I was the one who kept the peace. I listened. I guess it was like I had my role in the group but didn’t really belong. I would visit their houses and see the evidence of their boy/celebrity crushes and I never had that. I was separate. 30 years on, I’m not sure what they would say about that time and how they saw me.
So, this blog I read today and the light bulb it generated…
I realised that the reason I was never really able to feel the emotions that other people felt, FOR other people, is because I was never able to feel them for ME. I was never allowed to feel them. So I didn’t. I numbed them. And buried them so deep inside that trying to get them out has taken a lot of soul searching. A lot of time and effort. A lot of wondering whether I am normal.
So much makes sense now.
Stop the pattern of eating my emotions. Recognise their existence. Use the strategies I’ve learned to manage the thoughts. Love myself. Nurture myself.
I’ll let you know when the tears stop flowing.