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

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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