Unleashing My Inner Awesome

My "journey" through health, fitness and life in general

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Geelong Ironman

So yeah. This happened. My entry into my first half-Ironman, and I haven’t even completed an Olympic distance triathlon yet! I blame peer pressure, but there was just a little bit of Big Hairy-Arsed Goal going on as well.

I have thought about doing it for a while. Since my first half marathon in fact, when I decided that was fun but it would have been better if it was longer, although I don’t think I could run a marathon. Why not preceded the 21.1km with some good old-fashioned non-weight bearing exercise then?

Bloody good idea, if you ask me! And so it happened. I have (as of today) 43 weeks and 5 days until race day.

I also have a Facebook page, which is my training diary. It’s here…

Come and join me! Let’s all be a little bit crazy. Although as my good mate De never ceases to stop reminding me, “that’s taking things a bit too far!”

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People are real.

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Real women have curves. 

Real women have muscles. 

Real women are skinny. 

Real women lift weights. 

Real women run. 

Real women need help getting the lid off the pasta sauce jar. 

Real women stay at home and look after their families. 

Real women have 14 children. 

Real women have no children. 

Real women have PhDs. 

Real women empty garbage bins and clean toilets and read comics and read the bible and believe in science but not God and run and lift weights and eat bread and eat bacon and eat fucking tofu if they want.

Enough of the “real women are…” bullshit. Real women are real. Otherwise they wouldn’t be. Defining a particular shape or size or type of woman as real defines everyone else as unreal. Really? You really wanna go down that judgemental route? 

That is all. 

Do you need a hug?

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Something I’ve noticed more lately is that for so many people, their view of others is inextricably linked to their own self-worth and sense of self-respect. They judge the living daylights out of people, and more often than not the judgement comes from the fact that what they hate most about themselves is what they see reflected in others. 

A University of Georgia study found that men who are homophobic are also more aroused by sexual photos of other men. I personally believe this is also true of other statements of judgement. The woman who frowns on the weight gain of another is afraid that she will gain weight if she stops the harsh restrictions she has placed on her own diet. The person who judges those recovering from eating disorders for pigging out on cupcakes at 3am has done the same thing, and hates herself for it. 

Judging others merely reflects on our own fears and insecurities. Maybe what we all need to do is to take a step backwards and truly look at what we frown upon, because it is these inner turmoils that tell us the most about our own character and fears. 

It is impossible to love others fully until we love ourselves. The fear that others will see through our imperfections and be turned off by our “true” self happens to so many people so often. But what are we really afraid of? Nobody is perfect. The way of life that works for one is completely unacceptable to others. Love where you are now, today, and not what you will be when you lose those last 5kg, or run that 10k in under an hour, or fit into that perfect dress. There will always be something that can be improved on. Don’t wait until you are perfect before you start living your perfect life.

Oh, and the person who abuses you and calls you names? Give her the biggest hug. She probably needs it most of all. 

That was unexpected.

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Wow. Just, um, wow. So grateful to all of you for reading my post yesterday. 

I was a bit scared before posting, putting it out there and all. And then people read it, and responded, and now you all know where I am. 

No more hiding. No more accepting unquestioningly. No more pretending to be someone I’m not, or trying to be someone I don’t really want to be. Now I’m me. 

So thank you.

How to lose friends and piss people off…

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There’s a known psychological phenomenon called the Confirmation Bias. Basically it means that you tend to look for evidence to support what you already believe, and ignore things that contradict your beliefs. The more strongly held the belief, the less you’ll look for contradiction. 

So why am I telling you this? Because it’s time I came out. This is a pretty tricky blog post to write, and it’s been going round and round in my head in various ways for a while. Apologies if I ramble, and for those of you who are used to my brevity you may want to go and make a cup of tea, but here goes. 

I was wrong. There, I said it. I was wrong but now I know better and I’m changing. 

I lost 28kg last year and the year before by restricting my calories to 1200 per day and exercising most days. It worked. My body shrank, I went from a non-exerciser to running a half marathon and doing triathlons, I fitted into a size 12 most days and a 10 on a good day, and my body fat percentage decreased massively. 

People kept saying to me “you must feel so much better!” I’d smile and nod and say “yes, I do!” But you know what? That was actually bullshit. I felt the same. No, I felt sluggish. I did my workouts and then went home and slept. My hair fell out, my nails got spotty and my skin got dry. I was fuzzy in the head and just didn’t want to most of the time. But I had LOST WEIGHT! I felt awesome, didn’t I? I dunno, if this was what it was supposed to feel like it just all felt wrong.

I’d stopped losing weight. My solution to that was to try harder. Eat the “right” 1200 calories and exercise the “right” way and my body would continue to drop weight, right? Obviously I was doing it all wrong. I was still only at the upper end of my healthy BMI. 

And the restriction! Low fat this, sugar free that. Saturated fats and sugar are the devil incarnate, and if they don’t kill you you still shouldn’t eat them because they take up too many of your precious precious 1200 daily calories. 

So one day I was randomly cruising the internet, researching nutritional information as you do. Did I mention a large part of my waking non-working non-studying mental time was spent thinking about what I had eaten, what I was going to eat and what I “couldn’t” eat? Yeah, fun. And I found GoKaleo. Actually, you know what? I found it when I was searching for the perfect “Green Smoothie”, which for the uninitiated is a particularly tasteless and bitter concoction of blended green vegetables, intended to give you a concentrated hit of nutrients without using too many of the precious precious calories. 

I read. And I read. And I read more. Initially with skepticism – eat my total daily energy expenditure to maintain my metabolism? Yeah, right. Obviously this chick didn’t realise that my TDEE was usually over 3000 calories a day. Obviously I’m the exception to that rule. 

And stop exercising while your body “heals” from massive undernutrition? Pigs bum. 

And what was this shit about eating disorders? I eat healthy. Quite clearly Amber, the page’s author, was a particular version of insane. 

But something started to niggle, and I did more research, and I found my thinking gradually but quite clearly swinging in a very different direction. 

So here’s what I’ve learned. In a nutshell. 

  1. Restricting your intake to less than the amount needed to keep a comatose 18 year old girl alive does not do your metabolism any favours. 
  2. When you exercise you need to fuel your body. The more exercise, the more fuel. Exercise isn’t a punishment for eating the “wrong” foods, it’s a way to maintain your body’s health. 
  3. Eating less than your basal metabolic rate will destroy your metabolism. Your body will shut down and stop losing. Then when you eat more, it will hang onto Every. Little. Bit. that you give it. It’s in full on panic mode! It doesn’t know when you’re going to feed it properly again. That’s why 95-98% of people (depending on which study you read) who lose weight regain it within 2 years. 
  4. There are no bad foods. There are foods that nourish and nurture your body better than others. But eating “bad” foods? No such thing. 
  5. Exercise is supposed to be something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Don’t do weights/cardio/Crossfit/swimming/yoga/whatever because it’s the latest and greatest, do it because you LOVE it! 

So here’s what I’m doing now. I’m eating the food! And lifting the things, and running and swimming and cycling. The net result so far is I am HEALING! My metabolism is running faster than it ever has, and I know this because I feel healthier than I ever have. Ever. Oh, and there’s the little issue of an appropriate amount of fat and calories leading to hormonal stabilisation, which apparently is good for the libido. Or so I’ve found… 

Right now, I’m in healing mode. I’m pretty sure I’m nearly done with that, and I will be able to start getting rid of my excess fat that’s still attached to my hips. But how I will do that will be to build muscle by lifting heavy shit and EATING (are we seeing a pattern yet?), and by eating a slight restriction of 300-500 calories a day under my TDEE, which means I will still be eating 2500 – 2800 calories a day. Unless I do a really big workout, like a 100km bike ride or something, in which case I’ll eat MORE FOOD! Sacrilege, I know. I’ve put on weight. I’m 10kg heavier than my restricted lowest weight, and that’s now stopped, which hopefully means my metabolism has healed and I’m maintaining, and now I can work with what I’ve got.   

As a poster child for calorie restricted weight loss coming out like this is difficult. I was wrong, and by definition I’m saying most of my friends are wrong. I’m never going to come over all evangelical, this blog is the one outlet where I’ll actually talk about this, and in real life I’ll just do what I need to. But I will no longer hide what I’m doing. 

My clothes are a bit tight, but I can eat icecream, my hair is glossy and thick and I have energy to do things! I feel as awesome as I should have felt when I lost weight. Now I’m working on creating the best body I can. I went a bit FINGER UP FUCK YOU UNIVERSE initially, and did the whole shebang, including a dose of KFC. Bad idea as it turns out. Apparently even in the “I can eat anything I want!” universe, my body doesn’t like KFC. But now I know that for sure and I’m not just restricting it to prove a point. 

Oh, and the “I don’t have an eating disorder” thing? Yeah, according to the DSM-IV, I put on weight initially due to a binge eating disorder, and lost it with a bad case of orthorexia. And judgementalism, for which I apologise profusely. 

Amber’s Facebook group is here. Feel free to come and hang out if you like. 

I’m Awesome and so are You

There’s this blog I read, GoKaleo.com, and the owner (hi Amber!) made a picture about herself. And then her blog readers and Facebook followers did.

Anyway, I thought it was an awesome idea and decided I’d do one too.

Every single one of these people is awesome. Every single one inspires the living hell out of me.

Enjoy.

Aby

Al

Anais

 

JulieL

Anita

Cassidy

Catherine

Cathy

Courtney

Danica

Emily

Georgina

Greg

Jodie

Julia

Julie

KateB

KateG

Kirsty

Kylie

Lauren

Leanne

Leelee

Leisa

Leonie

Lisa

Logan

Lyndal

Maryan

Michaela

Michelle

Nicole

Nyree

Sherrell

Rach

Rowie

Sarah

Shirley

Tammy

Tania

Tara

Tasha

Tracey

Vicki

Zoe

Martine

Lynda

Colleen

Donna

KateJ

Sharon

Katrina

Angela

KirstyH

Bron Emma Jo TraceyE

Kirsten Kristie

Ruth

Again, stronger

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Another round of 12WBT. Lean and Strong program this time. Weights and strength and general all-round awesomeness. 12 weeks off running is going to be tough, but I need to build muscle.

When my friends are all in nursing homes and struggling to get out of their chairs, I won’t be. I want to be like the amazing man who goes to a lot of the same triathlons as me. He wins his age category every time, because he’s usually the only one in it. He’s 91.

He’s my fitness hero.

To This Day.

To this day. Someone linked me to this amazing poem by Shane Koyczan and I’m now sharing it with you. Because I can. Watch it all the way through please.

To this day, I mourn the years I lost to an emotionally abusive marriage, because I didn’t believe I deserved better.

To this day I remember watching the bullies at my school jumping up and down on the pencil case I painted because I had to run to my locker to get something, and wondering why they would do something like that, and why nobody stopped them.

To this day the flush of red whenever I feel that someone is belittling or humiliating me reminds me of the tablets I used to overdose on (just a little bit) so that I could get out of school because it was becoming overwhelming and it was either organise a day off or seriously consider how I was going to kill myself.

To this day I look at my husband with mistrust when he goes away for work because like my father when I was 7, I expect him to say I’ll be back and then just not come back. Ever.

To this day I laugh on the inside at people who tell me I’m motivating or amazing or powerful, because I know, deep down, on the inside, they’re wrong.

To this day I expect the world to wake up and realise I’m a fraud. Because for every single one of the impressionable years of my life and after I was told I was worthless or different or stupid, and you don’t grow up with something like that without it leaving scars.

Don’t criticise my body.

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So, this photo is obviously not me. Yet. The hair’s totally the wrong colour to begin with. But I want to talk about judgement and making comments on people’s bodies. Any people.

One thing I’ve noticed lately, since I’ve discarded the extra flab that I carried for so long, is that people now feel that they can make comments. “Don’t lose any more weight, you’re starting to look too skinny”. No, actually I’m still 2kg over my healthy BMI range (sorry to mention the dreaded BMI, but it IS a nice convenient measure that applies to lots of people). “Your face is starting to look too thin”. And the one I’ve noticed most frequently lately, “You’ve lost weight!”

No shit Sherlock! Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed! Those are the responses in my head (no, I haven’t verbalised them yet, but I’m this >< close!).

I’d like to know what makes it appropriate or polite to comment on the appearance of someone who’s either thin or has lost a lot of weight (enough to be obvious). If it’s rude to comment when someone is obese, has a big nose, has an arm or leg missing or has a physical appearance that is otherwise slightly different, why is it not rude to comment on everyone’s physical appearance? Would the same people who said to me “You’ve lost weight!” have said “You’ve gained weight!” No, they didn’t. And they’d never even consider saying “Don’t put on any more weight, you’re starting to look a bit chubby”, would they? One would hope not anyway.

So how about we start treating each and every person with respect and dignity, no matter what their physical appearance? How about not commenting on how someone looks, ever? Unless it’s complimentary. How about following Grandma’s old maxim, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all?

On honesty, integrity and belief systems

brainEvents of recent days have brought out the amateur psychologist in me. I’ve always been intrigued by the way people think and behave. Actually maybe I’m more of a sociologist, because the theory behind human interactions is where my interest lies.

For the past couple of days a good friend has been going through a tough time. There has been bullying, harassment and generally not very nice behaviour involved. And it’s got me thinking.

I really think the people leading this online abuse are working on the assumption of a type of false consensus bias. They truly believe that everyone operates within the same belief system that they themselves come from. They are completely incapable of realising that some (very few) people in this world work from a completely altruistic viewpoint.

These kind and generous souls do things for other people in the complete understanding that they will receive nothing in return. They believe that a healthy community flourishes when everyone helps everybody else. They do not come from “what’s in it for me?” but from “what can I contribute?” Unfortunately due to its rarity, this belief system can lead to problems such as those I’ve been caught up in recent days, where the person being bullied becomes confused. They also believe that people are like them, and can’t see that some people don’t see the good in anyone and basically operate as if everyone is out to get them. This can lead to the frequent breakdown of friendships, relationships and the sense of community, and eventually the person is left with themselves. And often they never particularly liked themselves in the first place, so the outcome isn’t good.

There are counselling and motivational techniques available to help people in these situations, but they will only work once the person themselves realises they need help. Unfortunately the world still contains some sad souls who think and behave in this way and honestly believe they are right. But it would be a boring old world if we were all the same, wouldn’t it?

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