Vulnerability

Need to find a place/way to articulate my thoughts so going to use this blog, even/especially without an audience.

I’ve had years of terrible issues with my back with numerous acute events leading to bed rest and rehab at various times over the years. This has been minimal over the past three or so years after I read a book that suggested my back pain was more about suppressing emotions than anything physical. I’m not a fan of feelings but since then, have tried to tune into how I feel and quite often when I’m out walking will ask myself what I’m feeling. I’d never profess to be good at tapping into my feelings but it seemed to be enough to minimise my back issues.

Now, I’m not having back issues at the moment (touch wood) but I am certainly having an overflow of emotions.

In my current “situation” I’ve had to admit a whole heap of things to myself and it scares the shit out of me.

I’ve never really allowed myself to think about having children before. When I was younger, it was just something that would happen one day. Then as I got older, I pretended I didn’t want it. A little bit older and I secretly thought “I could still do that” when I heard about people older than me that were having children. But I never articulated that or even really admitted to myself that I wanted it.

Then this happened.

And now I can’t admit to myself how much I might want this because I’m still so terrified it could be taken away from me. As each day passes, I get a tiny bit more hopeful. Then I have another scare and I become an emotional wreck as I think about what might be happening.

I have never felt so vulnerable in all my life.

I’m finally admitting my feelings and have never felt to powerless and vulnerable. I have no control over what happens, there are no absolutes and I can do very little to change things. This is from someone who has been fiercely independent for years, in control of my career, thrives on routine and has not submitted to a real relationship in years.

I’ve realised I don’t have the coping mechanisms for this kind of emotional roller coaster of vulnerability. I had another scare on Friday and it left me incapacitated – a crying wreck not sure how I would cope if this didn’t work out.

I would normally minimise any changes until all this played out but that’s not possible. We’ve made changes at work, I’m moving to a larger house, my family are all up to speed (and excited) and I’m scaling back on most other activities.

That’s it, nothing else to say. Just admitting that I’m scared. So scared. Of what could go wrong. Of how I could cope if it did. And even of how I’m going to cope if it all goes right. I’m guessing some will say “welcome to motherhood”.

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A five year commitment

 

we-did-it-before-and-we-ll-do-it-again

Having made a ripper start to my weight loss in the second half of 2016, then letting loose over Christmas and my birthday, I was finding it hard to get back into the swing of things.  But I was finding it hard to figure out what to do about it.  I have to admit, last year I had looked into surgery but to be honest the idea of it just doesn’t sit well with me.  I’ve always felt that I should be able to undertake weight loss myself i.e. without shakes, surgery, drugs etc.  Let me be clear, I don’t judge other people for using these options, they’re just not for me.  But I have previously used programs that provided me with diet and exercise advice/programs.

Based on what I think has worked for me previously (restricting my food intake), I’ve signed up with Jenny Craig.  I have to admit, I’ve always felt like there was a stigma attached to JC and WW.  A thought that I’ve had for years that is unfounded.  Why should I judge something that is obviously successful and has worked for many years?  Why should I judge (and assume others judge) something that really just puts into practice what we should be doing every day?

So I screwed up the courage and made an online enquiry which resulted in an appointment.  Now I’ve driven past the offices a number of times and never spotted anyone going in or out.  But now it was me and who might see me going in?  Would they judge me?  Think to themselves “damn right she should be going in there” or “crikey, that’s obviously not working for her – look at the size of her”.  Gosh I hate how my head gets in the way sometimes!

But I did it anyway.  I walked straight in that door and didn’t feel daggers flying or anything!

china-5-year-planI walked in thinking that I would sign up and slot into their delivery schedule and would therefore probably start the following week. But no – they have all the meals there and you can walk out with them and start straight away.  Part of the sign-up is to buy a program in essence.  They advertise dollars for kilos but with about 30 kilos to lose and far too many experiences of gaining weight as soon as I lose it, I was thinking long term.  So get this, I signed up for FIVE YEARS.  Food and regular appointments til I get to my goal weight then maintenance from there.  If (when) I get to the five year mark, if I’m within 1-2kgs of my goal weight, they’ll refund my membership.

Now of course, this isn’t about the money. This is about maintenance. This is about the fact that I’ve never been able to keep weight off as soon as I stop losing.  The aim of the JC program is to allow me to lose but learn to eat properly, particularly portion control.  And to be accountable over a longer period of time.

Whilst I had to pick a goal weight, my goal is actually clothes.  I have sooooo many clothes I can’t wear.  Recently I put them all in groups – 22/24, 18/20 and 14/16.  I have some really lovely size 14 and 16 clothes that I bought in New York City that I’ve hardly worn.  I’m looking forward to pulling those ones out.

Stay tuned!

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Deja Vu

Here we go again.  Claiming to be back on the wagon.  That it’s different this time.  This time I’ll stick with it, get the results and make sure that I don’t gain it all back.

Deja vu much?

So what is different about this time?

No idea.

Here’s what I do know.  I’m wholly aware of what I’m eating and the choices I’m making.  I’m not obsessing about how much I’m not exercising and focussing more on balance.  Which is critical at the moment with full time work, rehearsing for a show, studying, volunteering, playing sports and just being.

So instead of constantly criticising myself, feeling guilty for not getting up at 5am every day to go for a walk and teetering on the edge of a downward spiral, I’m OK.  In fact, more than OK, I’m thriving on it.

The weight is consistently dropping, I have energy and I’m looking ahead thinking that I can see this being sustainable.

I also have perspective on why the other times haven’t been sustainable.  For the most recent weight-loss (56kgs over about 18 months) I went hard at it.  I was exercising 7-10 times a week, strictly eating to the required calorie count (1200 day) and focused on the scales.  And it worked.  Physically at least.  I dropped a heap of weight and was really fit.

Mentally not so much.  I couldn’t “see” me.  I could see the before and afters and the weight that had disappeared but I couldn’t relate to the person in the after pictures.  My whole life I’ve been a before picture and I didn’t know how to be fit and healthy.  It was ridiculously easy to slip back into not exercising, eating copious amounts of crap and loading most of the weight back on.

Earlier this year I was depressed and thinking that surgery was the only option open to me.  I thought that I had adjusted my eating and still wasn’t losing weight so maybe I should resort to surgery.  But even that was only half a thought and I just continued along as always.

I don’t know exactly what has now caused this shift in my thinking – I’m pretty sure I’d be a trillionaire if we could figure out what makes us tick with regard to weight loss. But I’m going to run with it whatever it is.

I’m learning that I need to find a balance between flexibility and routine.  I thrive on routine but it’s not always possible to the next best thing is to apply a level of flexibility.  Routine for me was three solid meals a day, plus snacks.  Now, it’s at least two healthy meals plus healthy snacks.  It’s having a glass of wine with my colleagues on Friday afternoon and a meal out with a friends occasionally.  I guess more than anything it’s awareness.  Knowing that I have a business lunch so planning smaller meals around that and also reviewing the menu early to make a good choice.  I kinda get the feeling that this is what everyone else has been doing their whole life. Guess I’m just a bit slow on the uptake…

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A great response to an ad that I didn’t even realise needed a response

Not sure if you’ve seen it but Oprah recently did a weight watchers commercial (following a significant investment in the business not long ago).

Check out a summary and a great response here

Given the things that I’ve been struggling with recently (and for a great many years), I love her response.  It’s made me realise that I mustn’t be the only one that downgrades every achievement because I did it while I was overweight. And if Oprah thinks that, what hope have I got???

I guess at least I’m aware that I think that.  But I’m still not sure how on earth I go about changing those thoughts.

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Is it time to be a Phenomenal Woman?

A friend of mine that’s recently started her own life coaching business (bigbravely.com) posted a question on Facebook a while ago:

“What’s the one question about your life that still doesn’t seem to have an answer?”

I usually see these questions and read some responses and have a think but rarely actually submit an answer.  This time I did and I wrote “Why can’t I believe in me”.

And Sheri’s response, quick as a flash, was “I see a lot of contradiction in that question, knowing some of the awesome, brave things you’ve done and continue to pursue.  Easy for her I think, she only sees what I publicly post, not privately battle with.

Then, I had some dear friends from across the ditch come visit me and I made a comment about not liking to watch movies from my teenage years as I felt life had such promise then and look at me now.  They seem genuinely confused and said they’d just been talking about me on the plane trip and how brave I was in some of my recent life choices.

Like most things, I very rarely react and just let things stew.  And stew.  And after a bit more stewing, I had an epiphany.

Ready for this?

I have always, and continue to, define myself by my weight.  Which means I’m never happy.  Everything I achieve and might feel a smidgeon of pride about always has an underlying dissatisfaction about it because I’m never happy with me.

If I were looking in from the outside, here’s what I might see:

  • Courage to move to a country she had never visited and didn’t know anyone – and had made some great friends in doing so
  • Took the leap from a field she had worked in for 10 years into the private sector
  • Studying for her Masters in Construction Management (with a High Distinction average)
  • Learning to sing in public – and finding occasions to do so

Not so bad huh?  But to me, all of that is not worthy of celebration if I am still overweight. To be honest, I’m constantly surprised that people are nice to me, want to be friends with me and interact with me professionally, because all I am is overweight.  And don’t even get me started on guys that may express an interest in wanting to be more than friends!

A couple of years ago I lost a shit ton of weight (official measurement) but didn’t see the achievement.  Now I’ve gained a lot of that back and trying to figure out what happened.  I think part of it was that I treated myself like a project.  Don’t think about anything, just follow the program and work hard (works in my professional life).  But then when the project was over, nothing had changed, I hadn’t learned anything so I went back to the old way of life.

The two key times in my life I have lost a significant amount of weight was before I travelled overseas.  So I’ve tried to use the same motivation this time.  For the last two years I’ve been thinking about my Christmas in New York City and how I wanted to be back to that weight from my USA trip in 2013.  Except it hasn’t happened.  And now I’m looking down the barrel of a trip overseas that I can’t get excited about because I don’t want to look like this.

So now is a time to actually be brave.  To own my choices that have led me to being this size, but not let it define me.  Why on earth would I waste an opportunity to have an amazing Christmas with my parents in a beautiful city on the other side of the world because I can’t get happy about me???  Just like, in every day life, why do I not cheer myself on and instead see everything as I think I am perceived?  It’s sheer madness and it has to stop.  For goodness sake, I am 40 years old and can’t find happiness because I think people are judging me like we’re still in a school yard.

I am all for accountability and responsibility (especially in my career) so now I turn it back on me.  I take responsibility for my happiness, for my achievements and for the ability to see what the goods things in my life are.  I have gratitude for so many things that I’m really just cheapening it by discounting all the good because of something that I let define me.

Time to get my Maya Angelou on:

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Moderation vs Abstinence

I’ve always thought I can’t do moderation. More of an all or nothing sort of person, for better or worse. When I’m focussed and committed to my weight loss goals, I remove all temptation from the house and don’t even consider consuming anything that doesn’t help me reach my goals. But, as I’ve seen over the last couple of years, as soon as I relax, the all or nothing becomes all and the temptations are back in the cupboard and being consumed by the dozen.

So maybe all or nothing/abstinence doesn’t work so well for me as a long term practice.

Since mid-January I’ve been working on nourishment and moderation. That’s not to say that I have a whole heap of treats in my cupboard, because I don’t. But I do acknowledge that they exist, in fact they’re everywhere. So if I can’t avoid seeing them, I can choose not to have them. Or to partake in moderation. What a concept!

At work the rule is that you organise morning tea for your own birthday. January/February has seen a LOT of birthdays. It’s not usually the healthiest of food so I make a decision about whether I would like some (only a small amount) and feel OK with that decision. I don’t barter with myself (one piece of cake equals 50 squats), I just accept the decision I have made, ensure I stay on track for the rest of the day and move on.

This is such a novel concept to me!

And I’m finding these little treats are not stopping me from losing weight. I enjoy them, taste every mouthful then get back to health eating.

The other day I thought I’d been tracking well so on the way to the supermarket, I gave myself permission to buy a small treat. But while I was in the supermarket and standing in front of said treat, I thought that I wasn’t craving it, so why bother? Walked away and continued my shopping.

I’m finding that I feel in control of me. I see food as fuel and nourishment. It doesn’t dictate my feelings, I don’t give it the power to control me and I have no desire to stray from healthy eating or binge. When I do partake, be it something sweet or alcohol, I enjoy it then move on.

The funny thing is, I was at a meeting the other day and someone had made a cake for the meeting. I had a small sliver but to be honest, it wasn’t that nice and I was kind of disappointed that I had allowed myself cake then didn’t enjoy it. Can’t win some days!

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Trusting your Health Professional

For those that don’t know, I have very fair skin and have had my fair share of skin cancers. Not just the delightful, freeze your face off every six months kind but also the kind that requires surgery (melanoma, SCC etc).

I’m in the process of getting another SCC dealt with and feeling very uncertain about the advice I’m receiving.

At the end of the day, we have to trust our gut when it comes to our own health. We are the only ones who are going to fight for ourselves, lose sleep over our situations or demand a different course of action. While we are lucky in Australia and New Zealand to have free access to healthcare, it doesn’t mean that the system is always working for us. Resources are stretched, tests cost money and we rarely create a bond with our health professionals. I don’t doubt that they use their best judgement to try and make the best (well informed) decision for me but it feels that they rarely take into account my history and why I might be hesitant about their diagnosis.

About three years ago I had a terrible situation where an SCC that was removed from my face was not managed appropriately and resulted in my scar splitting open and a second surgery that means I now have a large graft (flap for this in the know) on my neck. At the time, it was what it was. Nothing I could do, be grateful/hope they got it all the second time and no point worrying about the bloody great scar. Kind of how I’ve dealt with most things – nothing I can do so accept and move on.

But I think now that was me being TOO trusting. The local surgeon was highly regarded, it was who my GP referred me to so I went with it. Looking at the scar now, while it’s faded, the stitches are quite crude and I know he was never pleased (and potentially a little embarrassed) at how it turned out. I remember in my groggy state after surgery that he admitted he had to take much more that he had anticipated.

I had a friend a while ago ask me if I had ever thought of having a plastic surgeon have a go at tidying it up. To be honest I was pretty offended but now I can at least admit that I see where she was coming from.

Anyway, all this is leading to the fact that here I am in a new country, with a GP I’ve only met twice and I’m looking to her to make the best decision for me about a recently diagnosed SCC. Incidentally, my original GP back in Oz looked at it a few years ago and dismissed it as my just getting old and that’s what happens. No blame, just another case of me not trusting my gut when it comes to my skin.

I was out walking this morning and next minute realise that I have tears streaming down my face. I’m scared. I don’t have a good experience with having skin cancers dealt with appropriately and I don’t have enough of a relationship with my new GP to trust her decision making. No reflection on her skill, just my need to trust her. So I’m taking action. I’ll book an appointment today with a dermatologist that I’ve had recommended (and researched). I’ll explain to my GP that I appreciate her skills but, given my history, I would prefer to be managed by a specialist.

I appreciate the training and dedication required to be a health professional and have utmost respect for those working in that field. But at the end of the day, I’ve been too trusting of people because of their qualifications and not trusting my own instinct. I acknowledge and accept there’s nothing I can do about my face, and to be honest as long as the skin cancer is gone I don’t mind what size the scar is, but I do prefer that it is dealt with once rather than a second surgery on the same site. My skin is a ticking time bomb and only I can truly be responsible for managing it.

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