2015

maxresdefaultIn 2015, I will turn 40 years old.  40. I’m sure it wasn’t long ago that I was learning to write my name (a huge achievement with a surname like mine), having to learn to write with my left hand when I broke my collarbone coming off a motorbike, going to high school, learning to drive, leaving home.

But 2015 and turning 40 isn’t about being maudlin. It’s about identifying what I can improve on, learning from past mistakes and having a bloody great time in the process.

Health: 2015 is about losing weight. It’s about finding my love of fitness again. Setting some great goals with my trainer and appreciating the hard work I put into achieving optimal health.

Career: I’m going to work hard to develop my skills and confidence in my skills.  I’m going to try to work with my boss and find a way to assist him to appropriately represent the department. I’m going to focus on the career goals I’ve mapped out in the last week and commit to my Masters study. But I’m also going to be open to opportunity – challenge my work comfort zones.

Money: I’m going to save, save, save so I can enjoy my trip to America at the end of the year.  Eating healthily will help, as will remaining vigilant on buying unnecessary items.

Life:  Hmmmm. What about life? I’d like to get back into singing and acting.  I want to continue to develop a circle of friends and find people that make me laugh and challenge me intellectually. I’d love to learn to play the slide guitar but I think that will be a bit longer term – better focus on my study!

Mindset:  A few things on this one.  Firstly, while I’m determined to lose weight this year, I’m afraid that (yet again) it is linked to a major event.  I never realised it before, but the two times I’ve been really successful with weight loss, it’s been prior to overseas travel.  Instead of losing weight for my own wellbeing and whole of life, it’s been about feeling good for one event.  At least I’m aware of it I guess.  Secondly, I’ve made an appointment in early Jan for hypnotherapy.  As I’ve previously identified, I think I re-gain the weight I lose because I have never dealt with the reason for being overweight in the first place.  Best I actually do that this time.

What else.  Exploring my adopted country, I’ve got tickets to a few concerts (Ed Sheeran & Foo Fighters) and like I said, heading to America at the end of the year – Christmas in New York!

Happy New Year!

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Is that who I am?

I’ve really struggled recently with eating well, then not eating well, then hating myself, then being sad for hating myself, then trying to find new resolve to change. I’ve spent most (all) of my life hating myself and I’m really tired. I try to tell myself to be kind, forgive my mistakes and move on but that doesn’t work. I try to remember what happened and what I was thinking when I lost a heap of weight but that’s got me buggered. I’m just so tired of never being happy or satisfied and having to pretend that everything is OK. I’m tired of thinking that my weight defines me. I’m tired of never acknowledging my own accomplishments and things I may like about myself because I focus on my weight. I’m tired of thinking that at my age I’ve missed all my chances to be someone I might like. I’m tired of being ashamed of being one of those people that lost a heap of weight and couldn’t keep it off. I’m tired of setting goals then failing. I’m tired of not doing things until I “lose some weight”. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t go home to see family and friends cause I’m ashamed. I’m tired of being a constant disappointment to myself. I’m just really tired of being me.

I’ve always been broken underneath my smile
So you think that I was happy all the while
If I’m being honest I didn’t stand a chance
Is that who I am?

Staring at my saddle for way too long
If I never did nothing then nothing could go wrong
I’ve always been singing, I never had a song
Is that who I am?

*Chorus*
I see big bright lights burning in the atmosphere
Calling my name, calling my name
Sayin’ I don’t have to be the way I’ve been
And I still gotta lotta soul underneath my skin
And it’s calling my name, calling my name
Is that who I am?

Am I just the lone soul blowing in the wind?
Or a coward scared to look within?
Or do I have a brave heart with a light so dim
Is that who I am?

*Chorus*
I see big bright lights burning in the atmosphere
Calling my name, calling my name
Sayin’ I don’t have to be the way I’ve been
And I still gotta lotta soul underneath my skin
And it’s calling my name, calling my name
Is that who I am?

Sayin’ I don’t have to be the way I’ve been
And I still gotta lotta soul underneath my skin
And it’s calling my name, calling my name
Is that who I am?

(Moakler, Steven Thomas / Benward, Aaron Jeoffrey / Shankel, Shaun)

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Back pain, feelings and epiphanies

I have had back pain for most of my life.  It hasn’t been from a trauma or anything in particular, but it has caused great disruption in my life for a great number of years.  Physically, mentally and financially.

The worst was a few years ago when it went out and I was out for a few months.  Off work, no training and significant rehab to return to normal life.

I have seen specialists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, doctors, massage therapists and acupuncturists.  Just to name a few.  I’ve had to adjust so many things in my life.  I can’t vacuum, I can’t mow lawns, I shouldn’t run, I can’t drive for long periods, I shouldn’t lift heavy things – the list goes on.

The greatest effect this has had on me is living with fear.  Fear that it will happen again.  And where it might happen.  And the impact it will have on my life and those around me that have to care for me.  And the embarrassment of having to take more time off work (and other activities) because my dumb back has gone out.

I think subconsciously I have known that my pain may be linked to my psychological health.  Whether it was the fear causing a self-fulfilling prophecy or my body telling me to slow down/take a step back/reduce stress, I’m ready to face the fact that the pain is more psychological than physical.

I read an article recently on MindBodyGreen about a guy that had terrible back pain and had been told he would need to limit daily activities.  Then he read a book and it changed everything for him.  “So what?” I thought.  “How can that relate to me? My case is different.  A book can’t fix my back issues…but it can’t hurt to read it, can it?”

9780446392303_p0_v1_s260x420So I downloaded it.  Healing Back Pain by Dr John Sarno.  It was cheap, it was short and it was written in 1991.  Wasn’t shaping up to be the the cure-all I’d read about.  Then I started reading.  The epiphanies were hitting me like a WWF Diva. And the hits just kept on coming:

“Except for the very brave few, most people who have had such an attack (recurrent acute attack) never again engage in vigorous physical activity with an easy mind.  They have been sensitised by the experience and all that it is supposed to imply and they see themselves, to a greater or lesser degree, as permanently altered.  They fear another attack and eventually it comes.  It may be six months or a year later but the prophecy is fulfilled and the dreaded event occurs again.  As before, the person usually attributes the attack to some physical incidence.”

Daily Reminders:
The pain is due to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), not to a structural abnormality
The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation
TMS is a harmless condition, caused by my repressed emotions
The principal emotion is repressed anger
TMS exists only to distract my attention from the emotions
Since my back is basically normal there is nothing left to fear
Therefore, physical activity is not dangerous
And I must resume all normal physical activity
I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain
I will shift my attention from the pain to emotional issues
I intend to be in control – not my subconscious mind
I must think psychological at all times, not physical

Other physical manifestations can include migraines, mitral valve (heart) defects, headaches and frequent illness/colds.

The book basically says that the back pain is a result of repressed anger and anxiety.  But I don’t get angry.  I get the shits but I never get angry cause I don’t see the point in it.  But I don’t think it’s repressed. That’s when it hit me.  I don’t like to feel feelings at all.

I made a joke recently that I can’t handle emotions in other people cause I don’t even like feeling my own feelings.  Joke haha.  Except it’s true.  When did I stop feeling things? I look back over the past few years and I’ve slowly closed myself off.  I’m not sure how or why but I have.  And to what end.

When I look back on the times that my back went out, I always thought it was linked to a physical activity the day before.  I had mown the lawn, done lots of gardening, driven a long way.  The pattern that I am now seeing is that each time has been “convenient”.  Mum and Dad have been home to care for me (they travel a lot), work has been in a bit of a lull, etc etc.  Even earlier this year, it conveniently went when the boss was on leave and it was two days before a long weekend.  Another time was just before I was doing a 10km and a friends husband was going to be running with me as a pacer.  The major one was during an affair with someone that was totally inappropriate and wrong for me.  All things that were causing me stress and I obviously wasn’t dealing with.

The one that really got me was last year when I had lost so much weight and still it went out.  I was devastated.  What was the point of losing all that weight when my back was still going to be a problem? I didn’t consider that it might have had something to do with the major trip to the USA I was going on in a few short weeks.  Or the fact that I couldn’t relate to the physical being I had become with all the weight loss.

I went and saw a specialist and didn’t feel much resolution from the appointment and his advice.  But I get it now.  He was really not seeing anything unusual in my MRI films and encouraged me to still work for my goals (like running a marathon).  What he was actually suggesting was that he couldn’t see any issues (certainly nothing to warrant surgery) and nothing that should affect me as much as it does.  Rather sensitive for a surgeon who could have easily told me it was all in my head.

So.  Here’s the biggest epiphany of all.  Is this why I didn’t keep the weight off?  Was this the psychological stuff that I needed to deal with? Perhaps the answer is in how my back has felt since I read the book?

Pain free.

When I’m out walking I tell myself to feel my feelings.  I have laughed more in the last month than in a very long time.  And it’s only at the TV (cause I don’t know anyone here yet to have social interactions!). I realise it’s OK to feel sad sometimes, just as it’s OK to feel exhilarated.  But it’s not OK to feel nothing.  That’s where I’ve been going wrong.

I’m not saying this is the final answer and I’m all cured and going to get healthy and stay healthy and never have another issues to deal with.  That’d be kinda boring.  But I do have more self awareness and I challenge myself to feel stuff.  It’s OK to show that I care about things.  Because wouldn’t that make me identify and fight for what I want?

Passion.  That’ s my new word.

Passion

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The highly emotional post I wrote recently

Recently I went home to Aus for a holiday with my family.  On the flight over I wrote this post which had me in tears on the plane.  I haven’t re-read it but think I need to post it.

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It’s time to face some truths:

I don’t know.  I don’t know a lot of things.  In fact the list of things I don’t know would reach dizzying heights.  I don’t know the capital of Mongolia, I don’t know who the 3rd PM of Australia was and I don’t know the name of my fathers grandfather.

But these are things that I can look up, learn and remember.

What I can’t look up, learn or remember is how to live my best life.  Sure, I can read books and research the internet and remember happy times, but those things haven’t worked yet and I don’t know how to make them work.

A couple of years ago, I lost a lot of weight.  A lot.  A whole person of weight. I thought it would bring me happiness.  I thought I would find self confidence, learn to like (or possibly even love) myself and maybe, I would learn to open my heart to others.

But it didn’t do any of those things for me.  It got me healthy, it got me fit but it teach me how to be me.  I used to look at my before and after photos and I could SEE the difference but I didn’t FEEL the difference.  I couldn’t relate to the “after” person at all because to me I was still the same fat person.

Now, I’ve gained half that weight and more self loathing than ever.  I am sitting on a plane to go and see my family and have almost had to talk myself into going because I don’t want to acknowledge that the last time some of them saw me I was many kgs lighter.  That I’ve become that cliche of someone that lost a heap of weight but couldn’t keep it off.

I tell myself although I’ve gained weight, I’ve also gained strength.  In some ways that’s true.  My back pain has been addressed (turns out it was really just me not feeling my feelings) and I am certainly more self aware about how I feel.  Moving to NZ has also given me insight into my work and career skills.  I’ve learned a lot about what I’m good at and been pleasantly surprised at this knowledge and the respect I have gained in this role.

So, back to the original don’t know.  I don’t know how to live my best life.  I obviously still want to lose weight but I realise that life is about so much more than how I look.  It has to be. Here’s some other things I have realised:

I have pushed people (men) away because I think they cannot possibly like me.  The physical me. Even if I let them get close, I lose respect for them because how could they like someone like me.  I’ve been using a dating app recently but I never let anyone get close.  I have a photo on there of my face that is half decent and it makes me feel like a catfish.  So I post a full length photo so they can see what they would be getting.  Except they would never get it anyway because I wouldn’t let them.

TV is not my friend.  I come home from work, turn the TV on and then the rest of the evening is a combination of food and TV.

I don’t know how to love myself.  I don’t know what that would take or how to achieve it.  I am constantly surprised that I have friends or have the capability to make new ones.  If I can’t see anything worthy in myself, why would/should anyone else?

Here’s some things I do know:

Writing this post is a signal of strength and I want to build upon that.  I’ve been at the bottom of a well before and I have learned to recognise when I’m heading there again.  I have recognised that and will fight my way out.  There have been a lot of suicides of public figures recently as well as a work colleague not long ago.  I know that as bad as things get, I can’t do that.  Years ago, I sat in my car, in a closed garage, and fought with myself between turning the car on or going out into the fresh air.  Every day, we all have that choice and every day we have to make that decision.

Food is not my friend, my comforter, my ally nor my nemesis.  It is just food. It provides fuel for my body.  It does not make me feel better, cannot make me feel guilt and it can’t make me love myself.

Loving me should be an honour.  Loving myself is not proud or shameful, it is how I’m supposed to live life.  I used to say that when I was out running I would tell myself not to worry what people were thinking as they couldn’t think any worse of me than I didn’t already think about myself.  I should turn that around.  I should be my own cheer squad. I always felt that meant being egotistical, rude or a wanker but there’s nothing to say I can’t do it with humility.

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I read that now and think, if I had read that on the net I would be cheering the author.  So here’s me cheering me.  I still have a lot (A LOT) of work to do, both physically and mentally but I think realising what I didn’t address previously is a pretty significant step. Maybe I’ll always be a work in progress and I’m OK with that.  I was never that great with the idea of perfection anyway.

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Graduating (Masters in Procrastination)

graduateI have been studying for about 8 years.  Combined with full time work and other life stuff, it’s been pretty full on.  It’s also been with a Uni that has three sessions a year so it’s been pretty much nonstop for that whole time.

Not that I want to jinx it but I’m just two (successful) assignments away from finishing.  So my mind couldn’t help but wander to all the things I’ve avoided or not done by using study as an excuse.  Because that excuse is disappearing shortly so why not own up to the procrastination and start listing all the things I want to do:

Create (and keep to) a workout schedule – not just gym visits and PT but classes, weekend explorations and training for a half marathon.

Read long overdue books and magazine – I have lots of unopened health and fitness mags plus lots of books that I want to read.

Watch shows that I missed the first time round – West Wing, Friday Night Lights, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, True Detective.  Yep, I’ve missed em all.  Feel free to tell me about any others I should know about.

Do something with my singing – I’ve been lurking on sites that look for singers/people to collaborate with.  I’ve promised myself I’ll get the courage to contact people once I’m finished with Uni.

Explore NZ – regardless of how long I’m here for, I need to get out and discover this beautiful country.

Go to Suna Pilates – a work colleague has suggested we try it out.  I’ve been snowed with Uni but really want to, both for health benefits but to also have the work colleague become a friend.

Find something interesting to learn about – doing this degree has been all about getting the piece of paper.  I’m not sure that it’s really contributed to my career so if I study again I want it to be of benefit to my work.  Maybe Project Management or Construction.

Take some random classes that I know nothing about – I walked past a Cafe the other day that was advertising Art Classes.  I’m really crap at drawing and painting but who cares.  Or maybe some other random class.  I just did a quick google search and I think my first task is to figure out what it’s called over here (adult education and community college didn’t show anything).

No doubt I’ll be adding to this list – 8 years is a long time to procrastinate!!!

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Why I love working out

Call it endorphins, call it ego, call it whatever you like but I love working out.  While I do (usually) feel great after a workout, when I’m working hard with a trainer and doing things I never dreamed of doing , that’s when I feel best.

I think it’s because no matter how I feel about my weight or life in general, in the middle of a workout, I’m doing things that make me feel fit.  I remember years ago I was doing sprints with my trainer and being appreciative of her training me like I was a fit person.  Because it was just me running I had no clue how I measured against others and I didn’t care because, to me, I was fit baby!

images-19I wear a heart rate monitor (hurry up iWatch!) and love getting a really high reading, letting it drop then shooting through the roof again.  I’m constantly amazed at how quickly it drops which I guess must be an indication of my fitness.

While I still struggle with food and calorie intake the physical and mental benefits of working out mean that at least I can get a natural high and feel good about myself for at least part of the day!

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Pictures with words

Not doing so well at the moment so posting these to remind myself to stick with it….

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