Getting Real

Howdy folks.  I thought it was time for another blog post and also a lot of crap has been going through my brain and this is one great way to sort through it.

Let’s start with the dancing, that’s probably the cheeriest part.  The big news is that I’m doing a showcase next Friday.  The routine is still incomplete and I haven’t danced a full routine, much less in public, in many many months.  Also, I only have one wardrobe option because I ended up giving my other two dresses away.  Why?  I vowed I am changing and I refuse to be seen in those old dresses again.  I wanted to get rid of them because I wanted to send a message to my subconscious that I was serious about this vow, that there was no back door, no way out, that I have excised the choice to even step backwards and present myself as I was before.   Anyways, I’m doing a cha-cha to “Boogie Shoes” because I wanted to do something fun, light, and energetic.  I don’t feel too much pressure about this since it’s not a competitive setting and pretty much I just wanted to have some fun dancing.  I’ve been focusing so much on the technique lately, and all my lessons are so early in the morning, that it hasn’t been as much fun, even though I do enjoy my lessons for the most part.  So anyways, I’m looking forward to it and it’s also a plus because now I’ll have an open routine for if/when I dance next.  Happily, my husband and parents will be in attendance and there will be a DVD.

Also in dance news, I posted it on my Facebook page, that I was a super-lucky-ducky and because Damir is friends with Andrej Skufca and Melinda Torokgyorgy, he occasionally has them coach at the studio and I got one lesson with each.  Damir ended up being really sick so I was alone with them but it was absolutely wonderful.  It was so helpful to see the way Melinda moved and she was able to work with me on Rumba on basic steps.  We talked a lot about incorporating the upper body and arms, which basically stems from using the core, squeezing and compressing between the hips and ribs, which made it easier to coordinate the lats.  It definitely elucidated some muscle memory habits I have, and it also gave me the opportunity to feel the correct postures in my body.  On my lesson with Andrej, we worked on samba and it was also excellent.  He helped me, again with principles of dancing on basic steps and it again elucidated how much more movement I can be generating with the body of mine, which is kind of exciting while at the same time daunting.  It is also just wonderful to be in the presence of greatness, to stand beside these people, see how they are moving, and compare it to what I’m doing, and getting nudged toward what I could be doing to expand, express, and hold my space even more.  Truly it was a wonderful experience and I think the best part was that I wasn’t overly intimidated.  I mean, these two compete in the top competitions in the world alongside the likes of Joanna and Michael, many times in the final.  I certainly have an immense amount of respect for them and look up to them.  However, I didn’t feel “less than” them, even though certainly I’m less experienced and on their dance level.  It was a wonderful space to be in because just a few short years ago I think I would have been so “in my head” worried about how bad I was compared to them that I would have missed being truly present with them and what they had to offer as coaches/teachers.  So that’s a big win, not to mention all the other benefits I already mentioned.  And this is especially wonderful in light of my body, my big, pudgy, large, non-dancer-looking body.  I’m still pretty embarrassed about it in general.  I’m still not proud of it, so that is a bummer and brings me to my next section…

The not-so-cheery stuff.

So I hired that guy to help me with my goals and it just didn’t work out.  What I thought I was getting, and what I had actually purchased were two very different things.  Initially I filled out all these forms with all these questions and I was very vulnerable with this guy, telling him everything, pretty much begging him to help me get this done once and for all.  I thought I would be getting coaching, but instead, I got 2 half-hour workouts with his sister as a trainer that didn’t even push me as much as I push myself when I go to the gym on my own and I sent him emails of what I ate every day.  That, plus a 20 page manifesto that was not clear and had a lot of information he never followed up on, as well as a calorie and carbohydrate limit for the day.  So after a few weeks of diligently sending my menu daily, I’d get one word feedback like, “don’t drink Diet Coke” or “Don’t use too much Bragg’s Amino Acids.”  And I was like, hey, I know Diet Coke isn’t like the best choice, however, it’s not the worst, either.  Look at the rest of the day and how awesome I did.  Thanks a lot (not!) for focusing in on the one not-so-great thing – firstly, that’s why I don’t choose it every day, it’s a once in a while (like once in a month) type choice and secondly, I am not about being perfect, and thirdly, I’m already so hard on myself, I already focus in on all my shortcomings and flaws, I don’t need this type of crap from a person who is supposed to be coaching me, ESPECIALLY since this was the only feedback for the entire day – there was NO mention of what I did well, there was no encouragement building me up….and that’s what I thought I’d be getting.  I mean, great, give me feedback about not drinking Diet Coke but, like, anything else you wanna mention?  So basically, I was doing this process on my own, like always, and so why I am I paying for that?  I communicated my true thoughts to him, which is a pretty big deal for me to really speak my truth and to really say, “hey!  This isn’t working for me!”  It’s not always easy for me to declare my needs and ask for what I want but I did.  And he was like, “Well maybe what you need is Life Coaching.”  And that was probably the best advice he gave me.  He’s right – and – based on our interactions – he’s not the coach for me.

So that’s that.  And now here I am, fatty-fat-fat.  At least that is how I am feeling right now.  It’s so disappointing to see my body in the mirror, while at the same time, I’m about 10 pounds down and can move easier, at least it seems so.  It feels like my fat tissues are thinning out, however, when I look in the mirror, I’m still as big as ever.  I don’t see changes, at least not big ones, and I’m still in my same clothing.

I’m still watching my diet and doing my orange theory cardio sessions and getting to the gym twice weekly to get in some heavy weight lifting (last week I did 90 pound deadlifts, which was a personal record and I am looking to do 100 pounds this week because I felt like I could do more.)  Oh – and one of the things the trainer said to me was that as I lost weight I’d lose strength, and that so doesn’t work for me.  No way, Jose!  I intend to continue to get stronger.  That’s totally possible!  Why would a trainer ever say something like that?   Okay so anyways, the process continues, and it feels like it is so Goddamned slow – but what’s new?  A this point it is imperative to stay consistent with the process.  However, something’s got to change, I’m not sure what, because I’m committed to changing!!!  But here’s the deal that’s really hanging me up right now:

I don’t want to compete until I look dramatically different.  On one hand, it’s my line in the sand and I know that it will be such a boost in confidence to really make a change before I dance again.  On the other hand, it’s a big bummer because how long do I not dance because I’m so hung up about my body and my appearance and miss out on something that brings me so much joy?  I don’t know that there is a “right” answer to this, it’s just the crap that is swirling around in my mind.

So Damir told me he talked with Ivan the other day, and I was so excited about it.  I think there is still hope we might dance together again, though I’m not attached to that particular outcome.  But anyways, today I decided to send him a little text just to say I miss him and I hope everything is going great for him and Marieta.  He was happy to get my text and asked me how I was and when I’d be on the dance floor.  All I could say was that I don’t know and that I don’t feel ready yet….and what I didn’t say is that the biggest reason for that (besides not having completed routines lol) is because I’m still fat.  Part of me was tempted to answer, “How are you?”  with “Still too fat to dance with you.”  Because part of me would love to dance with him, but I really want/need to be confident in myself before I do that, and to me, that means having a dramatically smaller, leaner body.

Seriously, it’s really mucking me up inside.  How much do I let my adipose rule my life?  But also, what about compromising on my vow?  That’s really important too.  The answer is seemingly simple:  Just lose the weight, dork!  Then you can dance and not break your vow.  Well, that’s what I’ve been intending to do…and it doesn’t seem to be happening. I mean, on one side it seems like it’s happening because I feel like my body is changing, slightly, but then it doesn’t seem like it’s changing because I’m still in the same clothes and my belly seems so big right now, and I just don’t want to step on the competitive floor like this.  Ugh!!!!

And my mind is so mean to me.  Like today while working out I was so bummed with myself because I can’t do all that is demonstrated, and my heart rate doesn’t get below 160 even when “resting” and it’s just so hard, and I even got my heart rate up to 192 and killed myself, and it’s like still not enough.  My body is so stubborn!  I look around the room and I’m killing myself and so what – I still look like a slob.  I sometimes go into the “It’s so unfair, pity-party, victim bullshit” for a moment or two, I’m not gonna lie.  But even with all this negative Nelly going on, I mean, I’m still there.  Double Ugh!!!  I’m just in a bummer mood lately.  I am also frustrated because it’s a choice to feel this way.  I mean, I could be loving toward myself and happy with myself regardless of my weight.  And yet, my happiness is very much tied up with this.  I know I’d feel better about me if I were thinner.  It’s so crappy!!!!!  It’s so, so crappy.  Like, I withhold love, acceptance, and approval of myself and I think I’ll give it to myself if I were thinner.  But is that even true?  It’s such a racket!  Why am I stuck in this mind spiral?  How do I get out of it?  When is what I do enough even if it is not getting the results I want?  Does that mean it is truly not enough?  When is enough, enough?  When do I just feel good about me  and feel confident about myself just as I am?  Period. Without all these requirements and conditions?  I keep thinking that if I continue to monitor my diet and workout the outcome should be inevitable…but it sure doesn’t seem to be a straight line at all. Triple UGH!!!!


Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily asking you for the answers to all these questions lol (Though if you have some kind encouragement or insights, I’m open to hearing that).  Mostly I’m just processing this so it gets out of me and I can move forward toward my goals and dreams.  Because one thing is certain, I’m not giving up!  And there are really big changes in who I used to be and who I am today – like how working out has become a habit and I have a totally different relationship with food, and like how I actually spoke up for myself and stated what wasn’t working for me and what I needed.  These are all good things, and I’m still trucking, damnit!  Even if the results have been disappointing to me thus far.

But speaking of goals and dreams, the showcase is a week away, then after that Damir promises me we’ll sit down and talk about “the plan.” “The plan” meaning what we will do this year.  I think it will have to be flexible, but also I think to actually put something on the calendar will create a shift in urgency and make things real again.  So, we’ll see.

I don’t know how “good” of a blog post this was tonight, but I do know that I can’t be the only one struggling with my body and questioning when I let it hold me back from experiencing joy in life.  I can’t be the only one who struggles with self-esteem, self-appreciation, self-love.  Maybe that has some value in sharing?  Who knows?  Thanks for humoring me.



10 thoughts on “Getting Real

  1. Marian Condon says:

    Stef – I can relate to your pain. I know I can’t do anything about it, but I have an idea of how you feel. Just don’t give up. I believed for 30 years I’d never be a slender person…but now I am. Never, never give up. Good news! My book, Thinner, Fitter, Happier: Dancing Will Change Your Life launches Saturday, March 14th. I hope all your readers will consider clicking this link  and pre-ordering the e-version, which is free to Amazon Prime folks, and only $4.99 to others. If enough pre-orders come in, a book about DANCING just might make it onto the Amazon best seller list – at least for a day or two – which would get it more widely noticed. I will be mailing you a free hard copy within the next couple of weeks. Hang in there, Sweet Lady.

  2. bgballroom says:

    Stef – so glad you aren’t looking to us readers for the “answers” because I am sure we don’t have them. LOL Maybe nobody ever really will have them and maybe that is ok in the long run.

    I do think you might want to consider drawing a different line in the sand about competition, though. It is so much fun and so challenging, not doing it because you don’t look right seems a crying shame. I am never going to look right on the competition floor with my partner. Never, ever, ever. He is way too tall and that is not going to change. Since I am married to him, it is a pretty good bet that I am not going to change partners! No matter what we do, (and we have some pretty high level coaching advice on this) there is little we can do to mitigate the fact that he is a foot taller than me and tango hold is always going to hurt.

    I would hate to think that we would give up on competing because we look “wrong” in ballroom terms. All the fun times and friends we would be missing! All the intense and crazy practice sessions, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd! Ok, that’s theater, but ballroom is theater!

    Hope you are able to find a new and useful trainer and that your showcase is fun and wonderful:-)

    • loveablestef says:

      BG you are the best. Thanks for the support. I’m definitely in the question of what to do, but I know I will compete again, and I want it to be on terms I can be proud of…I just don’t know when that might be. But when a decision is made, you can be sure you’ll hear about it here. Thanks for sharing your beautiful perspective. I’m so glad you and your husband dance, too! Regardless of the height difference!!

  3. D_Wall says:

    Here’s my attempt at encouragement. Go back and read the first sentence that starts “I’m still watching my diet …”. That is proof you are doing the right things! Give yourself a lot of credit for changing your life and adopting some much healthier habits. I totally get that it is extremely frustrating to not feel like you are making progress but the hard truth is it can take time and there’s nothing wrong with venting about it from time to time. Just keep up with the things you are doing. I have to believe that you’ll see results!
    Can I offer one cautionary note though. You talk about how you know you’ll feel better about yourself when you are thinner. Be careful about holding that out there as the cure all. I speak from personal experience that if you’ve lived with a negative self-image for a time, then it is truly hard to wrap your mind around the new you. To this day, I put on a shirt that is a little tight and I automatically start to tug at it to loosen it up even though the shirt is many sizes smaller than I used to wear. (Of course, everyone’s experience is different and I’ll allow that I can be screwed up more than most)
    Not that I’m trying to be a Debbie Downer here but I’m finding the whole self-esteem thing is much harder than the weight loss. My inner voice bullies me all the time and finding ways to shut it up has been difficult. (Maybe that’s the insight you asked for although it doesn’t appear to be helpful)
    Through the pain in your post, I see the fighting spirit and a lot of positives. Hold on to that! It will see you through.

    • loveablestef says:

      D_Wall I really appreciate your perspective and encouragement. I totally agree that losing the weight isn’t a cure-all. And, also, it really has so much to do with my self-confidence…with this big jiggly body I am feeling shame just showing up. That sucks. Yes, I could choose to feel differently about it I suppose, however, I’m not proud of how it looks! That’s just a fact. I want something different. I’m not even striving for “perfection” whatever that is. But at this point, I’m tired of being stuck for so long. I know I’ll get a boost when I fit into smaller clothing or my face looks leaner or something I can actually notice! Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. I totally get that I’ve been causing my self to suffer with my internal dialogue about this and I’m not sure how to get out of it, but still to truck along, no matter how slow the progress, at least I’m facing the right direction. Anyways, I know you have a unique perspective on this and that you’ve been through it so I especially appreciate that you took the time to comment and share. You’re the best!

  4. Stef–About body image, one thing I know that helped me was to decide exactly what and where I wanted to be, and go forward on it. I cross train for standard ballroom in ballet classes. The other night in class, there were 3 of us in ballet barre—the other two are young, professional dancers, one getting ready for internship with SF Ballet. I looked at them, and looked at me, and realized I no longer have a ballet body, like I did in my teens and early 20’s when I trained for that. Nope. No way. Years and years of athletics, hiking, climbing, epee fencing, swimming, required a stronger, more athletic body, particularly in the upper body. But I did notice that I now have the standard body needed to do higher level standard ballroom dancing, and that will sustain the athletic requirements. So I did a big mental brain shift—-still take my ballet barre classes, but do it with a focus on how it can build my skills in ballroom. Now I think, my demi-pointe shoes are just fine for me. I may never get back up on pointe. And who the heck cares? I dance in heels, anyway! Getting into focus exactly what I want, choosing that, has helped tremendously. The story we tell ourselves about what we do means everything. I admire every step you have taken in this journey, and every step you will continue to take. We are really all on the same journey—getting to where we want to be.

    • loveablestef says:

      You are wise, Nancy. It really is about making the mental shift and the story I tell myself. I agree that clarity is paramount on the journey of becoming who we want to become. Kudos to you and thanks for the sage advice.

  5. Today is my first day reading your blog and after reading this, I just want to give you a big hug and then yell at you to “stop it!” I know exactly what it is like to have those demons in your head telling you that you are ugly and fat and unworthy. And in my case, stupid, pathetic, and foolish to think I could ever belong in a world like ballroom. Tell them to shut the f*ck up! The others here are absolutely right when they say focus on how much you have accomplished, the positive changes you have already made. And I hate to say it, but just becoming thinner isn’t going to be the cure-all. Accepting who you are and how you are made is! The funny thing is once you accept that you are a worthy and good person, no matter how you look, you may find that your weight loss and fitness goals become easier to reach. I saw a picture of you, I think on, in an awesome dance pose with your leg stretched up in the air. Girl, I might be a thinner shape but I can’t do a split like that! I mean, wow!

    And as far as competition goes, if you want to compete, do it. Don’t wait. The judging is so subjective anyway. I work my butt off to dance my best at competitions, but I also prepare myself for the chance that the judges might not like the fact that I have a tree tattoo covering my entire back (and I love to wear a backless dress that shows it off). My dance moves could rock but I could still place poorly because of my tattoo. I am aware of it and I say screw it, my tattoo is part of who I am, just like ballroom, and I’m not going to hide it. Don’t let anyone or anything take you away from doing what you love!

    Ok, I’m getting down off my soapbox now. 🙂 Have fun with your showcase!!

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