Clean Eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment

I am extremely grateful to find myself in a most clear, determined, and single-minded space after a week laden with emotional turmoil (as well as a little bit of humor.) As I continue this journey, which in my mind began three years ago, I am surprised and delighted with how much more quickly I can get through “the muck” back into a neutral or even positive mental place. Back when I was at my largest, it could days or even weeks of staying stuck, wallowing in my despair, anguish, anger, or resentment. I’d done a lot of work internally before I was ready to accept the help of a nutritionist and though my external results have been frustratingly slow (in my mind, at least), the deep roots of new coping skills and healthy tools I’ve cultivated continue to serve me well as I chip, chip, chip away at my own personal face of Mount Rushmore. Dang I wish I had some stinking dynamite!

Another reason I’ve been able to switch so quickly out of overwhelm and sadness, I believe, has been the support I am now able to receive from “my team.” No one officially signed up to be on my “team” – it’s just my own idea of people who are helping me get to where I want to go. This includes, of course, first and foremost, my awesome nutritionist, Chelle, owner of Recipe For Fitness, who wrote an amazing response to my Dear Body Letter. Seriously, go read Chelle’s blog post! I totally believe she’s got my back and that she’ll stick it out with me until I’m done. She’s the “coach” of my team….maybe I should get her a whistle! 🙂

My “team” also includes, Ivan, he’d be the artistic director (hee hee), as well as my new trainer, Allison, who is so much better than my previous gal. I finally feel like I have a trainer who actually cares about me and my progress, and I appreciate it so much, especially with all the crap I’ve had to go through with trainers recently! Plus she, herself, trains as a MMA fighter, has 12 years of personal training experience, and is generally just a pretty awesome person.

And beyond that, I also consider you readers as part of my team. You encourage me and inspire me to keep going, even when the going gets tough. Fitocracy, a social media platform that is kinda like Facebook for people into fitness, is another resource I’ve used that is a postitive, encouraging outlet – you can find me under “loveablestef” if you ever decide to join.

Finally, many times I have people supporting me and encouraging me that I don’t even know! Like Tabitha – I’ve never met her, but she took the time to write me a powerful letter which helped me move forward, and from the feedback I’ve received, I’m not the only one she helped.

I must admit, however, that even though I understand and believe what Tabitha/my body had to say, I am still in slight resistance to certain portions of it. Rather than considering this a bad thing, I think having a little resistance is good, because it means I’m on the edge pushing against a limitation. Soon enough things will shift and I will have grown. If I had absolutely no resistance, then I’d already be done with the portion of “the work” she suggests and wouldn’t be any challenge! But, yeah, that’s not the case.

For instance, I still have a hard time swallowing the idea that my body is on my side. I’ve lived for 27 years considering my body to be a problem. It has never been a beautiful body in my eyes and it is frustratingly stubborn. It is limited in many ways and can’t do all the things I want or expect it to do. I experience it as being untrustworthy and I think of it as something that is sub-par and needs to be fixed but that it is so messed up that it’s a lost cause. Confusingly, it is also an ally in many regards, the most important of which are that it allows me to dance and to walk in this world, and sometimes it surprises me doing things beyond my expectations. Clearly my relationship with my body isn’t 100% in alignment, but I have faith that it can be.

I am also frustrated with the idea my body put forth about having to get internal affairs in order before seeing outward change. I feel like, egad! Haven’t I already done somuch?! I have been working at it for three years to get internal affairs in order but still I wait, wait, wait for the outside to match with the inside (yeah, it’s a little victim-y, I know. I’ll get over it). I am dumbfounded time and again at how very different my internal image of who I am and how I see myself in a fit, healthy body, and the reality of my current obese body are. It is beyond words the amount of internal work I’ve done and annoying that there is still more to go! Plus it is just plain incongruent with the external state of affairs. Like, last week I was eating my fish, brown rice, and asparagus, all portioned and measured, cooked clean after 90 minutes of ballet and I’m thinking to myself, “A person who eats this dinner doesn’t have a body like mine.” But I do.

I’m also in resistance to my body’s message to push and push hard. It’s not because I won’t or don’t push hard already, it’s because I’m sick of hearing it and I’m sick of having to dig down deep just to make it through Latin class with Inna or Mountain climbers with Allison, or planks on a ball with Chelle, or doing the stairstepper with asthma and my heart rate at 175 and me wanting to quit, having to talk myself into each and every step. I admit that here and there I am finally, finally, noticing small changes in the ability to do more. But again, I think it is good to be a little in resistance because it means I’m butting up against my limits and my job is to notice them and burst beyond them. Trust me, it is not in my nature to not push! If my trainer has a weight too low or I don’t feel like I’m being challenged enough I speak up! Usually, though, it’s the other edge I experience – the one where I’m being challenged beyond my perceived capacity – the place where I panic and get emotional and have to fight. I don’t enjoy that fight but again, discovering (finally, after hearing about it for so long) how to channel and transmute my negative feelings into pushing myself, has been a step forward. It may still suck at times, like when I was on my last set of mountain climber burpee thingies and Allison was like, “Go at your own pace. We can modify if you need to,” And I was like, “No!” and got I emotional, angry, teary-eyed, and grunted and groaned but I banged those bitches out, using that emotional angst instead of letting it defeat me. And there have even been moments when I’ve been up for more, that internally a desire to push myself a bit harder when working out on my own bubbled up from somewhere. Again, progress, but not the tangible, visual kind I want to see with a smaller butt, gut, and bat wings, with muscle definition and tone, seeing the definition of muscle working under the skin.

I am also in resistance to the idea that I shouldn’t use the scale. This is because I absolutely, as part of my goals, want and need to be lighter. If that means at some point I lose some muscle, so be it. To be the dancer I want to become I must be smaller, more compact, lean, and weigh significantly less. Period. I cannot stand the idea of living the rest of my life obese, over 200 pounds! Yes, I’m open to the possibility that I will look fantastic at a higher weight than most my competitors who weigh like 110 pounds, but I’m not willing to weigh over 200 pounds. This shit needs to come off. Anyways, for the sake of sanity and also to see a more complete picture, not just the one told by the scale, I’m considering getting some measurements in a Bod Pod, the gold standard for body composition testing.

As for the rest of the letter from my body, I’m totally on board with it. As you can see from the title of my post, especially for the days leading up to Galaxy, (and beyond I hope) I’m in RockStar mode. I am a clean-eating, ready-for-challenge, changing, consistent, and committed woman. This is how I am showing up in my life right now, ready to demolish this portion of the journey set before me. Like no kidding. Because I am hungry, starving, ravenous, for dramatic, transformational change in my body. I have been for a while. I’m so ready for new clothes, ones that I actually like! There is no going back and I still want more, so very much more.

To that end, I’ve made a little sign for myself that I’m hanging above my work computer so I will be staring at it for 8 hours a day to continually reinforce my committment. I have to say, however, that the decision has already strongly been made in my mind. Chelle created a new plan with lower calories and I’m following it to the letter. We also renegotiated a work out plan with cardio and weights. I’ve already been hungrier than before but thanks to the internal work I’ve already done, I’m able to weather it well. On other plans, more geared toward cultivating a healthy lifestyle, I felt over-full or would get hungry maybe once or twice near time to the next meal time. This time around, I get hungry 5 or 6 times before the next time to eat, most especially earlier in the day, but I have the skills to handle it. I can tolerate a few signals from my body where three years ago I would never even allow myself to get hungry, and if I did it was binge time. It may not be completely comfortable to experience a little hunger but I don’t care! I’m committed. And it’s a normal physiological function. I have 17 days now in which to make as much a change as possible before I step onto the ballroom again. I would rather accept the pain of discipline now than suffer the pain of regret at Galaxy, and I know that being in integrity with this plan will give me the best chance of feeling like I am awesome when it’s time to dance.

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Already I’ve had these little victories like yesterday I went to visit a friend and stayed longer than I anticipated so I was quite late for dinner and really hungry. But did I grab the first most convenient thing? No! I grabbed a cucumber, a totally free food on my plan, quickly cut some slices, and nibbled on them as I prepared my dinner. To me that was proving to myself just how very committed I am. No straying from the plan even when things don’t go perfectly. No excuses!

I also made a point to steer clear of my husband’s Fantasy Football draft party. We had over 20 men at our house, eating pizza, drinking beer and other hard libations and I didn’t even want to be around it so I volunteered to housesit for my in-laws. Truth be told, I wasn’t even tempted with the debauchery before me! In years past this would have been as irresistible as a siren’s call and laced with a dose of guilt, remorse, and recovery the following day. And I was even more pleased with my decision when I saw how annihilated my husband and his buds were the next morning.

In addition, I’ve already talked about how I’m going to handle an upcomming trip with my husband. We have a kitchen where we are staying so first priority the morning after we arrive will be to get groceries and cook! I’ll bring my breakfast along with me. He knows I’m not going to bend at this time with the eating, even though we will be around many restaurants and bars. It won’t be like this forever, but for now this is the way it has to be.

So now I guess the biggest struggle isn’t the eating, or even the exercise since I’m clear on what I’m accountable for with that, but rather the biggest battle is waiting patiently and having faith that this change I’m seeking in my body will actually happen. I still don’t entirely trust that it is possible for me to have a gorgeous body, one that I love and would be proud to show off. I still feel like I will be pudgy and that I am not ever really going to be lean. But I do believe it can be better and I know I will not to back. The only path is to push forward. I wish it were happening faster, oh God do I ever! But since I have no fairy godmother to instantly transform my adipose into thin air, I’ll have to burn it off myself.

My Body Answered Back

Well my friends, my body answered back. The interesting part is that she found a voice from outside of me! I was fully intending on writing a letter response but the gal who coached and trained Chelle, my nutritionist, wrote this to me. Interesting how life works, isn’t it? When the student is ready, the teacher appears. So I thank you, Tabitha, and so does my body. Thank you for caring enough to take the time to craft this reply, and to share this knowledge on behalf of my body. And now for your reading pleasure, I share with you this excellent treasure…hey! I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it! Lol.

Dear BGitB,

This is your body. I have heard your message loud and clear. While your words sting and hurt, I can understand why you have spewed them forth. Now it is my turn to spew forth words.

First things first, I am on your side. As you already know, change is difficult and that goes double for me. You have to understand that I can’t change on the outside until I get things in order on the inside. Rest assured that with your continued hard work, I have begun to change. Eventually the changes I am making in my deep innermost layers will start to migrate outwards for the entire world to witness. Even though you can’t see them, they are there. I am working to the best of my ability directly proportional to the work that you make me do and the fuel that you feed me to do it. The main point is…what YOU do (workouts and eating) affects me, affects how I change and in turn affects the long term goal that you have set for the both of us. I also dream of the day when we can reach that goal, but we have to do this together. It is not you against me or vice versa. We are a team! We are inseparable! Through good and bad, success and failure, triumph and struggle. This pity party is over! It is time to move past it and start working together again. With that in mind, here is what I need that will help me help you. You ready? Ok, let’s go:

1) I like to be pushed, and pushed hard! -Every time we workout it has to be beyond our comfort zone. We have to jump a little bit outside of our box every time. For example, It is not enough to just complete 12 reps of an exercise. If we are aiming for 12, get there and can keep going…we need to keep going. Because if you can do 12 with good form then you can probably do 13….and so on…maybe up to 15, maybe to 18, maybe even to 22.5! The point is we don’t just stop at a number we stop when we get to our limit and we cannot do even one more rep with good safe form. Maybe we have to increase the weight. You have the control to challenge me. Do not step away from this challenge and do not be afraid of it. It is what I really really need to push past the times when I feel like there is no reason to change. Which brings me to my next tip.

2) Change things up! I am a very adaptable machine. I thrive on adapting to stress. Meaning, if you throw stress at me I am going to adapt to it so that the next time you apply the same stress I am going to be ready to handle it. Let me give you a secret…if you continue to change things up and present new challenges I have to continue to adapt. I have no choice. I have to change to deal with that new stress.

3) Don’t trust that stupid scale! – I get such a bad rap because of that stupid machine. It makes me look lazy and like I am not doing anything. Don’t get on it. Smash it. Throw it out. It does not tell even a FRACTION of the story of what is going on inside here. You have heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, I have a new one for you “Don’t judge fitness journey by a number on a scale”. You don’t know how much muscle I can or can’t build in a month. If I have been inactive for a long time and there are muscles that I need to build to get those workouts done, you are darn tootin’ that I am going to build it! (1lb, 5lbs, 10lbs) If I need it I need it! And once that muscle is built it will work in both our favors to burn off more calories when we are NOT in the gym. Instead, I want you to focus on how your clothes fit, measurements, personal bests, and photographs. Why use one silly stinking number to tell a whole story when there are so many other resources to paint a clearer picture? I am begging you to use them to our advantage.

4) Clean eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment – As you can see my favorite letter in the alphabet is the letter “C”. I must have your word as your bond that you will adhere to all of these “C” words. When you “Blip”, I “Blip”. You admitted in your letter to me that you may not have been 100% committed to our journey together. But, YOU have to be. I need you to be. WE need you to be. OUR GOAL needs you to be. If it helps, write these “C” words down and post them all over the place. I mean EVERYWHERE! Whenever you feel like you are going to stray off the path, try to remember just one of them and repeat it over and over to yourself. Technically all you have to do is remember the letter “C”. You have to make it your favorite letter too! Our goals and our dreams depend on it.

You have to remember that this journey is 90% mental! You control me. I don’t control you. Take ownership of that control and continue to do everything you can…EVERYTHING YOU CAN to leave NOTHING ON THE TABLE! I believe in you and I hope that you still believe in me. Together we are a team. We have to stay that way. Without you, I don’t exist, and without me, you don’t either. I am here for you no matter what, and I will work with you as a team. It is not going to be easy, nothing worthwhile ever is. However, with your mind power and heart added to my physical power and ability we can move mountains! WE have to believe that…our goal depends on it!

Love always,

Your Body