Calculus Of The Body

Hello lovelies!

It’s hard to sit down and write a blog post when you are obsessed with the Olympics!  Seriously – they are so addicting.  And it’s so interesting watching them this year, because my perspective is different from it was before.  I’m a competitor myself these days and especially watching the figure skating I see so many similarities.  I’d never really considered the mindset necessary for performance, especially under pressure, and you may think it’s odd but I swear I’m learning by watching these athletes.  Because, well, guess what, I’m an athlete too.  I think that’s been one of the biggest changes in how I think of myself as I’ve been on this journey – I see myself and own the fact that I’m a dancer, an artist, an athlete and these were not identities I’d proclaim before.  But I had no context for how to be an effective competitor prior to ballroom dancing so it’s been a learning curve!

So anyways, I was laughing because my mom asked me if I was watching the Ice Dancing and of course I was and she was all, “Can you imagine doing all those things on skates?”  And I was like, “Um, no.  It’s hard enough on dry land in heels!”

Okay, so before I get any further in this post, I have some news.  Today I finally, finally, frickin’ finally hit 100 pounds gone from my highest weight.  It’s taken years.  It’s a milestone.  I’m glad about it.  And, I’m totally focused on where I’m going.  Because the truth is, I still have about 75 pounds more to go.  Next stop, under 200 pounds.  I’ve decided to set milestones along the way.  The one after that will be 180 pounds because then I will be officially “overweight” instead of “obese” according to my BMI.  Finally, I have an idea that my goal weight will be around 140 pounds.  That’s not set in stone.  I’m actually more concerned with achieving a body fat percentage of 20% or less even if it is at a higher (or lower) weight because that is the body fat of an athlete.

So anyways, go me.  I’ve done some calculus on my body.  I say that because if you know how calculus works, it’s taking a curve and cutting it up into infinitesimally small sections to find a sum total.  Well, that’s how losing weight works too.  It’s the sum of a ton of tiny efforts taken consistently over time that will eventually create a sum total effect.  Day in and day out.  Every meal, every workout, every bite.  If I stray, even a little, my body is such an efficient machine, it will not give anything up.  I have to be on it like no kidding.  So I am.

Okay, so now I bet you are wondering what is going on with my dancing seeing as I’ve not posted about myself in a while with the month of guest posts.  Well, things are going pretty well.  The deal is the biggest issue is losing the weight.  Ivan and I agree that it’s the bigger problem than my actual dancing.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to work on – but I have a good base and the aspect that will give me the most bang for my buck, that will change how I move the most, isn’t learning new steps or changing small details (which are also very important), but rather it’s getting the weight off.  With being lighter I’ll automatically be able to move more, have more energy and stamina, and will have more confidence.

I really believe that’s probably the biggest aspect of all – feeling good about myself.  When I feel good I dance better.  Period.  I hold my body differently.  I stand up.  I project.  I fill the music.

So anyways, right now we are kind of in a holding pattern.  It’s actually good in lots of ways.  I’ve cut back on the number of lessons I take weekly because I’m at the gym more often and again, the priority is to get smaller and lighter.  My activities have to reflect that priority.  Still, I see him about 2 times weekly, sometimes for a double lesson.  And we are going over our routines.  I’m glad about it.  Because my American Rhythm open routines were pretty new – there’s still a lot to clean up and polish.  Not to mention just making things automatic in my muscle memory so that I can add more embellishments as time goes on.  So I’m happy to do lots of repetition and just be with Ivan on my lesson.

He never fails to entertain.  Not only is he funny as hell, but I also feel so blessed to get to work with Ivan.  Let me tell you some of the funny stuff first, then I’ll tell you why I’m so glad he’s my partner.

Okay, so the funny stuff is because he’s Bulgarian.  He had a charity event here locally called Dancing With The Stars to raise money for the Kidney Foundation and he told me he had to go home and “paint his hair.”  Haha!  He meant dye it.  Also, when I was doing my “signature” Bolero move I was all, “God Ivan!  It’s a feat!” and he was all like, “What you talking about?  Feet?”  It’s different but difficult to explain.

Okay, now the mushy stuff.  Ivan’s amazing.  I love how he isn’t just about technique.  I love how he is about connection and expression.  I love how he wants me to be present and to live the dance.  I love that he can see that inside me and wants to share it with me.  I love how he wants to build a partnership with me (and with each of his students/partners) and that it has the space to breathe and be unique.  It’s like, who else could I do this work with?  Of all the other dance teachers in the area, there is maybe one other person who I could  maybe work with, who I think would possibly be a fit.  I feel so blessed to be with Ivan.  There’s no one like him.

So one thing he’s been saying lately when I have a moment where I am too much in my head about something rather than being present with him in a dance is, “You forget with who you are dancing.”  And that’s a shame.  I don’t want to miss one second of it, you know?

So one thing that has been really great on our last lesson was working on connection.  We took the time to slow down, and go through moves piece by piece so we could discover when there are gaps, places where I let go, where I’m off-balance.  It was so wonderful.  It was an opportunity for me to get my bearings, him to get his, and the for us to come together and sort of merge into one unit, moving together.  It’s pretty much the optimal, ideal situation when dancing.  It requires presence and sensitivity and flexibility and openness, vulnerability and the ability to tap into the magic “action-reaction” of connection.  And it requires me to be in the flow, to be relaxed, and that’s usually not the space I’m in before a competition.

But I did have one competition where I was brimming with confidence and relaxed, so I know it’s possible.  I think the biggest thing was just feeling prepared and ready going into it, that I’d prepared myself properly and I knew what I was doing, and that I had been moving forward consistently prior to the competition, that I was in a good space for the time that had elapsed since the previous event.  So that’s what I’m working toward during this time.  As I’m getting this weight off, getting my body into shape, I’m working on the connection, the partnership, really knowing my body and my choreography, and I’m so satisfied about it.  It’s actually been great to be working out outside of my lessons on my cardio because I feel like it’s totally okay to working on less intense aspects of dancing, that there isn’t so much pressure just to do rounds, so we can spend the time on things we can only work on together.  Increasing my cardiovascular capacity isn’t one of them.

And I have to say it’s been helping.  I can get thorough so much more so much more comfortably now that I torture myself on the stair machine regularly during the week.  I definitely notice a difference in my endurance.

I think that’s all the news that’s news!  Oh, except that tomorrow, Tuesday, Dance Advantage is running a story on me!  That’s pretty awesome 🙂 – go check it out.

Before Enlightenment Chop Wood, Carry Water. After Enlightenment, Chop Wood, Carry Water.

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As I continue along in my dancing journey, I continue to come into contact with the most amazing people. Dancers are a unique breed, I think, and of course there are many ways to “play the game” but most of the dancers I’ve interacted with have been, first and foremost, awesome human beings. They are humble. They are passionate. They are hard working. They are encouraging. The live life fully and fight intensely for what they want. And no person embodies these characteristics (besides my favorite Bulgarians, Ivan and Marieta) more than a gentleman I’ve recently had the honor of learning from.

I mean, dance is one of the great equalizers – because dancing takes all of a human being, every little bit! And it is a great teacher. It can teach patience, discipline, self-expression, trust, balance, self-confidence, grace, partnership, authenticity, and presence – but only when we are willing students, ready to put in the time, energy, and effort necessary. Only then will dance reveal it’s jewels. Because dancing is difficult! Sometimes I think most of us question why we are attempting this! It can be painful and tiring and frustrating. And yet when things finally click after that 10,000-and-first repetition, it is suddenly completely worth it.

Anyways, to get back to this amazing person, his name is Damir. He owns a studio, ironically probably the closest one in town to my house, and I met him at my last competition. He saw me dance a little and we chatted a little and I made friends with his receptionist. When I found out last week that they have group classes on Latin technique on Saturdays, I was hoping I would be able to attend. You know, cause I’m not an official student at the studio, but I guess that hasn’t been a problem at Imperial but I didn’t know how it would work at EuroRhythm. Well, they were as welcoming as can be and I enjoyed my first class last weekend. I am hungry to learn as much as I can and want to take advantage of every opportunity in my path. And you know that saying, when the student is ready, the master will appear, well, perhaps I’m ready to learn some new information and that is really exciting.

So this time, that master is Damir. I knew he was something special right off the bat because of his authenticity, and his kindness. Plus I could see he was a great dancer. What I didn’t know, until today, is that he and his partner and wife, Nina, were six-time National Champions for Bosnia. And that he didn’t start dancing until he was eighteen! Which is pretty darn late for a professional dancer. And I didn’t know that dancing was the one thing that didn’t come easily to him in this life but maybe that is why he decided to do it. He saw dancing for the first time, and as he put it, his “subconscious knew” he could “learn a lot” from it. Everyone thought he was joking. He’d go out dancing and be awful at it and everyone laughed at him, and he simply laughed along with them. But he perservered. It took becoming a National Champion for his father to finally “get” that he was serious about this dancing thing. And I learned that he had a lot of struggles along they way. But most importantly, for me, I learned that I could recognize the same greatness I identified in Damir inside in myself.

I don’t know about you, but in my mind I always think that other people have it easier than I do when it comes to dancing. You can totally apply this to other areas of life but since this is a blog about dancing, we’ll stick with the metaphor. Well, anyways, look, I have asthma. I’m severely overweight. This makes things tough. I tell myself that if I was thinner or more fit that I’d be a better dancer. Now to a certain extent this is absolutely true, and I am working toward it! But on another level, it is total crap! Because we ALL have our advantages and disadvantages. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I think that I don’t have it in me to dance like those I look up to – people like Ivan, Marieta, Damir, Inna, and more. I think that there is something lacking in me that makes it impossible. But today I really felt for the first time that THIS IS A COMPLETE LIE! We ALL have what it takes inside of us. That is the REAL truth. Maybe we perceive others have it better or easier because we don’t see the struggles and the sweat and the exasperation behind it – we only see the final product, paraded out on the competition floor, bedecked in crystals. It all looks so glamorous and even effortless, and if you are like me, you forget all the unglamorous pieces that went into creating that picture. It is easy to imagine, looking at that polished dancing, that these dancers are just “talented” or “special” or “hard working” and that they have some secret I don’t posess, and never could. But perhaps I am more similar to them than I ever imagined.

You see, I went to a workshop today at EuroRhythm. Ivan is out of town competing so I needed to get my ballroom fix and this opportunity arose. And it was completely incredible. I’m so glad I chose to participate and I kind of have to laugh, too, because it is about as opposite as could possibly be from the instruction at Imperial!

Damir started the lesson talking about some theory. Now this is the kind of juicy dancing I can really get into! He was talking about more than just dancing; see the photo at the beginning of this blog post. That white board was the first fifteen minutes of our time together. He was talking about how we are human beings, and we have both human and energetic or spiritual aspects. He explained that as human, we are “doing” things, and we are in the universe of form, matter, and the laws of physics. He further opined that as spirits we are “being” and in the universe of the formless, beyond limits, all connected, and basically in the realm of quantum physics. I don’t think Inna would ever start a class this way lol! But it set such an expansive tone for the work we were about to do, and I really appreciated the contextual framework Damir set up for us as we stepped into our “Dojo.”

During the workshop, we mostly talked about being grounded. We discussed being energetically connected to the floor, knowing where our body weight is every moment, and how to incorporate the arms into the picture. I personally focused more on my lats than ever before which was awkward but great. We did Rumba and Cha Cha and Jive. We did things slow and half time. We danced a little at full speed. I still feel like my arms are not fully integrated and connected to my body but it was a nice little foray into the subject beyond the norm. And even more beyond the norm was Damir’s encouragement for us to purposely try to throw ourselves off balance, to purposely mess up! To not try to be so perfect all the time! Why? Because you WANT to expose your weaknesses! Why? So you can actually ADDRESS them! Pretty radical thinking in one sense, and completely logical in another. I mean, I personally like to hide in my strengths! It’s way more comfortable and I feel better (or rather, my ego feels better) about me when I do things “well.” But this means I am haunted by the shadow of the imperfections and weaknesses I’m trying to hide. If I never expose them, I never have the opportunity to expose them to the light. And, as we all know, once shadows are exposed to light, they disappear.

It was an awesome lesson/workshop, and I got my heart rate up a little and I am always grateful for the opportunity to work and learn about this art I love so dearly. And when it was over, we all took a seat and Damir told us a story that really affected me.

He and Nina were dancing at a competition that averaged 300 couples. They wanted to make the top 48 because if they made that, they would get to dance in Albert Hall. Every day they would practice. Monday was Cha Cha, Tuesday Samba, Wednesday Jive and so on. They would, for an hour, do basics, dancing 4 minutes straight, then rest a few seconds, then go again. Physically they were as prepared as they could be. It was grueling. Apparently Nina would have tears streaming down her face, but she would not stop, which is pretty incredible. When I heard this, I found it even more incredible that I could recognize that same fire and strength inside of me. This happens to me all the time at the gym. I cry and I keep going. And it sucks and it hurts and I want to give up but I don’t.

So, anyways, apparently I have the same thing inside of me as a champion so that is a good thing! lol. But to get back to the story – Damir and Nina were prepared and they made it to the top 96 after 4 or 5 rounds of dancing. And then, it happened! Another female dancer did a forceful ronde’ and kicked Nina across both legs, creating a huge bruise on both legs that appeared in seconds and cut a gash on one leg. She was injured and couldn’t move, and it was during their best dance, Cha Cha. They weren’t seen by the judges, didn’t get the marks, and didn’t make top 48. And it was completely out of their control! This dancer, whom they nicknamed “wild horse” in their native tongue as a play on words of her actual last name, had thrown a huge, unexpected wrench into their system. They prepared themselves as best as they possibly could, and I think that is all we can ever really do. Though the story kinda sucks, and I’m sure it was really disappointing at the time, I also find it very empowering and inspiring. Because it is my job right now to prepare myself as best as I can for the challenges ahead. Things may happen that are out of my control, but I will be proud of myself and able to hold my head high no matter the result if I know I did everything in my power to prepare and left everything I could on the dancefloor on that day, with the resources and currently have.

I got so much from showing up today and participating. More than steps or technique, I feel like my spirit was nourished as well, and that is kind of what dancing is all about, ya? I had a great conversation with Damir after the workshop and left feeling happy, energized, and hungry to work even harder for my goals. As he said, when things are going on in his life, it will also show up on the dancefloor. So when he needs to figure something out, he dances. And if he is patient enough, and diligent enough, and present enough, he gets answers. Dancing is the best therapy, ever, right?! We talked about that we are all on our own journey, that we are all special. We are all magnificent in our own right and we need not compare ourselves to others but rather to ourselves yesterday (I think Baryshnikov said the same thing). We talked about how important it is to feel safe and grounded so we can expand energetically beyond our physical limits. We talked about how the struggle is important and that it is imperative to find the joy, peace, and balance in every day life. He quoted Buddha saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. And after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I’ve said it before, that dancing is a spiritual walk for me in so many ways – truly a pathway to enlightenment. And through it all I will chop my wood and carry my water – which in my life looks like doing my cardio at the gym, eating on my plan, going to my dance lessons, and embracing compassionate self-discipline, pushing myself just a little further each and every day in my pursuits.

So that’s just what I did upon leaving today. I went to the gym, banged out a leg work out (they are toast!) and even did some cardio at the end. And I just know that I picked the right theme song for myself (“Roar” by Katy Perry) because I AM a champion. I’m proving it to myself with every squat and ballet class when I struggle to lift my leg higher, with every moment my body screams to stop and I keep going, with every time I choose to stick to my plan when I want to eat chocolate and laze about all day! I’m proving it to myself that this IS possible. I’m proving that I DO have what it takes to do this. This is what a champion is, I think – what Nina and Damir did, dancing so disciplined every day, pushing through the tears, preparing themselves by doing everything humanly possible to get ready, day in and day out. Those are the times that make the champion. That is the foundational groundwork that is laid so that a champion is confident in their abilities for the few minutes they have to show themselves on the floor. Behind each minute of dancing under the spotlight there are hours upon hours behind it. That is my definition of a champion, anyways, and I’m practicing to be one every day. And I’m excited to have another incredible mentor to look up to as I continue along my journey. Dancing continues to bless and enrich my life in so many ways. I can’t wait for Ivan to come home and have my next lesson!

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

Dear Body

Dear body,

What the hell is going on?

My heart is broken. I’m a mess and in anguish. I’ve been feeding you cleaner and healthier foods than ever before. I’ve given you supplements, exercise, rest. I’ve lifted weights with you, danced, walked on the stair stepper. The past month you and me have been through a lot and I thought there was progress, real progress. It seems maybe a little easier to do some things, but am I just kidding myself?

Because you see, my mind had a hard time with all this. I’m doing everything I am supposed to do. And listen, we both know I wasn’t ever “perfect.” I did have cheat meals. But damnit, they were more contained and in control than before. The vast majority of the time I’ve been disciplined, regimented.

But you seem dead set against me. I cannot fathom your reaction.

You seem bound and determined to stay fat. You actually seem to want to adapt to carrying all this extra poundage in the form of adipose. You’ll work and change, but only so you can more easily do the activities I ask of you while still staying fat. You won’t give it up. You are not releasing. And I am at my wits end.

I didn’t weigh myself for a month. An entire month! I did this because I understand I’m not looking for instant gratification. I’m in it for the long run. I’m doing it “slowly” and with clean eating and exercise and all that. So I get that things fluctuate week to week. I realized weighing myself weekly got me depressed and wasn’t worth the stress or heartache. I’m walking the walk so there should be progress. Actually, I expect there to be. So fine, I’m willing to let you do what you need to do while I plug away. But there has to be an objective measure of progress at some point in time. A month seemed reasonable. How could I possibly not be better off than I was 30 days ago?

Because you suck that’s why. I don’t understand how I can be 8 pounds heavier than before. When clothes seem looser (but am I delusional?) when I seem to be able to cope with dancing better? I was in utter disbelief with this number. I purposefully chose this long period of time between weighings so I could set myself up for a win. Even after a night of sleep and emptying myself I’m still a good 6 pounds higher than before. WTF?

I take responsibility for less than perfect choices at times but even taking these into account this result just doesn’t make sense to me. There is no way in hell, even with the blips I had, that I should be up weight. And don’t nobody even mention that idea that I’ve gained muscle. I call bullshit. No person in the history of people ever put on over 6 pounds of muscle in 30 days. Especially not a girl.

You make me feel like I am doomed to a life of active obesity. That no matter how hard I work I will still be big. I will never be lean. It just doesn’t seem possible when you pull shit like this. Why are you not on board with this, anyways? It has got to be a better situation for you to be a healthier size and weight, to have better cardiovascular health, clearer lungs, the ability to go out and experience the world.

I totally understand why so many people don’t stick with losing weight. If I was seeing progress, any progress toward becoming a normal weight I’d be thrilled. But every single fucking time I check in I’m no better than I was four months ago in terms of body weight. Pathetic progress I say!

I feel like I do a lot. Yes, I’m getting all indignant and going into victim mode here but just let me get this out. I know I have to pick myself up from the dirt once again damnit and I need to clear this because it sucks to be repeatedly knocked to the floor over and over and over every single time I try to objectively measure progress. I am angry. Angry, do you hear me? I feel like I do more than most people. I thought that combine clean healthy eating with all the activity I was doing and I’d drop weight fast. It wasn’t happening so I INCREASED my activity. I didn’t let it be an excuse but tried a new tactic. AND YOU ARE STILL FUCKING WITH ME! YOU FUCKING BASTARD! So what the hell? I swear to God other people do what I’m doing and they would drop weight. Why will you not? When is enough, enough? Do I have train 6 hours a day or eat 1400 calories a day? I don’t have that kind of time! It would be a ridiculous lifestyle to live. It doesn’t seem like it should require such extremes. Why will you not bend to my will when I take less severe measures? I thought I was being compassionate toward myself but you are not responding. You are a fucking hoarder. Must I put you under a knife to change? Is that the route I should take?

It is going on nigh 3 years and you are still a disgusting obese mass of flesh, jiggly and slow, incapable of doing certain activities. I despise you in so many ways. I have been trying to make peace with you and you betray me at every turn. People say to be grateful for what I do have, and yes, I am. But right now I’m so angry at you I can’t see straight. And I don’t wish on my worst enemy the amount of effort, sweat, tears, and heartache it has taken even to get to this place. They say focus on how far you have come. Blah blah blah. I don’t have time to meander the rest of this path anymore and thought I was kicking it into high gear. And still my goals loom so far away. Have we even gotten any closer?

I feel like You are a taker. You take and take and take and don’t give up anything! You drain my very heart and spirit in this struggle to push your gargantuan mass up a mountain and you fail to pick up your end of the work. I am absolutely disgusted that I am still only 20 pounds lighter than I was than at the beginning of the year. Eight months of work for 20 pounds is absolutely ridiculous. Who in their right mind is going to stick with this? If I stay at the same rate, and oh wait, we don’t know when this plateau will end, so it might be even longer, but if it takes you 8 months to drop 20 pounds than I’m looking at like 3 years to get this done. Holy hell I just want to weigh less than 200 pounds. I just want to be smaller than men.

Is this too much to ask? From your response it seems that it is. It seems that you don’t want to change or that you require me to abuse you. I thought we were going about this sanely and safely and healthfully but you are a stubborn shithead. When you do not budge It feels like you would rather we look like a beached whale. That you would rather stay the same so we feel the need to cover ourself from wrist to ankle in the blistering heat of July in Arizona. You would rather we be relegated to the “woman’s” section in department stores and never wear shorts or shirts with sleeves shorter than 3/4ths. Apparently you don’t mind looking older and homely, or how it is affecting our dancing.

Perhaps you have some thoughts on this situation but the truth is right now I am too angry with you to hear them. Take a few days to meditate on what I have said here and write me back when you are (I am) ready to help me see this from a different perspective. And you better fucking tell me what it is going to take to finally get you to change! Make sure that is part of your answer.

Until then fuck you. If I could divorce you right now I would.

*Dear readers, this letter to my body is part of me processing the way I feel at the moment. I am just as determined as ever to continue on. I will not be going backwards because I have worked too damn hard for every tiny gain and I never want to have to go through this again. When I am calmer and saner and feeling better I will write a response back from my body to me. Kind of like how I did here with food. And reading this I can see that I have very much forged a much, much healthier relationship with food. It does not have the same hold on me as it once did.

It has been a rough couple of days for me emotionally but one thing I have been doing successfully and is new is channelling and transmuting this pain. For instance, yesterday I did some extra cardio and used the pain to push myself. Also, on my dance lesson today Ivan could immediately tell something was wrong but I said, “No talking. Just dancing.” And we had a focused and productive time. Stuffing myself with food wasn’t even an option!! If anything I am more clear and disciplined than ever. So, yeah, I am having a little pitty party for myself, but only because I have the intent of moving through it as quickly as possible and back to neutral so that I can get back to the business of transforming my body as efficiently and effectively as possible. Hopefully soon I will be able to look back on this letter, and the one I write back from my body, and see the same type of growth as I see when re-reading my old letter to food.

It’s Emotional

Sorry no vlog today, ha ha!  The truth is that the past few days have been awesome as well as emotional and I’m feeling the need for some writing therapy.  I need to just “write it out” today….that or it would have been a 90 minute vlog, probably with some whining and crying, and nobody wants to watch that!  lol.

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Photo from Desert Classic – if you want to see more check out my Facebook Page where I uploaded an entire photo album of the trip.

We’ll pick up the story from Thursday when I was feeling pretty darn good.  After my snafu last Sunday, I’ve been more focused and clear and determined than ever.  One thing I’ve learned on the journey so far is how important it is to take advantage of times like this because it’s not always like this!  But for now I have an opportunity to blaze forward productively and so I’m doing just that.  I’m rocking my eating plan, I’ve been dancing and going to the gym.  I even made it there on my own to work my arms and legs on two separate days which has been an intention I’ve had for a while but this week I was finally able to put it into action.

I’ve also been reflecting on how very far I’ve come over the past three years.  And something my husband did made the changes even more recognizable than ever; he got a new digital picture frame at work so he brought the old one home and loaded it with all sorts of images, including photos from trips we took a few years ago.

The woman I see staring back at me looks so completely different.  I can’t believe that it was me, that I was ever that big.  Because I feel so entirely humongous right now.  And right now is 80 pounds or so less than what I used to be.

It made me incredibly, incredibly sad to see these pictures.  My mood changed in an instant from glad, proud, motivated and peppy, to reflective and somber (though still determined, actually, maybe even more determined – like I am NEVER going back there!!! No way, no how).

I am saddened by the reflection of me that I see in the photos.  I am so sad that I felt I was worth so little, that I disliked myself so much, that it somehow became okay to let myself become that woman staring back at me with a smile slapped on just in time for the camera flash.  Because I can see she is unhappy.  She is uncomfortably huge.  She has no fashion sense or sparkle.  She wants to hide.  She looks older.  And she isn’t even that pretty – her loveliness is covered, coated, dampened by the wall of flesh she fashioned from her silent misery as a shield between herself and the world.

It’s so weird because I, this very day, see myself as so very large.  A glance in the mirror confirms that my size dwarfs those beside me.   And let’s face it, I’m still categorized as obese. I cannot wrap my mind around this other way of being, that it was me, that it still is me.  Because even as large as I still am, and as far as I still have to go, there is a vivacity about me when I look in the mirror.  There is a sparkle in my eye, an aliveness, that is absent in those digital photos.

And it is a weird mental game this body image thing – especially when it was so messed up to begin with, and especially because I’m changing my body right now.  I am not entirely in touch, nor was I, with my actual body.  I say this because there is a certain amount of denial that has to happen to become 313 pounds.  I could say in my head that I could dance or jump even if the reflection in the mirror told a different story.  Reality hit when I noticed myself struggling to walk about 200 feet from the car to a building entrance.  It took that particular incident to notice something wasn’t right.  I’m mean, of course I’d noticed I needed larger clothing sizes, that I could barely squeeze into airplane seatbelts, that the rollercoaster safety bar didn’t close properly and that I had to be kicked off the ride.  But it was this event that woke me up.  I thought, “I used to be a dancer.  This isn’t right.  I shouldn’t be having a hard time walking.”

Anyways, here I am, three years later, and there is a lot of progress and growth and weight loss to be proud of.

But I am only halfway up the mountain.  Maybe less.  And this is a sobering reality.

Even as I am in a space to acknowledge my progress, with both my health and my dancing, I am also in a space to be in touch with reality.  I’m in that in-between, and it is truly a bizarre place to be.

All my life, as long as I can remember, the picture in my mind of my body was that it was huge.  Now, looking back at objective evidence in photographs, I was a normal-sized person, if not as lean or thin as I wanted to be.  But I couldn’t see that.  I could only see my cellulite, my bulges, my body which was larger than the other girls next to me in dance class.

So when I began to become bigger, and reality began to match my mental image of myself, I wasn’t surprised.  At first, I fought back.  After gaining the “freshman fifteen” (and then some), I worked my butt off during summer and got down to a lower weight before school began.  But after that things spiraled out of control and I gave up and gave in.  I accepted my role as a fat, frumpy girl.  The one no boys noticed.  The one who faded into the background.  Who was un-special.  And I got bigger and bigger and bigger.

So now, I’m on the other end of this pendulum.  I have a vision of my body in my head that is smaller, leaner, fitter and the reality doesn’t match.  It’s very confusing.  Plus, I still have a lingering vision of my body as it was at its largest and expect physical activities to feel as they did 50 pounds ago.

What do I mean by this?  Well today on my workout with my trainer at the gym she asked me to do some exercises I’ve never done before.  She wanted me to do “mountain climbers” and some half-pushups when all I’ve managed to do recently were on an incline and it took a long time and a lot of struggle to get to the place where those were really do-able.  Anyways, I see her do these exercises and my sensory memory creates a picture for me of what it would be to do these things…but with the body I used to have, not the one I have today.  So I panicked.  I had already told her that I might get emotional, that it just comes up sometimes, especially with physical stuff, and that it is not meant to get her to ease up on me or anything, that I am at the very least open to attempting the things asked of me, but sometimes it just comes up and I can’t control it.  I told her that my first reaction is automatically going to probably be that I can’t do something, but that even so, I will try it, and based on evidence from taking this approach, I think I’ve mentioned it before, I truly do not have a realistic picture of what I can and can’t do.  I have many times been surprised when I am able to do an exercise that in my mind appears impossible.

So anyways, the mountain climbers set off “red alert” alarms, and with that, emotion.  Enter waterworks.  But I gave it a try.  And by God, I was able to do them.  Yes, it was taxing.  Yes, I went pretty slow in places.  Yes I rested.  And, I completed the sets.  I was gobsmacked.

Same thing with the half-pushups and some weirdo planks where I had to put my leg out to the side for 15 reps.  I thought these feats outside of my abilities but they were within my reach.

It feels similar in terms of dancing when it comes to what I think I can do versus what I can actually do, and how I feel inside versus the reflection in the mirror.  But with dancing, it is even more muddied.  I think I’m both better and worse than I actually am.  I truly don’t have an accurate gague of my level or ability, and heck, it is such a subjective thing anyways, I don’t know that my reality will ever agree with anybody else’s!

In any case, I was feeling all good and happy and went to a double lesson Saturday  but then was faced with a reality check.  Basically, I’m really struggling to find the balance between emoting, feeling the dance and the music, and also being on top of all the technical aspects that must be present for excellent dancing.  I also struggle with feeling really good about it on the inside and still needing another person’s approval as validation, or feeling really rotten about it on the inside when I’m getting positive feedback from someone else’s perspective.  In terms of the emotion versus technique, it seems that I’m only able to do one thing or the other, but not both together at the same time, at least, not yet.  And for the other part, I think it comes to trusting myself and knowing my truth rather than looking for answers from the outside, while at the same time recieving feedback, especially from those I respect.

In any case, we got into one particular techincal aspect on our last lesson, namely timing and counting, which continues to be a difficulty.  Where to start about this!?  Really!  I mean, I “know” the counts of my dancing.  I don’t have the habit of counting out loud, which is not the best.  I do count in my head, which is better than nothing.  But still, there are points of confusion. And perhaps I believe the counts are one way when they are different in Ivan’s mind.  For instance, there is one move in Rumba where I thought I would go directly into a spiral but he thought I’d hold and move slowly onto my leg for preparation for four counts.  We were both counting, but we were counting different moves.  It created confusion and frustration.  Our bodies were fighting against each other, me trying to move forward, him holding me back in place.  He told me I wasn’t counting.  But I was!  But, alas, it was still my fault because it was incorrect!  Gah!

And then there is another figure where I was counting it correctly, and I even counted it out loud to Ivan but just flat and he said it was correct. But then I told him how I was saying it in my head…two, Threeeeee, four, and-one, my thinking being to draw out the three to make the four faster (which seemed like it should be right for the step in my silly head even though we all know that the emphasis in Cha Cha is on beats 1 and 3) and so I was counting it correctly, but with the wrong emphasis.  So I looked slower than him and we were not in sync.  It’s one of those little details where I can see something is amiss but it’s not (seemingly) a gross error, and so left to linger while I’m in the process figuring out the big details like which step comes next!  And plus I’m not sure how to fix it even when I do notice things like this.

Anyways, we had big discussions about all this (and more) and it’s awesome.  Maybe not easy, maybe not “fun,” exactly, but I so totally see the value in it and I want to improve my abilities.  Plus, I’m so grateful Ivan is sharing this information with me.  I don’t know that many students get into this level of detail with their pro, and consider myself extremely lucky that Ivan is doing what he can to empower me with the tools I can use to become a better dancer, as well as someone who can more effectively and efficiently practice on my own, much less become a better communicator in terms of the dance routines.

Indeed, I think this has been a huge breakthrough for how I communicate with Ivan.  Now I know that when things aren’t working we can talk about the counting and make sure we have the same understanding of what is supposed to happen.  Instead of seeing the other person as frustrating or wrong we can simply come into alignment, and our bodies will surely follow.  I’m excited that this is possible.

Well, anyways, I had this minor tiff with Ivan for about 30 seconds on our lesson yesterday when I thought I was moving forward and he thought I wasn’t, and though it was resolved and indeed led to a renewed desire to count and be accountable for my dancing, it dampened my mood.  But I focused on all I was grateful for, decided to take it in and not let it get me down, decided to let it be a tool to build me up rather than focusing on what I lack, and I was able to come back to an even keel relatively quickly.  That, and I had a visit with some ballroom friends over coffee and later at a barbecue, and so I was refreshed and motivated than ever for my lesson this morning.

I showed up ready to work and when Ivan said, “We didn’t work on Samba yesterday,” I was like, “Well, I went over my routines with the counts in my head and I have one question about this one area in the Cha Cha.  Before we start in on the Samba can we review that?”

Well, it turned into the entire lesson.  And I think some good work was done.  I was feeling strong and sassy.  I was kind of liking how I was moving in the mirror.  It was good (in my head), and we worked on this one part, adding the details of where, exactly, I’m supposed to look, where I place emphasis, and all that, and Ivan decided he needed to film me.  So I wasn’t thrilled about this, because I don’t like seeing myself in photos or videos, but I obliged, because, well, it is excellent feedback.  So he videoed me and he liked maybe 80% of it, which was an improvement, and all, but when I saw the video, I was so very sad and disappointed in how I was moving.  I went from feeling good about it, to being faced with the reality of it, and in two seconds flat once again felt badly about myself.

To me, I look so big and slow, as if my body moving underwater instead of through the air.  How am I ever going to look fast, to create contrast and dynamic, to become the dancer I wish to be?  I already feel like I’m moving as fast as physics will allow but it is still ridiculously slow in appearance.  Sigh.  The obstacles in front of me see dishearteningly insurmountable but I’m choosing to tell myself that I’m just in the part of the story where the hero seems farthest away from his goal.  It’s this that makes a tale epic, so it just means that I’m on an epic journey lol.

But epic though it may (or may not) be, for me at least, this process is extremely emotional.  I’m weathering highs and lows sometimes moment to moment.  I have a vision and dream for myself when it comes to my body and my dancing in which I’m deeply invested, but sometimes the closer I am to realizing them from where I initially started, the further away they seem.  You know, like when you are climbing a mountain and you think you are just below the summit and it turns out to be a turn in the trail revealing a whole new section you couldn’t see before – it’s like that.  I keep climbing higher and discovering just how much higher the summit is than I thought.  There’s no bones about it – it can be discouraging.  But I remind myself that I am the sky, and these passing moods are the clouds, ever-moving and changing.  The sun will come out soon enough.

Part of that “sun” and part of what has been so awesome over the past few days even amongst my lower moments, has been sharing the journey and connecting with others.  Like I said, I spent part of my weekend in fellowship with other dancers, but something very special has also happened that touched my heart.

Every once in a while I make a connection in real life through the blog and that has been the biggest and most unanticipated blessing of writing about my life experiences. I’ve made a few friends and sometimes receive messages via Facebook or Twitter, and even one letter in the mail (can you believe it!?) but today was the first time I had a phone call conversation with a very special person who reads the blog.  The conversation I had with this courageous and strong individual touched my heart profoundly.  Because this dancer shared with me that the blog had been a kind of “lifeline” during a really difficult time.  That reading it, that me putting myself “out there” and sharing authentically from my heart, had come at just the right time and had been a part of a healing process.  It was, as you might guess, emotional.  Because just like me, this person has been transformed and coaxed back to life through dance, and to have been a part of that is awesome and humbling and so very special.

Indeed, it has been an interesting couple of days, with the emotinal roller coaster only being truly alive can offer.  I’ve had much to reflect upon, I’ve experienced a wide variety of emotional ups and downs, I’ve connected with friends, and my next competition is just weeks away.  It is an interesting space, this “in-between” where I started and where I am going and I have a feeling that I’ve only just begun.  I believe and that more discoveries about myself, and my body, and my dancing are just around the corner.  It’s an exciting time, though I’m tempered with the knowledge that the road stretches long and far before me.

There’s work to do yet, but I am grateful for the people on my team helping me move forward.  Between Ivan, Chelle, and everyone who encourages me along the way, I believe my goals are possible and I’m clear and focused like never before. I am determined to keep plugging along, and so I will, however it looks, emotional and all.

Four Ounces Of Potato

I was really proud of myself today.  I guestimated the size of potato to chop off that would be four ounces and when I weighed it, it was right on the money!

What does this have to do with dance?  I mean, yeah, this is primarily a dance blog and all, but it is related.  It’s all related.

My diet/lifestyle, my body, my body image, my self-confidence, my ability to dance and perform, how I think about life and myself, they are all inter-related.

In a way, I feel like a woman transformed.  Again, it is back to that potato.  You all know I hired a nutritionist to help me from being obese and the biggest girl in the ballroom to someone who is fit and normal sized.  Well, anyways, of course it involves portion sizes and such.  The food scale is a permanent fixture on my kitchen island these days and even stranger than that is that it is totally okay.  I use it all the time.  But I don’t feel like a food Nazi, and I always thought of “those people who actually weigh out their food” as food Nazis.  Go figure.  Yes, the scale has become my friend and I’m surprised by the minimal amount of resistance I had to using it.

Kartoffeln der Sorte Marabel

Tilmann at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

So I don’t feel like a food Nazi.  Probably because when I’m “on” with my plan, I’m in it from a place of true choice.  I want to do it and it seems effortless.  The results may not happen as fast as I think they should or whatever, but the actual “doing” of the plan is a good thing.

And then real life, weekends, social events happen.  Sometimes I navigate them well.  Other times, like Sunday, I totally blow it.  I think my motto is two steps forward, one step back.  As much as a big part of me wants to change and is willing to do the work of it – namely going to the gym, dancing, doing the food prep and eating on the plan, there is also a part that is not completely on board.  It self-sabatoges.  As I told my nutritionist, “Samurai Saying: knock down seven times, get up eight…..or eight thousand when it relates to me!”

But still, I notice changes.  If I take a “food excursion,” it is still not even close to the magnitude that it used to be.  And, after this Sunday when I made some terrifically poor choices around food and drink, I was able to get right back on track Monday morning – and in the past being derailed like this could last days.

That, and my pants are looser, even if they aren’t falling off me (yet).  And the potato thing.  First, I actually know the size of a proper portion of potato, what four ounces looks like, and I am weighing it out, measuring all my food portions (when I’m with it), and I have discovered that I actually can be disciplined around food, and that it doesn’t always have to be a huge, horrible struggle…except for when it is.

Again, Stef, how is this related to dance?  Don’t worry, I’ll get there 🙂

You all probably noticed that there has been a blogging drought.  Part of that was due to the fact that Ivan left the country to go visit Bulgaria, and part of that was because I, for whatever reason, felt the need for a little hiatus from dancing.  I didn’t go to ballet.  I didn’t go to Inna’s class.  I didn’t blog.  I just needed a break after Desert Classic and honestly, I can’t exactly pinpoint a reason behind this.  A wise friend of mine told me “sometimes you have to step away from your passion to take the next step forward.”  I figured I’d focus on my diet (really it’s a lifestyle reset) and working out at the gym.  Well, I kinda did, if not as vigorously as I originally envisaged.

I was kind of burned out after the last competition.  First off I wasn’t where I wanted to be physically.  I also discovered I hadn’t done the mental preparation and how important that is.  Then the new dress that I feel highlights my big belly.  The bottom line of all this was the both Ivan and I agree we didn’t dance our best together….all except for the last two open dances.  This was after the Latin day in which I did mediocre, on the Rhythm day where I did really well in placements and even won the bronze closed scholarship for my age division.  After that win, Ivan and I were happy and carefree.  We danced those last two dances with joy and freedom, and apparently he even saw some Latin pros he respects watching us and getting into our performance.  Other than that moment of glory, though, we were pushing and pulling each other and it was no fun.  We wanted to so badly to show something that we ended up showing nothing.

So I came home and was relieved on some level that Ivan would be gone and there would be a break.  That, and also I was having some body image stuff going on. Mostly because I see how huge I am, even after all this work since the beginning of the year, and I can’t believe I ever danced when I was bigger than I am now. It is ludicrous that I dance at this size, but I did it originally 83 pounds heavier, and since the beginning of the year at least 30 pounds heavier. It has always been freaking hard, but with as difficult as everything feels these days, I’m amazed I danced before now.

The truth is, I haven’t weighed myself for about a month.  I can’t handle seeing the number on the scale if it goes up.  I feel like even when I weigh in next Wednesday the scale will be the same.  I’m kind of mentally preparing myself for that possibility.  Of course I’m hoping that I’ve changed at least a little bit, downward.  But anyways, because of the way I’ve been going about this process it hasn’t been a wham bam whiz bang go go go and just do it all 100% and get amazing results fast.  I’ve been living life in between the spaces.  I have days where I’m spot on, and others where I’m really not.  I’m finding that it really is about dusting myself off and getting back to it ASAP and working toward approaching that 100% from where I am, which is currently working the plan probably 80% on average, 95% when I’m really being a RockStar and 70% or less when I’m off the wagon.  It ain’t a straight line, that’s for sure!!

But the thing is, something has shifted.  Well, a few things, actually.  Whatever the scale says next week, I have a realistic idea of proper portion sizes.  I have created a habit of doing food prep on Sundays to set myself up to win for the week.  And the biggest thing is that, at least for the moment, I’m not beating myself up for my occasional poor choices.  I’m not punishing myself for not being thin already.  I’m not hating myself because I’m not 13% body fat or whatever like I think I “should” be.  Separating a momentary poor choice from shame has been huge.  I have never been able to just be like, oops!  Choose better next time and learn from the mistake.  But somehow I’m in that space at the moment.  Maybe because I’m gonna screw up some times – it is part of being human, and I can do nothing, absolutely nothing, in the moment to change my body instantaneously or to change whatever choice I may have made in the past that got me to where I am.  In the past, especially since I already feel bad about myself and my body, if I ate out of control it made me feel even worse and I’d sink into a depression and hopeless pit of despair that I was never going to get out of my fat obese body, that it was, in fact, impossible.  That actually, God put me on this earth and he designed me so that I could never be skinny.  Yes, I thought like that.  I still don’t know what the end result will be, but I do know that it can be a hell of a lot better than it is!  In any case, somehow I’ve managed to tease apart the entwined mess that says in my brain that my self-worth is dependent and related to my weight.  I have equated that the fatter I am, the less worthy I am.  When I am fat, I am “less valuable” than other people, I feel worse about myself, and I even feel like less of a human being.  I can’t express the amount of shame tied to my body size, shape, and the amount of adipose I’m lugging around.  But somehow I’ve found a bubble that says yes, you are in this situation and you can rationally acknowledge and own it and see it in the mirror, but you don’t have to be ashamed for being alive anymore.  More than that, you don’t even need to be ashamed to dance anymore.

That being said, I am committed to change, because damnit, I deserve better.  However, I don’t know how long this is going to take.  I thought it would take me a year to get to my goal.  Maybe it will happen that way.  Maybe I will go like gangbusters with the clarity, calmness, and centeredness I’m feeling at the moment and bulldoze though the process, making new changes every week, building on what I do that moves me forward until I have an entire new set of habits, and an entire new life and body.  Maybe it will take longer because I choose to take detours.  The deal is, no matter what, I’m going to be in this fat suit for a while longer.  I’m nowhere near shopping in the normal clothing section just yet.

But God bless Ivan.  I have been in the question around doing the next competition here in town in September, next month.  I already got the days off work and it is local so it is kind of difficult to say no, but then with my lukewarm feelings from Desert Classic and still being so big, I was also feeling kind of like maybe I didn’t want to participate.  Back and forth I would go.  I should go because I want to support one of the owners and see my friends.  I don’t want to go because what am I going to show that’s different from the last competition?  God my arms are fat… and on and on in circles.

But Ivan said two things.  First, when I came back to my first lesson once Ivan made it back into the U.S. (yay!) we had a good one.  It was relaxed but focused.  It was a lot of fun and we had good energy.  Ivan was like, “if you were maybe not wanting to go to Desert Classic I would have been okay with that.  I didn’t really feel like I wanted badly to go dance with you.  Also, don’t feel pressure about Galaxy because if you can’t do it, financial or whatever, it’s okay.  But after this lesson, I hope you going to be keeping the same energy.  I think people going to wanting to see you dancing.  And I want to go dancing with you at Galaxy.  I want us to build on the two good dances we did at the end of Desert Classic.  We always starting and stopping.  If we go to one competition and then not go to the next one we get comfortable.  We don’t work as hard.  We then have to work twice as hard to get back to where we were once again if we don’t keep going to competitions.  But mostly I wanting to go with you.  We have different goals than most people.  Our goals is to have the good energies like we had on those last two dances.  I think it would be good to be going.”

The second thing he said was, “Why you not wanna go?  Because you fat?”

And I was like, “Yes.”  Lol.

“Because we already knowing this.” He replied.  “We already seeing this.  You think I caring about your fats when we dancing like that?  I no caring.  In fact I almost forgetting your fats, until you remind me of them once again.  I looking at how you moving.  I thinking, I can’t wait to seeing the butt move on the time step in the cha cha.  I don’t caring that it big.  I just excited to see it.”

Leave it to Ivan to put it in a funny way but I think he’s right in some ways.  He’s right in that there are moments I forget about how I look.  In those moments I’m a free and I just want to move my butt, no matter how big it may be.  I’m dancing from a place of what I feel inside.  There is no judging or comparing or seeing all my flaws.  In those moments, I’m outside of myself and my personality.

So anyways, I am going to do the local comp.  This means, I think, that there will be more blogging in the near future.  That plus I’m waiting to get photos and/or video from the hubs from the last comp to share, plus I am wanting to do a “book review” series about books on ballroom.  It’s an idea I’ve had for a while but the author of a fictional book about ballroom approached me and I agreed to read her book and review it so it is the perfect excuse to finally do it for all the books I’ve enjoyed about my favorite form of dance.

But I digress….

So I’m going to the comp, and until then I’ll be measuring out my four ounces of potato, and hopefully that will translate into being a few (or a whole lot) of ounces lighter over the next month.  We’ll see!  Because I’m finding that as my body shrinks I feel better in it.  I have more confidence.  I can’t wait until I really like the reflection in the mirror.  What a freedom it would be to wear a sleeveless shirt or shorts or to have a dress I love and feel good competing in.  Right now I still see my body as a burden and a horror, though less a horror than before…which is mind-boggling to me.  How did I get here?  Where was I before I was fat?  How did I ever get to 313 pounds?  I still feel the same as I did 80 pounds heavier.   This stuff messes with my head…

But still, I’m chugging along, and I think I must be doing some things right, mixed in with the mess-ups.  First because Ivan wants to dance with me plus we have been doing good work on our recent lessons and, second, because tonight after class Inna walked right over to me and said, “Stefanie, you are looking good!”  I don’t know if that was in reference to my weight or my dancing tonight, but either way, I’ll take it!  Eventually the things that I do that move me forward will overcome those that pull me back.

In fact, maybe it’s happening on a small scale already.

My Body, The Betrayer

The past three mornings, including this one, have been so, so difficult. I am tired of shedding tears over this but they won’t stop and every time I find a place to be calm, a new knife slices me open. I feel raw and ragged. My eyes are sore and puffy. This is truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s been two weeks since the competition and my weight hasn’t budged. Actually, it may have gone up.

The kicker, the thing that pisses me off royally, is that I’ve done everything right. I’ve not cheated. If I had, I would be upset but at myself because I would know I am responsible for my results. But no, I have no time to dick around with this. I’m focused and motivated and want it so badly I can’t even tell you. I’m committed like never before. I do the cooking. I’m prepared. I follow the plan. I measure every portion. And my body is betraying me, just like it always has. We are not on the same team.

The scale silently mocks me.

What happened was this: last week I “felt” skinnier. I thought I’d weigh myself. After all I did that competition and barely ate. I HAD to have lost weight, right? WRONG!

“It was a shock to your body,” says the nutritionist. “It’s water weight from inflammation,” she claims.

I am talked off the edge and decide to give it a week eating on plan exactly and then I will weigh myself after my body has recovered and recalibrated.

Then on this Thursday, somehow my trainer and I come up with the brilliant idea to measure my body fat, because I’m certain it has to have changed with all the activity I’m doing, my new diet.

Hugely bad idea. First, the scale. Yes, I’m in my clothes and shoes and I’ve eaten breakfast, but the scale says I’m up almost 6 pounds!!!!! Then the body fat machine. It may not be a perfect way to measure it but it is the same method used originally so at least the results should be consistent. I’m down a puny, measly 3%. I’m still obese, still over 40% adipose. Disgusting.

I proceed to have a tearful breakdown in the gym. Yes, I keep doing my work-out but I lose it. I will NEVER have a body I love, much less even like. This just isn’t possible for me. It is harder for me than anyone else in the world. For sure if anyone else was doing everything I’m doing they’d have lost 20 pounds by now, probably more. Everyone says that being active should help with the weight loss, that it is an advantage. It doesn’t seem to be making the process any faster.

The absolute worst was when the trainer placed a 10 pound plate on my back while doing a plank. You just never know what will trigger you. For me, this weight pulled down on my core and all I could think of was that I have 9 of these plates pulling me down all the time. It not only weighs heavily on my frame, it weighs heavily on my soul.

I can’t tell you how very discouraged I was, and am, but “weight,” there’s more upset-ness!

I emailed my nutritionist straight away. “I’m up in weight! This is not okay,” I write.

“Breathe,” she tells me. “I have a plan,” she says. “Weigh yourself at home, naked, first thing in the morning like you normally do and we will go from there.”

Again, I table the disappointment for a few hours. Since it is Thursday, I’m supposed to go to Rado’s class in the evening but it just doesn’t feel right. I call Ivan to see if we can have a private lesson. With all this emotional stuff I know I need to really dance it out. I find a tiny island of internal calm as the hours pass so when I arrive to my lesson I am able to focus.

Last time we danced, the Rumba once again haunted me. I find it incredibly hard to portray that dance in particular especially because of my size and body image. But all day long I was thinking, thinking, and deciding ahead of time that I’m going to dance it how I feel it inside, not based on how I look on the outside. It seems like I can much more easily portray a Samba, a Cha Cha, Jive. How is it that Ivan knows when I’m “being me” in these dances but that I can’t seem to “be me” doing the Rumba?

So I meditated on being centered from within while doing the Rumba. I recalled this time that doing one of those personal growth and mastery seminars I declared in public “I am sexy,” because I was challenged to, because even then it was an issue for me, and I have a little memory lapse of what happened but after I said it, meaning it, but all of a sudden the entire room stood up and clapped and cheered for me, and people came up to me after the fact and said, “Whoah. If you weren’t married….”

I thought about where that came from, this evidence that “it” is in there somewhere inside me, and I purposefully decided to do my best to show up from that place on my lesson.

I mean, Ivan is stinking cute! I am pretty lucky to get to dance with him. I guess I should show that, show that I’m happy and enjoying the experience, in the context of the dance, instead of being all wah-boo-poor-fat-ugly-me. So I touched his chest like I meant it and we began messing around moving before dancing. I swiveled my hips and touched my neck and it was awesome.

In some ways, I’ve come quite far. The studio was full of people on lessons and I didn’t give one whit. I am there to work. I can easily claim my space, especially with Ivan at my side, and dance, even if people are staring at me. I was involved in what I was doing and it worked. First, one of the other instructors was all like, “Oh la la!” as she left for the evening. It was apparent she had been watching and my sexy moves had been sexy enough to prompt her to say something. Secondly, and most importantly, Ivan was all like, “I like it today.”

In fact, surprisingly, after the lesson Ivan and I had a conversation in which he asked me if I wanted to go and just do the Scholarship at Millennium in Florida. Financially and time-wise I’m not able to swing-it but it was an interesting development. The idea was that he noticed a big difference in my dancing that day, so much so that he thought I was ready, and should get some experience, to dance with “the big dogs” and see how I’d fare against competitors at large competitions. I agreed that it would be a good experience as I prepare for next year but commented that I wouldn’t really expect any results at this time. He actually seemed to think that getting some results was entirely possible – we’re talking making it to a semi-final or something, not winning, but that would be quite an accomplishment for me. He was feeling that I am starting to come into my confidence, that we did well at People’s Choice, that the judges began to notice me, and that we should build on this. For us, it isn’t about the placements as much as it is how we feel about how we are dancing. If we feel strong and good and get placed last, so be it. Of course, we’d like to score well, but I think it is so much healthier to think of it from our angle and better to have no expectations about things over which I have no control. In any case we will be at Desert Classic and Galaxy and I’m also contemplating Ohio, just to go to a huge competition and have that experience and to see how I stack up against some tougher competition.

So the one silver lining in this week of pain has been that I’m noticeably dancing with more soul, more groundedness, more confidence.

But back to the pain-fest. The next morning I weighed myself as instructed and the scale said I was 2 pounds up. I met with my nutritionist, very, very upset and we talked about a game plan. She talked me off the ledge, once again. She is going to “tweak” my current plan this coming week and create an entire new one the following week. We are going to be more specific with timing my nutrients. I will be taking some supplements. We are going to track my activity and calorie burns and their timing to be more efficient.

“Your body isn’t getting what it needs,” she says. “Your body doesn’t trust you, after years of not getting the nutrition it needs,” she explains.

“I don’t trust my body.” I reply.

And it is true. I don’t trust it at all. I am incredibly angry with it. It refuses to bend to my will. I feel I have no say in what it does. I feel I have no power over it. I hate it.

But what can I do about it, right now in this moment? Again, I feel powerless. Absolutely nothing. I am stuck with it, and it is stuck with me. So I do the only thing I can, agree to the new “tweaked” plan which will be forthcoming in my inbox, and stick to it with 100% adherence. And even then, my body will do what it will. I will still be a XXL. I will still have flabby bat wing arms. I will still weigh more than most grown men.

I feel somewhat better after the talk with the nutritionist and she even offers to work-out with me on Wednesday morning before we meet again to learn some routines for weight training I can do on my own on the days I don’t see my trainer. At least I have some action steps to take which gives the illusion that I’m actually doing something about this situation which feels so entirely hopeless.

Again, I calm my emotions enough to get through yesterday, eat my breakfast this morning, and open my “tweaked” plan. Once again I’m bleeding from a razor slash. The fresh wounds still weeping are assaulted anew as the first thing I see as open the attachment is butter. I check the calorie count and begin to panic, breathing in halts and gasps as I see it is UP from 2000 to 2500. DIdn’t she hear me?! I want to LOSE weight, not gain it! Are you freaking kidding me. I don’t want to do this. Every fiber of my being is against this.

“It is for a week or two at the very most,” she says. “It is a metabolic reset,” she explains. “There is good science behind it.”

Fuck science. I don’t care. I just want to starve myself until the next competition. Too much time has been wasted already. Half the year is gone and I’m down a measly 15 pounds since I began with the trainer and nutritionist. Unacceptable. And now I’m supposed to stay stagnant or even risk gaining more weight for the next week or two to reset? And I am desperate to show an improvement in my body, to be smaller and lighter at my next competition, and I feel like that is impossible and not going to happen if I follow this. I’m working so hard. I am so sad and frustrated and angry that I’m not steadily going downward. I don’t know what to do. It is stressing me out and goes against everything I know/believe about how to make a body smaller. I am asea. This doesn’t look anything like I want it to, nothing like what I expected, and I don’t want to do it.

I really, really, really, really don’t want to do it. I don’t want to eat fucking butter. I don’t want to fucking eat 2500 calories.

I would rather crawl into a hole and waste away.

what am I going to do? Somehow I have to talk myself into this when every cell in my body is screaming, “NO!!!!.”  Why isn’t it working for me? Why is my body so goddamned stupid.

I am a total mess.

But I have a lesson with Inna in 2 hours so I better get myself together.

iam

I Should Be In Bed Right Now

I really should. I’m exhausted after a big workout with my trainer this morning which blasted my glutes and thighs so much so that they are sore tonight already and I know tomorrow will be a pain-fest, plus I went to Inna’s class tonight which of course was hard and tiring, and to top it all off I have a double lesson tomorrow morning at 7am across town because Ivan is going to Chicago Crystal Ball this weekend and I need to get in some dancing with him at least once this week!

So yeah, I should be snoring right now but I have a few things on my mind.

First two kinda funny stories that I forgot to mention, both relating to the competition last week. Then some venting…I mean processing (lol)… of some frustrations.

So the funny stuff first:

To set the context for the first tale you have to know that while we were dancing our open routines during the competition, particularly during the Rumba, we had a few balance issues. I totally thought I was on my leg to go backward but I guess I wasn’t and leaning too much on Ivan and I just about made him topple over. I could see his eyes slowly grow as big as saucers while time froze and I was wondering what the heck was going on, why he wasn’t moving like he usually did to let me do my backbend.

So things were different than usual on our lessons (not to mention all the asthma issues and whatnot) and Ivan and I are doing the open Cha Cha routine after all these balance snafus. The routine is basically the same one as in the video I posted to “Daddy” from the showcase. The one which has splits in it. So the time comes for the splits and down I go….and I stay there. Like for an extra eight counts. And all the while I’m wondering what went wrong. Is Ivan unable to heave me up back onto my feet? Is he hurt? And then, whew! Ivan is pulling me up. I sigh with relief and off we go.

Later we are sitting at our table and I am like, “Ivan, did something go wrong during the splits?!”

“No. Don’t worry. Everything fine. You doing the splits and I seeing not everyone see you down there so I keeping you down there so everyone can see you and be like Oh! Nobody is expecting that. I want everyone to seeing. And I knowing you not going anywhere,” he smirked. “I knowing I can keep you there as long as I want!”

He’s right about that! lololol.

The other funny thing is that Ivan put Samba Rolls in our open routine. So after the entire competitions is over and we are on our lesson he tells me, “I no liking how we doing the Samba rolls at People’s Choice.”

That’s fine, I guess. Only problem is…we never freaking practiced them beforehand! He never coached me on how to properly do them! I was like, “Ivan! That’s cool. Let’s fix them, but you can’t not like them without helping me with them!” I don’t know why, but I thought this was pretty funny. I’m glad he didn’t admonish me at the competition because there would be little to no chance of actually improving it in the moment and also glad that he was honest about it and that we can work on it. So anyways, nothing like hearing how your instructor didn’t like how you danced but laughing it off became, well, you didn’t instruct me! Gah!

Now for the ranty-rant-rant. Well more like I’m just sad and angry. I wanted to cry at the end of Inna’s class today. I worked hard all class long. We did Rumba and Cha Cha. I hit it hard and pushed my cardio to the limit once again, having to use my rescue inhaler. I was sweaty and tired and just done.  Like zero energy.  And then we had to do Batucadas.

It was brutal.  And all I could think about was how hard this was for me in particular because of how fat and huge and heavy I am.  I’m so over it.  I can’t get this weight of quickly enough.  It is so exhausting and tiring and I am working so hard and I just feel angry about it. I know it’s hard for everybody but I want to strap 80 pound backpacks on every person in that class and see how they handle it, that’s how distressing it is to me.  Yes, yes, I did this to myself.  I am at responsibility for the results I’ve created in my life.  It’s nobody’s fault but my own that I’m the way I am.  And I’m mad about it.  Especially in moments when I’m pushed to my physical limits.  And usually when I’m right on the brink is when I get emotional so I was right there tonight at the end of class.  I even copped out a bit and didn’t do my arms for a bit, and after a big effort I also just ended up walking backwards because I was so blasted.

And at the end of this, after Inna coached us on some pointers to make the movements cleaner and sharper, she says, “You were only dancing this for five minutes…..”  and in my head I complete the sentence with… “and you are already exhausted.  Pathetic!”  But what she actually says is, “and already so much better.”

Hmmmm.

I was thinking about this time a while back when I first started Inna’s class.  Of course it has always been difficult and pushed me to my limits.  I stop less than I used to and during this particular lesson I’m referring to I know I stopped and started multiple times.  Anyways, at the end of the lesson Inna says to me, “Stefanie, you the hard worker!”  It felt good when she said that back then but I was pondering it lately, because, like, you know if a Ukranian dancer tells you that you are a hard worker, then maybe it’s true.

Well, yes, okay, I’m a hard worker. I’m okay with working hard for my goals. But what I’m not okay with is how much more difficult everything is for me with the fat suit on. It seriously limits me and I’m frustrated and annoyed with it. So wah-boo. I hate this feeling and it breaks my heart wide open to think about how it would feel – how it will feel – to be lighter. It makes me think that I, too, know why the caged bird sings.

Once this weight is off, I’m going to practically fly off the dance floor. But right now gravity has such a hold on me pulling my extra mass downwards. I carry the weight of an extra person on my frame and I want to lay her down. I want to not be so jiggly and twice the size of everyone. And I’m on the right track and doing all the right things but the excavation is going to take a while, longer than I want, but that’s the deal. So suck it up, Stefanie.

If I were to coach myself I’d say celebrate the little wins along the way. Acknowledge your progress. Remember, progress, not perfection. Direction, not perfection. I’d say all this and it’s all true but at the same time I’m living the reality of being obese. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t easy. And I do get down about it. I suppose angry is better than sad, better than resignation, apathy, laying down on the floor. At least with mad I can give a little fight and fire. I still don’t honestly believe that I will ever be thin. All I know is that I can’t continue to cage myself in this body and I’m doing the best I know to do to burst it wide open. I just hope it’s enough. I just hope that I’m enough.

flying