Results

First thing Saturday morning was the time I’d decided upon. My feet shuffled over tan stone tiles as bright sunshine lit every corner of the bathroom. I gently tapped the glass rectangle to awaken the machine and stepped up. The grey numbers flashed once to lock in my weight measurement for the week.
 
My throat tightened and my vision blurred as fat liquid drops fell downward. This was not the result I wanted.
 
Emotionally I was wrecked….part of why I knew it would be prudent to only weigh myself periodically because mentally I can only take so much discouragement. I’m telling you, eating on the plan is easy. It’s the emotions that come up, it’s my strong attachment to how I want my results to look, and it’s the negative patterns of thinking, those are the hard parts. I will say that perhaps a few months ago the plan and food part would have been more of a struggle. I was pretty much convinced I was just not a person who could be disciplined around food. But I’ve discovered that’s not true. At this point it’s actually becoming more about disciplining my thoughts than anything else.
 
So in this state I did the best thing I could think of which was to reach out for support. I emailed Chelle, my nutritionist because she’s made it clear she’s available to me since I’m a client on the personalized meal plan. She only takes on like 3 clients with personalized plans at a time because she puts so much time and energy into them. I consider myself extremely blessed to be one such client because having Chelle’s expertise and perspective is making all the difference in helping me to finally succeed at this battle of the bulge I’ve been waging (and losing) for as long as I can remember.
 
 
Hi Chelle,
I just wanted to reach out because I’m kinda having a tough day. I weighed myself today and had a loss of 1.8 pounds for the week.
 
I just feel….disappointed.
 
I logically know this is just about on target of a slow weight loss of 2 pounds weekly. I am just really struggling with eating so much food, feeling so full, and the weight loss being so slow. I am so sick of being fat, really I am, and it is just so sucky to be so big. I know, logically, that I’m doing the right things, but I want more. Emotionally, I’m a mess. Immediately my mind goes to what else can I be doing?
 
I do think adding one more weight training session a week is a reasonable thing to do…I only go twice weekly for a mere 30 minutes each session. I understand I burn the most calories while at rest and that re-compositioning my body to have more lean tissue which is more metabolically active is a good thing.
 
I am just feeling like I’m wading through a swamp of muck up to my chest. I’m making progress, yes, and it is slow going. I’m so hungry for those moments that are not happening just yet – when my clothes fall off, when it is finally easier to dance, when everything isn’t so hard, when I wake up and look in the mirror which is right by my bed and actually like what I see and am not horrified and depressed by it. I am so so so sick of being so large and I just want this off.
 
I’m especially struggling because my competition is so soon and I really look pretty much the same as the last time I danced. I am sad by this lack of results and am trying to find a way to still be confident and happy when I dance while inside I feel exactly the opposite. I’m so embarrassed to be this way. I don’t feel proud of where I am.
 
I promise I’m still eating on my plan. I have every intention of following through and will be going to to the store today and cooking tomorrow for the upcoming week. This isn’t going to be some excuse to derail me, I just feel like crap about it. Looking at about 8 pounds in an entire month, while staring down the barrel of obesity, and 98 pounds to get off, means it will take 3 months to even get of 10% of what I weigh now and I find that incredibly depressing.
 
I have a motto I learned, that results are often harsh but always fair. Well, this week I made modest progress. And…I don’t understand why my body which has so much extra fuel isn’t dropping pounds like crazy especially since we are feeding it properly and especially since I’m so active, yesterday notwithstanding. I can feel this fit muscular girl inside me and it just sucks so bad to be wearing the fat suit on top of her. How come other people can drop 6 or 10 or 12 pounds in a week that are my size? Why doesn’t my body respond like this?
 
I just need some help to shift out of this sucky place because I have a dance comp in a little over a week and a half and I need to be in my RockStar space by then…meaning I realize outwardly not a lot will probably change from now to then but internally I want to feel confident, strong, proud, and happy.
 
Any words of advice or encouragement are welcome.
 
-Stef
 
Chelle got right back to me:
 
I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s discouraging, but it’s temporary. There will be weeks when you drop larger numbers, weeks when you don’t. It’s not an indication of failure. It’s just part of the process. And yes, it sucks. I’m sorry. I know how hard it is. I think adding a weight day is a good, productive step. If you can, add two. If you can, make them 45-60 min instead of 30. If you can. And no extra cardio. Your body is still adjusting to the new food routines… you’re in flux, that’s normal. Stay mentally in the game, and maintain your course. Let’s see what the scale says next week… and the week after. I think you’ll see larger changes over the next couple weeks as your body begins to conform to your will.
 
 Hang in and hang on. You are doing great! You’re making progress, no matter what the scale says. And…. fyi… your weight loss this week is awesome!!!!! You are to be commended, not beaten up. Appreciate what you accomplished and know that I’m really, really proud of you.
 
If there is one thing I’ve learned it is that taking proactive action can be very empowering. So I resolved to workout on my own at the gym that afternoon and that is what I did. It helped somewhat, but I was still processing everything. And Chelle cares enough about me that she followed up with me a few days later.
 
How are you feeling today? Where’s your head at?
 
I replied:
 
Hi Chelle,
 
How am I doing? I’d say neutral. I’m not in a torrent of self-pity and despair but I’m not 100% carefree and happy either. Basically, I’m in this and committed and that is the most important thing. I’m doing what I need to do. I’m adhering to the plan and eating according to the plan. I actually enjoy the cooking and food prep. I enjoy eating the food. And the cooking/prep is relaxing in a way and I’m much more active physically just doing that. I laugh because I bought puzzles thinking I’d have to distract myself in the evenings, but it turns out my evenings are full of prep and I like it. I’m feeling more productive and organized in other areas of my life as well and this is a nice feeling. I am doing well with the schedule, the regularity, the consistency. I haven’t had that, especially around food, for a long, long time.
 
But the deal is, the moment I see myself in the mirror, the moment I touch my gargantuan fat arms, or look down and see my belly, it just bums me out so bad. I am SO big! I know I’ve been big for a long while so why is it bothering me so much now? Well because I had resigned to it. I put up the white flag and put on the blinders and gave in just thinking that I will always be fat. But now I’m fighting. I’m committed and taking the proper steps and I am only two weeks in. I look the same and what do you expect after two measly weeks? And it’s still painful just the same to see my body. I do not like what I see. Not at all.
 
It is a mental minefield. Like, I tell myself to notice how I feel, that jumping in ballet is easier, that my clothes are a bit looser yada yada yada. I do notice these things and at the same time it gives me very little joy. There is a disconnect about feeling good and happy about these positives. Because at the same time I objectively acknowledge and observe small baby steps of progress, I also see how I am two to three times larger than the other people in the class. And it is like Bam! Right in my face. Or I’ll see a fit, toned lady at the gym and I’m instantly reminded that I am NOT like her, that I look un-feminine, un-attractive, in my ratty gym clothes, that I don’t 100% believe I could ever really have a body like that or ever be that comfortable wearing a sports bra and bike shorts. Or I feel how I can’t properly jump or step my legs in from downward dog in yoga because my belly is in the way. It sucks.
 
I kind of have to walk around in the gym and think, “Fuck you. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I can do. You don’t know who I am.” And mentally shield myself. I don’t feel like I belong, that yes, on the inside where it is invisible I’m fit, I’m a clean eater, I’m a dancer and athlete, I do 70 pound deadlifts, but the outside is telling a very different story and when people see me they just see a fat person (and all the judgements that go along with that like being a slob and lazy, etc.), if they notice me at all, and it is painful, this incongruence. When I picture myself my mind while doing active things I sometimes feel strong, poised, athletic, but it doesn’t match the reflection in the mirror.
 
There is nothing for it. I know that results will change how I feel about myself but they are delayed. What I do today will show up in a week and even then they are slow and minor changes and I wish the process were faster and more dramatic but it isn’t. I have to just accept the process because it ain’t going to change and I’m still angry about that a little bit. It’s unreasonable, of me but there you go. I’m resisting how the process looks. I wish it looked different. Because I see how hot my Samba could be when I’m thinner. I see how I could do this pot stir step but right now I’m too heavy and my legs can’t hold myself up….and we’re talking a year to see that, or will I ever see that? Sigh.
 
Bottom line is I’m gonna feel what I’m gonna feel but the tail isn’t going to wag the dog this time – Whatever I feel, I’m sticking to the plan. I’ll be honest. I still don’t entirely trust it. I’m still leery about feeling full and 2000 calories….and that brings up feelings of unease about is this going to work for weight loss because my paradigm, my previous experiences with diets/weight loss involved being hungry and it being hard. But I’ve decided to come from a place of surrender and committment so I’m going along with it. I’m acquiescing to the expert on nutrition because she knows more than I do and I what I’ve tried doesn’t work. This is the agreement I made with myself, and implicitly with you because what is the point of having a plan if I don’t follow it to the best of my ability? So I’m on it like no kidding and I do trust that you will tweak it if/when I hit a plateau,and that gives me some peace of mind, though I am fearful/angry about the idea of going two to three weeks without weight loss to be in a true plateau because again, I have a thought about being so big and having so much fat storage fuel so why wouldn’t my stupid body use it…not seeing any progress and doing everything right will be hard for me to swallow for a two to three-week period. Heck, it was hard for me to swallow “only” losing the 1.8 pounds this past week. But then I say at least there was movement and at least it was in the right direction and at least I didn’t gain and at least I know that I am in integrity and that is important to me because then regardless of the results I will know I did everything I could and won’t beat myself up about it even if I am disappointed.
 
Again, it is not the prep or the actual “doing” the plan. It’s the thoughts I have about it. It’s the feeling that I can’t bear to be this big and fat one more second but there is no way out of that except through time and consistency. It’s the disgust with having handfuls, entire handfuls, of rolls of fat on my back just below my shoulder blades and feeling my bones maybe 6 inches underneath it all and wondering what is it going to take for this to be gone?
 
So that is where I am mentally. I don’t feel like a RockStar. The feelings are not coming yet. Like I can acknowledge that I’ve been really disciplined with my eating plan and doing a beautiful job, and I just have no positive feelings that bubble up with this acknowledgement. But the good thing is that I’m pretty insightful and self-reflective and I am aware enough to know I do not need to go chasing the feelings…that they will eventually come if I keep doing the right things, making the good choices. I’m just not in the place right now where I feel good about it all. Like the one blog post I wrote a bit ago when I was working out like a fiend, setting goals for myself and hitting them, and objectively I could say I should totally feel awesome about myself, what I accomplished, that I set my mind to something and followed through…but the feelings just weren’t there.
 
Well, probably a way, way longer answer to your question! LOL. I’m a writer, that’s for sure, and it helps me process through everything to write it all out. To summarize, I’m on target and in integrity. I don’t yet experience positive feelings naturally arising as a result of this. I am focused on how huge I am which I realize isn’t productive or helpful but it’s where I am. Regardless of how I feel, I’m committed. I’m in resistance to how the process looks which is futile and causes me to suffer mentally and that’s what I’m doing that right now anyways. And I pretty much hate my body and I definitely hate being so big and fat. I’m being all stubborn and Taurus-y and not being satisfied with what is, and digging my heels in about not being satisfied until I have created substantial change….which has the positive benefit of giving me laser focus on my goals and what I want! And I’m willing to shift around all this. At least I know I am at choice around how I look at things, even if I’m choosing the path of suffering for now.
 
Time for bed! Goodnight! -Stef
 
I wondered what Chelle would have to say after all that! I’ve been mulling over her reply, the compassion and wisdom she shared with me all day:
 
Here’s the deal – just like you said, you’ve got the “stuff” under control – you’re doing the food, the workouts, the dancing – you’re on track and right where you should be. The mental battle is just that – it’s a freaking battle and it’s brutal. Some days you’re winning, some days you’re a bloody body on the battlefield. As difficult as the weight loss journey is, the hardest part is the war against your own mind. I wish I could tell you that once you hit your goal weight and size, your mind will celebrate. It won’t. I don’t say this to take you lower, I say this to forewarn you and to arm you for the battle that is still to come. You are incredibly intuitive and you know your own mind – this is a HUGE benefit, though I’m sure sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Thinking everything to death gets to you, I’ve been there. But the battles you’re fighting now are preparing you for the ones still ahead.
 
So when you look at the scale and get angry over a 1.8 lb loss – you tell yourself that it’s 1.8 pounds of fat that you will never, ever, ever see again. When your clothes feel a tad looser and you’re hurt that they’re not falling off yet, you tell yourself that they will never, ever, ever fit again. When you go to bed without hunger pains and you’re disappointed that you didn’t do enough to reach your goal, you tell yourself that you will never, ever, ever disrespect and starve your body again. When you fear that the process is flawed, that you will plateau, that you won’t get to the destination, that you’re not good enough – working hard enough, that you will never be the RockStar I see, you tell that fat girl in your head to fuck the hell off. We are evicting her.
 
You are not good enough – YOU’RE INCREDIBLE
You are working hard enough – YOU’RE MAKING AMAZING PROGRESS
You are going to reach your goal – YOU’RE CLOSER EVERY SINGLE DAY
 
Every step you take, every rep in the gym, every sip, every bite – you are closer to your goal. The battle in your body to change is being won. The battle in your head is harder, and I know… I KNOW you’re going to triumph in that, too. Hopefully it won’t take you as long to kick the fat girl out of your head as it did me 😉
 
You are a RockStar. Period. I believe in you absolutely. There’s no part of this process that’s easy – but you’re not afraid to work hard – physically, emotionally, mentally. You’re ahead of the game, and you’re going to stay there. Hitting your goal weight and size – no worries there. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a done deal, it’s simply a matter of time. Seeing that transformation in the mirror – that’s the struggle you’re really fighting. And you’re going to win it.
 
There is no other option.
 
😉
Chelle
 
Awesome, right? That I have such an amazing partner in this, someone who forged her own path though the wilderness called weight loss, who triumphed, who understands the process and who is someone I look up to, admire, respect, someone who is mentoring me, is incredible. She’s so encouraging and authentic and she believes in me.
 
But there was one sentence in her reply that shook me up: When you go to bed without hunger pains and you’re disappointed that you didn’t do enough to reach your goal, you tell yourself that you will never, ever, ever disrespect and starve your body again.
 
It brought up strong emotions and I’m still grappling with. Especially the idea of starvation/restriction versus overstuffing/being “too much.” You see, my experiences of successfully losing 60 pounds at the age of 12 when I did Nutrisystem involved feeling extremely hungry, so much so that I remember I snuck uncooked pasta to eat out of the pantry. And the weight loss was accompanied with lots of praise and attention…for feeling like I was starving myself. And then I beat myself up for eating that pasta because if I hadn’t cheated with that I might have produced a better result sooner.
 
This sentence messes with my paradigm of the world that it is impossible to enjoy my “diet” and not be restricting and still lose weight. It screws with my concept that to drop pounds successfully requires strict, unforgiving regimentation and self-denial. It blows my idea to bits that there is no way to be at peace with my body because I’ve always experienced it as something to be overcome, something that needed fixing, something that was flawed beyond repair. I’ve always experienced it, and because I identify myself so much with/as my body, by extension, I experienced myself as unworthy, “less than” others, because my body wasn’t beautiful, because I wasn’t beautiful.
 
My internal pendulum swings wildly from feeling like I am not enough, not worthy, and I should be restricting my intake to feeling like I am too much, that I’ve always had a lot of strong emotions and a big personality but I learned to tone it down because it was uncomfortable for other people, that I couldn’t fully be myself because it was “too much” and unacceptable and I wished I were different. And so I buried myself under a mountain of adipose, simultaneously becoming invisible in some ways and impossible not to notice in others. It’s a silent scream, this body of mine, broadcasting my despair, my need to stuff things down my throat so that my Voice is silenced, my needs are blunted, so that I’m not a needy person who is “too much.”
 
And here you are telling me that I’m doing enough. That I don’t have to be hungry. That I can enjoy the process. That I should respect this fatty lump of muscle and bones that is my body.  It’s a mindbender.
 
Well, the good news is that this was actually my experience from last week.  I continued to be committed and I stuck with it and I have some exciting progress to report….on my next blog post.  This one is already way too long!!  Stay tuned.  People’s Choice is 4 days away and I’m rocking and rolling like never before.

You Have A Strong Heart

My niece had a runny nose when we took her to the mall this weekend to Build-a-Bear and I’m convinced she gave me a slight cold. This wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that my allergies are horrendous at the moment and I have asthma. This compounds the inflammation in my airways and makes it that much more difficult to breathe, much less do anything that requires cardio. So yesterday I went to the gym, as I do now on Thursdays, to work out with my trainer I requested that we limit the high-intensity cardio and stick to lifting some weights.

She opted to cancel some of the kettleball swings but other than that, it was still a solid workout. I did 12 deadlifts with a 50 pound barbell and rows in between. Then I did squats with a 30 pound barbell pushing it into an upward press above my shoulders as I straightened my legs. Then I did 12 backward lunges with the 30 pound barbell on my shoulders and finished off with an incline plank. I repeated this circuit four times.

It was tough but not so tough that I wanted to cry, like I have on previous workouts. It got my heart pumping and was taxing and I always feel like the thing that limits me the most is endurance, breathing hard, the cardio part. But I was able to do it and that was good.

At the end of the work out my trainer told me, “You should be proud of yourself. You did four sets of that and it’s pretty impressive. That is not easy. You are strong. I don’t put out weights like this for everyone and I wouldn’t do it for you if I didn’t think you could do it. Good work today!” She gave me a high-five.

Me, I was like, really? Because I have a set of sunglasses on that filter how I see the world that generally point out how pathetic I’m doing – how I could be doing more, and how lame it is I can’t do a Burpee and that my belly gets in the way, and how silly I look doing all this stuff.

It’s like, I feel guilty for feeling good about myself. Somehow this is taboo, forbidden, wrong.

But I did feel strong doing those dead lifts. I banged them out pretty good and though challenging, I was up to the challenge. I felt pretty good about doing that, that it was less pathetic than usual, but here was my trainer saying that I should be proud of myself for what I had done. I’m not exactly sure that I know how that feels. I mean, I was proud of myself for completing over 120 heats at the San Diego Open a few years ago and earing Top Student. That was a goal I worked for and achieved and it felt awesome. But these everyday victories, they somehow don’t seem big enough. It’s as if I’m waiting until I’m at my goal weight to actually approve of myself, be proud of myself, love myself.

Like following my eating plan this past week. I did it successfully and that was good, but I wasn’t exactly “proud” of myself for doing that. In my mind, it is simply what I need to do to get where I want to go, and I’m focused like no kidding on that so I did what needed to be done, that’s all. In truth, I’m not even proud of myself for being down over 70 pounds from my highest weight ever (see picture below). Because it took 3 fucking years to do that and I’m still mad that I’m 100 pounds from where I want to be.

20130509_150213

Don’t get me wrong. I notice a difference and I do feel somewhat better about myself. I just still see that I have so very far to go and this is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take months of consistent, persistent, determined action. And though I’m anticipating victories along the way, like reaching 213 which will be 100 pounds from my highest weight, and getting under 200 pounds, and getting to 179 pounds which will mean I’m overweight and no longer obese according to my BMI, and hitting my goal weight, I’m just not all that impressed with myself for where I am.

But I am starting to question that point of view simply because it could undermine all my efforts, and I refuse to let that happen this time. This time, I’m following this through come hell or high water!

My nutritionist seemed to also think I should be so proud of myself. She was like, “Stef, you’ve already accomplished a lot, and now, if you keep what you are doing, you will get to your goal in less than a year. You’ve got this! I really hope you are proud of yourself.” And she gave me a big hug.

But I find myself having trouble letting go of my story. You know, the one about me not being good enough, pretty enough, thin enough. I’m having trouble letting go of what I want to be so badly that I can’t seem to be satisfied with where and how I am. It is the ultimate thief, this mindset of comparison, and “not-enough.” But I swear, at the same time that I can see my face looks a little thinner, and maybe my belly too, and that when I thought I’d need a size 24 skirt I ended up purchasing a size 16, at the same time as I can see these steps of progress, I can also see my huge arms, how much larger I am than any other girls in my dance classes, how thick my legs and thighs are, the cellulite on my knees. At the same time that I feel slightly lighter, that it is maybe easier to move and more tolerable to wear heels to dance in, I also am also exhausted panting for breath and having a difficult time holding myself in yoga poses or ballet because I weigh so much or my body mass simply gets in the way.

I am still in a place where I feel the need to block out how I look and don’t feel proud of my appearance. I am longing for when I can wear this one asymmetrical dance shirt I bought and feel so beautiful and sassy in it. Right now when I put it on I just see where it hugs and tugs when it should be hanging empty, and it is frustrating and makes me feel sad.

And the thing I am up against physically that challenges me the most (besides the self-esteem and body image) is the cardio. Well, at least, it is my experience of me being out of shape. But even this I am questioning once again because of my nutritionist and trainer. Because the truth is, when I do a dance class, even though I may be panting and sweating and absolutely killing myself, and even though I may need to not do everything full-out just to stay in the game, well, the truth is, I’m working harder than anyone else out there just because of the sheer weight I carry. They’d probably be more tired too if they were carrying an extra 90 pounds.

Because I always experience myself as out of shape cardiovascular-wise, and because my dance teacher says that even skinny people can really struggle with the cardio and endurance required for dancing, I was feeling the need to add in some training to improve this. But both my trainer and nutritionist said that I was crazy active, especially compared to most people, and probably even more so for obese people. They said, “cardio isn’t the problem. Get the weight off and it will become so much easier. You won’t have to change a thing if you just keep dancing like you are. It will be enough.”

Aorta

My nutritionist said, “You have a strong heart. Cardio isn’t problem.”

My trainer said, after lifting all those weights today, “You are strong. Strength isn’t the problem.”

The problem is how I feel. The problem is the extra person I’m carrying around in my body. It makes it difficult to feel and act strong and sexy in Latin class with Rado doing the Rumba. I can do the steps, and some of my shapes look nice and all, but I’m lacking the confidence necessary because of my fat fucking arms and huge tree-trunk legs. I am the anthesis of the ideal for a Latin dancer, the complete and utter opposite, and it is a laughable farce, me dancing this dance.

Or is it awesome? Because I’m doing it anyways, because it is in my heart, regardless of external circumstances or appearances.

I don’t know. I think it is kind of a ridiculous-awesome, if there is such a thing.

What I do know is that in less than two weeks I will be dancing in a competition. I will be putting myself out there to be seen and judged. And you know what? Doing that, revealing one’s art, whether it be a painting or a dance, in writing or sharing a musical composition, and regardless of that person’s size or appearance, regardless of all those things, well, it takes a strong heart.

It All Begins And Ends With Fat

I had a really great double lesson with Ivan this morning. This is the difference having a solid goal and time frame in place makes. Because I’ve put the down payment on participating in 80 heats in People’s Choice, I know I’m going. Because I know I’m going, I know I need to do whatever I can to prepare myself in the short 4 weeks before the competition.

In only four weeks there is only so much you can do. Even while I work at it, I’m not going to lose a significant percentage of my body fat in that short of a time. However, even dropping just 5 pounds will make a difference I can feel on my body. I’m determined to be spot on with the plan my nutritionist sets forth for me. I can be motivated for one week at a time, especially with the competition looming. There is a purpose, and an urgent one, that will be behind all my choices and struggles. I need that.

And I’m determined to not lose any momentum afterwards like has happened in the past. I’ve already gotten the days off work for Desert Classic, which is also just a short time away. But the thing is, as soon as I am complete with People’s Choice, I will have another goalpost on the horizon to focus upon. This is so important for me. I will have my next competition planned before I complete Desert Classic to keep the cycle going.

Also, I probably can’t improve my cardio to where it really needs to be, but I do believe in a month’s time, especially combined with even a modest weight loss, I can make a difference. So what I need to do is practice exactly the task I need to accomplish while in the competition itself. We’ve been lazy on our lessons in this regard, indulging in long chats, stopping when it becomes a moderate effort, not doing rounds. I’ve talked in the past about making a playlist of songs for rounds of American and Latin styles with songs 1:30 each, but today I finally showed up prepared. I directed the lesson. I had an agenda. Because we have little time and I have to do what I can.

Before I fully committed to People’s Choice, I didn’t have a solid idea of what I was working toward…the vague goals of “getting better” and “losing weight” just weren’t moving me forward in any directed fashion. So I’d show up on a lesson and, as Ivan put it, say “Let’s do a Foxtrot. I’m fat.” He said I just moved and complained. That I wasn’t really dancing or doing anything.

So anyways, today I came in with a list of songs to warm up with. During this time we focused on connection. It was the perfect place to start and I told Ivan that this is how lessons need to look for a while – come in, warm up, focus on connection, then cardio, cardio, cardio doing rounds.

And guess what. It kicked my butt. I thought maybe I’d do okay since I did okay with the showcase number and that dance was pretty long. But nope. After swing I was kaput. And there are two more dances to complete. Because I was dancing full-out, pushing it during the beginning. Because that is my potential and capacity to dance like that, but I can’t sustain it. My body stops me. The asthma problems don’t help, but I honestly and truly believe that my body and physicality and lack of cardiovascular fitness are the biggest things holding me back right now. Anyways, I’m going to push during these next four weeks, doing rounds on every lesson and I do think it will get better. Oh, and it will probably feel better anyway because most likely the dances will only be 1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds at the most and I’m intentionally making it longer for conditioning.

But even with the reality of how exhausted I was after Swing, it still felt really good to be working on exactly what I need to work on and to be directed and focused. I didn’t have time to go all “poor me” and get in my head. And I have to say, for the first time, I had this moment of really being excited. I love the shapes I’m making, in Samba especially, and I could, for an instant, imagine how fierce it will be when I’m 100 pounds lighter.

And there were some funny moments that had me in stitches and it felt good to be happy and laughing on a lesson, even if my shortcomings were right in front of me. For instance, we were doing this move in Samba and I was really getting into it and so was Ivan. He wanted to spread his arms open wide, his chest puffed out like an eagle, presenting himself as very manly and strong. At the same time I was to step backwards behind, cross my feet, put one arm up in the air and the other one on his chest. We both went at it full force…but instead of connecting with his chest, my arm hit is wrist with a loud “smack!” and he was like, “Oww!” and withdrew his paw like a wounded kitten. It was so funny! Sometimes it feels good to hit your teacher, you know! lol.

And then there was some typical Ivan inappropriateness. On one step he told me to shut my clam. No, he didn’t mean for me to stop talking. He meant my, ahem, other clam, as in, keep your legs crossed daintly like a lady and don’t dance like a cowboy. Oh Ivan!

But mostly the lesson felt good because we were productive, focused, and clear. And while working on connection, I was able to control, direct, and project my energy such that at one point Ivan got goosebumps which is the ultimate in knowing I’m doing something right. I love it!

Which brings up another thing I’ve been pondering. I’ve been going to all these group classes that really emphasize technique, with Inna and Rado, and that is great. I love these classes and learning all this amazing information. However, there comes a time when you just have to dance. And that’s what I’ve got to focus on during my (expensive) time with Ivan. We have to focus on connection and actually dancing.

Ivan was so funny on our last lesson. I was telling him about what we talked about on Rado’s lesson and asking him for his take on it, thinking that I wanted him to tell me what I needed to do to “fix” things. But he basically said, “This so good you going to these classes. You learning all the different techniques but it is different with everybody. I think you open. I think your mind is open and you can listen to all these things and understand there is no one right way. Many people is wanting this, right and wrong way. So go, and learn, and now use this information. You not stupid. You no need me to tell you what to doing wrong or how to fixing it. You can do this yourself. You just need to do your routines by yourself step by step.”

Well, dang if that isn’t taking responsiblity for my own dancing on a new level, I don’t know what is. And that is another thing I was reflecting on…how much responsiblity I’ve been taking for my dancing, especially since Desert Classic last year. It is a good thing.

Anyways, getting back to how Ivan was being so funny. So he was basically saying, yes, technique is important but it’s not everything and you have to dance, like really dance, if you know what I mean – the difference between “doing” the steps, passing through the movements and “being” the dance. It’s kind of hard to explain but when you experience it or feel it, you can tell the difference. Really dancing involves, for me, like actually hearing the music (like I used to before I learned the importance of counting) instead of just saying the numbers in my head. Like actually seeing Ivan, not just blankly staring at him. Like being playful and in the moment and responding to my partner, the crowd, what feels right inside.

And so we have this conversation about technique and dancing, and Ivan slaps my butt when we are doing our Mambo routine and he says, “See! This is not technique.” And then we do rumba and he keeps me in this one position longer than unusual, and I go nuts wiggling my hips and he’s like, “Yeahhhh! See! This is not technique! But it looking so good!” I have these moments when there isn’t a conscious thought, and I just move like I feel like I should, and it is amazing…it is really dancing.

Because my truth is, I am a dancer. We know this. Everyone can see it. I’ve finally admitted to myself and I finally believe it to be true about me.

The other reality is, I’m fat. Everyone can see it. I never needed to admit it to myself, it is what it is, it is the truth about me.

I thought there was perhaps a way to see the dancing beyond the fat, but not so much. They are intimately intertwined. As Ivan told me, “It always begins or ends with fat.” You see, people know me because I move so well and it’s pretty unexpected because I’m extra large. So people will ask him, “Oh, who do you have a lesson with next?” “Stefanie,” he’ll say, and they will reply, “Oh the big one. She’s so good!” or “She’s so good! Isn’t she the fat one?”

People can’t just see me as a good dancer. They see me as a fat good dancer. Kind of like most people don’t see just a man, they see an Asian man. Or they don’t just see a woman, they see a woman with Cerebral Palsy. The fat is part of the picture, inseparable from me as being Asian or having a debilitating disease. Of course I can change this…I’m in the process of doing so…but this isn’t the point I’m making. The point I’m making is that as of this moment in time, this is part of my picture. Period.

So it was with mixed feelings that I read this post from The Reinvented Lass.  I did the showcase Cha Cha and shared the video and it affected her.  She reached out to me and asked me if I minded if she posted it on her blog and talk about how it affected her.  Of course I didn’t mind!  I think it is so amazing she was affected, and that she wanted to share and engage in a conversation.  I love it.  And I really appreciate and honor her honesty.  She was so self-reflective and kind and yet, I have to admit, it still stung.

The Lass wrote that she was proud of me.  That she’d read about my struggles and thought that I was a, wait for it….good dancer, and that she liked how I got into character.

But in my head all this was overshadowed.  She also wrote:

…she did such a great job with it – regardless of her size!

Yes, isn’t that the story of my life.  It all begins and ends with fat.

She continued:

But I started thinking about what things she can do better than me and how much better than me she can move. And to be honest, how much better than me she can move especially considering her size. Petty, right? And then I started to feel bad for myself and started thinking how bad of a dancer I must be. And I felt bad for having such thoughts about her.

All that in about 30 seconds. SIGH.

And reading this, I have compassion for both for her and for me. This stuff isn’t easy.  Petty?  I’m not sure I’d agree.  It’s just true, what she thought, but it does prick the heart.  It goes to my point that there is no way of really seeing just the dancing alone becuase it is embodied by, well, my Rubenesque physique. And still, it pisses me off. Why can’t people just see the dancing?

And it made me think that being fat, letting myself present myself this way, is me handing others a weapon to use against me, keep me down (read – a way for me to keep myself down).  They can always be superior because at least they aren’t fat like that one girl who dances well, for God’s sakes (read – other people are superior to me)!  They may not be able to dance like me, but heck, at least they don’t look like me.  The fact that they have a body fat percentage lower than mine makes them a better, more worthy person somehow. And anyways, they can get better, and at least they don’t look ridiculous trying to be sexy (read – well, you know.  All this crap is just me projecting what I don’t want to own).

How unfair and mean and separating and victim-y is that to think? And all that in about 30 seconds. SIGH.

For me it brings up thoughts of how inappropriate it is to dance in this state. That I shouldn’t dance while fat. But it also makes me think that it is important that I still get out there anyway because the stronger truth is that I am a dancer. I am a dancer now when I am fat and I will still be a dancer in the future when I am thin. Who I am is a dancer, but who I am has nothing to do with how much I weigh….and everything to do with it.

So what is there to do? I’ll take a note from the Lass:

But I also told myself that it’s not a competition. It’s a journey. She’s on her journey, and I’m on mine…

And in the meantime, I can appreciate Stef, her journey, her ability, and her dancing. I can appreciate that we share a passion and that we both think dance is so important to our lives. And I can cheer her on to be the best.

Yes. That’s right. We are on our own journeys and how much better is it to root for one another, remind one another of our greatness, and have open, honest communication, than to get stuck in the mental muck that threatens to separate us? How much better is it to appreciate that we share a passion called dancing that is important to the both of us, and that really, we are more similar than we are different?

So, Lass, I cheer for you, and for us. I appreciate you and know that you do kick-ass swivels (which I suck at!) and turns. I know you are insightful and wise. I am so glad you had the courage to share what you thought. Thank you for being my friend, warts and all.

So maybe the title of this post isn’t quite right.

Maybe it doesn’t really all begin and end with fat.

Maybe, instead, it all begins and ends with compassion and respect for ourselves and others, how we are right now, holding a vision of the best in the future. Maybe it all begins and ends with connection, not separation, recognizing our similarities rather than only seeing outer differences.

Maybe the truth is that it all begins and ends with love.

You’re Never Going to Learn How To Dance

Here’s fair warning…this post is all sorts of choppy, jumpy, and jumbled. There is nothing polished, smooth, or elegant about it. So I’ll just dive right in and hope you stay along through the choppy writing waters.

First things first, in case you missed the video of my showcase routine on the Facebook page for the blog, here is a link to it.

The good thing is I actually feel okay about sharing this. Like, it’s a lot less cringe-worthy than previous videos I’ve posted, and I do think my ronde’ is much improved from the previous showcase. So that’s a win in my book.

It was also a win that my nerves didn’t get the best of me this time around. I wasn’t hardly nervous at all. Staying relaxed like that, especially in a competition setting, would be a good thing. Ivan mentioned that he thought I was maybe a little too nonchalant about it, that I didn’t have the attack that I might want to bring forth at a competition, but I reminded him that it was still progress just because it was different, that I’ve changed. That is forward movement.

Other than that, I’ve decided to change tracks with the diet and exercise plan. I am going to continue with the gal on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the gym but it is more about just going and doing some weights, something extra, getting pushed more than I would push myself on my own, I don’t really expect more than that from her. I don’t feel like she is committed alongside me to reach my massive goals, or that she’d even really know how to assist me in that, but rather that she will do her job while on the clock and that’s it, and that’s fine.

But, well, I need help. I need support. I need more direction and accountability. I’ve decided to work with a nutritionist who herself lost 80 pounds and now competes in figure shows. I think she knows what she’s doing. She’s going to create a custom diet plan for me and I will have twice weekly accountability check-ins. I’ve committed for the next three months. I’m sure I’ll share more about that as the process unfolds but for now, I feel good making another decision to support me in getting where I want to go.

I skipped ballet this week because my ankle was bothering me and the instructor makes us always do a bunch of jumps. It tends to strain my ankle, especially since jumps are hard enough when you actually have some plie’ and don’t weigh a ton, (which I don’t, and I do), and especially with all the ballroom dancing in heels I’ve done lately, I just felt like my body needed some recovery.

Last night Inna was out of town so we had Alla teaching us instead. It wasn’t as hard as a cardio work-out as I usually get from Inna, but I do have to say I enjoyed the new, more complicated choreography. You can see Alla dancing here on DWTS – she and her partner won and were on Cheryl Burke’s team.

Tomorrow night is week three of Cha Cha with Radomir, which I’m also looking forward to. Again, he offers some more complicated choreography and also explains technique….plus we actually dance with a partner, which doesn’t happen in the other group classes I take.

But I have to say, it’s amazing the knowledge these pros have, I swear! Rado’s technique is so pristine, I think, it is an education just watching him, just like it is watching Inna or Marieta or Alla or Igor or Artem or any of the other pros move, you know? I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be influenced by so many exceptional dancers in town.

And, skipping right along in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, one thing I’ve noticed, is that when I’m feeling good about my dancing, and myself, I’m more likely to want to put my heels on because my feet and legs look more feminine and I feel stronger. If I’m feeling lower, I’m more likely to put on my practice shoes with their clunky heels. Lately, I’ve been putting my heels on more often. I can only imagine I will get to the point that they are practically all I wear, especially as I continue to drop weight, look better, and subsequently feel more confident about myself. But this week I put my heels on for both Rado’s class and Inna/Alla’s class, and even wore them on my lesson with Ivan. I guess it’s been a good week.

Wanna ride bikes?

Just kidding, except that is how A.D.D. my brain is right now. So here’s my next thought:

I can hardly believe that a fourth of the year is almost past. People’s Choice is coming right up and we are still not complete with our Samba routine. And instead of finishing that, well, on our last lesson we messed around making up a bit of a Bolero routine. Who knows if these will be presentable by People’s Choice but oh well, at least I have some new material since the last time I competed.

And guess what – apparently there will be some videographers there at People’s Choice scouting out Pro-Am couples to follow for a reality show. They’ll also be filming some of the pros as well. I seriously doubt I’d be chosen with Ivan but I do like that my friends who knew about it said, “I’d totally watch a reality show of you and Ivan!” Ha ha ha! Ivan is quite entertaining, that’s for sure.

And speaking of that, I realize the competition is coming right up, but I didn’t realize yesterday was the official deadline! Yikes! I found out by accident looking for one of the links I used in this post. I feel like the deadline for comps usually fall closer to the actual date of the competition, but maybe not? In any case this meant an urgent call Ivan to get the ball rolling, seeing as I’ve taken days off work to participate and all, and I’d really like to stay at the hotel if possible. So I guess I’d better decide how many heats I’m going to do….

So now for the title of the post. What do I mean by saying you will never really learn to dance? Well, yesterday, after Ivan and I were messing around making up Bolero steps, we chatted. He was very talkative for some reason. I told him that I had been a little rattled after our prior lesson because he had been getting genuinely agitated with me. Why? Because I’m still bottled up, holding back. He was like, “It’s no secret. We know all your problems. We know you big, and slow. I don’t caring. We (he and Marieta) are here for you, right now. No more time to prepare or think about it. I already give you so much time.” Basically, he was like, get over yourself.

And he’s right….to a point. Like in the showcase I was aware, after the fact but not during, that I didn’t actually focus on any particular person in the audience. I didn’t really open up and connect. I looked over the heads of the crowd. I don’t even know if I looked directly at Ivan, to be honest.

It’s certainly something I want to improve. I do desire to bring that presence that pros seem to exude. It’s pretty intense, though, both to experience from a pro while watching in the audience and also doing it myself.

But the thing that is difficult is being that open or to pretend like I’m totally aweseome, hot shit, the best dancer around for the purposes of a dance show or competition. It feels extremely vulnerable or like I’m a total sham. I have a feeling it will get easier the more I get the weight off, but right now it’s a challenge and very uncomfortable.

So anyways, we continued to chat and Ivan brought up a good point – the fact that I’m never really going to learn how to dance. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but simply in the way that there is so much to learn, so many schools of thought about how to execute various steps, and that a big part of actually dancing is self-expression, finding yourself in the steps while still respecting technique, that basically no one can ever really learn it all. Some people learn to dance. Others were born to dance. It’s as simple as that. I just have to find the courage to let go and live the dance beyond “learning” it.

So why would anyone ever pursue dancing, especially if it can never be 100% mastered? I don’t know exactly, but for people like Ivan and me, it’s our addiction. We can’t not dance. And when I’ve not danced for periods of time, I’ve withered inside. Dancing brings me back to life.

He was like, “Why I dancing? I should be retire. Why you dancing? What we doing? We crazy!”

“Yes but we can’t not dance. We just can’t.”

“Some people not understanding this.”

Truth be told, even I, myself, am not “understanding this.”

But who cares? It’s one of life’s mysteries why we love what we love. Dance a non-negotiable for me anymore. Even if I will never really learn how to do it. Even if I’m never satisfied. Even if I’m always in pursuit of something more and better. Even if it’s not my vocation or career or I will never be a professional, or even dance at a professional-like level, it’s still okay. It’s still worth it. I can’t even really explain why. I can’t explain why I want to become a better dancer, especially when there is no grand purpose behind that in practical terms. Why pursue this intangible, impossible art? Why do I love it?

I just do. It’s in my DNA. There is value in the practice and pursuit of dancing just for the sake of it. It’s enough and I’m grateful for it. And I guess it just seems important to share that, to share me and my process and my dancing, however it is, at whatever level it is. So this is me, dancing, living, sharing.

So Funny And Completely Inappropriate

So this morning I went in to practice the piece for the showcase at 7:45am. The practice was uneventful, which is good, except for the fact that Ivan was super tired because yesterday he did all sorts of work and intense manual labor on his farm which is up for an inspection from the county. That, and he strained his back from carrying 80 pound bags of cement all over the place, so he was like, “Please no splits today.” And I was like, “No problem!” I didn’t mind skipping that part at all….just as long as he is recovered by Saturday, which he seems to think he will be.

So the practice went well enough and at the end Ivan had another morning lesson scheduled. In came a new student who is friends with one of Ivan’s other students who I know. They asked to see what we were working on so we showed them the dance and they were kind and said it looked good, and the new gal said she had heard a lot about me from her friend, and somehow the conversation became about the blog. I didn’t mention it…I think Ivan did, but the lady I know said she didn’t know I had a blog so I fished a card for her out of my purse.

“It’s about my experiences on dance lessons, and all the funny stuff Ivan does, and sometimes helpful information about ballroom dancing, and a little bit of me complaining about trying to lose weight.”

And we’re talking about the blog and Ivan chimes in. “Ah yes. Everything that happens goes on the blog. This why I no have sex with her. because if I do, then it would be on the blog.”

Achtung

By see below. (see below.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

SAY WHAT!?! Who says something like that? And who can say that and still be likeable, especially in front of a new potential student? Only my cuckoo instructor. Good thing he is an independent agent because I can’t imagine a comment like that would ever be tolerated at a studio, and good thing that I know him and how ridiculous he is, as does his other student, who I am certain has shared about Ivan to her pal.  All I can say is that he must have been deliriously tired to randomly say something like that!

So anyways, without missing a beat, as I’m walking out the door, I simply reply, “Oh, that’s the only thing holding you back, Ivan? That it would be written about on the blog?” And Ivan’s student cracks up in a guffaw while I think her friend is sitting next to her silently in shock over what just transpired.

Ha ha ha! So here it is, I’m writing about it on the blog. Lolololol.

I’m Deconditioned But Not Decomissioned

So yesterday when I woke up I didn’t know that I’d be working out with my new trainer at the gym because I didn’t know that I was going to hire one.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve been hitting it pretty hard the past week. Fed up with my body issues and doing something about it, I’m on Nutrisystem and made a personal goal to get to the gym five times this week in addition to the ballet and ballroom stuff I normally do. So getting to Friday morning, after doing everything I’m supposed to do, and being on track with the work out goals, I was disheartened to say the least to see that my weight hasn’t budged even a tenth of a pound in the last two weeks. Why bust my chops and work so hard for no results? It’s frustrating as hell and part of why at some point I gave up. I find it so difficult in my body to get it to lose weight, it takes such discipline and attention, and after enough experiences of working hard and getting minimal results I think somewhere in my subconscious I just thought “forget about it…might as well enjoy what I enjoy (namely food and drink) and I’m not going to be a professional dancer anyways so the hell with it.”

Well, things have obviously changed since I have reconnected with my passion for dancing, and ignited my love for ballroom dancing in particular, and I am tired of tolerating a body I don’t love and not being able to do everything I believe I am capable of doing.

So anyways, I’m on a mission and working actively on it but was really upset driving home from work. There was nothing for it but to go to the gym for the 4th of my 5 days – that or go home, do nothing, drink wine, and then feel even worse the next day. Luckily I chose option one instead.

So I walked in the gym and they had some promotion that if you commit to a year you get a discount on your monthly fee. I agreed because I’m in this for the long haul. So while I was signing up for that a trainer approached and asked me how long I’d been a member at the gym.

“Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I had been coming in a spurt a few months ago and now I’m back in another spurt.”

“Did you ever take advantage of the free training session?”

“No. I wasn’t interested in it then. But today I’d be more interested.”

You see, as I was feeling so poorly in the car ride I had been praying, saying something I’ve been saying for a few months now. “Dear God. Please help. I need someone to help me with this. Someone who will understand the athlete I am underneath this all. Someone who will push and motivate me. Someone who understands my goals.”

You see, I’ve worked with trainers before. I have a degree in physiology. It isn’t about the knowledge. It’s about doing it. It’s about getting me out of my comfort zone and pushing me beyond my self-imposed limits. It’s about being supported while being challenged. It’s about accountability. And I refuse to work with just any Joe Schmo. Been there. Done that.

So anyways, I talked with this dude, knowing that he was going to give me the spiel and try to sign me up for training sessions but I was like, hey, whatever. Maybe this is the answer to my prayer. I am going to be open to the possibility.

So we talked, and measured, and I’m like 46% body fat (OMG!!! I’m half fat!), and 85% of weight loss is diet, and blah blah blah. And I basically told him, “Look. Here’s the deal. I’m an athlete. I’m a dancer. I need help to get as lean and as small as possible. I need help to improve my cardiovascular capacity so that I can do 10 minutes of full-out dancing non-stop ending with a Jive. I’ve worked with trainers before. I’m doing the right things and heading in the right direction, down 60 pounds from my highest weight, but this is over 3 years and I don’t want to wait until I’m 40 to achieve my dreams. It’s happening too slowly.”

“You are a trainer’s dream,” he replied. “You are motivated and have a purpose.  You are already althletic which will help a lot.  A lot.”

So, we’re looking at 1 to 2 pounds of fat loss weekly (why so slow AHHHH!), two training sessions weekly. He’s going to look at my Nutrisystem plan and tweak it. I’m going to come in 2 days alone. He says it will take a year but guarantees that I will change if I do what he says. That next year I could do the Tough Mudder (as if I wanted to!  No thank you!  I’d rather dance in sparkles thank you very much!) with my husband and brother and father, which I have a hard time believing but he seemed pretty sure about it. And, I got him to agree to come to a ballet class with me sometime. I’m saving it for after a particularly difficult workout that has me feeling defeated which I’m sure will happen sooner or later. At that point I’ll pull out my trump card and give myself something to look forward to – kicking my trainer’s ass doing something I’m good at and he’s not!

So anyways, we did a work out right then and there. I was going to do upper body weights anyways so we did that together instead. All I will say is thank God I have worked with trainers before and have done a plank in the past because if I hadn’t yesterday would have been a rude awakening, maybe even involving tears. I worked hard, to the point of muscle fatigue, and he made me do this thing where I had to punch an exercise ball from the plank position which sucked. But I was smiling the entire time. I was able to do it, and I  wasn’t really sure I would be. And it pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself. And, even better, with as hard as it was yesterday, and as fatigued as my arms were after the workout, I totally thought I would be way more sore than I am and have a difficult time moving my arms today. But I’m not!  And he did a good job being attuned to how my body was responding, when I was reaching my limits, assisting in the last two reps when needed.  Other trainers I’ve worked with haven’t been quite that responsive so I appreciated it.

So anyways, I’m still huge, and I still get winded going up two flights of stairs at work. I asked him about how that is possible when I can do the stair stepper for 45 minutes (going at a slow pace, of course) and dance. He said, “Well you are just so deconditioned.”

I never thought about it like that but it’s true. But it made me think, “Well, I may be deconditioned, but I’m not decommissioned. Not yet.”

Dumbell

Richardkiwi from nl [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s My Movie

Well, the truth is I haven’t really wanted to blog about what has been going on for me the past week or so. First off, I’m annoyed with myself for still getting so emotional about things and really letting them get me down. I didn’t want to make this blog a whine-fest.

But, as usually happens, with some time, and some tears, and some working out at the gym, and some sharing with friends, I’m feeling better. Seriously – when I read that it makes it sound like something dramatic happened, but in all honesty the only drama was that in my head.

I can’t say why exactly, but my body image issues have been getting the best of me lately. That and I’ve just felt sad like I will never be able to have/create a body I love and that looks good, and that I will never become the dancer I wish to be. For whatever reason, it was especially heavy on my heart this past week. And working on the Rumba only exacerbated the problem.

I’ve done a lot of dancing over the past days so perhaps a lot of emotion is just being shaken out. I recall that upon first taking up ballroom dancing I did shed many a tear, so sad about what I have allowed myself and my body to become. It was and is incredibly painful to really absorb the damage done by getting so large, not to mention how I feel about myself as a woman. On good days, I accept where I am and work toward what I desire, I might even find some things to find beautiful about myself. On neutral days I block it out and focus on if my clothes are fitting looser, and how my body moves and all that it can do, rather than how it looks doing it. On bad days I see my reflection in the mirror and it disgusts me, triggering a myriad of thoughts and a swirling drama that threatens to suck me down into a black abyss.

The weird thing is that all was smooth sailing for the first part of the week. I danced almost every day and even went to the gym for some cardio. I had lessons with Ivan, a great group class with Inna and I even danced around my kitchen at home just getting lost in the music and movement, not caring what it looked like and savoring the experience.

Then Saturday on my way to my lesson, I just felt sad. I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I walked in and Ivan was looking good. He had dyed his hair darker because the night before he had done a performance in a local Dancing With The Stars fundraising gala. And I swear he has gotten more trim, plus he had grown some stubble. And it just hit me. Why would someone like that want to dance with someone who looks like me? And the more we danced, the more ridiculous I felt. And the more emotional I got and all the fight went out of me and I could barely focus. I didn’t really say anything, but we both knew it was just bad news. At the end of the lesson was like, “I don’t know what to telling you. I don’t knowing what is making it better. You think I gonna put on my shoes today if I knowing it gonna be like this?”

Even so, he assured me, it’s normal to have a bad lesson every once in a while. If all lessons were like that, it would definitely be a problem, but (thankfully) it’s not. So we parted hoping that the next day would be brighter.

To a certain extent it was. After a serious session of cardio on the stair-stepper and a long chat with my friend “Blue Eyes,” who has also shed a ton of weight and knows what it is like to go through this, I was more or less in a neutral space. But I was worried.

I can’t remember exactly why I thought I wanted to have a lesson with Marieta, but I believe Ivan mentioned he wanted me to see how Marieta did one move that they also have in their routine and I realized that I have another amazing resource I can call upon to grow as a dancer. I haven’t had a lesson with Marieta in a long time and so was excited to set one up and was in good spirits when I contacted her about it.

But the day of the actual lesson with all the body image issues and self-doubt raging through my system, I was already feeling fragile, and I knew just being around Martieta might trigger me. If you have never had body issues you may not understand, but I find it incredibly difficult to even stand beside Marieta sometimes. Because she has a gorgeous body. Because she is an exquisite dancer. Because she embodies so many qualities that I wish I were. I mean, I intellectually understand we are all different and beautiful and amazing in our own way. And intellectually I understand that I am where I am in my dancing and though it is great to have a vision of where I am going, I have to start where I am. There is no leaping ahead to a different reality, a different body. And my greatest beauty is going to be when I express myself, and just like no two singers’ voices sound the same, no two dancers are exactly the same either. But that seems like a small consolation in those moments when I am overcome with the very uncomfortable emotion that arises when I feel intense shame about being who and how I am.

Even so I want to find the expression inside me and to work through this body-shame. And as amazing as Ivan is, even when he does the female part, there is still something inherently different when I see a female dance it. There is a presence these women ballroom dancers have. Marieta’s presence has a very different quality to it than Inna’s but both exude an almost palpable energy just walking on the floor, much less moving. I’m searching to find my quality of presence and also learn how to project it. I have a feeling it is tied into confidence and fearlessness.

So anyways, I wanted very much to have a lesson with Marieta, and I am planning on working more with her in the coming months because what I got on the lesson was of such value. But I was a mess. Actually, Ivan and I had had a decent enough lesson prior to Marieta coming in but just as she was walking in we were starting our Rumba.

In the beginning there is about 30 seconds where I am going to dance alone. There is no choreography at the moment and Ivan was just encouraging me to move, feel the music, express. He said, “It’s your movie. Imagine there is a spotlight on you and thousands of people watching.” He turned off the lights, put a spotlight on the mirror ball in the studio, and told me to enter from across the room.

Inside, I felt scared. But I want to grow and so pushed that down and pretended as best I could and moved.

Well, anyways, Ivan and I then danced, I screwed up a bunch but it was okay and then our lesson was over. It was time to work with Miss M. And I just felt like I should tell her why I had wanted to work with her, what the purpose of our lesson was. But it turns out, that might have been a mistake.

Because it all came out in this big, overly emotional gush. I was just talking and the tears were coming, and that was exactly the wrong thing to do to set me up to have a productive lesson. I was all caught up in my longing to be thinner, more beautiful, a better dancer. And I even blabbed, “I want to be good enough that it will be hard to tell who is the student and who is the pro.” Which, although a worthy goal, and something to strive for, it is most certainly not where I am, and indeed, may never happen. I am actually okay with letting that go and working toward it at the same time, but in that moment I was wrapped up in how lacking I was feeling, how “less-than” I was as compared to Marieta or any pro, in every way.

I guess I felt like because Marieta is also a friend I could go say all this stuff but if I had scheduled a lesson with any other pro there is no way I would have said anything like this at all. Lucky for me, Marieta is a true pro through and through and she set the context right away.

But I’ll be honest, we got started and I was having a hard time concentrating. I had to excuse myself for a moment to collect myself in the bathroom but then I came back and was calmer and more focused and more able to actually absorb what she was sharing…which was really wonderful.

Marieta told me that she had come in during the last few minutes of my lesson with Ivan so she could watch on purpose. “You may have thought that your movements were very expressive, but really they were pretty insular, you were holding them inside.”

“You are right. I’m aware of that. That’s part of why I want you help…to get what is going on inside so that it is readable and expressed on the outside.”

She had me do a lot of rumba walks and some balances. I wobble more than I should. And she explained how to move to keep on balance by imagining my spine is a pole and all movement should always twist around it. She encouraged me work on strengthening my core. She also demonstrated that to go forward you have to go back first – that it is more dynamic to create a sort of whiplash to movement than to start from a static position. And just being around her presence, focus, and intensity was a lesson in itself. I still don’t understand how she is able to switch her weight between feet so quickly, or to move her limbs with superhuman speed and sharpness but I’m looking forward to observing her and working with her again in the near future and more often. It brings a whole new dimension to the dancing, as well as a new level of strong femininity. And I think she was even harder than me on Ivan usually is, which is a good thing.

So I left the lesson richer with wisdom, feeling foolish about being a blubbery emotional mess, but also with a mental adjustment in place that allowed me to finish the lesson and actually get something out of it (a lot actually) and with a stronger resolve to continue to work toward my goals.

Which meant that I made a personal goal to get 45 minutes of cardio in 5 days of this week above my normal activities. Two of those times must be on the stair-stepper. I’m just making this up, just for this week. Then next week I’m going to make up something else to do, focus on, accomplish, and count as a success. Better to focus on specific worthwhile tasks, and practice at being a winner, than to go down in the emotional torrent that can so easily present itself.

And so far I am off to a good start. I got 45 minutes on the elliptical machine in yesterday and then went to a 90 minute ballet class which is more challenging than the one I usually take on Sundays. It was a stretch and I liked it. I even began to feel like I could do a little bit more, raise my leg a little bit higher, hold my chest up a little longer, and that maybe, just maybe, the grand plies were slightly easier than before. I felt like after a month or two of going to classes just once a week has made a difference in my body alignment and strength. I even liked the lines my legs were making sometimes (probably because I came straight from the gym and had runner’s stripes on my pants!) Today I had a lesson with Ivan and shortly I’m off to Inna’s class. Which is all to say, that I’m still moving forward. That the story isn’t over. That I am not satisfied with where I am. Not by a long shot. But it’s my movie, like Ivan said. And the credits haven’t rolled yet.

My Expensive Alien Hand

I’m so glad that holidays are finally over!  Why?  Because they really threw a wrench in my normal routine.  Dance classes were cancelled, or I was working extra hours to make up the time taken off.  I’ve missed two weeks of ballet, three weeks of Inna’s class, and only seen a little bit of Mr. Ivan.

But a few days ago I got back to ballet and though I screw up a lot, and it’s difficult, there are also moments where my body remembers how to be aligned properly and balance.  In those moments I feel open and free.  It’s pretty amazing.  But, sadly, I ended up straining my left calf.  It takes quite a bit of brute force to maintain some of the required positions, especially in my current body size, and my standing leg was strained to the point of shaking from fatigue while my working leg was doing what it needed to do.  I ended up bowing out of doing jumps, but did finish the class and I did go to see Ivan afterwards for a lesson.

It wasn’t actually injured, and with some ice and heat and lots of stretching, it’s already pretty much back to normal, though I skipped ballet the following night because I knew the teacher tonight does a ton of jumps and I didn’t want to risk injuring myself or having to sit out half of the class.

Otherwise, my legs feel good, worked out, slightly sore, and I can see a faint glimmer of their old dancing shape beginning to emerge.  Of course being off for over two weeks hasn’t been ideal, but I’m looking forward to the strength, flexibility, and lengthening that will be coming soon after more consistent attendance.

As far as things with Ivan go, we are continuing to work on our routines, and we began to develop the idea for a showcase number to that song “True Colors” from Glee that was really inspiring to me (http://vimeo.com/37544876) mentioned in a previous post.  I love that Ivan is so cool about stuff like this.  It means a lot to me – there is a lot of my own personal story that I want to put in the dance, and it’s really special to get to create something to express myself in this way.

And I also learned a new Cha Cha Step:

A new step in the Cha Cha

But the big thing that remains is the weight.  I’ve ordered a new diet plan which arrived early this week and the plan is to commit to that and more exercise and to show up looking different at the next competition, (which, if you haven’t seen on the Facebook page, I’m looking for advice on which competitions to go to this year).  That’s honestly my main focus (besides work) right now.

As Ivan says, I could stop dancing today but if I lost the weight than everything would change even without any practice.  Well, that isn’t gonna happen because I love it too much and dancing is part of my healing process, but I’ve had enough of my belly getting in the way of stretching, and being limited in what I can do dance-wise because of my body.  I can’t wait to not worry about what I’m going to wear and spend time finding the outfit that will make me look the least fat.  It’s for the birds.  Enough is enough.  This is my year.  It has to be.  I’ve decided.  Because I have big aspirations and this is going to get me closer. I’m drawing my line in the sand, declaring my intention, and refusing to let this hinder me any more.  And so far this diet plan is working really well for me.  I’ve been able to stick to it all week, and I don’t feel stressed out about it or like I’m starving or anything.  The biggest problem is that there is mandatory overtime right now so even without exercise or a dance lesson, I’m putting in 12 hour days, and working weekends.  Things will get better once the peak season is over, but the diet thing is a big step in the right direction and I’m going to get in whatever activity I can for now (like I’m committed to always using the stairs at work…a small thing but I think it will add up over time), with plans to make it more scheduled in the future.

Speaking of, even though I had to work today, I was able to schedule it so that I could fit a double lesson in with Ivan this morning.  I think this post is long enough so I’ll just mention two things.  First, I had a Dr. Strangelove/Alien Hand Syndrome moment this morning.

Dr strangelove peter sellers

By Directed by Stanley Kubrick, distributed by Columbia Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Like for reals, yo!  We all know I have arm styling issues. As Ivan said, teasingly, “On Alemana, I never know what arms you gonna use.  It always a surprise.  And always you look dyslexic like a chicken.”  (Ivan Bulgarian-English translation of dyslexic is uncoordinated even though it doesn’t mean anything close to that!)

Well, anyways, we are working on perfecting the Cha Cha routine, still breaking down each count and movement so I will know what I am doing, and on this one part I’m supposed to pause and look back at Ivan and I decided I’d put my arm on my neck for styling but yeah, it didn’t work so well.  My arm kind of spasmed this way and that, unsure of where to place itself.  It almost had a mind of its own, but it was a very confused mind.  I just thought it was funny and it made me think of Dr. Strangelove Syndrome.  I’m weird like that.

The second thing I’ll mention has to do with a comment Ivan made while we were dancing.  I was doing a move and he was like, “No!  Why you rushing?  This is expensive movement.  Show how expensive it is.”  It was a weird way to phrase it, but it is actually a very, very true statement.  Every step I’ve learned, every step I work to perfect is expensive…in the literal sense it has cost me money and time and effort.  But just like Chanel perfume or a pair of Versace gloves, you can tell the quality, the expense that went into making it.  Well, that’s how I want to highlight my dancing, as a luxurious and beautiful expression, the quality of the movement demonstrated in a millisecond, and the money, time, and effort behind making it seem effortless recognized by those with the eyes to see.  I mean we all want to look like the pros when we dance, but are we willing to “pay our dues” and work as if we were pros, even if we are not?  I want to clothe myself in the finest metaphorical silk, but am I willing to weave the silk to make the cloth in the first place?

It makes me think of this status post from Joy In Motion.  If you haven’t liked her page, go do so.  She’s primarily about Lindy Hop but shares all sorts of wonderful dance-related thoughts, blog posts, and videos.  I’ve enjoyed following her on “the Facebook.”  Anyways, here is the quote:

“By nature, we humans shrink from anything that seems possibly painful or overtly difficult. We bring this natural tendency to our practice of any skill. Once we grow adept at some aspect of this skill, generally one that comes more easily to us, we prefer to practice this element over and over. Our skill becomes lopsided as we avoid our weaknesses. Knowing that in our practice we can let down our guard, since we are not being watched or under pressure to perform, we bring to this a kind of dispersed attention. We tend to also be quite conventional in our practice routines. We generally follow what others have done, performing the accepted exercises for these skills.

This is the path of amateurs. To attain mastery, you must adopt what we shall call Resistance Practice. The principle is simple—you go in the opposite direction of all of your natural tendencies when it comes to practice.

First, you resist the temptation to be nice to yourself. You become your own worst critic; you see your work as if through the eyes of others. You recognize your weaknesses, precisely the elements you are not good at. Those are the aspects you give precedence to in your practice. You find a kind of perverse pleasure in moving past the pain this might bring. Second, you resist the lure of easing up on your focus. You train yourself to concentrate in practice with double the intensity, as if it were the real thing times two. In devising your own routines, you become as creative as possible. You invent exercises that work upon your weaknesses. You give yourself arbitrary deadlines to meet certain standards, constantly pushing yourself past perceived limits. In this way you develop your own standards for excellence, generally higher than those of others.

In the end, your five hours of intense, focused work are the equivalent of ten for most people. Soon enough you will see the results of such practice, and others will marvel at the apparent ease in which you accomplish your deeds.”

– Robert Greene

Well, it blew my mind.  And, it made me want to work harder!  I found it extremely motivating, and it also helped me focus my intent behind my new diet.  So, weird Alien hand moves aside, I’m really excited about the coming year and where my dancing will take me.  The only caveat to the above quote is that while being a critic of my weaknesses, I pledge to hold them compassionately.   It’s way too easy for me to be hard on myself, so I intend to do the good work as suggested by this Robert Greene, but in a kind, self-loving context – this doesn’t mean being blind to my faults, denying them, or excusing them, but it does mean loving myself while pushing myself in a bold, disciplined, focused and intense manner.  With any luck, I will generate results similar to this other gem of “the Facebook,” Rick, a very inspiring dude down from 426 pounds!!

And I guess that’s it for now!  I uploaded some fun pics from the dance camp on the Facebook page for BGintheB and videos will follow shortly of the pro show from the dance camp, choreography presented, as well as video from the Imperial Ballroom Holiday Showcase (including the routine that won the Ohio Star Ball Showdance for the International Ballroom division from Artem and Inna)  – it just takes a long time to upload them from my phone, so if you haven’t liked it yet, remember I do post some extra content there.

So for now, good night!

Tuppa Guska

Hello all. I’ve had a thrilling day. Why? because The Reinvented Lass sent me a message this morning. Apparently on her blog she mentioned a recent change I made on the blog, namely that it is now known as “Biggest Girl In The Ballroom” instead of “Dancing With Stefanie.” It bothered her a little bit, enough that she commented about it here and then reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a guest post in response which was all totally awesome.

So you can go to her great blog and read her original post and soon my guest post response to gain some insight on why I made this change if you like.  In any case,  It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on some things as well as to connect with The Reinvented Lass, which I love to get to do.  And, interestingly enough, it all kind of ties into what’s been on my mind the past few days.

You see, I think Ivan is really puzzled about how someone so fat happened, namely me.

He wonders how a person could allow themselves to balloon up to over 300 pounds.  He mentioned it at the end of a lesson in  a round-about way because I’d shown him and Marietta pictures of me when I was a more normal weight when they came over for dinner about a month ago and it made quite an impression on both of them.  So much so that they talked about it on their way home.  As I’ve been more focused on my lessons and showing him more and more of what I can do, of my potential, it becomes all the more palpable the fact that being so dang big is really impeding me.  Ivan is like, “You can’t even imagine what you could do when you lose the weight.”   It’s imperative that I handle this, and I find it incredibly motivating, exciting to know that I could actually become the dancer I dream about being – that it is something I am willing to work and fight for.

But how do I find myself in this position where I have over 100 extra pounds on my frame in the first place?  The interesting thing is that from my perspective, in my mind, I always felt as large as I actually am now. Even when I was at my smallest, a mere 116 pounds in high school, I still never felt thin enough. I always felt huge, fat, bigger than all the other girls, especially when standing next to them side-by-side in leotards in dance class. But in college when I really began to pack on the pounds it feels like I went to sleep and suddenly woke up, strangely finding myself a size 3x woman, unable to fit on roller coasters, unable to wrap a towel around my mass, having difficulty keeping up with my husband walking around Berlin, Germany, and dreading asking for a seatbelt extender on the plane ride to get there.  This wasn’t me…but it was.

After all the years of misery struggling to maintain my weight I realize that  there was a point where I finally just gave up and gave in. I allowed myself to eat all the things I would absolutely deny myself in the past and of course the pendulum swung from extreme restriction to extreme abandon with all things food.

Add in a little trauma, which we all experience at some point in our life, add in giving up my passion and love for dance, add in feeling the need to grow up and abandon childhood things, well, it was a perfect storm.

So now I’m here on the other side, and yes, I began dancing again, and though down 45 pounds from my largest, I’m still far from even a healthy weight, much less the body size expected of a ballroom dancer. But the thing is, I’m still a dancer and I’m actually pretty darn good.

But, as Ivan says, “The baba metza is killing you. You have everything, the emotion, the movement, the rhythm, the connection, but the fat grandmom bear is killing you. You don’t even look like the same person as in those pictures. You totally different. More than just about the dancing, it’s killing your life. You so stupid guska! Tuppa guska! You have to loosing the weight. You have to. I want to dance with you when you are feeling so good about yourself, when you feelling so sexy, when you walking in the mall and people will just notice and turn to see you because you so pretty.  I want to dance with you anyway, but I want to dance with you like this too.”

I want to dance with me like that as well!  It seems like an impossible dream to actually sculpt my body into something I love and that feels good to live in.  Self-loathing, especially in the context of body-hate has been the miserable struggle I’ve had with me as far back as I can remember.  I can remember feeling extreme shame about the fact that pants that fell off my friend didn’t close around my waist at the age of 7 or 8.  I remember promising myself I’d only eat chicken for dinner at age 9 because I could see my arms were fatter than the other girls on the dance team.  I remember feeling that there was something so very wrong with me and I felt powerless to change it.

So to shed the weight, and, more importantly, to give up this dark, hateful relationship with myself, is to let go of something that has been with me from the start.  I will have to find a way to accept myself as is and to love me at all stages of my transformation.  I refuse at this point to withhold love from myself until I realize a “perfect” body.  I’ve been withholding it all this time trying to force myself to become something different, to be beautiful as society defines it and thus acceptable and valuable, but it hasn’t worked.

I can’t exactly articulate how I went from slightly pudgy to clinically obese.  Obviously I ate more and I became less active.  But these are the mechanics of how it happened, not the why behind it.

I think I felt the need to hide and cover myself up.  For protection, as armor, to keep people at a distance, to disappear and fade into the background, unnoticeable, unremarkable.  Why exactly this was so, I can’t say except that on a deep level I felt like I was forgettable and unremarkable and un-special.  Simply put, I was ashamed to be me, to even exist. I know it sounds depressing, because it is depressing.  But as much as I put on a brave face and did what was expected of me and showed up to class and performed well, inside I felt empty.  Perhaps the food was an attempt to fill me up.  I had no authentic outlet to express myself and felt very dissatisfied with myself and my life.  I was doing all the things I was “supposed” to do, but I was not doing anything to nourish my heart or soul.  And my flesh told the story for me.  It silently screamed, “I’m incredibly unhappy!  I hate myself!  Please don’t look at me, I’m so ugly!”  I made myself “right” about all the lies I told myself about myself.

I wish losing the weight could be as unconscious as putting it on.  I suspect this will not be the case, however.  I suspect it will take extreme attention and focus and will involve making conscious choices to choose different activities and to create new habits.  I’ve been somewhat successful at a snail’s pace over the last 3 years, but I want more.  I want a significant  change.  I want to to reclaim my true self – the one who lives inside me, who revels in being sexy and feminine, and who is bold and free-spirited.  I see flashes of her here and there when I’m dancing.  She finally is beginning to feel strong enough to reveal herself completely.

So Ivan thinks I’m Tuppa Guska, which essentially translates to silly goose as far as I can tell, because I gained so much weight.  But I don’t think it was quite so simple as that.  It wasn’t like I said to myself one day that I want to be fat…it was more that I didn’t know how to be me, when being me wasn’t okay.

But dancing has been bringing me back to life.  It has taken a few years to land in a place where I actually believe I could be the dancer of my dreams.  I had to go through two previous instructors and find one who was a dancer himself, not just a technician, and I had to get connected to the ballroom community, and to feel supported in my endeavor.  I finally believe in myself as a dancer.  I believe that I am a beautiful dancer.  I believe that it is important that I dance.  Big or small that isn’t going to change.  And just you watch, this tuppa guska is growing into the swan she was born to be.

Duckling 03

By LaSylphide at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Give Me All You Have

Be warned: part of the reason I started this blog was as a way to process my emotional experiences involved with dancing (i.e. me and life).  Today’s post is definately a selfish one – one in which I’m partly complaining and getting it all “out” so that I can hopefully move forward.  I don’t like to be all “wah-boo” about feeling down.  Pity-partys, though something I engage in, pretty-much suck.  I realize this is going “victim” and denying my power.  And, well, the longer I don’t address these profound feelings of sadness and powerlessness, the longer I allow them to rule.  So whatever.  Time to write and shed a few tears.  Just due warning this is how I am feeling in the moment.  Like the clouds in the sky, these feelings will dissapate soon enough.  Especially since I’m going to the gym to really sweat after this post.  I just really need to go do that.  I’m positive that, combined with venting here through my writing it will help shift me out of this funk.

Depression-loss of loved one

By Baker131313 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve not seen as much of Ivan as usual lately becasue he and Marieta have been competing almost weekly.  This week they left on Thursday so I only got one lesson in.  As they are gone during the weekends, this means a paltry 45 minutes of dancing when I’m used to 180 minutes.  That, plus the opportunity to work overtime at my temp job and earn extra money, especially since I don’t get benefits and won’t be paid for days off like Thanksgiving and Christmas, means my days have been long and mentally exhausting.  It’s a 45 minute drive to and from work, then 9 hours staring at a computer – that makes it a 10.5 hour day without any other activities like dancing or sleeping or cooking.  I’m grateful, honestly, and happy to put in the work to save as much  money as possible since I don’t know how long this gig will last – probably through mid February at least but after that, unless I get hired on, I have no idea what my life will look like.  And, everything has prices and benefits.  The benefits of this position are numerous, making good money for the moment, with the chance to earn a little more with overtime, and some stability.  The downsides are decreased free-time,  decreased energy, a long-ass commute, and the fact that a majority of my day is spent being completely sedentary.

That combined with less dance lessons, I’ve gained almost every pound I previously lost back.  It sucks.  I am completely at fault/responsibility for this, and it takes an emotional toll as well as a physical one.  My clothes still fit, but they are more snug.  Worse than that, I feel heavier, it feels much more difficult to move.  And, I have worse self-esteem.  I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that all these facets are connected.  But it is crappy – feeling bad begets feeing bad and this makes it so much more difficult for me to show up to a dance class or work out session, knowing that I look horrible, and that it is going to be very difficult to move, and it will feel crappy.  Honest-to-God, I’m beginning to see what an act of courage it is every damn time I do show up.  I am so very, very sick compared to everyone else in my classes.  I cannot physically do what they can easily accomplish.  It is really challenging to go and be “less than.”  And yet, showing up to these classes is necessary if I want to heal.

So, anyways, this is all in the background of my mind as I show up to my lessons with Ivan.  When on a recent lesson and working on Rumba it becamse quite difficult, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  We’ve been putting together open routines for Rumba, Cha Cha and began on a Samba routine.  The Rumba is a rehash of a routine I did for a showcase with new and improved moves.  I really like the Cha Cha a lot and the Rumba is great too.  (One bright spot – my Sliding Doors are much improved.  I was able to repeat them for like 2 minutes in a row, by myself, totally on balance.  That was a nice move forward).  What isn’t great is how I look and feel while dancing the Rumba.  Mostly I am hung up on how incredibly huge I am and how gross it looks for this gargantuan behemouth of a body to be dancing the “dance of love” with Ivan who is fit and handsome.  The picture just isn’t right.  I find my body image issues the most difficult to grapple with in the Rumba because it is the “love story” dance, the one where a man and a woman play out that romantic relationship through sensuality.  But what man in his right mind would want to play out that story with someone who looks like me?  This is the thought in my mind, all the while trying to ignore how I appear in the mirror and just dance the moves, but it isn’t enough.  Not with a teacher like Ivan, who insists on the authentic emotional quality to the dancing (which is why I so adore having him as instructor – dancing is more than just the steps to me and he has really helped pull out this aspect from me into my dancing).

But when Ivan tells me, “Give me all you have,” it strikes an emotional chord with me and I have to ask him if we can change what we are working on because today, with tears in my eyes, “I am just not feeling the Rumba.”  He is asking for that authenticity and I am too fragile to give it to him today.  It is so completely at odds with my picture of myself as a woman that I am aftraid to get that open and vulnerable, afraid of being rejected, afraid of being so very ridiculous playing at being “sexy” when I am physically the exact opposite…I am a motherly, matronly fatty.  My body moves in one way telling one story, and my flesh silently screams another.

It’s all such a disappointment.  Instead of being motivated after Galaxy, I became deflated.  Yes, the loss of momentum with a hurt hip didn’t help, but where did my drive go?  I was on the right track, down a few pounds, and feeling like I could move somewhat better…Inna had even commented that it appeared that I had lost some weight.  And then, fizzle.  Back to square one.  What the hell am I doing, especially after the deep talk Ivan and I had after Desert Classic here, and my honest-to-God desire to not go to a ballroom competition again until I look different??? (I set a mental goal of 50 pounds lost before I step on a competitive ballroom dance floor once again, just for me, because I want to evolve and be different and amaze others and myself)  I just don’t understand what went wrong.  But wrong it has gone.  So very, very wrong.  I feel like I am drowning.  And it’s worse reading that post “You Lie Me” and seeing that at the end Ivan sent me a text saying “You so strong, girl.  I believe [in] you,” because wow, I royally screwed up, once again.  Epic fail.  His trust was misplaced.

I am so tired of trying.  Honestly, I am so tired of doing this or that, this eating plan, this exercise regimen, and it is slow going but I do progress, and then something derails me, and then I feel badly about myself and then I re-create the same damn experience over and over and over again.  I fully acknolwedge the insanity of this.  I have had trainers at the gym.  I have had a friend that agreed to meet me mornings to do cardio.  I have done a mail order diet, a physician supervised low calorie diet, Stax, Weight Watchers, and more.  At some point or another, they don’t stop working….I do.  I am 34 years old.  I have big dreams of where my dancing could take me.  And I am still embroiled in the same drama as I was when I had my first diet at age 12 and lost 60 pounds.  Is it time to get a gastric bypass?  Even if I did get one is that really the answer?

I am broken.  In some way, I am broken.  I don’t know how to fix me.  I’ve been trying to “fix” me all my life since I became aware that I was larger than others and that that was not okay.

All I do know is that today I am going to the gym.  It doesn’t seem like enough.  And, well, in truth going to the gym once isn’t enough.  But it is that or wave the white flag once again.  And in truth, part of me really wants to do just that.  How many times must a person fail before they just give up?  But I guess there is still some fight left in me after all – honestly I’m a bit surprised because I feel so beaten down inside.  It doesn’t feel like there is much fight left in this old dog, but there must be some tiny shred there or I would choose to spend my day watching TV on my ass, but the truth is, I can’t even stomach the thought of doing that right now.

So when Ivan asked me to “Give me all you have,” the honest truth is I can’t even give me all I have.  Clearly, based on results, often harsh but always fair, I haven’t given physically transforming “all I have.”  No, I’ve regressed.  And I feel like shit about it.

Alright, pity party and rant offically done.  Time to go to the gym.