Clean Eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Body Answered Back

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

Dear BGitB,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love always,

Your Body

Dear Body

Dear body,

What the hell is going on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Emotional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Ounces Of Potato

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

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

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

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

Kartoffeln der Sorte Marabel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I was like, “Yes.”¬† Lol.

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

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

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

But I digress….

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

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

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

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 ūüėČ
 
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.
 
ūüėČ
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.