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.

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Because Life Is More Fun With A Scarf

Well folks, the journey continues.

Perhaps you have seen on the Facebook Page for the blog that I have joined a gym (Hint, Hint.  Go “like” it and add it to your news feed if you haven’t already.  I post “bonus” material there and it’s another way to interact!).

Anyways, enough with the plug….

The story is that I can say with complete integrity that I have been focused and determined on my weight release project since we last chatted.  What this means is that I’ve been eating on my plan (The Stax plan created by Chris Powell, the guy behind Extreme Makeover, who is from Arizona where I live and knew my old trainer),  and I’ve been going to the gym in the morning to do 45 or more minutes of cardio at 6 am in the morning or a lesson with Ivan at 6:30 am, and then doing dance classes in the evenings after work.  Monday it was a stretch and tone class, Tuesdays I go to Inna’s kick butt class, Wednesdays it’s Belly Dancing and “Glee Cardio” which is really fun.  Tonight I have off, tomorrow, Ivan in the morning and then I’m meeting my friend Ivonne for some Lindy Hop and Swing.  The goal is to sweat and move and be active in lots of ways that challenge my body in lots of different ways.

And, yes, it is creating results.  I’m officially below 260 pounds.  My current short-term goal is to be at 250 or less by August 3rd.  (I find that setting goals is very important for me and I’m going to break it down into bite-sized pieces!)  Now, the deal is, how fast this all happens is up to my body.  I’m still going to set goals and do what is in my power to reach them.  And, my main focus is to keep on the plan, do what I’m supposed to do, and be kind to myself.  And….it is a slow process.  As much as I expect my body to be transformed every morning when I awake, alas, it is not.  I’m in it for the long haul.

So, I’m committed.  For realsies.  Like no kidding.

sweat is my fat crying

This is my “drastic” action, as encouraged by Ivan to take on.  So I’m taking it on.  With help!  I have a work-out buddy for the gym, and am making new friends at the dance studio, and I’m getting lots of moral support here through the blog.  Thank you!  I need it!  I accept it!  I receive it!

Okay.  So I’m doing all this and I’m committed and it’s not all peaches and cream.  It’s emotional.  Just ask my husband!  Just ask Ivan!

Like, there is a reason why I got so big and fat.  There’s a lot of stuff that’s going to come up as a result of changing my body, and my life.  There will be tears.  And maybe even rages.  And it’s hard to weather sometimes.

Here’s what happened on Wednesday:

I showed up for my lesson with Ivan.  After our delightful lesson this past weekend, I was not expecting what happened.  First, we watched my videos from the Desert Classic together.  I don’t know about you, but I have always had a difficult time watching myself dancing on video…heck, I’ve had a hard time just seeing myself in a picture, so seeing my dancing, something that means so much to me, is especially difficult.  Anyways, there were issues, as there always is, and that is fine because it can be used as a tool for course correction.  For instance, my feet were super slow on the Cha Cha….Now I know that is something to really work on.  Also, We were “hopping” a bit in the Latin dances.  This is a reminder to be grounded and push into the floor.  So good visual feedback, I’m okay with this.

Also, Ivan said that the videos were better than he expected.  So this is happy news.  He said our upper bodies, and facial expression were good and strong.  Yes the arm styling is still an issue that plagues me, yes, there are imperfections, but overall, I did well from a dancing standpoint from my instructor’s perspective.

But it brought up so much emotion for me.  We’ve really been working on me knowing what I’m supposed to be doing in detail.  Knowing the dances without Ivan so I can practice them alone.  Knowing the exact count of each move.  I am being held to a higher standard and I love it.  My ego hates it!  But I love it.  And I know that Ivan is calling me to a new level so it’s time to grow and that isn’t always easy/fun/fast.  It will take work and focus and dedication.  Great!  And, my lessons feel so different than they did just two weeks ago.  I’m going to have to adjust a bit.

So, lots going on.  Combine that with a subconscious fear that Ivan’s going to bail on me (I lost my last two instructors right after competitions), and him realizing how much the weight affects me/our partnership, and it was overwhelming for me.  I completed my lesson, but it was difficult to focus in moments and I choked up at least twice.  I felt defeated.  I kept going, but the feeling was very strong.

Here’s what I realized:

Two things:

First, Ivan before the competition helped me feel okay about my body.  I knew about all these issues from appearance to health to physicality and being a dancer, but he helped me to push them aside and just dance.  He made me do crazy things I didn’t think possible, like a drag and a dip on one leg, at my large size.  He helped me find confidence in myself and my body even as big and out-of-shape as it currently is.

After this competition, Ivan has awoken from our happy delusion.  He really gets that my physicality affects everything.  He was almost lamenting it.

“I wanting to do the splits with you, but I can’t.  You too heavy.”

It’s limiting our choreography choices, muddling the lines, making it difficult to achieve the speed and sharpness necessary to be a true competitor.  And it is a true competitor that I believe myself to be and that Ivan sees within me.  He’s going to hold me to it because I am capable.  Ultimately, he believes in me.  In the moment, it is really painful to fully acknowledge the reality and I feel like I’ve lost some confidence.  I feel like he’s lost some confidence in me.  I could totally be making that up in my head, but the truth is, even so, it feels completely different.  I’m going to have to find a way to get my mojo back.  Part of that involves losing significant weight.

Second, I realized that I’m doing something really big.  More than losing weight or anything like that, I’m reclaiming a dream that I’d buried and thrown away.  Yes, I’ve already come back to dancing, so in a way I’d cracked open the door to that dream, but this is reclaiming it on a whole other level.  The level at which I desired as a kid.  I don’t know exactly how to explain it – but for the first time in my life I actually believe it’s possible for me to become the dancer I’ve always dreamed of being….to no longer be at war with my body, but in harmony with it, fully expressive, creating gorgeous lines, moving people through my movement, maybe even becoming a champion.  I mean, that’s a bold, ballsy statement!  Who am I to, at age 34 and at 259 pounds to say I want to be a dancing champion?  Well, who am I not to if it is my heart?  Who knows how this will happen, but I know this:  If I don’t go for it with all that I am, nothing will happen, nothing will change.  And a person aiming for the stars often makes it to the moon.  I just might go much farther than I ever thought possible especially if I set a goal that is big and hairy and seems ludicrous.  Those are the best kind!

In any case, the moral of my very long rant here is that I’m on my way.  It doesn’t always feel very good, but I know that it will eventually feel awesome.  I’m reclaiming a dream, I’m in a growth phase, things have changed.  I’m struggling hard-core in moments but that isn’t stopping me, not by a long shot.  I’m in it for the long haul and I’m creating some results.

I’m kind of in my own little drama here, you know?  I’m not thinking I’m doing anything that is really all that important to anybody but me and Ivan.  But I want to share something with you that rocked my world today.  Something that reminded me that what I do (what you do, what we all do), matters.  That I am (you are, we are) powerful and that I (you, we) affect one another, probably most especially when we are honoring ourselves, our passion, our purpose.

I got this message from a reader:

I smiled when I saw your new Golds membership! I joined a gym this weekend for the first time in years!  One of the things I’ve been thinking about after reading some of your post-Desert Classic posts is what it means to give one’s self full permission to go for it (in dance, in health, etc.) and really live, and whether I’m giving myself the best shot possible.  It motivated me and one of the things I did in response was head into the gym this weekend.  So when I saw your post pop up on Facebook it was awesome.

Wow?!  Really?!  I inspired someone to action?  According to their own words, someone else is going to give him/herself “full permission to go for it.”

If I had anything to do with this I feel honored and humbled and like, wow, I’m in my purpose.

So, that’s the end of the “Me” show for this evening.  This is my place to get it all out of my head!  So Blah!

And, um, oh….

Just kidding about me being done.  Just one more thing…I went to edit this and realized that I never explained why I titled the post as I did….

So, briefly, I went to the belly dancing class on Wednesday.  It was the evening after my tough lesson with Ivan.  I was still feeling pretty depressed.  But dancing always makes things better, especially classes where you don’t know what the heck you are doing, like in belly dancing.  You have to be completely in your physical experience because it is so foreign, and feels funny.  Anyways, the teacher in this class is so great.  I love her energy and she has such amazing musicality in her body.  Truly I never realized how beautiful belly dancing could be until I saw her dance.  Anyways, halfway through the lesson she says, “Let’s get scarves because life is more fun with a scarf.”  It was so amazing and just what I needed.  Some childlike play.  We made the scarves into butterfly wings.  Mine was a fuchsia and green silky number and I ran around the room, swishing my hips, spinning like a three-year-old.  It was so freeing.  The oppression of the day’s negative thoughts faded away in an instant.  Truly, life IS more fun with a scarf.  I think I’m going to have to get one just to carry around with me for emotional emergencies!

Okay, now I’m done for real.

To BED!

-Stef