About 7 weeks ago, I embarked on a journey… one that put my passion for being fit, healthy and pushing my body’s limits into high gear. It’s been a huge part of my life; it’s rightfully titled, a lifestyle. As such, many of the people in my life share this passion. I surrounded myself with women who had what I aspired to, many of them recognized, embraced and encouraged this in me.
Late last year one of these women did a fitness photo shoot, a few months later, another one did. These women are 10 and 20 years older than I am. It sparked something. What motivated me was not inspiration, but desperation. If these women could do it at 33, 43, what the heck was I doing at 23?? … “6 weeks” one of them told me. 6 weeks to be “picture ready”. No fat burners, no fad diets, no shakes, no gimmicks. Just eating clean and training hard. (For more details, check out B3 Fitness). I listened. I booked my graduation pictures (courtesy of Bruce Edwards photography) and worked towards being picture ready as well… secretly.
See, I knew if I didn’t do it, then 6 weeks later I’d be looking in the mirror thinking, “I could’ve done it by now”.
I meant to blog daily about how I felt, but a fear of failure or fear of not meeting expectations and not seeing results, alongside the taunting; “what if I can’t live up to my expectations?” .. “what will others think?” .. There’s a lot of potential that people are banking on, what if I fall short?” All these thoughts prevented me from doing so. It was the same reason I “secretly” prepared for pictures. A funny thing happens with the added accountability though — it adds pressure! I’m learning that there’s a point, for me, at which I stop letting that pressure ‘grind’ the diamond in me (read about the link between diamonds and pressure, here), and just let it grind. These thoughts prevented actions.
Immaterial thought affected a very material, physical action.
The Power of the Mind. It’s surreal the things we can talk ourselves OUT of.
Even counsellors have their issues, their struggles, their humanity. I’d actually go so far as to say that most counsellors probably got into the profession because of their experiences and struggles.
Nonetheless, as the 40 days progressed, I saw results, probably around 2 weeks in, my otherwise soft belly had gotten hard and the “layer” of softness between what I felt beneath the surface was slowly decreasing. I was ecstatic, overjoyed, ENCOURAGED. I never thought my body could look the way it did. I shared the news with those who I thought would share my joy, some shared the enthusiasm, some… not so much. I quickly learned where my support network in this endeavour would be. It wasn’t until the third week in that I had to dip into that support, double, triple times a week, sometimes in a day. This was becoming more of a mental game than a physical one. Cravings were harder to fend off, I felt compromised, emotional, deprived. I recall one Saturday night after work, no one was home, I sat in my bathroom and cried.. and then ate my chicken and veggies and went to bed. A funny thing happened the next morning and every time after that when I said “no” to a treat or a craving or any other COMPROMISE; I felt empowered. I was making it happen! Muscles were building, but confidence was too. Fat was being lost, but so were these body image issues I held onto for so long. I went out and bought my first bikini… I haven’t worn it, but still, to be able to go try it on even was a big deal for me!
Fast forward 5 weeks, I started to get confident enough to start experimenting with different things. Water manipulation, Carb loading and depleting… and unguided in unknown territory, I messed things up. I “peaked” before my photos and the day of my photos I looked flat and skinny. Not strong and sexy. What was most discouraging was that prior to the photoshoot I had seen better definition, better results. This is when the real mind fcuk began.
Having “deprived” my body of water in the last 2 days, carbs the last 10 days, and sugar and salt for the past 40 days, getting in good workouts and cardio (which I now, hate), all while working 6 days a week which start at 3:30am and have me crawling into bed around 9pm, and constantly being surrounded by temptation… for what I perceived to be ‘sub par’ results the day it was all said and done. I was choked.
The smart thing to do would have been to taken what I had done so far and built on that. Instead, I retaliated. Against myself (I know, who wins that battle??) and put into my body things I hadn’t eaten in ages. Bagels, muffins, chocolate milk, a pint (or two) of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, cakes, cookies, chocolates and IN ABUNDANCE. Even before the 40 days, many of these things remained untouched, undesired, ice cream stayed in the freezer for months at a time, I’d have a spoon of it, get my fix and be on with it. Even going out for cake or treats with friends, it wasn’t uncommon that I’d share dessert or have coffee/tea instead — sans cream and sugar. The “logic” for this binge was, if after all that I couldn’t get the body I wanted, I was going to eat everything I had previously cast off because it was going to hinder my goals, cause I didn’t reach them anyway.
The Saturday after the photo shoot I over did it felt sick and as I lay in bed clenching my stomach said “that’s it, no more, we’ve had enough, we’re undoing it!” .. the next morning started clean, but as the day progressed, my mind went there… “you already effed it up last night” “might as well…” or the kicker, my trademark phrase “WHAT”S THE POINT??” and so it continued. I wasn’t even eating to enjoy it anymore, it was “how far can I take this…”
This went on for days. Literally. Mornings were good, mornings were full of conviction and then evening came. The dark times. I was disappointed and discouraged and dark. Every meal followed a trip to the bathroom to see if the damage had shown up yet. This was similar to pre-pictures, except in a much more positive light. somewhere in me that passion was there, to be that super fit, super lean, strong and sexy, hard body woman again, but I couldn’t see her anymore, or the potential of her and as that vision blurred, that passion was being suffocated with cookies, calories and fat. I’d see people eating something that I had previously CHOSEN not to, I went out and got it and had it. Picked up a chocolate bar at a gas station, had a blended coffee drink, etc. I went and returned the never-been-worn bathing suit too.
All this might sound like normal eating habits for someone, and by no means is any condemnation to those who live this way. But living this way never lined up with my goals and aspirations, however, with those goals being shot, I figured, screw it. Let’s live this way for a while…
Less than 7 days from the photo shoot I gained 10 pounds and 3% body fat. And it wasn’t until a dear, dear friend told me I was starting to “look round.” A former bodybuilder, she knew the road I was heading down and was quick to pull me off. She recognized the darkness.
She was the kick in the butt for me. Lord knows I’d give up on myself a hundred times over before giving up on someone I care about. And there she was, teary eyed asking me to stop before it’s too late. That was it. I was looking for the damage and I found it.
Now, my higher power knows I have to get it smacked HARD to get it. So the next day, today, I saw my pictures. Needless to say, seeing what I looked like just a week ago and seeing how I look (don’t get me started on how I feel!), was HARD.
We change for two reasons; either we learn enough that we want to or we’ve been hurt enough that we have to.
50 odd days ago, I went in one direction, hopeful. 7 days ago I went in another direction, discouraged. I feel like I’m at a crossroads, again. The start of another journey. Every morning, we get the opportunity to chooses our attitude and our direction. So, what will tomorrow bring? Whatever we bring to tomorrow. Bring. it. on.