"I think when we get to the point where we really believe something is at the top of our priority list, nothing can stop us. We can find a way around any excuse. We don't need advice, we just need to realize our own power and make our own goals a priority, and then rearrange our lives accordingly. Simple, right?"
Recently I linked to Already Pretty, a fantastic blog by Sally McGraw about personal style and body image. Last Monday she wrote yet another brilliant post about her self esteem heroes.
It's easy to focus on and amplify the memories of those who have given your self-esteem and/or body image a kicking. Family members remarking on sturdy thighs, teachers pointing out chubbiness (so professional), or girls who called you a "red-headed slut" in high school. Despite having red hair themselves.
(Actually that last one made me chortle at the time and still does two decades later!)
But let’s talk instead about the quiet heroes of your self-esteem. Who in your life makes you feel gorgeous, powerful, perfect? Which friends and family members are quick with a compliment, or eager to re-route the conversation when you start tearing yourself down?
Such a cool idea. Here's my list – incomplete for sure, but it's been awhile since posts. No time for dilly-dallying!
Colin the Kickboxing Coach – I wrote previously that he deserves a knighthood for services to self esteem. He makes everyone in the team feel welcome, from prize fighter to prize wussbag. Whenever I'm about to punch myself in the noggin with frustration he'll pop up and say, "nice kick" or "good work, keep going!" and that you suck! voice is sent back in its box.
Kellie the Zumba Lass – I'm an anonymous number in an insanely crowded classes – she wouldn't know me if she tripped over my beet-faced sweat-basted semi-conscious body. But her classes make me feel so freakin' alive – I'm always there, fully present with shaking booty. Afterward I'm giddy and can't shut up about it all day.
Sister Rhi – We dissect our lives in a weekly phone debrief, lifting each other up and laughing at ourselves and our misadventures.
Carla – Our podcast calls leave me buzzing and determined to make the most out of my days. Carla makes me see how important it is to be passionate about what you do and not let other's opinions stop you.
But he makes me feel loved and happy to be alive by making me laugh – half the time he doesn't even realise he's said something funny, which makes it even better. He also knows when to give a hug and can tell the difference between carefree joke and joke-to-disguise-inner turmoil.
He also always remembers when it's Haircut Day so he can say, "I like your 'do!" when I arrive home even though he can't really see a difference.
Last week I got emails from three different people saying they'd dug up an entry from four years ago called Things I Have Learned.
I re-read it myself and found it very reassuring, like the Ghost of Shauna's Past telling me DUDE we've been here before so don't you worry bout a thing!
In light of the aforementioned mushy brain I thought I would re-post it today for the new-school readers.
2006 Disclaimer: This is not smug lecturing or advice or a dietary Sermon on the Mount. It's just a wee list of lessons learned over the last five years. And so many of em took almost all that time to learn. I'm a bit slow.
Disclaimer Update 2010: Yep. Still learnin'!
Laugh at yourself. Especially when you screw things up!
Don't compare your progress to other bloggers, instead be inspired by them (ie. steal their ideas!)
Try to reduce the self-loathing. I'm not saying you have to look in the mirror and chant, "YOU ARE A WINNER!", but it really doesn't help to stand around yelling at your thighs.
Remember that the weight loss industry exists to make money, whether it's Weight Watchers or Slimming Magazine or the CSIRO or Dr Gillian McKeith. Even though they all help in their own ways, they don't have all the answers and they really want you to buy the Choco Crisp Bars or send away for the Pilates DVD. Take bits and pieces from what they tell you and clobber it together to make your own way of doing things. Don't let anything be a substitute for thinking for yourself.
Don't put things off until you Get Skinny. Try something crazy and new. If you fail, just don't blog about it!
Deal with The Past.
Look at the Big Picture or look at the Little Picture. Whichever is easiest to stomach at the time!
Don't disappear up your own arse. Losing weight seems to bring a lot of introspection and lightbulb moments, but don't let this journey take over your life.
Accept that you are moody, inconsistent and full of contradictions. What worked for you yesterday may shit you to tears tomorrow, and for no reasonable reason!
Never eat lentils before you do squats or lunges.
Just because you think everything is about your weight, don't assume everyone else sees it that way. Often other people are much better at seeing past your fat than you are.
Just because you lose weight doesn't mean your old fears and problems will disappear. Example: If you were scared of rollercoasters when you were 350lb you may still shit your pants at the thought of them 160 pounds later!
Things won't change overnight. It takes time, trial and error to forge a healthy lifestyle and figure out what works for you. The difficulty of this task increases by tenfold increments depending on how many times per week you used to visit McDonalds Drive Thru.
Don't let the fear of loose skin, belly rolls or flabby arms stop you. Do you think Oprah worried about her bingo wings? No. She just flap-flap-flapped and flew away to world domination!
If you're still worried about your flabby arms, move to Scotland. You can get away with long sleeves for about 364 days a year.
Even when you royally screw up – over and over and over again – you can pick yourself up again. As long you never stop believing you will get there in the end.
Recently our kickboxing coach went crazy with Microsoft Word and a laminator and made some Motivational Posters. I used to see bare studio walls as I huffed through the jack jumps and high knee jogging, but now there's a bounty of cheesy inspiration:
Pain Is Just Failure Leaving The Body
Over Prepare So You Don't Under Perform
It's Always Too Soon To Quit
Pressure Is A Challenge To Meet Rather Than A Threat of Defeat
In Case Of Fire Our Evacuation Meeting Point Is Adjacent To The Bus Station.
This is the one that's plonked in my direct line of vision:
I get in my own way all the bloody time. I should have feet full of holes from all the times I've shot myself there. Some days it doesn't matter how much confidence someone has in my abilities, it's nigh impossible to believe it for myself. If you gave me one reason why I could do something I'd give you nine why I'd be rubbish.
Our coach deserves a knighthood for services to self esteem. The lassies on our team are a rich variety of ages, shapes, abilities and backgrounds. Whether you're a prize fighter or a galumphing amateur, he has utter faith in our ability to achieve. He quietly pushes us out of our comfort zones and sees no reason why we can't kick arse, literally and figuratively. I love observing the determined flush a well-time compliment can bring. You can see the posture straighten and the punches sharpen.
Personally there's been occasions when I've said "I can't do that move" and Mr Coach will say "Yeah you can!" so I do it, albeit clumsily. Then I see that the only real obstacle is my own mind – the insecurities and doubts and self-imposed limitations.
I talked about this stuff with a fellow foot-shooter and we reckoned that an important step towards getting out of your own way is to figure out why the hell you keep doing it in the first place. But it's still exhilarating to recognise when it happens, push the fears aside and go forth regardless. Even if it results in getting punched in the nose!
Mornings are brilliant, if you can get past that having to wake up and get out of your scratcher thing. Mornings mean you get a fresh start every twenty-four hours.
This is painfully bloody obvious now that I think about it, but nevertheless an opportunity I'd been ignoring. Recently I gawked up the ceiling the morning after a particularly rubbish day and thought, I could do something differently today. Doesn't have to be important or perfect or loud or dazzling, but it could be different. It could be better than yesterday. Why the hell why not?
Anyway. Here are some links to things that have lit up my world lately.
Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal The title is self-explanatory. It's a journal that you systematically dismantle. Every page has a simple instruction – punch holes in this page, set fire to this page, rub dirt on this page, sew this page, scribble on this page, chop out this page and mail it to a friend, etc etc etc. I bought it back in 2007 but was too scared to mark it; I couldn't decide which pen to use, for goodness' sake! But now the time for mindless destruction. It's great.
Jazz Apples. Not to be confused with jazz mags. I bought a bagful just for the amusing name but they are sweet and crunchy. Normally I fall asleep halfway through eating an apple because they are so bloody boring, but not so the Jazz Apple.
The Black Dog Books Kylie May, are you out there? I've been trying to hunt you down to say a huge thanks for sending two wonderful books – I Had A Black Dog and Living With A Black Dog.
They are both picture books, the first about depression and the latter designed for someone who knows a depressed person. If you struggle with depression and can't put the fuzzy bleakness into words, these are the books to shove into a loved ones arms. They take all of ten minutes to read but are funny, insightful, helpful and full of hope.
8 Steps To Conquer The Beast Within This Martha Beck article about tackling your demons was in an Oprah magazine I'd bought for purely the cupcake recipes. But months later I felt compelled to read the non-cupcake pages, as I feel the same guilt for an unread magazine that I do for a shriveled carrot in the bottom of the fridge – the object has not fulfilled its destiny because of my laziness and neglect. Turns out every article resonated, and this Beck one mega useful, particularly the Lifeline Graph exercise.
My Tiny Plot It's been eight whole days and my brand new herb garden is not yet dead! I'm devouring all things gardening and Gillian's blog about her Bath garden is the dogs' bollocks. That's Bath as in the City Of, by the way; not a garden full of bath tubs. Although that could look very cool.
Note: I didn't end up finishing this until Monday, but let's not spoil the alliteration!
Here's a most excellent quote to ponder while I finish off the next entry and paddle in this bottomless pit of corporate ToDo and overwhelmedness while trying to remember that panicking gets you nowhere, tra la la la!
"Everyone gets scared before they try something new. By everyone I mean me, and I’m certain you are all exactly like me. But I do hear this from other people: They are scared to come to a class, scared to try a new activity, scared of me and my crazy talk, but odds are only one of those is really going to do lasting damage. Scared is a feeling, not a mandate. Be scared, try it anyway, yeah yeah. No one wants to look like a fool or take a risk, but odds are, most people are so absorbed in what they are doing, they won’t even see you, and besides, they probably feel the same way, so let’s all get huggy and be done with it."
How boring would lard-busting be without blogging? Pretty bloody dull, I tells ya. I've had emails from new folks who saw my Early Show appearance and asked how they can start blogging, and also why one would want to pick up such a nerdy habit in the first place. I thought I would answer that here!
There are many reasons why – such as accountability to yourself and others, putting your hopes and fears and goals in writing, and having a place to celebrate and/or whine about the process. A blog can be whatever you want it to be – anonymous or exhibitionist; soul-searching essays or just jotting down your lunch. You don't even have to write one at all – reading blogs can be equally rewarding.
Personally I reckon without all the friendships, ideas, recommendations, advice, recipes, comments, challenges, support, insight and inspiration I've found from this blogging caper, I might still be plodding along on the treadmill yelling, "BORRRRRING!" at quarter-mile intervals. It's the spice, it's the flavour! There are so many things that are now fundamental parts of my life I might never have otherwise discovered. I've listed just a few at the end of this entry.
I think you need to have many different tools in your Toolshed o' Healthy Living, but blogging is one that won't just collect dust on the shelf. Ho ho ho.
Wendy linked to Krista's Stumptuous site in 2001 and I discovered the concept of chicks lifting heavy objects.
Nessajane blogged about Body Pump classes and got me thoroughly addicted.
Robyn blogged about the mighty Enell sports bra in 2004 and I could finally do cardio without clutching The Girls in agony. It's the ugliest garment known to mankind, but so effective.
Forget your Doctor Phils and Paul McKennas, I've found a new guru for healthy living. Shaquille O'Neal started Twittering towards the end of last year (he's the Real Shaq), joining the growing ranks of celebrities sending out their thoughts in 140 characters or less.
Shaq has a great turn of phrase and is full of inspirational quotes. Most of all I love hearing about his yoga classes, getting a haircut and trying to resist the siren call of McDonalds. See, he's just like us… except really tall and wealthy!
Excitement! Sweat! Nostalgia! The lovely Lainey gave me a guest pass for Fancy Gym, the temple of fitness that used to be my second home before I moved across the Forth for love. We went along to Body Pump, hosted by Kiwi Vanessa, a.k.a the best instructor in the universe.
Last time I was in her buff and bossy presence was January 2005, during Operation Wedding Dress. She was as fit and strong as ever; I think I counted 50 kilos on her bar for the squats. She corrected my form during that track – my wonky knee wasn’t tracking properly. I can’t believe she noticed me. Woohoo!
I’ve missed Body Pump so much. The plastic clickity-clack of the weights, the ridiculous sense of anticipation during the Warm-up, the mutual nods of agony with your neighbour when the evil Chest track is over. Without thinking I set up my step at my old spot up the back on the left-hand side, right next to the mirror. During 2003 and 2004, most Mondays and Thursdays, I’d keep one eye glued to my reflection, searching for signs of shrinkage.
But most of all I’d missed the motivational banter, and Vanessa did not disappoint.
"PAIN IS TEMPORARY!" she bellowed as we grunted through the Shoulder track, "BUT FAILURE IS FOREVER!"