Stepping it up

Friday, July 29, 2011 Permalink

When I first decided to do this program I had to contemplate my exercise options. I knew I couldn’t rely on a friend to walk with me 3 times a week in order to do my cardio exercise… so I decided to hire an exercise bike. And I wrote about my plans to embark on an interval training program which received a lot of press a few years ago.

I was a bit surprised at how much I struggled over the first week or two. Once upon a time, riding an exercise bike (Spin classes aside) was an easy option… yet here I was lucky to make it through the first 5 minutes. I was also conscious of how much exercise I was SUPPOSED to be doing (on the program) and how much others were doing.  But after some guilt and angst, in the end I decided that ANY exercise I was doing was better than the SFA I was doing just weeks before.

And, I’m pleased to report that I’ve kept up the 6 days of exercise a week (though not quite burning the calories expected of me). And… I’ve also stepped out of my comfort zone a little. Although most of my cardio still comprises walking (I’m hoping the loss of 16kg has meant the shin splints have disappeared) and the exercise bike, I have pushed the boundaries and tried some new things. I’ve been going to fortnightly boxing classes, and on alternative fortnights, to a bootcamp of sorts. I’m a long way off ‘running’ although I can manage short spurts of a few seconds and I also suspect I would be incapable of completing a class of my old favourite – Body Jam (and not just because my hip wouldn’t take it!).

But, I’ve decided that as this Round of this 12 week program finishes and a new one starts, I’m going to step up my exercise next time around. I won’t attempt the two cardio classes a day that many of my Twitter friends take in their stride, but I will attempt to do ‘harder’ cardio several days a week.

And – so I don’t remain ‘all talk’ – I’ve just visited a nearby gym to check out what they have on offer. It’s not your usual gym. In fact, it’s teensy and it’s cheap. The cost actually isn’t a worry as I currently pay a fortune each week for ad hoc pilates and other classes – not to mention the hire of my exercise bike. But most importantly it’s handy. Years ago I belonged to a gym near my house and I was a regular. I’d attend the occasional early morning class, regular after-work classes as well as weekend classes. But it was always hard during the week to get away from the office. It’s even worse now that I’ve climbed higher up the corporate ladder. (Having said that I’m not exactly skirting the meteoric heights of the public service…. but it isn’t really appropriate for me to be leaving the office before 5pm anymore.)

So, I ventured into the small gym tucked inside my neighbouring Brisbane City Council (BCC) building. When I took up my current position earlier this year, I had to move out of my inner city comfort zone, to a neighbouring suburb (though almost as central). Fortitude Valley in Brisbane is an eclectic mix of trendy and, well, dive-y. My workplace is in a little isolated spot housing some highly energy efficient office spaces within two towering edifices. BCC is in the other one. And… on the ground floor they have a little gym.

I’ve been meaning to check it out for some time and today was met by an enthusiastic young staffer who showed me around and dished the dirt. I have to have an assessment of sorts before joining and I can get a program, but like most gyms I can then do whatever I want. It doesn’t have stacks of equipment and I can imagine that people queue for the 3-4 treadmills at peak times. But it has all of the usual stuff – cardio equipment, machines, free weights and it even has a small aerobic room where they host just a few classes each day. The timing of the classes isn’t hugely convenient with the majority around lunchtime, but I like to think it could force me to take a lunch break a couple of times a week. And, there are some non Les Mills versions of Body Jam and Pump, Boxing Circuits, other circuits, Yoga, Pilates and the like. And… all of this for only $50/month AND you are not locked into contracts. You can come and go at any time.

I’m also actually contemplating attempting to… (wait for it)… r-u-n sometime in the near future so have the Couch to 5km (C25K) program in mind. I don’t feel confident enough to run in public, but figure I could attempt it on a treadmill at the gym instead.

So, all sounds great doesn’t it? I think so and have set a time for my health assessment thingy next week. All going well I will then join and by the time I start the next Round of this weight loss program, I’ll have returned my rented exercise bike (which is now boring me to tears) and stepped up my exercise regime. C25K here I come!

To binge; or not to binge

Thursday, July 28, 2011 Permalink

My nights used to be all about the food. I loathed the idea of eating something boring for dinner.  Whatever I ate HAD to be exciting. And exciting usually meant unhealthy. I’d cook up some steak with a 1kg mound of potatoes, or eat a similar weight in hot chips. I’d get Chinese takeaway and eat most of two meals, although planning to divvy up one for lunches. If I wasn’t in the mood to cook I’d have corn chips. And chocolate. Plus I’d have some red wine or champagne. Of course!

How I enjoyed my nights! I used to get annoyed at those things which interrupted this bliss. Work, for instance was a necessary evil, to pay for the binge-fest. And then I had other commitments with friends or family. I mean, how rude really! Fancy taking me away from my idyllic evenings at home, encased in a cocoon of food to numb the senses and mind!

I don’t want to speak too soon because I have been on a LOT of diets and lost weight a million times only to give up and regain it all (and more)… but it feels different now. Sure, I’ve indulged in alcohol a few times over the past few weeks and I do regret it when it happens and feel guilty about it.  And once I’ve fallen off that wagon, it’s always a bit harder to NOT have some the next night as well.

But… I’m not binging – for the first time in recent memory. I’m not sneaking food or kidding myself. I swear it on a stack of bibles, or on my lust for Richard Armitage.

When I last did Weight Watchers I was incredibly diligent from Monday to Saturday morning when I weighed in. I would then go and binge-eat my way through the weekend – two bags of corn chips and packets of caramello koalas as my Saturday afternoon treat. A scrumptious dinner complete with red wine and champagne. And then Sunday came around and I went back for more. I would tell myself these were my ‘treat’ days after toiling away all week and I’d get back on track Monday.

As a result, any weight I’d lost by the Saturday would have been regained (and sometimes more) by Tuesday’s (at home) weigh-in and I’d have to be doubly good until I weighed in again formally on the Saturday, when the whole thing would start again. And naturally, I felt frustrated that my weight loss was going nowhere and eventually gave up.

Binge Eating Disorder HelpI’m not doing that this time. I do sometimes have some ‘treats’ on Wednesday night, but by that I mean I have potatoes with dinner, which I weigh in order to work out the calories. And perhaps some wine.  But, if consuming potatoes on a few nights and wine on two nights (all tracked and recorded) is the worst thing I’m doing, I’m pretty happy. I mean, I’d like to cut down my alcohol to one night a week and will continue to aim for that, but even on the odd occasion I’ve gotten a bit merry (read: pissed) I haven’t been tempted to raid the fridge. Once upon a time I couldn’t keep flour or sugar, because if I had eggs, flour and sugar I could make biscuit/cake batter and a bowlful would be consumed at 10pm at night.  But not any more. Well… not at the moment anyway.

Since I commenced on my journey of eating disorders, I’ve dreamt of the day that a switch would flick, or a light bulb would come on and I’d suddenly be ‘well’ or ‘better’. I’ve always thought that I’d need to know why my eating issues started to make a breakthrough and my lack of understanding of ‘the beginning’ has always made me worry I’d never get past it.

Now, I don’t want to say that I am ‘better’. I don’t want to even THINK I have recovered in any way. And I don’t know what’s changed. Just days before starting this program I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to motivate myself to commit to it. The Sunday night before the Monday morning this program kicked off, I ate 1kg of hot chips for dinner (with steak or fish).  So I can’t help but wonder how, when I woke up on Monday, 23 May 2011, I suddenly decided that I wasn’t going to ‘cheat’ in the way I have on so many other occasions.

I want to cross everything that can possibly be crossed to not jinx my progress on this program (and beyond). I don’t want to wake up tomorrow, suddenly tempted to go and buy a couple of bags of corn chips. Right now I can’t imagine doing it, but perhaps if I did it once I’d do it again and again. And again. And the 16kg I have lost in 9.5 weeks would leap back onto my body. And more.

I guess all I can do, is live in the moment, focus on the now and not worry about what I might or might not do tomorrow. There’s always a second – before picking up the corn chips, or before driving to the bottle shop – when conscience can prevail. It’s in those moments I need to remain strong and remember that our choices shape our lives.

Finding comfort

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Permalink

On Sunday I went to boot camp at the ungodly hour of 7am. WTF was I thinking? Yes, I know. However… the good thing about getting up early to exercise is that it’s over and done with before most people are tentatively poking their big toe out from under the doona;  and one has the rest of the day to do important things. Like read the newspaper, have nanna naps and update their blogs. For example.

The thing I most like is that I still get to read the paper while eating breakfast and watching music videos on television, which is a throwback to my younger years – the music videos, not the paper! And last Sunday, it was even more exciting because the local Oz music video show, Video Hits, was hosting a 24 year retrospective. Sometimes the show comprises bands playing at local music festivals and I find that I don’t recognise (or even like) any of the music. But Sunday, I got to relive the likes of Sonia Dada “You don’t treat me no good no more” (one hit wonder anyone?), Oasis and Wet Wet Wet.

four weddings and a funeralIt was the latter that had me reminiscing last week, as the music video for their 1994 hit “Love Is All Around” features clips from Four Weddings and a Funeral, the movie that shot Hugh Grant to stardom. I’m embarrassed to confess to being a Wet Wet Wet fan back in the day and recall I had a bit of a thing for the lead singer – as a gal does when she’s in her teens and twenties. But it was the movie that sparked some memories for me.

In early 1995 I went to work and live as a volunteer in Mozambique, in south eastern Africa. My time there was difficult for a myriad of reasons, not the least being that I was alone and half-way across the world. I made some great friends though and they helped me get through the 16-18 months I spent there. Once settled in I frivolously purchased a television video player combo which frankly that helped save my sanity because the nights were long and lonely (and there’s only so much Castle lager one can consume!) and television-viewing options only included a very scary local station (which every couple of weeks played an English-speaking movie); an Angolan station; a Portuguese station featuring nonsensical game shows (I recall one where women had to lie under a sheet with their feet poking out and a man had to pick those of his wife/partner); a French channel; and CNN. But for about 20 cents I was able to rent pirated videos of dubious quality. It didn’t matter. To me they were heaven.

Sleepless in SeattleWhile visiting South Africa however, I procured two videos and they became my coping mechanisms. Those two romantic comedies, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sleepless in Seattle became my lifelines. I was like a child capable of watching Toy Story or Dora the Explorer again and again. And I did. Not quite weekly, but almost that regularly…. And from the moment I inserted the video, I felt comforted – wrapped up in a cocoon of familiarity and momentarily at peace. It got to the point that I knew the lines almost by heart, but it didn’t matter. They filled me with contentment, but also with hope that I too one day would exist in a world of Hugh Grants or Tom Hanks’. One day a man would become as besotted with me as Hugh was with Andie; and fate would conspire to introduce me to my soul mate as was the case with Meg and Tom.

colin-firth-p&p-lakeOver the intervening 15 or so years I have added to my collection of security blankets. The BBC’s Pride and Prejudice held first place  for a while. I owned the video but bought the DVD as soon as it was out, because it allowed me to watch the dozen or so scenes I loved so much more efficiently. Then there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series which I discovered when again living overseas. I was a latecomer to Buffy so was able to buy and watch four seasons over a period of weeks. And over ensuing years I have pulled them out to watch my favourite episodes again and again.

More recently (and quite inexplicably) the movie The Jane Austen Bookclub has become a source of comfort. I haven’t watched it for a while, but can. Again and again. I adore Maria Bello’s Jocelyn and like to think of myself as being similar. Though significantly less good looking of course. And not as wealthy. Oh, and without the dogs. But other than that…. parallel lives!

Richard Armitage 'North and South'And most recently there’s North and South. If I’m completely honest it could be the presence of (the subject of my affection) Richard Armitage that makes it so rewatchable – akin to Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy, but that aside I can contentedly watch it again and again. (But of course I won’t admit that for fear of sounding pathetic!)

I don’t quite know what it is about these films and television shows and the comfort they offer: the familiarity of the characters I’ve grown to love (or lust after); or the happy endings and sense of hope? I’m not really sure, but I know I’m now much less scathing of a toddler’s ability to watch Finding Nemo hour after hour, day after day in a looping cycle.

Time to check in

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Permalink

Check In (IMG_2659)Blogging about self-love over the past 30 days has meant that I haven’t had a chance to do a bit of a check-in to see how I’m going. At the end of week 4, back in mid June I reflected on the goals I’d set for my first month on this 12 week body transformation challenge, and I revised my 3-m0nth goals. Weeks 8 and 9 have passed us by now and we have just kicked off our tenth week on the program. Given that I’ve been AWOL for, well… for 30 days, I thought it may be timely to see how I’m tracking against my 12 week goals.

 1.     Lose at least 10kgs 15kgs
As of today, I have already lost 16.1 kilograms. (Hal-le-friggin’-lujah) I didn’t lose a lot of centimetres (barely any really) when I did my measurements at the 8 week mark, so I’ve relieved to see some consistent results on the scales.

2. Be exercising regularly and get up stairs to train station without puffing (or dreading them)
I am exercising regularly. Not as hard as so many others, but I’ve stuck to my 6 days/week.  And… although my legs still feel like dead weights by the time I get to the top of the 45 stairs at the train station, I am no longer gasping for breath or counting them in reverse order in the hope time passes more quickly!

3. Put house on the market and decide where I want to live next
Done! My house has been on the market for almost three weeks. I haven’t yet found my future home, but I’ve been doing a lot of looking.

4. Manage / control overeating and binge eating and drinking
I haven’t binge-eaten at all since starting this program. In fact I haven’t touched any of my danger food (corn chips, chocolate etc), other than some hot chips when out for lunch with friends. Bizarrely, I’ve had no desire to binge-eat. I’m not totally on top of my alcohol, having imbibed twice each of the last three weeks. However, I have a partially consumed bottle of champagne in my fridge that I’ve ignored for a number of days now, so I must be improving!

5. Update both blogs regularly (I’m keeping this one updated but not my other one!)
I’m still not posting in my ‘primary’ blog on a regular basis and I will endeavour to do a post a week for these remaining three weeks.

A step towards a goalWow, I’m pretty thrilled with those results AND I have some weeks to spare! I must admit to secretly hoping I could drop 20kg while on this program but I don’t see that happening AND I am trying to do this in a sustainable and sensible fashion. Checking in now, I can see my weaknesses and where I need to improve so am confident I can finish off the remaining weeks of this Round of the program and then get ready to start afresh next Round.

Although… perhaps I should add a goal around ‘not binging or going crazy’ between Rounds of this program. I’ve read about many people who drop their guard after the Round officially finishes and put on a heaps of kilograms that they then need to work hard to lose next Round. I must remember that I have to start living the way I can and will live forever… like I’m not ‘on a diet’ which will have an end point. I must remember that this IS my life now.

30 days: Day 30 – Worth

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Permalink

Here we are. At the end. It really doesn’t feel like it was 30 days ago that I embarked on this blogging challenge, started by Tina late last year. And quite aptly, the final topic forces me to consider my ‘worth’ by revisiting all 29 topics which have come before.

I long for us all to fully believe we hold so much value, so we may go out and live our lives with the beauty that unmistakably defines us. You are worthy because:

Your body does miraculous things. It carries you through life and gives you the physical capacity to do many things you love. It provides health and vitality to enjoy all life has to offer. Your body is pretty freaking awesome!! Never forget the gifts of your body.

Remember that those body parts which share so many gifts are also gorgeous as well. Even if they don’t fit in with the standards of society, they are still beautiful. Our unique physical attributes make us lovely.

Even more beautiful than all of that, however, is what makes up who we are. None of us are perfect, but all of us are wonderful. We each have our own strengths which can help uplift others. We each have our own passions, which can make life more exciting. We each have something to offer the world.

Go forth from this 30 days and continue to drain every drop of sweetness from life. You deserve it.  Always remember to see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe you have the strength and will to reach it. Take joy in every day because you have the power to find it and claim it for your own. Don’t let trivial matters of numbers and physical appearance define you. Refuse to lose your life in a search for control, a denial of forgiveness, or fear to try new challenges. Live so you may love yourself. And then love yourself more, so you may live more. 

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.Linking all of the topics back to my responses took far longer than I expected but, in so doing it gave me the opportunity to not only revisit what I’d written, but also take note of the things I said I would do (more of or less of). And I need to be accountable… to not only me, but to anyone who has taken the time to read my words over these past 30 days.

So, when I am feeling vulnerable and disempowered I will remember that I have things to be confident about and I will remind myself that I possess intrinsic beauty in the form of compassion and consideration for others.

I am worthyAnd, sometimes I have to switch my mind off and stop overanalysing things and remember that I CAN trust in my body to know what’s best for me.

I also must remind myself that, just as I have love for my family and friends, I too am loved by others, so must have lovable traits.

Very importantly, I need to gain more perspective and reshape my thinking, to approach the world more positively. I will try to fear failure less in order to appreciate success more.  I will attempt to find joy in the world around me and focus on the small things. I will forgive myself for my many failures, knowing there will be many more to come and I will stop the fat talk and self-deprecating comments. I will follow my passions.   I only have one life to live and must live that life with purpose.

30 days: Day 29 – Passion

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Permalink

Sadly I suspect today’s topic isn’t meant to be about sex. So, sorry anyone who tuned in expecting something hot and steamy; or something about a intense and moody widowed millionaire farmer with awkward sideburns and the young beautiful headstrong and intelligent yet virginal nanny who comes to look after his 5yr old child. From reading on ahead to Tina’s words, today’s theme, Passion, is more about finding it and following it than the hot and sweaty kind. At least, I think it is….

Over the years, as I grew to love myself more, I gained more insight into all life has to offer. I finally had the chance to experience life when I cared less about how much I weighed, how many calories I ate, or how I looked in the mirror. Moving my attention and focus from such trivial matters opened new doors for me. I had more mental (and physical) energy to pursue more fulfilling areas of my life. Those ignited strong passions within me and now my life would feel empty without them. I have great passions that provide me with so much – strength, purpose, love, confidence, opportunity for growth, and more. These passions continually make me a better person and allow me the opportunity to love my life and myself.

Having these passions in my life gives me meaning. These passions remind me of just how wonderful I am. I don’t mean that to sound conceited. I simply hope to express that finding passions gives me vitality and makes me appreciate myself more than imaginable.

If you do not know them already, I urge you to find your passions. Try out many new things until you come across them. Consider what excites you and chase after it. Find something that ignites you. Make life more than just going through the motions. Embrace life with excitement and let your passions guide you.

What things are you most passionate about? How do they affect your life? If you aren’t sure on a passion, what makes you happiest right now?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. This used to take the form of diary-keeping, or epic (and hopefully entertaining) emails to friends and family about my happenings. When I went to Africa my first letter home (note to Gen Yers – the internet and emails haven’t always existed!!!) to my parents was 21 pages of scribbled A4 pages. Although I get on with others and I ‘think’ my communication skills are good, I prefer writing to speaking. It feels more natural for me to SMS/ text someone rather than call them; or to email/Facebook them rather than telephoning.

Motivational Poster - BloggingI have this vague aspiration relating to my writing but I don’t know exactly what it is. Five or six years ago I enrolled in an Introduction to Creative Writing course at my State Writers’ Centre. I enjoyed it, although felt nervous and lacked confidence in a room full of those who had already done a lot of writing and happily shared their work with others. Since that time I’ve done a few other courses: a couple on Freelance writing, half day on Short Story-writing and I even did an online Year of the Novel course. But I’ve never really found the right fit. I don’t really have a novel in my head and I don’t even like reading short stories. I like putting my thoughts down and over the past couple of years have done that through this blog and my (supposedly) primary blog. Around the time I was going through a personal upset earlier this year I enrolled in a ‘Social Networking and Social Media for Writers’ course. AND. I. FRIGGIN’. LOVED. IT. Loved it. It gave me something to be excited about at a time when my world felt like it was falling down around me. The class was a bit of a mess as there were some participants who hadn’t even used Facebook and others who already had blogs of some sort. But the facilitator knew her stuff and was fabulous. Then and there I realised what interested me – at this point in time, anyway. It was blogging. After getting advice there I went away and paid for some domain names and did some experimenting with Twitter and the like. I am yet to seriously pursue the blogging thing but it’s given me something to aim for. I don’t expect it will make me money or become a profession, but it’s something I love doing and find fulfilling. I get such a sense of accomplishment each time I publish a post. It seems to be something I am passionate about.

My bookshelves. I forced myself to stop buying books about 10 years ago. But I still have quite a few.

I love reading. In fact, I’m a voracious reader. I tend to be a bit fussy about what I read, but I find an author and polish off everything they’ve written. I enjoy Literature (with the capital L) and I enjoy mysteries and crime fiction. In my other blog I’ve written about Jane Austen, JD Robb, Robert B Parker x 2; and more recently a book by Emma Donoghue, Room, among others. When I’m in full swing I might borrow up to 5-7 books in a week and I will read them, one after the other. Sadly I tend to skim-read more than I should, so don’t appreciate the poetic prose of the likes of Tim Winton, but I can get through books quickly.

I also love television and films. I have a myriad of favourite TV shows and a number of these collections on DVD (Buffy, West Wing, Deadwood, Dead Like Me, Entourage, Big Bang Theory, Black Books, Sex and the City, Pushing Daisies, As Time Goes By… and others I’ve forgotten). My movie collection isn’t as impressive, as television series’ seem to hold my attention for longer.
Find your passion
I wonder if those reading this will look at those things: writing, reading, television, and cringe. Are they pathetic? Where’s the rock climbing, fitness-related loves or photography etc? Or the more earnest desires like helping the homeless? Any other passions I have are less easily identified. I suspect it’s an area I need to do some work on. I need to find more things I enjoy doing – as per Tina’s suggestion. A couple of years ago I enrolled in a Burlesque dancing class (and wrote about it here). But I’ve been thinking about learning a language. I need more things in my life; things that bring me joy and fill me with enthusiasm for the days, weeks and years ahead.

30 days: Day 28 – The deeper issues

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Permalink

We are definitely at the pointy end of this challenge and these last few themes look a bit scary. Today’s, The deeper issues, will surely involve some introspection. Not that I have a problem with navel-gazing; I spend much time analysing my life to death… but I’m a bit worried I can be a bit TOO self-indulgent once I start. However, so I don’t get too carried away, or off-track, I’ll see what Tina has for me today.

Too often we deny ourselves of the love and respect we deserve. We do so by shying away when others give it or through keeping a cruel commentary of our worth running through our own minds. For me, a lack of self-love manifests itself in telling myself “I am not good enough” in a variety of ways.

“I’m not lean enough”.
“I’m not a good enough mom”.
“I’m not strong enough”.
“I’m not caring enough”.
yada yada yada….

Most of the time, those sayings and feelings arise when I face other difficult emotions and don’t know how to handle them. I used to cruelly nitpick at my appearance and call myself chubby, plain, unattractive, someone nobody would want, and so much more. I battled a lot more than just a diminished confidence in my appearance, though – feelings of hatred, hurt, fear, troubling relationships with many around me, stress from school. Even today, I have to watch myself when things get stressful. My “fat days” often coincide with the days I have trouble accomplishing everything I hoped.

So many times, I discover that I do not in fact feel “fat”. Instead I feel overwhelmed and realize I need to give myself a break. Or I have something I need to share with someone who may have hurt my feelings a bit. Before I used food to shove down and hide the emotions I truly felt. Then, I began to use negative words to bury myself.

Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at pinpointing where a negative thought really comes from. Most of the time a source exists. Figuring out what instigates my frustrations helps me stop the negative thoughts before they consume me. That isn’t to say I have an “a-ha moment” and then everything turns fine and dandy afterwards. It simply helps me more appropriately face the issue at hand, without causing unnecessary damage to myself in the process.

Do you think you use negative talk or harmful physical actions (such as binging, over-exercising, restricting, not sleeping, etc) as a way to cover up deeper feelings? Why do you think we do this? Any tips for recognizing the true source of our frustrations? 

I like to think I know myself pretty well. But that doesn’t mean I always know why I’m doing something, or that I can change or stop certain feelings or behaviour. A couple of years ago when I was at fat camp I realised that I took every single opportunity I could to voice my dread over certain physical challenges – usually those involving hills and mountains. When I knew what was coming I would go on and on (and on and on) about it: How much I hated hills; how bad I was with hills etc etc. I’ve written about the ‘lessons learned’ in this blog as well, but the bit that jumps out at me was:

I learned (the hard way I think) that sharing your anxiety with others doesn’t help ease it. Constantly and publicly obsessing about something (hills and steps) doesn’t make it go away and just annoys those around you.

I never really worked out why I couldn’t stop raving on about the fucking hills. On one hand I suspected that my built-in defence mechanisms (and fear of failure or, lack of perfection) were so strong that I felt I had to keep reminding my fellow campers that I was going to perform badly on the hills. I think I also wanted some comfort or consolation from them. ‘Yes, poor Deborah, hater of hills!’ On the other hand I possibly kept verbalising my fears because I was dreading the hills / mountains / steps more than I thought I could dread anything and so I was obsessed and couldn’t get them out of my mind. Either way, perhaps it doesn’t matter WHY, perhaps it only matters that I recognised (eventually – when someone commented in a group mindset exercise) that I was doing it and tried to stop it.

I may never know why I became anorexic, bulimic and then a binge eater. I’ve talked here about my control issues and my anger issues and the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist who fears failure and suffers from a low sense of self worth (and self-identity for that matter). And perhaps it really doesn’t matter WHY.

As I said when I started this response… on many levels I know myself pretty well, but I’m not always good at recognising what’s happening as it happens. It’s all easy in hindsight, but at the time I get home from work and want to binge eat, or drink alcohol or at night in bed when I can’t sleep, I’m often fuzzy on the underlying reason. I’ve talked about my habit of living in the past and worrying about how others perceive me. I think what I need to do is live in the now more. I’m not about to go and read Eckhart Tolle (ie. The Power of Now) but I probably need to slow down and be more mindful in the moment.

30 days: Day 27 – Forgiving others

Saturday, July 23, 2011 Permalink

It’s Saturday here in Oz and that means I didn’t have to write my post the night before, for a change. Although… as I spent a few hours at the pub with a work friend and indulged in 4 glasses of champagne, it could have been more interesting. (Though possibly laden with far more typos and swear words!) I must confess I’m not particularly looking forward to today’s topic, Forgiving others, because there’s probably things I could write that would make me sound petty or could at some point be read by others who would be able to see themselves in my words. So, I will endeavour to be honest, though perhaps not divulge as much as I am sometimes prone to when solely talking about myself and my foibles.  But first, to challenge creator, Tina’s words:

We have already discussed achieving the capacity to forgive ourselves as a means to self-love. I know many of us struggle with that, some of us more so than others. For me personally, I knew I could not forget to include forgiving others as well. Forgiving others played one of the biggest roles in my growth as a person and in the process of getting out of the negative treatment of myself. Emotions and hurt dictated my life and who I thought I was for too long. Being able to let those go helped me to move on and pursue my best life.

Forgiveness holds great power. Having the capacity to forgive displays strength, compassion, and beauty. When you forgive, you make a statement of who you are. On the flip side, when you withhold forgiveness, you cling to anger, bitterness, and harsh feelings. Those build up inside of you and, with nowhere to go, often turn against you so you end up defeating yourself. Sometimes, we hold grudges against someone who doesn’t even know what they did bothers us. Sometimes they know, but simply don’t care. Why should we continue to feel such negativity in our lives and let the person who afflicted us continue on without a care? We can choose to not live in such a dark place. Forgiveness and letting go of the pain comes first.

Do you have trouble forgiving others? What do you think are the benefits (or negatives) of forgiving others? How have you seen forgiveness of others make your life better or worse?

I’m not great with confrontation. I’ve often surprised myself on a number of occasions where – in the workplace – I’ve had to raise difficult issues, or speak up about something… but in my private life I’ve never been as compelled to confront someone. If I feel wronged by someone I let my anger and frustration bubble up inside of me and before I know it I am binge eating to quell the rage, or snapping at complete strangers who happen to cross my path at the wrong time. I HATE this aspect of my behaviour. Hate it. I’m prone to sulk or make someone feel guilty if I believe they’ve hurt me, rather than just bloody telling them. I simmer and simmer and simmer.

By not forgiving others for events of the past, we are unable to not only get past the issue itself, but also wallowing in ‘once upon a time’. Trapped in a time warp of sorts. And I’ve already talked about living too much in my past; When I was goodish at sport… When I was anorexic… When I thought I would make something of my life… 

I have perhaps mentioned previously the Stephanie Dowrick book, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love. I’m not really into self-help books, but about 15 years ago when I was putting on weight, though trying to control (and not purge) it I started reading about eating disorders and binge eating. I read through books by Geneen Roth to try to better understand my behaviour and those by Dowrick to understand my feelings. I always attempted the exercises included in those books, but never really made my way through the whole thing. I still, however, remember an exercise requiring me to write letters to people from my past who I needed to forgive, in order to move forward with my life. I can’t exactly recall all of the letters, but remember one to my basketball coach from about 30 years ago… who had no confidence in me at the time and instead played favourites with one or two of my team-mates. Years later I was one of his favourites but I NEVER forgave him for those early years. There are others, there must have been. I’ve been shitty with my family members from time to time, and even now my brother’s apparent lack of concern for me (or interest in me) despite it being just the two of us, frustrates me.

But I need to not only forgive others for events of my past, but I need to CONTINUE to forgive others as I move forward. I will continue to be slighted by others. That’s human nature. Not everyone is considerate, not everyone is aware, and – frankly – some people are complete bastards or bitches. And… I’m overly sensitive. I know this about myself and I admit to this. I let my own behaviour and feelings be too influenced by how others see me and treat me. My sense of self isn’t as great as I’d like it to be and I need to focus on that. After all, only I am responsible for the way I react to others’ words or behaviour. Others can only hurt me and anger me if I let them. I need to forgive myself for my fuck-ups of the past; but I need to remember there will be many more. And I need to become a better version of me and one less prone to disintegrating at the behest of others.

30 days: Day 26 – More than numbers

Friday, July 22, 2011 Permalink

Today’s blogging challenge topic, More than numbers, is another particularly challenging one for me cos I’m all about the numbers. I try not to be and have written about my good intentions in: A numbers game; and The scales of judgement. In both posts I talked about my life being ruled by the numbers on the scale. As if nothing else I’ve done matters. Even if I’ve eaten well and exercised, if the results don’t show on the scales, I’m a failure. And devastated. Even though I know better.

Our lives include so many numbers. Numbers on the scale, numbers in our bank account, number of designer clothes in our closets, number of activities we participate in, number of calories we eat or workouts we complete, number of Facebook friends, number of page views. Sometimes we fall into the trap of  allowing the numbers to define our lives and our worth.

We get discouraged that we don’t make as much money as someone else. We see a number on the scale and it determines our mood for the day. We constantly check in on stats as a way to verify ourselves. We doubt ourselves in comparison to others for not doing as much.

Numbers can start as a tool to help us reach certain goals. For example, to run a marathon you have to track mileage to adequately prepare yourself. When working to lose weight, counting calories can help progress. When keeping up with a budget, we must track the numbers in our bank accounts. Numbers do serve a purpose. They can help us achieve certain tasks. Yet often they can also create a slippery slope for our self-esteem to slide down.

We need to stop using numbers as a measuring stick for who we are. You can’t put love for others on a scale. You can’t put passion in a bank account. You can’t put fun and enjoyment on a tally sheet. You can’t put friendship in a spreadsheet. We must look past numbers and to the bigger picture of what makes up our lives.

Have you ever been stuck in a number trap? What could you have focused on instead of the numbers?

I’ve already talked about my obsession with the numbers on the bathroom scales, but Tina’s challenge raises some interesting points. I forget about the impact that OTHER numbers have on my life.

In this blog I’ve talked about my ‘envy’ issues and the fact that I’m kinda happy with my ‘lot’ in life until I look across at someone else and decide that what they have is better, or what they do is more. And I DO compare the numbers in my salary to those in other people’s… So I guess my obsession with numbers is broader than those that measure weight.

ABACUS DIAGONALI agree with Tina that numbers – as measures of progress when striving for goals – are important. Many argue that one can only measure performence in terms of quantity, rather than finding qualitative measures. But I can’t help but wonder why I worry more about some more than others. Why, for example, do the numbers on the scales affect me more than those on the tape measure. Why don’t I care about the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers I do or don’t have; but worry about the statistics on my blogs?

When I first started this blog – over a year ago – it was meant to represent some sort of cathartic diary for me. Nobody read it. None of my friends knew about it. (In fact while some of them now know I have this blog none of them know the details etc). Once upon a time I’d be surprised when one or two people read my blog posts. Similarly with my other (more mainstream) blog, I’d get a reader or two and would be esctatic. WOW… someone had read what I’d written! Someone was reading my thoughts!

website trafficNow this blog has more readers. Not hundreds or thousands and mostly not even dozens, but more than the one or two it used to have. I check my number of hits each day and feel a little thrill of excitement if the numbers are good – as if the numbers are a measure of my success and worth. And if the numbers good aren’t I feel disappointed and wonder why. Was my topic boring? Was it badly written? Or – worse still (because I hate doing it) – did I not promote it enough?

Suddenly something I enjoyed doing is fraught with performance anxiety and judgement. And I find myself starting to ponder my audience as I write, rather than writing from the heart and head, which has long been my focus.

Having to admit this (to all of those gazillions of readers out there) has actually reminded me that passion can be lost if it becomes forced or we put a value on it. So… the challenge ahead for me is NOT to worry about the numbers – in any aspect of my life – but just bloody well get on with the living!