Saturday, 28 September 2013

Eagles and Turkeys

There are two types of friends in our lives....the Eagles and the Turkeys.

The Eagles are the friends who are literally the wind beneath my wings.  In so many little ways and big ways they enrich my life, sustain me when I struggle, inspire and heal me. They may not even know how much they have positively influenced me. They are the type of friends who notice...and listen.

The Turkeys however are the toxic friends, the ice upon my wings. They drain me, ignore, belittle, bait me. Their words and actions become toxic sometimes slowly, sometimes obviously, but poisonous nonetheless.

The hard part is identifying between the two....and then distancing myself from the ones who are a negative influence.

Toxic friends can be 'sneaky'.  For instance, negative or hurtful remarks can be made either on my actions or opinions by one.  Another joins in. But stand up to them and it will apparently be all my fault for deliberately misunderstanding their comments. Try and express an opinion different to theirs....or try and show a different side to a debate, and watch them turn on you.

Toxic people are draining. They like the drama and sympathy they get from their hard luck stories or trials. Everyone has trials, some more than others....but a toxic friend will ALWAYS have the best hard life story and offer little empathetic or constructive to support you. They don't just listen.

Toxic people are a big ball of criticism.  No matter what I do, there will always be something wrong. They seize upon the negative in every situation...and use it to say " I told you so" to put you down.

Toxic friends betray my trust, through gossip or their actions.

Toxic friends make me feel stressed or worried or on guard whenever we are together.

Toxic friends make you feel bad about being yourself.

Friendship is not a one way street. I'm sure we've heard the saying " If you want to have a friend, be a friend" It's good advice. If I want a good friend, I become a good friend myself.

I personally think people take on character traits of the friends they hang out with. The more time we spend with a friend, the more likely we both have an impact, and influence on each others lives. I know I'd prefer to be one who has a positive impact, someone who enriches or lights up another person in even a little way than be someone who drags them down into the pit with me.

 We all deserve good friends and to live life well. It's up to us all to choose who influences us, who and how we want to spend our time, what our actions will reflect.  As everyone's personality and characters are different and grow and change, so do our friendships. And for all it sounds harsh and hard hearted, it is time to sort between the Eagles and the Turkeys.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Nurturing or indulging?

A friend of mine put me in the direction of this fascinating article:

It got me thinking about a lot of things, part of which is what I do in my day....and what I used to do. So I decided to share with you all my musings on that part.

There's a fine line in my mind about nurturing and indulging, and it takes a great deal of thinking initially to differentiate between the two. I think basically, nurturing helps me to grow and build and to be responsible for myself. Indulging encourages me to stagnate and avoid consequences and responsibilites...just because I can.

I USED to think nurturing myself was eating a block (or two)of chocolate, followed by wine when I felt bad about myself, which was a lot of the time. Poor self image, two teenage daughters, looking fat and flobby all just fed into a more and more negative view of myself. Everything I did I thought was all wrong and I was completely worthless. In fact I was so far down I couldn't see a way up and I was falling fast...sick, depressed, hopeless. Of COURSE chocolate and wine would make that all better. My life revolved around what time tv shows were on so I could escape my life for a while.

Then I did the Michelle Bridges 12WBT, lost the weight, found I could do amazing things and that I liked working out. I started lifting weights and keeping food diaries, conscientiously marking down what my macros were, exactly what and how much I ate and drank, how many calories, how much I burned off in each gym session. I felt good, I looked good and I felt focused. My life now revolved around what time I could get to gym 6 days a week.

Now, reading those two opposites, you would think the second option was better. After all, I lost weight, gained confidence and new skills, life was no longer stagnant. But, in my own fantastic all or nothing way, I had gone too far and my determination in working out could be construed as damaging as sitting doing nothing on the couch.  Both actions were driven by the same nagging voice in my head " You aren't good enough', the same poor self image, just dressed up in a different way. Where it was once fear and worry about being 'good enough' or being 'normal' now transferred to doing it 'right' and not slipping back to what I once was. It may have started as nurturing my body back to health but became indulging my drive, my all or nothing approach.

Would I change the past?  No way, but I am gradually now learning that happiness and health lie in the middle of the two. A 12 week program is just that, a 12 WEEK program. When you do it as a 12 MONTH program (or more), your body and mind will feel the effects,  and not always in a positive way. It was time to re think, re boot and re set.

I still believe working out is important and so part of me nurturing myself still includes that component. But instead of 6 days a week, I do 5 days. Instead of killing myself during every workout to the point of exhaustion, I am following a slower yet just as effective program set for me by my PT husband (got to be some perks in it) I am doing what I love and what I like, and not what I think I 'should' be doing  in case I don't measure up.....and I'm still getting results.

But more importantly, I am looking at food differently. Instead of being so focused and worried about my calories and macros, I focus on eating healthy.  If I am out with my family and everyone has an icecream cone, I have one and enjoy it and ( most imprtantly) don't stress about how it will affect my calorie count and my macro percentages. Conversely, when it is the end of the day and I'm feeling very blah and tired about myself making me think I  want to reach out for a tub of icecream, I stop and evaluate the whys... Why do I feel like this? Why do I think eating icecream will solve this?

In other words, I what I am about to put in my mouth to nurture my body or am I indulging it? Is what I am about to do to my body nurturing or indulging?

I am slowly getting to the point of balancing, much like as a kid when you stand in the middle of the see saw and see if you can get it to just balance, without tipping.

And I always thought I was the most awesome person in the world when I could do it...TAKE THAT GRAVITY!!!!

I am finding my balance point and letting go of the fear and worry that feed that negative self image, taking a step back and looking at things objectively. Finding a balance point can be tricky and I have no doubt I will fall either side of it often before I can know what it feels like. But that's what mistakes are for, to show me what it isn't and to learn from it.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Be proud

One of the facebook groups about fitness and lifting I belong to had a 'selfie' picture show, mainly of biceps and backs but it could be any part of the body you feel has improved.

The comments on all the posts were supportive but not all of the original posts were....I was guilty of this too.

I put up this pic of my bicep as something I was 'proud' of....

 But my post indicated otherwise ....guilt and perhaps a sense of shame that I am not 'better'
"My pistol as in baby gun... Only 3rd week back lifting after 12 weeks running and a week sick. I will get there...."

Why do I feel the need to make apologies for something I can only compare to myself? Look, I have a bicep.

You know when I first started I had a blob of fat there, not a muscle you could see. I had the 'bingo wings', the 'tuckshop arms' thing going on. Not now. And yes, I am improving on it, but that doesn't take away the fact I have worked and worked hard to get to this point.

I keep a workout diary and I put up my weights by 2.5 kilos on the leg press. My husband snorted (supportively I'm sure,  he really is a gorgeously good man)  and said, "What, are you going to take that as a PB?"

HELL YES. That's 2.5 kg I could do now that I wasn't doing before. It's not a huge leap but it is still going UP. And that is worth being noted for being a Personal Best.

We all start somewhere. I think we need to celebrate the little things as well as the big. 

Little things like only eating 2 tim tams instead of the pack. Raising weights a bit further. Taking a few seconds off your best running time. Even drinking another glass of water for the day.  

These all add up to a healthier me.  I am achieving, I am progressing, maybe in fairy tiptoe steps instead of gazelle leaps and bounds but I am still progressing. And it is seeing those little progressions, the little wins that keep me going back to push a little bit further, to see how much more I can do. It's those little triumphs that remind me that I CAN do this, even when I ache, or am tired, or just really don't want to go workout....

Big things are things everyone sees, running a first half marathon, getting prizes or awards. But it's the little things that keep me going back to the gym, little celebrations that I can fistpump in the air and say " I am DOING this with AWESOMENESS" 

So stand up and be proud of them! Every day something small will happen that is a small miracle, or little triumph. Notice them, cherish them, celebrate them. Remember what it was like when we started, and see how far we have come since then.

 After all, we are all made up of small things, and without the small successes, we wouldn't have the big ones.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Are you Okay?

Today, in Australia, we ask each other one little question...Are you okay?

It is R U OK day, best described on the website as:

"The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask 'are you ok?' to support those struggling with life."

I think in theory it's a great idea. Facebook has been filled with posts asking  R U OK? and people offering to lend an ear. But what do they do if you are NOT ok? How can they help?

What if you are not ok but don't know why, or how to say it?

What if you think others are more needy than you, after all, at least you have shelter and food and clothing? What have you really to complain of?

What if you have had to be strong and just 'deal with it' for so long, you don't know how to not be strong?

I don't have any answers.

Everyone, every single one of us needs help at one time or another.

I knew one of these people.  She was a member of my gym class. She was always helpful to all the newcomers, was great to talk to, always smiling. We had great chats, and worked out in Body Pump beside each other.

And I didn't know she felt so utterly lonely and heartbroken that she took her life earlier this year.

Would that have changed if I said Are you ok? Would this strong, vibrant, apparently happy and confident woman have said anything for me to see her differently?

Would I have known what to do, how to help?

Sometimes the person who seems it to have it together and is a 'super person' is the one who inside is screaming for help, but can't get the word out. The shell of being capable and in control is too thick, the fear of losing 'face' or esteem with others is too great. The pressure they put on themselves is enormous and builds, like a volcano, until great destruction is the result.

Sometimes the person who has it all, really has nothing inside....the outside glitz and glamour is to hide the emptiness that eats away at the heart and soul.

Sometimes the person who is the brightest laugh at parties, the ones that seem to be in a crowd of friends, is feeling more alone than you can possibly know. Alone and invisible within the crowd.

Sometimes the person knows they need help, really needs someone to take over, to just help them see the way through, but just cannot  find even the tiny amount of self love needed to think they are valuable enough to be helped, to reach out. They are crippled with the belief they are so repulsive to the Human race, the world would be a better place if they were not in it.

Sometimes, asking just one question is not enough. Sometimes, knowing someone, spending time with them, developing the relationship with them will show more than you or they realise.

Sometimes, there just are no answers.


Who's the Boss?

A little blast from the 80's there....ahhh Tony Danza.....

I've been looking back on the past week, and in particular yesterday. Yesterday at work, I came up with every excuse, including hormones to explain why I have felt the need to eat chocolate.  Now I normally wouldn't feel guilty because everyone has to let loose every now and then, but this week, when I added up what I've eaten, I felt a little twinge of shame.  A 500gm tub of Maggie Beer's peanut butter and chocolate ripple icecream, several large freddo frogs, a large box of maltesers, a packet of mini caramello easter eggs, a block of Whittakers peanut butter chocolate, several bars of different chocolates....and guess what, THAT'S ONLY IN 4 DAYS.

But of course, it wasn't my fault.  I was emotional, I was hungry, I was bored, I was craving it, I was offered it and didn't want to be rude....I even found myself saying I ate a tub of icecream because my husband said he was going to have one with our son while they were out...and then felt BETRAYED when he didn't actually have one, after I had eaten a tub. Clearly all his fault.

Oh, all right. No it is NOT all his fault. But don't tell him that ...yet.

I had forgotten about responsibility. Again. Every so often the lesson I think I've learned suddenly become unlearned. Accepting responsibility for what I do is one of them.

Now I consider myself a very responsible person, I drive a car, raise a family, hold down a job, all with responsibilities and I like to think I do them all well. I hold myself accountable to go to gym to workout 6 days a week and to rest one day. I hold myself accountable about eating healthy for main meals, for maintaining a positive outlook and for personal organisation.

So why did I suddenly come up with every excuse under the sun because I, noone else, I chose to go all Augustus Gloop at Willy Wonka's factory?

I realised, I don't like getting into trouble. Who does? But I am also a 41 year old woman, why am I getting into trouble for making poor food choices? What do I care about being judged for that, when I know I do far more good choices with my health? Why am I trying to hide it from myself?

I made poor choices. It was a CHOICE that I made, not anyone else. Do I like how it made me feel?  No. Did it solve any of the reasons why I ate it? No. Did I write it in my food diary?  Hell no. Lets add being honest with myself to the list of lessons to learn again....

I've decided to take a new approach. When I know I'm trying to talk myself out of a workout, or into another tub of Maggie Beer's icecream, the first answer is NO. The next answer to the wheedling in my head is WHY? A typical example....

Head: Why don't you get some salted caramel swirl icecream when you do the shopping?

Me: NO

Head: Come on, You've earned it.

Me: Why? Why should I?

Head: Look at the crap week you've had . AND your husband is going to have an icecream with your son, and you'll be missing out. Bastards.

Me: Missing out on what? Fat and sugar with a side of obesity and diabetes? Ice cream will fix a crap week like a time machine will it? And let's see, my husband will also be getting rid of the massive huntsman spider on the roof and I'll be missing out on that, should I go catch a massive hairy legged spider too?
 Time to stop blaming everything else but me.

I am responsible for myself, my choices and my actions, noone else. That is one of the hallmarks of character.....being a woman of my word. And that I am. Time to put into action the NO/WHY plan. Time to woman up and be straight up honest, stick to the plan and live how I think and want to live.