Category Archives: australia

R U OK?

Standard

Today is R U OK day. It’s a day where we can put borders on our profile pictures that say “R U OK?” and share statuses to prove that we’re always listening. Somewhere in that, is an attempt to dispel stigma associated with not being OK.

Most of my friends on Facebook aren’t psychologists or counsellors, so I don’t tend to write about it on social media when I’m not travelling well. I absolutely have friends that I know I can shoot a message to if I need support, and vice versa. I absolutely have friends that I know without a doubt would walk with me every step of the way to seek out help. First stop for me is generally my GP.

My GP is pretty good at helping me out when I’m not able to say that I’m OK. She’s equipped to manage that messy side of my head. And she’s able to help me get the help I need when R U OK profile pictures don’t really cut it.

I know this sounds pretty jaded. And to be honest, I’m feeling pretty jaded. I know that a lot of the LGBTQI community in Australia can’t say yes, I am OK at the moment. But who is equipped to actually help us? Not just do the whole “Sending hugs” or “Inbox me, babe” stuff, but to actually help?

Reach Out has published a resource regarding self care, and where to go for support if you need it. You’ll find it here.

It makes me very angry that already, those postal surveys have started arriving in mailboxes across Australia. You can tick yes or no. Then you post it back. And just like that, you get to make a decision regarding the lives of the community I am a part of.

Just like when I got to vote about your relationshi- oh hang on, that didn’t happen.

Just like when Howard asked us if we’d like him to change the marriage act – oh, wait, that didn’t happen either.

I’ve read lots of posts about the Church wanting to protect marriage because the Bible. They’re concerned about religious freedoms. I don’t think religious freedoms include being able to serve in a church if you’re gay, or being made to feel welcome and equal, but they do extend to being able to put money in the collection plate.

Look, I don’t agree with their argument, but I do understand how they’ve arrived at it. But I’d hoped that the overarching themes of love, grace, mercy and compassion would be resulting in a different slant on social media comment sections. Ultimately, it’s really unlikely churches are going to be forced to conduct weddings when both parties are of the same sex. It’s not like churches have a track record of respecting and accepting gay couples as equals, so why on earth would we want to celebrate our love there? I’ve particularly been impressed by the logic that drives them to say that children need a mother and father, which is helpful for single parent families; and that marriage is for creating children, which is helpful for couples who have found themselves unable to have children.

I have Christian friends who are some of the boldest supporters we have.

The No side are absolutely allowed to have their opinion and not be labelled homophobic bigots.

The Yes side are absolutely allowed to have their opinion and not be equated to paedophiles.

We’ve been put into a position where suddenly, the extreme opinions and voices have come out to play. There have been no protections on this debate up until yesterday. But it’s worth keeping in mind that every single thing you have said in this debate, you actually have to be proud that you said it when this is all over. Every comment you have made regarding another human being – you have to be OK with yourself when the dust settles.

Therefore maybe it is helpful that today is R U OK day. People die from this kind of stigma. People die because they feel alone or because they feel like there’s just no point. We have a mental health crisis in Australia – a crisis that could use all kinds of funding. In the past I’ve written about my own experience with mental health; I’ve shared how I’ve gotten through. And each time, it’s come back to the first step of going to my GP and getting help.

Because help is out there.

To Australia’s LGBTQI community, I’m sorry this is happening to us. None of us wanted this – to be made public property and to be at the heart of a huge amount of wasted funding. And in honesty, there are churches out there that really do live out the Bible, so if you are that way inclined, seek them out. If you’re not, head to your GP. Or check out the resources in the link above.

We’re a strong community.

We’re resilient.

We’ve fought when we shouldn’t have had to.

We’ve risen up with love.

We’ve stood up for love.

We have many allies.

We have people for us.

It may not be what we want, but eventually, somehow, it’ll be OK.

0387862835802d40208438d1e54c1752--my-life-quotes-quotes-to-live-by

 

 

Advertisements

Uninvited

Standard

When we were kids the ultimate trump card was the birthday party. My birthday was, and still is, in December. If any of my friends or classmates in primary school wronged me in the months leading up to my birthday party, the simple threat of “You’re not invited to my party anymore” soon corrected the situation.

Deprivation of access to something that was going to be good. Refusal of entry, and power to make the decision that would deem someone invited, or not invited.

I am not invited.

In 2017, the common and socially acceptable (and expected) thing is to create a Facebook event for any gathering. We don’t tend to bother with sending invitations, and we certainly don’t stand in the playground with a circle of friends around us as we shuffle through a pile of envelopes, calling out the names of ones chosen to attend said social event.

The reason for this? Well, Australia Post has lost the ability to deliver postal items in a timely manner. Just last week we sent a parcel via Express Post, which has still not arrived at the destination it was sent to. Express Post is, as the name suggests, express. Essentially, the approach I (and many others I know) tend to take is, if it’s important, email it or message it via social media, or courier it. If it’s kind of not really important, or there’s no other option? Then post it.

This morning, our Senate rejected a plebiscite regarding same sex marriage, or as some call it, marriage equality. Or, as I call it? Marriage.

This means that a postal vote will occur. It was cost an estimated $122 million. It is not compulsory to vote, and the result may not be binding.

20638301_1473393536040623_8182302481668816328_n

I could make a list here of things in Australia that could benefit from a $122 million injection of funds. Health, aged care, education. But the thing is, I don’t know enough about politics to actually talk about those things in an educated way.

But what I do know about is what it feels like to be not invited to something. And to rely on the postal service when it comes to important deliveries.

As a gay woman in 2017, I feel a bit like the government has a pile of invitations at the moment, that they are shuffling while they clear their collective throats before calling out the names of people who are invited to partake in marriage. And I know my name is not on one of those invitations.

You see, the very moment I uttered the words that confirmed my sexuality, I lost my right to marry the person I would eventually fall in love with. In Australia, marriage is deemed to be between one man and one woman. Not two men. Not two women. One man. One woman.

So when you don’t have one woman in your relationship, or when you don’t have one man in your relationship, you are not allowed to be legally married in Australia.

 

We’re about to enter into what is already a pretty nasty period of parliamentary debate. Already, the Australian Christian Lobby has referred to the children of same sex couples as “the stolen generation”. There are going to be words flung around and opinions shrieked. Name calling and finger pointing. And outside of parliament, I anticipate that things will be worse.

The people I see at Tafe will be able to vote on my right to marry. And they won’t all be thinking that I should have that right. The people I see at work will have a vote. The people I stand in line with at the checkout, the people who have just moved in next door. Strangers and friends and acquaintances. They’re all going to have a say on whether or not I should be allowed to be legally married.

And to be honest, it scares me. And I’m out, I’m OK with who I am. Imagine if you were not OK? Imagine if you were still in the closet, waiting to find out if you were safe or not to come out?

My gut reaction, I’m ashamed to say, has been to act out of fear. To try to look less obviously gay. To think twice before holding hands in public.

But then I remembered the ones who are struggling with who they are. Who are still keeping quiet about their truth.

And I remember that at the heart of this, is, quite simply, wanting my love to be recognised as equal.

And so, the answer is not to hide it away.

The answer is to keep loving.

With the postal vote, yes or no, I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know how vehement people will be in voicing and acting out their disapproval. Am I going to be yelled at? Called names? Physically hurt? Because of who I love?

can’t know. But I have the assurance that I am loved. And that’s what I will rely upon.

And hopefully, as those invitations are shuffled and reshuffled, and voices cleared and names read out, I will one day hear my name on the Invited list.

20638122_1764455750238461_8159389139372450307_n

 

 

Bonds

Standard

I’ve been a bit absent, mainly because I had another endometriosis clean out which resulted in a couple of post-op issues. One of them, somewhat ironically given the tale I am about to tell you, was the large bruise I grew on my tummy. The problem with the excess skin I have hanging on my tummy is that, well, it’s heavy. The weight of it resulted in a pooling of blood that created a bruise that resembled the poo emoji.

20503029_10154895434000897_548155162_o

Right there, the poo emoji.

A week later, the bruising is starting to subside.

However, I wasn’t enjoying being sat on my bottom. I needed to return to some form of normal. So this week, I returned to the gym. No weights, nothing strenuous, just some walking on the treadmill. Restarting normal routines and that kind of thing. It went fine on Monday.

On Wednesday, on the way to the gym, my tummy was feeling a bit sore and crampy. I didn’t say anything in case it resulted in beloved turning the car around, but I should have spoken up, I should have I should have I should have.

But alas, I did not.

I got on my treadmill and after 10 minutes, I realised that the cramping was a signal that there was an issue that needed to be dealt with. I told beloved I’d be back in a tick. I left my phone and everything on the treadmill, and wandered across the gym to the bathrooms. And as I walked in, I was thinking about other things, more important things, more essential things, instead of checking to make sure that the stall I was about to plonk myself down in had toilet paper.

And it did not.

I will spare you the details of my bathroom activities, but the lack of toilet paper presented a significant and serious issue.

I was perched upon a porcelain throne. I was surrounded by silence. My thoughts were racing through my head. What do I do?

I poked at the toilet paper dispenser, praying for a square or a scrap or a whisper of hope.

Nothing.

I should have brought my phone and I should have said something when my tummy was sore in the car, I should have I should have I should have.

But I did not.

I considered my options.

They were not particularly generous.

I needed to keep my tights on, for the sake of decency. Same with my shirt. And the two bras. I considered my remaining options.

While things were already quite dire, I felt it would be indecent to use my undies as toilet paper. What if I decided to do squats and my tights were not squat proof?

This left me with two options.

Left sock, or right sock.

I wear Bonds socks. They come up high enough to prevent blisters, they have a soft sole, and when I mop the floors I can leave BONDS prints all over the floor.

In around 1985, there was an ad on TV for Bonds. It went like this:

As I sat there on the loo, left with a terrible decision to make, I found myself humming the ad. I sighed, resigned to the reality I was faced with. And slowly, I removed my right sock.

When I left the bathroom, I must have had guilt and shame written all over my face. As I walked out, I bumped into a friend who asked me what I was doing. I told her I’d gone to the loo, and mentioned that there was no toilet paper.

She asked me how I had gotten myself out of that particular pickle.

Again, I signed. And I looked down at my feet, sadly. Left foot snug in a Bonds sock. Right foot, naked inside my shoe.

20545319_10154903706290897_2655708251244895454_o

She laughed and told me I had to blog about this.

And so I have.

Have you ever had this happen to you? What would you have done in my situation?

Just fkn do it

Standard

I went and checked out a new local gym that opened recently. I was shown around the “women’s” area (cardio, creche and cafe) and the “men’s” area (bigger weights, squat racks and so on). My instant reaction was no way. You don’t gender fitness, you don’t tell people what they can and cannot do based on whether they’re male or female, and you certainly don’t make assumptions about what people – living, breathing human beings – want out of a gym solely on traditional values assigned to gender.

But really, it’s not this new gym owner’s fault. They’re setting this facility up to cater to what has worked for years and years. And I honestly wish them every success.

I don’t want to be told that, though. I am not the weaker sex. I am not ever going to be confined to prancing daintily on a treadmill while sipping some soy latte shit and waving at my children engrossed with their screens in some creche set up. I want to lift weights, I want to increase my strength, I want to do whatever I want to do.

One lone brain thinking this changes nothing.

Fortunately, there’s an army.

The Grrrl Army.

I had the opportunity to meet the leader of this army on the weekend. She’s a woman who has inspired me for the last 12 months. She’s physically and mentally strong, she lifts heavy shit and spirits, she crushes watermelons and barriers.

This is Kortney Olson.

19686653_10154803188675897_1736316628_o

The first time I became aware of Kortney was when I spotted a pair of gym tights that had a brick pattern on them. They made me smirk because I’ve often been told I’m built like a brick shithouse (which is actually a positive thing). So I checked out the page, then found the Army.

Imagine if a group of women decided to dedicate themselves to cheering each other on. Imagine if that number on your clothing tag didn’t sum you up. Imagine most of all, that liberation and courage found in discovering that who you are is actually OK. More than that, it’s pretty fucking awesome. And the second you start to waver in this, there’s a crowd pulling you back up.

So when the opportunity arose to meet Kortney and some of the other grrrls, initially I jumped at the chance.

However, fuelled not only by stubbornness and caffeine but also by a hefty dose of anxiety and self doubt, as the day drew closer I began to panic. Eventually I shot Kortney a message and told her that I didn’t think I could go, and explained why. Her response?

It’s ok to be scared. Just fkn do it.

So, I did.

And as I walked towards the place we were meeting up for a workout, that self doubt rose again. These women were surely going to be stronger than me and fitter than me and better than me.

But it wasn’t a competition.

And I learned very quickly that as long as you held your own and did your best, then you smashed it.

And we cheered each other on and there was laughter and admiration and praise and in a word, community.

We were not each other’s competition.

We were there together.

I didn’t take any other photos, aside from that selfy with Kortney. I’ve been trying more and more to be a part of the moment rather than hide behind a screen. It’s hard because screens are like a small blockade between life and self, which is kind of nice. But I don’t want blockades all the time. Sometimes I want to be part of the moment and part of life.

Because it can end pretty abruptly.

But while I’m in the alive part of it, of life, I want to tell people that they’re heroes. I want to lift other people as well as heavy weights. I want to see exactly what this body of mine with all it’s floppy skin and stubbornness and anxiety can actually do.

And being a part of something bigger makes me believe that it can be done.

 

The Climb

Standard

Yesterday was exactly one year since I couldn’t finish a fun run. I was doing the Maitland River Run and a surprise asthma attack had me sidelined at around the halfway point, waiting for a medical chap to come with Ventolin to my rescue. I had to make a decision: Do I do the run again this year to prove I can, or do I do something else?

I did something else.

Not because of fear or anything like that. But because, quite simply, I knew if anything went wrong again, that there wasn’t any real first aid stations along the course. It took ages to get medical help, and I was totally unimpressed that one of the official photographers told me he couldn’t help me and that I should walk up to the drink station, which was around 500 metres away. This isn’t an event I want to support.

So, the something else.

Mount Tomaree is a very big mountain. It’s near Nelson Bay. The gradient of the hike is Level 5 – very steep and difficult. But it promised stunning views, and I am generally up for a physical challenge. And so, off we went.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was panicking internally. This was steep, and we were nowhere near the summit. In my head I was trying to come up with the words to say that I couldn’t do it, and trying to justify to myself the reasons for not finishing this attempt. But while I was thinking all these things, my legs were pumping away and my feet were happily doing their ‘one in front of the other’ thing. It’s like they were not aware that I couldn’t do this, and they just kept right on going.

Something I see often, and have experienced particularly when it comes to running, is that your brain will give out long before your body does. You’re mind will challenge what you’re doing and tell you NOOO but if you don’t listen to it, your body can and will just keep going. It’s funny because it’s my mind that makes the decisions to do this stuff, but it’s my body that does it and it’s my mind that tends to be the first to back out.

But I digress.

The walk starts on paved ground. Then it changes to mega steep metal stairs and walkways. Then it changes to steps cut into the rocks. There are more metal stairs and more metal walkways, then more rock steps. And the whole thing just keeps going and going. But it goes somewhere. Directly up. Up and up and up.

18745209_10154692425345897_305615090_o (1)

As the ups became steeper, I realised that I was doing it.

And as we got nearer to the top, the views got better.

One more step of steps. One more metal walkway. One more twisting path. And then!

18762294_10154692719850897_493456254_n

Amazing. Totally worth the climb.

But to be honest, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the top.

Because that’s not what the joy was.

The joy? Getting there.

Setting a challenge and completing it.

When we were at the top, I wasn’t really thinking about the views. I was thinking about these feet of mine. That have been to hell and back, rebuilt, relearning, and now doing the best they can to keep up with the goals and ideas I come up with. I was thinking about the way I was ready to pack it in before I’d even started. I was grinning because despite my brain and my feet, and a killer leg day on Friday, I’d done it. We’d done it. And I hadn’t struggled anywhere near as much as I had assumed I would.

18789254_10154692425285897_1092490228_o

One of the reasons why?

18741878_10154692719635897_256386427_n

There she is, right next to me.

And so, Maitland River Run, you didn’t defeat me last year. And instead of coming back to prove it, I took on something harder, something more challenging, something that has brought me undone in ways you never will:

I took on myself.

 

 

The Goalposts

Standard

It’s cold this morning, proper cold, the kind of cold that gets you by surprise after months of warm. Cold never used to bother me too much. I was well insulated. I recently went to Melbourne to visit my besty and her family, and we’ve known each other for around ten years, and for the first time ever I told her I needed an extra blanket because I was cold. She was thrilled because for the entire time we have been friends I’ve laughed at her for being cold. The tables have turned.

In the interests of honesty, I have to tell you that the visit to the plastic surgeon a couple of months ago sent me into a huge tailspin. While it was extraordinarily positive, it set off a complete nosedive in my mood. Let me explain.

The surgeon is a beautiful man. He was stunned at what I’ve achieved through hard work – most of his patients who come for skin removal have lost weight via surgery such as gastric banding. He has, he said, a soft spot for people who have lost massive amounts of weight through sheer determination alone. He looked at my body, my excess skin, and said some amazing things. That I more than qualify for medically necessary skin removal. That there’s around 7kg of excess skin in my belly alone. That really, I could just maintain my weight and after the skin was gone, I’d be at a healthy goal weight for my frame. After being substantially overweight for all of my life, this was incredible.

I was quickly disappointed though, given the (well warranted) cost of the surgery. Even with private health, still ridiculously out of reach.

What my brain took out of that was this:

Without surgery, I will never be at my goal.

And once again, I felt like a failure.

Just like that, my brain took over and everything got hard. I filled up with doubts about being a PT. Who wants a PT that looks like me? Unless you know the back story, and unless you realise that my bulk is largely made up of excess skin, I just look… unfit. Everything became difficult. I struggled to see the point of going to the gym, particularly when I was surrounded by teeny tiny PTs. My studies got harder, because it was a reminder that my body isn’t normal for a PT. Everything, everything spiralled.

I went back to the plastic surgeon to ask him more questions and to work out what to do to short circuit this funk before it got completely out of control. I was cutting it close, to be honest.

We talked about goals. We talked about long term plans. We talked about all sorts of things.

That was a week ago.

And today, I’ve woken up with a new approach. It’s been bubbling away and developing for the last seven days.

This photo is from a fun run we did on the weekend. I look at it and the noisy part of my brain focuses on the way the skin hanging off my belly makes me look so big in that area. But now I see my quads. I see the lines in my neck that I never used to have. I see the way my shoulders are back, the pride in my stance. Fuck yeah. I can do this.

18575129_10154659424965897_1729230076_o.png

I’ve shifted the goalposts.

Losing weight and getting fit and healthy was never, ever about being aesthetically pleasing. It was never about forcing my body to be something it just isn’t built to be. I knew all along that my build and frame wouldn’t let me be a waif, which is fortunate because that’s not what I want.

I want to be strong.

That first step into the gym, almost two years ago now: it wasn’t about one day looking perfect.

It was about saving my life.

And just like that, skin or the surplus of it, is not such a problem.

Because I’m saving my life. And I can live with the apron. I can live with the saggy, empty boobs. I can live with arm skin. I can live with floppy thighs. And every day that I get to live with these things is a good day because it means I am achieving what I set out to do.

I’ve saved my life.

I don’t look like what you’d expect a traditional PT to look like. But on the other hand, I don’t actually want to look like that.

I want to be strong.

I might not have a body that you would aspire to. But determination? Stubbornness? Drive? I have those, and my god you’re going to need them if your goal is anything like mine.

Because when you’re fighting to save your life, when you’re battling the very shell you’re wrapped in, you need every internal resource you can summon. Because the battle is inside.

Which is a good reason to not worry about how the outside looks.

These are the things that matter when you shift your goal posts.

This is what matters when you realise that you’re saving your life.

Remember When

Standard

Those memory things on Facebook, they can either make your day or break your heart, can’t they. Some days it feels like all they show you is your dead pet caterpillar and what noxious weeds can do to your prize petunia; they can make you wonder why you wore what you did to a social event eight years ago and relive the cringe-worthy moment that you spouted your love publicly for a toad. Day ruined before it even starts. Other days though, you can see a pattern emerging, or evidence of change and growth.

Three years ago today, I was recovering from yet another broken ankle. This was the break that finally pushed me to see a different orthopaedic surgeon, who would reconstruct my ankle, repair my calf muscle and fix my Achilles – the steps towards being able to finally walk correctly after seven years of managing with an ankle I’d destroyed quite well after falling down some stairs.

Two years ago today, I was finally allowed to leave the house after being diagnosed with whooping cough. This was a scary time, I remember feeling like I was fighting for my life. Aside from just breathing, one of the main issues the doctor kept talking about was my co-morbidities. Isn’t that a reassuring phrase. The GP who was managing the whooping cough had written a referral to both a respiratory specialist, and also to the emergency room of the local hospital, just in case. As an asthmatic, whooping cough was quite problematic. But the other issue was my weight. It was a huge amount of excess load to be carrying around with me while I struggled from the nebuliser to bed, and back again. It also made treatment tricky – it wasn’t until the steroid dose was tripled that I started getting any form of relief.

Whooping cough was, I think, my absolute low point. At the time I felt like a victim. Like nothing was ever going to go right. That life was just relentless in it’s taunting and slaps. And even though I was surrounded by good people (albeit at a distance while I was in quarantine), I had a distinct feeling of being totally, utterly alone.

But evidently, something changed.

I had a slow recovery from whooping cough. Extreme tiredness. Trembling constantly because of all the medication and steroids. Gaining even more weight rapidly, again as a result of the steroids. But it wasn’t long after this that something shifted.

Because one year ago, on this day, I hatched the idea that maybe one day, I could be a personal trainer. And I referred to it so vaguely and so cryptically, that if I didn’t know that’s what I was talking about, I’d have skipped over the memory. But I knew what I was talking about.

I’d been going to the gym for about 8 months at this stage. Actually, maybe a bit longer. I’d made progress. I’d turned my sinking ship around and started sailing towards directions unknown, but I was OK with not knowing where I was going – I could feel myself being stronger and healthier and happier.

But I still had the issues of confidence and doubt. In that I had none of one, and a lot of the other. So much so, that when I finally squeaked the idea of being a PT out loud, I firmly believed I’d be laughed at and told to swallow a large dose of reality. But that’s not how it went at all.

As I spoke out that idea, it kept being met with unbridled joy and excitement. My people were confident in me, and urged me to push towards this goal.

I don’t think I’ve shared it here before, but I actually submitted my first expression of interest in the course around this time. When the information date rolled around, I panicked and didn’t go. I just didn’t go. The second time? I went.

Because now, on this day today, in 2017, I’m halfway through the Certificate IV in Fitness. I’m almost a personal trainer.

The facts?

I still have some weight to lose to be where I want to be. Not because of aesthetics, not because of the BMI – but for my goal of where I want to be. But I’m OK with that.

I still do not look like the traditional personal trainer. But I’m OK with that.

Already, I’ve seen that as an industry, there is a tendency to rely on how people look. In getting a job at fitness centres, how you look counts. And I’ve even seen and heard people commenting that they wouldn’t want a PT who doesn’t have a body they’d aspire to. But I’m actually OK with that one, as well.

I know my story. I know my truth. And I know that there are people that I can help, and perhaps best help because of this imperfect body.

And if nothing else, future Facebook memories will attest to that.

The point of this post?

As much as I hate the way the word has been trawled through crappy reality TV and cheap self help books, trust the journey. If you had told me on this day one year ago that I was indeed going to be a PT, I wouldn’t have believed you, even though the idea was in my mind. Certainly not when I was recovering from whooping cough. Not at all when I was sitting on my bottom watching my ankle change colours.

But sometimes, you can do nothing else but trust that somehow, you’re on a journey.

17092152_10154439976760897_485692536_n

Still, we walk

Standard

Most people take a selfy at the beach and they look hot and beautiful and dignified. I take a selfy at the beach and I look like this:

17760489_10154530465395897_908123052_n

I am not classy, nor dignified. At this point I was being whipped by sand, my hair was in afro mode and I had hit the halfway point on my walk and realised that I had a particularly full bladder.

But still, we walk.

I’m currently doing the Walk for Autism. I’m on day two of seven days of 10000 steps. I generally do around that many each day anyway, but this is for a purpose.

What’s funny is that I think this walk is for promoting Autism spectrum awareness. I think awareness is shit. You can be aware of speed limits and ignore them. You can be aware of it being hot and know that you’re going to be out in the sun, and still choose to not wear sunscreen or a hat. Awareness doesn’t do anything.

I think we maybe need to be walking towards something more like acceptance, or acknowledgement. Seeing the speed limit and accepting it and following it. Seeing the sun and accepting it and respecting it. Seeing people who operate differently to you, and accepting them.

But these words mean nothing if we don’t actually teach each other how to accept. Which won’t happen, unless we actually want it to. Which is kind of sad.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about The Biggest Loser. The new format has copped a fair bit of flack, mainly because there is a woman on it who is 78kg. As a result of the sliding audience numbers, it’s now being screened during the day instead of during prime time.

This has made me come to several conclusions.

1. We wanted our contestants to be less like the everyday population and more overweight. I’m not sure if this is about wanting to feel better about our own weight, or if it’s the appeal of gawking at people who have huge struggles with their health. Either way, every day Australians were not appealing enough to sustain a large enough audience to remain in prime time.

2. We don’t understand that whatever someone’s weight is, they still deserve the chance to work on creating a body that they are comfortable with. We should understand this. Gyms are full – full – of people who are at a healthy weight for their body shape. But they still go to the gym. Everyone has something that they’re not happy with. We need to stop being judgemental dickheads and start cheering on each other. You’re at the gym at 78kg? Bloody good on you. You’re at the gym at 160kg? Bloody good on you.

3. We wanted a spectacle and we didn’t get a spectacle. We wanted to watch extremely overweight people deciding to take part in food challenges and eating chocolate to get secret powers at eliminations and challenges. We wanted what we’ve watched for years on The Biggest Loser. The new format? I think it was better, and certainly more relevant. But, it’s not what people wanted. And if people don’t want to watch something then they’re not going to watch.

There are days when I am not sure what happened to the human race. And then there are moments when I see humans helping each other, and it’s nice.

I guess the point of this post is that awareness is shit. Acceptance is optional but preferred. People watch what they want to watch.

And at the end of the day?

Still, we walk.

 

 

The Measure

Standard

I wanted to write a quick post mainly because The Biggest Loser kicks off tonight on Australian screens. If you’re not familiar with the show, a quick introduction: people apply/audition to be on the show based on their weight and wanting to change their lifestyle. Contestants are picked from the applications, and are then designated a group and a trainer for the group. The trainer generally yells and motivates the contestants through a variety of means. Contestants vomit, work hard, lose weight. Each week they weigh in and their weight loss is recorded. At first this is done either topless (men) or just in a sports bra (women). As they lose weight they start to wear singlets to the weigh ins. Then there’s a finale, and the person who has lost the greatest percent of their body weight wins.

The reason I want to write a blog in response to this is several-fold.

The Biggest Loser tends to encourage people to work on their fitness and lose weight. But you need to realise a couple of things.

1. You will not get the extraordinary weekly results that the contestants on The Biggest Loser get. There are several reasons why. The first is that the weigh ins are not actually weekly. I have read differing amounts of time between weigh ins, but in general they seem to be every ten days or even fortnightly. Not weekly. The second reason you will not get those same results is because the contestants are taking part in an extreme and gruelling exercise regime. We’re talking many hours in the gym per day. This is not sustainable in real life, because we have things like jobs and kids and partners and pets and washing.

2. If you are particularly well endowed in the chesticle region, you will struggle to find a sports bra that offers the required scaffolding to support the girls. Do your research, they are out there but you do need to work hard to find them. I got my first few online. They’re expensive but they are absolutely necessary.

3. Most importantly, is this: If The Biggest Loser inspires you to get moving, or even to jump on the scales and assess where things are at, remember this. There is no number on earth that will ever be an accurate measure of who you are as a human being. Not the number on the scale. Not the number on your clothing. Not even the number that represents your chronological age. You’re more than a number. You’re worth more than numerical digits that attempt to sum up your worth. I am worth no more at my weight now than I was before I started my weight loss adventure. I will always be thankful to who I was when I started, because she did the hard yards: walking into a gym for the first time. God, even just walking. You are more than a number. You are.

The Biggest Loser isn’t a bad thing. Not at all.

But it always helps to remember the reality behind reality television.

 

 

Just Be.

Standard

I have a friend, a woman who has been a part of my world for years and years. And the most consistent thing she has told me is this:

Just be.

Whatever the situation. Whatever the moment or mood or swings or roundabout or event. It’s always the same. Just be.

I think as we live more and more on social media, documenting ourselves doing life, those two words become more relevant. I’ve been making a conscious effort to not use my phone when I’m with friends, and to resist the urge to take photos of every moment. Mainly because I want to experience things in real life, rather than through a screen. And as I write this blog post I’m aware of the irony because I’m writing via a screen and it will be read via a screen; and there are plenty of times where to zone out I’ll play pointless little games on my phone; and when I need to be distracted I’ll again connect dots or scroll through music or word games.

But I’m learning to be. To just be.

Accepting where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m experiencing, and just being in that moment.

No regretting, no resenting, no longing for something different. Just being. And the more I just be, the less I am actually regretting or resenting or longing for something different. Life is, generally, very good.

I have big things in mind for this year. I’m working on a second book. I’ll be kicking off the study towards being a personal trainer. I’m taking on #nofearnovember as a way of life, and rising up to just do the things that scare me. And it is good. I’m seeing again and again that I can do things.

We had a party recently, something that generally fills me with dread. And it did, but fuck it, I took it on. I also went to a BAR that I had never even heard of before, and it was awesome. And I saw my GP about a couple of things that had been worrying me, and I feel so much better knowing that she’s got things under control.

Just being. Rising up when I can and when I need to, and finding out exactly what I am made of.

And I am learning and realising that what I am made of is probably the opposite of what I used to think I was made of. I’m strong. I’m brave. I treat people well. I care about the underdogs. I’m stubborn, but I use it well.

I want 2017 to be the year that I am guided by what I am made of, instead of what I am afraid of. It’s going to be the year where I learn more about what I am made of, and then just be.

This song, Steer, by Missy Higgins. It’s on my playlist when I am at the gym, and it’s currently on high rotation in the car. These lyrics are the theme song for 2017 for me.

“But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer”

Thanks, S.