Tag Archives: inspirational

Extended

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A couple of weekends ago I had to fly to Brisbane. It was for a 90th birthday, a beautiful gentleman who, when asked what it felt like to be 90, replied with, “Up the shit!”.

The last time I flew was around two years ago. That flight, I was heading to Melbourne. I remember the angst on the lead up to the flight.

I knew without a doubt that I would need a seat belt extension. Some people don’t even know what they are, or even that they exist. You know the seat belt they use in the safety briefing before you take off? Well that can click into both ends of the standard seat belt on a flight, thus extending the length of the belt so that every passenger can be safe. I rang the airline to get the seat measurements. I wanted to be sure that my sizeable bottom would fit. I contemplated booking two seats, so that my overflow wouldn’t affect the person sitting in the same row as me.

Because that’s one of the things I used to worry about, that my too-bigness would infringe upon other people. That taking up too much space would inconvenience the people around me. That I should do whatever I could to make amends for being the size I was.

That I should wear a sign, apologising for myself.

For me, my weight was a shame that I wore on the outside for the world to see. I took on the stares and the comments. I absorbed the giggles from children in the street. I carried every single one of the observations about my size and even though they were pointy and hot and uncomfortable, I carried them close to myself until they became myself and there I was, a walking ball of shame and grief and sadness and disappointment.

For me, my size mattered, 100%. And a lot of my time was spent trying to minimise it. I’d sit hunched and curled into a ball. I’d move with a nimbleness that belied my size when I felt like I was in someone’s way. I’d stand rather than sit, lest I break a chair or block an aisle.

Now, I still stand. But it’s more about not wanting to sit still. And now, when I do sit, I tend to sprawl in a most unladylike manner. Because screw being a lady.

When I booked the flights to Brisbane, that little voice made me wonder. Would I still need a seat belt extension? I’ve tried and tried again to explain how hard it is for your brain to catch up when your body changes. I knew that in losing over 50kg, the chances of me needing that extension were pretty slim. But what if. What if I hadn’t really changed my body shape that much? What if that apron of skin was going to be still too big for the standard seat belt?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

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And it also turns out that the tray coming down is a thing. The tray never used to come down. Not even close.

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No worries.

These are the victories that, for the run of the mill person, seem a little odd. If you don’t even realise that a seat belt extension is a thing, then what’s to celebrate if a normal aeroplane seat belt fits you?

Here’s what’s to celebrate:

I didn’t have to walk sideways up the aisle. I didn’t have to whisper that I needed an extension when I boarded, and hold it close to my body as I took my seat so that nobody would notice. I didn’t have to tuck it down the side of my seat when I got off the plane, trying to hide the shame I felt. I didn’t have to pre-book a specific seat at the window, so I could at least spread in one direction in an attempt to minimise the impact I had on the person sitting next to me.

You might think I am being too hard on myself. You might think that most people wouldn’t care.

If that’s the case then thank you, you’re a human with a beautiful heart.

But the reality is that a lot of people are not like that, particularly with strangers.

I’ve discovered that as a whole, society still believes that fat is something that people choose and therefore something they can quickly change. And as a result we have created what seem to be quick fixes for this problem. I’ve always been very careful to state clearly that for me, what was going to work was earning every single gram lost through sheer hard determination, through pushing my body, through walking and running and riding endless kilometres and lifting and pushing and pulling different weights. I had to respect what I had done in order to maintain the weight loss. For me, and I can only speak for myself, that’s what I had to do. Not everyone’s solution looks like that. But I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself.

As the seat belt clicked shut, and I tightened the strap, it sounded like victory.

But in my victory, as in any victory, I remembered the battles lost in winning the war.

So to the me in the plane. Taking up space. Wearing an extension. Desperate for the flight to end:

I’d rather you were safe with the extension on. You have an equal right to be on board this flight. Where are you going? Are you excited? Who are you seeing? Don’t let this moment rob you of your joy regarding travel. You go, you get there, you have an absolute blast. Because regardless of your size, you matter. Your heart is ticking, your soul is full and your smile lights a room.

Extensively.

 

Unspirational

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I hear all the time that what I have done with my weight loss and fitness is inspiring. I’ve watched friends and family make changes because of what they’ve seen me do. And it’s brilliant, and I am so proud of every single step they take towards achieving their own personal goals. And it’s humbling to have played a small part towards spurring them on. I’m so excited for them, cautiously excited not because I don’t believe in them but because I know the hard yards they’re about to undertake. I know the ache in the thighs, the pain in the feet, the confrontation of exercise, the way food that fuels you better at first doesn’t taste as good as the foods that you love. I know the power of chocolate on sale and the lure of daytime television. These are hard choices. Your head game has to be strong to do this, and there they are, doing it, and I couldn’t be prouder. To T, P, K and several others who have messaged me to say thanks for motivating them to get on this path: you girls are true heroes, and I believe in each and every one of you wholeheartedly.

The title of this post might have you thinking my own wheels have fallen off regarding this stuff. They have not. I spent Sunday boxing for 8 hours. I’ve just signed up to walk ten kilometres a day for ten days in April. Every day choices, friends. Just like last night we chose to have pizza for dinner.

This isn’t about good food versus bad food. This isn’t about changing directions.

This is about when the inspirer feels totally and utterly unspirational.

I hit struggle street a couple of weeks ago. Time management has gotten the better of me. I’m in the last week of my Certificate 3 in fitness, assessments have been raining down on me and I think it’s time to build an ark and take two of everything that has ever given me hope and sail away while the tide comes crashing down. Except the dogs, I’ll take three of those. I think I’ve caught up with most of my study load now, but the under-riding panic is still there.

I think this was sparked by probably the most exciting thing that has happened on this journey.

I saw a plastic surgeon, regarding the excess skin I have. Now, in Australia, there are several hoops to jump through to have the removal of this skin deemed medically necessary. If you successfully get through those hoops, you then are given an item number for the surgery. This item number means that part of the surgery is covered by Medicare, reducing the cost of the surgery significantly. Then you have the option of doing it privately, with the surgeon of your choice, or going on an extensive waiting list (at least several years) to have the surgery done publicly.

I cleared every single one of the hoops. The surgeon asked me how I had done it and I told him the truth: through bloody hard work. He clarified that I hadn’t had any form of weight loss surgery. I told him no, I’ve just worked really really hard. He threw down his pen and gave me a high five, and said, “We just don’t see that anymore!”. He was amazed. He then checked out my skin and my body, what would need to be done. I don’t have a frame that is petite and dainty. I’ve worked hard to build muscle mass. I have big hands, big feet. On my tummy alone he’s estimated 6-7kg of skin will come off. And by the time all the excess skin is gone?

I’ll be at the goal weight for my frame.

After being a fat baby, a fat kid, a fat teen, and an adult so overweight that I didn’t even register on the BMI scale when I first started, I had been told for the first time in my entire life that I am now at a point where I just have to maintain my current weight and muscle mass. He said I could try to lose another 5kg or so before surgery if I wanted to, but it’s not necessary.

Stunned. Overwhelmed.

I sat waiting to see his secretary to talk costs, and I became really teary. I’d done it. I’d bloody done it.

And then I found out the cost and just like that, reality hit. Even with private health cover, the out of pocket cost for just stage one of the surgery would buy an excellent car, or be a substantial start for a deposit on a house.

So there I was.

So close to my goal weight, after almost two years of solid grit and determination. On the cusp of finishing my first fitness qualification, the first step towards working with clients like myself who felt like it just couldn’t be done. Now faced with a financial challenge that looks totally and utterly unattainable. Don’t worry, I’m working on solutions for this.

But I think that’s where the wheels started to wobble.

At the boxing course on Sunday, when I did a roundhouse kick, the skin on my thighs followed through with an audible clap. When I was jab-cross-jabbing, the skin on my arms would wave at the focus mitts almost as an apology, and I’d catch sight of it in the corner of my eye. Lifting my legs for the forward kicks was difficult because of that damn apron of skin. But no, that’s not the point, the point is that in doing that course I can now use boxing with clients, and the point is that I kept up with every single one of the people doing the course, and the point is that this body, my body boxed for 8 hours with minimal breaks. The other stuff is aesthetics.

But when I think about why this stuff has thrown me so much, I begin to wonder if I’m being totally superficial. I wonder if I am every actually going to be happy with my body. I wonder if I am ever going to feel enough: fit enough; strong enough; healthy enough. Because these things aren’t aesthetics. These things are internal.

Something you don’t get told about losing a huge amount of weight is that it takes a long time for your head to catch up. That you will have demons to conquer – not food vices, but thought patterns.

There are non-scale victories that the average person wouldn’t even consider.

The moment a beach towel, and then a bath towel wraps around you for the first time. The moment you no longer have to have the car seat back as far as it can go in order to drive. The moment you don’t have to turn side on to get through doors. The moment you can walk between cars in a parking lot. The moment you can stand up and look down and see your feet, or when you can be lying down in bed and see your feet.

I can see my feet.

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I’m not sure what the point of this particularly long post is. I have a hunch it’s about being transparent, being honest with the people who follow this blog. Or maybe it’s just about getting thoughts out of my head. Or maybe it’s about giving myself a chance to catch up on where I am at the moment.

I was messaging someone who has become a treasured mate yesterday, explaining that my head had imploded. And I said this:

“Still going along the forwards path. Just need to make sure my head is where my feet are on that path”.

What I have done has changed my life.

It’s time to let it start changing my view of myself, too.