Thursday, February 10, 2011

Normal isn't enough!

I apologize for there not being many posts lately. I have been at a somewhat tough place emotionally, and trying to sort it all out. I have just been really unhappy with where I am at with my weight loss (or lack there of), with not feeling like I am making all the progress in the gym I used to and a whole lot of self esteem issues because of it.

Things kind of hit the fan for me over it this past week and I turned to two wise men to help me out. The club manager (if I could vote for who in the world I would have had for a dad Tony would have been it, he is so good with wise, straight forward advice and even when I may not like what he is telling me, I always feel better about things after we talk) and my trainer, Nick. Both helped me see sides of this journey I have not seen before.

Tony particularly got me thinking about needing to change the rules I am measuring my weight loss by - that my expectations were right for when I was at 338 lbs to EXPECT a fast weight loss but now I needed to realize that to lose that same percent was going to come at a different percent but that that wasn't the same as failing, it was time for a new set of rules to measure myself against before I throw up the white flag. It was the first time someone has actually given me permission for this to happen at a slower pace (vs the expectations I was living under in the beginning) and just to have someone tell me it was ok helped a lot.

But it was something Nick said has really stuck with me though. We were talking about my feeling that the first part of this journey (Nov 09-April/May 10) I was in such a positive place and just feel like a switch was thrown and I haven't been happy with much since. Ironically I had made this comment to Tony a few months ago, but I was tying it to things with Gui. Nick got me thinking about this completely a different way, related to my body and my view of my body. As we talked it through at first I thought the switching point might have been the indoor tri I did last May (I came in last and was very disappointed in myself about that - to the point I am not doing the event this year) but after a day of thought, I think it was before that that I lost my footing. I think it was when I got back from Israel in April. That trip is the last time I can really say I felt good about myself and was happy for any period of time.

Israel has held an important role in this journey. It is where I reached my breaking points (in Feb 09 and Oct 09) and decided I was done with being so abnormal, where the true realization of how screwed up my body was making my life hit me and where I vowed to change. When I was in Israel on those trips everything physically was a struggle, from walking to getting around buildings to fitting on the bus. It's where because of my inability to do stairs and to keep I up I had to pass up the chance of a lifetime meeting a plane full of Olim because I physically couldn't do it. On the February '09 trip when we were just outside of Gaza during the height of the bombings I realized how truly life threatening my weight was when I realized if a Tzeva Adom warning (this is the warning that a bomb is about to hit) went off and we had to evacuate the bus I would probably not be able to do it fast enough and would put others at risk too. On this trip, and my subsequent one in October 09, I came to the acceptance of how abnormal I was, I came out of my denial about not just being fat but of it being a true liability and I vowed to change it.

BTW here is the blog from those two trips.....

When I went back to Israel in April 2010, I went back a different person, but didn't know it til I got there. I can see it when I read back to my blog posts from that trip (they are in this blog filed under April). It was the place where I realized I had left the land of the abnormal and was now part of the normal. There was nothing I wanted to do on that trip I couldn't. I walked to the marina, I climbed hills, I played on the playground in Sderot. I was like everyone else.

But what I didn't realize until the other night with Nick was I also made a mental leap on that trip, and unfortunately it wasn't a positive leap for me. My expectations changed of myself and where I saw myself in the world physically. I went from being proud of how much I had and could accomplish to feeling ashamed of myself and unhappy with where I was, because I had changed who/what I was measuring against.

When I saw myself as broken/abnormal/handicapped and I could do something new I (and quite frankly everyone around me who was used to how little I could do previously) saw it as an accomplishment but it was ok if it wasn't perfect or as good as everyone else, because it always had that asterisk after it of my limitations..."*she did great considering...!". Nick asked me when I was working out with my friends before that if I used to get upset that they were faster or better than me (like I do now) and I realized the answer was 100% no. I didn't measure myself against them because I saw myself as different. It was ok for me not to keep up with them, just that I was doing it was enough, it was more than I thought I would ever be able to do and it was a great victory. But it's not ok now.

Once I started to see myself as normal, I did start measureing myself against the people around me and quite truthfully I didn't measure up (in my eyes) and still don't feel I do. I am not as fast, I am not as coordinated, my balance is not as good. And for someone who is driven by being the best at everything this has become a real stumbling block for me.

It is a weird analogy, but the reality is I feel like I went from being the winner in all the special olympics races to the last place finisher in the olympics and I am not doing so well with that. Where I saw the first as complete success, I see where I am now as failure. And the result is frustration and fear. Frustration because I don't know how to stop myself from measuring against the people around me and frustration because I don't feel like I have the tools, mentally and physically, yet to get to the front of the pack of normal people (to use Nick's phrase, to become more than normal) and fear because what if the back of the pack is the best I can ever be? I have never in my life been ok with being the back of the pack and I worry that I might have to accept that when it comes to physical stuff, and I'm not good with that. Good enough is not good enough for me.

And that makes the fact that I have retreated the last few months make a lot more sense to me. If I cant be good at something I dont do it, so I have stopped trying in this arena. And I know that is the wrong answer. As Nick pointed out I need to figure out how to find the fire to push myself to move up in the pack, but in all honesty I dont know how to do that when it comes to physical things, and more than that worry if my body just isnt capable of it. When it is something intellectual, I can learn it no matter what it takes, I know I have the capability, but with my body I fear there are limits. Although I know Nick would tell me they are self imposed limits, and am starting to agree with him, I just dont know how to knock them down.

I dont want to make him a big focus of this (the past is the past) but there is part of me that has also been thinking aobut Gui since Nick and I talked about all this. I have thought over and over (and said to people after the last few months) that I felt we stopped being productive around April or May and wished I had opted then to make a change. I think this new realization puts that in a new light. I still think I should have changed trainers in April or May, but I see why now. It wasn't per se personalities as I was putting it on (although what it was did lead us to butt heads for sure). Gui was the right trainer to get me from abnormal to normal, he had that same goal for me. But his intent as I look back at things we talked about, was never to be the one who took me from normal to more than normal. And as I wanted/needed to get to that it became a more stressful interaction between us.

I could say I regret I wasted the months I did from April to July in that situaton, but I have been having a conversation with someone new in my life lately about things happening for a reason, once again I believe that. There is more than fate at work that put Nick at LTF when it did and me not changing trainers until the right trainer was there to help me get to that next level. Now I just have to figure out how to stop being my own limiting factor and make that happen!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jealous? Of Exercise?

On first read this article in the Wall Street Journal seemed a little perplexing. People getting divorced over exercise? Putting it in their wedding vows?

But the reality the more I think about it, is that it does happen. While I am not married and didn't have to face it on that front, I have definitely had adding a daily workout to my life change friendships and relationships, something I never expected!

I would not say I am obsessed with working out (others might) but I do try very hard to workout every day now. If I don't workout I get cranky and out of sorts. The time I spend in the gym a day varies from an hour to 2 depending on what I am doing that day. I am not rigid about the time of day I do it, but it has to happen. I am doing this for me and my mental and physical health and it is a consideration when scheduling my life, home and on the road.

Over the last year I have realized there are three kinds of people in my life, based on their reaction, to my change in lifestyle to include exercise. Those that felt put out (and are mostly gone from my life now, those that don't quite get it but have accepted it, and those that share the lifestyle - many of this last group are new friends from the gym).

That is one thing I felt the article lacked, commentary on the fact that you do start to develop a different circle of friends than you had before, which is often hard for existing friends who feel they are being replaced or pushed out.

I have been really lucky in this regard, in July I got to see first hand out easily my old friends and new friends all fit together, they were all together for Relay weekend it was like they had all known each other for years. I am somewhat repeating that this weekend, with a dinner party at my home with a mix of old and new, and this time I am truly looking forward to it.

The best friends in all this change though are those who weren't exercisers before but since seeing what I am doing have jumped on board. There is no greater feeling than when someone comes to visit and their first two questions are "did you get me a pass for the gym" and "do I get to go to the trainer with you this time". I'll have to admit that still takes me back for a second, makes me look at my life and think "how did that happen" but then it makes me smile, knowing how supported I am.