Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Journey

Have you ever began a journey to a place you had every intention of going and yet ended up somewhere completely different? Somewhere, in fact, you did not even know existed?

I have, actually, I am. It may not surprise you that once again I am speaking of my ... hmmmm, I don't even know what to call it anymore because I'm learning more and more that it's not about weight loss, well let's just say the journey of acceptance in regards to my body.

When I started this particular trip it was not at all much different than those I've headed out on probably hundreds of times before (no kidding - hundreds).

I had no idea whether or not I would succeed, or what success would really look like. I was not sure how my body would change or if my spirit would transform a whole lot. I had no serious goals or aspirations but to do what I was told in the moment. I had no intentions of changing my lifestyle all that much or seeing myself any differently.

One thing I did know (or thought) was that when you begin a journey it has an end. In my mind the 'journey' would end when I reached my goal and that would be the end of it. I would get to go back to my old life only with a new body and perhaps if I was lucky a muscle or two in tow.

Most of all I believed that 6 months would have been more than enough to for me to get my crap together and figure everything out. Everything. My 'issues', the logistics of weight loss, how to love myself, how to enjoy my body. And of course I would automatically love and adore my new fit self.

I sit here exactly 6 months after my first of 50 sessions with Dee having learned so many things and at the same time still having to learn so very much.

I've already talked about the basic lessons in nutrition and physical fitness I have learned. I do believe they are the easy parts because, for the most part, they have concrete answers and guidelines people can follow.

Aside from those topics everything else has seemed to be shown to me in a completely unexpected and new way.

Here are some of the things I learned (and forgive me if they are repeats I've already mentioned in the past):

* Our journeys don't end officially until we die.

Even if we give up on them for a while or seemingly indefinitely, unless we are dead they are never over and we always, ALWAYS have a chance to keep going, learning and growing through them. I thought this whole thing would be like going to school and taking a class with a start date and a finish test. The strange thing is that it's ongoing, almost like everyday is THE test. Will I get up and workout today? Will I choose to put living food into my body this meal (no I don't mean a squawking chicken)? Will I see myself as beautiful in the mirror and beyond? Just like writing an essay, there are no write or wrong answers really, you're just always trying to do better to master your craft, and every day is a chance to do better at something. You never reach a finish. You may reach a goal but it's then you must create a new one otherwise you will sit down and go nowhere. We may need a little rest every once in a while but in the end we must always keep traveling.

* No matter how healthy I get I will always have the potential to fall back into my old lifestyle.

This one I learned from Dee who I will tell you is in peak condition. Or he was when I met him. About half way through he shared with me that he had fallen away from his strict nutrition and workouts and within a month he had increased his body fat from 7% to like 12%, it may have been more. Anyways it was a big deal for him (though I couldn't say I noticed) and he said he had just gotten used to being fit and eating whatever and letting go a bit. HE quickly realized that he couldn't have his cake and eat it too. He's back on his program and is fine. IT was a wake up call for me to hear this. Not because I plan on being a wrestler, whipping around a ring half naked, but seeing someone who's job it is to be fit and in control fall out of that so easily it can definitely happen to me. This doesn't mean I can't enjoy some super yummy chocolate cake now and then, it just means I have to constantly be aware (no matter how fit I am) that this could and may always be struggle for me so I need to watch myself.

* No matter how much your body changes if your self image doesn't change too, it's all for nothing.

I have focused a lot of my efforts on learning and trying to apply practically the information I have absorbed. I have had some good success. The strange thing is if it weren't for a certain pair of pants that I recently got into for the first time comfortably (I have had them for a few years and have never worn them), I would honestly not notice much of a difference in my body, visually at least. I'm not sure if I've shared this before but I used to joke with Wally that if it wasn't for having to wear clothes I would not really have a huge issue with my body (this was before I lost some weight). I know this is odd but when I looked in the mirror I thought my body was ok, it was when I had to put tight, restrictive clothing on I had issues. The unfortunate part is that even now as I look in the mirror I see the same exact body as before. I don't hate it, but I don't love it either and that, I know, is a problem and a shame.

My self image is definitely something I want to work on in the next six months as I continue this unexpected journey. I know that I need to stop abhorring my hips and back fat and start appreciating how incredibly blessed I am to have a body that works, functions and gives so very much to me. I hope that I can begin to do the REAL work that is needed to accept the part of me that has no business defining me: my body.

I'm a little ashamed that I have not worked on this aspect more as I am quite sure it is likely the most important one to accept and understand. I guess this highlights something else I have learned along the way...

* It's ok to learn things entirely in your own time (and don't beat yourself up if it has taken you longer!!!)

I cannot count how many times I have said to Dee 'But those other people got to their goal weight in 12 weeks' which was always an interlude to one of his 'Oh my goodness!!! You've come so far already and you've only started!!' lectures. I have found it far too easy to focus on where I'm not rather than focusing on where I am that I often trip myself up. Yes, I am my own worst enemy at times. I am only beginning to accept MY timing and MY learning curve. I do celebrate the fact that I no longer feel anxious when time goes by and I haven't reached a set goal because 9 times out of 10 I have made a detour and learned something else very important along the way. I now try to allow myself time to figure things out on my own and I try not to rush it because I want to be real, I want this journey to be real. When I shared with Dee my worries about being done my training and feeling fearful of being an impostor at the gym, someone who comes in and looks like they know what they are doing but really haven't a clue. His response was 'You're as real as it gets' which helped me realize I am indeed my harshest critic and though it may take me longer than others to figure things out, when I do, it will be for real.

There you go, a little insight to what I've been dealing with over the past several months. I have a long way to go, more so in my head than anywhere else. When Dee asked me the other day how I felt about coming so far and doing so well. I replied 'When I am still working out here in 6 months, then 2 years, then after that, I will know I have succeeded.' He said in that moment I had made him really proud. I hope so because overall my thoughts have changed a lot. When I started my goals were about looking better and getting to a certain point, and I now realize that your main goals shouldn't be all about numbers really, they should be about taking care of yourself. In every way.

I want to do that now because I am still alive and I can.

I'll let you know how the self image thing goes.

And the next leg of the journey.