Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be Divine

So, it's New Year's Eve, and I've come to realize something important. This is the first year, for as long as I can remember, when I'm NOT going to head to bed tonight trying to convince myself that, starting tomorrow, I'm going to get healthy. I'm not making any resolutions that I can't achieve. I'm not going to put all my hope in the closing of the year to bring me the change I know I am capable of.

I had coffee with Seb the other day to catch up and plan a bit for the months ahead. They're going to be busy, that's for sure. I'll be back to work (after a month off), starting two more classes in my PhD program, and I've also signed on to be part of a research team for two months. Oh yeah, plus I'm still looking after my dog, trying to keep my life organized, and spending at least an hour a day at the gym. Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it all. But I'm confident that I'll be able to make it happen. With that in mind, we set some new goals for the weeks, months and year ahead:
  • lose 15-20 pounds every three months. I had to convince Seb of this one...I've been on par with 15 pounds every three months, and I'd like to crank it up a bit. I'm certain that there's more I can be doing to get the results I want. Deep down, there's part of me that thinks that Seb agreed to this goal to help me realize that 20 pounds per month is quite aggressive, and that if I don't achieve that goal, then he'll have taught me a valuable lesson about being realistic in my expectations. However, I'm going to give it a try, just to see what I can do when I really put my mind to it. I say that because I'm convinced that I can do better to focus on my goals and make sure that they happen. That said, my next goal is to:
  • be more consistent. Over the past six months, when I've had weeks where I haven't seen any change, I know that there are things that I could have done differently -- things that I could have done to ensure greater success. I'm striving for consistency because I want to make the same mistakes fewer times. Yes, I would like to see more consistent results, and Seb of course reminds me that this whole thing is about realizing that weight loss runs in highs and lows. I get that. I'm willing to accept the highs and lows only at those times when I know that I've done everything I can to try to succeed. But I don't think I've necessarily done that in the past. Am I striving for my typical Type-A personality perfection? Sure. But I also have to navigate my way through this journey on my own terms, testing my own beliefs, making my own mistakes, and finding my own new directions. Sebastien is there to play the devil's advocate, but I know that in order to make this healthy lifestyle truly a lifestyle, I have to figure out a lot of it on my own.
  • strive to achieve balance. I work full time. I go to school full time. I do research. I spend upwards of 10 hours per week at the gym. I function at full throttle... I need to figure out how to function further away from the edge of the tipping point, or figure out what to do if and when things do tip over...
So there you have it. Not necessarily a resolution, but a new set of goals to carry me through the weeks and months ahead. I'm looking forward to the next steps in the journey, and to sharing more of my experience with whomever is reading this stream of consciousness that is my blog. And for those out there making new years' resolutions, make sure you decide something that's going to work for you... and most importantly, from a text message my sister in New Zealand sent me this morning as they rang in the new year:

Happy New Year.
Bring on a successful 2009.
Love harder.
Be true to yourself and your passion.
Honour those not here through your actions.
Be divine in 2009.

Kia Kaha.
Stay Strong.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm sitting here in the first class lounge at YYZ awaiting my flight to Vancouver and Comox for Christmas. I've got a 10-day break ahead of me with friends and my parents, and am looking forward to some relaxation after what has been a very very busy six months. In fact, it's been a pretty intense year. Between taking on my PhD, entering year 2 of a new job, and taking a leap of faith into better health, I've had quite a busy 12 months. And it seems appropriate, in that "Top 10 of 2008" type of fashion given the time of year, that I reflect a bit on where I've been in the past year, where I've come to, and where I'm going in the years ahead. It's also a good idea because Seb sent me a text message last night telling me to do so. Since I opened up my blog and made it public, he's turned into my blog-pimp. Lucky this thing doesn't make me any coin (yet) or he might ask me for a cut... LOL!

So, I had my last workout with Sebastien yesterday before the Christmas break, and my monthly assessment. We weren't able to do the whole assessment because I've got a problem with my sub-talar joint ( in my left foot making it difficult to do pushups and planks. But I did what I could and I continue to make progress. We then proceeded to do more kickboxing (the oddly cathartic sport which I am really enjoying) and took out some aggression for a good 25 minutes. Then onto some core work and streching to round out my day. All in all a good workout.

While I was doing a set of 100 crunches (normally I do 400.. and my capacity for crunches rates in the 'excellent' range for a 35 year old man), Sebastien asked me what I was most proud of over the past year. I wasn't able to respond right away. First of all, because it's hard to talk while you're doing crunches... I don't know why he insists on asking me questions while I'm grunting and panting... but I digress. I also didn't answer right away because I really didn't know. I know that I've said to myself (and on here) that I'm proud of myself... but talking about pride out loud is a totally different ball game. In fact, talking about any of my journey out loud is difficult. It's difficult because it's so personal. Difficult because it's emotional. Difficult because, well, it's difficult.

But I did eventually come to a revelation. Even though I am indeed proud of the fact that getting to the gym each day is now a good habit and part of my lifestyle, and that I feel more and more at home in that space which used to scare the shit out of me, there's something that I am proud of much more.

The journey towards health and losing weight is not a simple path. Even though diets that tout themselves as 'lifestyle programs' try to sell a very simplistic equation to get people to buy into their formula for better health, it's not at all that easy. I always knew in the back of my head that this would be just as intense a journey emotionally, as it is physically. But it is only now, in doing some good, thoughtful reflection, that I truly realize how important it is to get your head and heart healthy so that your body can follow suit.

Basically, what I am most proud of is that over the past 12 months, I've learned to deal with my baggage. I have lots of reasons as to why I think I'm fat. I have 10 fingers, each of which can point in a different direction and to a different person or event that I can blame for why I ended up this way. At the end of it all though, I'm the only one who can truly change any of this. I'm the one who is in control. I have to be the one in control. And allowing any of the people or experiences or whatever, to whom any one of my fingers is pointed, have control over me, is to admit defeat off the start and set myself up for inevitable failure.

In other words, I've learned to let go.

And it's not easy. Not only have I carried around extra physical weight all of these years, but I have also carried intense amounts of emotional baggage and crap that always weighed me down. Literally. I could feel it bearing down on my shoulders. On my limbs. On my heart. On my soul. Some of it has simply disappeared without me even realizing it. Some of it has been left on the floor of the gym in sweat and tears (no blood). And some of it, I've chosen to address head on. I've taken the time to try to hold myself accountable (even though it's still a struggle) for my shit, and for making things happen for myself. It's not easy. I'm my own worst enemy. I'm also my own strongest ally. And accepting the help that others can give me, but most importantly, the help that I can provide for myself, is a significant step along this curvy, bumpy path.

So, in spite of the fact that:
  • I've dropped 60 pounds in the last year.
  • I go to the gym every day.
  • I've conquered my fear of the elliptical machine.
  • I do 300-400 crunches a day.
  • I eat well, and have learned to not beat myself up for the times that I don't.
  • I've never felt healthier.
  • I've made a new friend... his name is Sebastien the trainer.
I'm most proud of the fact that I no longer carry all of that baggage with me. Don't get me wrong... there's still some stuff packed away in backpacks, shoulder bags, and the occasional rolling suitcase (but never a fanny-pack... they should be illegal), there's nowhere near as much as there used to be. That's what I'm most proud of.

And I guess, it's not totally fair to say 'in spite of' all of those things that I listed above. It's more 'because of' that list of accomplishments that I've been able to let go and move on. And boy am I movin' on....

So my friends, there you have it. Thank you for sharing in the past six months of my 12 month journey. But it's not over yet. I've got some solid goals in mind, and will continue, without a doubt, to transform myself into the person I've always dreamt I could become. So, stay tuned for year 2... and I will soon overcome my aversion to cameras and post some pictures on this thing.... I remember the first week that I actually started running on the treadmill, Sebastien told me I should post a video of me running on this blog. I told him he was fu**ing crazy.

I don't think he's so crazy anymore.

So, I must fly. Literally. It's time for me to get on the plane and enjoy 5 hours of in-flight entertainment in my lie-flat bed executive suite seat (thanks to my Dad's Aeroplan points...). Thanks for reading... and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2009.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.

Friday, December 12, 2008

58th and goal... 33rd and goal... a touchdown overall.

Well, that was my best attempt at a sports analogy... I think it has something to do with football. Who really cares what it's from. More importantly....

This time last year, I made a decision to start looking after myself -- to start getting healthy. I gave myself some deadlines. I set many small goals. I have overcome many fears. I have shrunk in many ways (physically). I have grown emotionally in so many more.

All that said, 12 months after I made the most important decision in my life, I've met my goal goal. This time last year, I was 58 pounds heavier than what I am right now. At that time, I gave myself permission to start getting healthy, and six months later, made another important decision Six months ago, I met Sebastien and hired him as my trainer. He helped me overcome so many of my fears, and see the very real possibilities of what I could accomplish. He helped me to set some realistic goals. Off the start, they were:
  • to get more comfortable with being active;
  • to find some physical activity that I enjoyed doing;
  • to not be so hard on myself;
  • to lose 30 pounds in six months.
Well, since I hired Sebastien six months ago, I've lost 33 pounds. Goal surpassed by 3 pounds. In some ways, I'm starting to lap myself -- hey, look at that, another sports analogy. How very butch of me.... LOL!!!!

So, I'm happy to report that:
My girth measurements are shrinking. We're doing measurements next week -- I'll be sure to let folks know where I'm at then.
My confidence and sense of self are growing -- I now no longer worry if people are looking at me because I'm big. I just assume that now they see someone who's happy, confident, and healthy. Screw them if they think anything other than that.
I can't remember the last time I was in a bad mood -- and my relationships with friends and family are so much more fulfilling.
This is the first time that I can ever recall saying, with absolute honesty, that I'm happy with who I am -- and my relationship with myself has never been better.

Pretty f**king cool, eh???
Not much more to say than that.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The success equation....

So I have had an interesting few weeks. If you've been reading my posts latelly, you'll get a sense of the fact that I'm feeling pretty burnt out. It has been a very busy semester at work, and the school work I had this term was pretty demanding. All that said, I'm pretty pleased with the fact that I'm still standing, and managing to balance the many priorities I've put at the top of my list.

That said, the past few weeks have indeed been interesting. Over the past four weeks I think I've met with Sebastien only twice -- we've each had scheduling conflicts that have made having our sessions. And admittedly, I'm jealous of the fact that he's taking a week off and is currently sunning himself on the beach in the Dominican Republic -- yes, he's entitled to take time off, and he works hard... he deserves it. He puts up with me every week -- he definitely deserves it.

But what I've started to learn is just how much I actually need my trainer. Having time every week to work out together, check-in, talk about where my head's at, and simply hang out has become very sacred for me. I even remember a few months ago when Seb was telling me about a client who wanted to buy up all of his time -- meaning he'd have to think about referring some of his clients. That freaked me out. And I didn't really figure out why until this past week.

I realize that I still don't trust myself. As much as I've worked hard on all of this, and as wonderful as my results have been, I still don't have confidence in my own strength to persevere and do what I need to do to keep on track. And that's understandable. I'm making a huge life change, and it will take time to build the complete strength and determination I need to go it on my own. Even though I'm blogging about it, and talking to my friends about it, the experience is still pretty solitary, and the one person who knows absolutely everything about what I'm going through and how I'm progressing is Sebastien. I really rely on him. Yes, I'm a pretty closed up person - and the degree of disclosure that I've given myself still makes me feel very vulnerable. So much so that I still don't trust myself to catch myself when I fall... because I don't think I've really surrounded myself with the safety net I think I would need. I'm not saying that my friends and family wouldn't ever be that net for me -- without a doubt they would all be there in a snap. Without question. The point is that I don't think I trust myself enough to:
a) to fall;
b) to catch myself, or;
c) ask for someone else to help catch me and pick me up.
Even as much trust and faith as I have in my trainer, I don't know if my own ego would even allow me to let go of my control issues (shocking, I know) enough to let him be what I might need if I truly screw things up.

So, what leads me to this conclusion??? Well, while Seb is sunning himself in the Dominican (I'm not bitter... really), I find myself not holding myself accountable to the same standards as I would if I knew I had to meet up with him in a few days. Indeed we're reconnecting next Wednesday and getting back on schedule, but when we're not going to meet up, I realize I kind of let things slide. Why is that???? Well, I don't think I need to pay a therapist $150 to figure that out....

Essentially, it boils down to the fact that without Sebastien as my safety net (to the extent that I would ever allow him to be) and my external accountability, and in many ways a source of strength, I'm not sure that I could hold myself accountable for my progress in the same way that he can right now. I've been working really hard at all of this, but I'm still not convinced deep down inside that I'm capable of doing it totally, completely, and unequivocally by myself and for myself. Because of that, I can't really hold myself ultimately accountable for when I succeed and when I fail. And it's that risk of not being accountable, of not being able to pull my shit together when I fail, that is creating my fear of succeeding. So what do I do?

Without even thinking about it, I find I let things slide just enough to maintain some semblance of keeping it together, without completely throwing it all by the wayside. In other words, I don't eat as 'cleanly' as I would like. I don't workout as intensely as I would if I had an appointment with Sebastien looming on the horizon. "Looming" is not the best word, because the training sessions I have are by far some of the best time I have each week. But I think you get what I mean. Essentially, I give myself the space to fail. Because if I'm afraid of succeeding, the alternative -- and default option given the numerous different ways I've attempted to get at this -- is through failure. It's classic self-sabotage. I've read about it. I've heard people talk about it. But I've never truly understood it until now.

All that said, I don't think it's as bad as I think... or as bad as it could be. Why? All of the other times in my life, when I self-sabotage and choose failure over confronting the possibility of success, I would eat my face off. And remember... I'm a foodie. So 'eating my face off' didn't necessarily mean gorging at a drive-thru. I would cook up a storm... eat lots of indulgent and decadent things... not "a whole lot of crap" (as my Mom would say), but a lot of rich, savoury, carb-heavy food. Picture plates of homemade pasta.... steaming hot with homemade meatballs and sauce... loaded with mushrooms and cheese. Okay.... I need a moment. Kidding. And then I'd lay down on the couch, watch TV and be completely desensitized to the fact that I had just totally binged on food to somehow make myself feel better and deal with the fear of success.

So, what do I do now?

Well, I won't work out as vigorously. But I still work out.
I won't eat as cleanly as I would like. But I still eat well.
I don't numb myself with food.
I sit back.
I reflect.
I figure things out.
I blog.

Instead of filling my face with pasta, I take advantage of the opportunity to think, reflect, and write. And from this important blogging exercise, I figure out that I don't totally trust myself, and that I need to learn how to do that. I don't know exactly how to do that, but I'll figure it out. I realize that I don't need to do this on my own -- I can turn to my friends and family for strength, because I don't have all the strength I need to do this... and it's okay not to.

And I have to have faith in the fact that I can succeed.

I am determined to succeed.

I will succeed.

Or to think about it mathematically...

(trust + strength + faith) - fear = SUCCESS

So there you have it.
A big brain purge.
A big brain fart.
A big brain.
A big heart.

And in that heart,
I know how truly fortunate I am to have my friends and family... and one helluva trainer.... peace, love and thanks to all.

Kia kaha. Stay strong.

PS. Tonight's work out....
60 minutes at level 11 on the elliptical trainer = 1275 calories burned
100 ball squats = more calories burned and legs that are like buttah
400 crunches = abs of steel? In due time....
Overall, a good night and a spring back in my step...