Wednesday, October 5, 2011

12wbt: Reflections of Accountability - One Month In

This is by no stretch a sponsored post or a review. This is just my usual tell-all spill which I tend to do periodically if you'll be so kind as to bear witness to my latest discovery about myself. Shall we?

I just want to start by saying if it seems to you like every second person is talking about this 12 week body transformation (12wbt) thing, it's because it is astoundingly good! In my very humble opinion. And with the proof of 18 stubborn centimeters already lost from my frame. So far. At every turn, there seems to be a ready-reckoner by way of a timely video message from Michelle herself that speaks right to the gnawing age-old habits just lurking in the background waiting to pounce on me like some big meanie and say "A-HA, knew you couldn't hack the hard work. Here... have a chip or 100." I've dabbled in forcing a bit of "old food" (sugary stuff) down in this past month - with little detriment to my overall progress so far, I might add, but not doing myself any favours - because I figure, I am going to encounter some of these falling off the wagon times and this 12 weeks I am viewing as my testing ground. The control is the food. Rather, the lure of the unhealthy choice stuff. You know what I've discovered? I've lost the taste for it. The enjoyment is all but gone! I had half a melting moment two weeks ago as a "reward"....... It was the best thing I could have done because I knew straight away that it was no treat. The "treat" would have been a glass of water and my favourite salad when I got home. Huge lesson for me. Huge.


Accountability and Application. I often mistake "accountability" for "responsibility". Somewhere along the line, I also fooled myself into believing that "knowledge" was near enough to "application" to be considered as good as the same thing.

With the shedding of my weight and the re-toning of my once-fit body, I am re-familiarising myself with my shapely arms, my strong thighs, my muscly powerful shoulders. I have the incentive of a finely crafted online weight loss and fitness program to thank for getting me back into the swing of it. The psychology behind my lack of effort to resume caring for myself is a little trickier, though, than handing over my credit card number to purchase the three-month package.

Thing is, I blamed my body for a long time. I thought I had stopped, but I have come to accept accountability for continuing to reward or punish my appearance depending on how I was feeling on the inside. Basically... it's a mental thing.

For six years - the better part of last decade, the 2000's - when nothing else in my life was going to plan I would hit the weights with my personal trainer. I might not have been able to carry a child, but I could put my body through its paces. Feel the burn, feel alive even if I could not nurture a life.

Pretty soon, I was blaming my exercise on my miscarriages. So I added yoga to my regime. No fewer than two early pregnancy failures happened directly after attending a yoga class. I'm not sure if you've ever experienced something like this, but for me it was the fastest way to make me not repeat what I had just been doing in the previous 1-24 hours of finding that first tell-tale spot on my pants. The very technique I had taken up to create some space and inner peace in my busy "work until I am successful creating a family" life became a source of fear as well.

In reality - and I have since become quite the well-read and practical expert on miscarriage - I know now that the pregnancies were failing days, possibly a week and sometimes more, before I was ever alerted. Nothing I was doing was causing them. Even with the knowledge of our specific male genetic factor, my blame game number on myself continued until Lolly came along. And then some.

Those years between 2000 and 2006 were an endurance marathon I'm not sure I would have signed up for if I had known what was to be held within them for me. I may have had a great recovery time from a flat-out boxing session with my trainer - something I recall being proud of at the time - but I could not chase away the niggling self-torment that by keeping fit, I was somehow ruining my chances of becoming a mother. Although I was reassured at every turn by my trainers and my health care providers, the armchair experts on the home front were wary of all my exercise. They were concerned and confused, even, as to why I would spend money on going to a studio to work out. "Have a baby! Carry that around all day, that'll give you muscles!" Yes. Someone actually said that to me. Someone who should have known better, as my recurrent (by that stage) miscarriages were not unknown to them.

Little by little, my weight crept up. The more I eased off the training, terrified as I edged towards the age of thirty that my fertility might also begin to decline if one of these babies wouldn't stay to satiate my mono-focused need to have a child, the more I justified my "eat treats" with a sense of self-punishing self-nurture. Both. At the same time. I deserved to be kind to myself, my internal voice would coo. I also deserved to punish my body, my sabotaging voice would claim equal rights. Both trains of thought ended in the bowl of ice cream or the bag of chocolate bullets.

Once Steve and I had done our two rounds of IVF in 2005 my body was so bruised from the 2004 birth and death of Ellanor and then the further two miscarriages the same year that, by rights, I should never have been ready or able to carry the LGBB to full term in 2006.

But I did. And I added 31 kilo's to my already solid frame in the process.

I really, and I mean really, paid my body in what I thought was kind. Food=Comfort=Nurture to me. For so very long. Like so many people.

So then I found myself with the baby we had yearned for (and lost) on so many occasions. But I was consumed by my sense of duty to my new role as Mother that all care and concern for my fitness - if not my health - went sailing out the window. Most devastating of all to me was the deeply distressing fact that I was so disgusted with the sight of myself in photos or video that I have scarce little photos of myself with my only surviving daughter. I was too ashamed that I now appeared so much huger than I felt.

And somewhere along the line these past five years, it just became the norm. The huge flab of skin on my tummy that looked like a second "rear end" out front.... the arms that tone so naturally quickly, all the definition in my waist that I worked so hard to get. All of it, so far gone that it felt like another person's body I just had on loan for a while there in my twenties.

When we moved to our new home in 2007, Lolly was almost two. I determined to walk all the streets of our charming new community, so rich was it in opportunities to really huff and puff and get fit and see some cracking scenery while I was at it. But I've never done anything of the sort. Sure, I have justified my inaction with plenty of seated work. I have finished writing a book (amongst many other computer-related projects), for gawd's sake. You can't do that standing. But, see, there was no balance. And definitely no accountability.

Now, my day generally begins with a 6am start and the dog is raring to go before I can grab my cap off the hall stand hook. I adore the old familiar surge that courses through my entire body. Without any of the toxins that I was ingesting the night before, my body can quite easily rise at this time and get me where I need to go. I can walk and par-jog 5km's these days, up some mountain goat-like hills and back down some equally mean ones in the space of that one precious hour before heading home to greet my five year-old for the day.

I have come to realise that my mind was holding me back. My self-reward/self-punishment cycle had to stop. My body has actually done me so proud. Always. It responds scientifically, if only I would get out of my own way and just fuel it correctly. In the first month of this 12-Week Body Transformation, already I have seen the visible evidence that I was not too far gone to even bother trying after all. I am a self-starter, just like I always thought I was. I can do this. And I must. For I have kept myself out of too many photos with (and now for) my baby for too long. Heck, I'm not even so afraid to vlog any more because I'm making peace slowly with my appearance (compare the latest one to the first deer-in-headlights one I did a few short months ago!).

From now on, my accountability to myself is going to remain front and centre. It isn't enough that everything in Michelle Bridges' 12wbt program is pretty much all familiar to me. It matters not one tiny skerrick if I don't apply it. That was what I was missing. Hmmm... pretty crucial point!

I have welcomed myself to my New Life proper now. With the invaluable assistance of the thinking largely being done for me, the final layers of my healing are being shed so willingly. I find I have no emotional ties to what I've been holding onto.

If you are looking for something to catch you out on all your fall-back methods of justification - the things that keep you caught in your own cycle of self-destruction disguised as self-soothing or similar - this program will blow you out of the water if you are truly ready to let it all go and give over to the responsible, accountable way you could be living your life.

And if you hadn't already gathered, I can't recommend the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program strongly enough! She had me at Pre-Season Week 1 and it's been a cathartic journey ever since. So give it a go. I'd love to hear from you if you decide to.

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