Losing It

My mad, crazy journey to health and beyond

The Beer Chronicles

Beer

Inside Nicola’s head

A play in one act.

 

Good Nicola (GN): Ooh look, what a nice sunny day.

Bad Nicola (BN): Yes. What a nice sunny day to do stuff.

GN: Stuff? What stuff?

BN: Stuff after work.

GN:  I repeat, what kind of stuff?

BN: The kind of stuff that involves us sitting outside and enjoying this lovely summer’s day!

GN: I don’t like where this is going.

BN: Sitting outside, on a terrace somewhere, good restaurant, good friends. Doesn’t that sound nice?

GN: It sounds ok…

BN: And then because it’s hot, we would obviously have to order something to drink.

GN: Some sparkling water?

BN: Hmmm, I read somewhere that that causes cancer. Sparkling water, nasty stuff.

GN: Enough beating around the bush. Spill it.

BN: Fine. FINE! I want to go to Banana Jam, sit outside and drink beer all afternoon and evening and talk to my friends and get smashed and HAVE FUN FOR A CHANGE. Are you happy now??

GN: Aaaaarrrrgggg! Why did you have to say the B-word?

BN: Because I’m tired! I’m tired of either going home every Friday after work, or going out and watching everyone else drink and we’re stuck there drinking bloody sparkling bloody water. I AM DYING HERE!!!

GN: No, but remember, we’re losing weight, we’re on an eating plan, we’re getting healthy, we just reversed our diabetes for crying out loud!

BN: FUCK THE EATING PLAN I WANT TO GET HAMMERED!!!!!!

GN: No, this is definitely not a good idea. Too many carbs, then you’ll want to eat junk afterwards, then you’ll wake up tomorrow hungover wanting to eat a bunch of crap, and you’ll use that as an excuse to fall off the wagon, eat like a pig for a week, put on weight, feel like a loser and downward spiral into guilt and depression. It happens EVERY TIME!

BN: AGH! Ok, how about we just go out for one drink?

GN: Waahaahaa!! When have you EVER been able to go out for one drink?

BN: But it’s sunny! It’s Friday! EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WHOLE OF CAPE TOWN WILL BE OUT AND HAVING FUN! You will literally be the only person in the whole city sitting at home like a giant loser.

GN: Agh! FOMO!

BN: Come on, would it really be that bad? You haven’t had a beer in ages (ok, two weeks). You can just do it for one evening, then back to work again tomorrow, and it won’t even cause a dip in your eating plan. It’s all good, I know what I’m talking about.

GN: Well….

BN: Come on, pick up the phone, call some people, reserve a table. Beeeeeeeer is waiting!

GN: ……

BN: Joooo caaaaan dooooo eeeeeeet!

GN: No no NO! We have a plan, there is a plan, there is a black dress to fit into – no!

BN: AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH. Must. Have. BEER!

GN: This is fucking exhausting.

BN: I hate you.

GN: I hate you too.

 

The end

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Zumba? Bitch please, I lift

Lifting

My history with exercise has been a colourful one. As a kid growing up, I was pretty active – running around outside, riding my bike, swimming (stuff that people did before iPads and Facebook were invented). In high school I did the usual PE things, played hockey, tennis, did aerobics, blah blah.

I was never really one for exercise though – give me a good book or an episode of Friends any day. Of course it didn’t help that I sucked big donkey balls at sport. I was always last on the track, last in the pool, last to get picked. My hockey coach used to call me up to the front of the class, ask me to tackle him, and then let everyone know that was precisely how NOT to do it. I shit you not. So if it ever came down to a choice between reading a romance novel or running laps, I would pick The Big Beefy Pirate and his Lusty Wench any day.

Then came varsity, and exercise took on new forms. Cardio was walking to clubs, team sports was doing down-downs, weight lifting was picking up your pint glass. Times that by six years, and you’ll have an idea of how out of shape I was. But there’s always a level below how low you think you can go, and after varsity I found it. While I was in my ‘let’s see how quickly I can eat myself into an early grave’ phase, exercise was completely non-existent – unless you count walking to the bathroom or picking up the remote as exercise.

There are those people who always just HAVE to be doing something. My father’s like that – cannot sit and watch TV for more than five minutes before he has to get up. I am the complete and total opposite. The couch is my friend. My bed is my favourite appliance in my house. I’ve been known to come home from work on a Friday, plonk myself in front of the TV and stay there till Sunday evening. I’m not kidding. I think I was a slug in a previous life.

But of course I know that one has to do exercise in order to, you know, live, so over the years I’ve tried many different forms (always coinciding with a guilt-stricken dieting phase):

  • Cardio – bored shitless running on the treadmill, climbing the stepper, bouncing on the elliptical, but got to do it because this is what makes you lose weight!!!!!
  • Weights – leg machines, arm machines, yes/no machines, same routine, over and over (hoping no-one’s watching me because I’m really not sure if I’m doing this right).
  • Free weights – hahahaha fuck no. There are giant men there.
  • Swimming – where I patented the signature ‘get your towel off and launch yourself into the water before the people on the cardio machines upstairs see your fat rolls’ move.
  • Pilates – nope, not for me. Too stretchy.
  • Yoga – DEFINITELY not for me. Apparently there is no laughing in yoga.
  • Spinning – ok, this one I actually liked.
  • Adventure Boot Camp – and this one too.

So ja, apart from a few notable exceptions, me and exercise – not the best of friends.

Working out was something I was dreading this year when I kicked off my ‘this is the last time we’re going to do this so GET OFF YOUR ASS’ plan. People had always told me I would find a form of exercise I would love, but this always just made me want to shove Smarties up their nose because it was such a load of horseshit. Exercise sucks ass.

And then I went to Evo Fitness.

I knew that since I was trying to do something I’d never done before (lose weight and keep it off) I needed to try things I’d never done before too (personal training, yikes!). So I got the gym’s details through SleekGeek, and went to go take a look.

I walked through the door and I was instantly intimidated out of my flip-flops. Big muscly men! Big scary weights! No free internet or Kauai! When they told me I would be doing strength training exclusively, I almost bolted. No no no, I want to LOSE weight, not end up looking like a Bulgarian discus thrower on crack.

Bulgarian discus thrower. On crack.

Bulgarian discus thrower. On crack.

But (wisely) I kept those thoughts to myself and signed on the dotted line. Eek. What have I let myself in for?

This was something I repeated to myself as I got ready for my first session. I was so out of shape I couldn’t even get my one foot on my other knee to put my freaking socks on. If just getting dressed had me pouring sweat, then what was the actual workout going to be like??

Turns out, not that bad. I had overlooked the fact that the trainers actually knew what they were doing, and wouldn’t make me lift a car on my very first day (apparently that comes later). And not very intimidating at all. Just lift this and put it down. Then lift that and put it down. No-one to measure yourself against, no-one to finish before you and make you feel like a loser. Just you and a trainer working together, with your only competition being the you from yesterday.

And I LIKED it. I liked seeing that I could pick up heavier stuff this week than I could last week. That I was fit enough to do exercises that were initially beyond me. That I could see real, tangible results. And that I could put my socks on without having a hernia.

Lifting 2

When you surround yourself in that kind of environment, your head space changes without you even realising it. I wanted to do more – deadlifts, back squats, bench presses, Olympic lifts – bring it on! I wanted to be a lean mean lifting machine! And my aesthetic ideal changed as a result too. I didn’t want to look like an emaciated 12-year-old model.

No

I wanted to look like a fit female badass!

Yes

And I will – you can count on it!

Of course there are things that hold me back. While I’m still carrying so much excess fat, there are certain limitations to what I can do. My scoliosis hurts like a bitch a lot of the time. And sometimes my body just plain lets me down.

You want a hot body? You better work bitch.

You want a hot body? You better work bitch.

But I’m happy to keep on working, keep on pushing, keep on getting fitter and stronger. It’ll take time, but so does anything worth achieving. I’m just glad that I finally found a form of exercise that I enjoy, and that keeps me coming back for more.

FGF 2

Unless I have to do bear crawls. I really, really hate bear crawls.

*Note: The headline of this post has been shamelessly plagiarized from one of my Fit Girl Fab gym shirts, as you can see above. In order to make amends for this, I shall now direct you to their Facebook page, where you can order some of their awesome gear for yourself. Don’t say I never do anything for you.

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Diabetes can suck it

Billy

I can remember it as if it were yesterday. I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, not really paying attention (as usual) while she rabbits on about me being overweight and unhealthy, blah blah. Then the storm hit.

High cholesterol.

(Thunderbolt)

High blood pressure.

(And lightning)

And type II diabetes.

(Very very frightening)

Me?

Di. A. Betes. Di. A. Betes. Fuckeroooooo. (Apologies to Queen.)

I’m not really sure what happened after that, because I stopped listening after she said the ‘die’ part. Mostly because I thought I was going to.

It was 2006 and I was 29.

There was some talk about healthy eating and exercise and medication, but I was trying to remember what I knew about diabetes. Something about sugar? And injections? And then people having a fit and needing to eat a candy bar? Utterly clueless.

I found out later that type 2 diabetes meant my body had gone into overdrive, producing a surplus of insulin to help break down the massive amounts of sugar I was shovelling into my system. Which meant that eventually my cells had become resistant to the insulin, resulting in adult-onset type 2 diabetes. Or in my case, obesity-related diabetes*.

My blood sugar results were sky-high scary. I got a copy of them to look at, and while I didn’t understand all the medical mumbo-jumbo, one thing jumped out at me. “Excessive ethanol abuse”. Ah, that’ll be the drinking then. Great, I’m not at all embarrassed to have had my doctor see that.

It was not a good moment for me.

But I held out my hand, got my prescription, and was told I had to sign up for a weight loss programme. And because I had had the shit scared out of me (diabetes gives you heart disease, gangrene, blindness, WHAT THE FUCK?) I got my script filled and I signed up for the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sports Science Institute.

And then I cried.

Galvanised into action through fear, I threw myself into the programme, and did pretty well, losing 11kg in 8 weeks. I can do a lot when I set my mind to it.

But then I got bored of going to gym. I got bored of eating salad while everyone else was having burgers, and drinking fizzy water while everyone else was having wine. And so slowly but surely, the old lifestyle clawed its way back, and I gave up on health.

So that was me then, a diabetic. Ok fine, I’ll just take my pills, carry on drinking my beerquilas, and everything will be dandy.

It’s a terrible thing for an obese person to have a chronic condition with NO symptoms (other than having to go to the bathroom a bit more often than usual). Because you forget. You forget that you are living on borrowed time; that every sip of cooldrink or alcohol, every bite of burger or pizza is the same as throwing another handful of dirt on your grave.

I told my friends when I was diagnosed of course – getting sympathy is always great for the soul. But I didn’t really bring it up ever again, except to tell them it was the reason for me having to go to the bathroom 90 000 times in an hour. And so I think they forgot about it – I know I did most of the time. In fact the only time I remembered I had diabetes was when I had to get my script refilled, or have my blood sugar tested.

Blood sugar

Occasionally I would be overcome with feelings of guilt, and attack a weight loss plan with gusto. Particularly in 2008-9, when I lost 50kg. I got my blood sugar down to a ‘normal’ reading, but only with the help of medication on top of healthy living. My doctor told me I could pretty much expect to live on pills for the rest of my life, and I was like, eh, whatever.

And that was how it was for the next few years. Hi, my name is Nicola, and I’m a diabetic.

But this year, something changed in me. I was sick of having to rely on a handful of pills to stay alive. Sick of having to monitor my sugar levels constantly, sick of going to bed and worrying that I wouldn’t wake up. And sick of being in my mid-30s and yet completely unable to take control of my life.

That’s why when I started my wellness programme in July 2013, I changed my goals. I didn’t want to lose weight anymore. I wanted to burn fat, lift heavy, and get off those damn fucking pills.

So I started training. 3, then 4, then eventually 5 times a week. And none of this ‘low weight, high reps’ rubbish either – lifting as heavy as I could. I also spoke to the sports nutritionist at my gym, Evo Fitness, and got put onto a low carb eating plan. No sugar, alcohol, fruit, starch, wheat or dairy. I thought I would die from the awfulness of it (NO POTATOES?!?), but it was surprisingly easy to follow. And I just FELT lighter – not stuffed with carbs but full of energy and vitality instead.

Two weeks after I started following my low carb plan, I started feeling very dizzy and light-headed. I couldn’t walk without wanting to fall over, and training made me want to pass out. So I went to see my doctor. She did a battery of tests. Blood pressure – fine. Cholesterol – fine. Blood sugar – wtf? My glucose was so low, I was apparently a few decimal points away from a coma. So my Metformin (blood sugar meds) were immediately halved, and I was sent on my way.

As I drove away, I was stunned. I had never even thought about getting off my Metformin. I had wanted to get off my cholesterol meds, and maybe get a lower dose of blood pressure medication. But diabetes? I had thought it was with me for life. And right then and there, I decided that the thing I wanted to lose more than fat, was diabetes.

And so I fought. Many many mornings of getting up at 5am to train. Many afternoons of cooking all my meals for the next day, when all I wanted to do was collapse and order a takeaway. And many, many MANY evenings of ordering sparkling water while all around me a piss-up of gigantic proportions was taking place.

Yes, it was a struggle. Yes, I occasionally stumbled (human, not robot). And yes, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

But three weeks ago, I started feeling dizzy again. Worse this time. So I went back to the doctor, feeling hopeful. Nope, all good, you have an ear infection. Ah.

I got my medicine, but I didn’t feel any better. Still dizzy. Still falling over like a drunk person (without the fun of getting drunk). So I went back to the doctor. Hmm. It MIGHT be your blood sugar, but your reading is normal. Let’s take you off the Metformin for a bit and see. Come back in 10 days and we’ll have a look at you.

10 days is a VERY long time when you’re waiting for good news.

Yesterday, FINALLY, the 10 days were up. Back at the doctor’s. Give a blood sample. Lie back. Wait. Pray. Beep beep beep. (That’s the machine.) Hmmm. (That’s the doctor.) Hmmm? What does ‘hmmm’ mean? Is that good/bad/ugly?

Nicola, your blood sugar is 4.3. Non-fasting. Without meds.

Perfect blood sugar

I don’t know if you know anything about blood sugar readings, but believe you me, that is the Holy Grail.

Nicola, I think we can take you off the Metformin permanently. Wow. Just…wow.

You’re telling me.

I can’t even being to describe the flood of emotions I felt at that moment. Elation. Relief. Joy. Power. Control. NO MORE PILLS!!!!!

For the past seven years, this has kept me alive:

Pills before

And now it’s just this:

Pills after

And I’m pretty sure I’ll be chucking one of those early next year too.

I’ve done before and after pictures of myself, but doing it for my medication is AWESOME. It’s like I’ve been given a new lease on life – a second chance to do it all again, and do it right this time. Back to the Future, without the DeLorean.

It’s a wonderful thing to know that there is no limit on your tomorrows – that you’re free to live every moment of them. And I will. Because while I may have gone back to being healthy, I’m going forward to enjoy every minute that life has in store for me.

Diabetes can suck it.

Keep calm

*Disclaimer: I know nothing about medicine, nutrition or exercise. NOTHING. Please please PLEASE, do not make any lifestyle changes based on what I have written about here – please consult your healthcare practitioner first. I’m not even qualified to offer broscience. I had to look most of that stuff up about diabetes on Wikipedia. That’s how clueless I am. If, however, you want to chat, need inspiration or are looking for motivation, then I would love to hear from you. Either comment below, or mail me at nkmdavidson@gmail.com, and let’s see if we can’t get you started on the road to wellness too!

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When did fat shaming become a national sport?

I must have missed something. I spend a lot of time working and training so it’s possible. Can someone please tell me, when in the name of fuck did all the douchebags in the country get together and decide that making fun of overweight people was going to become the new national pastime?

I don’t remember seeing it on the news, but it must definitely have been there, as not a week goes by now without one of the ladies on the amazing health forum I belong to, relating a story about how some bottom-feeder thought it was appropriate to call her a ‘fat cunt’ to her face. (I wish I was exaggerating, but this is a true story.)

And I’m sick of it. No, being overweight is not healthy, and it is not a positive investment in your future or the future of your loved ones. But when did it become socially acceptable to walk up to an overweight person and insult them straight to their face? Or see friends’ photos and post disgusting comments about them on Facebook or Twitter. Who ARE these people?

Seriously, I want to know. What is it that prompts someone to lose all sense of common decency, sensitivity and tolerance, and disrespect someone so brutally, and so publicly? Because there’s always an audience – it’s no fun calling someone fat unless there’s someone else around to hear it.

As part of the morbidly obese club, I’ve had my share of fat shaming too, believe me. I’ve had people call me fat, ugly, the Titanic; ask me why I’m eating this, should I be eating that, telling me I’m too fat for cupcakes. You name it, I’ve borne the brunt of it. Sometimes silently, sometimes with venom.

I suppose I should console myself with the fact that people who think this is ok just DON’T PLAIN GET IT. They don’t get that obesity is every bit as dangerous and serious as anorexia and bulimia – that it is a psychological condition that manifests in a physical way. You wear your pain on the outside in a suit of fat and cellulite, you eat to fill the hole that sadness and loneliness and failure have gouged out of you, but on the inside, you’re broken, and desperate to be fixed. I don’t see anyone thinking that it’s ok to mock sufferers of anorexia and bulimia – so why is it suddenly ok to mock those who are obese? Is it simply because there’s a bigger target for their insults to fall on?

I don’t know what the answer is. In school I was bullied mercilessly, and tried everything to make it stop – reacting, not reacting, ignoring it, laughing it away. But the minute I realised that I just didn’t care about what was being said to me anymore, the bullying stopped.

I don’t know if that would work in this case though. I want these dregs of society to know that they are just that, and that it is NOT ok to randomly and cruelly devastate these wonderful women, mothers, sisters, and hard-working, valuable members of society – most of whom are already working on solving their health problems. So if you have any ideas about how to deal with this fat shaming epidemic, I’d love to hear them.

Personally I think a taste of their own medicine might be nice. So the next time someone thinks it’s ok to call me a fat bitch, I’m going to get their name, take their photo, and let the court of social media deliver a verdict on their behaviour. Maybe if I photoshop a picture of a dead lion in, people might get as angry about it as I am.

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To drink or not to drink – that is the question

I love alcohol. LOVE IT. Not in a ‘wake up and gargle with whisky’ kind of way, but certainly in a ‘going out for drinks is SO MUCH FUN’ way. Some people’s clean eating Achilles heel is chocolate – mine is alcohol, without a doubt. Mostly because alcohol just goes so well with every kind of day. Hot outside? Let’s crack open a cold bottle of white. Cold outside? Let’s move to a fire and open a bottle of red. Stressed after work? Get stuck into some happy hour cocktails. Keen for a party? Order a row of beerquilas and let’s get BIZZAAAYYYY!!!!

Beerquila = beer + tequila. For professional drinkers only.

Beerquila = beer + tequila. For professional drinkers only.

I realise this makes me sound like some kind of unhinged alcoholic. But I’m not. I have done many, many Internet tests that prove this. What I am is a binge drinker. As I’m a binge eater too, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

For years alcohol has been a way for me to avoid my problems, deal with stress, celebrate success, cope with boredom – a way of getting through life without ever actually having to process an emotion. And of course, over the years I’ve developed an alcohol tolerance that sailors would be proud of. I’ve drunk many a man under the table (and many a woman too). If drinking was an Olympic sport, I’d be on the winners’ podium every Games, slurring my way through the national anthem.

As you can imagine though, having an affection for a wee dram is not conducive to one’s waistline. And so over the years I’ve tried many different ways of overcoming my predilection for the bounty of Bacchus. I’ve tried going out and not drinking. Fail. I’ve tried going out and only drinking one drink. Fail. (There are people who do this. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? They must live with Father Christmas, the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster, because I’ve never met any of them.) And I’ve tried staying at home for weeks on end and not going out at all. This usually lasts for about 4 – 5 weeks, before I have a minor aneurysm, and then this happens:

Fail.

Fail.

And so time and again I’ve just given up on curbing my enthusiasm for binge drinking, and simply embraced it. To the detriment of my health and my pocket. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, and I’ve unfortunately now gotten so good at training my brain to use alcohol to deal with anything and everything, that I’ve become like Pavlov’s dog. The minute I’m in a stressful situation or something great happens, or it’s, I don’t know, Thursday, I immediately start craving a drink.

Wine

So when I started my weight loss journey in July for realz, I knew I had to do something about this. The first thing I did was tell all my friends that I couldn’t carry on drinking like a crazy person anymore. Taking what I had learnt from my previous attempts, my new plan would be to pick one day a month when I could drink, usually a special occasion such as a birthday or similar. I would make sure that it coincided with a carb night (will cover this in a future post), have a few guilt-free glasses of wine, and stick to sparkling water for the rest of the month.

Most of my friends were very supportive of this plan, some even offering to stay away from booze when we went out together (bless). Some nodded their approval but then got funny when I ordered sparkling water and they were drinking wine. Some just outright didn’t get it and became belligerent when I stuck to my guns on the sparkling water front. And I guess I can’t really blame them. When you’ve had a reputation for being the kind of party girl that would put Keith Richards to shame, it’s very difficult for people to put that image of you aside, and start seeing you as someone with a different set of goals. You get called boring, and crazy, and obsessed. And you can’t even drink to make yourself feel better. Ah, the irony.

For the most part, the plan’s been working though. I choose one day every 4 weeks or so where I drink guilt-free, and the rest of the time I drink sparkling water like it’s the new tequila (if only). Has there been the odd occasion where I’ve caved and had a drink or three on a day that’s supposed to be a non-drinking one? Yes – because I’m a human, not a robot, and the 4-week plan is a best-case scenario that I’m working on getting to. But one thing’s for sure, I’m not drinking anywhere NEAR as much as I used to. (And I’m pretty sure some pubs in Harfield are going bankrupt as a result.)

But while I’m focusing on drinking less, I know that I’ll go stir-crazy if I sit inside the house like a martyr. So I force myself to have a social life, otherwise I know I’ll eventually crack under the pressure and DRINK ALL THE DRINKS! Take last night for instance. In my past life, Friday was the night to go out and get shitwrecked (like shipwrecked, but drowning in alcohol rather than seawater). But instead, I got tickets to the Seether concert (there’s stuff to do in Cape Town, other than drink – who knew?) and took along a like-minded health-conscious non-drinking friend.

My non-drinking friend. Also available for parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs. Price on request.

My non-drinking friend. Also available for parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs. Price on request.

We took a super healthy picnic with, and generally had ourselves a freaking awesome time. And it’s that kind of thing that I want to do more of – exploring this beautiful city, having a fab time with my friends, and not feeling like I want to claw my eyeballs out of my face the next day because I am bleeding pain from every pore.

The drinking thing will always be hard for me. It’s so ingrained into my personality that it’s going to be a constant battle. Just because I’m trying hard to stay away from alcohol doesn’t mean I don’t desperately lust after it. I want to go out drinking on sunny days, cloudy days and every day in-between. I want to do regular post-work drinks and Friday night piss-ups. And most of all I want to French-kiss strangers in the pub just so I can suck the alcohol out of their mouths.

But no, this time I will prevail. I will not drink my last brain cell away on a regular basis. I will not wake up wondering if I dinged my car or left my credit card at the bar or said something to piss off one of my friends. I will not go on a post-alcohol junk food binge lasting two weeks. And I will not run down Lower Main Road in Obs yelling ‘BOOBIES’ at the top of my lungs. (I do not remember this happening, but I have been assured it did. And to be fair, it does sound like something I would do.)

Farewell beer, wine, tequila, cocktails, spirits, Jagerbombs and more. You’ve served me well over the years, but it’s time to move on. Unless of course I’m sitting at a bar and a bottle of champagne gets sent over by George Clooney. Then all bets are off.

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Highway to hell

This is the longest stretch of carpet in the entire world.

Evo Fitness

Pictured: the longest stretch of carpet in the entire world.

This is the view from one end of Evo to the other. I’ve been told that it’s roughly 20 metres long, but this is a lie, A LIE.

When you’re walking to get your towel and water bottle from one end, it’s about 5 metres long.

When you’re running during your warm-up it’s about 10 metres long.

When you’re pushing the prowler* from one end to the other and back, it’s about 500 metres long.

When you’re pushing the prowler back and forth continuously for 20 minutes (as I do every Monday) it’s about 5 kilometres long.

When you’re pulling the prowler from one end to the other, it’s Mount Everest as you hit the incline at the end that the trainers swear is negligible but you swear is Base Camp 1.

When you’re doing bear crawls from one end to the other and back again (times three) IT IS AN INFINITE LOOP IN TIME AND SPACE THAT HAS NO END AND NO BEGINNING, ONLY CONTINUOUS PAIN AND A SOUNDTRACK IN YOUR HEAD THAT FEEBLY REPEATS HAND…FOOT…HAND…FOOT…FUUUUUUUUUCK… BEFORE YOU FALL OVER AND DIE.

It is the longest stretch of carpet in the entire world, and my hands, feet and body know every lump, bump, rise and fall of those 20 (WHATEVER) metres.

Look hard enough however, and you’ll see more than 20 kilos worth of blood, sweat, tears (and a little re-swallowed vomit) lining the track. Because while the road might be long, there are rewards to be found every step of the way. Going a little faster here, pushing a little harder there – and every day becoming a little more like the champion you know you are.

(Although I’m always going to hate bear crawls.)

The prowler

*The prowler. Or as I call it, The Metal Bitch.

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Let the madness begin

I’ve been threatening to start this blog for a while now, but so far they’ve just been empty, idle threats. Mostly because the idea of starting a blog has just been too exhausting to contemplate. I write for a living you see, and after 8 hours of banging out advertising campaigns, the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is putting on my writer’s smock (yes, there’s a uniform) and tapping away at My Great Novel. Or Great Blog, in this case.

No, what I do when I get home is first talk myself out of going to the pub (occasionally unsuccessfully) and then slump on the couch in front of the tv until I feel human enough to cook. I’m sure it’s the same with all people when they have to do what they do for a living at home too – they just couldn’t be bothered. I highly doubt Gordon Ramsay gets home from a day of Michelin-star cooking and telling people to fuck off and immediately runs into the kitchen to prepare a five-course meal. No, he sits on the couch, watches the footie, and generally irritates the crap out of Mrs Ramsay. And perhaps orders an Indian later. (A curry, not a person. That would be weird.)

But lately I’ve been thinking that this is less something that I should do, and more something that I have to do. So many people have been asking me to tell my story, or give them advice, or motivate them, that I figured rather than tell them the same thing over and over, I could simply write a blog and help them that way. And in the process, help myself.

So if you’ve just tuned in, what is my story? In a (rather large) nutshell:

I never really struggled with my weight when I was young. I wasn’t thin or fat, just average. I ran around and watched tv like other kids, ate healthy food and crap like other kids. In boarding school there were a lot of Twinkies and toasted sandwiches and chocolates at the canteen, which I made full use of, and a few kilos crept on. But by starving myself and doing a lot of cardio (natch) I got them off.

Then came varsity, and a lot of drinking and partying and junk food, which meant putting on weight during the year, then losing it again during the holidays, in a wonderful yo-yo cycle. By the time I finished varsity and went to advertising college (six years of tertiary education; my father was thrilled) I had started to hit the diet train – the blood group diet, the fat-free diet, the detox diet, the ‘lose 10kg in 10 days diet’. We all know where this is headed.

I hit 100kg at one point, but by cutting all fat out of my diet and hitting the treadmill like a demon, I managed to get down to 70kg, just 5kg shy of my goal weight. Then the shit storm hit. The relationship I was in ended, my sister moved to the UK leaving me all alone in my flat, a 10-year friendship came to an end, my house was robbed, and my car was broken into, twice. And all of this happened in the space of two weeks. Any of these things by themselves would have been fine for me to handle. All at once, it was a tsunami of pain that I was completely unprepared for.

I’ve never been the type to ask for help or let people know when I’m in trouble, and this time was no different. The first weekend after everything went down, I hired a stack of dvds and filled my fridge with Woolies microwave meals so I wouldn’t have to cook. And then I watched tv and ate my way through a week’s worth of food in two days. And it was the best time I had ever had.

Fast forward four years, and I had gone from 70kg to 130kg, thanks to constant eating, constant drinking, and a constant refusal to acknowledge my emotional problems and ask for help. In a moment of vulnerability I did start going to counselling, but I hated every second of it. I was more used to talking with a drink in my hand, and having to sit in a chair opposite someone and conduct an hour-long monologue without so much as a glass of wine was just far too difficult and boring. So I gave it up.

But while I might have given up therapy, I found something else – high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, all thanks to my unhealthy lifestyle. The diagnosis was a huge shock, coming at the tender age of 29. Not even 30 years old and having to take a handful of pills just to stay alive. Bridget Jones had her some problems, but she was nothing compared to me.

I’d love to say that I immediately gave up my unhealthy ways and plunged myself into wellness, but no – instead I plunged myself further into a bucket of KFC and chose to ignore the symptoms, the insults from my family, the well-meaning attempts from my friends, and the little voice in my head.

Until 2008, when I decided, no more. I started seeing a dietician, I joined the gym (for the millionth time) and put my head down for 18 months – and by sheer dint of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, I lost 50kg. Yup, 50kg – a whole person. And again, I was within waving distance of my goal weight.

But (and stop me if you’ve heard this) I didn’t stay there. If you fix the outside without fixing the inside, you’re never going to stay whole. And because I was still broken, I slowly but surely gained every kilo of that weight back. I never stopped trying, and I never stopped pushing – but it was an uphill battle of lose 4, gain 3, lose 1, gain 2. Until I started 2013 at the grand total of 134.4kg. And thought, that’s it. I can’t do this anymore. Something has got to change.

So I started the year with renewed purpose. I joined an online health and fitness community, SleekGeek (and later, Sleek Girls) to supplement the support I was getting from my friends. I found a personal training gym, Evo Fitness, that was more client-focused than the faceless conglomerate gyms I had been used to. I saw a life coach to help wrap my head around why I chose to eat my feelings rather than acknowledge them. I changed from seeing a dietician to seeing a sports nutritionist.

And while the year started off slowly, something magical started to happen. Every single thing I had learned and heard about in the past suddenly clicked into place – like the cogs of a machine that had been out of alignment for years finally shifting and slotting into each other perfectly. And on 1 July 2013 I put my head down, focused, worked like a Trojan and ate like a horse – and somehow here I am now, having lost over 22kg in just under 5 months. And feeling for the first time as if my goal weight of 65kg isn’t a pipe dream, or something that only happens to other people – but something that I can and will make happen. Because the machine is working perfectly, the mind and body are working towards the same goal, and there’s a little black dress in my cupboard that I am going to wear the shit out of when I’m done.

So this is “Losing It”. My madcap telling of my journey to emotional and physical health and wellness, and my musings, thoughts and recollections along the way. It’s a way for me to stay accountable, and a way for others to hopefully find inspiration for their own journey. Because believe you me, if I can go from mainlining tequila and eating family-sized buckets of fried chicken by myself to drinking sparkling water and eating zucchini noodles, you can too. We’re in this together now, and I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me!

And if you’ve made it this far, you deserve some pics for reading all the twaddle above so patiently. I’m a work in progress but that’s no reason not celebrate the progress I’ve made so far!

June 2013

June 2013

October 2013

October 2013

Til next time, stay cool, keep working, and perhaps comment below so that I know at least someone other than my mother has read this!

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