Following Dory’s Advice

I have always liked to swim, but have never been very good at it. Two months ago I started adult stroke correction lessons. Best thing ever. I’m not about to break any world records, but the 25 metre laps at the pool at my gym aren’t quite as arduous as they once were.

Miss G inspired me to dive in with enthusiasm. She has been having weekly swimming lessons for years – and for quite some time I never though she would master freestyle. Two months ago she was promoted to mini squad – so she swims lap after lap for an hour twice a week. It is a pleasure to watch her swim – it seems so effortless. And absolute proof that if you never give up you’ll get there in the end.

So why stroke correction for me right now? The Triathlon Pink on October 6th 2012. To complete the short course I have to swim for 100 metres. So I need to build my stamina and confidence in the pool.

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So I found myself looking at the pool yesterday afternoon while Miss G was doing heroin squad laps. I try to swim another two times a week besides the stroke correction lesson. I’ve got give weeks to build up to swimming four laps of the pool without stopping. I took the photo above for the #fmsphotoaday challenge – yesterday was “far away” – and from my perspective right now 25 metres seems very far away.

So I got in the pool and started swimming two laps of freestyle and two laps of backstroke. (I had never swum back stroke until two months ago. My plan was to swim for half an hour, just doing as many laps as I could, and try to swim more than 25 metres backstroke without stopping.

When I started I was sharing the lane with someone swimming just a little faster than me. Then she got out and another swimmer got in the lane – he was very fast, and could swim at least three laps while I swam one. Up until yesterday this would have put me off, because my mind would have started saying I wasn’t good enough and there was no point trying – I would never be that fast.

But I kept going – and surprised myself at the 26 minute mark that I had done 18 laps. And then I realised another two laps would mean 500 metres – half a kilometre of swimming in half an hour. I had never swum that far before. Ever.

And even after all the effort I had put in for the first 26 minutes, those last two laps were the easiest – probably because I really believed I could do it!

I didn’t manage to swim 50 metres without stopping last night – but I really think on two weeks time I will be.

And I was very pleased with the calorie burn for half an hour.

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So I’ll be ready for the swimming leg. The 1 kilometre run doesn’t worry me. But the be riding leg – well that’s another matter. And another post soon.

I’ve been waiting a year to do this……

 

This is me one year ago. I was just approaching the finish line of the 2011 City2Surf. My time was 3:12:11.  Master G was there by my side. It was tough going up Heartbreak Hill, and every other small incline after that was sheer torture. I weighed 155kgs. My training regime consisted of walking on the weekends, one or two Zumba classes a week and two or three thirty minute Curves sessions a week. I was eating in excess of 2400 calories a day. I was in a better place than I was a year before that – but if I knew if didn’t do something to improve my health, I was risking more than heartbreak.

The good thing was the next day was the first day of Round 3 2011 preseason for 12wbt. My life changed completely from that day. Well, it was already starting to change from the moment I decided to sign up the Tuesday night before. I knew I was not going to be trapped in this body for much longer. Little did I know just how much my body, and my mind, was going to transform over the next fifty-two weeks.

So, I’m about to go to bed so I am well rested for the City2Surf in the morning. I was aiming to be running the whole 14kms tomorrow, but my running training has had a few setbacks. So my plan is to jog the first 5kms, and then do a walk and jog combo for the remaining 9kms. My goal is to finish an hour faster than I did last year. So, hopefully there will be a tweet from me saying as much at about 11:20am.

As well as shedding almost 50kgs in the last 52 weeks, I am much fitter and stronger in body, mind and soul. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2003, and some of the years between the diagnosis and 2008 were very bleak indeed, as I spent most of that time in a clinically depressed state, with brief episodes of manic upswings in mood. The Black Dog Institute was a great support to me in those years. But still, even as recently as six months ago, I was ashamed of having a chronic mental illness and I was reluctant to be open and honest about it with everyone I knew.

A few months ago Michelle Bridges announced that the charity she was fundraising for in the City2Surf was the Black Dog Institute. After shedding many, many tears after realising I really shouldn’t be ashamed of having an invisible illness, I decided I would fund raise for the Black Dog Institute as well. I know that the funds I raise will contribute to someone else with Bipolar Disorder or Depression finding the path to wellness as I have.

If you would like to help out please consider donating to this worthy cause. You might like to sponsor me fifty cents for every kilometre I jog and walk tomorrow. That would be a $7 donation, and it would help to make a difference.

Here is the link to make a donation
http://www.fundraise.city2surf.com.au/leonie_gray_0

I look forward to updating this blog with my finish time from tomorrow and the photo of me at the finish line. And the great thing is, even if I don’t finish in under 2:12:11 – the fact I have never given up will make the result worthy of celebrating.

 

 

Swifter, higher, stronger

The 2012 Olympic Games are in full swing and watching the athletes competing and performing at their best is more than just inspiring.
Watching the female Triathlon yesterday made me want to be able to ride a bike and enter the Triathlon Pink even more than before.

And then it got me thinking.

How I have proven to be swifter, higher, stronger this past week?

This morning I entered a 7km fun run – The Bay Run around Iron Cove Bay. I completed the 7km in 58:59, and burned 761 calories doing so. I completed the 7 kilometres in a walk and jog combination. I didn’t quite jog the first two kilometres without stopping – because in the last 200 metres or so of the at first two kilometres is an uphill section leading up to the Iron Cove Bridge.  I jogged up as much as I could, walked up the rest of the hill and then resumed jogging straight away. The thing that really surprised me was when I looked at my Runkeeper statistics for the run the last kilometre had been the fastest – by a matter of seconds – of all seven kilometres. It is making me think a lot about what I may be capable of as a runner. At the end of the run Ms L appeared. Ms L is a member of the Sydneysiders and one of the 12wbt members who inspired me to learn to ride a bike and enter the Triathlon Pink.

In January 2012 I started doing Sh’bam classes as part of my regular SSS. When I started I took all the low impact options, didn’t always use my arms and was forever looking at the clock wondering how many tracks were left. And even doing the low impact options I’d always be wondering how much more there would be of each particular track before I could stop and get a drink.  Yesterday I became aware of a huge shift. I do just about all the class with the high impact options and all the arm movements.  Each track finishes before I am ready to finish – I could easily keep going with another round. I’m not looking at the clock wondering how many rounds to go. And I leap as high as possible each time there is an opportunity to leap. I know I do not look like an elegant dancer, but I feel like one. This is me at the end of the Sh’Bam class last week, and the end of my SSS, exhausted but energised. And wearing my first piece of brand name workout gear bought through a non-plus size store.

Yesterday when I was getting ready for the gym, all my not so baggy gym clothes were in the wash. My options were my size 26 clothes (I’m currently an 18 on the bottom and 16 on top), or putting on the workout clothes I bought online months ago from a US website when they were sale. When they arrived they looked like Barbie doll clothes and I doubted I would ever lose enough weight to fit into them. I put them on and felt very self conscious. Mr G didn’t understand what my problem was and why I felt uncomfortable looking down at myself. I explained I felt like a size 26 wearing something that didn’t fit me. He said I was being silly and I looked fine.

I got compliments on how I looked at the gym from my friends, and the Sh’Bam instructor Ms P said I looked like I was ready for summer! Very chuffed. When I got home I asked Master G to take a photo – intending it to be part of a video log. I posed for a sensible photo, then posed for a silly one. This is the silly one.

 

I couldn’t believe it was me when I looked at the photo. Where did the biceps come from? And then I realised for almost a year I’ve been working hard at steadily increasing my weights in BodyPump, and then at the beginning of this year I started weight training in the gym once a week. I started BodyPump with 2.5kg on the bar. I now squat with 20kgs on the bar, and do the Bicep and Tricep tracks with 10kgs on the bar. This photo proves to me I am stronger in body and mind. I am a better version of the person I was this time last year.

And it makes me wonder how much swifter, higher and stronger I’ll be able to be this time next year.

And, what a different person I’ll be in four years time as I’m watching my television while the athletes are competing in Brazil.

 

Set your goals in concrete but your plans in sand. Be flexible with your strategies but firm on your goals.

Tomorrow is Sunday of week 8 of my third round of 12wbt. Mini-milestone day for me. I will be taking part in a fun run.

However, today something happened, that in the long run might just mean more than achieving my goal tomorrow for the mini-milestone.

At the end of the BodyPump class there was the usual stretch track – all done on the floor. At the end of the track we did a hip flexor stretch. And when I finished instead of leaning on the bench for support or using my hand (or both hands for support) I just stood up. This was a huge deal. This time last year at about 155kgs I could not get up off the floor without Mr G literally pulling me up. When I was doing stretches at Curves or a Zumba class I would either roll very elegantly 😉 or scoot on my bum, over to a piece of furniture I could use to pull myself up.

But today, a year down the track at 109kgs, I just got up off the floor – and wanted to shout out, “Look mum, no hands!”

For a number of years as I got close to 165kgs and then hit that highest weight, I couldn’t even get up off our lounge at bedtime each evening without Mr G literally pulling me to my feet. Each night at 10.30pm-ish the feelings of dread and failure would build up as I knew I would have to face yet again how pathetic I believed I had become. It was nothing short of torture going to bed each night thinking I had failed at the last thing I had to do that day. And those negative feelings began a downward spiral, each and every night, that I had let myself go to the point I would never be able to do anything about it.

I am so glad I have proved myself wrong.

The achievement at 10.30 this morning got me thinking about just how far I had come.

So, having already put in my results for this week’s fitness test this morning, I went back to look at my results for the beginning of my first round of 12wbt.

September 2011

1km time trial: 11min 47 sec

Push ups: 8 on knees

Wall sit: 15 secs

Sit and reach: -9cm

Abdominal Strength: level 1

July 2012

1km time trial: 7min 10 sec

Push ups: 31 on knees

Wall sit: 1min 49secs

Sit and reach: 7cm

Abdominal Strength: level 3

When I first started 12wbt last August in the preseason my goal was to get to 77kgs by my birthday at the end of July 2012. Well, this hasn’t happened, but I certainly don’t consider myself a failure. My goal has remained the same – set in the concrete, to reach 77kgs. But the plans have changed according to the circumstances of my life. I have had a few setbacks. Spraining my ankle twice in round 3 2011. A bout of clinical depression ( a relapse according to my doctor) in round 1 2012 which caught me by surprise. Three weeks of being seriously ill with two infections in round 2 2012. Who knows, if it hadn’t been for these three setbacks, maybe I’d be 77kgs by now. It doesn’t bear thinking about, because it doesn’t really matter. I am running my own race to get to my goal weight. It doesn’t actually matter when I get there, as long as I keep working towards that goal.

I realised today after my SSS that the last two weeks have proven to be another setback. I had just finished a BodyPump class, followed by a Sh’Bam class and I was talking to the instructor. Ms P, the instructor, the one who takes my favourite 6am BodyPump classes on Mondays and Thursdays. Which of course I haven’t been to in the last two weeks as I am responsible for taking calls from unwell teachers, and then making the calls to secure a casual teacher to replace them. To do so I have to make sure I am available  from 6am to 7.30am each morning.

I admitted to Ms P that in the last two weeks on Monday to Thursday nights I had been to one Bodypump, one BodyBalance and one Zumba class – and one stroke correction lesson. I admitted out loud my excuse was I was just so tired in the early evenings after work. She suggested to not go home first, but to come to the gym on the way home. Then I had to admit that every morning I would put my gym bag in the car,  and five of those eight evenings I drove straight past the gym to go home.

I realised I had ignored what I had written in the sand. I realised I had let myself down. And Ms P reminded me that if I was feeling tired the best thing I could do would be to exercise. Lesson learned for me. Pulling out the JFDI card is just as important at 6pm as it is at 6am. And the bottom line is that if I choose not to JFDI I won’t be any closer to my goal in four weeks time, and my fitness test results may not look too different than they do right now.

I will achieve my goal. I will do the work that is needed to achieve the goal. I will rewrite the plans in the sand to include a JFDI card. I want more moments like the one I experienced this morning.

I can make excuses or I can achieve my goal. Bit of a no brainer really.

(Thanks to my friend and fellow 12wbt-er who posted the quote I have used in the title above. When I saw it before leaving for the gym this morning I thought that sums up my journey so far. Then, breakthrough moment as I am leaving the gym, it is totally relevant for where I am right now.)

Going to the movies, crying and realising just how brave I have become.

Today Miss G celebrated her 11th birthday with four friends. Its almost midnight and they are not asleep yet – who thought of the name “slumber” party for goodness sake? The celebrations started earlier this afternoon when I took the five girls to the movies to see the Pixar movie “Brave”.

I loved the movie for lots of reasons. And of course I got emotional at the climax and the ending. (No surprises there really, I can get emotional watching ads for disposable nappies.)

But the thing that really got to me was something that was said in the final moments.

Our fate lies within us.

You only have to be brave enough to see it.

Here I am on a Sunday morning in July 2010. Mr G has brought me breakfast in bed – looks like Nutella on toast. (And let me tell you there would have been more than one slice.) I don’t even have the energy to sit up properly and eat. When I heard that quote this afternoon, it reminded me how long I was in denial about how my lifestyle was affecting my health adversly. It made me think about this photo and my attitude to my health. And how I was blaming the psychiatrist’s comment to me way back in 2003 for my weight gain, and my inability to shift the weight. How I was blaming the medication for my weight gain, and my inability to shift the weight. How I was blaming the chronic illness with the bouts of depression for my weight gain, and my inability to shift the weight. How I was blaming the ineffective diets I was doing half heartedly for my continued weight gain, and my inability to shift the weight.

Are you seeing a pattern here? I was digging an early grave with that spoon I would eat the Nutella with out of the jar. My fate was not dependant on the four things above, it was dependant on my choices. My choices to eat in an unhealthy manner. My choice to lie around in bed or on the lounge as much as possible rather than being active. My choice to be negative about what the future held for me.

My future was bleak because I was in such serious denial about my behaviour.

Looking back now, it seems as if I was scared of being successful. It was easier to be a failure. It was easy not to be brave. It was easy not to change.

So a little more than a year after that Nutella photo was taken I made the decision to be brave. I made the decision to take control of my fate and my health.

And now here is a photo from May 2012. That quote from the movie also got me thinking about this photo too.  Its about 5.30am and I am just about to leave one weekday morning for the gym for either a RPM or BodyPump class. The day before this tshirt arrived in the post. My new 30+ Crew shirt. And its a size 18! I was very pleased to be able to wear it the next morning. And instead of getting Mr G to make me Nutella on toast that morning, I got him out of bed early to take this photo. (And a couple of others!) Iwas feeling very brave indeed, and by now I knew that my fate was up to me. And I realise now I was no longer fearful of being successful. It is fun being successful. It is empowering being successful. There is nothing to be fearful of. And don’t you just love what the back of our crew shirt says.

I can. I will. JFDI

To me the back of that shirt embodies the lesson I learnt from the movie today.  With the support of Mish and my fellow 12wbt members I have learnt to be brave and understand that I can control my destiny.

So Miss G may have been the one celebrating her birthday today – but I certainly got a very special gift. I realised I’m no longer fearful of success.

 

Be careful what you wish for

Once I get back to Sydney there will be a post about the actual finale workout. There is so much I want to say about the experience.

This post is about just one way in which the workout has had a positive affect on my life.

The first crew tshirt I noticed as we were warming up was the back of a blue crew. Its one of my fabourite. Their slogan –
Mish’n  Possible
Love the sentiment, and I’m always partial to a play on words. 

So before I knew it, the circuit part of the workout  had begun and  Mr G and I headed to the nearest stage. You know how it’s always best to do the thing you dislike most first? Well that’s what we got to do. Push ups and planks – and not just static ones – dynamic ones too.  And at this strength station, my all time favourite plyometric exercise the Burpee.

I put my hands on the ground and said JFDI to myself and nothing happened. I just can’t get my head around kicking my legs out straight behind me at the same time.

Now my epic fail at the Burpee would be the end of this post except that at that point, in her capacity if roving trainer,  Mish was at our station. And I was acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights. So I attempted a modified Burpee, which I’m sure no one would recognise as any type of exercise.

And that’s when for the first time since starting 12wbt I wished I could do a Burpee.

I forgot to be careful what I wished for at that moment.

And back at the hotel with Mr G, I was catching up on twitter when I saw  a tweet from Amanda Cole which said “@77Noni legend effort!! You are doing great, so proud! Smash it up today! @MishBridges”

I replied “smashed – but need burpee lesson!”

Then Amanda replied “@77Noni well done!! Happy to provide lesson 🙂 @MishBridges”


See, I should  have been careful what I wished for, seriously.  Now if you don’t know Amanda Cole she was a winner of 12wbt Lean and Strong.  And if you follow the link on the right of this blog, you’ll see she is a personal trainer.  I have a PT session coming up soon. And I plan to do a PitP  workout again soon too.  That means I am going to bee to working at it until I master the Burpee.

But seriously, I think it’s one thing to be careful what you wish for – but it’s another thing to really want to achieve something you once thought was impossible.  And that’s what 12wbt is all about. It’s more than losing kilograms, it’s about gaining things too.

Confidence.  Belief in yourself. Ability to make the impossible possible.

And as we were jogging around at the next station the back of another crew tshirt said something which inspired me.

Dream
Believe
Achieve

Shuffling One Friday and LMFAO

Here is what my lungs would have looked like this afternoon about 4.30pm.

About twenty minutes later I’m sure they didn’t look like that any longer.  In fact, I think one half of them is lying somewhere on the southern side of the walking track at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.

Let me explain.

I did my one kilometre time trial this afternoon – a week late as it was for the end of Round 1 2012.  Better late than never.

I got to my starting point on the path, got my HRM monitor ready, got my Runkeeper app ready took one last look at my JFDI wrist band. And then I was shuffling. And shuffling. And shuffling some more.  In fact I didn’t stop jogging for the whole kilometre.  Haven’t done that since last century.

My legs were burning.  Despite the fact that my heart rate was only around the 130 beats per minute mark most of the time, my mind was telling me it was burning up and about to burst out of my chest.  I was sure I was going to cough up a lung any moment. I thought about giving up, but I was determined to jog the whole kilometre.

So what kept me going? Some of the usual stuff.  Telling myself to just keep going to the next landmark, and then allow myself to decide to give up.  Listening to the music.  Slowing down my breathing.  Telling myself it wasn’t that far, really. Telling myself I was over the half way mark, so less than half the way to go.

But there were two things which made the difference to my mindset and got me to the one kilometre mark.  Firstly, I kept looking at my JFDI wristband when I felt like giving up.  Can’t argue with those four words.

And once I was over half way, I realised I hadn’t achieved this since last century – and realised how good it would feel to push myself and succeed in achieving what I thought was impossible a week ago.

After my epic fail with my run program last round, I decided I would get consistent with all my other training during preseason, then begin c25k again week one of Round 2.  Changed my mind about that now.  C25k begins this week.

And why was I LMFAO?

Even as I was shuffling, I realised I wasn’t going to do it in eight minutes or under.  That was my goal, but knowing I wouldn’t do it didn’t make me laugh.  What made me laugh was the fact that at the Round 1 week 4 time trial I jogged and walked the kilometre in eight minutes and twenty seconds.  Obviously, I can walk faster than I can run at the moment!

But I will never forget the feeling when runkeeper announced I had completed one kilometre.  No one told me it would be easy, but they did tell me it would be worth it.  And they were right.

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