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.

 

 

Blogging Challenge Week 5 (Yep, two weeks late!)

FOOD!

I am sure that word has your attention. 😉 For this week of the blogging challenge Jayne has asked us to think about how our food habits have changed since starting 12wbt.

What were your old food habits like?

What were you like before embarking on this journey to become a healthier version of yourself?

How did you feel?

Before joining 12wbt I know I would have like to have thought my eating habits were healthy. But I was kidding myself. As the Commando said to Graeme in the 2012 The Biggest Loser, “You don’t get to be over 200kgs by eating salad!”  

I have battled with my attitude to food most of my 47 years.  Through the preseasons tasks I have completed over the last three rounds I have come to realise part of the problem is I see it as a control thing. While other aspects of my life are out of control – I can choose to control what I eat, which meant eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

I went on my first diet at the age of twelve. It was 1977.   I clearly remember though, on our first day of high school we were dismissed at lunch time. So we raced home, changed out of our new uniforms and went straight to the local take away shop and bought ourselves a big feed of fish and chips. After weeks of feeling deprived, and feeling empowered by starting high school, we felt we were taking control by having whatever we wanted. We were in control. We could choose. And we chose something unhealthy. And this led us to decide to abandon the diet we were following. Probably in itself not a bad thing with the benefit of hindsight in 2012 – but for years I told the story of my first dieting failure at the age of twelve.

From 1997 to 2006 I was a Weight Watchers leader.  Not surprisingly, I thought I knew everything there was to know about weight loss.  But, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when combined with an unhealthy attitude towards  eating. I certainly learnt more about eating clean and having  healthy attitude towards food in my first nine weeks of following the “Crunch Time Cookbook” and then 12wbt principles than I did in nine years of leading.

In the weeks before I joined 12wbt I was having “diet” food from a well known company delivered to my door.  I was eating the 1800 calorie per day program – and – eating extra because I never felt satisfied. That combined with the fact that I was not exercising more than three times a week meant my weight loss from October 2010 to August 2011 was 10kgs. Most of the foods I was eating were processed and high in sodium.

And I felt terrible. I had no energy. I was tired all the time.

I was bursting out of a size 26 – and wondering where on earth I was going to find clothes to fit when I needed size 28.

My doctor weighs me monthly.  This time twelve months ago she was still encouraging me to have lap band surgery. I was morbidly obese. All the tests showed no problems, but we both knew there would be a time when I would begin experiencing serious health complications. It felt terrible that my doctor felt there was no hope for me except lap band surgery.

And despite my thinking that eating whatever I liked was being in control of my life – I felt like I had no control over my life.

I often felt uncomfortable because I had eaten way too much at one sitting.  I also had terrible digestive problems with a type of reflux. This was worse whenever I was laying down.

Was there anything you struggled with but have over come?

The first thing was not having starchy carbohydrate based foods every evening. When I first looked through the Crunch Time Cookbook during preseason of Round 3 2011 I closed it again and thought “I could never do that! Is Michelle Bridges serious?” And of course, I did it and continued to do it.
I decided during my first preseason I would give up alcohol for the twelve weeks of the round. Not just because each glass would use valuable calories  and the fact that having alcohol in your system affects what your body chooses to metabolise. I mainly chose to give up alcohol because after a couple of glasses I know I have a tendency to not worry so much about what I am eating. I am now half way through my third round and the only time I have chosen to drink alcohol during a twelve week round was during my Thredbo weekend. (Well you can’t visit an alpine region and not have schnapps! And of course a glass or two of bubbles.)
I tried to give up Coke Zero and Diet Coke and Pepsi Max during my first round in 2011, but my resolve didn’t last long. My reason for drinking it was that if I had a “sugar craving” it would satisfy it. I decided on the 27th December, 2011 I would give up artificially sweetened drinks.  I decided going “cold turkey” was the best option for me. The first few days were tough, especially when I was buying petrol, as it was a habit for me to grab a bottle when I filled the car with petrol. By the new year the “sugar cravings” were gone, and I have since found out that the chemicals within Diet Cola drinks actually contribute to such cravings.
Now chocolate – that is something I am working on. My current strategy is to break off two squares and get Mr G to hide the rest from me.
Hopefully soon I’ll be writing a post about how I can break off two squares and put the rest in the cupboard and not think about it again for a couple of weeks.
I don’t know when, but I know for sure it will happen.

12wbt Blogging Challenge – Motivation

This is a tough topic – because essentially for over eight years it was a struggle to get motivated.  There are complicated reasons behind this – it has a lot to do with the chronic illness I was diagnosed with in 2003.  This illness saw me live through prolonged bouts of clinical depression.  There were days, weeks and even months when just getting motivated enough to get out of bed when there was nothing physically wrong with me (apart from the physical symptoms of depression) was impossible.  Eating well and getting exercise were almost impossible in that state of mind. And the really frustrating thing in hindsight is that eating well and exercising would have been two of the best things I could have done to overcome the depression.

As I have said in other places in this blog, after l stopped being a WW leader in 2006, I tried a lot of fad diets and gimmicks. Some which made following “Size 12 in 21 Days” for a whole twenty-one days seem sensible.  Any of those attempts at dieting could have seen me lose weight, but I rarely stuck at anything for more than a week and if I lasted more than two days I was bound to be cheating. It was as if I didn’t really care – but the whole time my heart was broken, and with each failed attempted I felt more hopeless.  That coupled with the clinical depression meant I just kept getting bigger, heavier and more unhealthy. My unhappiness and hatred of myself just made it all the more harder to get going and get motivated.

The turning point was my visit to Solar Springs with my mum for the weekend in 2011. I booked the weekend as a gift for her, to thank her for all the support she gives me with my children, especially before and after school. I just went along for the ride. But the weekend of healthy eating, some exercise and a little pampering had a big impact on me. Instead of all the negative feelings – I was feeling positive about myself. I did enjoy eating clean, healthy and natural food. I did enjoy exercise, and the endorphin rush that came with it, and just because I was 160kgs didn’t mean I couldn’t exercise. The trainers in the small group sessions emphasised working at your own ability and how you could replicate what we were doing at home. And, maybe most importantly, the pampering (hot stone massage, facial, hydrotherapy bath) made me realise I was worthy of being looked after – even by myself!

So my motivation sprang from there – from a very positive experience. Instead of feeling bad about myself and wishing I could wave a magic wand and start my life over, I began to feel good about myself. And I had a goal which was achievable and easily measurable.  When you go to have your spa treatments, you wear a bathrobe supplied by Solar Springs.  You are meant to slip it on and then wait in the lounge area for the therapist to come and collect you for your treatment.  Well, at 160kgs, the edges of the bathrobe were more than thirty centimetres too far apart for me to wear in a public area. So I went along to the treatments in my track suit pants and tshirt, not very glamorous at all.  So I decided when I returned in 2012 I was going to be able to fit into the bathrobe, and maybe be able to wear it in the lounge while waiting for my treatments. I had a positive goal to strive for – great motivation – as opposed to something negative about myself to run away from.

Then in August, after having shed five kilograms in three months, I decided to join 12wbt for Round 3 2011.  I figured if anyone can motivate me Michelle Bridges can. Hmmmmmm. Except she doesn’t believe we should rely on motivation to be successful. I was confused at first, I spent nine years as a WW leader motivating my members to want to lose weight.  Or did I?  The first nine weeks of following 12wbt principles saw me lose over 14kgs, and learn a lot more about weight loss, nutrition, exercise and motivation than those nine years of being a WW leader.

Since August my motivation comes from the thinking and action I take as part of the preseason tasks – the preseason tasks I do every round.  The preseason tasks I revisit when I need some “motivational magic”. My success on the 12wbt program – just over 45kgs in ten months – also helps keeps me motivated.

Last week ou task was to come up with an inspiration board.  I suffered badly with “paralysis by analysis” the whole week.  I kept procrastinating about what I should include, what colours should predominate, how many images I should have, how many quotes. And the really silly thing was that I was planning on making a digital inspiration board – so I could have very easily played around with all those aspects until I was happy.  But instead, at 5pm last Saturday, I got serious about putting something together.  A big lesson in how trying to be perfect never pays off.

So it’s not the best inspiration board ever – but I think it shows well what motivates me at this point in time.

I want to be fitter, stronger and healthier every week. I want to prove to myself that nothing I want is impossible. I want to stop beating myself because I make a mistake or if I am not perfect.  I want to be able to do a burpee successfully. I want to take at least half an hour off my 2011 City2Surf time in 2012, and fundraise for the Black Dog Institute in the process.  I want to learn to ride a bike. I want to ride a bike on Rottnest Island when Mr G and I visit there on our second honeymoon after the Perth Finale.  I want to enter a Triathlon, and finish the event. I want to enter the Gold Coast half marathon in 2013.  I want to enjoy summer with my family. And I want to wear a fabulous frock to the Perth Finale, which I haven’t had to buy from the Myer Plus Size department.

I want to be the best version of me.

And when that doesn’t motivate me at 5am when the alarm goes off,  I don’t lie in bed waiting to feel motivated. Instead I do what Mish tells me to do.