One step at a time
It's the little things that add up to bigger things...
The morning light
Have you ever counted how many sunrises you've experienced in your life? Or pondered on how many more you have left? I have had around 17,337 sunrises - give or take a few due to leap years.
The morning is the best part of the day. The morning beside the ocean is even better. This week I have been fortunate to spend two days at Diamond Beach for our annual staff conference. Waking up and heading straight out on the sand at 6am is so invigorating.
Although far from perfect, when I practice this balance pose it makes me feel strong - to activate my core muscles and be able to balance hold myself upright is such an great feeling for me personally.
When speaking with my spine surgeon at the 3 month review, he encouraged me to continue with pilates and in particularl, that isometric training would be excellent. So building strength in my shoulders, gluts and abdominal muscles has been a particular focus during the past 6 months. The balance required in the star pose is demanding as you are developing strength. The shoulder stabilizers need to engage and you may find a lot of trembling in the arm connected to the ground as you continue to build strength. I see this as a great advancement in my client's ability once they are able to hold themselves upright, using only their well trained body strength, connection of the mind to the moment and engagement of the core.
Mondays have become my food preparation day. I select the main proteins, fruits and vegetables that I would like for the week. I then cook and package everything so anyone in the family can grab a portion size from the top shelf. Therefore as I get healthier and stronger, so does my family as the healthy food sources and choices are easy to find and take at any stage during the day.
Friendship at Work
There's nothing better than having a great walk with a good friend. During the conference was a fantastic time to share a room and catch up with my colleague and project management partner in crime.
We are working on delivering a new mobile banking APP and internet banking system for the Holiday Coast Credit Union on the mid north coast. 12 months of hard work, stress management, good eating, crying and laughing together will see this project delivered successfully. When my health significantly declined, Dione stepped up and has shown her abilities to shine as the Project Leader. I'm proud of this lady's journey and excited for what is still yet to come!
The sugar detox ...
It's been a month since I've eaten sugar, drank alcohol, eaten pasta or chocolate. I've actively detoxed and by focusing on what I can eat and do, has kept me well occupied and I haven't missed these habits at all. I do remember having a few dull headaches, and some low energy days. However these seem to have passed now and I'm not interested or craving any of these things anymore.
What have I learnt on this weight-loss journey? You really can do what you set your mind to achieve. Everything starts with a decision. Your own decision to change. When I started this I allowed myself to be open to the process, to forget everything I thought I knew about eating and to listen to my coaches each day on what they advised to eat, drink and the amount of activity required to burn fat while also fueling my metabolic system adequately.
In the weight maintaining phase now I am hovering around 67-68 kilograms and stabilising my weight again for the next week. Sunday is reset day so I can have one cheat meal! I am fantasizing about going back to Josophan's chocolate shop in Leura for another Belgium Chocolate icecream.
My mind is set on maintaining this weight and feeling great from making healthy food choices that my body appreciates every day.
What a week! I hit a new level on the scales... 67.9kgs! My clothes fit, I have energy and am so close to my goal weight of 66kgs.
I'm definitely getting what I paid for, which is a weight loss system that is easy to do and works. In four weeks on the program I have lost 4.8kgs, and all up I've lost 5.3kgs since 1st January.
I am in disbelief because:
1. I didn't know if I could really commit to it.
2. If I did commit, I wasn't sure if the program would work for me.
3. I was scared of failing.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will now achieve my goal.
Doubt is a killer. Why does doubt fill our minds to destabilize confidence and self belief? It is so easy to not start something due to fear of failure. So doubt is intrinsically linked to fear. Fear of being the one that couldn't do it. Fear of quitting. Fear of not being able to control what I put in my mouth.
However over time I have learnt a new skill. That is to challenge my doubt and to take it on with self-belief. With confidence that I can achieve what I set out to do. And with the permission that if I do fail, it's still okay because I tried. When we fail, we learn something. We learn that it wasn't the right time, or we didn't have the right level of commitment, or it wasn't the right thing for us. But it's not a failure in the reason for our existence, or a reflection on all of the other qualities that we possess.
The Positivity and Motivation
The Walk and Talks
Making new friends isn't always easy. Coming into a new group and creating a community around similar goals and interests is much easier though. Waking up at 5.30am and heading to Winmalee for our weekly Walk and Talks makes me feel happy. I'm happy to go and see people who are on a similar eating pattern and focussed on moving their bodies as much as me each day as me. It's great to hear everyone's progress. It doesn't matter how much you want or need to lose.... it's the same system for all.
How good is roast lamb!
This week I bought a beautiful big leg of lamb and roasted it for two and half hours. I bathed it in fresh rosemary from the garden, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. The smell in the house was amazing.
Moments like the sound of my husband and son just appreciating the flavour and textures, enjoying the caramalisation and crusty edges, and demolishing the roast baby potatoes makes me happy. I replaced the baby potatoes with a peach and enjoyed the refreshing change. It's good to finish a meal feeling very satisfied, not stuffed full and knowing that in 90 minutes I will eat again!
When I add up how much money I would have spent putting this weight on my body, it makes sense that I should invest in a program to take it off. Let me count the ways I am now saving money...
No more Canadian Club or red wine, dark chocolate, cheese CC's, eating random food out, being lazy with food preparation, buying unnecessary junk foods/snacks/marshmallows in the shopping. I am also saving a track load on not having to up size and buy a new wardrobe of clothes in a larger size. I can wear all of my beautiful clothes and only buy clothes because I like them and they will sit well on my new body.
For a ten week program this is costing around $50 a week. I'm buying my health and energy back and that's worth every cent to me. My ongoing cost will be around $30 a week in vitamins/supplements and the sacrifices we make in the budget replacing old bad habits will even out the costs at the very least.
The Pilates Inspiration
It's the end of week three and this morning I weighed 68.5kg. This is music to my eyes! I'm certainly in the business end of my weight loss journey... with just 2.5kgs to hit my goal weight.
I feel so good that I wonder why I haven't heard of this program before? It's not a diet, it's a transformation program. I eat so much and I've not felt hungry or like I'm missing out. My energy reminds me of my 30's.... and the steps I walk, although not fast, are increasing each week and the trails are becoming much easier with each kilogram that departs my body.
A wise friend once told me when facing my first spine surgery..."Ellissa, you will need to measure your progress in months... not days or weeks". These are very wise words indeed. It is now 11 months on and I can reflect back on how far I have come, physically, mentally and emotionally.
This picture was taken 3 days after surgery when I could stand again. I look like a train wreck! It felt as bad and as painful as it looks too. I reflect now on the months and months of chronic fatigue and rehabilitation that has engulfed my existence for the past 11 months. I'm so glad to be where I am today. Not everyone gets a good outcome from these surgeries. I feel blessed that on the other side of both of mine I am much better off then when I went in. I have my 12 month review with my surgeon on 27 March and I hope he will be very pleased with both his work, and my efforts to make the best of the improved mobility opportunities he has given me.
For an independent person that usually flies solo in many ways, having my Dream Team coach me through this journey is the key to my success. From meeting weekly for our walk and talks in Winmalee, to the daily messages of encouragement and food tweaking to ensure that I meet my goal. I need to eat in a carefully designed way that will continue to fuel my body and increase my metabolism to burn the fat. I hear from them ....Eat more... eat more!!
I'm excited that the coaches are coming to my house on Saturday to run an information session on the program and I have a friend coming along who is already inspired by my transformation. If you're also interested to come and listen to inspirational weight loss stories please let me know... firstname.lastname@example.org
Not everyone is as open about their weight as I am. This program is discreet and most of the communications are done in private groups.. thus ensuring your privacy is never compromised in public places.
My pilates inspiration this week is from Emily! Yes, we're having a pilates baby! Emily has been a regular client for the past 2 years. Having moved through the early stages of pregnancy (up to 14 weeks is safe to remain in our matwork classes), Emily is progressing through her second trimester in private pre-natal sessions with me each week. She looks fabulous, can move easily around the mat and into each position. It's wonderful to know her muscles are staying strong and she is well prepared for her journey ahead.
I have always wanted to learn to crochet a baby's blanket. So I enrolled in Kathy's crochet classes in Woodford earlier this year. Now I'm working on each outside layer growing the baby blanket as Emily is growing her baby. I can't wait for them both to arrive and to give it to her.
Apples and Love
I am loved. I am deeply loved by my husband and son. I am loved by my little puppy, and I am loved by many people I meet through this journey of life. I care deeply about people and I know that is reflected in my words and actions on most days.
This week after class I was given a bag of apples hand picked from Sandra's apple tree. Actions like this really touch my heart.
Thank you to all the people that are supporting my journey as I awaken and rediscover who I can be at this stage in my life.
I feel great! With 3.2kgs off my body I find getting around is so much easier. It has dawned on me this week that extra weight really slows you down, your metabolism, your energy and your desire to go out and do things. However we've all heard it before... 'the more you do, the more you feel like doing'.
The second week of the program was not any different to the first. Lots of walking, drinking water, taking supplements and eating real nutritious foods in specific portion sizes.
The Weight Loss Program
It's a program called Weight Loss Coaching Works... and it's not for the faint-hearted person who is only a little bit interested in loosing weight. It's for your serious committed type that can focus and keep sight of a goal set. Someone who can change from eating something just because your feel like eating, into a person that eats because it is fuel, it is the right type of fuel, and it's also the right time to feed your body nutrients.
Do I want chocolate ice cream. Yes. Am I eating it now. No. Will I ever eat it again. Yes.
It's that simple. Kind of. I made a promise to myself to do everything I can to feel healthy and become pain free. Chronic pain can wear your down physically and mentally. So to get physically stronger you need to get mentally stronger, and the reverse is also true.
To find out about the program I asked my client what she had done, as she not only lost a lot of weight, but looked really healthy and glowing. She said it was a program by a sort of cult.... but that it works. Honestly, if it was a program by the devil I probably would have signed up as I was that keen.
So I went to an information night run by Nutriway at one of the coaches houses. After hearing and seeing the weight loss stories, I signed up. It is $550 + $50 extra if a reluctant partner wants to also join.
This covers the cost of one month's supply of the nutrients (the products) that help you stay energised. It also covers the coaching and program booklet, podcasts and eating guide.
I am walking my ass off. Quite literally. Today I put on my favourite jeans and they are so loose I am thinking about going down a size. The required steps each day are between 12,000-15,000. Fortunately for me my pain is when I sit down, but I can walk for an hour with a little difficulty. The Lyrica is helping me to do this, as when I first started it was a real challenge. Each day becomes better and I am hoping for continued progress as well as this.
My story is not a solo journey. Just about every step I take 'Snowy' comes too. Between walking sessions he sleeps. He eats when I eat and he is a lean, energetic crazy little buddy. He is fearless and leads the way out to Martin's lookout at 6am.
I remember one of the coaches said, 'We eat real food all the colours of the rainbow'. As I look at the photos below I understand what that means. No white bread, pasta, rice, pastries, cakes, burgers or chocolate. They are all bland coloured foods. The colours in fruit and vegetables are vibrant and full of flavours that can't be replicated by any man made process.
Instructing people on how to move their bodies is definitely one of the highlights and passions of my life. As an artist I now feel like a sculptor. As a pilates instructor I feel entrusted by my clients to help them continually improve and feel great too. I start with a body... a person with goals and determination to feel stronger, more flexible and alive. Sometimes the body is broken and needs time to heal. Sometimes the heart is broken, or the spirit is searching for an mind body experience that validates and enhances an overall sense of wellness and existence. Sometimes a client needs to escape from the harsh reality of work, children or study.
My Pilates Star this week is Erin who has consistently committed the time and space for her body over the past 2 years through matwork classes. With work travels and commuting to the city most days Erin has grown in strength, flexibility and conditioning. Having recently joined reformer sessions we are sculpting and growing in new and exciting ways that will also see a few stretching goals achieved this year!! Well done Erin... you're my inspiration :)
Week one was phenomenal! It feels like I am on an adventure to find myself and my own good health again.
Daily walking is uplifting and getting a morning walk in before breakfast has fired up my metabolism significantly.
It's the start of my 2nd week and I have lost 2.7kgs. I have a lot more energy and eating regularly has really shifted everything I previously thought was the successful way to loose weight.
When I read the book 'Bravo Two Zero' by Andy McNab many years ago, his description of the Seven P's really resonated with me... ' Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance'. This is something that this week has really exemplified. To eat well you need to be prepared. The shopping needs to incorporate buying more protein than you can imagine you would ever eat. Then weighing and packaging the portions is very helpful. Surprisingly two days later you find the fridge is empty because you ate it all!
Each day I have a snack pack in the fridge and pack it each morning with the protein portions of what I will eat across the day. This is a good plan as I'm not finding I'm looking around for something to eat - I go straight to the pack and help myself.
Protein + carb days
Honestly, toast has never tasted so great in my whole life! When I add a piece of toast back into breakfast I feel happy and content. I am grateful to have such wonderful foods available to eat. Incorporating a fruit and vegetable into my lunch and dinner has made me think creatively about the combinations I will try. I also savor the simple fresh squirt of juice that fills my mouth when eating each slice of orange, accompanied by fresh pork, greens and tomato.
Weighing in and having a Dream Team cheer you on each day is definitely inspiring and motivating. Knowing that others are doing exactly what you are doing is really great for feeling part of a community. Weight loss is such a challenge for many people. There is a stigma in society about being overweight and the loss of body confidence can cause so much anxiety and stress for people. With over 60% of Australians now overweight, conversations need to be more tailored to the individual's goals, and as a society we can and should reflect on how we fuel the problem by asking people to work 8-10 hours sitting at a desk with massive deadlines and pressures that make them feel guilty for taking a lunchtime walk. This is just not healthy, mentally or physically.
What I realised this morning is that I have known that I wanted to loose weight for quite some time. However my challenge has been not knowing 'HOW'. So having a clear plan, goals, and a defined method of eating is the ingredient I have been missing to make the change happen.
This morning one of my coaches sent me this message (below). It's a simple affirmation that inspires me to keep making these positive changes in my life. I know the changes will also influence my son and husband, and that as a family we will all become healthier together.
This week I have trained not only myself, but over 100 women and men in the Blue Mountains who make a weekly commitment to look after their bodies. They make themselves a priority for at least an hour a week. This is healthy and their bodies show that consistent and gentle exercise does make you stronger.
My clients are so diverse and reflect a wonderful mix of people within our community. They inspire me to train and stay up-to-date with my instructions and to design interesting and challenging programs. Working with both incredibly fit people and individuals recovering from injuries and illness requires the ability to adapt the pilates method to suit the person and the body in front of you. I love being able to help people move and grow confidence again.
Rehabilitating from my second spine fusion has been more challenging than the first. For some reason the fatigue has dug it's deep claws into me and I have struggled to get back to my pre-surgery energy levels. At first I wanted to fight through this and take on too much to force myself back. This approach failed. I realise now that there is no 'going back'. There is only going forward in life and to embrace the changes that have happened along the way. I've always been scared of uncertainty. It makes me anxious. But now I am just taking a step at a time and not trying to fully be in control. This gives me the opportunity to take on board new ideas, opportunities and challenges, without have pre-defined structures around who I am. There is no box for me to sit in - there are no walls around me. There is an open field and I'm walking through it. Not running to find the boundaries, but strolling to enjoy the journey of major life change.
One of the great highlights of my week was seeing the new found body awareness and confidence grow when my client successfully completed a body challenge on the reformer. My Pilates Star this week is for Lisa - whose commitment and
efforts to continue to train while balancing a chaotic career have seen her progress enormously. Well done Lisa! You're an inspiration to me :)
There's no denying I had been avoiding getting on the scales. When I did, it just confirmed what I suspected. That I had put on weight (just breathe, don't panic).
I was already carrying around 4kgs more than I wanted, which I have reluctantly grown accustomed to. Then after Christmas it was plus another 3. That's 7 unwanted kilos now sitting on my body.
Middle age, nerve pain killers, spine fusion, chronic back pain and poor diet have all contributed to this. However this weight has continued to multiply on my body, I am taking responsibility for it coming off.
Interestingly, I am already in the healthy BMI range. I am not overweight or obese. I am 47 years old, and have a 'body-age' calculation of 34. So I am relatively fit and healthy. However the BMI range is so broad, spanning 20 kilograms... that it's not exactly a great tool for measuring what weight fits best for you, or an accurate tool to measure how you feel about carrying around extra kilos.
So I have decided to shift 7 kilos over the coming 10 weeks. This requires a lot of walking and pilates (NO High Intensity Interval Training or crash diets/shakes), a scientifically created weight loss nutrition program, and using vitamins to supplement any deficiencies in my body.
I'm curious, interested and engaged in what is about to happen.
For the next three days I am eating only protein every 90 minutes and walking 15,000 steps a day. After that, I will introduce carbs, vegetables and fruit in specific portion sizes back into my diet.
I have a Dream Team of people (who have lost phenomenal and inspiring amounts of
weight on this program) surrounding me with their encouragement and support. One of my clients did it and I was truly amazed by her transformation over a period of 10 weeks. So here I am on the eve of turning my body from a fat storing house to a fueled up metabolic calorie furnace!
In preparation for the journey, today I ate a Belgium chocolate ice cream from Josaphan's in Leura and tonight it's spaghetti bolongaise. My Dream Team encouraged me to do this and I reluctantly have done it (well secretly I so enjoyed that chocolate icecream I almost wondered why I am doing this). It seems counter-intuitive to a weight loss program but I understand that with 3 days ahead of protein only it's probably a good idea. I can justify it as in the last week I have walked 98,063 steps.
Each step is a miracle. In March last year after my most recent spine fusion I was in intensive care. Once the catheter was removed on the first morning after surgery, I was asked to stand up and walk to the toilet - assisted by the physio. I made the 6 steps to the toilet... then passed out. Around 10 people came running and fussing. A code blue was issued as my heart rate dropped well below a safe level. After the chaos I started to quietly cry. The nurse, Jami gently stroked my face and told me they would keep me safe. I stayed another 24 hours in intensive care.
My reasons for keeping weight off are beyond the superficial (well yes I teach pilates and want to look good in my Lorna Jane's..) However, the main reason is to stay lighter to help me stay mobile and independent for the next 40 or so years. I now have 2 metal plates and 6 screws in my spine. Top and bottom.
I'm now taking a prescribed pain killer called Lyrica, which is also notorious for putting on weight. It's also the reason why I can do the amount of walking required on the program. Managing nerve pain has become a daily affair after my car accident in October. My car was written off, and the impact has set back my recovery. However we all face challenges, and I'm facing my head-on. I have a support team with my Doctor (amazing!), Surgeon, physio and remedial masseur. My goals are realistic. I aim to walk pain free and without medication.
The photo above was taken at my weigh-in which was 72.7 kilos. My goal is 66 kilos by 31 March 2018.