Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Landmark Learning

This past weekend I attended a workshop called the Landmark Forum. It was recommended to me by someone I have, only recently, had the pleasure of including in my life. It's a hard thing to explain what the weekend is exactly about. In a nut shell it was about discovering who I am and why I am the way I am.

I went into the weekend not having any idea what I was going to face, really I went into in blind but knew that several people in my life spoke highly of it. I went into it thinking that I was going to "fix" my issues and be a better person, I thought I was going to overcome my fears. Here is what I actually learned this weekend

1. I am perfect just the way I am at this moment. Nothing is wrong with me, my experiences and life up to now only make me who I am right now, perfect.

2. I learned how to recognize the relationships in my life where I have in-authenticity. The relationships where I have been unwilling to say certain things for fear of hurting the other person or fear of hurting myself. I made peace with those relationships (my mother, my brother and my husband) and have been completely honest and open. Those conversations were the scariest part of the weekend but I embraced them and did it anyway, it gave me closure.

3. I learned how my experiences have led me to be the person I am today. I learned my strong suites, the things that make me successful, are a product of my experiences. Landmark teaches that there are three main experiences in your life that shape and mold you. My experiences were as follows:
1) The first experience is something that happened very young where you think something is wrong and you failed to be a certain way so you choose to be another way. For me, at about 4 years old I developed encephalitis which caused me to suffer memory loss and all my basic functions including walking and eating. I was in a coma for over two weeks and am told I nearly died. Though I do not remember this experience, looking back I think that because I was so dependent on nurses, doctors and my parents to do things for me I told myself "I wont be the dependent one anymore, I will be self sufficient". From then on I always had to do things for myself.
2) The second experience is something that happens in your pre-teens when you are looking to belong. I remember in about grade six/seven I was in a play in school. I was the genie in Aladdin but there were two groups of kids performing the same play. I remember my entire class went to see the other group, no one from my class came to see me. From that moment on I felt like I was second best to everyone, I decided I would be better and try harder at everything to make people like me. I did things people wanted me to do to make them happy, not because I wanted to do them.
3) The third experiences happens as a teen/young adult where you decide you are on your own. For me, my parents divorce and my mother leaving which subsequently resulted in the loss of relationship for over seven years caused me to look at myself as unworthy and not good enough, I felt alone. I had failed to be good enough for her to stay, so I had to be the best at everything I did in order to prove my worth.

My three strong suites are self sufficient, reliable and determined. I learned that these are not bad things, in fact strong suites are what create results in our lives and without those three things I would have not been successful in my weight loss journey.

4. I learned that all of us are concerned about looking good to other people, we are scared of their responses or what they thing, we all play an internal dialogue in our head. I learned that letting go of looking good and doing what is authentic and real to you will produce more results than holding back.

5. I learned that it is okay to have fears, they don't go away. I learned you gain your power by embracing your fears and pushing past them anyway. For example, getting up and speaking at the mike was terrifying, but I did it anyway - every time even though I was scared.

6. I learned what my internal dialogue theme was, "i'm not good enough", that is the voice that plays in my head when I am resisting doing or saying something. But being authentic with the people around you will create deeper relationships.

7. I learned to ask for what I want, don't be afraid because you are no worse off than you were before you asked.

8. I learned that forgiveness isn't about the other person, as long as you get to say your piece and find closure, that is what matters.

9. I learned that my experience of a situation is just that, my experience. What happened happened, all I did was create a story from that experience.

10. I learned I am powerful beyond measure and that I will accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Like I said it is a difficult weekend to describe, the easiest way is to explain to you what I got out of it. The power of being in a room of 85 people who are all human beings living the human experience allowed me to see that I am not alone. I celebrate those people who did some amazingly scary things this weekend and I celebrate myself for creating closure in my life. I'm ready for the next step, creating a whole new life full of the possibility of open and honest relationships with those around me, inspiring others to find their inner strength and simply being me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No One Alive is Youer than You

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Suess

Pay money to ask strangers to do random things for/with you? Why yes please, sounds lovely! That was what I got up to on this not so hot Saturday afternoon in Victoria. Something totally silly, fun and for nothing more than a few laughs. Something I likely would not consider doing a few months ago, make fun of myself? No thanks. My new leaf has been turned over and I am living a life of no fear, no worries, and no concern for what other people think as long as I am doing what is right for me and my beliefs. This means letting go of the notion that people may judge me for looking rediculous. Taking it day by day, experience by experience, but i'm getting there and having fun in the process.

Team 3 Eggs and a Couple'a Sausages was comprised of myself, Nicki & Brian, Rob and Melissa. Some Old Navy tshirts and iron ons did the trick along with our Dr. Seuss themed logos Egg 1, Egg 2, Egg 3 and Sausage 1, Sausage 2. We even had a Dr. Seuss backpack to further our team theme. Here are some more photos from our adventure filled day.

What adventure will be next, who knows - but i'm keeping my options open.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Life up to Now

Quick update for you on my life up to now. It has only been six days since my last post but I feel like I just packed about a month worth of living into these last six days

#1. I far exceeded my 500 word per day goal for writing, i'm at just over 5,000 words in the last six days. I'm almost done two whole chapters, crazy talk! Something I never expected to be doing is coming together very fast. Dreams becoming reality!

#2. Had my second swimming lesson at Gordon Head Recreation Centre with Michelle & Tricia. Making improvement, feeling stronger, and next week the teacher is putting together a masters swim class for the three of us. Of coarse the best part after is the hot tub though.

#3 I have been making good progress with my knee injury and been told i'm allowed to run for ten whole minutes every other day. This is huge progress for me, and I just have to keep being patient. I'm seeing improvement and that is what's important.

#4 We had our first every Biggest Winner Family Fun Day. Inclusive of past and present Biggest Winner participants. It was a gorgeous day at Mt. Doug playing soccer baseball, capture the flag and frisbee. No Family Fun Day is complete without a beautiful picnic and in true BDHQ style of coarse blood, sweat and tears. Looking forward to the next one.

#5 Had another amazing self discovery workshop. Really enjoying my new found friendships. It has helped me find a new confidence I never knew I had by having an incredibly safe place to share my inner thoughts and fears.

#6 Finished off our slo pitch season, which I unfortunately have been unable to play very much of due to my surgery. We had a tournament that went from Friday night to Sunday (today). We won two out of four games and made it into the semi-finals which were this afternoon. After one of the closest games we've ever played, that actually went into extra innings, Nicki scored our winning run to advance us to the finals. We were taken down by the top team in the division but I am so incredibly proud of how well our team played, some amazing plays. It was a ton of running for me, because I actually got on base a fair amount which was not my norm. At least we are allowed pinch runners so I just had to get myself to first base. Now it's rest and ice on my knee.

#7 On this day six years ago I married an amazing man who I am proud to call my husband. To celebrate our anniversary we spent the day at the ball field doing an activity we both enjoy. An activity I would never of imagined doing six years ago. Oh how our life has changed, and for the better.

Wow that is alot of stuff to pack into six days!! And bonus, I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Upcoming Project

I can't believe it's August already, crazy how fast the summer has progressed. These last two weeks have been busy with workouts, work, writing and life.

I took a course offered by Kathleen Mailer, a very successful self publisher and found of Today's Business Woman Magazine, on how to write, market and publish your own book. I've had this big goal in the back of my head for awhile of wanting to put my story into a book, but that little doubtful voice would always chime in and say "who would pay you money to read that?" or "you don't have that much to say". I left that course feeling so confident in my ability to do this. I've now written about 1000 words, which isn't a lot for a book but for me it's a start. Just starting is the hardest part. My goal is to write at least 500 words per day which is about a 30-60 minute time commitment (depending on the chapter). Now that i've put it out there, I know i'm committing to it - no fear, just do it.

I have some big goals and big ideas of what I want to do to create a new life, and for the first time every I actually feel confident enough to achieve them. I will be starting the process of looking for sponsorship and advertisers soon to be able to fund this big vision. Instead of being afraid that they will say no i'm just looking at it as i'm no worse off if they say no, I don't get what I don't ask for. So if you are a business owner or are looking to support me in this writing/publishing process contact me privately for more information on how we can collaborate.

Apart from all this writing/planning I also started swimming lessons this week with my friends Tricia and Michelle. It is only four sessions, but is teaching proper stroke and technique. I love to swim, but i'm not really the most efficient swimmer and my asthma acts up a lot. I practiced my new skills this morning at Thetis Lake with a lovely swim out to the island and back, boy my legs were sore and now i'm just dead tired. I'm thinking of one more day of swimming a week, on top of the lessons, to get some extra cardio in.

All ready for an on track week, food and workouts all planned, writing time scheduled and ME time so that I can keep my sanity.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Transformation of the Month: Stuart Fraser

For my regular readers you know that I like to feature success stories on this blog. The biggest reason is that I believe that I wouldn't be successful if I wasn't surrounding myself with others who were being successful. I'd be silly not to share these stories with everyone else. I have decided to make this a permanent monthly blog post, "transformation of the month", with the first success story being another Biggest Winner participant, Stuart Fraser. You may remember Lisa's story a few months ago, this is her husband and his guys perspective on weight loss journey. Truly an amazing person and has one of the best attitudes every, which is part of why he has been successful, we're all very proud of you Stuart.

How long have you struggled with weight?

Wow, what a question. I mean obvious given what this program is about but that’s the sort of thing I generally reply to in conversation with a joke like “Having children ruined my body” but really in writing I have to be honest and say I think I’ve struggled my whole life, or at least I’ve always seen myself as fat, even when I was young and played sports. I was always a bit chubby or 10-20 pounds overweight but around 20/25 years ago (right after I acquired children) I started gaining significantly and it was just a steady climb from there.

The demands of career and family took their toll. I worked long hours and spent my off time trying to make life work for my kids and others in my family. What I put on the back burner, (fully voluntarily by the way), was what worked for me personally. I stopped playing sports and looking after myself and spent more time indulging in various forms of slow suicide, disguised as self-care. This eventually of course led to depression about my life, health and weight, but it was nothing 3 beers and a medium pizza all to myself late at night wouldn’t fix. This cyclical behaviour became my idea of doing something that “worked” for me.

What was your "ah ha" moment that got you to join Biggest Winners?

For years I had suffered from a whole suite of physical issues, arthritis, bad joints, bad neck, bad shoulders, back ache, asthma and most significantly Ulcerative Colitis. This last one has landed me in the hospital a few times and put me on medical leave twice. They don’t know what causes it but it is certainly aggravated by diet and level of health. In fact for symptom relief they advocate a fitness program and diet control. I also knew, deep down inside me that a lot of the other symptoms would be less if I was more active but hey why admit that out loud.

So I was fully aware of my need to do something about my health but I was doing my best impression of Tutankhamen… King of De-Nile. I drank, I smoked and I ate crap like it was going out of style.

I can’t say there was really an “ah ha” moment for me, or at least that I noticed. What I can say however, is that there was inspiration and that came in the form of my lovely wife, Lisa. We had both talked for some time about our desire to be more active and to live healthier lives but I swear I would have never started down this road without her determination and courage. While I had previously been athletic and active in my younger years, Lisa had never played sports or done the kind of physical activities that I had done, yet it was she who pushed through our collective fear / inertia and got things going. Watching her transformation led me to realize how much I wanted that for myself too. I am truly grateful to her for her courage, dedication and honesty. Thank you my love.

What is the biggest, non-physical, change that you have noticed in yourself?

Happiness. I think I had been fairly depressed and “stuck” for ages, years really. It’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you and you don’t realize it. I think I lost myself bit by bit over the years and to be honest I’m rather enjoying discovering me again. There seems to be a long way to go so at least I know I’ll have that entertainment for some time to come

What is the biggest physical change that you have noticed in yourself?

90% of all my other aches and pains, that I would go weekly (and sometimes twice weekly) for physio and massage therapy to try and relieve have gone away. The last time I went for a massage was in February I think and that was more just for fun.

Also I have way more energy and pure physical ability. When I was young I walked everywhere. As an example, in my mid 20’s I lived in Vancouver near Stanley Park. I was unemployed there and would walk to UBC and back for something to do; and I enjoyed it. That went away slowly to the point where I’d take my car to go a couple of blocks. Now my energy level and desire to “hoof it” are back and I’m really enjoying it.

Since you are in the program with your wife, how does working out together affect your relationship? Are you competitive with each other?

Ultimately it has most certainly brought us closer together. I mentioned the inspiration part already; that of course is a good thing. Interestingly, Lisa and I are both highly competitive people, yet when it comes to this program I think we are anything but. I know she is massively supportive of me and I hope I am the same for her; at least I do try to be. There is most certainly a playful competitiveness when we’re at the gym at times, but it’s not the context in which we do this. Besides, we both know I’m better.

At home, what do the two of you do to support each other in staying accountable and making it to workouts?

This is very interesting as it has changed over time but it has always been what I would call tough love. I would characterize that as being willing to say to each other what you really think but in a loving non-judgemental way. That often sounds something like: “Wow, your day was certainly a big bag of poo for sure. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I think you’d feel lots better if you went to the workout but I get it if you just don’t want to do it today; I’m still going though.” (Ok I’m paraphrasing an idyllic situation but you get the idea)

I think that’s a pretty good approach, but it wasn’t always like that. I joined the program when Lisa had been in it for 9 months already. She was approaching her goal weight and was very gung ho about it all. I on the other hand wanted what she had but I was very confronted by it as well so I would often get quite angry and conflicted internally when it came time to go to the workout. I know I spewed some of that onto her at times when I first started which often met with a mixed reaction, (understandably) but I do have to say for the most part she was pretty supportive of how I felt, even when how I felt was just some lame excuse why I didn’t want to go.

Over time of course that changed and now the support flows liberally both ways. In truth we generally both look forward to the workouts and are glad to go. I never come out of a workout thinking, gee I wish I hadn’t come. I am in fact very empowered and energized by them. Lisa would say the same.

Looking forward I believe there will be other challenges for sure. Things like what Michele call’s “skinny girl syndrome” (Hey I can do skinny girl), and plenty of others too but I do believe we have what it takes to work through it together.

What was the most meaningful milestone that you have reached in this program?

There are in fact several, but I’ll go with this one as I think it is representative of the others:

Just as we were finishing what was I think my third workout ever in the program, one of the trainers said that annoying trainer thing: “Do you feel good?” and I looked at them and said in total disbelief of their question: “There is no way that I could ever equate how I feel right now with the word ‘good’. I am glad I made myself work out. I am glad it is over, but this is pretty damn far from ‘good’”, and they said “That will change”, in that annoying “you’ll see kind of voice”… and of course it did change! I just didn’t notice when it did. Somewhere along the way I began to find myself again, because it wasn’t just my inner athlete that was buried under 90 pounds of excess fat, but it was the inner me too, and that is a far more valuable discovery. So now it’s not annoying at all and when one of the trainers asks “Do you feel good?” my answer is “Hell Ya!” (and I still laugh at myself every time).

Anything else you want to share...

Three things:

First off, a gratifying and meaningful experience happened in the last month. I am still in touch from time to time with my closest childhood friend. He and I were inseparable from about age 5 until our early 20’s and I’ve always thought of him as a brother really. He attended Lisa and my wedding 5 years ago and we hadn’t seen each other in the flesh since. On Thursday night, the phone rang and it was him. He was in town and could he drop by. Now THAT was an awesome experience and I was very proud of both myself and Lisa. I think when you get a major reaction from someone you care about it has far more depth and meaning than from people you don’t really know.

Second, the people in this program are amazing, both trainers and participants. They inspire me and brighten my life every time I’m around them, so thank you to everyone involved in BW for your courage, dedication and support. It is a huge privilege to work through all of this with you.

Third, this program has been an amazing experience so far and I’m not done yet, which is kind of exciting. It has freed me from physical and emotional barriers that were ruining my day to day life and slowly killing me, or rather I should say through my participation in this program I am finding within myself the strength and determination to shape my life again because like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. My favorite Michele Shorter quote: “The only thing stopping you from achieving your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself why you can’t do it”. Nuff said.

And that’s all I have to say about that. (sound like Forest Gump).

Stuart, thank you for taking the time to be so open and honest, and also for sharing a long hidden "before" picture, check this out this is Stuart at his heaviest weight of 260 pounds...

Wowsers (sound like Inspector Gadget) Stuart - look at how far you've come. Here he is now at 195, you can just see the happiness coming from his body. Stuart tells me his goal weight is 170 and he's still going strong.

Want to see results like this for yourself? Come sign up for one month of unlimited classes at BDHQ before August 4th and it is only $49 for new clients. Success doesn't just happen, you have to work every single day to improve yourself and work to what you want. Stuart along with a growing list of other success stories has proved this day after day. Makes me proud to be part of such an amazing community.