While driving to visit a friend the other day I had a moment of clarity; when it really sunk in that my entire life is about to change.
It is currently the dying days of summer in Canada and my Country is green and lush and everything I love about it. It was while driving down a gorgeous country road when I realized just exactly what I’ll be saying goodbye to in less than a year: of course my family and friends but also fresh water lakes as big as seas, birds with songs you could listen to for hours, and green forests so dense there is no need for sunglasses when exploring them.
After a summer so full of adventure, to be jolted back to the reality of the change that lies ahead really took me aback.
For those who don’t know my situation, my partner lives in Australia and for our lives to move forward together it makes the most sense for me to move there. While I am incredibly happy and excited for this new chapter, and have the most wonderful family and friends to welcome me there, I’m also finding myself having to deal with the reality of saying goodbye to my comfortable life here. I have been on my own for a VERY long time and have a very strong independent sense of self and it would be false to say that I’m not sad about the thought of leaving behind the life I’ve made here.
I’m uncertain why I felt the need to write about my sadness…I got so overwhelmed on that drive and felt I just needed to make it real. It’s such a strange thing, to feel so many conflicting emotions all at once; happy, sad, excited, nervous. I know this won’t be the last time I feel sad, or write about being sad (there are goodbyes to be had and packing up to be done) but there is also so much happiness and sunshine to come and I CANNOT WAIT to write about all of that! Plus…winter is coming, and come the middle of February when it’s still -20C I know I won’t be feeling so nostalgic for my gorgeous Country then.
Until the next time…hug those you love and tell them how much they mean to you…and watch a little Jack
12 months ago I was manic with packing my life away, settling things at work and emotionally prepping to live away from all that I knew for an entire year.
And now it’s over.
And I have changed.
I don’t really know where I want to go with this post…I haven’t set time aside for a long time to put the thoughts in my head down on paper…but I feel like my journey deserves recognition. There is not a lot in my life I’d say I’m proud of myself for…many things I’m extremely happy about but pride never really fits with me. I think it’s probably because of my quiet personality and my own weird issue that if someone feels proud about themselves its a bit too showy (but I don’t feel that way when others say they are proud of themselves…my own silly issue). It’s funny because I feel proud for so many of my loved ones but don’t really allow it within myself.
I took a huge gamble in March of 2013 when I applied for a teaching exchange to Australia and to say it worked out well is an understatement. I packed up my life, said goodbyes to my family and friends (and my final goodbye to my dog) and sorted out my last few days of work and then shipped myself off to the unknown…granted, I knew a few people in town before going, but it still is quite a daunting adventure.
Everything was new. New house, new job, new town, and (having to make) new friends. I’m almost 40…you don’t really make new friends when you’re almost 40!! And, with being an introvert, this was one of the scariest things I was faced with.
The main reason I wanted to do an exchange was to get out of the funk I was feeling at work. Teaching, for me, had become too routine. I needed a bit of a challenge and I know I needed to grow professionally. In Australia I was thrown into a system I knew nothing about (still aspects of it I don’t totally understand) but instantly fell in love. My new work colleagues fit nicely into my life and it was just “easy”….the work aspect was hard, and for the first month my head was spinning with all the differences and changes, but in terms of who I was working with…it was eerily easy.
I just fit.
A year later and what I have come away from all of this with, besides saying ‘reckon’, is such a greater sense of self. In all aspects. It’s funny because just a few days after my arrival home I ran into a friend at the supermarket and he asked “well did you find yourself?!”…a question I didn’t really think I needed to be focused on during my exchange…but has been, in the end, what it was all about and one of the greatest gifts this journey has given me.
I know now, more than ever, who I am, what’s important to me and where I belong. I have realised that for the past ten years I have been living a life that is not true to me, my heart or soul…but boy am I excited to start!
And that is something to be proud of.
May you all live a life that is true to your soul.
Maybe it’s because when I was in Primary school I heard echoes of “Debbie, Debbie, 2×4, can’t fit through the bathroom door” while in class and on the playground.
Maybe it’s because I tipped the scales at over 200 pounds when I was in Grade 8.
Maybe it’s the fact that the genetics gods thought it would be an excellent idea to make my skin resemble that of an orange peel (or, more accurately, like the skin of an over ripe passionfruit)
I am loved, regardless of the size of my clothes, by so many amazing people. I am also incredibly blessed to have someone in my life who looks me in the eyes and tells me I’m beautiful even when I am at my most vulnerable…
I still cannot find peace in my body.
I know it’s ridiculous…I have run four half marathons, completed multiple triathlons, I can kick ass in any spinning class, can flip tires, do jump squats (although begrudgingly) and sling huge, heavy ropes…yet, instead of seeing the strength I carry, all I see is soft and all I feel is doughy.
I know I’m not alone. I have stunningly beautiful friends who all struggle with body image…who complain, find fault and allow their unhappiness with certain aspects of their body to control their emotions…
Which leads me to ask…why is it so hard to think about all the positives of our bodies? They carry us, grow babies, give nourishment and hold and give warmth to those we love. Why is it so hard to switch the negative thoughts we hear in our heads to encouraging, positive thoughts?
Well, I’m going to try.
Little by little, starting in the month of June, for every negative thought that creeps into my head I’m going to silence it with two positive thoughts, said out loud..from me, to me…all while looking myself in the eyes.
If you’re like me and the first word that creeps into your mind when you look at yourself in the mirror is “disgusting” I challenge you to join me on a journey to positive thought and love.
No to coffee, tea, alcohol, dairy, wheat, peppers/tomatoes/potatoes (all nightshades…can cause inflammation). No to corn, soy and diet soda. No to sugar, shellfish, deep water fish, red meat, pork, and eggs. And no to processed food (although I did have store bought hummus and mustard).
Why, as someone who is incredibly passionate about food, would I do this? Well…I have always struggled with my weight. I have been blessed with an incredibly slow metabolism (I just look at a cookie and it inserts it’s yummy goodness right on my ass). As a young girl in grade 8 I tipped the scales at just over 200 pounds…it was difficult for me because I was a very active kid…I began figure skating at the age of 4, played basketball, was a swimmer and had an immense love for playing baseball…but regardless of how active I was the weight just seemed to stick (my love for potato chips probably didn’t help the situation)…turns out High School was the best thing that could have happened to me. By the beginning of grade 10 I had lost 60 pounds. I was still ‘big’ (swimming and skating had given me a really great muscular base) but I only felt OK about my size….it’s sad that I can honestly say I have never felt amazing about my body…(I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self that her body was beautiful)
My struggle has never left. While away in Australia I got really, really tired of the struggle. Constantly worrying about what I was putting in my mouth, making sure I did ‘x’ minutes of exercise to counter balance whatever I ate (or drank)…so after 25+ years of the conscious battle, and after completing the half marathon I had been training for, I just gave up…and, of course, it caught up with me. After almost a year of being home I had gained 15 pounds, my clothes became way too snug and I found myself constantly ignoring the mirror. Years of life experiences, personal growth and change has afforded me the knowledge and truth that my size and weight does not define who I am…but when I no longer wanted to (or even could) look at myself in the mirror and no longer had any desire to put on my running shoes and go for a run, well….something needed to be done.
So I signed up for Bootcamp and read up on an elimination diet. I needed a big kick start to get on the road back to the athlete I was just 4 short years ago.
I gave myself from June 1st to June 28th…at the beginning when friends found out I was being so restrictive they asked why…now at the end many people are asking if it made a difference. I honestly have to say yes…I have lost 10 pounds, I was never hungry or felt deprived, my strength has increased immensely (thanks bootcamp!) and I’m having the most restful sleep I have had in years.
Things I have learned over the past month.
1. I am much stronger than I thought. I was bombarded by temptation in June. Cupcakes, cookies, end of school year lunches and drinking celebrations…I got through them all. Willpower is a constant internal struggle…but just like any exercise…work on it long enough and it becomes much, much easier.
2. When I set clear goals I won’t cheat. I never once snuck anything completely off limits. However I did have a dairy free “booster juice” honestly believing that it was just fresh fruit that was used…till I actually saw them make it and scooped a big ass scoop of sorbet into the blender…don’t think it followed the ‘no sugar’ rule (even though they advertise no added sugar…I’m very skeptical)
3. I have the most supportive family, friends and colleagues. EVER. I already knew this before hand but it was reaffirmed loudly during June. They put up with my complaints and my weird eating (chicken breasts and mustard….there was a lot of mustard consumed) and they still love me (hopefully) after becoming one of “those people”.
4. My love of fitness and exercise has been reignited. I may not wear the smallest size on the rack, I may have jiggly triceps, a smushy tummy and, as my physiotherapist described them, “extremely well defined” glutes…but I absolutely love challenging what my body can do. I love even more being able to see progress and overcome challenges. I am fit…chubby and well insulated but I work my body hard…it can be worked harder (that’s what July and August will bring) but I’m confident that I’m well on my way to being back on track.
Will I keep it up? Exercise…damn straight. Eating…not everything…I miss tomatoes like nobody’s business and I miss coffee, eggs and red meat (moderately of course)…but I will keep saying no to dairy, white/red potatoes, wheat and corn and I will continue to be aware of how much sugar I consume and strictly limit the amount of processed food in my diet. I plan on continuing the challenge every so often just as a reminder to always be aware of what is going into my body.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, encouraged me and tolerated me during this journey. If you’re looking for a great cleanse and an incredible test of your willpower then I challenge you to an elimination diet. You will learn so much about yourself.