CHAPTER SEVEN: Oh my God.

I don’t even know how to write this post. I’m not sure that I should.

But then, that’s what this whole raft of delayed blog posts has been about isn’t it? To help with the fear of this all being out in the open. To give me a buffer of time to process if things go wrong.

Because today, after a week of refusing to pee on sticks because I was losing my mind, I peed on a stick.

This stick:

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Yep. There’s been some happy crying.

The stupid sticks were lying to me. I have been hatching a tiny human for 2-3 weeks and the sticks were lying. Or baby is stealthy? Like the Captain? Maybe I’m hatching a tiny ninja?

Speaking of the Captain, it’s his birthday in a few days. I’m going to keep super quiet about it until then and surprise him.

Best birthday present ever.

I’m so excited that I’m shaking.

Full of love and a tiny ninja,

B xx

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CHAPTER THREE: I need to stop peeing on things.

21st of July, 2015

pee on sticks

I need to stop peeing on things.

Okay. So not things. Sticks. I need to stop peeing on sticks.

Trying to conceive has truly turned a corner into crazy. I knew it was starting when I found the ovulation prediction kits and peed on those. I think I got the information I needed out of them. And I think it made me feel a little bit less helpless.

But now that I’m in that awful wait where I may or may not be pregnant, I’ve started almost obsessively doing pregnancy tests. NOW, contrary to my actions, I’m not an idiot. I realise that this is the first month of us trying to have a baby. And that even really good pregnancy tests couldn’t pick up a positive yet. AND that realistically there is very little chance that I will be pregnant. It makes me feel slightly more in control.

I may or may not have peed on all the pregnancy tests I have. There were a lot.

They are all negative.

And that’s okay.

I’m okay.

There is always another month. I can pee on things next month.

Eww. And sorry,

Bella

Decide to be lucky

I have a friend who is working through a divorce at the moment. I say ‘working through’ rather than going through. Because it is and has been, an amicable separation and now legal divorce. No yelling, no hating, no ugliness. When I heard them speak about it though, they mentioned how lucky they are to have things work out so well.

I agree and I don’t.

In many situations in life, we make choices that affect our ‘luck’. In that particular end of a marriage, there are two people who are making choices about their behaviour, their mindset and about working together. So it’s ‘lucky’ that they both feel the same way about it, but not that it’s actually coming together this way.

I often tell myself that I am so lucky to have met The Captain and to have a lovely husband and a strong marriage. But that luck in meeting him was totally steered by the fact I had no desire to hang out with guys who were less than good people. The fact was that I was purposefully aloof and would always prefer to be single than the girlfriend of some ass. Even if they weren’t an ass all the time. So when I met The Captain, and time after time he demonstrated his amazing character not just about or to me, just the way he thinks and the little glimpses into his moral compass, it was no surprise that I fell madly in love. So yes, it was luck that this meeting happened when I was so young, but not that I married someone with the same values that I have. It’s not at all perfect, but we mark thirteen years together and ten years married next week, and it is amazing.

One area where I do feel true luck is with the conception, pregnancies, birth and beyond of my lovely boys. As someone who had been less-than-healthy in my teens and early twenties, I fully expected to struggle to get pregnant, and maybe that I wouldn’t be able to have children at all. The fact that I did really is luck. I see that Michelle Bridges is ‘being slammed’ (there’s a few irked facebook comments) for saying the healthy lifestyles of herself and her partner Steve contributed to the luck of them falling pregnant at her age (she is 44). In the article (you can read it here) she repeatedly uses the word lucky. Like me, the couple had assumed that a contributing factor in their lives might hamper getting pregnant, they had even gone so far as to book IVF appointments, but with luck, fell pregnant naturally. Had they steered their luck by being uber fit and healthy? Maybe. And when you finally take the plunge to start or extend your family, the constant worry about how things will turn out sometimes make you cling to the choices you CAN make, rather than the flipping of the universe’s coin. Even now, when I think about taking the plunge one day to expand our family, I think I couldn’t possibly be this lucky again.

luck quote

Because realistically, there are people out there who do ALL THE RIGHT THINGS who struggle and even fail to be able to fall pregnant, carry babies to term or have their children born with health or developmental struggles. I was lucky as was Michelle. I truly don’t think her comments are offensive to people who are trying to fall pregnant who aren’t as fit and healthy as she is. Because it was luck. And even if it took her a year, and IVF and sixteen lab-coats, it would still have been luck.

So where I think I’m at with luck is that a lot of what we feel is luck is actually mindset. We choose so much of our future without even realising it’s in the little choices we make all the time. Stick to your goals, and beliefs and the rest really is pure, dumb luck.

Heads or Tails?
Bella

A beach I don’t remember….

I very rarely write about being a younger person with disordered eating. Partly because everything I knew and taught myself about hiding and being ‘succesful’ with it I learned through reading the forums, blogs, accounts and memoirs of other sufferers and survivors.  Their grim stories of ‘I was so unwell this is what I did’ became my plans. Their ‘at my worst I weighed xx’ became my goals. Awful but true.

Frankly though, I just don’t like talking about it. And I don’t need to.  I’m a decade past my last incident and am confident that I am okay.

Sometimes though, the world forces you to look back. To remenber. And for me, to be grateful.

I had an amazing friend at uni. Smart, funny, artistic and beautiful.  As friends we get along more like sisters. As teenagers that meant we drove each other crazy,  borrowed each others clothes and occasionally liked the same boys. And she happened to save my life that year.

Living with me is not fun. Never has been. Likely never will. Ask my parents,  sibling, the million flatmates, the Captain and my boys. But this year was particularly rough.

I would sometimes freak out so badly thinking I was so awfully fat that I couldn’t leave the house. I journalled obsessively and was a psycho about my privacy. I once got myself so upset about my body that I tripped out and stayed barricaded in the bathroom for quite a few hours, most of that in a cold shower.

She doesn’t ask questions,  my friend. She’s just there.

As the year went on; I started to get sick. Not the obvious skeletal sick,  but the worn-down slow-fade kinda sick.

She didn’t ask questions,  my friend. She told me to get in the car.
I was too tired to argue.

To this day I can’t really explain what happened next.

I think she kidnapped me.

I remember a winding road that made my stomach lurch.

I remember a small country supermarket with strip fluroscent lighting that gave me a panic attack so bad I had to wait outside for her, gripping the roof of her car praying for my heart not to explode.

And then, peace.

It was a tiny cabin. With books to read and cushions in the sunlight on the floor.

She still didn’t ask questions, my friend.

She did make me drink really strong blue Cottee’s cordial for the first and last time in my life. But somehow, the calories didn’t matter.

She didn’t force me to eat. She took me for a walk along the beach and when we got back, there was food. And I wanted to eat it. Because I wanted to be able to walk it again tomorrow. I wanted to be better.

I got to walk along that beach again today.

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She never asked questions.  Not then. Not in the forever since then that she has continued to be an amazing positive presence in my life.

I am incredibly grateful. And lucky.

SV

******* This is where I stopped writing for a few hours toying with the idea of deleting this post *******

This is the other reason I avoid writing about my experiences.  If this post feels like it trivialises eating disorders or over-simplifies recovery – I don’t in any way mean it to.

My friend is not the magical unicorn. She did not cure me with blue Cottee’s and a walk on the beach. What happened there was she happened to know me well enough to see a crack in the wall I was building. It very well could have backfired. But for me, it was a start. I might add, the start of the next two years of relapses and fighting myself and learning to be okay.

If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, I really recommend having a chat with these guys;
http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/%ef%bb%bfneed-help-now/

All my love in Health and Strength,
Bella

Full Belly not Fat Belly

I love it when I read things in my nutrition studies that actually apply directly to my experiences as a former chubster.

Something I read this week was about the concept of nutrient dense versus calorie dense foods. Sounds fascinating right? But as I broke it down in my mind it made so much sense to me.

You see, for the few years that I was obese it wasn’t because I was eating a LOT of food. In fact, everyone who knew me, including The Captain, would swear and declare that they almost never saw me eat. Part of that was that I was a terrible secret binge-eater. Years of disordered eating as I grew up makes it particularly easy for me to hide my habits around food from others. I’m like a self-destructive food Ninja.

But the main part was that I was whole-heartedly addicted to very calorie dense foods.

spiderman

 

 

 It means: A food with high calorie density provides a lot of calories in relation to the serving size. A food with low calorie density provides relatively low calories per serving size.

So it looks like this:

Caloric-Density

or terrifyingly like this:

Fast-food-and-apples

 

When I first started losing weight, I was mortified by the AMOUNT of food that I was supposed to be eating. How could it be that I had only been eating a small volume of food once or twice a day (with some snacks) and gaining weight like a prize cow but NOW I was eating buckets of food and losing weight? It really seemed like black magic. Except it’s not. It’s simply caloric density.

A plan consisting of foods with a lower caloric density meant I get to eat a lot MORE food for the same or less calories than my previous high calorie/low volume habits.

Foods that REALLY helped me fill the void left by my crappy diet were things that made me feel full and happy. Things I could eat a GIANT BOWL OF and feel a bit piggy. Because I still needed that mentally. Things like insane amounts of vegie sticks, air-popped popcorn, frozen berries straight from the freezer, a big bowl of fresh green peas…

These days, because I’ve had a few years of training myself to eat more regularly, not skip meals and incorporate more protein into my diet, I don’t get so ravenously hungry any more. While I still love that crazy full-belly feeling sometimes, I don’t NEED it. But in case you do, I hope this helps.

 

Nom Nom,

Bella xx

What I learned about myself from a DEXA scan…

Sometimes I choose not to blog things. Sometimes because I am too busy to write. Sometimes because I don’t think whatever it is is interesting enough to interrupt people with. And sometimes, it’s simply stuff I don’t want you to know.

Yep. I got secrets. Sorry.

So when I preemptively told the blog-o-sphere that I was having a DEXA scan, I sort of set myself up to NOT be able to do that. Which kinda sucks.

To clarify, the whole reason I wanted the scan was I know that I need to move away from the significant obsession I have with weighing myself at least once a day. I do KNOW it’s a bad idea, not a great reflection of my body composition and can’t really be trusted to give me accurate information. In fact, Cathy knows my level of pain with the scale and tagged me in this post on IG during the DEXA day:

weigh

So I had the scan. I had it done at the University of Tasmania sports science unit. To be fair, the scientist did advise me that it was a very old machine and not capable of the type of information that modern DEXA units are. I still was a little taken aback at the sheer age of the thing. It looked like it was made in the 70’s from a factory conveyer belt and my Grandad’s camera. Fo Realz.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

Also different is the level of information you get back from a modern DEXA. I was hoping for detailed information about the specific location of body fat held, but sadly this model was only capable of averages per limb and the trunk. You don’t get a print out of the information, but a written summary of what the operator interpreted from the scan. Even my sports scientist wrote though there was some ambiguity in the scan and the results may have been skewed in certain aspects.

But hey, enough blaming the equipment.

I came in at just over 32% bodyfat.

Huh. 32%.

In all honesty – I was expecting 25-26%. I would have been annoyed but understood 27-29% and would have been stoked with anything under 25%.

Nope. The machine in all it’s science-y wisdom says 32.4%.

I waited to feel crushingly sad. I put my polite face on, paid the man and walked to the car in the eerie drizzling rain, wondering if I was going to cry. I sent a message to a friend letting her know what it had come back as and said that I might cry. But I wasn’t crying. Not even close.

I sent a message to The Captain. I had promised him that getting a DEXA would end ‘the crazy’, which is the umbrella term we use for just about anytime I talk about my weight or size based on ridiculous perceptions I have of myself.

Message read:

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Being the awesome husband that he is, he offered to come out and hang out with me for awhile. He knows this stuff can knock me about a bit. But still, I was fine.

Not quite fine enough to leave it alone though…..

I mentioned in my previous post that I have in recent times been using an Inbody scanner to do a electrical bio-impedance measure of weight, muscle mass and body fat. So….

I drove straight to the gym and did another one. To compare apples with apples. As best I could.

On scan 2 months ago exactly I came up as – having 31.6kg muscle mass and 28.7% Body fat.

Yesterday – 33.2kg muscle mass and 23.8% Body fat

So, what did that experiment tell me? That comparing data from the same machine with conditions as similar as I could (same time, similar clothing etc) showed that I was heading in the direction I need to.

AND – because I want a third and independent non-scale reference point – I have an appointment to have my body fat read with calipers next week.

But what did I LEARN from today?

That peace of mind for me in not in the numbers. Not even in the better numbers from the InBody scan. It doesn’t put my soul at rest. It doesn’t make my life easier or even really validate my feelings about the work I put in being worth it. I wish it did. Some part of me really, really wants to cling to data to tell me it’s all okay. Numbers are part of a sport that I really enjoy. Transforming your body in incremental steps is far easier to celebrate when you know the height you need to climb and the progress you make each week. That’s going to be the ongoing struggle.

But at the very end of the day, hanging out at home, I kept coming back to the idea of what I wanted to know from this whole exercise. I wanted a non-scale baseline where I could come back and reference this point in the preparation in three, six, twelve months and know then what I’d been doing for my body.

It was never going to tell me if I was happy with myself. Only I can do that.

So I did. Stripped down, no make-up, at the end of the day with 4 litres of water and 1900 calories in my belly – this is me.

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This is me. At 32.4% Body Fat. Or 23.8%, depending on who you ask. Look at that smile and ask me if I care 🙂

And if this is 32.4% body fat, or 23.8% body fat or 40% body fat – I’m pretty darn okay with where I am.

Yes, I want to grow and develop and be lean and have a physique that others aspire to. But feck it – I’m strong, happy and healthy and capable of doing anything I want.

And I want to continue on this fun-filled adventure of eating lots and well, lifting heavy things and generally living life like a boss without guilt or shame or feeling like I am supposed to be anything other than where I am.

So yes, I’m going to change. I’m happy to be open and honest with you about the road and the fact it’s not going to be easy, and sometimes not pretty. And yes, there will be more scans, and tests, and weigh-ins.

But what did I actually LEARN from the DEXA. I learned that I’m okay. I’m better than okay, I’m good. And that I don’t need a machine to tell me that.

Beep. Boop. Beep.

Night all!
SV

This is me, say hi!

I get asked a bit for 'before and afters', It's hard because my life didn't stop when I got to my goal weight. In lots of ways, it just started. But, here are the cliff notes! Before, 2 years exactly on stage in a Bikini Bodybuilding show, and my normal 'running around' weight.

I get asked a bit for ‘before and afters’. It’s hard because my life didn’t stop when I got to my goal weight. In lots of ways, it just started. But, here are the cliff notes! Before, 2 years exactly on stage in a Bikini Bodybuilding show, and my normal ‘running around’ weight.