Sick of being Sick. Help Me!

Sick-and-tired

First up – this is not a ‘poor me’ post. I get that the various maladies I’m afflicted by at the moment are not life threatening, not devastating to my quality of life or any sort of dire zero-hour of my health. There are people who are in those situations and I’m sorry for sooking about my health when I am not.

But I am sick.

And have been sick for a few months now and it’s starting to really get me down.

I don’t know if it’s because I stopped getting sick at the same time I started looking after my diet and losing the weight three years ago and I’m unaccustomed to the erkiness and sadness of being unwell. I’ve had three years of not much more than a common cold or two that while yes, did make me miserable, buggered off in the appropriate time frame.

This year it started with a cold, that somehow became pneumonia, that was treated with a stack of antibiotics that flared up my gastritis. Then I was better for a day and got another cold that I’ve now had for two months and I had a crazy Raynaud’s Phenomenon attack for the first time and have just got my diagnosis of Raynaud’s Disease (you can read about Raynaud’s here) with my fingers but especially my toes being significantly affected. Oh, and I still have a cold. And the gastritis is making it hard for me to eat normally and I am bloated and puffy all over.

So I’m feeling:

  • out of breath
  • snuffly/snotty/coughing gunk
  • fat/bloaty
  • in pain when I eat most things
  • Oh – and at any given time, my hands and/or feet do this….
This is Raynaud's Phenomenon. Fun, huh?

This is Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Fun, huh?

So clearly, I’m pretty much a walking sick-sook.

I need to get better. I need to figure out why this year I’ve entirely lost any immune system I ever had. Traditional (Western) medicine really has nothing to help me at the moment. Their thoughts? The gastritis will eventually get better as long as I can figure out and avoid foods and medications that inflame it. A cold should go away on it’s own. As long as you don’t have/work with/get coughed on and re-infected by small children daily. Oh wait. No way Jose. The Raynaud’s Phenomenon flare-ups can’t be avoided but I should try to never get cold. Riiiight.

So I’m not sure where to go? Do I look for some Traditional Chinese Medicine? Or look into Paleo or fermentation foods for gut health?

Help me, help me Obi-Wonky-Donkey.

Bella

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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:

wpid-2014-09-10-21.00.19.png.png

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.

wpid-img_20140910_145610.jpg

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

Waitin’ on the Next Big Thing

Let me share with you one of my flaws. It annoys the hell out of me, but at least I know that I do it – and that makes me pretty good at catching myself doing it and spying it in other people.

No, it’s not endlessly complaining about the weather. Or interuppting. Or standing in doorways chatting holding up people trying to get through. People find those things adorable right? Right??

Huh.

It’s my habit of wanting to wait for THE NEXT BIG THING. That shiny new thing that I’m going to see/have/do next. Now, wanting something big and new is not a bad thing. But the trouble is that I sometimes lose focus on the thing I’m doing right now.

Take my nutrition approaches. At the moment, I’m working at gradually leaning down again, managing my food intolerances and still using and enjoying the flexible dieting/IIFYM approach. It’s good. It’s working for me. I’m happy and the weight is coming off, muscle staying on and I’m feeling good. BUT…. buh buh baaaa

next-big-thing-sign

I’m going to a seminar at the end of this month that will be about fat loss in the female figure athletes and competitors and I’m fascinated to hear the approach of the pro’s that are presenting. I find myself second-guessing my planning for TODAY, sneaking a few extra carb macros and losing a bit of my focus on the NOW because “I’ll probably change it all again next week”.

And it doesn’t need to be something as big as a full nutrition change. Sometimes I feel like this when I’ve ordered a new product online and I’m just waiting for it to be delivered. I won’t train legs tonight as my new tights will probably get delivered tomorrow! :p Or when I know I’m coming up to a program change for my gym sessions. Suddenly, my ‘right now’ is less shiny and important that the new whatever-it-is around the corner.

It’s a common issue for my fellow 12wbt alumni and current members for ‘between rounds’. Two weeks off turns into four kilos gained because ‘it hasn’t started yet’.

Grr.

So I can’t give authentic advice here as it’s still very much a glitch in my own journey. I own that couple of days with silly lapses and am right back onto today’s goals and aims. But with each mistake I make, it gets easier to see and feel myself holding out. Making less of today because of the promise of tomorrow.

So do the best you can with everyday – even if tomorrow promises to be bigger, better, bright or even just completely different. Like another of my favourite Roosevelt quotes (from Teddy this time though):


theperfectmoment

Tomorrow is another day, let’s make today awesome first!

Cheers Mateys,
SV

Two Years – Freedom is a cool thing

Can you believe it’s been two years since I sold my company, ventured into the wider, happier world and started this blog?

I’d love to say that I don’t remember that girl from two years ago. The one who felt bullied and devalued and nervous almost all the time. The one whose stomach rolled at the email notification sound on her phone because it was probably not good. The one who felt guilty for spending time with her family? For having a family! But I do. I remember her.

I also remember though, the strange and uncharacteristic moment where I said one sentence that changed the course of my future. Where I (before I believed or even understood it myself) dared to suggest that my worth was not able to be defined by a single other person. That indeed, I even had worth.

But I did. And I do. And I always will.

And two years on – I still have that hard-won freedom. I use it well. I live, love and grow with my family. We travel and laugh. I work – both in the gym as a trainer and in a community centre helping at-risk children and their families with health and wellness – because I love it and it enriches my life.

Life is good.

If you recognise any part of the old me, that girl from two years ago I have just one piece of advice;

Stand up. It may just be the best thing you ever do for yourself and the ones you love.

Peace Out,

SV

freedom

How to be Hot, Rich and Incredibly Happy

 

20140611133139

Guess what?

Feeling crazy hot, beautiful and positively attractive is not something that is out reach. You don’t even need to buy, take or sell anything to make it happen.

You don’t have to have a bucket-full of dollars to enjoy feeling financially confident.

You don’t have to earn the right to be happy.

You do not need to fight to be afforded peace.

Prepare to be a little bit open minded with me. I’m about to get all hippy up in here.

If I’ve learned anything in the last few years is that the greatest distance between where you are NOW and where you want to be – is the space between your ears.

The-greatest-distance

When we think about wanting to be crazy-hot, pretty or even just attractive – our mind immediately dashes into a dark corner thinking of the changes we need to make. “I’d need to exercise like a freak”, “I’d need bigger boobs/smaller bum/bigger bum/longer hair” and “I’d need to stop eating chocolate – oh hell, I’ll probably need to stop eating!”.

When we think about being rich, our poor little minds shriek again with thoughts of more hours at work, making more sales, getting a better job, doing more study, doing more, being more, making more, having more.

It’s not about forcing it.

What about if we retrained our brains to start thinking about our wealth and beauty in the same way it thinks about our happiness?

Because if I get you to close your eyes and think about becoming happier – being ‘more happy’, what do you see? I see my kids. And the Captain. And my dog. And us being together. Other than spending as much time with them as I can, there is no demanding thoughts of MORE. I can think about how I’d like to be happier with a smile on my face. Can you think about how to become richer or sexier with the same grin?

The difference is that when you think about happiness, your brain probably tracks first to what you ALREADY HAVE EXPERIENCED that makes you happy.

So think about how beautiful you are. Close your eyes and let your mind track first to the things you really like about yourself. Healthy shiny hair? Eyes the same colour as your amazing Nana’s eyes? Sexy quads or glutes that you can feel growing every session? Whatever these points are, embrace them as your beauty. Think of them first when you imagine yourself and how you look.

Think about your wealth. Think of all the things you have. A home to live in. Ability to access food to feed yourself and your family. Clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. Some additional resources to spend on the’extras’ in life. Want a reality check? If you earned AUD$20,000 or more in the last year – you are in the top 11% of the richest people in the world! The WHOLE world!

Richerthanyou

(To accurately check your own ranking, go play on the AMAZING website www.globalrichlist.com)

The key thoughts here are self-awareness and gratitude.

You are already beautiful, you just need to embrace and accept it.

You are already immensely richer than the vast majority of the world’s population and most likely already have a standard of living that most could never even dream of.

And if you close your eyes and think for just a second, you will already know what truly makes you happiest – you just need to make sure you always gravitate closely to it.

So to be hot, rich and incredibly happy – think first about the qualities that we already have. We can all grow and develop. Wanting more is not a bad thing. But the best launching points for stellar achievements are solid foundations and beliefs. You are already amazing.

It’s about knowing.

The truth is that the world, everything you long for, is waiting for you to realise your worth. Your right.

Freedom. Joy. Peace. Happiness.

LOVE.

SV

Can I ask you a question?

Yes, you can always ask me a question. Always.

The other day I had a question pop up on Facebook chat. It happens a lot. Mostly from my friends and family asking when I’m going to make time to see them, because I’m a shocker for getting caught up in my work and kids and forget the bigger world. But this day it was a facebook friend that I have’t actually met in the real world. Someone who only knows me from my online exploits both here, on Instagram and the facebook page.

Do you sometimes find it easier to talk to strangers? I do. What follows is a simple chat I had that answers questions I get asked often, so I thought I’d share. I’m not a bitch, I did get permission to post this here too 🙂

Thanks for stopping by this weekend. Feel free to connect with me either here, instagram, facebook or twitter as I’m always happy to help out wherever I can 🙂
SV

 

Friend: Hi Bella hope you are doing well. I have a question for you and hope you can help out. I have an unhealthy relationship with food and would love to just have a freaken healthy relationship with food. I am going to a coach who will help me get the body I want but why is it that every time I go on a new healthy plan I binge eat? Or I want to eat everything because once I start to eat healthy again I am 100% on that plan. Did you had an unhealthy relationship and how did you overcome it?

 

Bella: Yep, I’ve always had a pretty disastrous relationship with food! I’ve swung from starving myself as a teen to being obese, to competing and it’s ALL hard. What has worked for me is not seeing ANYTHING as absolute anymore. I do the best I can each day. As I go to bed I ask myself “What can I do better tomorrow?” and “What went well today?” Sounds lame but even if I’ve had a blow-out binge I can usually see a positive like “I ate really well until 4pm” and it’s enough to stop it being constantly negative the way I find most approaches are!

 

Friend: That sounds like a really good idea. Do you still binge today? Did you find it very hard to be healthy still after your first comp or did you lose control?

Sorry for all these questions

 

Bella: Every now and then. It’s a thing. My ‘binges’ these days aren’t really binges, it’s just things I shouldn’t really eat. But I still work at being positive about my food and mindset. And yes, I found it REALLY hard after competing. Questions are fine – happy to help out. I should blog this conversation as I think LOTS of people would love to ask me!

 

Friend: What or who motivate you after comp to not go back to “old you” binge eat and eat and eat and eat? I am so scared once I reach comp body that after comp I will F it up again. Why do we feel like freaking binge eating? Thanks for answering my questions

 

Bella: I kind of did for a while. It’s about knowing where you are happy within yourself I guess. I don’t need to be as lean as I was on stage to be happy. I eat and train the way I do for ME to be happy. Eating crappy food all the time and feeling flubby isn’t happy for me

 

Friend: That is exactly how I feel! I am sooo much happier with skinnier and healthier me and much more self confidence but o dear do I hate being fat. This is the biggest Ive been and it is a daily struggle. I guess its still a long journey for me but I will get there. Thanks for the chat Bella I really appreciate it.

                

Bella: Any time. It a constantly evolving thing, and that’s okay! We are always changing and growing.

 

Friend: Thanks again for this chat. Not a lot of people understand the binge eating cycle so it was a good chat. I am sure I will still have heaps of questions for you in future. Hopefully one day I can help out people like you are doing now

 

Bella: Of course, happy to help out any time at all. xx

strangers