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

The blog post in which a tabloid magazine perpetuates body shaming…

New Idea LOVES to highlight a story in a way that makes us want to kill someone. Or at least hate them. And if they are working hard, they can make a reader hate someone AND themselves at the same time.

This week, it’s Sally Brouwer, a fitness mum of triplets who apparently preaches…

“Laziness is why we’re obese,” says controversial mum of three Sally Brouwer.
Do you agree with her, or is weight a far more complex issue?

New Idea Sally Brouwer

If that isn’t a desperate call for trolling and likes/comments/fury on their website and facebook page I don’t know what is. But all activity is apparently good activity in an age where print media is fighting hard to prove it’s not completely obsolete.

In this glimpse of the article, it is PAINFULLY obvious how hard they are working to provoke a fat/thin debate. They make her almost totally un-likeable. By letting her air views of disdain about those “struggling with your waistline” and statements starting with “If all mums took the time to look after themselves…” spaced with photos of her competition-ready six-pack abs – the magazine is cleverly making mums feel bad about themselves and their bodies and in turn many will feel angry towards Sally and hers.

Body shaming in the media is rife. And wrong. But damn, it sells copies and generates activity on the internet. Who is winning in this scenario?

The thing is – aside from the disdain I have for being manipulated by the media – I disagree with Sally Brouwer’s comment that “laziness is why we are obese”.

I have lots of fitness friends. Some who have come back to fitness after being athletes in the past. Some who arrived at fitness from being unfit, skinny, uninterested or just not motivated. But the ones who ‘get me’ are the ones who’ve come from the places that I have. To come back to a fit and healthy body from obesity is a totally different game.

It’s no secret that one of my favourite fitness friends is Cathy Sheargold, who posted this amazing response today.

Someone who has not been obese will never truly understand it, laziness has nothing to do with it. We all wear our pain in different ways, my way had me weighing somewhere over 150kgs.

If anyone tells you that dropping weight is simple math they’re wrong.

I think that’s why people quit so often – no one tells them that the biggest journey will be your heart and your head. No one tells you that each kilo holds some old pain that we store away. No one tells you about the tears.
So we get to the tears and then we think – ‘well, I’m crying so obviously I should quit.’
A lot of people do quit and they head to straight to the tim tams to hide that old wound again – directly onto their thighs.

I love how Heidi Scott Wilson put it:

“My journey I best describe as unrolling a roll of hand towel. I had to take off one piece of towel (kg) at a time and with every piece (kilo ) there was a different emotion i had been protecting that I had to battle. Not all fat people are lazy i know i wasn’t i just had that many layers protecting me from the past . It took 67kg for me to get to the hard core of that roll and work out who I really was because i had been hiding for so long.”

 

Pretty much that.

Even today, Coach Joe will at times pull me up on something I say and remind me it’s a “former fat-kid problem”. Our bodies and mindsets are different to those that have never experienced obesity and they always will be. It’s very much a ‘takes one to know one’ issue that people who have never felt that personal burden (in every sense) just can’t understand and in my opinion – should be wary on commenting on.

So – to wrap up this weekend rant:

  • Don’t hate Sally Brouwer because she is fit and lean and looks a certain way. Fit Shaming is bad.
  • I would suggest she and New Idea keep their disdain and provocation of those who are overweight in check. Fat Shaming is bad.
  • Understand that the media is manipulating you. Don’t let it.
  • Understand that you are gorgeous.

Have a great weekend. Do what nourishes you and makes you happy.

Bella xx

 

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

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

Well played Universe…Well Played.

I’ve posted a bit on social media of the last few days about coming to terms with the fact that I don’t want to keep fighting my body. I became aware that while I do love competing and pushing my body through a competition preparation in order to be lean enough to get up on stage and REALLY celebrate the work that I put in to my fitness – I want to be gentle to myself too.

What this means is that while I am still preparing to compete during 2014, I’m doing so being more mindful of my health, balance and my happiness. I’ve moved to a way of eating that is more flexible and family friendly (IIFYM) so that I can eat more meals with my family and live like a real person. I’ve moved my supplements to a more wholesome and beneficial range so that I’m not loading myself up with more chemicals than I need. I’m trying to be more chilled out about my expectations of myself really.

It’s nice. I woke up this morning pumped and full of energy, had my breakfast, had my supps, went to the gym to train a PT client and then had a training session with Coach Corey. I felt awesome. Good deadlifts, good back and shoulders – feeling strong, feeling like I’m where I want to be.

It’s nice, this sense of peace and lack of urgency.

Then the doorbell rings.

It’s the Fed-Ex man with a small parcel containing three of the most beautiful stage bikinis ever.

I try them on.

They fit.

If I kicked my own ass they’d look great on stage sometime soon.

But I’d need to kick my own ass to do it in time.

This is me shaking my fist at the Universe. Well played Universe, very well played.

SV

“I just want to get toned.”

From the gurus at http://www.bodybuilding.com…

For some reason, women, their trainers, and advertisers have kidnapped the word “toned” and turned it into the ultimate lady goal. It seems that being muscular is not a goal women should aspire to. Here’s the real deal: You can’t see shape without muscles. You can run on the treadmill or swoosh away on the elliptical all day. Sure, you might get thinner, but without some meat on your delts, triceps, and biceps, you’ll never see those awesome shoulder caps.

Ladies, “I want more muscle,” is an absolutely legitimate goal to tell your trainer or your friends.

On a scientific note, “tone” actually has meaning on a physiological level. Your muscles maintain a low-level contraction, even when you’re at rest. That’s why your muscles are always at least a little firm. This is called “muscle tone,” or “residual muscle tension.” It helps keep you upright, and maintain balance and posture. In this light, there’s really no way to “tone up” your muscles—they’re already toned.

Guest Post: Today’s Lesson from Cat

The Sailor is on a voyage far far away, so here is a guest post from the amazing Cat Hawkins;

 

Today’s Lesson.

It’s often said that there’s nothing so annoying as a reformed smoker. They flap their hands around whenever there’s a hint of cigarette smoke. They bang on and on about how bad smoking is for you and how it’s going to kill you. They tell you it’ll make those little lines round your mouth look like ravines and eventually you’ll look like you have a cat’s bum in the middle of your face.  They tell you you’ll have to breathe through a tube or with the help of a machine in your latter days before shuffling off in a painful and unglamorous fashion. They tell you it’s a waste of money, that it’s killing you. It’s a selfish thing to do. Think of your family, your friends, yourself. What kind of person would smoke knowing all that?

 

If you’re a smoker that sounds annoying, doesn’t it? But, and here’s the kicker, they’d be right. On all counts. Still, that doesn’t stop you feeling resentful and lighting up just to spite them.

 

Well, I’m here to tell you that there may just be something worse than a reformed smoker. Yes dear reader, it’s the reformed chubster.

 

I’m a fellow former chubster born of good chubster stock with lots of chubster friends and many chubster colleagues. I recently embarked upon a regime change, which included regular physical exertion and a healthy diet (I hate that word because it’s not a “diet” in the popular starve-yourself-miserable sense) based on good nutrition appropriate to me and my goals. It also included positive thinking and a shift in the way I see myself as I go about my daily life.

 

Fourteen weeks in and I feel great! Like, really great. I feel a lightness of body and mind I’ve never experienced before. I feel physically free and able, mentally agile. I feel like I’m on a high that will never end.  Why would I keep this amazing feeling to myself? Surely everyone wants to feel like this?

 

I want to tell EVERYONE about it. I want to shout it from the roof tops!

 

Don’t. If nothing else because it can be quite the slap in the face when you are likened to a glassy eyed, religious fanatic.

 

Not everyone is ready to hear all about the things they’re doing “wrong” in their lives and how the choices they’re making are bad for them. I use “wrong” in inverted commas here because in life things are rarely as black and white as right and wrong.  And if the person you’re talking to has some issues with their self esteem then it’ll be like listening to someone telling them how big a failure they are.  Feeling bad about yourself is often the biggest obstacle to positive change.

 

So instead of tutting at the chocolate bar or spouting obesity statistics, try a different approach.  Sure, if people ask you why you’re looking so trim or how you managed to run that half marathon, tell them what you did.  Give advice freely and with no expectation that it will be heeded. Remember that regardless of how “right” you know yourself to be, no matter how much medical evidence there is to prove that a large percentage of the western world is eating itself to death, no matter that you are living proof that change is a good thing, don’t preach. It may actually be the thing that stops someone from changing.

 

Here endeth today’s lesson.

xx

Cat