Monday, 29 April 2013

For the love of a mountain

This isn’t a post about how I’ve smashed an amazing goal, or about how I’ve overcome some major hurdle, or describing a current struggle.

This is just a post about how I set a simple goal and how achieving it meant more to me than I realised.  There’s no amazing feats in this blog post, just to let you know from the outset. :)

So there’s this mountain in Brisbane: Mt Coot-tha.  It’s a tiny mountain, and it’s one of the main heart points of our city.  There’s a planetarium and Botanical Gardens at the bottom of it, many hiking and cycle tracks around it, and at the top there’s a restaurant and a tourist hub lookout with beautiful views right over Brisbane.  There’s heaps of picnic grounds and it’s also home to the Channel 7, 9, 10 etc. stations and towers.  The looping road is popular for cyclists.  Last year Mt Coot-tha was one of the Top 10 stretches of road tracked in Strava in the world.  There’s also usually a string of cars that pull over to the side of the road on Friday and Saturday nights with couples at the end of dates. ;)  There’s fun on that mountain for all ages! :P           

I made a Week 11 goal to walk Mt Coot-tha via the road that loops around it.  I got a few friends lined up to join me and we set out to conquer it just before sunrise on Saturday morning.  I didn’t know why I wanted to do this, or why each round I make a goal that involves Mt Coot-tha.  Usually it’s conquering the Kokoda track – one of the full on hiking tracks on the side of the mountain. I didn’t know why I kept making goals on this mountain.  I just go with it!

The loop road is about 10.5km.  I always drive up the road – to get to somewhere else on the mountain.  But this time I wanted to do it via foot.

I met up with the awesome girls who were joining me and we set out.  And as we walked around it I had a bit of a “This Is Your Life” moment.  Suddenly it was like I was remembering all these memories I had had on the mountain.

-When I was a kid my family had picnics on the mountain.
-In the house I grew up in, if I strained my neck in a certain position while lying on my bed, I could see one of the red flashing lights from the top of the TV towers.  When I was going through a difficult time as a teenager, I used to strain my neck each night before I could go to sleep to catch a glimpse of the red flashing light, like a nightly comfort thing.

-I’ve had dates up there...16 year old Kate making out with Rob at the summit...ahhhh Rob...I loved Rob... *move on Kate!*
With my cousins on a family picnic.  I'm on the far left in the middle.

-In Year 12 I organised work experience for myself at Channel 7, 9 and 10 and adored it – a bright eyed teenager speeding off to press conferences in station cars and helping film TV shows: what my heart desired.

-I’ve had auditions at the stations – cattle calls of girls with stars in their eyes...

-I’ve seen friends get married there.

-I’ve had coffees, icecreams, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and catch ups with friends there.

-I’ve found myself on the top of the mountain during some particularly personal heartbreaking moments.  I’ve just literally escaped and ran away up there to look at the view and just sit and cry.

-I’ve climbed Kokoda and done heaps of bushwalks there with 12WBT friends and met heaps of lovely friends.  Including having breaky there with Mish herself once!

-I’ve just been to the top to admire the view and put the world into perspective.
Rhonda, Alana, Bron and myself

-I even decided when I was 14 that I would get proposed to up there!

So many moments up there – and walking it by road really brought all these moments back to me.  I realised I usually rush up that mountain and don’t allow myself to remember these moments.

We did the ring road and it was great – just under 1000 calories, just under 3 hours, some great girls by my side and a whole lot of memories to make me smile.  And I finally worked out why I keep making goals there and going back to that mountain.

Sometimes we need to slow down and not rush through things to see the special stuff...the stuff that matters...

Thanks to Alana, Rhonda, Bron and Sarah for sharing this goal with me.

Love that mountain :)

Top of the mountain!

LOL!  The girls said there was a dead animal.  It was safer for everyone if I didn't look.

Jumper fits both of us!

My beloved TV stations...10, 2, 7 & 9

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A REAL 'before and after photo'

So I've been hearing some stuff lately...from conversations, observations and even from myself. About this weight loss thing. In particular, about 'before and after photos.' We all love them, don't we? They're bloody inspirational! To see a photo of a non-smiling, obese person next to a smiley skinny minny makes us all feel like we can 'do it' too. It makes us believe that transformations are possible. To put it simply, they give us hope.

You've all seen this before.  It's true.

What has been bothering me lately though, is how easy it is to believe that 'that', is it. I'm going to speak really bluntly here. It's so easy to believe that the fat photo happened. And then the skinny photo was next. There was nothing before, or in the middle, or after. And that it's all about the goal weight.

People forget the whole other side to these photos. Now I am NOT talking about myself here - I am not even close to goal and am officially still 'Obese'.  I am simply just speaking generically. It's easy to forget that this - let's say woman - was once a child. Once was an awkward teenager. They forget that she has lost weight before. And put some on. Then lost it again. Then put on more. Like my weight tracker in blue below.  This is very up and down.  The second highest point is when I started 12WBT.  Yes, it's predominately going down and I know this time is for real.  But if you look closely, there's lots of little hiccups in there along the way as I learn.

But when we see photos we can forget that it may not have been straightforward.  We don't think about the fact that the person in the photos has passions, hobbies, day to day things that she has to do. She has a family. And friends. She has bad habits - some days she's grumpy for no reason. She's human.

My weight for the last 6 years - not exactly a straight line

It could be easily forgiven to look at a before and after photo and believe that it was smooth sailing and the numbers dropped away consistently each week: a perfect downwards line on a weight loss chart. Not even. Looking at a before and after photo, you can't see the slip ups that happened in between. You can't see the block of chocolate that was consumed in a frenzy of old behaviours that snuck back in on a day when the kids were driving her crazy and she had an argument with her partner. You can’t see the bad days, the sad days, the good days, the days where you just can’t be bothered. You can't see the day to day tribulations that every one of us have. 

Those before and afters are real, alright.  But they’re not the be all and end all.  They’re two moments in time.  Life is so much more.  She has more going on than these two photos.  And besides, none of are able to use our true ‘after’ photo yet.  Think about it.

The person smiling in that after photo, they may have a wide grin but don't think their life is perfect. They suffer from illness, injury, relationship breakdowns, career issues, sad days and bad hair days.  Just as they've had triumphs, successes, days of pure joy and moments that take their breathe away. They have done before and they will continue to do. Because an 'after photo' is just a snapshot in time. There's plenty more photos to come after that one. Because this isn't about weight - this is a part of your life. 

And more importantly, what about those passions of yours?  You know, the ones you keep hidden inside you and you gave up on because it was too hard / too expensive / too scary / too time consuming.  You know it’s a passion because when you think about it, your heart physically contracts and you get butterflies in your knees.  Don’t pretend you don’t.

I put together an example of a real 'before and after photo'. I am only halfway through my weight loss journey so I'm not the best subject for this, but it should still show you what I mean.

Below are two photo collages. The first collage is my most recent 'before and after photo'. And the second collage is a more realistic view of my two photos – using just a few representations of photos for different parts of my life. I had photos before my 'before' photo. We all have a past. The journey between these two photos has been up and down. I didn't just go from Picture A to B. From a nutrition and exercise point of view, I stuffed up all the time. I still do. There’s no (as far as I know) perfect person with the perfect life.

Everyone’s fighting some battle.  Even the ones with smiley ‘after’ photos.  And I'm not even at goal yet.  Imagine the pressure that people put on themselves when they look at actual goal weight 'after photos' and make up some perfect story about how that person has had an easy ride, or perfect run of luck.

When really, when truth be told, they have just worked their ass off amidst their own personal adversity and triumph.  I want this story to give you comfort that 'weight loss journeys' aren't perfect.  So if you slip up or go 'off course', don't worry - so did the smiley skinny chick in the photo.  It's just a part of the whole process.

I've had some amazing, out of this world moments between these two photos. And I've also had some really shit moments. Coz it's life.  I think people forget this - the journey isn't in those two photos - it is the stuff that happens in between - and before, and after, that is the real journey. That's what matters. We just happen to be losing weight and improving our health as well.  But that is not the only thing in our lives.  Don’t forget the important stuff in your bid to drop kilos.

Play with your kids, reignite that passion you gave up on a while ago, drive to the beach and just sit, sign up for that guitar class, because that's the stuff that matters. The photos that you see published out there are just snapshots in time.  It’s the unpublished snapshots you create every day that actually matter.

A 'before and after photo'
A REAL 'before and after photo'

From scary movie runs to flying high (and everything in between)

Boot camp in the morning of Twilight

Time to update with some of the stuff I keep saying that I'll write about!

Firstly, probably the most full on event I have ever done so far - the Brisbane Twilight Run.  This was an event that had a 5km, 10km and half marathon and I signed up for the 10km.

Mish! <3
Before I go on I would like to pay my respects to the man who lost his life in this event.  My sincere thoughts are with him and his family.  I have no comment about what happened other than to pay my respects.  This blog post is about my personal experience in the run and nothing else.  But as a fellow runner, and a fellow human, my heart breaks for him and for the victims of the recent Boston tragedy.  I am only new to this running thing but I feel that unity thing already: whether we're marathon runners, learning to run, or somewhere in between.  My love goes out to them.  This story however is just from the point of view of some blonde chick in Brisbane who's trying to lose weight and train for a half marathon.  Absolutely no disrespect is intended.

So this was my 1st 10km run - I had done 11km in January but officially I hadn't done 10km.  And there was also that whole self belief thing going on - yeah I pulled it off in January, could I actually do it again?  Let's try it and see.
Fun with Courts x

During the day Court and I went to boot camp and to see an instore appearance of Mish and the Commando <3  It's hard to decide who I love more :P

And then it was a race to the start line.  The 5km event started and finished - it was sunny and basically sunscreen weather.  Mother Nature had other things instore though.  The 10km and half marathon runners lined up together, and we were off.  I ran alongside the amazing Nic.  Our goal was just to run the whole thing - I just wanted to not stop and feel good.  We kept a nice pace together and just ran comfortably - I was really enjoying it.

Nic and I gearing up!
Then - about 20min. into it, the weather suddenly changed and a storm started to loom.  And I mean it was sudden.  I had brought a plastic zip lock bag to protect my phone from sweat - I had time to put my phone and iPod into the bag, but I didn't even have enough time to zip the bag up, before the most torrential storm I have been in, started.

Before we knew it, Nic and I were in the middle of what felt like a scary movie.  It all happened so quickly.  One minute we were jogging in the sunlight, and within probably 5 minutes, we were suddenly thrust into this torrent.  The rain was manic - it was coming sideways.  The roads started to flood - I can't believe how quickly this happened.  The power must have gone out around the area because we had to wait for lightning bolts to be able to see where we were going.  It was black until lightning would happen and we could see again for a split second.  I guess it didn't matter that we couldn't really see though, as we were in flood water regardless.  People were calling out and there was screaming and yelling.  It was really scary.  I started running sideways so that I could breathe as the water was hitting my face - my mouth, nose, ears and eyes were taking a battering.

Nic and I afterwards

Nic and I kept going.  We had to.  We went from running 10km for fun to suddenly running to safety.  We were running through a flooded road - the fact that it was pitch black probably didn't matter because I couldn't see anyway from all of the rain.  I tried to wear my sunglasses to protect my eyes.  We had to get out of there.  As we got further on we saw heaps of trees down and the sounds of ambulances everywhere.  The scary movie feeling just got bigger and bigger.  We heard a rumour that they had cancelled the event midway through but didn't know for sure until we were about 8 or 9km in.  We had to get back to the start line anyway, so we just kept running.  I didn't realise how serious it was at this point and was determined to run our 10km, whether the finish banner was still up or not.

They kept it up - and we ran through it in our best time - and we got a medal.  We got to calm down at the finish line and the weather had subsided a lot by that stage.  I'm proud of us for continuing - not that we had much choice.  We could have knocked on some strangers door and asked for shelter, but retrospect is a great thing - I didn't think of this at the time.  At the time it was just a one track mind.  Get us out of here - and to do that we had to finish what we had started.  It was an experience alright - and not something any of us could have been prepared for.

My most deserved medal to date!

The gorgeous Tracey braved the elements to cheer us across the finish line!

Step 1, 2, 3...

Completely opposite to that event, last weekend I got the amazing opportunity to do some very cool stuff.  One thing was to go on a trapeze!  And to do floor acrobatics!  And weight lifting!  And eating fire!  And Parkour!  And I did cartwheels for the first time since I was a teenager!  I went through a phase as a young teenager where I used to do them more often than walking.  My Mum said she'd turn around and I'd be cartwheeling behind her instead of walking like a normal person.  I got scared as I got older.  But last week I did it again!  And heaps of boxing!  And I did my Round 2 Week 2 goal, mega early and went on the Wheel of Brisbane!  And I went on the back of a Harley!  All this stuff was amazing.  But the thing that got to me the most was the acrobatics.  I had to stand on another person.  Put all of my body weight on their knees.  When you
Step 4 and 5 and I'm up!
have been 141kg there is usually a certain fear factor surrounding doing this.  In the past I've had

people make me change which side of the car I am sitting on to even out tyre pressure.  So understandably I have a little bit of a reservation about putting my weight on a fellow human being!  But I did it. :)  And as far as I know, they survived it!  Trust is such a complex word....

A little nervous

My cartwheel!

Braving my fear at the top of the wheel :)

Katie, Leisa and Court supporting me on the wheel :)

There's always time for playing-it-up selfies

This morning being ANZAC Day, some friends and I did the Kokoda Track and another track here in Brisbane.  At the top of the mountain we played the Last Post and all stood, silent, listening to it.  Even some other people who were exercising there at the time, stopped talking while we played it. :)  Lest We Forget.


Oh and last weekend I did parkrun with a fellow 12WBT new friend, Bek.  This amazing girl was visiting Brisbane and we caught up so that we could meet and do a run
The awesome Bek
together.  She is the most beautiful person and I feel so thankful that I got the opportunity to meet her.  From reading each others blogs, to running a 9 seconds off a PB run together was really cool.  And then I was lucky to have dinner the next night with another lovely 12WBTer who was visiting Brisbane, Jodie.  I love when you meet some people and you feel like you've known them forever.  There's so much going on in life and I love being reminded so often at the moment that there are special people around me, and that I can push myself in ways I never dreamed possible.

Lotsa love, Coco Girl xxooo

Meeting the gorgeous Jodie

I fit into this red dress this week - have been trying to for years!
At Kokoda a few weeks ago

Kokoda a few weeks ago

I'm so strong!

Today at Kokoda :)

Kokoda today
See, the wheel is high!