Liberty & Life

cover1-150x235Change is inevitable, like nature – life evolves and constantly moves around us, if we do not adapt we wither, and thankfully adaptation seems to be something that we are good at… even we we proclaim not to be.

Change is not always easy, depending on the circumstances it can in fact feel arresting, the other side of that coin however is liberty, which is the topic of todays post.

I have under gone an enormous amount of personal change over the past 3 years (longer if you count the time from which I had gastric banding surgery) however the last 3 years have been monumental in bringing me to the point I am at today.

In 2010 I went back to University full time and started a graduate degree in education. It was a busy year with crazy timelines, I started a job the same time, working part time with at risk adolescents at night of the streets of Melbourne. At the end of 2010, I finished my degree and although I loved my teaching rounds (for reasons to numerous to go into now) I made the decision to stay in the job I was at and accepted a full time role with the team. I still believed however that I would move towards teaching eventually, but now was not that time.

The full time role and work we engage in is tough, at night and with young people often marginalised by a society that barely accepts them, let alone make the time to understand them. We work with young people who are tough and hard on the outside, but like us all underneath are just looking for acceptance and belonging. I love this work, I love the interactions with young people, I love advocating for them, encouraging them. But  like all meaningful work it comes with a price.

My role involved working 10 hour shifts (often with long overtime) and was always at night either 4pm till 2am or 6am till 4am, and it entailed working 7 nights a fortnight, which always included one weekend in that block… I know that for this work to be possible this is the way that it needs to be, it has to be at night, on the streets, rain, hail or heat. This is the role.

I think that these hours worked for me for a period of time, I could prioritise my exercise during the day, sleep in (I am a bit of a night owl) and engage in work that is both rewarding and meaningful. However there is always a cost. Working night shift continually eventually turned me in a vampire (not literally) but yes, I rarely saw sunlight, found it difficult to sleep at night or during the day, became disengaged from family and friends given that I only had 7 nights a fortnight to see people, and add dating to that – well you get the picture.

I have had 4 surgeries this year, hard enough for anyone, interrupted sleep and poor eating routine and crazy hours found it hard for me to return to my best healthy self… Add to this a number of stressful events at work and I was a powder keg just waiting for a spark to set me off.

I knew in my heart in the middle of this year that this would in fact be the last year I would be able to stay in my outreach role. I love the role, but my heart yearned for something more. I love working with children and young people, and have a desire for them to see and realise their full potential.  Social work is great, I am passionate about it, but it is  not where my calling lies, I believe that my calling is in realm of education.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce (now that I have formally told work) that I have resigned from my job today, and will not return there. I am currently on annual leave and my resignation will dovetail right into my resignation date. I have accepted a position teaching next year, I will be teaching in a suburb about 10km from me, I am under no illusions that it will be tough at times, but I know it will be rewarding also. I will be teaching Year 6, and get to journey with a group of students from Jan to Dec in 2013 seeing them grow and graduate from Primary School…

I am sad to leave my colleagues and young people on the street, but I know that this is where I am supposed to move towards.  I can work in education with a group of students and hopefully become a teacher that allows students to see and understand their intrinsic value and develop as individuals, building resiliency and skills that will  afford them full lives and divert them from coming into contact with social workers protecting kids on the streets.

The door is officially closed to my last role, I will miss some of it and most definitely my colleagues who are simply amazing people… But I feel strangely liberated, like I am moving towards myself, my path in life. I look forward to a life of living in the waking world, exercising and eating with more routine, not feeling socially isolated and having every weekend free; but more importantly, I am looking forward to a  2013 where I will open the door to the learning space that will begin my next journey.

Till next time,

Lin.

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Crazy…No just committed

Love this Quote

I got called “Crazy” tonight. Just because I wanted to go home after shift and run, and that it was likely to be still raining,. Many of you know that I have a habit, a pattern of coming home after shift and doing my running then. I have blogged about it, I have talked about it, I like it. Running in the wee hours of the morning works for me. I can unwind from work, push it all out and leave it on the pavement.

It was wet again tonight. I am not a fan of working in the rain. I work outside and wear 5 – 6 layers of clothing which consists of wool thermal tops, singlets, hoodies, t-shirts, and wind/water proof jackets. Whilst I don’t like spending hours walking around the city in the rain, I make every effort to stay as dry as possible, no one wants to be wet for hours, then drive home wet and cold.

But running – that is different. It is a time framed thing. I did 5.5km this morning. When I got home it wasnt raining, by the time I changed and walked outside it was the slow steady drizzle rain that soaks you through. I ran anyway, I said earlier I would run, even if it was raining. I did. I like it when it drizzles like this. I feel that my body stays cool, it is not crazy – it is committed. Plus when you get back home and you can deal with the wet then…

Crazy is sitting on the couch making excuses.

Crazy is the way i used to live, – if you could call it living, looking back i can’t, it was more of a sad existence. I was sick, tired, obese, stuck and making excuses… That was what was crazy, that Lin was lost – She was crazy and all her systems were unhealthy.

SO – if i tell you about my training, it is not crazy, it is committed. If I tell you about my events coming up and trying to squeeze them all in, it is not crazy it is taking life with both hands and living it with vigour.

I am not crazy – I am committed – committed to living a full and healthy life, having fun – and realise that to have a healthy mind and emotional life I first must live a physically healthy life. Running in the rain – that is just the tip of the iceberg. Being stronger and healthier is my goal… weight loss is the natural by-product of living a committed healthy lifestyle.

My goals at the moment are to work towards getting back to running a 10km before the 15th of May, strengthening my core, and improving on my shoulder and upper body strength after surgery. I am still having a little discomfort and pain with the arms and tummy… Not all the time – but strength is the key and working with the physio is helping.

So dear readers, find your commitment, call it crazy if you like… In fact I think I will embrace the word crazy now – Yep call me crazy; crazy about being healthy, fit and strong enough to live the life I want.

BTW the run was awesome! the key when running in the rain is getting home, stripping off the wet gear straight away and jumping into a warm shower. Now for sleep…

Till next time, Crazy Lin xox

Surgery, My Valentines Present to myself!

I haven’t blogged a lot over the past few weeks, and I apologize for this. I have felt caught between a rock and a hard place over the past few weeks, and this has been because I have been getting ready for reconstructive plastic surgery.

Under the Knife - Happy Valentines Day!

I have been dealing with a variety of different emotions over the past months as I have been meeting with doctors, surgeons and my psychologist in getting ready for this, the next part of my journey.

With losing a huge amount of weight, I also lost any chance of my skin being able to bounce back, I lost all skin elasticity and therefore kind of looked like a deflated balloon when all the clothes came off. This was not something that I was happy with, part of me felt deflated too, it wasn’t boding well for my self esteem; Moreover it was causing me medical issues, especially when it came to exercise and physical training.

After speaking with my GP and referrals and appointments with Reconstructive Plastic Surgeons, I decided that the best way forward from this point would be to undergo 3 separate surgeries over the next 18 months. This would address most of  the issues and allow me to move forward emotionally and physically. It would also give me the best chance to have good outcomes without stressing my body by trying to have everything done in a short time frame.

I haven’t exactly hidden the fact that I am getting surgery, I have told friends, colleagues and family what I am doing – just haven’t blogged about it yet. I have had extraordinary support from everyone I have told.

I have had some crazy moments, moment of being so scared and paralyzed by the thought of what was happening, but have been supported through all these emotions by amazing people in my life; I am blessed to have such great friends, family and support.

So on Valentines Day this year (2012) I went into Hospital to for the first of 3 surgeries (Or as i jokingly call them to my friends – the slice and dice) I am now recovering from a tummy tuck / lateral thigh lift and a brachioplasty (arm lift) still in Hospital and will blog a bit about the journey that I have been through over the coming days… It has been a rough couple of days in Hospital, and the recovery has been slow! But I am happy to share it now, I was scared to write about it at the start, to share it – always for fear of being judged! – But now I know that I need to share it, because if this helps one person who is going through something similar, then this is how I pay it forward…

Will write more soon , Till next time

Lin xox

Boot Camp, Leaps of Faith & Sucking Marrow from Life

Obstacles of Course - Mental or Physical?

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…                                                                                                           – Henry David Thoreau from his work Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

I went to Boot Camp and Discovered that I am capable of so much more, I am capable of pushing through fear and self doubt. Capable of working hard for 4 hours at a time, in heat and with little sleep. I sucked the marrow out of life this weekend and loved it!

This past weekend I went with my Step into Life Group (outdoor group personal training) to a Scout Camp Site in Mt Martha. The brief was 4 hours training Saturday afternoon, backed up with another 4 hour session Sunday morning. Over the weekend we carried a metal “rifle” pole  and ran in lines, got punished with a lot of pushups, went through a obstacle course (twice) then put together a “structure” with ropes, water containers, wooden poles, logs, tires all joined together and carried it as a team. We played capture the flag, ran hills in the heat, worked out on sand at the beach, ran relays and more push ups and sit ups…. well you get the picture.                                                                             It was hard work… But as I say, all things that are worth achieving are hard!

Two moments over the weekend stood out for me – the first was conquering something I was afraid to do last boot camp….the Fireman’s Pole. The pole was in the obstacle course, basically you climb a structure, then put your legs around the pole and slide down… sounds simple, but I couldn’t do it last boot camp and I was so scared this time. But with the help, guidance and support of my team I slid down that pole like it was covered in butter! Then celebrated with a decisive fist pump and a big YES!

The next moment was the Leap of Faith…. With the first day and the first 4 hours over, we had some free time before dinner, so 4 of us headed down to the beach.  One of my friends said he knew of a spot just down the road, and that it was not just any beach – It was jumping off a cliff into the water! I thought that it sounded like fun, so down we went to the beach walking down the cliffs to where there were quite a few groups of people (mostly young guys in their 20’s mind you) were jumping off the cliffs into the cool water. It didn’t look high from a distance but standing at the edge was a whole other matter.

My friend went in, (he jumped and didn’t die so i knew it was safe 😉 – No seriously we did check the depth before jumping in… After he was safely in the water  I went down to the edge of the cliff ready to jump – It was here that I FROZE. Yep, there I was with guys in their 20’s around me saying “comon, you can do it” and I was completely frozen. I wanted to jump, but just couldn’t do it I was paralyzed with fear. So I moved back from the edge, shaking and disappointed in myself.

My next friend jumped in – she did a great job and then I decided to have another go, So I moved to the edge, the problem was every time I looked down into the clear water, I just froze… I then decided to focus on my friends faces – stop thinking (and psyching myself out) and just take a step out. And that is what I did – jumping 3.5 – 4 meters into the clear cool water below.

It was a rush as I took that leap off the edge. Facing a fear and pushing through it was awesome – not being stuck on the cliff looking like a sook was good too! I hit the water and popped up to the surface quickly, and it was all over!   After all 4 of us had jumped into the water we swam for a while, and then my friend got out climbed the cliff and jumped the off the 10m cliff – Awesome to watch and his efforts were out of my league!

I remember that my parents used to say to me “if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” – If they asked my that today the answer would be ABSOLUTELY 🙂

Cliff Diving was not something I would have considered 12 months ago, I loved the jump (in the end) but more than that – I was living life and present in the moment, not eating dip and chips in a corner somewhere, wishing I was living life with everyone else!                                           I had the strength to climb the cliffs down to the spot, the confidence to jump, and the strength to climb up out of the water and climb the rock face back up to the top. That was a great feeling and realization as to how much life has changed for the better…

On Sunday after a beach workout (think lots of sand running and dragging stuff) we had to run 4km back to camp mostly up hill. The last hill was a killer, it was a hot, hot, hot morning and I managed to ran most of it, with a few quick walking breaks along the way… But every time I stopped to walk a bit, I had to keep telling myself – “You are fitter than this” “You can finish this – keep running” – It was a great feeling to finish it – working hard all weekend right to the end was great. Even the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) today is good pain – It is good because I know that I worked really hard to earn it.

Our trainer Dave put in a great deal of work over the weekend for us to have a fun and challenging time! Thanks Dave! – Plus a big thanks to all my friends and team mates who without encouragement from I wouldn’t have slid down a fire man’s pole, or jumped off a cliff !

While they might not be completely new learnings, this weekend I came away with the following being reinforced;

*I am capable of more than I think, and then some more on top of that too!

*Real friends encourage you to achieve and break down your own barriers.

*I enjoy spending time with people who love living life.

*I will continue to live deliberately and suck the marrow out of life and every moment possible.

Thanks for reading (especially this long post), Till next time,

Lin xox

Does Real Lasting Change Start SMALL?

Enjoy it one small bite at a time!

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small , Lao Tzu.

We often over look or diminish the small changes in our lives. We wonder why we aren’t able to maintain the massive changes we initiated at the start of the year (i.e NYE resolutions)… We try to change much in a short space of time, not allowing our brains to really fully adjust to the “New” state of play.

In reality there is no new state of play, there is only a radically altered playing field that is foreign to us. I believe that when we try to change things quickly, most of the time our thinking and processing are not able to keep up. We try to do it all at once, many times I have thought and voiced the idea of  “All or Nothing”, and I can think like this, but in reality and upon reflection, it is small consistent changes  that have impacted on my habits the most and have given me the best outcomes.

Here are some examples of small changes I made;

I began walking 5km about 3 times a week, after a few weeks, unwittingly I increased this to every second day, after a few more weeks, I increased it to everyday…. Then over the coming weeks I increased the distance to 10km every day…. I did not start out at 10km every day – I allowed my body and mind to adjust slowly over time… Building the habit, increasing the frequency and the intensity. Had I said at the start, “I will walk 10km everyday” I doubt I would have developed it into a habit….(In fact I know it wouldn’t have because I had tried that before) But I did over time build it up… And it was only on reflection that I realised that this was what I did, originally I didn’t have a plan, I only liked getting out and walking on the beach and because it made me feel good I did it more often. The walking lead to running, short distances lead to long distances – but all of this was over time and done gradually.

Recently I have been moving to a more protein focused diet and reducing my carb intake. I started with the focus on one meal a day, moving from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner…a friend said start small with breakfast,  very smart advice; I am still working on this change in diet – but am making small incremental changes over time that will hopefully add up to healthier habits in the end.

———

Now that I have less weight to lose it doesn’t come off as easily – I now understand the pain of losing that last 5kg – It seems like a small number, and it is hard to move… I used to be able to move 5kg quite easily (but that was when I had a lot to lose). Now I am down to the thin end of the stick 😉 – where it is all about the small changes, the small choices. It is where choice builds on choice. I need to remember that I can divide this number into smaller numbers, look at it as 1 kilo at a time, essentially breaking down the job into smaller jobs – take those first steps and make the small incremental changes.  Because I know that if i am true to myself they will add up to a healthier me.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

And while this blog is about losing weight, and reclaiming my life, I think that these principles can be applied to most areas of our life where we want change. Finances, weight, fitness, career progression, study etc.

Someone once said, “take a bite and then chew like crazy!” – I say  “Bite off a little, and enjoy it one mouthful at a time so you don’t go crazy”

It is about taking stock of the situation, being honest with ourselves and not getting overwhelmed by the reality – then – breakdown the problem into SMALL changes that overtime will allow us to enjoy the greater journey of overall impact.

Till next time, Lin xox

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.                                              Henry Ford.

The Law of Attraction

What am I choosing to attract in my life?

One of the best things about losing weight is feeling better about yourself; inside and out. It is the journey of feeling better on the outside that has changed dramatically for me, I have  started to make changes in how I view myself; and I have noticed that other people now view me differently too.

When I was walking everyday after I had the lap band in, I walked at night so no one could see me easily. At my heaviest I used to get people (particularly young guys) hang out of cars and yell abuse at me during the day, when I was walking up the shops, crossing the lights – Believe it or not but  near my highest weight I once had an apple thrown at my head when I was out walking at night..                                                                                                                       It was devastating & demoralising – I did not feel good about myself, Inside or Out.

I was speaking to someone the other day about the idea that we (as in individuals) shouldn’t care about what other people think about us. He challenged me when I said this, and suggested that the idea may be flawed in some aspects. He then suggested that we are social beings, we live, work and exist in community and what we say and our actions  impact each other…. Given this he suggested it is logical that we care about what other people think about us, it is a normal part of life. We care about what family and friends think of us and we don’t want people to think poorly of us. He is a well respected Psychologist and I got what he was suggesting, and agreed with it…

The fact is as much as I didn’t want to care about what other people thought about me, I did care that people yelled abuse at me, I did care that apples got thrown at me from cars; I did care and It hurt.

I sometimes still think that people see me as that fat girl, and It is an idea that I have to challenge on an ongoing basis. People don’t treat me like that fat girl anymore and I am starting to train my brain to actually “see” myself as I am now. I have gone from guys throwing insults and apples, to being whistled at on the street, or being flirted with in a bar – A very different experience, and something that is hard to get your head around.

I have noticed that the better I feel about myself, the more confidence I have, the more I smile, flirt and generally have fun with life and people. Confidence is an amazing feeling – and while I don’t have any delusions that I am some sort of super model (I do have curves for a start 😉 ), I feel good about myself and this is nice for a change.

Basically I liken it to the law of attraction – the idea that “like attracts like”… I am more confident, happy and loving life and therefore live a life like this. I now attract people in my life that are confident, happy and loving life.

I am sharing this because I think looking back I was not that person, I was not happy in myself and perceived other people who were successful as a threat to me.

The law of attraction for me back then was “I feel crap, and will attract crap in my life” –  I viewed life and people negatively.  That is no longer the case, I view life more positively now, and will continue to embrace life and understand that confidence begets confidence, it is this cycle and knowledge, that I believe, will help me to keep hold of the gains and progress that I have made.

Till next time,

Lin xox

Rest is not an Option – it is a Requirement

Just a little tired?

I think I possibly only have two gears – All or Nothing. I don’t think this is good, and I need to work on this… Leading up to Christmas (without realising) I upped my running too much. Basically I was enjoying my running so much that I forgot to track what I was doing, and increased my km’s from roughly 18 – 20km a week to 32km. My hamstrings, ITB and calves went out on protest, and I couldn’t figure out why I was so tight… then sitting in the physio’s waiting room (to get him to look at the hammies)  and playing with my Garmin watch I realised my mistake…

I wasn’t tracking my running and running to a plan… I wasn’t giving my body enough time to rest, or have rest days from running, and as I saw that I had run 32km in that week I cringed at the thought of having to admit this shortly to my physio.

SO I rested, for 2 weeks over Christmas I rested my legs, and they thanked me. This resting was not easy – I felt antsy and wrong – all I wanted to do was run…  But with further physio, work on the foam roller and no running, my legs gradually improved and I got my range of motion back….

Then I went for a run, it was hard after a break – the fitness dropped a little, it was hot even at 5am, but i enjoyed it and pushed out 4.5km…. then i got sick – Pushed myself too much and came down with a mild tummy bug, still went to work and thought I was OK – But still deciding that I needed to exercise, have fun and make the most of my summer, off I went water skiing….Got to the lake only to realise I was still not 100%, had a go anyway and learnt that this is not a good idea when you can’t keep down fluids. (Throwing up whilst clad in a wetsuit, floating on your back and skis in the air is not fun)

This lead to spending the next 5 days under the weather, short on sleep, long hours at work and quite emotional… All my fuel tanks felt low and I was a bit of a mess.

Why am I sharing all this? Good Question really – and I think this is why…

As I said, I only seem to have two gears – all or nothing  – and what I am scared of is if I start to do nothing (because of illness, injury, lack of sleep, work etc) then this may lead me back to bad old patterns, but what I need to find more of is BALANCE.

BALANCE with my workouts, balance with sleep, work, rest days etc… When I moved to Mordi I walked everyday, now with improved fitness and the ability to do more, i do do more… Sometimes I think I might do too much – leading me to a place where I am doing more damage than good. I need to have rest days of walking and swimming to give my body time to recover from the hard days when I exercise for 3 hours or more. Rest is important to building muscle and cells regenerating and I know this, but I have this thing where I think If can do more I should do more… BUT  with proper rest I am more likely to not become sick or injured and be able to maintain a good workout schedule. So for now that is the aim. Still be active everyday – but for it to be OK to listen to my body, have a gentle walk or swim and not think I need to break myself down and hit it hard every day…. So I will see how that goes.

Till next time, Lin xox