Two Years Ago, My Life Changed

Two years ago on my mother’s birthday – 5 March – my life changed.

Two years on, I can say that it changed for the better.  I felt guilty saying that last year, but now it seems so obvious that saying it is just like reciting a learned fact.

Two years ago yesterday, I woke to my mother knocking on the bedroom door.

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Then…

We were at my parents’ place for the weekend – to spoil her on her birthday.

“Can one of you come out here and give me a hand for a minute?”

Her voice wasn’t panicked.   It sounded stressed, like it had all the years can had to bang on the door to wake us up and get us to school on time.

I got up, in a hurry – this was an early-morning request from a woman who rarely asked for help.  Of course I was surprised, confused, and curious… what was going on?

As I left the bedroom, my mother pushed one of the dogs in and closed the door.  Shutting him in there.  Odd.

“[Dad] isn’t well”  she said as I followed her into the living room.  She had the phone in her hand and was dialing 111.

“Can you get on the floor?” That one was directed at Dad.

“Keep him talking” That one was directed at me.

Dad was having chest pains, and Mum – being a nurse – took control of the situation.  She handled everything so well, and kept us all calm.

Afterwards, she told me just how panicked she felt.  That she had asked Dad to get on the floor because she knew she’d never be able to perform CPR on the couch, or have the strength to move him if she needed to.  She went into problem-fixing mode and words can’t describe how thankful I am to her for that.  It’s something I’ve never seen in my emotion-led and people-oriented mother.  But at the time, she took control and handled it – putting her own feelings  of being scared aside.

While mum was on the phone with emergency services, I made small talk with Dad – really awkward small talk.  I don’t have a clue what we actually talked about.  There was kind of a big elephant in the room.  Sarcastic, awkward humour – it’s our thing.

Not long after, I was running down a gravel driveway in my pyjamas to signal the ambulance on to the property and through the front gate.

The paramedics came into the house and checked him out.  I stayed in the kitchen to let them have their privacy.

They led him out the back door and into the ambulance. Mum followed behind in her car.

Later…

A transfer to Wellington Hospital and a surgery or two later, I watched Dad continue his bad habits and nothing really change.  I later found out that he had been having chest pains in the weeks beforehand – one time while he was out walking so he stopped at Burger King and got a cheeseburger so he could sit down and catch his breath. 

If he had stopped and listened to his body then, could the panic that horrible morning been avoided?

I told myself I never wanted to be in that position.  I especially didn’t want to be in a position like that and not learn from my mistakes.

The whole thing was stressful for everyone – especially my parents – and everyone was effected in different ways.

My parents started talking a lot about power of attorneys, and where to find the bank records if I ever needed to unravel their affairs.

My brother kept a lot of it to himself, but watched the things my father did closely, too.

I started losing my hair, and realised that something had to change in my life.

Now… 

I’m not a health-fanatic, but exercise plays a much bigger part in my life now.  That fact that is plays any part is a big deal.  I was that kid that would use every excuse in the book to get out of PE and avoided all sports like the plague.  It got even worse after high school.

I worked long hours while studying, and ate a lot of crap.  I didn’t cook.  I heated ready-made (cheap) food.   The only exercise I got was carrying books to and from the bus stop.

I travelled Europe and graduated at the heaviest I’ve ever been (somewhere over 80kg here, probably closer to 85kg).

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Then all this happened.  I felt like my body was falling apart from stress and not being looked after.

I was scared.

So I made small changes.  I set myself small goals, and I talked about them on here.  My world didn’t change over night, but I started seeing results.

Slowly but surely, my lifestyle changed.
And I started respecting myself again.

There were goals in my life beyond my career!

I started setting my goals higher.  I got out, and tried new things…

Running

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And Dragonboating

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And bootcamp!

Now I’m having personal training sessions, and really enjoying pushing myself in ways I haven’t before.

It sucks that it took something so scary to trigger this kind of behaviour, but I’m glad something did.  Here’s to another two years of improvement, progress, and prevention.

IQS: Week One – What It Involves

ID-100206025Week one of the “I Quit Sugar” plan…  here we are right at the start of the journey plan detox.   And, thankfully, it’s not about going cold turkey. 

[Want to know why I’m on this journey? Check out this post.  And this one, too, for good measure.]

This week is about cutting down on sugar (fructose) and being conscious of my food choices.

At this stage, artificial sweeteners are allowed… but they won’t be for long.

How will it go?  We’ll see!
I’d say it shouldn’t be too  hard but I don’t want those to be famous last words!

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Attempt two of the new plan went much better than the first go… well, the ab work at least.

A good, sweaty workout.  In a very humid gym.  Oh Lord was it sweaty.

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And I enjoyed it!  It was good to get out of my funk and thrash my body a little.  Okay, not thrash so much as just a bloody good workout.

Went a little crazy on the leg press… might feel that one tomorrow.

The only catch?  I was super hungry at the end of it, and really should have had something on hand to eat rather than wait the hour it took to get home and cook.

I’m thinking a protein bar of some description.  Anyone know any good protein that aren’t packed with sugar? 
Bonus points to those who can recommend something you can buy here in NZ!

Worst comes to worst, I’ll just carry around chunks of cold chicken… but that’ll be all warm and gross in my gym bag…

First Session on My New Plan

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I have a new workout plan.

I was very excited about getting it.
I was very excited about doing it.
I was very excited about surviving it.

Well… I use the term surviving in the literal sense.  I left the gym alive, so that was a success.

The plan is a mix of legs, arms and abs.  Body weights and machines.  There are some supersets in there to really get the heart pumping.  And there’s cardio slotted in amongst the weight training.

The leg work hurt, but was managable.
The arm work used muscles that I didn’t realise I had.
The ab work had me really struggling.

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Okay, get this – I was apparently entertaining to watch.  I was on the mat – on my back – trying to reach my hands up to my legs in the air to grab a swiss ball I was gripping between my legs.  Swiss ball crunches.  I looked like a bug stuck on its back, legs flailing in the air.   Like someone had just sprayed me with bug spray.  And there was a woman watching me the entire time.

She watched, expressionless.  Her eyes followed me as I struggled… to sit up… and lay back down… And to top it all off, she was squatting.  The entire time.  With perfect form.

I’m torn between being creeped out (initial reaction) and being impressed (that was an epic squat!).
So torn.

To top it off, I only managed 4 swiss ball crunches on my last set.  But that’s more than I ever would have done before getting the plan.

Next time, I’m going to smash it!
(Or, at least more so than last time!)

Pinched and Prodded – My Science Experiment

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I felt a little like a lab rat this evening when I met with my trainer and she took all my measurements.

Cath (PT) is awesome, and made the whole thing very fun and lighthearted.  But I felt a bit like a patient in a hospital.  Not quite a woman rushed into the emergency room, but maybe a responsible grown-up getting something checked ‘just in case’.

Thankfully, my measurements weren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be.  Granted, they weren’t great either!

The fattiest part of my body is my triceps.

Apparently it’s one of the most common areas for women.  I can honestly say I’ve never thought about it before.  Butt, yes.  Thighs, yes.  But the backs of my arms?  Nope, can’t say I have.  Of course, your butt and thighs are where you should have your fat, so it’s not counted in quite the same way.

My thighs are equally fat.

Honestly.  We measured.  They’re both 55cm in circumference.
Oh yeah, totally my proudest moment.  (I’m not entirely sure whether that’s sarcasm).

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30% of my body is fat.

Based on my discussions with Cath, I want to be getting my total stored energy (fat) under 19kg.  And, realistically, a healthy weight for me is in the realm of 69-70kg.

I should be working hard to make sure I don’t lose any of the lean muscle (calculated as everything that’s not fat) I currently have.  But I don’t necessarily have to work on building it at this stage.  Just the portion of body weight that’s muscle.  In other words, drop my body fat percentage.

I have a programme for when I’m on the gym floor, too.

But I’m saving the details of that for later!

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Have you ever had your measurements taken by a trainer?
What did you think of your experience?
Did it help you focus your energy and training?
Do you think it helped you get results?