My life as head coach of Higher Health is filled with getting my clients and friends healthy, and performing at their personal best.
Granted, I should be practicing what I preach.
As kids, my sister and I would spend lots of time with the grandparents. Every day I’d get picked up from school with a packet of hot chips and chocolate milk waiting for me at the front gate. I’d go home to home-made pizzas, I’d wash it down with Coke, and then finish the meal off with a Bubble O’Bill, or a Magnum, or both.
Slowly, but surely, I began to notice some pudge. My grandmother would tell me the pudge was baby fat and it’d be gone with my next growth spurt. My mum said I was ‘big boned’.
By the age of 10 I remember the Doc’s scales reading 86kg.
Pool parties became less about having fun with friends, and more about how I could possibly hide my man boobs.
The lead up to swimming carnivals involved manipulating my mum into writing sick notes so I didn’t have to unkit in front of my friends.
I cursed my dad’s side of the family for gifting me with this fat gene inclusive of the world’s slowest metabolism.
I hated my puffy cheeks. My belly button was like a smiley face :) Still is :) And I just wanted to be able to wear boardies minus the muffin top and the chafe.
Sometimes I’d be so frustrated with my body that I’d visualise being rid of the body fat via chainsaw. In medical terms they may call this ‘Lipo’.
I came to the realisation that my baby fat wasn’t going anywhere.
Strenuous exercise became the solution instead, and the search for the perfect diet was fast turning into an urgent endeavour.
When I was 17 I read all about ketosis. Carbs became the devil. I didn’t eat one for 4 months. I lost weight. My jeans fell off my waist. My jaw chiseled.
This part was good.
At the same time, the idea of never eating another Nutella sandwich was something I couldn’t stand to think about. Actually, it only made me crave more Nutella. The type on Wonder White bread with ample goodness oozing out of every bite…
The final sword came on one hot summer’s day around my aunty’s pool. Cold, fresh watermelon was circulating, and I desperately wanted to eat it. But watermelon is fruit. Fruit is sugar. Sugar is carbs. That meant no watermelon. No swooshing, sweet juice parties in my mouth, and no chance to spit pips and annoy the people around me.
I felt restricted. And frustrated. And humiliated.
Needless to say the low carb kick went out the window, as did my updated wardrobe. The Nutella sandwiches made a comeback, in force, as did those boobies.
And so my secret goes…
Being lean, fit, and healthy never came naturally to me. Heck, it still requires lots of work. Only yesterday I was painfully reminded of how ice cream and lots of beer don’t make a good combination.
As I now coach, guide, write, and think about health, and performance, there are times when I still feel bloated, lazy, and out of control, just as I used to.
I still find myself occasionally attempting to uphold ideas to do with the perfect body, and feeling out of control when somehow I miss the mark.
That’s when I think about what Should be happening instead of focusing on What Is happening. As a health and performance coach:
I should always maintain low body fat and always feel full of energy. I don’t.
I should have 8 highly visible abdominals, and veins coming out of my glutes. No chance.
I should squat double my body weight. I can’t.
I shouldn’t binge. But I do.
I shouldn’t make myself sick from overeating. Ahem.
I.e. I should be Perfect. But I’m not.
And then I remember that ‘Perfect’ is an idea reserved only for the fairy tales of yesteryear.
When I bring my brain back into reality, it appears that ‘imperfect’ is much more likely around here in the real world. And sometimes ‘good enough’ is actually enough.
I realise that feeling fat, just like feeling fit, are merely physical sensations. These sensations don’t define who I am.
The challenges that have come with this realisation have helped me understand the complexity of habitual patterns.
Suddenly I have more respect for the process that requires guidance, lots of awareness, and excessive amounts of patience.
Now I can empathise with clients, and I am forever grateful to connect on common ground.
To the 6 week ‘Challengers’ and boot camp warriors who fight against their own selves and still manage to keep all the weight off, I salute you.
Because the world around you can get pretty sucky when it’s void of self-compassion.
The road to understanding and appreciating yourself and everything about you is a long one, depending on where you start from. It can’t be found in controlling macronutrient ratios, or restricting certain food groups. It doesn’t come in 6 weeks, or 6 months. And no, it can’t be supplemented.
Thanks to some good teachers I’m privileged to have around me, I’m increasingly understanding that the process of change requires an ongoing commitment of refinement toward self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
All the kale in the world won’t help you if you are your own worst enemy.
You can have abs and still be an asshole to others.
You may seek to control your carb intake but do you control what and how you think, feel, and experience everything around you?
As I’ve learned to shift my focus more toward intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic guidelines, I’ve learned what works best for me. And it isn’t found in the numbers.
Instead, I now attempt to be more generous and decent with myself.
I recognise that I am part of a greater whole, and there are people like me with problems of the same nature, if not a lot worse.
I focus on being consciously aware and non judgmental of what I’m doing, thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
So here goes…
You’ve read this far. Now do yourself one more favour.
What you compare yourself to?
What are your Shoulds?
Now, here’s the next step.
In an alternate version of reality, everything would be perfect. The way it Should be.
But this isn’t Nirvana, yet, and the only way to move forward is to deal with what is, right.. Now.
Health in the real world isn’t as much as “perfect” as it is about “good enough”.
Focus on “good enough”, and the Shoulds will take care of themselves.