Category Archives: Loving and Knowing Yourself

Everybody Has Reversals

One of my favourite movies is the little-known David Mamet skewering of Hollywood, the filmmaking parody called State and Main.

In it, supposed screenwriter Phillip Seymour Hoffman laments being kicked off his first movie.

The bookstore owner, played by Rebecca Pidgeon, says to him, “Well…  Everybody has reversals. If you were never down, how would you know when you were up?”

It’s a pretty universally held-belief espoused by everyone from Rumi and Kahlil Gibran to my neighbour Bob down the street.

Graffiti I love from Vancouver's Granville Island. Unfinished on purpose or interrupted? No idea. Love it.

I think we get it, right? Gotta be sad to know happy, poor to know rich, fat to know thin.

I’m identifying with the latter as I acknowledge I’ve been backpedalling against my own reversals of late.

I had set myself a weight goal in May and I’ve moved the opposite direction. I’ve been kind of mentally lost at sea as I’ve been screwing up the courage to make the journey to where I need to go: self-employment, et cetera.

That means I delved into emotional eating while I’d been on edge and in fear.

Failure is something I’m really scared of. So scared, in fact, I’d rather not try at all and have the excuse that I’ve yet to get around to it, than to do it and face-plant.

I’m getting past that in my (cough) old age now, and starting to have the “feel the fear and do it anyways” ’90s mantra pumping through my head, but it’s been taking a while.

I know what I want now, and that means the emotional eating has begun to become more obvious to me — I’m realizing what I’ve been doing, I’m conscious of the shame that has come with it, and the depression that comes with realizing I’ve been failing myself for a while now.

I’ve been trying to hide it.

But there’s only so much you can hide when you’re carrying around the evidence on your ass.

Seriously, right? That’s what it boils down to: Who the fuck do you think you’re kidding, there, tubbo?

Granted, I’ve only gained 2 pounds more than I started the summer with, but I’m still pissed off about it, because I know HOW to defeat it, and because I’ve fucking cycled more than 1,100 kilometres this summer — all for naught! All that sweat and pain and endurance so I could barely maintain my weight? Fuck!

This week some things are coming into play — I’ll be talking to a professional trainer to see what we can maybe do for each other. I finally made a connection last week with someone and we’ll see if it’s a promising venture toward the weekend. Here’s hoping.

As a result of getting a “yeah, let’s talk!” from the trainer, I realized “Well, I’d love to get the help, but you know what? I’ve done this all by myself before — I cut out butter, I ate better, I worked out 6-8 hours a week… I didn’t need a trainer then, and I don’t need one now.”

So, I decided I’d get real. I celebrated with a cheeseburger, but then I knuckled down and chucked out the butter, made some mental commitments as to what I’m willing to do, where I’m willing to go, and grocery-shopped accordingly.

I also decided that I don’t need a trainer, no, but I want one.

Sooner or later we all have to realize that we can only get ourselves so far on our own. There’s only so much we can consider inside our little brains and only so many experiences we can have first-hand. There’s only so much we can excel at in life without others’ help.

Eventually, help really is something we all need to accept.

I honestly believe the last five years of my life have been specifically about teaching me that it’s okay to ask for help and that it’s okay to turn to others. You can’t possibly know how far I’ve come, but I still have far to go.

Times like these are when I’m proud to say at least I’ve learned how to make the first move.

It’s been a very difficult lesson, gaining the humility that is needed to admit help is required.

The two lessons I’m most proud I’ve taken from the last 10 years are: 1) That I know I’m strong enough to overcome everything that gets put in my path, and on my own, and 2) That I’m finally comfortable asking others for help and admitting that I just can’t do everything, and that it’s given me a tremendous amount in life.

Where I’ve gotten myself is this:

  • I’m more than half-way to the body and the health that I’ve wanted all my life.
  • I’ve overcome most of my injuries to the point where my days seldom get clouded with the thoughts of pain and discomfort that used to swirl like blackness around me.
  • I no longer feel my goals are hopeless but instead feel anger that I’ve been letting them slip by because I know in my heart I should be all over ’em like Oprah on a ham.
  • I’m ready.

Yes, I said the big word: Anger.

I’m fucking pissed, buddy. I’m mad. I’m bitter. I’m choked. I’m gonna kick some ass. MINE.

It’s all MY fault. It ain’t about the media or the government, life beating up on me or any of that shit. This weight I’ve regained is ALL MY FAULT and I FUCKING KNOW IT.

Oh, sure, you want to do the “Hey, love yourself” or “Embrace yourself and be gentle” la-la-love-in bullshit? KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. Ain’t my cuppa, honey.

It was THIS MOOD that launched me on the path that saw me losing 70 pounds, saying NO MORE, and going hard after what I wanted. It was THIS MOOD that said I’m entitled to better but only if I earn it first.

I’m not being mean to myself, I’m saying I’m better than this. I’m saying I know I can do this. I’m saying I have this in me. That’s love, man. I know I’m built for this. That’s love.

I don’t need to light candles, run a bath, and sing “Kumbaya” to myself, okay?

I need to put the fucking butter down, pay attention to when my belly is full, stop living the college dorm “HEY, LET’S GET BEER” life of excess that my summer has been. That’s love, man.

Am I pissed off at myself? Sure.

Am I gonna hold a grudge about it? Fuck, no.

By this time next week, I want my attitude to be “Hey, I’ve done well this past week. Let’s go windsurfing!” ‘Cause that’s scheduled for then, you know. That’s how we say “ENOUGH” in my world.

Kumbaya, motherfucker. Reverse this!

Ratcheting It Up After a Slow Afternoon

Yesterday I cycled 42 kilometres.

That’s the fifth time I’ve ever bested 40km in a day. It felt pretty awesome, because it’s the first time out of all those times that I managed to Finish Strong.

Fitness, for me, isn’t just about health. It’s about proving things to myself. It’s about saying now that “That can’t beat me anymore.”

It’s about saying “I Win.”

There was a time when cycling a round trip of 7 km to my bookstore job would add about 40 minutes to my day. It once took me 74 minutes to cycle 12km home from downtown (with about 4-5km uphill), not including “catching my breath” breaks.

Now I can do it in about 34 minutes.

Being athletic isn’t about where you start, it’s about where you make it go. It’s a mindset, a way of life, a credo, and a pursuit. It’s about taking control of your health and dominating something, ANYTHING, in life.

Me? It’s been a long, long time of slowly improving and constantly setting new goals. “Okay, I did that. Now what?”

The only problem I run into, though, is who I was versus who I am.

I wrote once about how Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of The Tipping Point applied to me, personally, with my weight issues. Gladwell asserts it takes 10,000 hours to gain expert proficiency at any one thing.

Well, I spent 218,000-plus hours chasing the “expert” status in Being Fat. I mastered that shit. I came pretty close to being The Funny Forever-300-Pounds Friend.

Now, with all my weight-loss efforts, I’m probably over the 10,000-hour mark for Kicking Ass and Taking Names, but the 218,000-plus of fatty-school hours did some pretty intense conditioning to this Bear of Little Brain, I tell ya.

This week, though, I measure myself and learn I’ve lost 2 more inches off my hips and 2 more off my waist. Somehow, there’s this band in between that isn’t yet giving, but hey, movement in the other areas is fantastic. I’m closing in!

Today I’m learning about diabetes, and I’m reminded just how preventable that disease is.

I’m loving that exercise is such a major factor in how likely you are to prevent or reverse its occurence.

I’m loving that I can now describe myself, most weeks, as being “active”.

I can’t tell you the satisfaction of yesterday doing a ride that killed me years ago — when I used to do a 20km shorter version of it, and tackling on an extra 10km on an already-50%-longer route for the hell of it because I had “more left in me”.

It’s with a great deal of smugness I can casually state what I’m capable of doing these days, when the opportunity to talk about it comes up — only because I know how hard I’ve tried to get here. I’m the one on the other side of painkillers, ice bags, chiropractor appointments, and everything else I’ve had to learn to use to my advantage as I suffer through the acrimony of Becoming UnFat. I’m the one on the other side of asthma.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what I want you to take from this, why I’m writing it. I guess I ultimately hope that anyone who’s out there who’s not fit or active can learn what it’s taken me a long time to work through — that you don’t need to remain who you are today, that exercise does hurt but it’s supposed to, and it’s in that struggle and pain and recovery that we become new, better, more confident people.

Even if you’re “skinny-fat”, inactivity kills people every day, and the lack of self-esteem from being inactive cripples people every single minute of every day.

My athletic accomplishments make me stronger in every single life experience I face, because I know the mental fatigue I can overcome, and the physical strength I’ve shown. I KNOW it now. I’ve proven it to myself.

It’s not about filling 30 minutes with walking because the doctor says to do so. It’s your opportunity to set a goal and kill it.

If you’re not huffing, puffing, sweating, and wheezing, then you’re simply not exercising hard enough — whether you’ve got 10 minutes to do it or an hour.

Leave everything on the floor, and you’ll know it.

And a few hours later, then a few weeks later, and then a few months later, you’re gonna increasingly love it.

Today, I’m recuperating a little. Soon, after a healthy meal, a healthy snack packed, and hydrating a little more, I’m off to ratchet up at least another 25 km today.

Come Tuesday morning, I want to feel like I won the Weekend Warrior challenge.

It’s the athletic version of the old saying “Why do I keep hitting myself in the head with a hammer? Well, ‘cos it feels so good when I stop.”

If you don’t know that feeling, isn’t it time you started?*

*The first 3 weeks will suck. The best antidote to stiffness and sore worked-out muscles is to do it all over again. Ice. Advil. Whatever the common prescriptions are for overcoming training, go for it. In a few weeks, they’ll not be necessary anymore. You, too, will be a fitness machine, grasshopper. If I could do it? SERIOUSLY, you can.

Mental Health: In Which Steff Calls a Spade a Spade

A couple months ago, I proposed to talk about writing for therapy, how to kinda “go there”, via blogging.

The conference was yesterday. It was an “unconference” put on by end-patients and people who work on the peripheries of mental care.

Why did I want to get involved?

For a million reasons. I’ll get to most of them shortly.

But, first: I proposed my talk without knowing the conference’s “reputation” or anything like that. I just wanted a forum to talk about depression.

Unbeknownst to me, I stepped into the thick of a controversial “unconference.” It wasn’t until Friday that I really realized just how controversial it was. Whether it’s because ballsy speakers like Steven Schwartz speak in dismissive vernacular, saying edgy-yet-funny adjectives a lot of boring people object to, or because of who was organizing it, or even the press some of us speakers were getting, the reactions were ridiculously sharp and pointed.

Late Friday night, I saw comments some anonymous dumb fuck left on the Mental Health Camp’s website, and I got pretty riled up. Since then, all the comments were deleted, which I take serious issue with.

Me, I never would have deleted the comments. We convened the camp to fight stigma against the “idea” of mental illness, so why would you delete, and not fight, that stigma when it stands up and attacks you? Deleting and silencing the attack does nothing to neutralize it. But that’s where I stand and it’s not my blog. So, yeah. Moving on.

The asshat’s comments varied, but the most offensive of them all were that a number of those involved in the Mental Health Camp were doing so only to propel their image and get their allotted moments of Warholian fame. Media whores, basically, all faking their interest to get noticed.

Heh. Yeah, okay. Fucking shrewd, that.

A line in the comment made me wonder if I was one of the people they alluded to, just because I had the audacity to do an interview with CBC about the conference.

Here’s the deal, all right?

I’ll be the first to admit there were organizational issues with the conference. That’s what happens with not-for-profit amateur/volunteer organizers, people who have organized a conference just to have discussion and don’t have experience organizing them.

Oh, well. That’s life. It happens. But it’s not about the organizing.

It’s about the messages explored — mental health, stigma, and the fact the lives are destroyed by mental illness every moment of every day, and the fact that EVERYONE in their lifetime will experience mental illness at some point, and YET we don’t talk about it.

Well, I do, and I have for years.

I’ve been writing about depression, weight issues, self-esteem, lack of confidence, and everything else I’ve battled in life since 2005, and blogging since 2004. I’ve been getting real fuckin’ raw and honest since 2006.

There are a whole lot of things I’m willing to do to have success as a writer. Do you know what the least smart of them would be?

Letting myself in any way be any kind of poster girl for any mental illness.

Let’s see, when was the last time a Hollywood publicist suggested their celebrity client embrace their mental illness for the public as a means of netting better starpower in the press? Um, never.

Know why?

No one wants to be thought of as “nuts”.

Why?

Because people who are strong, intelligent, articulate, engaging, and well-liked don’t come out and admit their mental illnesses. They don’t talk about them. So stigma exists because all we see are the nutty fucks you try to avoid in hallways, or the whackjobs they put on television shows.

But those are extremes.

When assholes like that anonymous commenter attack a conference whose only purpose is to bring the overly-shamed and constantly-silenced issue of mental health to the forefront only because they dislike the people behind it, and they use that opportunity to suggest it’s basically Starfucking by those involved, it’s an insult to the seriousness of the issue.

It also suggests they have no fucking idea what it’s like to have been, in my case, an otherwise strong and intelligent person who took the wrong medication and considered suicide before spending the next year-plus trying to claw my way out of the depths.

It suggests they have no idea what it’s like to live under the clutches of your mind, body, and chemistry’s whimsy on a day-in, day-out, year-by-year basis, never being able to rise above a sick world of fear, chaos, and hopelessness that can’t manifest outwardly, that you hear inside your head every time you wake or lie down to sleep.

It suggests they don’t fathom that mental illness is the most costly and insidious of sicknesses in society — it destroys the fabric of life, of all the lives around the sufferer, not just the body of the afflicted. It ends relationships, destroys marriages, causes debt, and is the largest reason for employee leaves of absence in the modern workforce.

I don’t WANT to talk about depression.

But I need to.

Because what happened to me can happen to anyone.

Because it happened to my mother, and, as a 17-year-old girl, I walked in on her attempting suicide with the very pills that caused her chemically-induced depression — one like I myself would experience 17 years later.

Because doctors will tell you birth control pills don’t cause depression.

Because I know my birth control made me want to kill myself and feel like life could never have hope again.

I need to talk about depression because I’m tired of bi-polars, schizophrenics, and other more acute or rare mental health concerns having the limelight in “mental illness,” when it’s depression that’s most likely to touch, and destroy, the average life.

I feel like their more “stereotyped” afflictions make it less likely for seemingly average Jolenes like myself to come out and say, “I’m not that afflicted, but it still really fucked me up, too, and no one saw any big signs…”

I am a good writer. I’m a really, really good writer. I’m a passionate speaker who will not mince her ideas. I don’t back down from a fight. I’m engaging, funny, and even self-deprecating. I’m a great communicator with friends, family, everyone.

And yet depression almost took me out of the game of life.

But I survived.

I made it to the other side. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m happy most of the time.

Still, I’m surrounded by people I see who are skating through life with the cool indifference of someone struggling with depression. I see it everywhere. And we’re NOT TALKING ABOUT IT.

You want to attack my IDEAS? Go for it.

But don’t fucking attack ME or any of those people who’ve had the STRENGTH to write about all the things YOU make fun of, that YOU won’t trust, or YOU can’t admit about yourself.

We’re out there only for the reason that we can’t be silent anymore. Society can’t AFFORD our silence anymore. We need to hear our thoughts expressed on the page, we believe our experiences are real and representative of the whole, yet largely ignored by the mainstream.

And we’re not going to be quiet about it.

Not anymore.

Until you’ve lost your job — like I once did — for writing in the public eye about your darker self, until you’ve had the courage to write without tempering your weaker thoughts and fears, until you’ve been able to admit you have an affliction the majority of society can’t understand and doesn’t know how to act around, you have no right to criticize us for the moments of acknowledgement we might finally receive after years of having the courage to tell our stories no matter what the prices have been.

Now it’s easier for me. But where the fuck were you in 2006 when I wanted to commit suicide only 9 days after writing the most harrowing things I’ve ever published? Where were you when my traffic dropped to nothing as I used my blogs to work through my depression? Where were you when I lost a job and nearly my home for having a voice on less acceptable topics? Where were you when I struggled to maintain faith in speaking out? Where were you when I constantly had to lower my voice when I said what I wrote about?

Sure, now you know about me, but I’ve been doing this for a long fucking time and I’ve paid a LOT of steep prices for my honesty.

But I’ve paid ’em and now you can’t shut me up. Just try it, honey. You’ll only wind me up more.

If I finally have an audience and a wider means of getting my message out, you’d have to be a fucking moron to think I’d walk away from that opportunity.

Oh, and being single and getting press for having gone nuts, been suicidal, and longterm depressed? Yeah, that’ll be a fucking brilliant way for me to get laid. I hear men are wild about that shit.

Marketing GENIUS, clearly.

Whoever you were, you anonymous spineless motherfucking commenter: Grow up. You’re a fucking idiot. Open your eyes. See that some battles need to be waged with faces on them.

At least I have the guts to show mine.

In Which Steff Talks About Mental Health

Come Saturday I’ll be giving a talk at Vancouver’s “Mental Health Camp,” where the goal is to get people thinking about stigmas attached to a wide range of mental conditions — from ADHD and depression through to eating disorders and compulsions all the way to harder-core afflictions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Me, I’ll be talking specifically on two things — one, I’ll give a 45-minute session on blogging for therapy in my solo “Ripping the Scab Off through Blogging” talk, and two, I’ll be on a panel discussing how each of us 4 panelists have used social media to share our psychological struggles and what it’s meant for us.

This posting is sort of to just touch on both of those, in support of the event, and to let you know what’s going down.

_____

I’ll be honest: Yeah, I’m not particularly wild about talking at something called “Mental Health Camp.” There is stigma, yeah. Damn right there is.

I also know that if there’s anyone who can overcome such stigma, I’m probably at the front of the line.

I’ve spent much of the last five years already writing about myself in very open ways as I take the journey of going from She Who Was Very Unhappy to this much more interesting and fun-to-be-with version of self I’m excavating from under years of neglect.

Writing about myself has been a huge part in how I’ve been able to accept where I was, where I needed to be, and what it would take to get there.

By learning how to write in an open way while still hanging on to details that weren’t really necessary to share, I’ve managed to be open yet keep some of my struggles inside, too. Snapshots, that’s what y’all get.

In homage to one of the great Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, I call the writing technique “surfacing” and it’s pretty simple to do, it’s just a matter of perspective. Shifting that perspective ever so slightly creates a whole new reward from the writing.

I’ll be talking about it in  detail on Saturday, and don’t want to blow my hand by writing all about it here and now.

The talk will include a lot more than that, though.

I’ll look at the differences between journal-writing and blogging, and point out all the pros and cons of turning to the web for an audience. I’ll tell you who should be blogging more openly (almost everyone) and who shouldn’t (and there are some).

I’ll tell you the top 10 reasons I think anyone willing to blog should be willing to be more personal, and why blogging for therapy just makes sense from a societal point of view — both from solidarity and healing perspectives.

I’ll also share the prices I’ve paid while attempting to cash in* on living the revealed life. It’s not something one should enter with the foolish notion that “I’ll write it and they’ll read it.” There’s a lot that can go wrong. There’s a lot that can play out well. There’s much to consider.

____

Later, I’ll be on a panel with three friends — all of whom have had far, far harder mental health journeys than I have — discussing how we’ve been “out” about our lives and the prices/rewards it’s cost/yielded us.

In both situations, I’ll briefly outline the facts: I lived with mild depression for most of my life. I’ve learned that, when it comes to natural depression FOR ME, it’s controlled with diet and exercise. I have indeed been medicated on a few occasions, both for “situational depression” as well as ADHD.

I’m on no meds now. It’s not a prize I’ve won for being a Good Mental Health Patient. It’s just that I’ve found a way to mostly regulate my chemistry.  When I was ON meds and began eating well and exercising, what WAS a good level of meds went sideways fast as I started building my own seratonin and dopamine.

Do NOT fuck with meds just because I’ve been able to get off mine. It’s NOT about the meds, it’s about what’s safe for you. Talk to doctors!

But all this is to say I’ve been to my mental health hell with a chemical depression that took two years of medication to regulate back to normal. I’ve been on the verge of suicidal with a desperate cry for professional help in the past, all while being an intelligent person who felt trapped in this chemical mood I couldn’t shake for months and months.

Before that, I had to overcome a head injury. Since the chemical depression, I’ve had to learn to adjust to an adult-ADHD diagnosis and how it makes me see the world.

So, I’ve had some experiences, and they’re probably more common to the general populace than my colleagues’ are, so I’m happy I can provide a “mental health light” perspective to balance it out.

Being on the other side now, I remember how hard it was to be in the chokehold the disease of depression had on me. I never thought I would escape. Suicide seemed like a smart plan.

Here, now, and looking back, it does shock me how putting my head down and keeping on keeping on, fighting the fight, eventually paid off and has brought me to a better sense of self than I’ve ever known before. Yeah, I’m proud of the stuff I accomplished.

The journey was long and strange, and I feel I’m still on it and I’ll always have to be aware that depression can find me again, but having this kind of self-awareness and openness, as much as it’s been problematic at times, is something I feel that will probably help me navigate whatever stormy waters might one day roll my way again.

The truth shall set you free?

Yeah. Maybe. Let’s talk.

____

People in Vancouver can see these talks, among many other good ones, for a lowly $10 at the door. There are plenty of tickets, and, yes, it’ll be air conditioned in the heatwave. Wahoo. There’s a chance it’ll be streaming live, and if so, I’ll be posting that URL for my followers on Twitter, and you should check there Saturday morning, in case I forget to post it here.

*Figuratively, not literally.

The Challenge of Transitioning

I’m in zombieland.

Mono-focused. I know what I want. I’m after it. Period.

Brains. Nommy brains.

Mmkay, no.

I want life to be my bitch. That requires me being strong, fit, and healthy.

It requires me undoing bullshit that caused me to gain back 8 pounds — and probably several inches — of the 70 pounds I’d lost.

That shit’s done, yo.*

A small part of me was enjoying the summer before I destroyed my back, 2008. I was becoming a jock:  strong, powerful, and often making my “fit” friends feel like chumps because Fat Girl could work circles around ’em.

They loved it, I loved it. Good times and great laughs. What a change from them always having to slow up and check on me.

There’s nothing more important in my life to me right now than taking that back.

I fucking love the pride I feel when I know what I’m really getting done.

Nothing says empowered like being able to change a day that’s had me bent over and taking it by having a set of fitness goals and blowing that out of the water. Whatever else life did that day, it couldn’t stop me from killing that workout.

There’s something that comes from that place of knowing you scaled a mountain, rode 30 km, or did a crazy set of highrise stairs.

I love that place. I’ve owned that place.

Since May 11th, I have worked out on more days than I haven’t, usually five days a week. And, on most days, I’ve tried to really leave it all on the floor. I’m getting better at that, and intend to keep pushing boundaries.

Today, my whole body cries for release. This is the consequence of those actions.

All of me is so tight and sore. From my ankles to my jaw, I hurt.

There’s only one thing I know I can do to help it: Work out more, but differently. Like my chiro doc tells me, “Motion is lotion.”

Move it, or lose it. Two days slack is asking for a world of pain. Days off are harder than days on, when you get used to the workload, but there’s a point in between where everything you do’s an effort, and I’m there. So fucking spent.

It’s with weary resignation I know I can’t rest. I know I don’t want to go cycling later, and most of me would rather crawl in bed and die today, but… I know: I can’t.

My “rest day” will be tomorrow or Saturday. Maybe both, since much walking will be required tomorrow and anything else might overdo it.

I cancelled plans last night. Didn’t have it in me, and saw that coming from morning light. I’m sure feelings were hurt. They’ll understand someday.

I know what’s important to me right now, and it’s not parties and big crowds of people. It’s not about finding my contentment through others, or getting their validation, or needing their company.

It’s about rediscovering that place inside that gave me the power to change my world in such a dramatic fashion once already.

And I know what it takes.

It takes cancelling out on parties.

It takes that inevitable night at the end of the week where you’re just fucking DONE and all you can do is crash at 9:00 at night and sleep for 10 hours, waking with already-weary bones that know they’re in for more, and soon.

It takes vitamins, big healthy meals, water all day, planning food in advance, total time-management, prioritizing yourself before anyone else, and avoiding engagements that are too heavily centred around dining and drinking.

I know what it takes.

It takes a total life change.

And you know what else it takes?

It takes pissing off other people who don’t understand what it really takes, when you just can’t find it in you to go and be happy and fun with other people. You’d rather just die on the sofa with only one thing on your mind: You met the goal this week.

People don’t get how hard it is. You can’t POSSIBLY get it. If you think losing 10 pounds is hard, or 20, try 70.

Just fucking try it. I did it. I know. I did that. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’ve kept 62 off for 18 months!

I know Biggest Loser’s the biggest cheese going on TV sometimes, with the sound editing and the seemingly simplified weight battles edited to fit a TV format, but the emotions those people feel — the breakdowns at the end of the season, of trying to juggle real life with friends and families and weightloss — and how it’s the people around them who always lose out, that’s all real.

Wanting to cry because you’re so fucking tired, but LOVING the joy you feel inside about what you’ve accomplished? That dichotomy is a weird place to live, and the tightrope one walks to sustain each is the toughest balance ever.

To be successful with a “180” health-wise, to take on a radically active life after years of sloth — the focus and drive they take are impossible to explain.

The pain with which your body screams at you after years of giving into gravity and laziness, after decades of shovelling processed food into it, after years of losing lung capacity… that isn’t a one-week adjustment.

And I’ve had a decade of injuries to overcome on top of all that pain.  For me, it means I have to spend hours stretching out the hours of working out, every single week.

That whole-body-fatigue keeps hurting — week after week, month after month — because every pound you lose means you need to work harder to remove the remainder.

It’s why 80% or more of people can’t lose weight and sustain it.

This is the HARDEST mental battle of your life. Win the weightloss headgame and no other game will out-think you in life. I guarantee it.

The resilience you need to get past 50 pounds of weightloss, and to sustain it, is something you can’t learn from a book or buy from a specialist. You create it and nurture it.

I may have gained 8 pounds back out of 70, but I don’t feel like that’s a failure at all. I think 10% gain back after 21 months spent with a life-altering injury, then caught in a year of burn-out, is fucking awesome.

I’m proud as hell of that. GO, ME.

And what a gift for getting back on path, being still so close to the goal I’ve wanted to achieve since I was 17: Being under 200 pounds.

I hope to reach that goal by Canada Day. Scared I won’t. But I’m gonna try real fuckin’ hard.

I won’t feel guilty for focusing on myself right now — be it meaning that I cancel plans, or whatever else it takes.

I’m not likely to cancel on one-on-one time with friends or small groups, but, parties? Yep. The full-body fatigue that comes from this doesn’t tend to always make one a real cheery camper to hang with when it comes to maintaining a “vibe” a host/hostess is trying to create. Can’t do it.

I’m tired. I’m sore.

I’m dreading how much further, harder, and heavier all this shit’s gonna get before I’m at where I want to be.

I’m not some 140-pound chick climbing those highrise stairs or cycling 35km, man, I’m 210-plus. I literally haul every pound of that on this frame — it’s actually there, it’s actually heavy. It’s real fuckin’ heavy.

Gravity finds every ounce of that weight when I’m fighting it, and, believe me, I feel like it after a week like I’ve had.

But I’m elated.

It has begun. I’m at the climax of where it gets real, real hard at the beginning, where every day is filled with hurt and fatigue, but, soon, I’ll hit my pace where it’s just about keeping the wheels spinning ‘cos momentum’s been found.

I’ll be one seriously weary girl for a while. My BEST friends understand it and WELCOME it.

Soon, it’ll just be a new normal, and the determination that emerges from meeting small success after small success is its own feeding frenzy.

And I’ll be Mojo Girl again.

I’ll get that cocky grin that makes people wonder what the fuck I’m on. I’ll get my twinkle in my eye, the smirk that says “Look out.”

Then it all gets very, very fun. Very.

Just you wait.

.

*I think I’ve lost the weight already, or close to it. But I’m waiting until one month in for weigh-day and that’s next Wednesday. It’s really about the feeling. I know the weight will come off gradually — it did before. It’s nice to see the numbers change, though. Rewarding. But not really what it’s about. It’s important to know that before you step on the scale. It’s important to believe it.

My Culture of Disconnect

I don’t want to read the news today.

Or have conversations of consequence with friends.

Or watch TV or movies that require braincells.

I sure as hell don’t want to read.

I want to drift away and disconnect. Be anywhere but here.

Heavy shit’s coming down, again. Dad’s lined up for serious surgery three provinces away. For anyone else, it’d be a major-but-fine surgery. For him, much risk comes with.

I mean, hey, cancer, diabetes, heart disease — which one do you think offers the best chance of surgical complications?

Sometimes, there’s only so much space you’ve got for matters outside the personal realm. Sometimes, thinking about things in the world just gets overwhelming in the face of the struggles you’re wading through on a daily basis.

Sometimes.

I don’t think I’m at that point. Not about this. I’ve been to the sick-dad rodeo one time too many. Sad as I am, weary as I am, I’m pretty much prepared for whatever comes.

I fucking hate that I feel that way. But I do. There’s only so many times you can stand peering over the edge and be terrified.

Sooner or later, you just get to knowing what it’s like, and the fear’s there, but it’s a fear you’ve metabolized now.

Sort of where I am with Dad. I’ve metabolized my terror. Don’t tell my shaking leg or queasy stomach that, but it’s true. I’m a pretty passionate girl. This is Stress-For-a-Loved-One Lite™.

Part of that is just me being older, wiser, more worn, jaded, and exposed. I done been around, man. Heart’s been broken more times than I need to count from life and its woes. That’s just my experience on planet earth.

It takes a lot to break me down, now. I take body blows like a heavyweight champ. With that shock-absorbing tendency comes the ability to not react much anymore.

As an example, the other day, this dude keeps cracking his little one liners at a pub. Eventually he’s all flustered because I’m not laughing at his jokes.

Well, I don’t laugh easily. I’m funny as hell, man, but making me laugh takes something unexpected or just flat-out smart. I’m a student of comedy. I’ve heard it ALL. I smile, or grin. Now and then? A full-on laugh.

But just because I don’t “react” doesn’t mean I’m not dialed in. I’m removed, but I’m listening. I’m probably thinking why your joke failed, where you went wrong with timing, or where I’ve heard a variation of it before, but, you know, I’m listening.

And we’re all sort of doing that these days. Most of us, anyhow. Dialed in but not. Listening but disconnected.

We’re sponges. Taking from society but never giving back. Surfacing.

My life of the last decade has been much like that.

One day, I stopped reading my three or so newspapers daily. Eventually, I fell away from reading books.

What came first, the head injury or my apathy? I don’t know, I don’t even remember anymore.

Things have changed.

Apathy isn’t enough. It’s not a meal that’s filling. Its price is too high. All the things it’s cost me, man…

I feel like a spectator in the intellectual world, and I’m more than that. I’m a smart woman with a unique world-view. I can’t just watch and not contribute.

To be a part of it requires I be of it, that I be immersed in it, be surrounded by it.

So, somewhere inside, I feel like the joke has been on me.

Sure, I’ve survived everything I’ve been through. But for what?

I fell out of touch and love with music. I stopped being clued into the political, cultural, and societal happenings, something I’d been very much in tune with since I had my first newspaper addiction at the age of 9. I stopped seeing movies. I mean, I’m the kind of girl who plans the music in advance for roadtrips — what works with what stretches of highway, what tracks tie into what scenery.

Or, I used to be.

What’s the fucking point in surviving if you’re not gonna thrive as who you are, right?

It’s what happens to a lot of us, I guess. I’ve got pretty good excuses, but they’re still just excuses, and I still feel like a cop-out.

It’s like the themes explored in Fight Club and American Beauty, the disappearing of identity and the cover-up of disconnect by way of commercialism and cluelessness.

We think we’re growing up as we fall away from our youthful passions of music and movies, politics and society, growing jaded and distant.

We’re not. We’re not “growing up”. We’re losing our leisure, thus losing our souls, as Virginia Woolf once wrote.

I want the happy medium between my savvy survivalist self, and the jazzed-up involved youth I was.

Some people I know still balance these things well, and maybe if life hadn’t gotten in the way, I might be the poster-girl for being a plugged-in hipster, too.

But I’m not.

I’m a part of the problem. I’ve joined the throngs of the Great Ignoring.

It’s not cool. It’s selfish. It’s not helping.

The disconnect isn’t working anymore. Not for me. Not for you. Sure as shit not for society.

It’s not really about “movies” and “music” and “news”.

It’s our soul as a society. Who are we if we’re just a bubble-gum-chewing collective dying to swallow the next reality show?

Art, culture, it was my soul, it was who I am. At my core, I’m an invested, impassioned, intelligent person, and living any way but that is antithetical to who I need to be.

My father’s disconnect has him at 350 pounds, with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, while awaiting major surgery. I’m pretty sure “disconnect” is not working for him, either.

I imagine my father would approve of my learning this lesson this week. I’m hoping he survives the week so we can have a talk about that.

Either way, it’s time I suck a little more cultural marrow out of life, because what I got ain’t sustaining much.