For as long as I can remember my life has revolved around calories, or should I say, my lack of calories. Food labels were a part of my every hour of every day and I was constantly fumbling through different fads I thought would transform me into the next Oxygen cover model. This meant literally trying EVERYTHING… ketosis, high protein, cleanses, fasting, high carb, you name it and I have most likely tried it. Now I’m not saying that I have tried these for a long duration, most of them only lasting a couple of weeks, but they all ended in the same way… a BIG, fat, giant downfall! A momentary lapse in ‘self control’ and it was all over, I was already looking for the next bandwagon I can jump on to reach my dream body. How, you say can all these things be so different yet end so similarly? Well this, this I know for sure…they are all so damn restricting. It is nearly impossible to preach balance in your life when you are in a whirlwind of rules and regulations when you just want to have a slice of toast with peanut butter for breakfast instead of an egg white omelette. Something so simple, right? I don’t know about you, but for me, this became SO suffocating. Suffocating enough that for 2 years the food I was going to eat that day controlled my mind and made me a nervous wreck when put in situations where such things were out of my control. My relationship with food was damaged, my relationship with the people around me was heading that way and the thing that saddens me most, my relationship with myself was one of complete negativity… But this wasn’t something I could recognize on my own…
Note: This may seem that I’m going on a tangent but I promise it will all come together in the end, bear with me.
Sometimes in life you truly do meet people for a reason so unknown in the beginning and only recognized in the end… my journey is one of these situations. In 2012 I met someone who impacted my life so drastically that I can’t even comprehend the person I once was. At this point in my life I was running 14ks a day, playing netball competitively, walking in any spare time I had on a treadmill, light resistance training and consuming 1000 calories on a good day of only protein and fats. Carbohydrates were minimal, energy was minimal and so was my social life. And then on a road trip home from the South Coast, they confronted me about the demons I was in denial about. He asked me questions no one had ever touched upon even though my issues with myself were so obvious. Things like why do you train so much? Why don’t you eat carbs? Why can’t you just have ONE serving of chocolate instead of the whole lot? Why don’t you have milk in your coffee? Why don’t you look at things in a different perspective? And truthfully, I knew these were all issues that begun with myself. But sometimes, when things are dark, you need someone to become that flickering glow inside to bring you to the lightness again.
My turning point
Over the next couple of months I was introduced to a new lifestyle, If It Fits Your Macros. IIFYM in a nut shell a way to count your overall macronutrient and calorie intake and balance your range of food intake in a way that isn’t detrimental to your physical and mental well-being. It allows you to enjoy your favourite foods in moderation, utilize all macronutrient groups and most importantly, it allows you to create balance once more if you come from a restrictive background. I started enjoying ice cream again, I started enjoying fruits again and I started enjoying MYSELF again. Cardio was slowly weaned out, heavy weights were introduced and I finally found myself on the right track! Months and months of trial and error began and I found myself gaining a couple of kgs along the way due to how extreme my circumstances prior. Funnily enough, I also looked the best I had in years! (No Oxygen cover model but never say never, right?) 😛
Fast forward 2 years later and I don’t think I could be in a better position both mentally and physically. I am no longer restricted, I am training harder than I ever had and I am no longer in a constant battle with myself. There are times when I don’t count my calories and it doesn’t make a difference and then there are times when I’m working towards a specific goal and I implement tracking again. But please take note of one thing, tracking or not tracking, my relationship with myself is healthy. And damn, healthy is a real good feeling. There is nothing like waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and knowing that you are doing all you can to be the best that you can be. Whether that is small steps, big steps, even steps backwards, each step is necessary!
No journey is perfect and no journey is right when we all have different starting points, but I wanted to share part of my recovery with all of you for a few reasons…
1. I wanted to give you a bit of insight into who I am, who I was and how I got to where I am today. My journey hasn’t been flawless, quite the opposite… BUT I got here! I am so, so proud of myself for that alone. I hope the truth of my ups and downs helps you on your own journey and gives you peace of mind if you happen to slip up or make a mistake. In the grand scheme of life, these little slip ups are truly not that big, and I want you to remember that. When you have a bad day and go through something tough, not even necessarily fitness related, take a moment to truly reflect on life as a whole. Take a walk, lay in the sunshine, look up at the stars at night time (this one has the most impact for me) and just take a moment to exhale.
2. If you sound like the ‘old me’, I want you to know that its perfectly okay to have issues like mine. But I encourage you to recognize them and deal with them head on like a badass. You will have good days and you will have bad days but we are so blessed in life to have CHOICE. So choose health, whatever that means to you… running on the beach with your kids, eating your first meal out in a year or having a delicious cocktail with your friends on a night out, it is in your hands!
3. Lastly, if someone does approach you or question you about your eating habits, don’t get too defensive and remember its okay to open up to people. They may not be going through the same thing but chances are they will be willing to help and understand. As I mentioned, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for someone to call me out on it. They changed my life, allow people to change yours too… I promise you wont regret it!
Now I’m going to go order myself a big ol’ latte and sip myself to a little slice of happiness, maybe you should too. 🙂
Much love, Schae X