Updated: Oct 21, 2021
It's easy for all of us to just assume that a person has always been the way they are. That maybe they have it all figured out. We can often forget that everyone is on their own journey, we all have our struggles as well as our wins and our lives are not just the public 'highlight reel' that is so often portrayed.
Many only know me from my more recent years being involved at Four Peak Fitness, as with everyone there is quite a bit of a back story! Sharing this is not easy, but facing up to my past is part of the journey forward...If I can help stop one person from going through the years of mental torture I have put myself through, all will be worthwhile!
Whilst putting this together, I've realised just how far i've actually come. How much I have changed and grown, but also quite how distorted and dangerous certain aspects of my life and health have been. Looking at things from an external, non judgemental perspective has been interesting and difficult in places. I ask that you too leave the judgement behind and instead take this as it's meant - an honest account that might just help someone else.
I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware of my body's shape and size. I was overweight as a child and I guess in my mind I've always been the 'fat kid', body image and food have been an issue for me for as long as I can remember.
I remember being very happy growing up, and consider myself very lucky to have had the childhood I had! I was very shy and do remember always being so eager to please, to be perfect, be the good girl and not 'rock the boat'.
It's funny the silly little things that you remember. Passing comments from others not necessarily meaning harm, situations and even feelings - just being aware of being big.
In my very early teens I made some small changes and easily, healthily lost quite a bit of weight - drinking water instead of Raro was one I remember.
In my mind I want to say throughout high school there wasn't really any issue, but on reflection I know I struggled then too. Acutely aware of my body, never eating in front of people at school, caring far too much about the opinions of others....Previous hurtful words cut deep and they stick with you, until you are ready to bring them into the light.
While at school I played a lot of netball and tennis, I loved both and was relatively good. Both of these I could have taken further, being selected for rep teams and coaching clinics, but to me they were always just about the fun and being with friends. I remember spending hours a day practicing my goal shooting or hitting a tennis ball against a wall.
In my early 20's I discovered running. What began as a healthy new hobby didn't take too long to spiral into something much bigger. I began getting compliments, which of course fuelled this ever eager to please girl to do more, push harder. Running and food soon turned into a way of trying to control and cope with what was going on in my life.
I lost a lot of weight. I was cold all the time, struggled to find clothes to fit properly, my moods were unstable and my friends and family began to worry. Of course, the last thing I wanted was the interference of others.
To be honest, a lot of these years are a blur. I know I was sent to doctors, had regular dietician appointments and was forced to stop running, but other than that not a lot. Part of the dietician appointments obviously involved being weighed. I remember drinking as much water as possible before going in, in order to try and cheat the system and my weight to appear to have gone up. Partly out of fear of failure, partly being scared of the consequences of what might happen if the scale didn't tell the correct story...
Fast forward a few years, a few life changes and a bit of travel, to life in Sydney.
I loved the almost 10 years I spent on the Northern Beaches, Freshwater will forever hold a little piece of my heart. Sydney brought the most incredible friendships and I am so grateful to so many of the people involved in this period of my life, at times I'm sure it would have been very frustrating to be my friend.
I was still running a lot (a casual 21km on a Sunday after a night out was nothing), winning multiple events - yet failed to see myself as being 'a runner' or anything special. I would go all day on practically no food, then eat a massive serve of mostly vegetables at night. I was underweight and generally not looking after myself well. If I had been fuelling my training properly and been able to take advantage of my strong mindset, who knows what direction that could have taken...
It was in Sydney that I discovered the gym and found a love of group classes. There was definitely a social aspect to gym life, but the underlying drive was always pushing my body. No real goal, just more, longer, faster. I would be up at 5am to enable me to get my workouts in before work. I could still tell you my weekly schedule - it didn't alter, I wouldn't let it. Not getting it done wasn't worth the mental bullying that would go on for the days ahead. A full Body Pump (weights) class and a 45 minute Spin session, plus either a run or a ridiculous amount of burpees was at the time an acceptable amount of exercise to me in a morning. I would then do a full day at work and often return for more at night - maybe Body Attack (HIIT/aerobic style class) or if I was going 'easy' a lengthy hilly hike. During this time I was still sticking to the same diet of practically nothing as above. How I managed to get through a day, let alone train and work, I have NO idea.
I was weighing myself multiple times a day, the slightest fluctuation would have a significant effect on my self perception and mood - the 'inner bitch' ran rampant. I'm not going to throw numbers in here as I don't think that helps anyone, but regardless of what the number says, this behaviour is most certainly not healthy. If you're finding yourself struggling with the scale, please reach out. All the scale tells you is your relationship to gravity - nothing else.
This whole time I did not think there was a problem, even though I was embarrassed by my stick thin legs and aware of my bony arms. So many beautiful people reached out, offered support and I know were looking out for me. It's only on looking back that I see how frustrating it must have been from the outside. The other ironic thing is, that I would get really worried about others going down any sort of path like mine. Like I could help them, yet I was incapable of helping myself.
Fast forward again to 2017, and the girl that was never coming back to Geraldine found someone who made her think Geraldine might be alright - although it took a long time for her to admit it!
Here is the slow burning beginning of a change. Bit by bit, two feet in and one foot out, that nasty inner voice has been quietened. I've begun gaining a better perspective, gaining a respect for my body and seeing quite how skewed my view has been.
The real change has happened within the last 2 years, particularly as close as the last 6 months. It's only in going deeper, questioning my thoughts, sitting in the tough bits that things have started to shift.
I am gaining appreciation for my body and what it can do. No longer is a workout about the length or the amount of puff and sweat involved, it's about getting stronger and enjoying what I'm doing. Mostly now that looks like strength training, but there is the odd HIIT session or run thrown in, as well as many walks with the puppy dog. Yoga and (dare I say it) meditation have become things I lean on and I definitely notice when I have let these slip. This kind of mindfulness is crucial to keeping me in a good place.
My health and fitness journey has not been linear, nor is it over - balance has always been my biggest challenge. I have a tendency to push myself very hard, I love routine and have a bit of an addictive personality in some respects. There is a lot of fighting 'well you did that yesterday, so you can do 'xyz' today'....
The ongoing health implications from the pressure I have put my body under are certainly there and there is a bit of regret about that, although I try not to dwell on the past. More on creating a positive future and doing the best for me, now. Likewise when I think about the missed opportunities, lack of presence and silly decisions made - looking back serves no purpose.
Wherever you are at, I dare say I might have been there!
If you want to chat, please reach out. I absolutely do not know it all, but I have learned a fair bit from my own mistakes along the way and would love to share. If I could help one person and prevent them from going through what I have put myself through, I will be a happy girl!
For anyone that has gotten to the end of this, thank you. This is something I wanted and needed to get out, another step a more positive direction - all in the name of honesty and transparency. Not about anyone else, other than hopefully starting any needed conversations.
I'll leave you with a few things I have learned along the way:
Sleep, rest and recovery are crucial.
Fuel yourself properly. Not just for workouts, but for life.
It's not about the duration of your workout if you're looking for results, but the intensity and enjoyment. (As well as your recovery and nutrition.)
If you don't enjoy it, don't do it! Find something you love - there is no right or wrong when it comes to health and fitness.
Incline sprints on a treadmill will always be revolting.
Peanut butter is life 😉
The world is so much bigger than your brain, stop living inside your head.
Love and light,