I’m up very late for me – 11:30pm on a saturday night which is not late at all really I suppose – I went to see Batman Rises and then I cycled home from Richmond down Burnley Street, across Bridge Road and along Swan St back to Southbank. Its such a beautiful night – cold and clear which I love and as I cycle, I can relax, and go inside and enjoy the feeling of my body feeling strong and working well again. I can feel my mind to wander off where it chooses as I gaze around at the passing buildings, people and events – its sort of like an out of body experience because I feel somehow detached from it all an outsider looking in, wondering what it all means. There filters into my bubble an awareness of a constant background noise. Not the cars – there wasn’t much traffic, but sounds of people laughing and music – loud music and karaoke. I see people lining up to get into pubs, bars or spilling out of them – more than a little worse for wear trying to stand upright as they search for a vacant cab…
and it occurred to me just how much my life has changed.
I used to do all that, I used to be one of those people up to the wee small hours on a Friday or Saturday night, and I’ve definitely stumbled (been kicked out!) out of my fair share of pubs/clubs/bars in my time, that used to be a big part of my life. I used to think nothing of stumbling home through the city at 2am blind drunk then waking up the next day feeling like total crap until I’d had the full bacon-n-eggs-n-everything-on-it-with-extra-hash-browns and about 3 cups of tea.
but not any more.
I got a rude shock when I had that assessment that put me in the obese category. Obese was for other people – that didn’t apply to me, it wasn’t possible – I was a fit sporty person, obese was for people who didn’t play 3 hours of tennis a week or go to the gym twice a week and cycle everywhere…
I was in denial, big time – but size 16 jeans on someone as short as me tell a story that can’t be denied..
A few other factors – like hitting 40, ending a 10 year relationship all brought alot of things sharply into focus, one of the main things being what was my lifestyle doing to my health…
nothing good thats for sure!
And I started to look at those around me…family and friends that I was hanging out with some common themes emerged – heart disease, angina, high blood pressure, overweight…
I didn’t like what I saw. I realised that I was taking my health for granted – just because I never got sick I thought I was in excellent health…but the size 16 jeans still weren’t lying.
and I realised that if I wanted things to be different, if I didn’t want to be fat, frumpy and 40, I was going to have to place some value on my health. And I did – I made a decision to make it my number 1 priority and that meant some things had to change. I couldn’t stand the idea of me NOT being the fit sporty person I assumed I was. So I decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, for which I needed to get fit…which I did – with a vengence.
Every day for 9 months I cycled 5k to the gym then did 20 mins on the stepper on the hardest setting I could put it on with 10kg of weights in my backpack, 20 mins intervals on the spin bike with a 30s, 20s, 10s hill, sprint, rest split followed by 20mins row – this was before work. Then at lunch time I loaded up the terrorist jacket with its 10kg of sand and climbed the office building fire stairs – 38 floors, 4 times – 5200 steps…then cycled 5km home
And I changed my diet – cut out bread, rice, pasta and potatoes during the week – weekends different matter but I did not cut out alcohol.
Still, the weight came off – and as it did I noticed that I naturally didn’t feel like going out to bars/clubs as much anymore – I didn’t want to do that anymore. As I got leaner and felt cleaner I became more sensitive to things that don’t make me feel good – and as I stopped eating or drinking those things, I just found that I didn’t want to be in situations or with people that did those behaviours that I was no longer identifying with…some people can’t deal with others changes and it was becoming increasingly clear that my former circle of friends didn’t understand or support me in my changes – I was no longer that person they could call up for a few beers at the drop of a hat and they couldn’t deal with that.
Sometimes when you make big changes for yourself, the reaction of others can be surprising – you really find out who is there for you and who isn’t – and sometimes you have to accept the fact that some people can’t deal with the new you, maybe it highlights their own insecurities or failings, I don’t know – sometimes you just have to let them go. Its hard, but when you let go of the old you make way for the new and so I have found.
My new life is so different. I chose health above all other things, and even when the rest of my life fell apart I did not let it slide – it can be too easy to let that happen when your life gets tough, but think of it – if you don’t have your health what have you got? and besides, I’d worked too bloody hard to get my health back to let it go again!
I chose health over my former group of friends, and it has created space in my life for new friends who are also in the same space. For that I’m entirely grateful.
I chose health above all else and I’m glad I did – its led me to some amazing things – like standing on top of Africa and standing on stage in a sparkly bikini with a shiny trophy in my hands and meeting many wonderful people.
So cycling along Swan St, on the outside looking in at everyone enjoying themselves, I am comfortable with my choices – I’ve been there and done that and now I’ve moved on. I still enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine, but generally if I go out to a bar I’m more likely to have a black coffee or herbal tea or breakfast or lunch – and thats fine, I’m comfortable with that too.
I choose health.
For those of you who think its too hard, or too late for you – it isn’t, take a good hard look at the priority and value you place on your health, take a look at those around you do you like what you see? then make the changes today, its never too late to reclaim your health, you just have to get started.