Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ode to my Trainer

One of the primary reasons I finally broke down, admitted I needed help and had this surgery was that I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be mobile. No longer living in fear of having to walk somewhere, or stand for a while. I wanted to be able to play with my nieces and nephews. Go for walks. Live a "normal" life...not the size-edited version of a life I'd been living for so long.

Part of my success, I knew, would be finding a personal trainer. I've worked with a couple of them in the past, and the truth of the matter is - I need one. I am not one to stretch out of my comfort zone. I don't try things to see if I can do them. I don't push myself.

Today Facebook let me know it was my 1-year anniversary of friendship with Scott Sutherlin.

Around Thanksgiving last year, I started working with my trainer Scott. My sister's sister-in-law went to his bootcamp classes, and she had really good things to say about him. He was right in my town, so that was convenient. At our first meeting, I just knew we'd work. He's worked with overweight people - and by overweight I mean well over 20 pounds to lose - and has not only helped them shed the weight, but keep it off. Weight-loss surgery patients were nothing new to him. He didn't see like one to take any shit, which I can appreciate. I still remember that first meeting like it was yesterday - - He made me stand during the entire thing. It was likely less than 30 minutes - but I was starting to sweat, and my knees hurt - - typical things for me.

I met with him a few times a week. It started so slowly, and so simply - which is exactly what 495# Natalie needed. He had me walk - at whatever pace I could - for 15 minutes. Small circles around the gym. I still remember how fucking hard it was to walk for 15 minutes!!! I was so grateful to be able to sit down when I finished. He worked in a bit of weight-training - - but the goal was movement. I hadn't been doing anything for so long, that that alone felt like something major.

As I dropped a few pounds prior to my pre-surgery liquid diet, we worked up to some tougher things - flipping tires, more weights - but for the most part it was walking. He'd keep me entertained with his stories while I walked in circles. The boredom he must have experienced watching me walk in circles for what ended up being close to 30 minutes - - I cannot imagine. But he did it, because at the time that is what I needed.

I was gone for about 2 months between the liquid diet (no energy at all), my surgery and recovery. When I came back we eased into it. He knew enough to start slow - see what my body was able to do, and where it's limits were. There have been a few days where I was just run down - where I hadn't eaten enough in the days before - and he knew I needed rest, and allowed me to do that. I cannot speak enough to the importance of working with someone who has the knowledge, and experience, to continually put your best-interests first.

So we got back to our 3 sessions a week. Easing in at first - I still had fairly new incisions on my stomach, and I'd still get woozy/light-headed fairly often because I wasn't eating much at the time - and was ingesting no carbs. Scott was patient, but firm. He wasn't going to let me off easy - but he also wasn't going to push me into something that would cause me harm.

I can't remember when the switch was exactly - but suddenly he knew I was ready. I was able to do more than we'd been doing. Everything was kicked up a notch. It was time to test out this new bod, and see what it could do. I had slightly move mobility than I'd had before, and he was going to use it. There are multiple times per session where doubt creeps in. He asks me to do something, and I start mentally calculating the levels to which I will fail. But you know what -- I don't fail. He hasn't asked me to do one thing that I physically can't do. Mentally - it might take me a minute to get my body to cooperate. But he keeps saying he'll never ask me to do anything I can't do - - and he's right. Hopefully one of these days I'll start to believe him right away.

no good comes from the agility ladder
And here's the truth - - I do not like our sessions. I wish I could tell you I love it, and every second of our time together is magical - but I can't. I have to keep telling myself "it's only an hour. It's only an hour. It's only an hour" my entire way to the gym. It's fucking hard. But when it's done, I feel pretty damn fantastic! I'm cranky, and I'm surly  and I'm bitchy - and yet he tolerates me. He doesn't lose his patience. He doesn't scream. He basically just tells me to STFU and do it. And then I do. And then I'm amazed by what I can do. Today he hauled out the agility ladder. My eyes immediately started to roll, and I asked him if he was aware that "agility" and my body were mutually exclusive. He was not. And he made me do it anyway. And I was awful sometimes, and sometimes I was ok. But I could do it. (I'm still somewhat in awe)

From the outside, we may appear to have the most dysfunctional relationship - he is constantly making me do things I don't want to do, and I'm forever being mean to him. But if you look closer - you see he's the best kind of friend - - he knows what I'm capable of, and continually pushes me.

I know without him, I wouldn't be where I am today. Sure - I would have lost weight...I have a hammock, after all. But I wouldn't have lost as much as I have - and my body wouldn't have transformed as much as it has, if it wasn't for Scott. I am so grateful to be able to work with him. I am so grateful he takes the time to work with me, until I'm ready to join the group classes. I am so grateful that he shows me on a daily basis that I am able to do things I'm certain I cannot. I'm grateful that he pushes me, even when I swear at him and give him one of my less-than-loving looks. I am grateful.

Happy 1 year friend-iversary Scott. I appreciate you so much, even when all I do is act the opposite. Here's to many poor guy! =) You might never get rid of me....

Scott & I, post-workout in his torture chamber

Friday, November 4, 2016

Non-Scale Victories

I've been told repeatedly that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. As per usual for me, I tend to take a little longer - - like 6 months, apparently - for things to start feeling normal. It has finally gotten to the point where I feel like I have myself into a bit of a routine...for the most part, anyway. I have moments...or this one where I just didn't feel like doing the things I normally do - but for the most part I have settled in a bit.

I'm trying to be responsible and food prep. I've resigned myself to moving more, and going to the gym when I have appointments set. I'm embracing and getting used to this new life of mine. Or at least I'm trying to. I'm going to lay some honesty on you real quick - - there are stretches of days where I swear it seems like one long list of shit I don't want to do: food prep, go to the gym, go to work, laundry, dishes, etc. Not that I'm miserable. Not that I find no joy in my life. But there are periods where there isn't really anything I'm looking forward to, and all of the things I'm marking off the list are out of obligation. That tends to be fairly short-lived...but it is the truth.

But then I hear Scott - sometimes in my head, sometimes at our sessions - reminding me to be grateful for, and appreciate the little things. Like the day I was bending over to pick up the bar and noticed the dry skin on my shins. He was kind enough to point out to me that it likely wasn't that long ago I couldn't really get a good look at my shins. Enjoy the little things.

And there have been quite a few lately - - I shared the fact that I can finally tie my shoes while standing up, instead of requiring some fairly significant calisthenics (which I just had to look up how to spell, because I was sure there was another T in there...but anyway...) while sitting on the side of my bed. I can finally use any stall in a public restroom without having to get in, straddle the toilet to get the door closed - then basically touch all the sides while I'm in there, and straddle the toilet to get the door back open. I'm not going to lie - it feels pretty damn amazing!

Yesterday, I stopped at Wal-Mart (which I usually try to avoid like the plague - but they do have plus-size long sleeved lady tees that are cheap - -and I'm all about that right now). One of the issues I have been having heading into winter is - how much do I spend on a winter coat that will (hopefully) only fit me for one year. I just honestly cannot want to spend money on clothes right now! So I walked into the clothing department, and they had winter coats for $20. TWENTY BUCKS!!! Now - as a lovely, large lady, I have not been able to just walk into Target or Wal-Mart and buy coats - - even plus-size coats - off the rack. I've had to order them, and they never fit right - so it has been a long time since I've had a winter coat that I actually wore, that actually fit. So I grabbed the largest size they had on the rack - a size 3X (22/24) and it fits!!! Like I can zip it up and everything! I'm still a big girl - but getting to be a bit more manageable! I was seriously on cloud 9 for like 2 hours!

For perspective - I started at size....a trillion? Honestly - I'm not sure. I would wear 4X maxi skirts made of jersey material with lots of give - - and I used all of it. Shirts, etc I was into 5X or 4X mens. I couldn't even get my size 32 jeans up - and I can now not really keep them up. The green and blue pants I am currently wearing are size 28 Boyfriend cut from Lane Bryant. I can actually dry them IN the dryer (no more hanging everything to dry for me) and they still have some room in them. So the fact that this 22/24 coat fits is...awesome.

But here's the big thing...I never really considered myself an unhappy person. I didn't consider myself someone who lacked self-confidence. What I have come to learn is that I am not so great at being self-aware. Or my internal gauge that advises me on how things are going is just that good at protecting me. Because what I'm experiencing now is quite different. I feel like it's easier to smile. It's easier to make eye contact. It's easier to be kind.  It's easier to try and be helpful. I'm sure there was something within me that had me keeping my guard up - - just incase that one was one of the days someone decided to give me the looks, or comments, about my size. Whatever was in charge of my self-preservation was not to be messed with! Now - this is not to say that I don't still have plenty of the sarcastic a-hole that everyone has grown to love, within me. =) But I find that I make eye contact and say hello to strangers more than I used to. I acknowledge passers-by, even on my walks where I'm sweaty and feel like I'm going to die - - I stick look them in the eye and smile. I'm pretty sure this is by far my favorite NSV (non-scale victory) to date. There is just so much to be said for feeling happy, healthy (or at least getting there), your own skin! Am I perfect? So far from it. But I feel like I'm getting back to the out-going person I used to be before life and weight beat the hell out of me, and it feels fucking fantastic!