This post has two parts. The first was written before my first session with my new counselor and the second was afterwards.
I feel like I’m kind of going through the motions. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not having an identity crisis, though, I wonder sometimes who I am. When I think of the labels I use for myself and the ones I used specifically this morning when talking to my co-workers, I find myself asking why these labels, why these words. I know very philosophical.
So here are some of the labels from just this morning:
- fat Cristina
- fit Cristina
- fit girl
- bikini competitor
I am so much more than these labels. I know it, and I think many of us out there know that we are more than the buckets we put ourselves into. We preach YOU ARE MORE THAN THE SCALE! Or… YOUR FAT DOESN’T DEFINE YOU! These are both true, but looking at the list above makes me wonder why I don’t use other words to describe or define myself more often. Why does everything revolve around fitness.
I was fat Cristina and I am fit Cristina now, but aside from a lifter, a runner and someone who enjoys competing; I’m a writer, foodie, girlfriend, crier, jokester, adventurer, fundraiser. I’m even more than that list too. There are other sides to me and I know that to be true.
The time after prep was a time for adventuring. JP wasn’t here and I had time to explore and try new food and see new things. We were reversing from competition prep and I had even more flexibility. While I didn’t necessarily have more hours in the day, I felt like I did. More trips into Boston were made than ever, even though I had lived here for just over 4 years at that point. Since I have made it my mission to get to the city once a month – try a new restaurant and explore something. Learn something new. That’s where this deep investment in lifting and fitness started. I want to learn something new. I want a new challenge.
I know I’m having issues with coming to terms with my body; how small it is. Yes, small because before I only used the word big. I’m not big anymore. Seeing clothes fit differently or well is mind blowing. Many of us reach for larger clothes at the store out of habit, but it’s been almost two months of maintaining a three pound fluctuation, I was hoping to be more used to it by now. This aside, the physically feeling and connect is clearly disconnected. My capris this morning felt like they fit fine, but when I got into the office I realized that they were loose and at least an inch off of my stomach. I physically couldn’t feel this and now I’m thinking I may need a belt and new pants.
While the weightloss was a lot and could impact anyone mentally, I know that post surgery I’m having a harder time because I’m finally seeing how my hard work reflected, but I’m struggling to accept that I made this. I built this. I mentioned in my video last week that I had gone to therapy for other issues – life transition such as moving and family. Normal people ask for help when they need it. I also mentioned in my video that I had been told I would never accomplish my goals over and over again – in almost all aspects of my life. I told JP that this issue was a bigger issue than the weightloss. There’s something else making me feel this way – why can’t I give myself the credit I deserve for working this hard? Why does it feel like there’s more to prove.
“He swears like a sailor. We’re going to get along just fine.” That’s what I told Alicia after my session. Turns out I can talk and so can he. We talked for an hour and 45 minutes. I don’t know if he had that planned or not, but that’s how long we talked for. I don’t know where the time went.
So what it comes down to is this. There’s a lot more shit from the past coming up that I hadn’t anticipated. This journey started with wanting to get healthy because walking up stairs left me breathless and not in the sexy “oh he’s beautiful” kind of way. Running came into my life because I wanted a new challenge, something quantifiable. Lifting happened because I had found all these amazing women who were pushing and pulling more than their body weight. They looked fantastic and healthy and some of them competed. Some were powerlifters and some were bikini competitors. I only knew the myths about lifting, but I figured I could learn. It was a learning and growth opportunity. The last two years of lifting and eating and competing have been 100% about me. Which today I learned is also 100% okay. It’s good to be selfish, it’s not good to be self centered.
Starting this journey was completely about me. So let’s get a little more personal. I talk about JP and Bella and Hippo. I talk about lifting and eating and running and loosely about work. I never talk about my family because the truth is, they’re not much of a family. They are just people that I may share a few DNA cells with and that’s it. So many of us, say there’s someone that we cut out throughout our journey because of the toxicity that the relationship added. Well, it’s sad to say, but that’s my family.
I haven’t talked to my older sister in three years because the last “adult” conversation we had was one-sided with her telling me how selfish I was and how I wasn’t actually an adult. According to her, my selfishness was how I was able to focus on getting a master’s degree and loose weight, I wasn’t actually an adult with responsibilities. Now I could go on and list all of the responsibilities I had at 23 (car, rent, career, degree program..) but it’s a long ass list and I know many of my responsibilities have been yours or are yours… I know there are some college-y age folks out there. I know you are more than college students. Anyway, this is how many conversations were with her. Because I was taking my education, career and health seriously I couldn’t be anything else, but selfish. My therapist called her a hater.
I haven’t talked to my dad or younger sister in just over two years, a few months before lifting started. And really, it’s been almost two and a half years. The conversations with them were similar, “that’s great you got an A in that class, but your program isn’t that hard.” or…”Thirty pounds is a good amount, but you could lose more…” Yeah, no shit I could lose more, that’s what I’m trying to do. I went on to lose another 80-something pounds after this conversation. My therapist also called them haters.
I told my therapist that while they weren’t the reason I started to get healthy and lifting has never been about them, I felt now that I kind of wanted to be able to rub it in their faces. In some way, I want to say, “hey look at what I did, that I did on my own, that you said I couldn’t do.” I also told him that I didn’t think about them or that until after surgery. I also said that I feared that something I love because it’s quantifiable and constantly challenging is going to become about them.
Because he has friends who bodybuild and he was able to distinctly remember one friend, he asked me is it ever going to be enough. Will I always challenge my physique because the sport is so subjective. I told him, what I have told you all many times. The first show was about pushing myself, learning and challenging myself. Ultimately doing something that many aren’t willing or have the desire to do. I wanted to push my comfort zone. I wasn’t the smallest, but I wasn’t the biggest. My second show was about being better than the first and that we set moderate and what I believed to be realistic goals based on the nutrition planning and training. I admitted I blew them out of the water and that actually made me nervous for the upcoming prep because I didn’t do anything special. I listened to my coach and got involved in the process by asking questions and trying to learn more. I told him this show will be about being better than the last and I’ll have the opportunity to move around without the loose skin. I also told him that if you don’t have an internal cause for competing you will be sorely upset when you don’t bring home a little bronze lady. Yes, many want to win. Yes, I would love to be in the Top 10, but it’s a subjective sport – you don’t know who will show up to compete, you don’t know who the judges will be and you don’t know what they will want. If you can’t just be happy with crushing your last physique and smashing PR’s in the gym you will be disappointed every time a judge says the other competitors are better than you. If it’s your personal best, that needs to have some weight. That being said, he has no issues with me competing this fall.
So saying that out loud, why do I have trouble giving myself credit with having the best physique I’ve ever had, even when I was thin before. Even when I danced competitively or was a cheerleader. Why can I say that out loud and mean it for competition, but I can’t mean it for the rest of my life.
There have bee many voices this whole time telling me I would fail. I remember one time – the first summer I started bodybuilding – that someone actually posted about me on an online chat board. They shared my blog URL and talked about how annoying I am and how I would fail. In retaliation, I wrote a blog post and since they had shared my URL, I had 900 hits when it launched. My therapist said that it seems that while I’m in a new chapter of my story, there are other characters from past chapters coming back. Like I keep looking and rereading without realizing it. I keep questioning my own ability to be great.
I’ve said this to JP before – “why can’t people believe they can do great things on their own. Why do they need to believe that a higher power provided opportunity, why can’t they say they worked hard and accomplished something because they were dedicated and they were ambitious.” So yeah, why can’t I believe that with all of the voices telling me I couldn’t, I actually did.
We talked about some other things related to family that I had talked about with my last counselor that I believe are important for background, but not important enough to broadcast to all of you. We talked about my PTSD and the possibility that obsessive tenancies may or may not be something I’m exemplifying as part of that. We talked about anxiety, which I know I am not alone in having. Weightloss or not, 1 out 6 adults experience anxiety or depression according to the CDC. If impacts 16 million Americans every year.
I told him that I felt there were a lot of things to work through and I wanted help to problem solve through them, but that I don’t believe I need to be therapy my whole life. He questioned who told me I couldn’t problem solve – so that may be in my head from being told “I can’t” so many times. I’m just assuming I can’t.
My goals going into this were: I want to feel happy about what I’ve accomplished. I see it in the mirror, I know it’s there, but physically feeling it and emotionally/mentally feeling it aren’t connecting. Aside from being given some homework to email him, I’ve thought about my goals for going to talk to him.
- I want to be able to emotionally feel connected to my physical accomplishments i.e be happy with my progress/weightloss/body
- I want to believe that I am capable, to be able to fully disconnect from the voices of haters past, and maybe haters present
We talked about his philosophy on therapy and I believe we’re on the same page. How do we partner together to figure out how to help me with this problem so I can move on and help myself. We haven’t decided how many sessions until the problem at hand is solved or fixed or whatever you want to call it, but we did determine that we should probably have another session within the next week to week and a half.
I felt good today and I felt better after meeting with him. It could’ve been the fact that I cried because I do that anyway, but I feel good about going to see him today and scheduling a second visit.
Well, it’s Taco Tuesday and it’s almost dinner time. So I’m going to get my taco on and try to put a few things away around the apartment. You know, try to make it more like home.