Is This It?

I am completely transformed back to a place in which I felt utterly hopeless. I lacked motivation and drive, I felt nothing and I hated it. The only difference now is – I have become somewhat of a recluse, spending all of my time inside my bedroom. I dread going outside. Everything outside seems like a chore – bumping into people, glancing at strangers’ faces, having to figure myself out in the city. I’m in beautiful Barcelona but it feels more like I am in a dark hole.

What is the point of traveling, living in new countries and cities when I can’t even get the energy to leave the house? What’s more frustrating, is that my friends tell me to snap out of it. They just don’t understand that there’s something weird and irrational happening in my overactive mind. I know that I need to get out more, and I fantasise about it constantly by Googling exciting places to see, cafes to work in, countries and hotels to visit – but all of those hours are put to waste when I wake up and cannot give myself a single reason to get out of bed.

I used to be a doer. I yearn for those days again. Now, I am back to that place where my anxiety is so high that I hope for wonderful things, plan them excessively and then – do nothing. Do I up the dose on my anti-depressants? Do I wait it out? Trying to push myself is just not working anymore. I don’t know what will work but this just can’t be how I live my life.

Everything Happens for a Reason.

As my beautiful journey back home is almost reaching an end, I’ve found myself bursting with happiness. The last two days have happened for a reason. I was leaving work and the security guard stopped me. “Aren’t you a past pupil at this school?” he asked. “Yes, I replied.” After 9 years, he remembered me. Irrespective, we spoke for a bit. He asked me what I had been doing since High School and I told him I studied further and went to South Korea for 3 years. Now, I am finishing my teaching degree. He told me about the every day struggles that he and many other South Africans face, pointed out the fact that I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to study, travel, make money and be safe. He was right. Reminding me to thank God for this fact, we said goodbye.

Today, a guy came to talk to the students about drugs. He finished school a year before I did. When he announced his name, I was certain that I recognised him. His speech was utterly inspiring, shocking and wow! It made me feel weird afterwards, for a while. He stressed the fact that it only takes one choice/a split second to change your life. Be it, that split second that you decide to drive home drunk or anything else. After the talk, I went to chat to him and yes, it turns out, I did used to drink heavily with his circle of friends when we were about 14.

Sitting here, I am made aware of the people, some acquaintances and some best friends, that I surrounded or surround myself with. People that I grew up with, joined in with their shenanigans – yet, I didn’t go down the road to hell which they endured. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. He is now a motivational speaker and perhaps, that was his calling.

Going on about these two events, it’s as if the universe is sending me signs to be grateful for my life. This time at home has been magical. I have never felt as close to my family as I do now. I have never walked around my childhood city and thought “I am so privileged to see the mountain everyday.” or to see the stars at night, to hear the birds sing, to see a rainbow. Seeing Table Mountain on almost every drive.

Just like fear overcame me before coming home, so it is starting to creep its way back again. This time, I am afraid this happiness will disappear when I arrive back in Korea.

All On My Own.

Today is weigh day (Weight Watchers) and after a week that was slightly different to the rest (more bread, more red meat and just in general a different eating schedule), I was afraid I would put on weight. I instead stayed the same. I was quite pleased, seeing as I had already lost 6.2kg in the last month. This upcoming week is school holidays (again!) and that means more changes in routine.

I’ve started my second teaching practical and it happens to be at my old High School. I seem to be more and more disappointed as the teachers really don’t want any part of student teaching (the shadowing, teaching of their classes). I feel like a big bother to my “mentor” and the faculty in general. My previous school was so accommodating it almost puts this school to shame. I’m doing my bare minimum and I’m leaving early, because they’ve scheduled only 2 observations a day for me. I want to have as little contact with this mentor as possible because she is unfriendly and does not want to engage with me at all – even though she is only a year older than me and we went to the same school.

In general, though – I still feel great. Weekends spent at home are wonderful. I spent three nights in a row going down to the beach to see the sunset which is breathtaking every night (see my previous post for photos). I’ve been offered a job in Korea and I’ll be going back to the small town I lived in in my second year. The place where everything started, this blog included. I experienced many firsts there – my first boyfriend, my first heartache, my first realisation that I needed to change my life, my first gym experience and probably the happiest I’d ever been. That’s not to say the first few months were hell. Prior to all of these experiences, I did not have any friends and I was not well liked. It was a blessing that I become comfortable with myself and enjoy my own company. I am my own best friend. Going back there does not scare me. It excites me. I realised, being in the big city for the last year, that my heart belongs in a small city. I thrived there, and I only associate good things with that place.

I’ve started reading The Gift of Imperfection, and it’s probably also the kind of literature I need in my life. The author, Brene Brown, is also a reason why I changed my life – after watching The Power of Vulnerability on TED Talks. I remember reading at least 10 pages a day of an inspirational book before. It helped me stay motivated. I’ve also been writing a lot more since I have been home.

Two nights ago, I lay in bed, said a prayer and had a thought that I had not had since 2012 when I dated a guy who made me feel like a princess – “The colour is back in my life.” I didn’t think I could achieve that feeling without the love, lust or approval of a man – but here I am, all on my own.

Believe It, Be It.

Below, are quotes from the autobiography Believe It, Be It. It’s a weight loss book written by the winner of Season Five – The Biggest Loser, Alison Vincent. I read this book about one year ago and it was such a good read, I finished it in one day.

As I am consumed and obsessed with my weight, especially lately – I wanted to re-read the book and underline the parts that speak to me. A lot of it is concerned with low self-esteem, which I fall victim of, too.I have put the quotes most applicable and meaningful to me, in bold.  I hope these inspire you.

– “By shedding those pounds and by confronting the emotional issues that had led me to my weight gain, I had also won a whole new life. One that felt open and full of hope, almost newly born. I know everyone deserves that feeling”

– “I began to dream big, get healthy and allow myself to start thinking Why not me?”

– “Always know where they were going so that they could get there and achieve their goals”

– “The only battle to win is the battle within, that place where we realize that we deserve to have and create all that we want in our lives”

– “I was afraid they would be able to see how bad I felt about myself.I didn’t like myself and I didn’t have the courage to admit it to myself.”

– “Behind weight gain are the larger hurts and questions that have to be explored, probed and understood before weight loss and maintenance is a possibility,”

– “I certainly know the pain, deprivation and insecurity that comes with a life of obesity.”

– “My fat protected me and gave me a reason for people to leaving me. Because, otherwise, why would they go? What was so bad about me? The fat gave a reason – it justified my feelings of loneliness.”

– “Who are we really excusing when we excuse ourselves?”

– “Making excuses is not going to get me any closer to my goals.”

– “If you’re going to get healthy, you’re going to have to take care of yourself. And that means saying no to some requests for your time and attention – time and attention you may need to devote to planning, grocery shopping, cooking, working out or resting.”

– “Don’t surround yourself with people whose opinions make you feel bad about yourself.”

– “As I hit my teen years I starting acting out. I drank, I hung out with a faster crowd. I was becoming a woman who didn’t value her body.”

– “The power to succeed or fail was up to me and only me.”

– “In order to have any chance of success, I’ve learned that you have to accept yourself and let go of the past failures that have been holding you back.”

– “Others have been spending so much time and energy taking care of others that they haven’t been taking care of themselves.”

– “I was starting to feel uncomfortable in my own skin.”

– “I unconsciously tried to fill voids in my life with food. It’s not easy breaking down the walls that have protected us from life but those walls have also stopped us from living the lives we truly want.”

– “I wanted fast and easy but then remembered that fast and easy is what got me to 234 pounds.”

-“Fat girls don’t have their picture taken. I hadn’t documented my life because I didn’t want to look at it.”

“My heart wasn’t really into it – they wanted it for me more than I wanted it for me. I knew I was miserable and miserable to be around.”

– “When you don’t set goals you deny yourself the opportunity to succeed and celebrate. It is important to set realistic goals for yourself and rejoice when you achieve them.”

“Share your excitement for change among your family and friends. That’s how you can really bring about change in your life – by getting everyone to understand your dreams and goals.”

– “I was really ready. For a long time, I had been afraid of failing – but now, I was tired of being afraid, tired of feeling like a loser.”

– “It’s a familiar process for anyone who wants to lose weight  -I’m going to eat whatever I want until I start my diet. I didn’t understand the process of healthy people, that you can eat the foods you want as long as you do so in moderation.”

– “It starts when you tell the truth that you’re not happy with where you are in your life and admit you want to do something different.”

– “Using the resistance of your own body weight is enough to get results – squats, lunges etc”

– “What we needed to eat – mainly veggies, fruit, protein, whole grains, and low fat dairy.”

– “I could do whatever I put my mind to.”

– “One of the most challenging parts of weight loss: knowing that in order to truly give to others, you have to give to yourself first.”

– “For the first time in my life, I was giving myself a break.”

– “I was right back in the same environment where the old Ali had been so stuck and so unhappy.”

– “I needed to remove myself from situations that weren’t going to be able to change with me.”

– “I needed to understand that taking care of me wasn’t selfish.

– “I ate within half an hour of waking up. Then I would eat every 3-4 hours after that.”

– “I was trying to change everything about myself at once – my living situation, my meals,my sleeping schedule, my working schedule. I was burning the candle at both ends.

– “I learned to listen to my body and understand when it needed rest.”

– “I find that if you have some way of tracking your calories, then weight loss and maintenance becomes a mathematical equation.”

– “I think about what I am going to be doing after I eat. I try and think of food as fuel.”

– “Think of ways to make exercise fun. If the thought of gym fills you with dread then go outside and take a walk instead.”

– “I didn’t go out every weekend. I didn’t drink alcohol. Different kinds of social environments.”

– “I just focused on what I could control and did my best.”

– I learned to dream again and how to celebrate me.”

– “I found myself noticing everything around me – the trees, squirrels and the rocks underneath my feet. I felt like I was part of the world again.”

– “Make regular dates with your scale. Once a week at the same time of the day and wearing the same types of clothing.”

– I love my shoulders and my collarbone. I love my arms and the fact that I’m not afraid to show them anymore. I love that I don’t have to think about whether something has sleeves.”

– “I had to find some balance and be okay with the calm moments in my life.”

– “I had to take the time to get focused on what I wanted to do.”

– “And that’s a huge departure from how I was thinking about life just a year ago.”

– “When did it become okay to give your time to everyone but yourself? Ask yourself what you need in order to live a happy life.”

– “Big, sweeping life changes really boil down to small, everyday decisions.

– “You have to embrace the actions that are going to get you closer to your goal. You’re going to have to buckle down and do some hard work – but think about where it’s going to take you.”

“Remember, when weight loss becomes a goal in your life – eating right and exercising are just two pieces of the puzzle.”

“How you feel about yourself is reflected in your body.”

– “Finding people you can talk to, who will listen to you and advice you without judgement, is key.”

– “I still keep a food journal in my handbag. That’s the reality. This is the rest of my life.”

– “I was always the aunt with the cool handbags and make up, but now I’m also the aunt with the great fitting designer jeans.”

– “Today, I feel beautiful, I feel strong. I feel confident.”

– “Part of the problem was that I wasn’t proud of myself. I was just existing.”

– “Start showing up for life.”

– “I wasn’t able to admit that I wasn’t in a relationship and I really just wanted to love and be loved.

– “Start picturing what you want your future to look like.”

– “The important thing is to remember that this is a process; it’s not about perfection.”

– “Eating won’t solve anything.”

– “There’s always been a light inside me that I just let dim over the years through the layers of fat.”

– “When you think about having to lose 100 pounds it feels like you have to climb CamelBack mountain – but you can do it, just break it down and take it one step at a time.”

– “Since I beat myself up for gaining pounds, I was going to feel good about losing them.”

– “Feeling judged by those around them when they ate. When you feel scrutinized like that you start sneaking food. You eat in secret to avoid other people’s stares. You’re not in the open, and it feels disgusting and wrong. The act of eating is about nourishing your body – it should never feel like that.”

– “My smiles weren’t sincere.”

– “I felt bad about myself and removed myself from life.”

“I was scared of being turned down.”

– “I understand that I am not responsible for all the unpleasant things that happen in my life.”

– “Just because we’ve experienced pain in our lives – sometimes at the hand of one another – that doesn’t mean it has to define who we are moving forward. We have the opportunity to choose again every day and make decisions we can be proud of.”

– “Over time, you’ll figure out what motivates you and you’ll find reasons for putting in the hard work required to make changes in your life.”

– I want to honour my parents and my family by honouring myself.”

– “I want to believe in good again.”

The Secret – Second Time Around.

A few days ago, I admitted to a friend that I feel like I’ve hit my rock bottom – she, a former drug addict, told me that when you hit rock bottom, you will do absolutely anything it takes to get out of it. I guess in that sense, I did not hit rock bottom – but I sure felt like life had been smothering me. The big things – like my self esteem, self image, weight and everything else, to the smaller things – the walk to work using the same streets, my apartment, my friends, Facebook and e-mails. My entire life felt like one big frustration.

I rarely cry anymore. I have been through phases of my life where I cry every day for things like missing home, to just hating myself. These days, it’s just a feeling of being dead – dead, with loneliness and sadness. After expressing all of my frustration to the above mentioned friend in my own way – without fear of being judged, yelling and speaking at 100 miles an hour to let all of my anger out, after that – things seemed better.

One of my biggest frustrations has been my weight – lack of focus and passion to get back onto losing it. I told my friend it’s because, for once in my life, I can say that I am not the best version of myself. I think I have abused myself with take out food so much in the last month or more, that I can actually say the thought of it makes me feel sick. I actively don’t want to eat it anymore, because I think I’ve just had too much of it. I feel good about that. I feel like my passion and will is slowly, very slowly, coming back. Granted, this happens just about once a month.

I’ve always felt that day dreaming and imagining the life that you want, is what helps you get there. I’ve started doing that again. I’ve started cooking my own meals again. Those simple steps are what will hopefully work itself up to something bigger. Sometime else that I have learned – it is all in the mind. My mantra has always been “Your body achieves what the mind believes.” 

It was exactly one year ago that I made so many great changes to my life. I am such a sucker for symbolism, and I want this fact to work in my favour.

And, finally – as the title suggests, I wanted to at least put out good vibes. I have read The Power – the sequel to The Secret, which I felt to be more powerful than The Secret. In actuality, The Secret is starting to seem more and more like babble to me. But, there is one part that I feel deserves some recognition. I’ve done it before, and I am so ashamed of the reason why. It was to win over my ex. It did not work, of course because after two days – I stopped focusing on, stopped trying to believe it – but also, because he did show his true terrible colours and at the end of the day – life, the universe whatever was working in my favour. That was definitely not supposed to be.

After having said that – I’ve felt like I had needed to give thanks and gratitude to the good things I have in my life. That, and let it be known what I actually want in life.

Step 1: Ask: Let the universe know what you want.

– I want to be genuinely happy.

– I want to lose weight.

– I want to be passionate about losing weight.

– I want to feel dedicated, excited and work hard towards losing weight.

– I want a boyfriend.

Step two: Believe: Believe that it is already yours.

– I am genuinely happy.

– I am losing weight.

-I am passionate about losing weight.

– I have a boyfriend.

Step three: Receive.

Today, I wiped out the motivational words I wrote on my white board and rather made a list of the people that I am wanting to do this for. Myself, being number 1.