First of all - sorry about the photos. I am all for using before and afters to represent a journey but when I started The Shed I wanted it to be about the clients, not the trainers. I made a deal with a client who was very anxious about having their before and after go on our website. 6 months ago she made me promise I would do the same - she didn't say when I would have to do it! The left hand photo is me from a couple of years ago when our studio was on Kirkham rd, the middle photo is from 4 months ago when I started the cut that I am finishing today.
Towards the end of last year I started a long term cut that I had been waiting a very long time to do, as you can see from the middle pic above, I had some body fat to lose and was excited to see how much my metabolic capacity had increased. Fast forward 4 months to the end of the cut (now) and I can confidently say this 4 month period has been my worst adherence wise then at any point in my journey. I had 2 - 3 months where I did not count macros, I dreaded training and I didn't send my updates or measure. Don't get me wrong I was proud when I saw the pic Tabs took of me by the pool but that realisation didn't come easily - I will get to that later in the blog!
To describe how I "fell off the horse" I have to give a small insight into the sort of person that I am. My mum and I were chatting on New Years Eve the other night (clearly I am a party animal) and she reminded me of a bear I owned when I was about 8 or 9. So I got this cuddly bear and quickly named him Jack, but Jack didn't end up being the comforting outlet that Mum had intended him to be. For whatever reason it occurred to me at the time that Jack must be hungry, so I made up a "rule" in my head that if I rubbed his nose 5 times, he had eaten. Everyone thought it was cute initially, but then I realised he needed to drink so away I went rubbing his right paw 5 times, then I realised that if I was away all day tomorrow he would need 5 meals saved up so there we have 25 rubs of the nose and 25 of his right paw, then I started to worry that one of the rubs hadn't been quite right so I would have to start all over again. This went on and on to the point where I had worn out his nose, both paws, feet, ears etc with too many different rituals to count. It was a very obsessive trait of my anxiety and as an adult not much else has changed.
I still remember the reason I started training when I was 14 was because I hated having acne, braces and being bullied at school, and the idea of being able to control my body was something I found solace in. My step dad's bench press was in a bunker under our house, on dirt and on a lean, it was our only piece of equipment and I literally had to wear a gas mask to train in there due to the dirt and dust floating around. Plus I had to leave the door open so the moonlight could get in enough for me to see 10cm in front of my face. I was down there benching away 5 nights a week for years, but the point isn't that I had some amazing physical transformation (I didn't), it is that an unhappy teenager found an outlet that made him feel confident and in control. I was not obsessively rubbing bears anymore thank God but exercise gave me an outlet and truly kept my anxiety under control. This discovery is why I became a PT, the thought of showing others how this stuff could help mentally was incredibly exciting.
Now to the present! For the last two years I have been doing my uni work part-part time by correspondence often taking a break here and there to manage the other responsibilities I have at work. For me the uni degree is to make me better at the job I have, not to get a new one when I finish so there is no rush. I rolled the dice late last year opting to switch to full time on campus uni at Wollongong. We were understaffed, The Shed had never been busier and the subjects I was enrolled in were very challenging to me. I remember boasting to a few people about deciding to enrol and the hours I would have to do. Combining days at uni, PT work, nutrition work, private tutoring for Maths and Chemistry, paperwork etc was keeping me at work / uni 85 hrs a week and all of a sudden the control freak couldn't control everything. And for the first time in 5 years since starting The Shed I found out that I do have a breaking point. My nutrition suffered, I missed sessions, I failed my first exam - all of the things that normally comfort me were all of a sudden terrifying me, I thought I was going crazy! I would go to sleep anxious, wake up anxious, force down as much food as I could without throwing up and go to work. All the responsibilities that I CHOSE willingly were drowning me. So for about 2 - 3 months I didn't count macros, I trained rarely and shortly, I came to work / uni and went home. We decided to close over Christmas and I told everyone it was to give the staff a rest, which wasn't totally untrue but I am sure many of you could see through that and know I needed time. The staff certainly could!
And in that short break, hearing Mum talk about Jack the bear, I had a sort of epiphany. I am not going crazy, I already was crazy. I have anxiety. I have had anxious periods of my life as long as I can remember and there is nothing wrong with that, but I was burning the candle at both ends thinking people who take time off are quitters and I got what I deserved and needed. I came back to work last week feeling bruised and battered but was also feeling optimistic and wiser. I am planning to take 2 weeks off at some point this year, reverting to part time uni, writing new programs and counting macros again. I am determined to learn from 2014, I am loving my training and nutrition again - being the control freak that I am, counting macros, training frequently, recording intake, reps etc has always been a source of comfort for me. I lost 14 kilos in that down phase between the middle photo and the photo on the right, one plus is it makes me truly appreciate how much our metabolisms do change from long term nurturing.
This blog has been a super self-indulgent one and I apologise for that if you have made it this far. So long long story short I AM proud of my journey so far, it has had ups and downs but every down makes me a lot better at my job, after all I am working with a bunch of nutters just like myself. Whether we are brave enough to admit it or not we all exercise and improve our nutrition to make ourselves happier. And last year has taught me that this is too damn important to mess with, don't risk poisoning your journey by overcommitting your time, finance or emotion on fitness - it will soon lose it's benefit. From one nutter to another!