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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Circle of life – re-finding my happy

Sit down, grab a brew and if you’re feeling emotional maybe grab some tissues.

I’m not going to pull any punches with this because I have nothing to hide. No skeletons in my closet that I’m ashamed of. Just a rollercoaster period of just over 36 months.

Speaking with a friend recently about how up and down the last three years have been for me. I realised I have been through a whole host of emotions and pain and I am only now re-finding what makes me happy. Recentering myself and a lot of that is because I have only just learnt to love myself.

I remarked to her that something which I am currently undertaking (patience, there’s more about that later) is “the crowning glory of a three year long battle for me. My final transformation from a quiet caterpillar to a zero fucks given butterfly”

But before we get to that, let wind the clocks back.

September 2015. Playing matchymatchy at a friends wedding (excuse the wife's handbag)
Probably the best shape of my adult life.
September 2015. This is what racing weight looks like for me.
The time was November 2015 and I was on top of the world. I weighed less than I did as a teenager and I was head over heels in love with my best friend. It’s only on rereading what I wrote then that I realise what a good place I was in. I implore you to read the letter I wrote to myself aged 13 to fully grasp what a good place I was in. I’d just set a PB for 5k of 22 minutes dead and was about to embark on a quest to qualify to represent GB in Mexico.

Just four short months later, my entire world came crumbling down around me. Everything I knew to be true in my world was suddenly gone as my marriage imploded.

Two people got lost and the result was the loss of my best friend from my life.

But more than that, this loss caused my unresolved grief from 2006 to come to the surface. And that was gut wrenching and required the assistance of professionals.

I ended up suicidal, broken, a shadow of my former self and barely functioning at work or life, if I’m being honest.

Over the next two years I healed with help of friends, family, colleagues and the understanding of my employer.

Also in these two years, I made some pretty epic fuck ups. I made some poor life choices which only exacerbated my depression.

I lost friends and I completely lost my way in life. But more than all of that I lost my self worth and confidence and my belief in the kind hearted person I am.

But eventually I saw the light and broke free from the cloud that was engulfing me and swallowing up all my energy with the help of counselling.

If you want to read about that period in more detail then please read this.

So that’s November 2015 to Feb 2018 covered and not once have I mentioned that fact that somehow I functioned as a triathlete in this period. I somehow got to Mexico to represent GB. Not my best performance but I got there on merit. And despite all the photos showing me happy, I truly wasn’t. Behind that fake smile lied a maelstrom of pain, guilt and grief. It is amazing how good an actor you can become if you are too proud to admit to people that you are suffering.



Behind that fake smile was a whole world of pain 
Nowhere near in the shape I was in 2015.
In Feb 2018 I weighed 15 stone 10 lbs, whereas in November 2015 I was 14 stone dead (and yes I have the spreadsheet to prove it). I’d even dabbled with Slimming World in an attempt to lose some of my depression weight. Given my mum’s alcohol addiction, I made the decision early on that food would be my vice when I was in the throes of depression. Not a wise choice but I could’ve chose a far worse vice.

April 2017.In the throes of my depression weighing far more than I'm comfortable with
Over the last year aside from doing my best to break down the barriers regarding mental health by sharing my blog and going out of my way to talk to people who I can tell need to talk.

Somehow I also managed to qualify for Australia to represent GB again. I have also been toying with my diet, trying to find the magic bullet. Does one exist?


Don't know how I managed that. Nowhere near my 2016 weight.
I went back to what worked in 2015 but wasn’t happy or satiated, then one day I saw a video by James Smith. Who the hell is James Smith I asked myself. Then I found him on instagram.

I lurked in the background for several months and watched the content on his socials, followed his challenge winners and couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Followed some of his coaches and absorbed what they were saying like a sponge absorbing water.I signed up to his daily emails to get more #knowledgebombs

Is it really that simple?

Is it really as simple as a #caloriefuckingdeficit

Surely not!

Cue more lurking and watching. I tried his free trial and used his calculator and eventually decided on Black Friday to take the plunge. I justified it to myself that it was less than Slimming World each week and at worse I’d lose £81.

Over the rest of November I trialled food which allowed me to hit my protein and calorie targets from the calculator in the Academy.

Every three months, the Academy runs a challenge where the prize is a once in a lifetime holiday.

I thought I’d use this challenge as accountability to help me get back to my best racing weight so I could maybe qualify for Worlds in Canada in 2020. Did I think it could work? Not really if I’m being honest so I approached it with caution. Worst case scenario I’m £81 out of pocket.

The challenge started on w/c 14/01/19 and I stepped onto the scales after an over indulgent Christmas weighing 15 stone 6.2 lbs.

That was it, my starting point. Only progress from here on in for 12 weeks and then the rest of my life using the knowledge I have gained.

I now sit here 6 weeks later weighing 14 stone 3.8 lbs.

Over a stone lighter.

Have I starved myself? NOPE!

Have I eaten takeaways? YUP!

Have I drunk beer? YUP!

Have I messed up? YUP!

Have I restricted treats? NOPE! in fact somedays I’ve had a full tub of ice cream because I’ve allowed for it in my weekly calories.

So how the hell have I done this?

Simple. Tracked everything I’ve consumed, upped my protein and moved more. I’ve used the Academy for what it was designed for.

But more than that I’ve embraced the Academy for what it truly is. It’s a support network of over 8000 people who are there and have your back through anything. Who are there to celebrate your successes and help you in your lows with no judgement. I have seen some truly unbelievable acts of kindness since November.

I’ve seen
  • People pay for peoples membership as they couldn’t afford it 
  • Offer to help with flights after booking errors 
  • Offer support for things far worse than the root cause of my depression 
  • Rally round to pick people up after what they perceive to be failure 
  • Encourage people to achieve 
  • Encourage people to push outside their comfort zone 
It truly is an amazing movement, in fact it’s more than that. IT’S FAMILY.
  • I’ve had support. 
  • I’ve given support. 
I’ve made friends with people who I know will impact on my life for the rest of it.

For the first time in my adult life I’ve purchased and fit into medium t-shirts (3 of them to be precise). And I’m not even afraid to say. I felt amazing this past weekend when wearing one. It’s a new feeling walking down the street and being eyed up. And it felt good. Like really good.



Aside from the frankly epic changes which are happening to my body (photos below). I’m not even apologising for the fact that there are photos of me in budgies. So there! Look at the stance change as well as the weight loss.



The best part of all.

I’ve found me again. I’ve found my happy. I’ve recentred myself and am brimming with confidence. I love myself and life and feel truly whole again for the first time since March 2016. It’s been a long time coming but I’M BACK.

There’s six weeks left in this challenge and by the end of it, I know I’ll be a better version of me than when the challenge started in January 2019. And all the joy I currently feel is because of what James and the team behind the scenes have created. It’s fucking epic.

Thanks for reading,

Michael
Proud JSA Member