Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover
I hated casual clothes day at work.
I never had anything to wear. I used to wear the SAME SIZE 18 pair of black dress pants, which I thought were the most flattering, to work EVERYDAY. AND I used to wear TWO PAIRS OF SPANX (really tight compression stockings) under them everyday to hold in my saddle bags.
They were extremely hot in Summer, but those compression stockings were an essential part of my wardrobe because they helped prevent the rash I used to get from my thighs rubbing together.
Thinking back, those were some of the worst days of my life.
Not just casual clothes days, but overall it was a time in my life when I was feeling depressed and sorry for myself. I had no friends or social life. My life pretty much consisted of going off to work in a sedentary office environment and locking myself away in my house to binge on take-away food and emotionally eat in front of the TV.
I was also caring for my adored father who was in the later stages of a devastating illness, Huntington’s Disease.
My dad had an undeniable love for his daughters. Knowing that children of anyone infected with Huntington’s Disease have a 50% chance of also developing the debilitating illness, he approached every Doctor and Scientist that he could to offer his body for research to try and help find a cure for us girls. I am forever grateful for all of his attempts and what he went through to help find a cure, from trial pills to some things that you wouldn’t even put an animal through, like Electric Shock Therapy while restrained to a hospital trolley.
I always say that my father was a Super Model. Not JUST because he was ‘really, really good-looking’, but because he was a super ‘role model.’ My dad was an amazing man and I am forever grateful for everything he taught me, most of all to live each day like it’s your last and to never, ever give up. And if someone ever tells you that you can’t do something then go above all mighty to SHOW THEM that YOU CAN!
It was so hard to see my dad suffering from the disease and being ‘At Risk’ was very stressful in itself. It was especially difficult at times when I was spoon-feeding my dad, only aged in his 40’s, all the while thinking to myself ‘is going to be me one day?” Being such a daddy’s girl and sharing so many of my dad’s characteristics, I came to believe that I would develop the illness without a doubt. Every time I dropped something or tripped over I would think I was starting to show symptoms.
Riddled with stress, I started to spiral into a habit of emotional eating, which started to show undeniably on my legs, thighs, bum and wow…those SADDLE BAGS!!
At that point I realised I wanted to lose weight. I tried all of the heard about ‘diets’, from the shakes, to the no carbs, to the soup and the calorie counting. Only to end up putting on more weight than where I started. I remember going grocery shopping and thinking to myself “I’m going on a diet!”. But not really having a clue about how to go about it I would naively fill the trolley up with all the same things I would usually eat, like potato chips and French Fries, but I would choose the ‘Light’ versions.
All of these dieting attempts failed miserably and I ended up feeling worse than before.
I just didn’t know how to eat right; I didn’t know what to buy, what portion sizes to cook or where to start. You see with my dad being so ill for half of my life, my mum was always working double shifts and had two jobs so that she could provide for the family. This meant we ate a lot of take-away food. Mum never had time to teach me to cook and I never bothered to learn. When I was a teenager it didn’t seem to matter, I was slim and I could eat anything. But weight has a way of catching up with you as you get older…
I remember one day when I thought to myself “RIGHT that’s it, I am going to DO THIS! I’m going to lose weight.”
I had a shake for breakfast and started the day feeling highly motivated. Lunchtime came, I enjoyed my diet packet soup and was still feeling good…until 4pm hit. Then I was sitting in my car bingeing on half a dozen donuts after visiting Donut King on my way home from work I remember sitting there crying. I was so disappointed in myself for giving up like that…and so I went through the KFC drive-thru on my way home I returned to my old ways of emotional eating.
So crazy me decided to get NOT ONE but two Dogs
I thought two big active dogs could be my personal trainers and help get me up to exercise and start burning off all of this fat… only problem was I think even they ended up getting fat (see the rolls on their necks above their collars in the picture below)! They definately helped me get outside more often, but I soon learned that it was not going to work if I just kept emotionally eating like I was. I also learned that I wasn’t as camouflaged as I hoped I was in these pants… I remember on this day that a car full of guys yelled out to me as they drove past “KEEP WALKING YOU FAT SO & SO!’ Well stuff you because I guess I decided to keep doing that- I choose to run rather than walk these days… and I also will never forget the day a couple of years later when you drove past and beeped the horn and whistled at me. You had no idea I was the same person you see pictured here!
My sister was a bit of a fitness fanatic, and she still is. She tried to encourage me down the fitness line by coaxing me along to gym with her.
I remember walking into the gym feeling so intimidated. It was Summer so everyone was wearing shorts, but there I was in a huge pair of thick size 20 tracksuit pants. I mean there was no way I was wearing shorts and showing all the cellulite the covered my legs. I felt so out of place and I felt like everyone was looking at me, watching me. It was agreed that I should try the RPM ‘Spin’ class with my sister. Because you can go at your own pace, it was one of the ‘easier’ classes to try. Easy?! Wow! Not for me. Ten minutes into the class I started to feel like I was going to die. I thought to myself that ‘Spin’ Class was a great way to describe how my head felt. My body was aching all over. I watched the clock as I tried to breathe. Twenty minutes into the class I realised I just couldn’t push through any longer. Unable to save myself the embarrassment, I had to excuse myself from the class. To make matters worse I realised I’d come in the car with my sister and she had the keys. So I remember feeling humiliated as I had to sit on the couch around the corner from reception and wait for my sister to finish the class, fighting back the tears for what felt like an eternity. I swore I would never walk back into a gym again.
So there were a lot of weight loss attempts and failures in my past, often ending up with me being two steps behind where I started. UNTIL… the moment!
The ‘moment’ is what I believe everyone has before they start a successful weight loss journey. It’s a moment of realisation that you are not only ready to make the change, but the realisation that you CAN make the change and that you WILL!
It was another casual clothes day at work and I cringed again at the embarrassment of wearing my same black pants when everyone else would be wearing jeans. So I made my way down to the local shopping plaza and I walked into one of the major jean retailers. After the Sales Assistant said to me “Sorry we don’t make jeans in YOUR size” while looking down at my size 18-20 lower body figure, I swung past Donut King again and found myself back in the car park, in tears, bingeing on another half dozen donuts. I remember thinking wow, how did I let myself get to this point, where I can’t buy clothes from a mainstream shop anymore? So I dealt with the news as I normally would, emotionally eating my feelings.
Since I was already feeling depressed I decided I would go and visit my dad who, due to the progression of his illness, was in the Dandenong Hospital in Melbourne. It was always so hard to see him like that, a man who had been so smart and capable, now so fragile and sick.
And this is when it hit me…
I walked into the ward to find my dad attempting to run up and down the corridor, only he was banging into the walls and falling to the ground, and covered in grazes and bruises all over. I watched as he just kept on dragging himself up in the best way he could, and he kept on going. “Oh My God DAD! What are you doing?” I yelled out in horror. But dad couldn’t talk at this stage due to the progression of the disease and losing cognitive control of such functions. So the nurse replied “He does this everyday, we can’t stop him.”
You see my dad always kept very fit. Even finding out he had Huntington’s Disease drove him on more, knowing that leading a healthy lifestyle and keeping the mind and body fit can slow deterioration of degenerative illnesses. My dad was committed to fighting as long as he could, in the pursuit of finding a cure for future generations. So even though he couldn’t speak or feed himself, he still fought to do what he could.
This was the moment that changed my life forever.
Here was my dad, debilitated with a devastating terminal illness, fighting for his life, fighting for ME and future generations…FIGHTING just to stay ALIVE another day, offering his body for expirimental research and putting himself through tremendous daily pain in his fight to find a cure.
He NEVER stopped believing. He would never stop selflessly fighting for what he believed in.
And here I was feeling sorry for myself.
And THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!
I can talk. I can walk! I CAN CHANGE!
At the time I couldn’t afford a Personal Trainer and I certainly wasn’t going into a gym again (well so I thought) after the previous experience and humiliation. So I started a journey of self-education. I googled, I read, I watched videos and I started to educate myself to be mindful of how I treated my body from sleep, to exercise and nutrition.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I WAS NOT TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT!
I WAS EATING TO FUEL MY BODY, I WAS EATING TO BE A FIGHTER!
AND I started to lose weight.
For once it was NOT for any superficial reason or to LOOK a certain way. It was a total transformation that started from the INSIDE. But people started to notice as the weight was dropping off me, up to 2kgs a week at the start!
I started to look and feel vibrant and happy.
I had energy and motivation to do things! I started to LOVE LIFE.
I was stronger and I was social.
I had friends and I had FUN.
I was even better able to deal with the challenges that life posed, like stresses at work and the family illness. I HAD BECOME A FIGHTER LIKE MY DAD.
I felt sexy. I started to live my dreams and even got on stage!
And more than that I started go beyond my dreams and do things that I never dreamed that I could do. I even wanted to join a gym again! As I built up confidence I was not only able to try a class again, but one day I even did three classes in a row, just because I could!
I was facing my fears.
I went on holidays and bought my first bikini!
I even stood on a stage in a bikini, which is something that I never ever dreamed that I would be able to do!
You can achieve anything that you really want, at ANY AGE!
No matter how old you are, no matter how you look now, you really DO HAVE THE POWER to change and to be THE BEST person that you can be!
I did it for me, and YOU CAN do it TOO! You can do it for YOU.
Make it HAPPEN,
xX LIVE YOUR DREAMS Xx
Living life to the fullest each day in loving memory of my adored father,
John Alfred Hassett, 19.06.55 – 17.07.12