Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 - As I walked the walk from my place to the Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre, I had an extra spring in my step due in part to the article, written by Sandra McCulloch, that graced the entire front page of the Times Colonist's LIFE section. I hadn't seen the article yet, but I would soon enough...haha...I may have sneaked a peak on the interweb before leaving for the gym.
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Down rolls the window, and the couple inside are laughing and holding up a copy of the morning paper.
"That's you!" Says the woman in the passenger seat, "You're on the front page! And we're so proud of you."
Her accent was vaguely familiar, and on closer inspection I realised that I had met both of them a few weeks earlier at a friend's birthday. Okay, good...random people aren't flagging me down and telling me they're proud of me...though, truth be told, I kind of like that attention. We chatted for a sec, while sweat poured down my face and into my eyes as it always seems to do when I stop an activity midway through. Then they were off on their merry way, and I continued up the street and rounded the corner.
About half a block from the Crystal a fellow walker stepped directly into my path, took off her sunglasses, looked me straight in the eyes, gave me the thumbs up, and said, "Well done! Keep it up!" Oh gods, is this going to continue all day? Because, at some point, I'm going to break down in tears of gratitude. These random TC readers, are not only making my day, they're motivating me! I knew there would be a little added accountability that came along with being in the paper again, but it's amazing what happens when people you don't know encourage you. What was it I said in April upon completion of the Health Challenge?
It’s not all about weight loss though, I have met so many amazing people along the way…not only the people in the challenge, the TCers, the gang at the Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre, mental coach Christie Gialloreto, my dietician Heather Dueck, and the ninja, of course…but the people in the grocery store who stopped to tell me they were going to go for a bike ride, the guy in the car who honked and shouted, “Keep up the good work,” the gal on the treadmill next to me who’s always up for a quick check in, the dog walkers on the beach who waved me over and asked me loads of questions about the TC Health Challenge. It’s everyone who read my blog and then put down the TV remote and went for a walk, or intended to buy cheesies but opted for an apple instead, or tagged me in some sort of inappropriate ecard regarding fitness & healthy eating…it’s all those people who became an extended support system for me. They may not know it, but they kept me going…and will continue to keep me going.
I still feel the same way. The reason I'm continuing to act the protagonist is because of a huge cast and crew that work along side me in this drama that is my life. Though the article in the TC was almost entirely about me, I have to give shout outs to some of my supporting actors and those players working tirelessly behind the scenes, the producers, and let's not forget the director. An acceptance speech of sorts, if you will.
I would like to thank the Times Colonist and Sandra McCulloch for continuing to share my story with readers in Victoria, and beyond. I received a message from my Aussie friend, Lucy, letting me know that her co-worker had been reading newspapers online and had asked, "Hey, is this article about your mate in Victoria who lost all that weight?" Not only has the TC brought me a certain amount of notoriety on the streets, yoga mats, and gymnasiums of the capital, but my ex-roomie from Ireland read the article on a vineyard near Adelaide thank you very much!Is it fair that I suffered from writer's block over this post for a month? No, but life isn't fair. We all know that, but I think it's entirely appropriate that I have finally been able to finish this post on Thanksgiving. I have a lot for which to be thankful.
The Times Colonist quite honestly gave me the role of a lifetime - in January, Shannon Kowalko called me and congratulated me on being chosen as a participant in the 2013 Health Challenge. I knew right then and there that I was ready to take the stage. Ushered into the PISE gymnasium, on January 13th, by an excited executive producer, the cast of 6 including myself (Elisabeth Westlake, Raechel Gray, Nathaniel Robinson, Steve Holub, and of course Sandra) had our first head shots taken before reading through the script together. We were acquainted with the our mental coach Christie Gialloreto, our caliper holders and measurement takers, physiologists Holly Murray and Paula McFadyen, the athletics programmers from our respective rec centres, mine was (and still is) Josh Taylor of the Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre, and we also met our directors. I would like to thank all of these players, but it is my director who has had the most profound and lasting effect on me...so I need to single him out.
Jonathan Carpenter, my director, my personal trainer, my ninja, and most recently my 사범, has taken me from 292.1 pounds to where I am now, 169 pounds. There is no way that I would have been able to lose 123.1 pounds without him...full stop.
I met the ninja at PISE with his sister Michelle, together they run MIJO Sport. When Josh told me on the phone that I was going to be trained by a "martial arts guy" I kind of imagined Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi, Jonathan was not, though he's got the moves...I creeped the MIJO facebook page shortly after the Health Challenge Kick-Off only to discover that he could fly. And, the ninja moniker was born.
We met up one Sunday afternoon in January to go over the plan, and set some goals. I wish I could have taped the conversation. I was awkwardly enthusiastic as I couldn't wait to get started, though I was not without trepidation due to the magnitude of the journey. Good thing I had a guide. What did I want to get out of this? Well, I wanted to get healthy...I wanted regain some of the athleticism that I grew up with...I wanted to get down to 150 pounds in the future. And, I wanted to be able to climb Mount Fuji eventually....the list was long and kind of all over the place. Jonathan reeled me in and asked me what I wanted to achieve in the next 3 months...I said I wanted to lose 24 pounds because that would be a loss of 2 pounds a week. He said that that was great, but then he doubled it...lose 50 pounds in 3 months. Holy shit! Either he believed in me (though he didn't even know me), or he believed in his experience and ability to transform me, I prefer to think that it was the former and not the latter, but I have a feeling it was a bit of both mixed together. It's amazing what happens when someone believes in you...even if you're not so sure if you believe in yourself...not totally anyway. Whatever the case may have been, he made me believe that if I took his direction, followed his instructions, and worked my butt off, I would meet those goals. And he was right. I lost more than 50 pounds in the first 3 months...and I can finally see myself at under 150 pounds in the near future.
The ninja is like a hot new director breaking onto the scene that gets the best out of his actors. I thought my script had already been written, I was going to play the part of the fat girl for the rest of my life. My comedic moments based mostly on self-deprecation, I would be cast as the loveable friend, the lucky wife, the over-the-top neighbour, the character that people would get a kick out of, but at the end of the day and behind closed doors would judge - "What a shame, she has such a pretty face." I would steal the show with that one song everyone remembered, but I would never play the heroine...unless it was an indie film that I wrote and produced myself (and that still may happen, stay tuned! Ha!). I was destined to be a foil juxtaposed with the svelte and sultry protagonist. In all honestly, I have always wanted to be a scene-stealer, so it wasn't such a bad storyboard to be a part of...until I was introduced to a different director. I realised
that with a bit of revision, a re-write or two, and following the advice of a prodigy from exotic Courtenay, I would be able to deliver a breakthrough performance. Having already been a part of the ensemble cast of TC HEALTH CHALLENGE, and in the following 3-4 months playing the title character in THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN: 100 POUNDS DOWN, I am happy to announce that the ninja and I will be continuing our partnership. I'm sorry, I can't say more. No spoilers. The screenplay is currently being written.
This is harder than I thought, I want to express my gratitude for everything Jonathan and MIJO Sport have done for me then, now, and everywhere in between without seeming like I didn't have anything to do with it. And, I loved the article Sandra wrote, but this person of interest needs to thank her people of influence.
How do you thank your director for making the right decisions without sounding like you're an ingénue vying for a role in his latest thriller?
Jonathan split up simple exercises to make them more accessible to this special
needs performer. He innovated and adapted workouts so that I was able to complete each step without feeling inadequate and hopeless. Mountain climbers, burpees, push-ups, you name it...he morphed them into something that would function for someone as obese as I. Perhaps not in one fluid motion, but he made them into a comprehensive series of procedures that benefited my physique as much as the "normal" athletic equivalent. For that, I want to thank him. Thank you, my ninja, for creating a special programme specifically designed to benefit me. Thank you for understanding that sometimes I couldn't do something, not for lack of trying, but for want of physical ability, and for the wisdom to make an alteration that would not only suit my condition, but indeed, inspire me to be able to do the original process with vigour in the future. Who loves burpees? I do. I am probably the only person that I know of who does...other than another MIJO athlete that I recently made acquaintance with in a Taekwondo class captained by none other than the ninja. He inspires excellence in everyone he teaches, and that's a rare quality in any professeur.
Thank you, Jonathan.
What more can I say? I am very grateful for the influence you've had on my life, and can't wait to see what happens down the road. You keep teaching and I'll keep learning. I'm feeling more and more ninja-like every day. Perhaps there's an action flick in my future!?!