31 years of trying to lose weight through diets, exercise, fasting & quick fixes only to realise this led her to an even worse situation. Here’s Nerissa’s real & raw transformation journey.
When it comes to body transformation or weight loss, none of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos show what happens along the way. None of them show the ups and the downs; the sheer hard work; the blood, sweat and tears; or what it really takes to get a result. And you can be forgiven for thinking that results like that happen ‘overnight’ or ‘without much effort’.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. True transformation requires strength, courage and patience. Anyone can get a ripped body. But not everyone can keep it.
Here’s my story of how Transformation has been for me – the highs, the lows, the struggles and the reality.
If you think like I did, you may not think you need Transformation. But one day, you’ll hit a snap point like I did, and you’ll realise that diets and workouts just won’t cut it anymore. That you need to change your habits and your mindset to have the life you really want.
Up until my snap point, I didn’t think I needed Transformation. I had dieted for years, always managing to lose weight (even if I couldn’t keep it off). I just thought I needed to work harder, or be stricter to make it happen. I spent 4 years going in circles before I asked for help.
The snap point…
It was November 2017 when I realised I needed to undertake Transformation.
My husband, son and I were walking around Melbourne, waiting for my daughter to sing at Hamer Hall in her end-of-year concert with the Australian Girls Choir. I should have felt happy and excited to see her on such a stage. Instead, I wanted to run back home and hide.
It was a stinking hot day and there was some kind of event along Southbank. It was filled with people who were happy and carefree, and many of them were wearing clothes that were cooler than what I was wearing.
Because I had to wear clothes that would fit – as opposed to clothes that felt nice.
As we walked around Southbank, I was in a lather of sweat. (Hot flushes were something my body had started doing as it prepared to enter menopause), but the heat of the day had made these worse. My mood became increasingly negative. I was angry at all the ‘beautiful people’ who looked happy and able to wear the clothes they wanted to wear. I resented them all for not suffering the sweaty mess that I was dealing with. And I felt sad to realise that I felt old, tired and frumpy.
When we sat down to an early dinner (I had decided not to eat much as a way of punishing myself yet again for being overweight), I said to my husband that I wanted to – needed to do Transformation. I could no longer live like this – hating myself for not looking a certain way, and feeling old and fat before my time. I wanted to be happy and carefree like those other people. This was my snap point. I was finally willing to do what I needed to do, to stop feeling so awful.
I thought this was the lowest it could get. But I was wrong.
We were told that at the end of the year, we’d be having a photoshoot as part of our Transformation journey. I was terrified because I knew that at a photoshoot, there was nowhere I could hide. And hiding was what I preferred to do. I knew then that no matter what the year held for me, that I had to become the person who was able to stand in front of a camera and have their photo taken.
That night, I wrestled with why I was so afraid to be seen. I realised it was because I didn’t like the person I had become. I compared myself to others all the time and felt totally unworthy of anything good. I didn’t want anyone else to see that was how I thought of myself. To be honest, I didn’t even know who the real me was anymore. After years of giving my time and energy to my family – especially raising two young kids, and focusing on all the ‘things’ I needed to do, there never seemed to be much left for me. I gave the best of myself to others and had settled for the leftovers.
I felt like running away. Everything screamed at me to run away. But I knew if I did, I’d feel like this forever. And a small part of me started to wonder what could my life be, if I finally addressed this habit.
So, I decided that my sole focus for 2018 was to learn who I was and like who I was. If I could get to the end of the year and love myself, and be able to do a photoshoot, then I would be happy. So I set about discovering who I was.
The journey to…me!
I didn’t actually know how to start loving myself, but I knew how to be a great friend, so I started with that – being the best friend to me that I’d ever had. And you know what? It started to work. Instead of talking to myself negatively, I was kind to myself. I gave myself positive feedback and became my biggest cheerleader. I celebrated my wins and was able to see the ‘real’ me underneath all the baggage that I had accumulated over the years. I began to see my strengths (and weaknesses), and the things that made me unique. I began to realise that I am worthy, and I bring value to the world and those around me.
One day, I realised that not only did I like myself, I loved myself. And because I had spent so much time focusing on getting to know me and do the things I needed to do in my Transformation journey, I realised that I had finally broken the habit of comparing myself to others.
Fast-forward to November 2018, and I got in front of the camera and had my photoshoot. I felt like I had won the lottery.
Little did I know I was about to confront the next habit that I had to break – people-pleasing.
Learning not to give a s&#t
This was something that I wasn’t even aware of until one of my consults. It was a difficult thing to hear but something that needed addressing. People pleasing is exhausting, and stressful and you’ll end up hurting someone without even realising. You just can’t be all things to all people, which is what you’re trying to do when you try to keep everyone happy.
There were 2 reasons. The first was because I didn’t like who I was, I needed everyone else to like me and validate me. But now I liked myself I didn’t need validation, so why was it still important for me to people-please?
I realised the REAL reason that I’d become a people pleaser, and why I’ve been so desperate to fit in and be loved, and why I’ve been so afraid to live to my true potential was because I had been bullied a number of times throughout my life.
In primary school, I was bullied for being a good student. I was (and still am) smart. I was the model student, the straight A student. I was living my true self. But I was bullied for it for years.
A few of the girls from primary school came to high school with me, and so the bullying continued. This time though, they dragged other meaner and tougher girls into their nastiness. It was scary and at one point, it became physical with slaps on my face and my assignments being destroyed.
Fast forward to when I was 27-28. I was newly married and was bullied in the workplace. It was horrendous and cost me my health and my job. Once again, I wondered what was wrong with me, even though the perpetrator had a history of bullying other people.
These experiences led me to believe that to stand out and do well at something only made you a target for haters. And so, I made an effort to hide and go under the radar.
If you’ve ever been bullied, you’ll know how painful and humiliating it is. You’ll understand that you’ll do just about anything to protect yourself from it happening again. Which is what I did. I became all things to all people, and so willing to please everyone because I thought it would protect me.
But it didn’t. There eventually came a time when I had to stop sitting on the fence. I had to make a choice. Was it keeping people happy or was it choosing myself and what I really wanted out of life? I chose me. What this meant however, was to say the hardest ‘no’ I’ve ever had to say to someone in my life. But I did it because I knew I’d be forever stuck cycle if I didn’t.
Once I said my hardest ‘no’, all the other ‘nos’ became easier, and I was no longer people-pleasing. I was conscious of the people I associated with, and where I spent my time and energy. No more doing things to make others happy, if it meant that I lost out on the deal.
Tick! Another habit addressed and ticked off the list. I felt like I was flying.
Finding the courage to shine
While I felt I was flying, other people thought I was too. But instead of being happy for me, some were jealous. My history of repeated bullying and put-downs whenever I shone, from people, including those I considered to be friends, means that I intuitively know when people are unhappy when I succeed. I can pick up the resentment a mile away.
This was to be my next challenge – to continue shining and making progress, even if other people didn’t like it. Even if it meant I was at risk of being talked about behind my back, or being bullied.
Having spent the past year working on my self-worth and self-love, confronting my fears, and kicking habits like not believing in myself, and people-pleasing, I decided that I had worked far too hard, and come way too far to let anyone dim my light anymore.
In short, I was done with pleasing bullies who put others down in order for themselves to feel better about who they are. So, I sent the proverbial finger to all who had bullied me in the past and all who will bully me in the future, and kept on going with my Transformation.
I felt really proud of myself.
But Transformation has a funny way of showing you the lessons you need to learn and it was soon apparent that there was more for me to grapple with. I’m still working through these, and they are perhaps my hardest lessons to date.
Less is more
You see, I’ve been working on this new set of habits for 6 months already and I still haven’t nailed them. I’m making progress, but these habits are deep-seated ones that have been with me for the good part of 40 years. They’re not going to be broken overnight, which is kind of frustrating for a person like me.
My natural personality is high-achiever teamed with perfectionist. These people often achieve great things, but they also tend to set themselves unrealistic goals and then berate themselves for not achieving them. Nothing is ever good enough for a perfectionist, and instead of celebrating how far they’ve come, they focus on what they haven’t yet achieved. High achievers also tend to take on lots in their quest to achieve lots.
In the quest to ‘do’ and ‘achieve’, my natural tendency is to do more. Train more, eat more compliant, work more, get more done, keep striving, go hard. However, this creates a great deal of stress (that I never really understood or even realised). And for me, stress is a HUGE metabolic blocker. HUGE!
It helps explain why my body didn’t change much at all, despite doing all my sessions and being 87% – 97% compliant for 12 months! Yes, I was that compliant for 12 months.
Earlier this year, I got shingles. It soon became apparent that this was to teach me the value of rest. I’ve now learned that rest doesn’t mean doing ‘nothing’. It means taking care of myself, and letting my body recover, and change. I realised during this time though that rest is difficult for me, unless I’m sick or on holidays. I often feel a sense of guilt about resting, and the feeling of doing ‘nothing’ (remember, I’m a ‘do more’ person) makes me feel very uncomfortable.
So, I’m currently working on doing less. That means working fewer hours. Spending less time overthinking things. Operating at 80% (for argument’s sake), instead of 100% or even 120% when I think 100% isn’t enough. It means being less compliant with food (that’s a goal for me, not everyone!), and it means understanding that what I’m doing is enough.
This is something I’m still working on, but I have goals in place in order for me to achieve this and each day I continue to chip away at it.
Now this little BIG habit has been with me for more than 40 years. Diet mindset is a complicated thing to work through, because there are so many habits within the habit.
Why did I develop a diet mindset in the first place? Because when I was 4 years old, I overheard someone say that I was ‘chubby’. From that moment on, I never felt like I was a ‘normal weight’, even though my childhood and adolescent photos show that I was. Sad, but true.
For me, diet mindset over the years has involved the following:
- Dieting and restricting food
- Dieting and bingeing
- Looking for a ‘quick fix’ to my weight problem
- Weighing myself constantly
- Being scared to get on the scales
- Letting the scales determine how I feel about myself
- Letting how my clothes fit determine how I feel about myself
- Comparing my body with everyone else’s
- Being obsessed with food (and calories) I eat
- Being obsessed with my weight
- Attaching my self-worth to my weight
- Believing that I’ll only be happy when I weigh a certain amount
- Negative self-talk (e.g. you’re fat, you’re awful, you’re revolting)
- Hating how I look
- Feeling I’m not good enough because I don’t fit the ‘ideal’ image
- Judging myself harshly, particularly photos
- Overexercising and under eating
- Beating myself up and not celebrating my wins
There may even be more that I could add to this list.
I’m happy to say that some of the things above I’ve conquered. For example, I don’t weigh myself constantly (I used to weigh up to 6 times per day!) I’ve also ditched the quick-fixes and comparing myself with others. I’m also not ‘obsessed’ anymore either.
However, I still struggle when it comes to the scales. I’m afraid to get on them because I still attach a level of self-worth to them. If they go up, then I feel bad about myself. The negative self-talk starts and the old thought patterns of ‘go on a diet’ pop up. I still have a lot of work to do, to beat that negative voice that likes to come out and wreak havoc on my emotions.
Speaking of emotions, I’m still working on the balance between ‘feeling’ and being ‘emotional’. I used to be very emotional — eating my emotions, making decisions based on my emotions, and letting my emotions control my day. In the quest to get my emotions under control, I think that I’ve forgotten to feel negative emotions, and so when they pop up, they throw me off balance. What I’m working on is allowing myself to feel them, and trusting that my new-found awareness and habits won’t lead me back to the emotional state I was living in.
Perception Vs reality
But perhaps one of the most challenging things for me is accepting my current reality. Where I really am, as opposed to where I want to be.
My body hasn’t changed a lot since I’ve started this journey. Remember all that stress???
I still don’t like how I look, or how I feel physically. I still don’t like shopping for clothes, or looking at photos of myself. I still judge myself harshly.
I desperately want to be further down the track in regards to my physicality than I am. I want to feel slim and fit and proud.
In truth, I don’t feel that way.
The high-achiever in me says that I should be further along than I am.
The perfectionist who set the goals 6 months ago of where I want to be now, beats me up for not achieving them. This is despite knowing that when the goals were set, the lessons I need to learn to reach those goals, had not become apparent.
The girl who was bullied all those years ago, still sometimes picks up where the bullies left off, and tells herself negative, hurtful things.
And the person who used to compare herself with everyone else, now compares where she is, to where she wants to be (Really, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to compare where I am now to where I used to be????)
This is the irrationality, the frustration and the emotional rollercoaster of the diet mindset and the perfectionist still at work in me. It’s messy and difficult and complex and some days is a little overwhelming.
The challenge for me however, is to surrender to where I am (instead of thinking about where I ‘should’ be) and to keep showing up, vulnerable and honest about where I’m at – even if it’s not where I want to be.
Get comfortable with uncomfortable
As you can see, the Transformation journey is a complex one that involves many twists and turns. Before you start, you’re aware of some habits that are holding you back. But only by delving deep and committing to the process, do you uncover the deep-seated ones that have been quietly working against you for a long time.
This is where I’m at. And if I’m honest, I don’t like it.
To deal with these habits involves facing fears. Sometimes you need to confront demons that have been living with you for years. This can be incredibly scary. I also have to choose different actions to the ones I’ve previously taken, which makes me feel out of control – like I’m constantly free-falling. And as a perfectionist/high-achiever, I like to be in control.
While habits don’t always serve us well, habits make us feel safe. So, challenging them and trying to change your ‘default normal’ into a ‘new normal’ feels foreign and scary. This is where I’m living now. I feel I’m constantly on the edge, spinning out of control.
But I’ve been told that this is where I need to be in order to get what I want.
And despite it being uncomfortable and confronting, it sure beats being where I was 18 months ago.
Unlike a diet, our program is a complete process that creates a life changing process and constructs the correct environment for permanent change. Our program will help you develop habits around mindset, discipline, nutrition and exercise that will enable you to grow in confidence, live the life you want to live, and have the body you’ve always wanted.