THE ONLY WAY IS UP BABY

You can see I istill have “the shoulders” and some abs, but the rest? bye bye……

I promised I’d do it, I feel ready for it, so here we go: this is me, right now, no shame or hiding, two months and something without stepping foot into the gym and one big surgery procedure to my shoulder later. There is no sugar-coating the truth: I lost all my body definition, all the muscles I had are practically gone, some of the weight I worked hard to gain is gone too, I’m very far away from the body I would love to achieve and yes, even though I know that everything is just dormant, ready to snap up back again as soon as I put some work in it,  I feel like a jelly who has never set foot in a gym since the day she was born. I know, I’m so dramatic at times!

Having said that, I’m ok with it. I really am. If this happened to me a year ago, I would have been on the brink of depression and I would have hated myself even more for “putting the effort and then look at you, you failed again, what’s the point of even trying if you are not capable of continuing, you stupid idiot”. I would have massively regretted the journey at the gym, treating myself like a deluded fool for even starting it in the first place, all because I didn’t manage to achieve (as usual, I would have specified) what I set myself to achieve so fuck this shit, let me go back at hiding under the covers to hide, let me get those black baggy hoodies and trousers so that nobody sees me ever again. I’m so glad that the music in my head is very, very different right now!
Yes, I don’t look exactly like I want to look. Yes, I am not exactly a mega fan of my body right now. Of course, if instead of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and surgery I had other two months of training, right now I’d be very fit and happy, but you know what? It’s ok. I am really not (too) upset.

I have learned during these months of therapy and hard work on myself, physically and mentally, that it’s ok to not be ok, and that I have always two ways to see things happening in my life: a negative one, and a positive one. Now, if I were the old me, I’d see this situation I am in now as I explained above. The new me, right now, prefers to think “ok, it happened, it’s a bit upsetting, BUT: I had a massive thing happening (surgery), that I had to have it, because if I didn’t, my body would have stopped me anyway down the line, probably with a ruptured tendon, and the dream about deadlifting and shit? Oh, forget about that. I’d be in constant pain all my life and maybe, maybe, I would not be able to hit the gym period. Yes, it is a stop, but it’s only a pause on a bigger, more fulfilling journey”. It’s just that. There is no hating myself, no holding a grudge, no banging my head on a wall in total despair. I’m on a pause to recover and be better, and just like any pause, once you press “play” again, everything will go back to normal, even if in my “gym-body” situation it’s like I press “rewind” a bit and now I have to re-live the beginning of my journey to progress further.

Another very important factor that changed my mindset is that I learned to love and be more caring towards myself. It’s so weird how I’ve always been able to do so for everyone, but never for myself. I could have never had a down moment, I have never allowed myself to be sick, to be tired, to be unwell, and to “cuddle” myself to feel better. No: I was a failure, I was stupid, I was weak, I was useless, I was proving to the world I was fighting against that I was not worthy, that I couldn’t make it etc… Even when I had my post-natal depression hell, and I was suicidal, I didn’t think “I need caring, I need help, it’s a medical condition and I must help myself rather that fight against myself”. There was no empathy or anything. I’m so glad things changed in a very positive way for me, because now I’m here, staring at myself in the mirror thinking “oh well, next challenge is now officially on, let’s see what I can do now…. And what I will be able to do once my shoulder heals!”.

You know how much energy you waste when you hate yourself? Uuuuh, let me tell you, an awful lot. And you know what you gain out of that? Nothing. Actually, you only lose. You lose self-esteem, you lose self-respect, you lose confidence, you lose yourself. Yeah, ok, you (just like me) may not be the exact replica of Charlize Theron or Jason Momoa, but who cares? It’s what you have inside you that will beautify the way you look outside. Ohhhh, let me tell you this, because this has been the bane of my life for years and years.

This is so true and yes, I was ugly to the bone too for a long while

You know that horrible, negative way of seeing the world and relationships like “I can’t believe that those ugly people there have beautiful relationships and me, meeeeeee (!!!!!) I am all alone, and nobody wants me (insert sad, grumpy face, and attitude like “I don’t get why the universe hates me so much”)”. I raise my hand in shame and include myself in the people who had that thought (more than once), and who have voiced it out loud too, only with the slight difference that I was sure I belonged with the “ugly people” and therefore why this miracle of “being loved” never happened to me? Boo-ooooh. You know why that “miracle” never happened? Because first, it is not a miracle and second, because I may have been average-looking on the outside, but I was such a negative, ugly person on the inside that, of course (duh!) I was not attracting positivity! Of course the “ugly people” were not at the receiving end of miracles, they were just smart, funny, loving, caring, beautiful people, no matter how they looked or I chose to look at them (with infinite jealousy), and they were shining so much of their positivity that they attracted exactly positive things and nothing less. It took me more years that

I’m happy to admit in realising this simple concept, and only after I experienced it myself I was able to see how truly important it is to focus first on what’s going on inside you, and then act on the outside, rather than doing the other way round. Because of this, I’m not too bothered about my body being a bit off at the moment, and being at the stage where I have to start again my quest on being “the Italian version of JLo”. I’m still the beautiful person I was two or three months ago, and with this positive, strong attitude, I’m sure I will quickly bring my body back to what I left it when I had to stop, and take it even further to achieve more and more. Negativity must not have a place in my life, I don’t want it to drag me down and cloud my head any longer. Besides, I LOVE a good challenge, I love when I test myself and I beat all my odds so…. Dear body, bring it on!!!

BEACH IS NOT JUST A PLACE, IT CAN BE A FEELING

What happens when you mix a crazy woman like me, hydrotherapy (which sounds like a spa treatment but, unfortunately for me, it is just physiotherapy done in a swimming pool) and the funniest hospital staff in the world? I tell you what happens: the most hilarious, hysterically comical shoulder rehabilitation session in the world. I’m still laughing 24 hours later!

like me walking into the hospital

How on Earth I ended up floating in a swimming pool singing Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” (uuuuh I love Nicki Minaj), pretending to be in a beautiful beach at the Bahamas rather than at a therapy session?

My shoulder has been quite bad for a week up till last Tuesday, the kind of “forget about sleeping” and “it reminds me of all the championships Sebastian Vettel lost so far with Ferrari” that has seriously taken a massive toll on my physical and mental health. When I saw my physiotherapist on Tuesday, I almost begged her to rip my shoulder off for good – fuck it, let’s finish this torture right now! Luckily, she is not as drama queen as me, and after she did her massaging and stuff, she referred me to hydrotherapy to help me loosen my shoulder up and get a better range of movements in. I didn’t take the news gladly: physiotherapy is a pain in the ass as it stands, even though my physiotherapist is amazing, and I love her dearly, let alone having to do it in a swimming pool! Having sad that, at this point in time anything will do to speed up this bloody recovery, so I booked my appointment without moaning and there I was, bathing suit in my bag, ready for this new experience.

how I pictured my hidrotherapy session… needless to say, it wasn’t like that at all!

I woke up in quite the good mood yesterday and I decided to pretend I was heading to a 5-star resort at the Bahamas rather than at the hospital for physiotherapy. I arrived at the physiotherapy department with my sunglasses on and my scarf on my shoulder like if it was a beach towel, and I gave the receptionist a big, big smile; she knows how crazy I am, so she wasn’t surprised when I said to her “hi I’m here for my spa retreat at 11:00, I hope my pink flamingo is already inflated because I don’t like to wait”. My physiotherapist was there and she facepalmed herself, shaking her head. Then the receptionist asked me if I knew that the hydrotherapy sessions are open for both men and women, and whether I had a problem in case I had to be in the same pool with a man. What a stupid thing to ask, I thought: of course I don’t have a problem, I don’t give a remote fuck about who’s in the pool with me! Men, women, aliens, dogs, cats, zombies, Satan… I’m there to fix my shoulder, I don’t care who’s fixing their bits with me, I could be surrounded by a crowd the size of Queen Live at Wembley 1986 all staring at me whilst the physiotherapist makes me sing Radio Gaga and still, I would not care! There is nothing in a male or female body I haven’t seen by now and, since we will all be in bathing suits, there won’t be anything flashing anyway so come on guys!

Anyway, my turn came, and I strolled like a very happy child to the pool, annoying the hell out of the therapist about how disappointed I was about the absence of the very important inflatable pink flamingo that I was sure would have a negative impact on my recovery. I changed in my bathing suit and there I was, in a warm and super nice pool, thinking “actually, this is not that bad… not that bad at all!!!”. Do you think I stopped being silly just because I was loving it? Of course not! Every movement was a reason to say something humorous, such as:
“ok now pretend that you are a ballerina, extend the arm and then bring it back close to your body”
“mmm I have a better version: grab the prosecco – drink the prosecco – refill the prosecco – drink the prosecco”
“…. (facepalm) ok… as long as you do it I suppose!”

The best bit of the session was the last movement, because the physiotherapist put inflatables everywhere on me so that I was lying on my back, blissfully floating and staring out of the windows. I kid you not, I really felt like at the Bahamas (that is, before I had to move my arm and then I felt less happy and relaxed). I told the physiotherapist “I am channelling my own inner pink inflatable flamingo here, don’t fish me out of this pool for the next hour or two” and yes , as I said at the beginning of this entry, I started singing Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”, without a single care in the world but to move my arm. Unfortunately, I had to eventually get out of there and finish the session, head for a shower and terminate the party
I was having in my head.

Let me tell you something: as fun and hilarious my session was, I never felt so tired and drained in my entire life. I got out of the pool and my arm felt weighting 50kg all of the sudden. It was great and a wonderful confidence-boosting session, since I was able to move my arm in ways I have never been able to in a very long time, but fuck me, once I was out and about, I could hardly walk without feeling wobbly and dizzy. I had to spend more than half an hour at the hospital reception, sipping cups of teas with tons of sugar, to be just barely able to entertain the idea of heading back home. It felt like I just came out of an Iron Man Challenge training session, even my abs were hurting! Seriously, I was so fucked up I thought I was about to throw up my breakfast at each step I made towards the train station, and when I had to wait ten, eternal minutes for my train back home, I thought “if I close my eyes now, I’m doomed”.

my mighty pasta!

I had to do something to recover enough to be able to get home without fainting on the street, and so I took the executive decision to have lunch at one of my favourite Italian restaurants near where I live. This place is a little gem, one of those places where, if you don’t know how good it is, you would never, ever dine there. From the outside it looks like one of those cheap, unappealing take-away places that don’t exactly scream “our food is healthy, cooked respecting all hygiene regulations and it tastes divine”. However, if you move past the exterior look, you are in for a very special treat: the food is out of this world, the service is just right and the whole place has a very family-like vibe to it. I had the most amazing pasta dish with homemade sausages, and suddenly all my energies came back at once (carb overload yeah!).

Today I woke up exactly like after one of my personal training sessions at the gym: my shoulder was quite upset (“how dare you moved me like that bitch!!!”), so I had to take few paracetamols to be able to entertain the idea of getting out of bed and going to work. Next session will be on Tuesday, and till then I will try to keep moving and take care of my shoulder the best I can. I can’t wait to do it all over again!!!

THE ENDLESS JOURNEY

I had a very productive chat with my psychotherapist yesterday. I told her a lot of (positive) things that happened to me, we discussed in depth about how the gym and her sessions are helping me massively with my mental health, all in all it has been a very positive and pleasant session, one of the best so far. Of course, I’m not writing this entry to gloat about what a lovely time I had with my therapist, because nobody would be interested anyway. What I want to write about today is something that came out during our chat, a trait that I always had but that I have never been quite conciously aware of, and that has haunted me almost all night yesterday. One of the things that I came away with after my session is my inability, so far, at having some bloody good patience.

See? I can’t even write it without a glimpse of frustration showing, and I can assure you, if you want to drive me up the wall in anger, you only have to tell me “come on, be patient!” (Also, to be honest, I can hear Gary Barlow in my head singing “have a little patieeeeenceeee” and now it’s Take That all day in my head).

My insecurities, mixed with my forever annoingly friend anxiety, meant that my life has been so far an “I’ve done it” box-ticking exercise. I have never enjoyed the journey of anything I have done, from start to the end. To me, all that has ever mattered was to get to the end, as fast as possible, it doesn’t matter what happens or not in between, or what learnings I can gather from the experience: I have to get there, right at the end, say “done!” and move on to the next box to tick, in the hope that the list of ticked boxes would improve my self-esteem and solve all my issues in one go. There is not time to reflect. The end is there and I will get there. If someone says “it will take X amount of time to achieve that”, you can rest assured I won’t be the one thinking “ok, let’s start and see how it goes” but, more likely, the one that thinks “ok how can I achieve it in half of the time? How can I make it faster? How can I finish it sooner?” and work just focussing on that, not in what I am really trying to achieve and what is the overall goal. All my efforts are only to get to the end as soon as possible.

In all this rush, I always thought that seeing “the list of ticks” would have made me a “better person”; I was sure I would have felt more accomplished, better about myself, my self-esteem would have hit the roof, ohh the mega massive beautiful things that will happen to me! Of course, it has never been the case. The only thing that happened is that I didn’t enjoy anything I’ve done. I only accumulated frustration after frustration. I never got the results I really wanted because I never put the effort to do things correctly, since my focus was mainly on reaching the end result at all costs. I didn’t take my time, I didn’t just enjoy what happened on the journey, or focussed on the immediate, it has always been a stupidly fast race.

I see it applied in anything in my life so far: my law degree? I still remember when the prospect was to finish it in six years, it drove me up the wall; of course, I stupidly studied day and night, taking on board all exams I (legally) could do in a year, so that I could wear the “badge of honour” to say that I did it in half of the time, but my end result was a total disappointment because I didn’t care about what I was studying, all that mattered was vomiting enough knowledge to pass my exams quickly. My ex-boyfriend? I didn’t take the time to enjoy what we had, whether big or small, whether we saw each other for just a hot booty call that turned into an hilarious night watching Netflix and laughing our asses off or if there were any foundations for something more, in my head all I had to do was to tick the box of “I have a relationship” as quickly as possible and nothing else mattered. Gym? If by session two I’m not Instagram fitness model, there is no point of me going. Reading a book? No matter how big or small, I’m going to read it all in one go, maybe skipping few bits and pieces of descriptions I don’t care about. I could go on and on and on and on. My physiotherapy sessions? Who cares, as long as I can show that “I’m cured” asap and move on. If someone said to me “it will take ten (TEN) years to see the end of it”, you bet your ass I’d be exploding in total frustration.

I had this exact crisis just a week ago: all felt like “OMG I AM WORKING SO HARD AND NO RESULTS!”. I’m in therapy and I’m still struggling mentally at times. I’m working my ass off at the gym and I’m no fitness model yet. I’m working on my skin etc and my face has (AAAHHH) couple of spots that just don’t want to clear. I’m eating healthy, increasing portions, killing myself with proteins and still I struggle to keep my weight above 50kg. I am dressing differently, wearing makeup, looking nice and still I’m single as fuck. My debts are still all there, I am still living paycheck by paycheck and don’t make me start on saving money for my boob job! My blog has not yet achieved billions of followers. Why my life hasn’t magically transformed from hell to heaven? Why, with all the work that I’ve done?????? Call it if you like “an exercise in killing my self-esteem, undermining myself, shit all over my achievements so far and raise the flag of self-hate once again”.

You know what? this is another massive mental shift that I decided to do, starting from now. Instead of focussing on the goal, I’m forcing myself to focus on the “here and there”. The “now” vs “the end”. The moment vs the future. For once in my life I want to just enjoy the journey, no matter how long it takes. I don’t want anxiety to push me to do things just because I desperately need to put them behind my back. I don’t want to drive a fast car at a foolish speed towards my “goals”: I just want to chill, cocktail on my hand (ok, sparkling water with a slice of lemon, or, better, a protein shake), and if it’s going to take “a long time”… so be it. I will see the results, I know I will, but this time I won’t just “tick a box”, I will get there with a baggage of ups and downs, failures and successes, learnings and experiences, and an overall million times more fulfilling journey. Heck, with an anxiety attack looming just thinking about it, maybe I won’t even see the end of some of these journeys, and it will keep being a revolving process (I’m seriously feeling my heart racing as I write it, and my old self going “YOU WHAT? NO END? YOU CRAZYYYY?”). From today, I want to put an end to that negative chain of thoughts and transform it into a positive one. As Rick Watten said, “Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be”. Isn’t this so beautifully true?

c84c566cfc69748ab686d099cd7fbd38I know that my therapy sessions will keep going for quite some time. How much will that be, I don’t know and I want to just think that it is fine as it is. No “when will I be fixed?” anxiety. My gym body? It is happening, it will happen, it will take time and it’s fine, no “why I am not a model yet” anxiety. Whatever happens with my relationships? I don’t want to care about the future, I just want to focus on enjoying the moments, the laughter, the hugs, the fun, the chats in the middle of the night, that’s all. Whatever will be, will be. I am working hard for a better future for myself, I’m slowing benefitting from all the positive seeds I’ve planted everywhere in my life, but when that future will be? I don’t know, I don’t want to know, because the “now” it’s all that matters, and like Freddie Mercury beautifully sang at the end of “Innuendo”: “yes we’ll keep on smiling and whatever will be, will be, we’ll just keep on trying till the end of time”.