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!!!

NEW START, NEW IDEAS, NEW LIFE?

After a month of nothingness and extreme low mood, finally I had a tremendous news, the one I have been waiting for since the moment I opened my eyes in the recovery room at the hospital: my physiotherapist agreed for me to go back to the gym! No lifting weights, that will begin only after recovery, but anything else I used to do before this terrible stop is a yes, green lights, go go go go go. I almost cried of happiness and So, I decided that in order to lift my spirit, I will record my journey “from zero to hero”: I will take pictures of me as I am now and keep recording my progresses along the way. My aim is that, by the end of this year, I’ll be able to deadlift weights, have my amazing JLO bum again (and make it even better than what I had) and super abs. I am so excited. It really changed my day this news. I will also try and do some yoga or pilates as well (so long as there is no shoulder involvement) as I feel my back has been as flexible as a concrete pillar lately, and I would really like to be less stiff again: I’m sure my back would really appreciate it.

Today I woke up in a particularly irritable mood: the pain kept me awake at night and this morning I was a total mess. I even curled up and had a good cry on the sofa, with my poor boyfriend having to talk me out of my dark cloud of negativity. I dragged myself to physiotherapy in a “dead man walking” kind of feeling, and as soon as I saw my physiotherapist I told her how sad and desperate I felt. My range of movements has noticeably decreased (yey… not) so now I have been referred to hydrotherapy to try and get things going again. I am weirdly excited about it: I don’t fancy being in a pool with a physiotherapist pulling and prodding me, but hey, if that helps, bring it on, right? I bet it’s going to be hilarious.

I will be very honest, this morning I felt like I hit a wall in my recovery. I just passed the “week four” mark of my journey and I seriously had enough of all of this. I’m trying hard to stay positive, to tell myself “it’s only temporary, it is for the greater good, soon it will be over and you’ll be stronger and pain free”, but reality is that I feel a prisoner of my body: I’m fed up of being unable to do anything more than lifting a glass a water, I’m done with the pain, I hate feeling weak and, most of all, I hate not being able to live a normal life because pain (or extremely limited movements) prevents me from doing so. On top of all of this, add that I lost my beautiful gym body that I worked my ass off to achieve, and you have a recipe for total mental and physical disaster.

I knew it would have been hard. As soon the surgeon said “it will take four months for complete recovery and it’s not going to be easy” I knew I was in for quite a frustrating ride, but one thing is knowing it’s going to be difficult, another one being in the moment, facing the difficult times, realising it’s only just month one out of four and thinking “fuck me, this is hell”. My mood has been pretty low, I admit. I feel this kind of set me back a bit. I do not regret the operation, let’s be clear, especially after I saw the pictures of what I had inside (ewwww…. Gross). I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing and I would do it again in a heartbeat, it had to be done to prevent rupturing my tendon, I just cannot stand this recovery and this feeling so useless: it seems never ending!

On another note, I have been talking a lot with my dear friend Marge lately on all the talents that I have and that I’m not using to the full potential (and she is damn right about it), so I decided to use these three remaining months to find a way to become a freelance writer or something like that. I would love to be paid to write, since it is something I absolutely adore doing it, especially when it comes to corporate communications, customer service emails, complaints etc. That is mainly why I started this blog: to fulfil my love for writing and to be able to share my experience with people all over the world, and maybe to help them too. Do you want to know what my secret writing dream is? Becoming in charge of my very own “agony aunt” advice column: oh, I would answer basically every letter or email coming my way, so much I love this stuff! I know it won’t be easy, but hey, it is also not exactly open-heart surgery, right? Besides, if you don’t try, you don’t get, and I learned my lesson when I gave a go to writing my President’s Christmas corporate message and he loved it so much it went global. Who knows what can happen from this? Maybe I will change my life!

THE POWER OF GOODBYE (TO MY OLD CLOTHES)

It all started a month or so ago, when I wore one of my favourite pair of jeans and I noticed they didn’t quite fit anymore. They were not exactly big, but they definitely required a belt to make sure they stayed put. It didn’t take long before everything not only became “slightly too comfortable” but “ffs this is at least a size bigger than what I am”. It ended up being quite the cathartic experience: I decided to go through all my clothes and set aside anything that I don’t like anymore or, better, that doesn’t fit anymore, and after couple of hours trying to wear the next pair of jeans that became too big to be worn, I realised I ended up with only two pair of trousers and three jumpers that I purchased in the last few weeks. Everything else, and I mean my whole wardrobe (which ok, it wasn’t massive, but still…) is now for sale on my eBay page (who knows, maybe I can save some money for my boob job?).
Even though my weight is finally back on track and growing (thank you muscles, I love you!) I’m in fact two sizes down compared to three months ago, and my old clothes make me look like a total clown.
Not only that, if you want to know the truth: size aside, I don’t feel them anymore. They belong to my old me, and that person is someone I can’t relate to anymore. These clothes remind me of things I don’t really want to remember, they make me feel things I don’t want to feel anymore, I just hate the whole lot. Still, when I had to pile them up on one side, it felt a bit bittersweet: I was (physically) saying goodbye to my old self. Part of me wanted to hold on to some of this stranger self, but the new self though “what’s the point?” I worked too hard, I’m still working hard, that’s not me anymore, let it go”. Now I need to buy everything. I mean everything, from underwear to trousers and tops.

It is so strange looking at my past, even the recent one, and not recognising the person I was. I can’t relate to that woman anymore. I sometimes talk to her, trying to understand why I was who I was, why I didn’t do the things I’m doing sooner, what the hell was I thinking when I was thinking those things, but you know what? it all served a purpose in the end: I needed to go through all of that to then finally decide to change.

I’m trying to use this chance as a way to figure out what this new me can wear. Before I met my ex-husband, I was living in Milan and, like a proper Milanese, I loved fashion and I had very lovely clothes. He made me chuck away everything because he was jealous, and he made me feel like a whore ready to jump on every man’s lap the very few times I tried to wear a nice dress. I had a collection of stilettos that I loved, and those went too because he was too embarrassed of me being taller than him – to him, it was offensive, and disrespectful. I will never forget when he ruined my birthday, the first spent together: I went back to Milan to celebrate it with all my friends. Before going to the party (a dinner at a pub, for the record), I decided to wear a very plain and simple pink & black dress. Seriously, I bought it in a charity shop, it wasn’t anything special, I mean, I was going to a pub, not to a catwalk, right? He had a massive hissy fit, because I didn’t warn him I would wear a dress well in advance so he could have prepared psychologically, then complained that I was dressed like a hot hoe (?) and he was looking scruffy and dumb, it was definitely a plan I made up to ensure I’d embarrass him in front of my friends (who were just happy to meet him, they couldn’t have given a remote shit of what he was wearing and some of them he knew them already because they were his friends too)… In the end, I convinced myself that he was right, I put a metal band shirt and pair of trousers on and, in no mood to celebrate, I went to my party. He sulked all.night.long because of course, now I was dressing like shit and of course, I did it to make him feel guilty, not because I wanted him to stop fucking moaning. I hated that night. Every single minute. He didn’t utter a word, he looked pissed off from a mile, and instead of enjoying my friends I spent an evening making excuses for him. What a fucking idiot I have been. So yes, when we came back to the UK, I basically chucked everything away and made sure my wardrobe was full of tracksuit, black clothes, and stuff like that. It changed once I got rid of him, but not too much. Yes I dared some bodycon dresses, but still, having spent a lifetime considering myself ugly and unworthy of wearing nice things, it’s not like I had this wow stuff that I’m now desperate to keep.

So, I now would love to go back to my Milano years, only this time I know for a fact that I have the body to pull those clothes off. Going to the shops it is a weird experience: I always begin by heading towards clothes that are within my “comfort zone”, but then I force myself to try something new, and when I find something that seems interesting enough, I grab three or four different sizes because I seriously don’t know what is the one that is right for me. I even recruited two of my friends/colleagues to have a trip to the shops with me and make me try what they think I might look good in: I trust them dearly, so I’m sure it would be a very fun experience.

gym2Somehow, this process must have triggered something in me because I have never been more driven than now. This week I went to the gym every.single.day. I didn’t feel tired, I didn’t moan, I didn’t think “maybe I’ll skip it…”. Every day, whether rain or fine, happy or sad, I have been there completely in the zone, focussed and determined like I have never been before. I feel absolutely great. I feel like I could lift the whole world and not even sweat a bit. I even told my Personal Trainer that on Tuesday, after we close one of the two programs I’m on (finally, cause I bloody hate that with all my heart and soul), she better prepare me a total killer for the next one: I want something that will push me physically and mentally, I want to feel so much pain that I need to fear I ripped my glutes for good. I want something that will make me want to go to the gym every day to nail it and not feel like I need to urgently purchase a wheelchair. She smiled big time, and by the few bits she let slip, I know I’m in for a very lovely treat.

I am so committed and loving it that, when a friend showed me a video of a very (ok extremely) hot bodybuilder, my first thought has been “fuck it, I want to train and lift big like him”. All my colleagues who saw me training have been quite shocked and surprised. One of the mangers told me she never saw me so dedicated. I know, my dear, that’s because I’ve never been dedicated! The best bit? Looking at myself in the mirror, seeing how I’m shaping up and feeling so proud of myself. I have never, ever, EVER felt proud of myself. Not even on my graduation day. Not even when the CEO of my company thanked me for my work on a worldwide company townhall. Yet, I now feel I’m doing great. My mood is great, my body is becoming great (I can hear my psychotherapist in my mind saying “why just becoming?” and well, that’s because I can see where I am going and I’m not there yet, but I will), I’m on a roll here and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

gym3
not really appealing, no…

I even managed to beat a panic attack! Ok, it is marginally my merit and all credits go to my colleague Elena who, unknowingly, helped me big time. So, because I’m going big with my training, I’m going big with my nutrition, my protein intake, and supplements to help recovery etc. I had a sample of amino to try and I decide to give it a go – that is, before I actually poured it into my water bottle and I came face to face with this very Chelsea FC blue liquid… I tasted it, it was just… no. NO. I was ready to pour it down the sink, no way Jose I’m drinking that, when Elena came round, had a taste, said “oh, it tastes like medicine! Come on, let’s drink it”, poured a glass for her and one for me and chucked one down like nothing ever happened. My jaw dropped. My brain went into “bitch, the challenge is on, if she did it, you do it too”. Well, we managed to drink the whole lot. I kept my panic attack at bay, and I think those amino worked a treat for my muscles too because I didn’t feel remotely sore. Friday I did the same, only this time it was a special whey powder. I chucked it down like if it was water, and whatever stupid thing my brain was trying to tell me, I kept it as far away as I could because hey, if my muscles need this shit, my muscles will get it.

gym1Today I’m resting as much as I can. My week has been a crazy rollercoaster and who knows what is going to happen tomorrow. One thing is for sure: not matter what, I’ll be at the gym lifting, you can bet on it!

 

YOU WANT A HOT BODY? YOU BETTER WORK B!TCH!

I have never thought I’d be admitting the stuff I’m about to write, but yes: hitting the gym is having a dramatic, positive effect on my mental health, and my improved and positive mental health is dramatically improving my performances at the gym. This, coming from a world-famous couch potato, is quite remarkable. Being in a positive circle of awesomeness is something very new to me, and I’m enjoying it to the fullest as we speak.

Bit of a background to the statement above: yesterday I had my usual session with my personal trainer. I asked her to hit me with some new stuff, to push me more, to bring the game to the next level. Of course, she did comply with my request, and she created on her feet “the brutal program from hell”. We tailored it here and there during the session, increasing weights and difficulty whenever I was not feeling it, and once the session was over, she complimented me saying “it is nice to train you, because I can really push you and you just take it on board and do it. I can see you want it badly and you are on the road to get it”. Of course, I was very flattered and happy, but most importantly, I was extremely satisfied with myself and this incredible determination that I have found in this journey.

See, I used to be the one who leaves when the game gets tough. At the first difficulty, the first criticism, the first sore muscle, you name it, in any aspect of my life, I’d be either leaving or sulking in a corner thinking “I’m so dumb / stupid / weak / ugly etc… I can’t face / do this”. I never wanted things “so badly” that I was ready to put up with anything in order to get them, aside from getting out of my mental hell. In anything that I got into, sooner or later I reached the point where I would have raised my hands, surrendered and come up with an excuse to leave without looking too stupid. I blame my low self-esteem on this, but also this horrible attitude that people around me had, who thought that by putting me down with stuff like “see? You’ll surrender anyway” I would have done anything to prove them wrong: actually, if anything, I used their remarks to feed my negative narrative. That was exactly what pitiful, weak, self-hating me wanted to hear.

One of the big mental shift I decided to make is the “not surrendering” one. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’d be stupidly keep going doing stuff that’s pretty pointless and leading to nowhere, but once I rationally assess the situation, the potential output and the journey to get to the final goal, there is no backing down unless it proves to be truly impossible (and still, there may be room to lower the bar and keep going anyway).

My gym body is something I decided I WILL have, no matter what.

When I hired my Personal Trainer, I regretted it the moment she fired a calendar invite in my diary. When she asked me to make it a recurrent appointment, I felt trapped like an animal about to be locked in a cage for the rest of his days.
I struggled to believe in me.
To believe that I could have done it.
Then I got fired up in a “I do this as a revenge” against my ex-boyfriend.
Few psychotherapy sessions under my belt, and my mind shifted from all of this to “I want it. I do it. This is for MYSELF”.
Guess what? My training session went from “an hour of moaning and tortures” to “let’s see how hard you can push me this time”. And guess what? Results went from “tiny bit” to “do I really have ALL these muscles?”.

Yes, yes, yes, this may well be endorphins fired up in my body who are making my brain drunk on happiness, and mind you, more than one people told me (including my ex, who was shocked to the core at the changes that I’ve made) that I seem to be on a constant high so happy and positive I look.

Thanks to my personal trainer I have learned to “feel” what I do in the correct muscles, and I don’t just “do” things to get them done. My sessions are now a mix of physical and mental work: I get “in the zone” and I focus exactly on pushing what I have. If I don’t feel it, or I feel it in the wrong areas, I’m either doing it wrongly, with too much weights or with not enough weights. Incidentally, all this work is improving also my (so, so dreaded) physiotherapy sessions, because when my tortur… ehm… physiotherapist makes me move in a certain way, or tells me what I should or shouldn’t feel, I really know what she means (and so far my shoulder is in a happy place).

I am so determined to make it with my training that I even decided to stick to a proper, muscle-feeding diet. Yes sir, for the first time ever in my entire life I am actually sticking to a healthy diet. Me. The one who barely eats if she has to cook for herself (and resorts to starve or eat stuff like cookies, crisps etc. because I cannot be arsed to cook). The one who decides last minute what she wants to eat for dinner (lunches I generally skipped because I cannot be arsed), that goes grocery shopping to then cook what she was craving then gets home and… yes, cookies etc. I was still on this not-exactly-appropriate regime when I started working out. However, I had a massive scare moment when, after a month and a half of quite hard training, nothing was happening in my body: no energy, no muscles, I always felt like about to drop dead, nothing. My trainer made me jump on a scale and we both got horrified to discover that I lost 9kg. She looked at me and said “ARE YOU EATING?”.
The answer was yes, but not “exactly” as I should have been eating: that is, to fuel the exercises I was doing. I was honest with her and I asked for help. It seems a very stupid question to ask, and probably it is, but new Silvia doesn’t care: if she needs help, she’ll make sure she’ll get it. Yes, I knew that muscles need protein to grow, I’m not that dumb, however I didn’t know that it takes 2.2 grams of proteins per kg of your weight to build muscles. I barely ate proteins! No wonder nothing was happening! She helped me learning how to use protein powder, she suggested websites and resources to improve my diet and she made me swear to stick with it. It took a bit to get my mind into the new regime, because ultimately my laziness to the core took over my best intentions, but when I indeed put the effort in it, I got blown away by the gains. I now plan my weekly lunches and dinners every single weekend; I write down exactly what I’m going to cook and eat, and then I will shop only those things required in my planned meals. No more things like “maybe I’ll get this in case…”. No. As a rule, I will reserve higher protein meals for the days I know I will train, and I’d be fairly relaxed (but healthy) the other days. No shitty, unhealthy stuff (I do enjoy a can of Coca Cola here and there and over my dead body you’ll take my red can of heaven from me).

So yes, I feel great, I look great, I sleep like a baby (ok, more like I hug my pillow begging for mercy since I’m sore from head to toes), I’m loving it and it’s all positivity and happiness. Oh, you know what is the best feeling ever? Moonwalking (yes!) out of the gym after the most brutal session, knowing full well that a month and a half ago I would have been collapsed on the floor. This is pure satisfaction (but now let me crawl in bed because the pain is unreal!!)

aaaaa