My Fearless Journey

by | Feb 20, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

My First Workout

When I first started working out with Bowie I was convinced I wouldn’t stick it out for longer than 3 weeks. In my first initial workout we went through an assessment so Bowie could get a good understanding of where my fitness, or lack thereof, was. That first workout came with quite a few realisation moments for me as well.

As a child athlete I had known my body to be strong and lean and it could do just about anything I tried on the first go. As I grew up I held onto that level of flexibility and strength…

…until I had a baby.

And then my body changed so dramatically that I could barely recognise it. My health and fitness levels have somewhat fluctuated over the years with various fad diets and flash workout regimens that lasted a few weeks if that. I used to think being skinny means being healthy, so a diet of cigarettes and energy drinks kept me a slim 64kgs and being able to dance the night away in the club every now and then meant I was fit enough. 

About 6 years ago I started to play Roller Derby just for fun and my fitness really improved. I became stronger and more toned just from training twice a week. I started to eat better, taking pride in my body and trying to fuel it properly, and I was doing ok with it. 

This was until I got sick. 

Rebecca Burton

Rebecca Burton

Roller Derby Athlete

Rebecca Burton, also known as “Rebecca The Wrecker” is a mad roller derby athlete in Melbourne and is also an FMC Rebel. She spends her time obsessing over her miniture pug, girlfriend, roller derby crushes and writing erotic Harry Potter Fan Fiction.

A Bump In The Road

In the space of 5 months I had put on 32kgs, without changing my eating habits. My heart rate would skyrocket to 211 when I would play and I would lose feeling in my hands and face, and get dizzy and often faint during games. It wasn’t until I played two games in one day and by the time I got home I couldn’t lift myself up off the floor.

I was really concerned as it was just getting worse so I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease, an incurable autoimmune disease. This was a massive shock for me. Tablets everyday for the rest of my life and no one way to treat it, as everybody’s body is different, they all react differently.

My Doctor told me I had to make some massive changes to my lifestyle if I wanted to continue to play roller derby.

Insert Bowie.

I met Bowie through Roller Derby. They had joined my league a few months before and when I had voiced my need to make some pretty big changes, they sent me a message to go for coffee and chat about what I needed to do. After talking with both Bowie and Zay about my health and all the things I wanted we decided twice a week in-person training was best for me, as I can’t for the life of me push myself when alone.

The first lesson I learnt was 20 minutes into my first session, and that lesson was that I had reached a level of unfit that I had not realised. I couldn’t hold my new weight up on my elbows in a plank position for more than 10 seconds. I couldn’t swing a light kettle bell more than twice without having to put it down and my cardio was so bad it was dangerous to do it for more than a few minutes, as my heart rate would skyrocket and I would get dizzy. At the end of that first session Bowie and I scheduled in routine days and times to come work out.

While they were positive and optimistic, I was anything but.

 

I left that first day and cried all the way home. I couldn’t believe how unfit and unhealthy I had allowed myself to become and the journey to my goals seem epic and far too mountainous for a routine quitter. I returned for my second session with no more success then the first. I expected some miracle change that wasn’t coming.

 

The first few weeks were incredibly frustrating, I hadn’t become the Victoria Secret supermodel that could run marathons like I wanted.

Insert Zay.

Mindset Coaching

After those first few weeks it became evident that I need much more than just physical training I needed mindset training and food training as well. I also needed to physically train more, so I decided to up my session with Bowie to three times a week. Mindset training was something I had never done and actively avoided, I started by taking a very comprehensive survey with Zay about my eating habits and expectations.

 

I decided that if I was going to try this get healthy thing I should at least give it my 100% for the first time.

 

So I answered every question with full honesty. So many things that I had hidden for most of my life came out. I confessed my eating disorders and body dysmorphia, my unrealistic expectations and all my self doubt at being able to achieve all the things I wanted.

My doctor had suggested a vegan or a paleo diet would be beneficial for me. I was very intimidated by the vegan diet having friends that were vegan, and both Bowie and Zay being vegan, I knew it was a big change from what I was used to. I decided to try the Paleo diet as it was recommended by a few other Hashimotos sufferers.

Over the next few weeks I went to my work outs and then would sit with Zay once a week to discuss my progress and mindset. My progress in my training was very slow but my mindset training was even slower. I was convinced deep down that I would quit and never achieve the goals I had set. I hadn’t really shown any physical changes and I wasn’t feeling any better in fact I was starting to feel worse.

To my delight and great appreciation Bowie and Zay had both done some research about Hashimotos and suggested that, if the Paleo diet wasn’t making me feel better, I should try eating normal and just eliminating the foods one by one. Then, I could find out what would work best for me instead of just sticking to a more restrictive pre packaged diet. After eating with them both a few times after training, I noticed that I wasn’t getting the pain or or sick and bloated feeling that I would normally get from eating.

Making Progress

After four more weeks of training and eliminating animal products and preservatives from my diet, I started to feel good. 

Together we had worked out that being vegan was much better for me with the elimination of gluten, potato and onion. With my eating getting better and the stabilisation of my medication I started to see some real changes physically.

At my 3 month mark I had lost 10kg and about 20cm. So physically, I had made some really big changes. The most impressive part for me was that I had done it healthily. I hadn’t starved myself or thrown up my food, I hadn’t abused laxatives, and most impressively, I hadn’t quit. I was in fact starting to have new odd feelings of pride in myself that had been absent for most of my life.  

With my new healthy life practices, came a new positivity in myself.

 

And spending so much time with Bowie and Zay every week, discussing positive choices in life and understand new ways of thinking about things, my positive thinking and behaviours were spreading to the people around me. I still had some body issues and the negative thoughts that had plagued me for most of my life were still lingering in my weak moments.

My training continued with changes every few weeks. I struggled a lot with not completing the workouts everytime or being able to do different exercises to the standard I wanted to. 

The expectation that I should be Victoria Secret marathon strong woman was still high. This is the part of training I struggled with the most. 

On one hand I had made progress and I was very proud of myself, on the other hand it wasn’t enough and I was frustrated. In my frustration I would complain a lot during my training sessions. “I can’t do it” was said way too many times, and often before even trying the exercise! A 500m cardio sprint on the bike was now implemented as a punishment if I complained. To be honest I wasn’t sure if Bowie was just joking or not, I quickly learnt they were not joking. I did a lot of sprints. My cardio improved greatly! And from a negative, came a positive… AND I stopped complaining. 

My Body is My Asset

More importantly I learnt that the only person standing in my way was me. However, learning I was standing in my own way, was a lot easier than getting out of my own way.

At my 6 months of training I had lost 20kg and 35cm in total. My training had really taken off. I was gaining muscle like a boss and feeling really great. I had set myself a few goals that I had smashed. I had started to really enjoy my cardio days and I had almost doubled my weights on swing day. 

The most important change in my fitness was while playing roller derby. I had really improved on track and was starting to admit to myself that maybe I could play roller derby at a high level. I’d never imagined that I would be this fit and healthy, not just physically but mentally as well. 

With the encouragement of Bowie who was very vocal about how impressed they were with my progress, I decided to transfer teams to play high level roller derby. With the change in teams came a new pressure I added to myself… to push myself in training and stick to my eating regime. 

 

The first time in my adult life my body was now my greatest asset. 

 

And not because I was depriving it to be skinny, but because I was lean and strong and feeling really healthy and full of energy. I had spent so much of my life worrying about what people were thinking of me when they looked at me. 

Did I disgust them with my weight? 

Did they find my skinny sickness appealing? 

Everywhere I went, I would be plagued by thoughts of what other people were thinking. 

During my training these thoughts started to dissipate.

Never Quit!

I hadn’t really noticed with the increase of positivity, that some of the negativity that was just so normal to me had started to dissipate.

My fist realisation was about 7 months into training, I was walking through an airport to take a trip to visit my girlfriend at the time and drive home from QLD with her.

I took a bus to the airport walked through security and all the way to terminal, boarded the plane and took my seat before I realised that I hadn’t even noticed who was around.

I hadn’t had ONE worried thought of what I looked like and what other people were thinking of when they looked at me. This was a level of self-satisfaction and total confidence that I had never experienced before.

Not only had I lost almost 30kg by this stage but I was strong and fit and most importantly of all…

…I HADN’T QUIT!!!!!

This I think was the most satisfying part of training. I hadn’t quit. I had stopped sabotaging myself with bad foods, I had stopped telling myself I couldn’t do it, and I had actually gotten out of my own way to realise that I could do all the things I had wanted! And I had started to seriously think about some of the things I hadn’t be brave enough to admit that I really wanted to do.

Becoming Fearless

With all the success I had been having, and the realisation that I COULD have the body I wanted, came the worry that “what if I got the body I dreamed about and still had the feeling of wanting more.”

What if it wasn’t enough?

This was my biggest challenge to overcome. I had never anticipated getting this close to the body I dreamed about, that I hadn’t thought about what it would feel like once I got it.

And what would happen if I was injured or couldn’t train for some reason.

These fears turned out to be valid a few months later.

 

At my 9 months of training with Bowie, I was actual becoming fearless, finally!!

My weight was down 30kgs and my muscle tone was on point. My overall fitness was the best it had been in my life. I had really started to feel like a semi-athlete and for the first time in my life, I was very much enjoying making healthy food, not just for me but for my friends and family as well.

The biggest change was that I was enjoying eating.

I had never really had a great relationship with food. It had either made me fat or feel sick, and I had just eaten because I was hungry and needed to. But if I could avoid eating, I would… but not anymore. I had a new personal best on many of the exercises we did throughout our sessions and I had even improved my laps at training to 32 laps in 5 mins, which is quite impressive.

Everything was going really great!

I had been selected to travel with my team to a massive tournament where we were planning to take the win in our division. With 5 games planned to be played over 3 days, this was the most I had ever played. Bowie and I had started to do some intense double session in preparation for this. Bowie, Zay and I had talked about the importance of nutrition at length and while they were confident I was prepared for the tournament, I was starting to doubt myself again.

A few weeks before the biggest tournament in the southern hemisphere for Roller Derby, I lost my job.

The loss of my income meant I couldn’t afford to train three times a week, so I cut back to once a week.

This was a huge blow to my confidence.

Hard Work Pays Off

I had worked so hard and now, right before the tournament, I couldn’t train how I wanted to.

Again, Bowie assured me that I had worked hard for the last 11 months and that would be enough to get me what I wanted. In the few weeks leading up to the tournament, I didn’t train as much and I put on a few kilos. Which delightfully worked in my favour, as I had the muscle and the fitness to carry it and I was able to use it to my advantage.

When the tournament came, it proved to be just as hard as I had expected it to be. But I also really surprised myself that by the fourth game on the second day, not only was I able to play, I was able to play well. I had never in my life pushed my body to this extreme before, and with my Hashimotos I wasn’t sure how well it would respond. All the lessons that I learned during my training with Bowie were flowing through my mind.

When my thighs burnt from laps. I would hear Bowie in my head…  “It will not get any worse so keep going”.

When I was stuck in the pack, again Bowie was in my head… “Push through, this is what you trained for”.

All my preparation was paying off.

We had won all four of our games and were through to the final. At the end of the second day I was more mentally and physically exhausted then I had ever been.

 

I was so grateful for the food preparation skills and nutrition advice that I had received because, while my teammates were ordering mildly healthy food and waiting for it to be delivered, I had mine all ready to be cooked and eaten.

My Biggest Lesson

The mindset exercise I had worked with Zay on really became appropriate on day 3 of the tournament. It was the grand final and the whole team was exhausted. The more I listened to my teammates say they were exhausted, the more I felt exhausted too. Often during our mindset lessons, I would think that whatever the lesson for that week was wouldn’t necessarily be relevant to me or my situation. But the lesson of not making other people’s feelings about a situation, your feelings about the situation, finally became relevant.

It’s true I was exhausted, but I also had one more game of fight in me and I’d worked so hard for a year to get to this grand final and I was determined to give it everything I had. I used the tools Zay had taught me to block the thoughts I didn’t want and started to repeat the thoughts I wanted to have. I learnt several lessons about myself during that game that helped me with my training.

We lost the grand final and I let a few things get to me that I shouldn’t have, but I played my best. And for the first time in my fitness career I can confidently say I left the tank empty. In that game, I learnt that I was no longer an easy quitter. I learnt that I was stronger than people first thought and I could achieve great things, as long I didn’t stand in my own way.

4 months after that tournament I was still training once a week with Bowie, but I had been able to do some training at home by myself. We again played the team that beat us but this time we beat them. I had fixed all my game play mistakes and found that some of the mindfulness lessons I had worked on had come into effect after the loss. It wasn’t really relevant at the time we had talked about it and I hadn’t thought about since then but in the months after that lose they activated.

My biggest lesson is that one setback doesn’t mean defeat on your journey. There will be roadblocks and setbacks, injury, plateaus and life that gets in the way of your training. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the journey. It just means you take a slightly more detoured route to where you want to go and the lessons you learn will be just a valid, if not more so.

Rebecca Burton

Rebecca Burton

Roller Derby Athlete

Rebecca Burton, also known as “Rebecca The Wrecker” is a mad roller derby athlete in Melbourne and is also an FMC Rebel. She spends her time obsessing over her miniture pug, girlfriend, roller derby crushes and writing erotic Harry Potter Fan Fiction.

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