In my lifetime (27 years) over half of it has been spent yo-yo dieting, restricting myself from certain foods or counting every calorie that was consumed. If I heard it on an advertisement that if you ‘do (insert whatever diet torture you please) you will lose XX kilos in a second.’ I was on to it. You name the diet, I bet you I’ve tried it and maybe even read an entire book on it. Dukan: yep. Lemon detox: yep. Liver cleanse: yep. And of course you all know, paleo: yep.
From age 11 I always felt like I needed to look different. And by different, I mean thinner. Smaller nose. Longer hair. Lighter hair. Bigger butt. Smaller butt. Thinner legs. More toned arms. Shall I go on, or you get it? I never accepted my body for the body I was born with. I treated my body with punishment because it didn’t look like the people in the movies, in the magazines, it didn’t look like my best friend, my sister, the ‘cool’ girls at school.
No matter what weight or size, I ALWAYS felt like I needed to lose more weight. Like seeing the number on the scales get lower and lower would bring me happiness, joy and confidence.
I was wrong.
I want to tell you 2 stories. There have been 2 major times in my adult life where I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and far out, do the stories differ. I’ll tell you the endings first (oh yep: spoiler alert), the first one ends not so nice. The second one: well that hasn’t ended yet because I’m living it. BUT right NOW I am the happiest, most content, most healthy, most brightest I have ever felt in my whole entire life. I feel like for the first time I wake up and absolutely love my body exactly as it is. I feel at home in my body. And oh is it a good feeling.
Let’s start with the tragic ending (and ok ok, I’m being dramatic because I know that if this tragic ending hadn’t of happened I wouldn’t be where I am today… in fact, Merrymakers would be but a distant ‘maybe’ so let’s all be #grateful for the bad ending story).
It was back in 2012 when I was asked to be my best friend’s bridesmaid for her wedding in Fiji. Of course, over the moon, I accepted. And then… came the anxiety. The photos. The dress. The swimming in the pool. The bikini. I needed to lose weight (obviously?) in order to be the ‘perfect’ bridesmaid. That’s what I thought. So I went on a 12 week body sculpting plan, along with twice a day workouts to lose weight. The diet was 1200 calories a day. Every day for 3 months I ate: oats, protein shakes, chicken and veg (twice a day), rice cakes, an apple/or strawberries and a tub of 99% fat free yoghurt. Safe to say I was sick of chicken and veg after that.
Yes. I lost weight. Yes. People gave me compliments. But what most people won’t tell you is that also: you might lose your period (I did for 2 years), you’ll feel tired ALL DAY LONG, you will feel empty. You will feel darkness. You will feel sadness. You will feel angry all the time at nothing (the world), your bone density will lower, you will eff up your hormones, you will probably create some form of food intolerance and your life will revolve around: gym, food and work oh and anxiety about social occasions (you’ll probably stop accepting any) and guilt if you ‘break’ your diet (which I did at the 6 week mark and felt guilty for weeks after).
That was my life.
I lost the weight and I gained emptiness. Sadness. Sickness.
There was no joy left. Emma explains that all she saw in me was aggression, that it was like walking around on egg shells, not sure if I’d lash out.
The wedding day finally came and my trip to Fiji which should have been filled with joy and fun (yes it was because I got to see my best friend get married, it was magic) but it was also filled with anxiety around food choices and worried that there was no gym to train at. Um. Hello! You’re in FIJI Carla. At this point in time I was yet to learn about presence. I very much used my weekly bodybalance classes to run over my todo lists, rather than breathe and let go.
Post crazy 12 week diet. I put ALL the weight back on PLUS SOME more.
Let’s do the quick run around and fast forward to the next story: we found paleo, it rocked, I lost weight and felt awesome, but then became obsessed with exercise and paleo, stopped exercising (full stop, like actually just didn’t want to move at all because I hated how it felt like a chore), allowed more flexibility in my diet (‘quit’ paleo the media would say), moved to the gold coast, started drinking a tiny bit more and going out for dinner a lot more, wasn’t really exercising much except a few walks here and there… and didn’t realise but by September 2016 I had put on 16 kilos since being my lightest in 2012. OOPS.
I hated my body. I just wanted to lose weight. And I felt like I was trapped in this cage of self-hate, self-loathing, self-destruction and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Like any idea that popped in my head to try to feel healthier made me angry. At this stage in time, I was reading more and more about spirituality, presence and mindset.
Moving to a new state was hard, especially making new friends as an adult when you don’t work in a normal job. It’s like, where do you meet people? That’s when I walked into Essence of Living for the first time ever, a beautiful yoga and pilates studio.
Thinking pilates is cruisy as, I attended my first ever Pilates Barre class with a full face of makeup, only to begin sweating it off within 5 minutes! Woo, this was fun, I thought. I could do more of this.
This was April 2016. From then, I tried yoga, tried mat pilates, yin yoga, beginners yoga and soon fell in love with moving, breathing and living this way.
For about the first year and a half, I’d go to the studio 1-4 times a week and absolutely LOVED it every time. I had never ever in my life before found a movement that brought me so much joy. That made me feel so good about myself. That everything is as it should be.
Ok ok ok, you all want the SECOND story. Because that’s where we are now. And it’s the story of ‘how Carla lost 8 kilos from yoga and pilates’ BUT you had to read the first story (because it was first).
So, from the moment I found out I was at 72 kilos, I must admit, I was pretty sad. I hadn’t realised that I had let my health go so far down on the priority list. The reason I didn’t know my weight was because I made a pact with myself (after first weight loss story) to not be attached to the number on the scales, so I threw out my scales and always made sure the doctors never told me my weight. It wasn’t until my doctor didn’t listen and blurted out the number that I then knew. And let’s just say the throwing out of the scales didn’t heal the attachment to the number. I was still very much attached to my weight. And seeing this number (the highest it’s ever been) brought me into a pretty dark place.
That was a kind of kickstart for me. I had seen Emma go through her journey of self-hate to self-love and I really was quite jealous. I wondered HOW COME SHE CAN LOVE HER BODY LIKE THAT? I want that freedom. I want to feel that. But to me, it just felt impossible. This had been my way of thinking since age 11. How could I possibly ever love my body?
But, I was also inspired by Emma. I would flit and float between jealousy and inspiration. And in the moments of inspiration, I would focus really hard on bringing joy, thinking kind thoughts and moving in a way that made me feel good. Yes, yoga and pilates.
So from September 2016 – May 2017 I would feel this way. In and out of self-love and self-hate. In and out of I can do this and I can’t do this. In and out of I am amazing and I am fat/ugly/gross.
Then in June 2017 my whole life changed when I decided to do my Yoga Teacher Training. You may have followed my entire journey but this study, this immersion into a way of thinking that I agreed and aligned with 100% got me good. It cracked me open. It allowed me to let go of my past patterns. It allowed me to see that really all that we have is NOW. And how do I want my now to look? To feel? To be? How do I want to make others feel?
Yoga was what brought LOVE back into my life. Perhaps, for the first time ever. Yoga allowed me to feel at home in my body, and love my body and all that it does for me.
It was as if I let go of all this baggage I’d been carrying around for years and years. The patterns and rituals of self-hate I’d unconsciously created for myself were slowly changing into patterns and rituals of LOVE.
From June 2017 until November 2017, I devoted myself to practising yoga and pilates and thinking lovely things about myself. I chose kindness for myself and others. I chose love. And gradually I felt lighter. And gradually the scales said the same. I saw Dr Rach Wyndham last November and we checked my weight. 68 kilos. Again at this stage, for some reason, this number brought out sadness in me and Dr Rach suggested I need some professional help. That was a big HUH for me. You think I need help for this? The number shouldn’t cause you pain Rach would say to me. And that made a lot of sense. If I was honest with myself, yes, the number shouldn’t cause pain. The number is a number. That’s all.
So again, I dedicated time, energy into really diving into this and focussing on letting go of this past pain and these thought patterns that still were a part of me.
Fast forward to now, and that’s what I’ve been doing since November 17 – March 18. Learning to let go of my attachment to the number on the scales. Learning to send LOVE to my body for its ability to move and its ability to take me on life’s journey. And again, I feel lighter. More joy-filled. More love filled.
It sounds completely woo woo and maybe it is? But guess what, it worked for me. I decided I wanted to change. And so I devoted myself to this amazing exercise that brought me so much joy. That taught me lessons about self-love, detachment and kindness. And I lost weight. 8 kilos all up, I now weigh a healthy 64 kilos and my metabolic age has gone from 34 to 22 (I know this thanks to Dr Rach’s cool machines she uses!).
BUT the most amazing thing is that I finally FINALLY feel the freedom that self love brings. I finally look in the mirror or down at my body and feel this deep sense of gratitude for everything that it does for me. Everything that it feels.
I don’t hate my body anymore.
I GO TO THE BEACH! And I swim in a bikini! 2 years ago I missed an entire Summer outside because I felt not good enough. I felt too fat. Now, I don’t worry that people are looking at my arms when I walk past them, it doesn’t cross my mind, I just walk down the freaking street.
It’s like I have so much more space in my life, my brain, my heart, for everything magical life has to offer me. For people. For opportunities. It’s like my self-hate my self-judgement was holding me back from this incredible life that was just under my nose the entire time.
Yoga and pilates absolutely 100% changed my life. It changed my body. It changed my mindset. It is the movement that grounds me. It’s a movement that brings joy. It’s a movement that creates a community of like-minded, love filled people.
It’s freaking magic. This is why we both gained our Yoga (me) and Pilates (Emma) qualifications. So we could share the magic of yoga and pilates with the whole dayum world.
Because it doesn’t have to be self-hate, self-loathe, self-judgement and comparison. In fact, my wish is that you can feel the freedom I feel now.
That’s why we created MerryBody, our brand new yoga and pilates home fitness program. I’m beyond excited. Learn more here.
P.s if you want to hear me talk about this story, you can tune below.