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My Lifestyle

My Lifestyle

Are you “doing” life in the right order…?

October 2017
White Picket Fence Dream

Did you go straight to university from school? Then get a great corporate job with a clear career path? Meet your man through your 20s, marry around 30, buy a house and then of course next is having children? All your ducks are in a row by 40 and then we live happily ever after…?

Where are these rules written that life is supposed to turn out this way? Why are we conditioned that there is a pre-set order of adult life? And why do we feel so much pressure to “do” life in this order? Does this order of life suit all of us? And for us women if we don’t there is a chance we will miss out on having children.

I didn’t go to university despite my mother’s horror and claims that I will never make anything of myself if I don’t have a degree. I didn’t do well at school as I don’t have what I would consider academic intelligence, plus I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so why would I endure more torture? So I just got a job straight from school and accepted that I was dumb and wouldn’t amount to much career wise.  But that’s ok I thought; I just wanted the white picket fence dream. My man can have the career, I will just (!) be the wife and mother.

I wandered aimlessly through my 20s which is acceptable, but as 30 looms the pressure starts to build. I had been in and out of therapy since 16, after an unhappy childhood, as I always felt something wasn’t quite right with me.  I never felt happy or fulfilled and clung to the belief that the white picket fence life was the answer.  Isn’t that what we women do? Isn’t that what the fairy tales are all about? The man in shining armour, a dream wedding, a lovely home in the suburbs and beautiful kids is what too many of us women grow up believing is what our life will be.

I was depressed for my 30th despite being in Las Vegas for the event.  I had been living with my boyfriend of 3 years and felt that 30 was the time we should marry.  So when the fairy tale proposal was not forth coming I forced the issue.  Never a good idea… but all I cared about was that it was time to settle down so I grabbed the only man around at that age.  I am sure I am not alone in settling for the sake of settling down… tick tock, tick tock; the biological clock starts getting louder when you hit 30.

Needless to say the marriage didn’t last and I find myself back out on single struggle street at the age of 32. The breakdown of my marriage, the loss of my beautiful house and white picket fence dream sees me plummet into depression.  For the first time in my life I am officially diagnosed and labelled as clinically depressed along with the associated medication and therapy.  Despite being miserable at what had past I was not suicidal at this point as, well, I am still slim, blonde and attractive so I will find another man.  I have time..?

As each year of my 30s go by I become more and more desperate and depressed. I did manage a couple of relationships however with men that were over 10 years my junior and certainly not ready for what I was looking for. And of course without a healthy relationship with myself, my depression, emotional and eating disorders as well as various addictions, I was completely ignorant to the fact that I was no chance of finding the relationship I so desperately wanted.

40 is looming… and my drinking and partying is increasing as I try to block out my reality.  But also I just had to be out somewhere, anywhere, to find that man!  I was dumb, single and childless… how could this happen to me? I felt a complete failure despite holding a responsible corporate job (how was this even possible without a degree..?) But I still had my socially glorified appearance; I was still blonde, slim and attractive and felt that was all I had going for me. I also felt additional pressure as looking like I did means a dream life; doesn’t it? So where is my dream life?  There must be something seriously wrong with me… My obsession with my weight and appearance is now at dysfunctional levels and I am doing all I can to maintain and fight the aging process even if that meant going into debt further and abusing my body.

41 comes and goes… and I decide that I can’t wait for the man any longer so I attempt IVF with donor sperm to become a single mother.  I did 3 fresh cycles all of which I fell pregnant but only for a few weeks.  The 4th and final cycle was with frozen embryos and I did not fall pregnant this time.  It was at this point, with hormones being pumped into me at dangerous levels, I decided to end my life.  Dumb, single and now truly childless.  I had an abortion at 27… the regret and hate of myself and my life was too much for me to go on.

There are many factors to my depression over the course of my life but it is this pressure of “doing” life in the right order by the right age that I feel contributed the most to my feelings of pressure and defeat. I hear all the time of parents pressuring their children to go to university or to marry to give them grandchildren, of married women’s judgement of single women and the condescending remarks of why some women can’t find a man as if they have failed, of how the media portrays the “wallflower” or indeed how the media glorifies the white picket fence life.

Some of us are just not meant to fit into that mould. And the ones that don’t but find their passion in life early on and become successful as a result seem to be accepted.  But what about the rest of us? The ones who missed the boat but haven’t found anything in life to replace the “norm”? The ones who haven’t found their passion in life but also don’t have the career, man, house, kids?  Have we failed in life?  Why does society frown on this group as non-achievers? Is this how we measure success? What if the person who doesn’t have the career, man, house, kids is the kindest most generous person you will ever meet?  Doesn’t that count..?

And what about the ones who actually achieve the acceptable order of life but aren’t happy? I know of a number of women who fall into this category. They have fallen into the trap of “doing” life in the right order, giving up on their dreams and are miserable.  And with the responsibility of a mortgage and children it is very difficult to change course.

Well you know the end of my story. I found my passion at the age of 46 and I am not joking when I say that bodybuilding literally saved my life.  My full story here. If my journey has taught me anything it is that we are never too old and it is never too late.  The portrayal of a woman aging is another misconception we hold on what we should be “doing” and looking like at a certain age.  At 50 I am supposed to be fat, frumpy, complaining about menopause and wasting away in front of the TV as I don’t have the energy for anything else. I celebrated my 50th birthday on stage in a bikini and am planning my next photo shoot at 51. I also enjoy no symptoms of menopause despite being well aware that this time of life is upon me.

Our beliefs about aging and what we should be doing at a certain age are seriously all in our mind. We have been influenced and conditioned that our bodies and life should be a certain way and deteriorate after mid-life. And they will if we believe that this is the case.  If we allow the influence of the majority or what we see on TV or what our doctor says or what happened to our parents to determine our story. With the right support anything is possible.  Twice I have been told by misguided doctors that I will never lift again and I need surgery.  I just shop around until I find a doctor who tells me what I want to hear.  Now I have found my passion in life nothing, and I do mean nothing, will stand in my way!

If you have a dream you owe it to yourself, to your life, to chase it!  It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in life if you know what sets your soul on fire incorporating it into your life will change your life.  Life is too short! How will you feel when you wake up at 60 and realise that time is running out?  If you don’t know what your passion is then hire a coach to help you find it! And to help you manage your life to be the best you can be.  Please download my free eBook on how I have come to embrace the aging process, achieve what most would consider impossible and defy the norm on this “doing” life in the right order crap!

My Lifestyle

My Journey to Stage

September 2016

Do you aspire to own a body like this?  Do you set a goal to achieve, start on the diet/exercise and then beat yourself up when you can’t stick to it? Do you constantly feel bad and inadequate about your body as you see so many images in the media of bodies like this or similar?

This photo was taken two days after my recent bodybuilding competition. I want to share with you what I actually go through to achieve the body you see in the photo attached to this blog. The mindset and routine I need to adopt when I am preparing for stage and/or a photo shoot. I am surprised at how many people think I look like this all the time! That hopping into a bikini and strutting around on stage, or in front of a camera, is just like a day at the beach. Only those that see me every day, that have to put up with me every day (!) appreciate the hell I actually go through. And trust me, I am not in this condition for very long, a week, two at most. I hope by sharing my journey it might bring awareness that achieving and sustaining a body like this can not only be unhealthy it is an unrealistic goal that too many women aspire to and then berate themselves for giving up or not achieving and then end up hating the miraculous machine (body) that keeps them alive.

Let’s start with the very core of what I have to battle with to look like this…  How do you feel when you are hungry? I mean really hungry. Not just the oh its dinner time I will have something to eat now hungry.  The kind of hunger that is hours past dinner time and your belly is screaming.  Sometimes you can trick yourself with a distraction of some sort and you can make it go away for a little while.  But you know it is going to return and the growling seems to re-emerge with a vengeance.  And the cravings…  when we reach this stage (or even the previous stage!) the body wants carbs aka sugar; something that enters the blood stream quickly to alleviate the hunger. Our bodies need food for survival and once that hungry sensation kicks in, unless you are flooded with adrenaline such as in an emergency situation etc. the only thing that will make it stop is to eat!

But hunger is not just about the physical aspect is it? What emotions play out for you?  How do you feel on an emotional rather than physical level?  We are all very different and how we deal with hunger can vary for everyone. Do you get anxious? Jittery? Teary? Can’t concentrate? Snappy? Snippy? Downright cranky…?!  And depending on how long it goes on for this can elevate to feeling faint, dizzy, even visual impairment if you try to stand or move suddenly.  (At this point your blood sugar levels have dropped and your brain is literally starved for nutrients)  Whatever it means for you it is not pleasant and as with too many emotions associated with food they are not positive!

Before I start explaining what I go through, I should note here that just like any industry, the fitness industry has many different methods to achieve low body fat.  And just like every industry there are conflicting opinions and points of view. The regime will also depend on what division you are competing in; I have previously competed in the bikini division (which is not as strict) but this comp, with my muscle gain over the last few years, I decided to go up a division and I competed in figure which requires me to be leaner.

Depending on your current BMI statistics (so this is basically fat/muscle ratio) restrictions start from the moment the decision is made to compete.  For some girls this might be 20 weeks out or even more; for my recent competition we started at 12 weeks out which is a little late but still achievable for me.  My body knows how to be lean and although I was sitting on an additional 10kgs of weight, the majority of that was muscle. It is very important to do this slowly, losing weight quickly is not ideal on the metabolism and many can experience serious digestive issues, among other things, post comp if this process is not done carefully. It is also important to gradually peel away the fat to retain my hard earned muscle!

My off comp season diet is very, very clean as you can imagine.. I only eat whole foods and I am also alcohol free, gluten free, sugar free and most of what I eat is organic. Yeah; we know I am obsessed!  But I do have cheat night where I indulge or over indulge..  but this is one meal (not day!) a week.  You don’t get to train to the level I do and maintain a body like this if you don’t have a supreme diet.  Let me say that again… you don’t get to own a body like this unless you are dedicated and disciplined not just in preparation for a comp/shoot but it is full time, ongoing, 24/7 commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  I am sure you have heard that at least 70% of your achievements in the gym are determined in the kitchen and this is very true! But don’t get me wrong there is plenty of enjoyment from food, albeit different to perhaps what you may enjoy, but as I was coming out of a huge bulk (muscle building) phase where my daily calorie intake was between 3,500 – 4,000, and I had gained 10kgs, it was going to be challenging to lean out again. But I am always up for a fitness challenge 🙂

I have done a full “shred” (as we bodybuilders call it) a few times now, I have also studied nutrition and I am very in tune with my body so I am very aware of where I need to cut back. In the early days I was given a strict nutrition plan from my coach, but these days I basically know what I am doing so we do a weekly “pinch” (check BMI manually through skin fold tests) and we decide on the game plan for the week. And so we begin the journey of gradual removal of all enjoyment from food…

We start with cutting back carbs. To build muscle it is not just protein I need but carbs; good carbs. For me this is brown rice or sweet potato. I still keep my oats for breakfast however but the quantity is halved. All other meals are protein, fats and salad/veges.  This is still a healthy diet, calories are around 2,800 and is what I would call my maintenance diet so bearable, enjoyable and although I am noticing an increase in hunger due to the recent drop in calories it is manageable.  I start to lose fat immediately so I retain this regime for a few weeks.

The next thing to be reduced is fat; this is good fat so is very healthy for you on many levels but is particularly good for the brain and supports cognitive function. Good fats for me means nuts, avocado, seeds, olive/coconut oil, greek yogurt (full cream) and bone broth.  First we eliminate the bone broth and greek yogurt, halve the nuts and seeds and olive oil goes from my salad dressing (so just balsamic vinegar) although I am still cooking dinner in a little oil. The hunger is not a constant but is noticeably more.  2,200 odd calories is still manageable for most but I am training with intensity so my body is running at a deficit in order to shed fat. The oats are truly a life saver and I savour them! Temptation is everywhere and I am now drinking more green tea in the office…  If you have read my blog on Resisting Temptation you will know what I usually do to beat temptation but it is getting a tad more challenging now!

I cruise along like this for another few weeks and my fat loss continues at around 1kg a week.  My body is responding perfectly, albeit a little fast, as no significant muscle loss yet. The body remembers and as I have been underweight most of my life I am not surprised at the rate my body responds to the change in conditions.

Cheat night is also toned down through this phase. The chocolate, chips, pizza aka trans-fat need to go. Diary is also removed so with the loss of greek yogurt through the week I also lose cheese and sour cream on cheat night…. Cheat night now becomes clean (er!) with white potato and fruit on the menu in addition to protein. I don’t socialise much anyway but clearly going out anywhere is out of the question now for me; the hunger is beginning to rule my life and I don’t want to be anywhere near anyone that is serving/eating food I am so desperately craving!  Without cheat night I find it far more challenging to stay focused. Usually I really don’t mind missing out through the week as I know I can have what I want on cheat night; but without that to look forward to and with the enjoyment of food decreasing tenfold I need to dig deep. Isolation works best for me!

Next nuts and seeds are removed altogether and the only fat I am left with is half an avocado a day plus a little olive oil to cook with for dinner.  I still have red meat however and as I only eat organic, grass fed this is also considered good fat as well as protein. The weight continues to come down as the hunger is intensifying now.  I am eating 5-6 meals a day (as always) so every few hours however as I am not eating carbs or fats within around 30 mins of eating I am hungry again and must wait another 90-120 mins for my next meal…  with only green tea and water to console me.  I am going to bed earlier and earlier.. sleeping away the hunger works well for me. As every day passes I feel relief that I have managed to get through another day; as food is so central to our lives and existence it is a constant mental challenge to overcome

Red meat is the next to go and is replaced by white meat.  White meat is a lot leaner. I don’t eat fish…  which is a bummer through this phase. So it is poached chicken for every meal…  now I am not a good cook! So getting the chicken nice and tender is a challenge for me plus I am running out of patience to hang around in the kitchen watching a saucepan boil and simmer. As I am eating organic chicken breasts that are not exactly the cheapest item in the poultry section… I have to eat it moist or dry! I still have a variety of salad and veges (steamed only now) to choose from so am thankful for small things because I know what is ahead. Surprisingly I still have my oats for breakfast, due to my steady weight loss, which I am eating with a teaspoon now to make it last longer..  ensures I eat it more slowly and can savour it. After I have finished there is a huge sense of dread as this is the only enjoyment I am getting from food for the entire day.

Hunger is a now almost a constant state while awake.  With the loss of nearly all fats it is also starting to affect my brain, I am very tired and my fuse is very short…  I am still training to a high level, working full time and I have to find the time and energy to practise posing for stage every single day..  The 4.30am starts are becoming very, very hard…  I feel a little out of control at times… like when a colleague eats toast right in front of me…  The smell!  Finding it hard to control myself; I want to scratch her eyes out!  I can feel myself being rude but I just don’t care.

BUT my abs are coming up nicely now which is very exciting! I am beginning to see the muscle that I worked so very hard for during my last bulk phase.  I catch myself in the mirror at the gym or bathroom and I can’t quite believe it is me!  I hold on to that image as I dig deep to find the motivation and discipline to stick to the diet, to ignore the hunger pains, to get control of my emotions, to prepare and swallow this incredibly bland and unenjoyable food and to find the energy to get through my workouts. But the worse is yet to come…

The last week… the entire prep had been easier than on previous occasions so I am actually feeling pretty good about the last week.  It’s only a week right…?  Five (yes that is 5) litres of water a day, sodium loading so lots and lots and lots of salt on every meal, double dosage of a herbal diuretic, poached chicken and either lettuce or steamed green veges only now with a dash of butter for dinner; for 5 meals a day…  no intra or post workout shakes either (so no protein powder).  And thank God I don’t have to do two training sessions a day!  This would be standard for the last two weeks but I have escaped this time due to the rapid fat loss. I am one of the lucky girls… 1,200 calories a day from Sunday to Wednesday… and training every day.. plus dozens of trips to the bathroom… I was beyond grateful to have a boss who was very understanding and allowed me to work from home on and off in previous weeks but this week I just can’t cope with the commute. In fact I can’t cope with people, shops,traffic,life!

Carb load is Thursday so only four days of hell to get through…  Wanting to sleep lots now but am averaging six trips to the bathroom every night… I am only dragging myself out of my apartment now to train.  We are well past the snippy, snappy and cranky stage… I am feeling faint and dizzy on and off…  nails, waxing and hair to organise.. still posing.. and training on most days.. I find myself in a daze a lot of the time just staring off into space.

Not really sure I should be driving… but have no choice. I manage to do some work surprisingly but I need the distraction. Otherwise I just sit on the lounge like a zombie watching crap TV which is VERY unlike me!  (if you haven’t read my blog on a Media Free Diet click here)  Oh and posing..  must get the heels on and practise….  Carb load is 3,600 calories!  I go from a sparrow to an elephant forcing the food down. The carbs go straight to my muscles with the idea that we pump them full of glycogen to give the illusion of fullness.  And then we tighten back up again with only 1,000 calories for the final two days…  no training these days thank God!

To give you an idea of the calorie intake, your body needs around 750-1000 calories simply to lie in bed all day.  This is the minimum required for your body to breathe, heart to pump, digestion etc.  So 1,200 and 1,000 calorie days leaves very little left over!

Water, diuretic and sodium is cut at 12pm on the Saturday so 24 hours before I am on stage.  The water/sodium loading and then eliminating is a scientific bodybuilding technique to purge as much water as possible from the body to highlight muscle definition. Our bodies are 70% water so the more we can drain out before show day the more definition.

I also have laxative tea as my last liquid; its not just water I need to get out of my system….  I had been constipated up until Friday (is it any wonder!) so I also had to use a depository….  And would you believe with all this weight loss my period still arrives like clockwork when due the day before comp. As if I don’t have enough to worry about!  But wait, things do get worse…  after I get the 5 layers of thick bodybuilding tan on Saturday afternoon my bowels decide to explode…  yep; I sure am empty now and I have ruined my tan and my bathroom has brown smears everywhere…   Wow!  And I have to get up on stage tomorrow and look sexy??!!

I do this all with no personal support so comp day arrives and I must leave at 6am to drive to get my hair and makeup done and then to the venue.  After two days of 1,000 calories, following the week from hell, diarrhoea that I could not have any water for my body to recover from, (nor have a shower due to the tan!) needless to say I am beside myself and came very close to a serious car accident on the way.  I sit in the chair while my hair/makeup is being done barely being able to speak and wondering what the hell I am doing!  I want to pull out and go and eat! My savour is carbs; once my coach assesses my condition, I am allowed sugar to pump up the muscles again. Having gone over 4 weeks without sugar at all I am suddenly bouncing off the walls!  Sugar really is a drug which you don’t realise until you eliminate it from your diet.  And so I make it to stage on a sugar high lol!

Not only is this all extremely unhealthy with so many basic necessary nutrients removed, it is also far from glamorous and what many would consider dangerous. How I find the strength and willpower always baffles me after I am through it but at the time I really am just on autopilot. I am well schooled in the food is just fuel theory and the daily battle with hunger and controlling emotions is only for a short period of time in the scheme of life; that’s how I look at it anyway.  And for me it is not just about the rewards I can see in the mirror, it is the empowerment that I feel that truly is the ultimate prize. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive and exhilarated than to overcome what most consider impossible, to have total control over your body and overcome the fear of getting up on stage.  When it is all over the feeling of satisfaction and achievement is hard to describe. It is a life changing journey and only deepens my inner strength and devotion to this bodybuilding lifestyle.

So next time you look enviously at photos of fitness models and wish you had a body like that, ask yourself how much of life are you prepared to give up in order to achieve this media driven obsession? (please read my blog on why we all so desperately want to look like this) What you see on TV or in magazines is a snapshot in time of 1% of the population, this is certainly not what we look like every day and you definitely don’t get to see the (un)happy snaps of what we go through to get to that point in time. I am totally in love with this lifestyle which is why I get the results but it is not for everyone!  And now you know what is involved that it truly is a 24/7 commitment, that it is a unique way to live, that it involves tremendous discipline and focus to achieve and, what most would consider removal of the simple pleasures in life, please be kinder to yourself for not looking like I do!

My Lifestyle

My Top 10 Tips on Embracing Loneliness & Loss

May 2016

Since my feline soul mate and best friend passed last month I have found the loneliness on some days to engulf me and take me back to dark places that I would rather not revisit. I have certainly recovered from depression but I have had to be very mindful that I don’t slip backward during this challenging time in my life.  If you haven’t read my tribute to my girl yet click here.

Death is one of the hardest situations to deal with in life and yet we all must at some stage. And its not exactly a life experience that we are given any education on how to handle. We certainly must cry and cry and cry.. but we also must begin to take steps to move past the loss and embrace the loneliness.  Every situation in life is temporary; life is always moving and changing. Life will certainly never be the same but it will be different and it will be happy again.

For those of you who don’t me, I do live alone and I enjoy my own company probably too much! It has taken me a very long time to get to that place of loving my own space. But that space was always shared with my girl so I could argue that I have never lived alone. Up until now…  20 years is an awfully long time to share your space so intimately with a feline companion.

I went through the first stage of grief, desperately wanting to replace her like yesterday! I didn’t want to open my front door for one more day and be greeted with silence. I felt like my heart was breaking over and over again every day! My apartment feels like an empty shell. And after making a few enquires and even agreeing to take on two rescue cats I found myself back tracking. Knee jerk reactions are not always the best way to handle situations despite our desperate need to suppress negative feelings. Taking on a pet is for life, it is a serious commitment and I knew I wasn’t ready.

So after having many conversations with the urn… and the dozens of photos of her on my bookshelves I decided to wait.  So now I am stuck with sitting with my loneliness. I have decided to use this time to do further work on myself however there are still times where I cant control the tears and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to deal with that ache in your heart and the overwhelming urge to suppress it with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, staying in bed or whatever is your vice!

“I think it is very healthy to be alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

Oscar Wilde

These tips can be used if you are trying to get over a break up or grief of any kind when being alone is not what you want but it is actually probably what you need!

  1. Clean. I have found myself doing a lot of extra cleaning in the last few weeks… There are the basic set of cleaning chores every week but there are also the additional ones that only need doing once in a while. So when I could feel the tears welling up and taking over out comes the rubber gloves! The kitchen/bathroom cupboards, both inside and the outside, the top of and all around the fridge and/or washing machine, under the bed, the fan and filter above the stove, the linen press etc. etc. I get a great feeling of satisfaction when I clean something I haven’t for a while. I keep going back and admiring my work lol!
  2. eBay. This has been through necessity of needing some extra funds also but there are always heaps of things we hang on to and rarely, if ever use, that someone out there will pay good money for. So if tidying up your wardrobe or the garage was a task from tip one that create an eBay pile, take photos, load up and wait for a bit of extra pocket money to hit your account! It is a great feeling to receive unexpected money.
  3. Charity. If what you have tidied up is not worth selling or you feel like doing a good deed, which is yet another rewarding feeling to take yourself out of your loneliness, then load up the car with all the things you no longer need and take it to your local charity. Getting rid of some of the stuff we accumulate over time sends a message to the universe that you are making space for new things to enter your life. Cat, relationship, job, money or whatever it is that you want in your life make some space by putting back into circulation those things that you hoard but never use!
  4. Exercise. This is a no brainer for me, in fact, I have found myself overtraining the last few weeks which has caused some old injuries to flare up but that is another story! But just moving your body and/or getting outside in the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for how you feel about yourself and your life. I know this is a tough one for many, but if you are determined to beat the blues and not succumb to the loneliness then getting outside even for a short walk will lift your mood. You know this one…
  5. Take a bath. Now the weather is getting colder at night a nice warm bath is so relaxing and soothing. Quality me time without any interruptions with the added benefit of detoxing my body with Epsom salts. It helps promote quality sleep too which can be tough when you are missing someone that used to be beside you at night.
  6. Sing & Dance. Put on your favourite music, loud if you can, and make yourself sing and dance. Your alone, who cares! Uptown Funk still gets dragged out when I am fighting the tears. How can you possibly cry when watching Bruno dance and while you are singing “I’m too hot (hot damn). Don’t believe me just watch!” Prince died not long after my girl so I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my old time favourite and reminiscing about how in love I used to be with Prince!
  7. Gratitude. When we are suffering loneliness or loss it is hard to feel grateful so we have to deliberately and purposefully go through the list of all the things we do have rather than focusing on what has gone. Food in the fridge, running clean water, a nice warm bed, electricity; we are so very, very, very privileged to live the lives we do. Take a moment every day to think about, or even write down in your journal, what you are grateful for.
  8. Watch/listen to motivational speakers. Rather than turning to the trash on TV purposely seek out something uplifting. My old favourites come out; Bob Proctor and Abraham-Hicks. The latter was very helpful as they talk about the loss of animals, how their spirit passes over and how they have no fear of death like we do. In fact any challenge we currently face there is a clip on YouTube by Abraham to help you manage your emotions and give you a different perspective to your challenging feelings including loneliness.
  9. Meditate. Yes; I know we think this is a load of hooey…but it really does help whether you can feel it helping at the time or not. There is plenty of scientific evidence that tells us that meditating calms the nervous system, balances our emotions and gives us the clarity and radiance to deal with lifes challenges. Do yourself a favour and just try it for 10 mins a day and I PROMISE you that you will handle those lonely feelings much better.
  10. Affirmations. I have been meditating so long I now have control of my thoughts and I have trained myself to do affirmations whenever I find idle time in my mind. Just like meditation, I too thought this was a load of hooey but if you are constantly telling yourself I am so lonely, I miss _____ (fill in the blank) then how are you going to get past the lonely feelings…?  Isn’t affirming that my life is full of wonderful, loving people, I am blessed to have a loving feline companion or whatever the opposite is of how you feel a more productive way to assist getting over your tears….?

I have not put in a tip here to call a friend or family member to talk to as this is not my default reaction being the introvert that I am.  And while there is tremendous value in connecting with people when the loneliness is engulfing, there is also great benefit in facing these feelings and utilising the time alone to further grow and develop. To move past the grief and to be ready to welcome in the next chapter of your life. If you avoid these feelings they will only keep resurfacing until you do face them! And it will prevent you from letting go and moving forward.

It is also important to remember that there is no time limit on grief. Everyone moves through these painful situations at a different pace and in their own time. But if you do feel that it has been going on too long and the you cant stop the daily crying then please do seek professional assistance.

Spending quality time alone, I believe, is paramount to leading a happy and balanced lifeBut there is a difference between seeking time alone to replenish your soul and avoiding time alone to escape facing your feelings. I am glad I didn’t make the mistake of getting a new feline companion straight away. It has given me the time to grieve and accept my feelings of loss. To honour my time with the most incredible cat ever and make room in my heart for my new feline companion.

So what do you do when the loneliness engulfs you? Leave me a comment below with any further suggestions on how you overcome the tears and lonely feelings.

My Lifestyle

Whatever it Takes

April 2016

My beloved Sasha has been by my side for over 20 years.  She has seen me through some of the worst times in my life and has always been there for me, loving me unconditionally.  I have faced many challenges to date; from burying my mother, to competing in bodybuilding competitions, to divorces and heartache, to writing a book.  Nothing compares to the anguish of watching my girls decline and making the ultimate decision for her to leave this world.

Himalayan cats are a cross between Persians and Siamese.  They have a very placid, quiet nature and are a member of what I call the princess breeds.  They loll around the house looking stunning with their big blue eyes and luscious coat, with the least amount of activity possible and conduct themselves with an air of royalty.  They are incredibly loyal; my girl has always been very much my cat and totally in tune with my energy and emotion to the point of uncanny synchronicity.  Not overly affectionate as the thick coat brings heat when cuddling, but still wanting a close connection.  I have fallen asleep with her paw in my hand many times.  Respectful and faithful; a true companion that derives happiness from simply being in your presence without being demanding.

Life expectancy for Himalayans is usually around 16 human years.  My precious girl turned 20 last October!  She has been on my miracle supplement for the past two and half years along with me.  As so often has been the case, when I have had some form of injury or illness she seems to follow.  She tore ligaments in her knee at the same time I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees back in 2013.  I have no doubt that Laminine has extended her life and I am so very grateful for the additional time we have shared.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France

Mid-January was when her decline started.  Night howling was the first symptom and only between the hours of 1 and 5am!  Anti-anxiety tablets were prescribed as, once again, she suffers from a similar ailment to me, although I have not had problems with my own anxiety for some time.  She has been on a special renal diet for many years, kidney problems were always going to surface at the end and urinary tract infections emerged.  Once again a condition I have suffered from throughout my adult life.  Like I said, uncanny similarities!

With countless trips to the vet in the early stages as a protocol was established eventually I was supporting her from home as I mastered the art of injecting fluids every second day and administering countless tablets to keep her comfortable.  Mixing up special, tempting food concoctions, rearranging my apartment ensuring she had everything she needed in easy reach, rocking and cradling her to sleep in the wee hours. It has been a 24/7 commitment and responsibility I take very seriously.  And even now looking back I still don’t feel I did enough.

The magic that steroids provide kept her with me for an additional two months.  However, there are consequences for dependence on such a drug as they put additional strain on an already weakened renal system.  I learned to be grateful for each passing day but knew it was only a matter of time.  So hard to know when the right time is; doing it too soon could rob you of some of the last happy days together.  Doing it too late could rob her of dignity as well as enduring pain and suffering.  And I learned that what comes with this emotional roller coaster ride is good days and bad; a glimmer of hope of recovery, only to be dashed with a bad day.  Everyone kept telling me you will know when, she will tell you.  I didn’t believe anyone until it happened..

Pet ownership is a huge responsibility.
  It is a lifetime responsibility and needs to be treated with the same respect as any family member.   It is not just about the joy of welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your home and the following adult years when times are good and life is easy.  It is in the senior years that loyalty must be repaid, stepping up and going the extra mile during the bad times, looking after your pet as you would a dying parent or child, being there until the very end no matter how hard it gets.  I was determined to repay 20 years of loyalty and “whatever it takes” was my motto, as my heart broke on a daily basis.  I surprised myself as to what I actually could do; if you had told me a year ago I would be injecting fluids into my angel I would have said I never could.  We are all capable of heroic actions when circumstances warrant and when our loved ones lives depend on us.  I have compromised my training, my sleep, my job and my finances to nurse her through and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Another important factor in responsible pet ownership, in my opinion, is a long term relationship with your veterinarian.  I have been seeing Dr Steve Anich at Drummoyne Veterinary Hospital for 10 years!  He knows both Sasha and I very well.  I initially made the decision on the 6th of February to put her down.  Steve overrode my decision advising that there were still a number of treatments available, that she was not suffering and I got an additional 2 months!  I have been truly blessed to have the support of the most amazing vet through this ordeal.  A vet I trust explicitly and whose guidance not only allowed me extra time but enabled me to support my girl in ways I didn’t think I was capable of.  It has been a roller coaster beyond belief and I do not know how I would have coped without his and his teams support.  From his in-depth knowledge, to his compassion, understanding and patience.  Thank you just doesn’t seem enough for the enormous role he has played in both mine and Sasha’s life.

My life will never be the same without my princess.  I have been blessed with an angel watching over me for so long.  I know she will continue to and we will be together again soon.  My only consolation is that she is finally at peace.  I hold on to the vision of her final days to try and reassure myself that it was definitely time and I pray that she didn’t suffer as hard as I tried to prevent it.

I have owned a few cats in my time but the connection I had with Sasha I can only describe as to that of a soul mate. Every day when I walk through the door to a silent, empty apartment my heart breaks all over again.  I thought I was prepared after nearly 3 months of watching her every move and anticipating the end.  There is nothing that can prepare you for this excruciating pain.  I hope the daily crying stops soon.

Goodbye my gorgeous girl.  I love you with all my heart and soul.  Thank you so much for your unconditional love for so long.   So many people say how lucky you were to have had a Mum like me, but the truth is that I am the lucky one.  I feel honoured to have shared my life with you.  I miss you so very much.  xoxo

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