Losing it

I hit rock bottom to learn a valuable life lesson.

I had everything materialistic I ever wanted but I wasn't happy. Slowly I started to lose everything that ever mattered... My partner, my home, my investment property, my wakeboard boat, my SS ute etc etc.... as I began to lose my world I started to lose myself.

Previously, I was training consistently for the Half Ironman events held annually in Busselton, Western Australia, where I was working as a Ranger. I’d managed to complete 2 solo events while was there, but unfortunately I got a severe case of tennis elbow from my work. I couldn't lift a water bottle a 1cm off the ground. It was really bad for months before I did anything about it and I couldn't lift weights or even run because it made it ache.

Once I couldn't exercise I started to put on weight, so I went to the doctor and got put onto Duromine, which in pharmacological terms is a appetite surpressant but is also similar to amphetamines! For 3 years I went on cycles where I’d lose the weight, come off the drugs, then put it all back on. Then I started smoking instead of eating. That didn't last long though because it didn't work and I've always thought smoking was gross. But I was desperate.

My fit & healthy mind now would of have got a qualified strength coach or professional to work around my injury. Hindsight is great thing, I guess!

Over these years following the injury, I gained 30kg and I had stopped doing any form of exercise, which was normally not my character. The more my life went downhill so did I, emotionally and physically. In the end I lost everything except my 4WD! Finally, I found as soon as I stopped being a victim of life, everything changed.

Once I had removed myself from a toxic environment and started to work on myself, I realised that without all my materialistic things, I felt I was nothing. I had no purpose and I felt I couldn’t offer the universe anything of value. At that point I realized that all I had was my own mission to lose the weight and get back to ‘who’ I was, no matter what it took. I had no job, nor the confidence to get one. I felt horrendous in every way. My mate from high school took me under his wing and gave me random jobs to keep me going while I struggled to stay afloat. I was too proud to get help from anyone, even the government. Every cent I earned went back into getting me healthy.

My first gym session with my newly acquired personal trainer, Jamie, was disgusting to say the least. I had raging heart burn, so every time I bent over I had a rush of heat enter my throat. I was grossly over weight. I felt terrible. For a young PT Jamie was exactly what I needed, he made me feel ok and encouraged me to do what I could. He also had a way of making me feel guilty if I didn't achieve what he had planned for me to achieve! I stayed with Jamie for 6 months and lost 12kg. That meant going to the gym 3 mornings a week at 6:30am in 3•c! It was hard getting out of bed, but I felt it was my only purpose of being alive at that point.

My obstacles were minor, but significant to me at the time. Working as a tradie, it's a way of life to have a drink at the end of the day and there was no way my co-workers were taking “no” for an answer. As an alternative, I found Jim Beam Zero had no calories via the App ‘My fitness pal’, so I stuck with that and it worked as a good replacement for higher caloric beer…so I still managed to lose weight.

I watched the scales and I was dropping around 0.4 kilos a week. It was slow, but it was happening. Another obstacle was clothing. I had no clothes that fit me and the more clothes I put on the bigger and more horrid I felt. I just wanted to stay in bed where no one could see me and judge me. Jamie got me running 1km a week to start with, which was a run/walk interval-based program. I felt so heavy. Without Jamie at the gym expecting me to turn up, I wouldn't have got out of bed. I had previously been a fit and healthy person that would bounce out of bed in the morning to go and train by myself.

That’s why I feel that having a Coach/Trainer is not necessarily all about guidance of exercise prescription, it's about accountability, which in my state was something I definitely needed.

I was also in a relationship at this point that had no chance of survival because of what I was dealing with in my own head. The fight within myself to achieve my goal was a big enough hill to climb, without trying to explain it to someone else. Instead of just letting things run their course, I made a positive step to move to Queensland and work-full time, trying to push myself into a healthier mindset...as they say, “A change is as good as a holiday!”.

This is when I was reunited with my old mate, Gav Pratt. He had his own strength and conditioning business, GCP Fitness, cranking on the Gold Coast and I was excited about becoming a part of the crew! I was so nervous to go there, I felt so intimidated because of how good the studio looked and the fit looking people that were training there. But you know what... Those people were so nice to me, they welcomed me with open arms and pushed me for a solid 8 months… and I lost the remaining 16kg!

Not only did I lose the weight, I started to feel better about ‘who’ I was. I made some great friends that will be mates forever. I would run a loop around Byron Bay lighthouse once a week. My eventual aim was to run the whole distance non-stop. By the end of my 8 months living in southern Queensland, I did it, and my time dropped from 54 minutes to 26 minutes!

My mental capacity had also changed, because if I didn't feel like I was going to spew at the end of the run, I was annoyed at myself for not giving it everything I had! During this time, I had also started to ride once a week for 3 hours up and down massive mountains in northern NSW, it was beautiful. I got my anthropometry (skinfolds, body weight etc…) measured every 6 weeks by Gav and got awesome results every time! I found the more exercise I did, the more I relaxed into that life. I started to be a bit more relaxed with what I ate and drank, because I knew my ‘cheat food’ was no longer the ‘bad stuff’ (except the occasional 'Bighead' beer!).So I was more comfortable with my nutritional choices, but I still managed to achieve my goals because my food choices were consistently better.

Nutrition, I had realised, played a huge part in my success or downfall!

I left the Gold Coast feeling a million bucks and ready to give Tasmania another go. I had a great trip down the coast with my dad that was just as special as when I originally went up to Queensland with my Mum! Certainly moments I will treasure forever. Arriving back in Launceston, I had less money than I left with, but this time I managed to get a job straight away. It was a warehouse picker/packer position. As grateful as I was for being employed, I disliked it because it gave me the feeling of being worthless again. I was 38 years old, talking to a robot through a headpiece. I hated it because I knew I could do more than that with my life. I was so frustrated. However, I would love dealing with the heavy orders and could feel the weight dropping off me as I went along the aisle. It was a good, hard grind, but shifts went down to 4 hours a week. Life started to get tough again, and I couldn't afford to pay for the gym training I desperately craved. I had done a free trial with F45 and loved it, but couldn't do it due to the monetary situation. I started to get frustrated and not train again. The weight was slowly coming back on and I was just lying in bed watching TV instead of being the active person I am.

I was falling hard, so I messaged Gav in China and told him my dilemma, he told me he would train me for free, but I had to check in with him once a week or he'd never do it for me again. He was my rock I couldn't lose him so I had no choice but to get up and do his program by myself!!

I was starting to feel ok again and then had another set back with my relationship. It knocked me down a few pegs. I was alone, with no money and only a few friends around me. I didn’t know the family I had in Tasmania very well and my parents were in Western Australia. I had never felt such pain before, I didn't know how I was going to get myself out of this one. Once again my training stopped. I’d found myself a granny flat to live in with people I didn’t really know that well. I called it ‘The Cave'. Even though I had hit rock bottom and felt so alone, I was meant to be there.

I had lost the weight now, so it was time to really work on ‘me’ and my demons. I spent a few days in The Cave completely floored and overwhelmed by life, not sleeping, having panic attacks and running into walls as I woke up, until Bec (my friend from inside the house) came and picked me up and told me to COME ON!! She dragged my sorry ass everywhere! Made me climb mountains, drink ‘Devils corner’ and have dinner with the family every night. Every time I jumped into bed with my electric blanket she hassled me to get out-of-bed!!! She is the only one that saw the heartache I was going through and did everything she could to help me. She is my guardian angel. She picked me up and threw me forward. The kids there showed us how to use Snapchat and we went nuts with it, we laughed so hard every single day at this stupidity. Laughing got me through the dark times I was going through.

One night we were ‘drinking the devil’ and I got a call from my cousin asking if I wanted a job. I said, “Yeah of course!”…I was half cut! She said I'll get someone to call you, so right there and then, I got a phone call for the job and it was the best over- the-phone interview I’d ever done, haha! I was so confident. I could do anything she asked of me. I hadn't done much admin work but knew I could do it if trained. She took a chance and I got a proper interview. They gave me the job for a 2-month contract. I immediately joined the local F45 and loved it.

Work was great, I picked it up fairly quick and the people were amazing. I got out of debt to my parents and got some new clothes for winter. I reconnected with all my family in Devonport and am grateful for that time and cherish the relationships I now have. I feel so blessed to have such awesome people in my life. My cousin Louise fed me the best food every morning and night while I was there, she mentored me and hardened me up a bit. When housing choices finished I hit yet another hurdle... I was out of work for another 5 weeks.

I tried out again for the police force, I blitzed the physical and thought I went well in the exams, but still didn't get through…AGAIN!

So within the space of a day or two, I’d hit 39 years of age with $3 in my bank account, got chased by a rooster and then got knocked back from being a dish pig because I was “overqualified and too old”.

I snapped. My inner voice yelled at me, "What the hell are you doing Naz?? Get your shit together… whatever it takes, you have to do it now!"

So with that, I applied for every job anywhere in Australia that looked half decent. Within a week I had 5 job opportunities, 3 that were awesome! I actually had to choose whether to stay in Tasmania, or leave for a full time job being a Ranger in Western Australia.

I didn't think I could do it and wrote it off. I didn't think I had the confidence to do it alone. I once again spoke to Gav and he mentored me through it, encouraged me to take the leap of faith and take the job in Broome. Bec was also urging me to take it, saying it was a “No brainer”. In fact, everybody that knew me well was pushing me forward, and I thank you all for giving me the strength to do this.

I'm now employed full time as a Ranger in Broome, which is such a beautiful place. The people are fantastic and have welcomed me into the community with open arms. From a physical standpoint, I'm straight into CrossFit now, trying to get back into the swing of resistance training and being a part of a fun community group…and I’m loving it!!

Interestingly, when I left my job as a Ranger in Busselton (2014), I was wearing a size 38 men’s pants…now, just over 2 years later, I fit a size 28!

In fact, just recently, I rocked a 2-piece bikini in comfortably in public for the first time in my life. It was a good day! Ultimately, I feel like a brand new person for going through what I have and I am grateful for my journey. My mum would always say to me have faith and be positive that it will all turn out for the best, and it has. Thank you to everyone that has passed through my life over the past 2 years.

It has been one hell of a journey, but one that I will cherish forever and hold you all close to my heart. Life is about the people around you. A life without purpose is soul destroying, but a life without having the people you love around you, is heartbreaking.

Thankfully, social media can keep us all entertained and connected!

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