Accepting ourselves whilst ageing

I was under certain medications for three months – nothing serious, it looks like I’m fit as a fiddle.

Anyway, now that I’m gradually recovering from the mess this treatment made to my body and mind, I want to share with you what happened meanwhile! I think this is my personal message to try accepting ourselves just the way we are, and to accept the changes by rationalising them.

So here I am in late October and November, all bloated and with a massive water retention going on. (And yes, these are my first bathroom selfies ever, and yes, I’m sporting a Jetpack t-shirt). I’m not flexing or posing or holding the breath. This is just me in my worst shape ever.

accepting ourselves - stef bloated water retention

I gained 5kg in a month or so, about 15 days after I started taking those pills. Before these three months, I thought that the wrinkles I could see on my legs was cellulite. Then I found out what cellulite looks like for real because it popped out overnight whilst under this treatment. I also experienced tiredness, massive and terrible mood swings, headaches, legs soreness, and bloating. For a comparison, these are some pics of myself before starting the medication # – ##, and one week after I started with the pills (their effect kicked out 8 days after this photo).

I felt terrible. I couldn’t control all those changes in my body, not to mention the mood swings! Reducing the calories intake to minimise the weight gain wouldn’t make any difference, as it was clear that I didn’t gain fat, but just water. I excluded food with yeast and dairy from my diet as much as I could, and that helped a little bit to avoid extra bloating.

The psychological side effects were worse than the body ones, to tell the truth. I felt down and happy, I cried and then laughed, I was nervous pretty much all the time because I was feeling uncomfortable all the time.

I then tried to rationalise what was happening to me. It would last just for three months, and those were short-term side effects. Many people told me they couldn’t even notice the difference, a part from my tummy definition that was obviously gone. Someone noticed that I was moody and my waist got wider, though.

I also took these three months as a moment to realise that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I hate that. Despite I look much younger than I am, I won’t be (and look) young forever, and my fast metabolism will abandon me at some point. The greedy-eating-all Stef will have to start eating responsibly, doing more cardio (which I hate too) and, like all of us, start accepting ourselves the way we are – evolving, ageing creatures.

This is also why I’m sharing these pictures. I’m currently transitioning out of the medications timeframe and I have already lost 3kg. I don’t know if I’m going to be 48.2 kg again, but looking back at those past months I hope to have learnt the lesson to take it easy and be less tough with myself.

I will never stop fighting the ageing, though. I refuse to surrender. I see many people ageing and being in a great shape nevertheless. I’m thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the lady at my local gym who I think is 80 or something and she’s still such a badass with kettlebells and dumbbells. Ageing will be never an excuse for me to get lazy and unfit.

22/12 Edit and pic update

Pic update, tranformation, get fit, water retention
Pic on the left is dated between October and November when I was under medications. Picture on the right is me 3 weeks off the medications. Note that the day before on the right picture I had a whole pizza and a £4 Italian gelato!

I lost 3,5kg of water retention; my tummy is more flat and I feel better now.

Still 1.5kg to lose but I’ll think about it after Christmas! 😇🍽

Taken at London, United Kingdom. Find more on my Instagram Stories too!

You can be a mother and win an Olympic gold medal

Kerri Walsh Jennings taught me that you can be a mother and win an Olympic gold medal. The two things can live together.

Kerri Walsh Jennings, be a mother, olympic gold medal, beach volley

Kerri Walsh Jennings is a 38 years old american beach volley player who has a wonderful story to share with all the women around. She is the living proof that you can be a mother and win an Olympic gold medal. Actually three of them, one for each kid she has.

Rio 2016 will be the fourth time at the Olympics for Kerri. Her three kids are going to watch her mother competing for their nation, the USA. What Kerri’s kids maybe don’t know is that not only is Kerri her lovely mommy, but she also managed to win the latest three Olympic gold medal in the beach volley discipline – 2004-2008-2012. An impressive record.

And yes – she can be a mother and being a record-scorer Olympic legend at the same time.

The Olympics and motherhood are not so different

In this interview Kerri explains that there are not many differences between being a mother and winning an Olympic gold medal.

“It’s the same thing with having a baby. It’s all just a miracle, and it’s really fun, and it’s such a journey to get to this point . . . In childbirth you forget how hard it is. In the Olympics, you kind of forget the emotion and excitement.”

Kerri has indeed a winning mentality, the one that only the top-player endorses. In fact, she doesn’t want to “attend” the Olympics, she’s actually at Rio 2016, like the other times, to win a medal.

“Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.

This is a Doug Williams’quote that Kerri Walsh Jennings keeps repeating to herself like a mantra during London 2012 Olympic Games. This is something that helped her overcome the pressure and the trouble that an Olympic tournament can put you through, as well as childbirth and motherhood.
Her status as a mother, though, helped her as well.

Kerry’s extraordinary story as an athlete and a mother reminds us that you don’t need to give up a part of yourself to make amazing results. You can be a mother, win an Olympic gold medal, and be whatever you want to be. If you really want it, you can achieve them all.

Photo credit: cdn.skim.gs 

10 simple points that rule my life

People always ask me how I cope with all the things I do (marketing role, mystery fiction author, gym rat, wife etc). The answer lies within these 10 points that rule my life. Would you be willing to follow them?

10 simple points that rule my life, landscape, motivation, positivity

1. Surround yourself with brilliant people

Jim Roth says: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Stay with people you reckon are much better than you – you will always have something to learn and great benchmarks to follow.

2. Do not be afraid of people proving you wrong

Mistakes are part of our journey. The more you make mistakes, the better you’ll be as a person. Don’t be scared of facing those moments and thank the people who help you acknowledge that when you’re wrong. (see also point No6)

3. Be ready to take risks

If you never try, you’ll never know what’s outside your comfort zone. I did it more than once in my life, sometimes it didn’t work out as expected, but there’s always something to learn out of failures.

4. Constantly improve your skills

This is possibly one of the most important thing that has driven my life. There is always room for improvement – always. I reckon that sometimes this can turn into a weakness of myself, as I’m never satisfied or pleased with what I do, and that sometimes prevents me from appreciating my efforts. Nevertheless, I honestly prefer being hungry than full. 

5. Do not procrastinate

via GIPHY

There’s no such thing as procrastination. I hate procrastination, it’s totally useless. If there’s something to do, I do it now. I can schedule that, but I never push anything back. It’s just not in my nature and avoiding procrastination has never let me down.

6. Learn from your own mistakes

Be ready to take the good out of the bad. Making things right is definitely a positive thing, but there’s also a bright side in failures. It may sound banal, but I learnt more from my defeats than from my victories.

7. Do not be afraid of failure

If you fail, it means you tried. If you never try, you have no chance of succeeding. Failures mean you’re playing the game and you’re not sitting on the bench waiting for something that will never come to you. YOU have to chase success.

8. Be brave

The real world is not for people who fear.

9. Be strong

via GIPHY

The more you will fall, the stronger you will become. There’s nothing you can’t do if you are brave and strong.

10. Always have confidence

There are times I thought I couldn’t do it. But because of all those points that rule my life, I have the mindset to believe in myself and my skill set. I have people who support me and a range of experiences that have helped to forge me as a person Believing in ourselves can possibly be the toughest thing, but it’s the most important. The rest will flow, and will come.

7 life changing goals I achieved in 2014

2014 has been a golden year for me as I’ve managed to achieve a number of life changing goals in the past 12 months.

life changing goals, goals achieved, achievements, hero, good intentions

I skipped writing down my annual good intentions in early January 2014, but maybe that’s what made it such a lucky and memorable year for me.

The life changing goals that I managed to achieve affected both my personal and professional life in fantastic ways.

Here are 7 of my most memorable achievements from 2014.

1. Back to workout

I’m finally back to doing my workouts again. The doctors have allowed me to lift weights and take regular trips to the gym, but I still have to avoid impact exercises like running. If you can recall my endless injury, you’ll know that it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t matter if I still can’t run, the main achievement is that I’m moving my body again.

I joined the gym at the end of August when my body weight was 43 kg (94 pounds) and I felt pretty powerless. My muscles were “asleep”. Over the next 6 weeks I managed to gain 2.5 cm (almost one inch) in my arms, 1 cm (0.3 inches) on my legs and hips, and I lost 1 cm (0.3 inches) on my waist. After 4 months I had gained a whole 5 kg (105 pounds) of muscle and I now have enough strength to lift a handbag and place it into an aircraft luggage compartment. I feel better, I’m happier, and most of all I haven’t lost the hope that I can eventually return to running again.

2. I switched jobs

left my Running Jedi role at Decathlon to become the SEO Lead for Wauwaa, an online destination for new parents and growing families. I got the job thanks to a collaboration of my personal achievements as a mystery fiction author and self-publisher (see below), and the fact that I acted so natural because I had no idea that one of my interviewers was the CEO himself.

3. Books, books, books (and ebooks)

Not only have I managed to read almost one book a week, but I’ve also achieved great goals as a mystery fiction author too. Only a year after my first flash fiction experiment with my detective (super) short stories collection, I’ve written and published many more books. After Cutting Right to the Chase and Into the Killer Sphere were published,  2014 saw Cutting Right to the Chase Vol.2 and Pull the Trigger on the Amazon Kindle Store.

And I’m proud to say that my audience received my titles very well. I’m particularly impressed by the reviews that Pull the Trigger received after less than one month of publication. 50 reviews (and counting!), all with 4 – 5 stars ratings. What a great success. And what does an author want more other than to get back to the writing desk to craft another success? Cutting Right to the Chase Vol.3 is in progress already.

4. Leading a team

At Wauwaa my role not only revolves around SEO. I also manage the copywriting team and I’m heavily involved in the product creation process in the ecommerce area. It’s more of a covering role, but it’s a responsibility that I’m more than happy to have taken on. The copywriting team is made up of a small group of extremely talented and young individuals.

My role not only requires me to manage and coordinate other employees and resources, but also puts me in the spotlight as a role model for these awesome youngsters. I must admit that it’s not a walk in the park, but that’s what pushes me to be balanced in my decisions and choices. They watch and learn from me every day. 

5. (re)discovering Yoga

Yoga plays a crucial part in my long recovery from my injury as the weights workout at the gym make my muscle fibres stronger, but shorter and less flexible. Every time I end a yoga session I feel emotionally drained but Yoga is a discipline that “opens” the body and the mind, bringing myself to a deeper level of consciousness. Sometimes though I hate yoga for that very reason: what you see and feel when you practice yoga is – more than often – what you have been running away from during the whole week prior.

6. Embracing positivity

I’m sorry to say that I’ve recently been hanging around some pretty negative people, which have influenced my point of view. My focus of 2014 has been to “clean up” and review my perspectives, embracing positivity. I must say that seeing the glass half full is quite a tough exercise, although very useful in many aspects of my life, especially work.

7. Planning a new future

The above achievements, and many others not mentioned, have determined that my London settling-in phase is now officially closed. Franz and I came here in the UK determined but unsure of what we would eventually find. Now that I have found what I have been looking for, and I’ve nailed my goals, it’s time to unlock some more achievements, plan more, and go ever further. Look out 2015, here I come!

What about your 2014? Have you managed to achieve some life changing goals throughout the year?