Monday, October 11, 2010

{pushing up against my edges - blogtoberfest day XI}

An Act of Love - Detail

Losing weight and getting fit has been on my list of things to do for a long time now.  Last year when I did the Mondo Beyondo course I challenged myself to take action towards this long held dream.  So I joined the gym, and I went along, and at times I tried really hard, and then I'd fall off the wagon, and then I'd get back on, and off, and on, and so it goes.

Amazingly though, I've never thrown in the towel.  It's been almost a year now.  I'm still trying to find exactly what works for me, and thanks to my dedicated and passionate trainer Michelle, I'm completely determined to stick with it and achieve my goals.

I started a new gym program last week that's really different to anything I've done before.  Instead of doing a set number of a particular exercise, I have to do as many of each exercise as I can and only stop when I can't possibly do more.

As well as finding it extremely physically demanding, I've found it a huge emotional stretch. When I considered what it was that was challenging me so I realised that it was about failure.  Because that's essentially the way this new program works.  It's all about failure.  Doing something until you actually can't do it anymore and stopping when the failure occurs (or the limit is reached).

I had a major a-ha moment yesterday when I was thinking about all this.  I realised how much I prefer to take the comfortable path and achieve less than I'm capable of than risk failure.  I like to know my limits, and stick safely within them, and tell myself I'm doing a great job.

Then I had an even more amazing insight.  Recently I've been having a hard time with painting.  While I've been feeling like my paintings are taking such great direction and that my work is getting better and better, it's felt so much more difficult. I often say to Ms L that painting used to feel so much easier and lighter, and that it rarely feels that way now. 

I realised that my new exercise program is the perfect analogy for where I'm at with my painting.  With painting I don't have any sense of where my limits lie.  I just have to keep pushing up against the edges of what I think I'm capable of to see what's truly possible.

An Act of Love
An Act of Love*
Acrylics on canvas
10 x 10 inch

*The title of this painting reflects my relationship with painting and also, the work involved in creating this piece.  I estimate there are roughly 5000 individual dots on this small work.

PS.  Don't forget my giveaway.  There's still plenty of time.


  1. What a great post!

    There has been so much written about the emotional connection between eating, exercising and the imbalances that can occur with both.
    I think you've 'hit the nail on the head' today!

    Your painting is gorgeous and shows that you not only have oodles of creativity, but persistence galore!

    Thank you for sharing your insights and both of the images above which I truly love.

    x Felicity

  2. Hello! I am new to working out too and I often fall off the wagon. All the time. But I am determined to have a good mindset of it and not get too serious with myself. :D Best wishes to you.

  3. Very insightful! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think they are very helpful and encouraging. I hope you will always feel inspired, whatever you are doing!

  4. I tend to watch the wagon passing me by, driving uncontrollably into the distance ... good on you for trying something new at the gym. Earlier this year it dawned on me that if I have an exercise deadline, I work better. So the Mothers Day classic was one deadline that I worked towards. I look forward to doing it again next year, maybe not running this time but certainly walking if I can (have you seen my growing tummy lately?). BTW, I would love to see some of your art work as fabric I could work with, it is really lovely.

  5. I'm with you on this one. TOTALLY! :-)

  6. such an inspiring post Cathy, on so many levels

  7. I am pretty new to the whole fitness caper as well, in fact I got myself out there only 3 weeks ago and thought I'd check out what the Zumba craze was all about and now I feel addicted, I am going twice today and 3 more times this week! I think the trick for me is not focussing oso much on the actual exercise but more the great feeling I have when I finish each class. Your paintings are just lovely.

  8. Oh wow what a post. I can so see where you are coming from. And your paintings just get more involved and intriguing with every one, so you must be pushing those edges outwards

  9. Wow Cathy, you nail it every time with your posts!

    I think we can all identify with that mental discomfort that comes from contemplating pushing up against the edges ... but ironically it feels good eh? Whodathunkit?

    Inspiration for a Monday morning - thank you !

  10. Your post reminded me of when I was in the dance company. We'd set various challenges for ourselves as individuals and as a group. One such challenge was to do the exact same company class for a year. At first, the challenge was just to learn the material - the sequences were long and technical. Then once we felt comfortable with the sequences and memory wasn't the issue, the challenge became purely physical. Then once we had conquered the physical side, it was about perfecting the movement.

    Somewhere around this stage came our biggest and most difficult challenge. The movement had lost it's freshness. The difficult now was not in the execution of the movement. If we felt bored, how did we conquer this? If we felt too comfortable to take a risk, what challenge did we set ourselves? What often happens when boredom or comfortableness becomes an issue is people will do nothing or move on. We dug in deeper. As a result, the movement changed from an external experience to an internal one which then changed how it looked. It went from arbitrary movement to movement with depth and authenticity. This was important to us because as performers, how does one keep the same material fresh each night without really knowing it at it's deepest core, from within?

    I guess all this is to say that I think this is what you are doing. You are digging deeper. The more you dig the more you will find. :-)

  11. Is it about failing? I would interpret your exercise you know I am in the business of reframing thoughts so here is my take:
    I don't think it is about stopping when you fail rather pushing yourself to the finish, to challenge only yourself. I don't think when you stop you fail, rather when you stop you finsih successfully because you have got to the end and tried as hard as you can. Finsihed = Success. x

  12. What a wonderfully honest post. Thanks for sharing, makes me feel I'm not alone - fear of failure is a major obstacle for so many of us. Thank you again!

  13. Congrats on sticking with the exercise and now upping the ante. The more you do the more you will become addicted, says she still buzzing from an evening swim :-)

  14. Happy Blogtoberfest! I am on a mission to comment and follow all the blogs in Blogtoberfest! Maybe you could comment and follow me as well! Cheers!

  15. There's some edge-pushing happening around here too. All very uncomfortable but absolutely necessary, methinks. And ofr what it's worth, I've been enjoying watching what all the arty edge pushing.