Posted by: Marie | April 9, 2013

(828) My body and me – Part 1 of 2

Post #828
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, April 5, 2012]

Tomorrow is my appointment with Kyle. For the last week, I’ve been thinking constantly about what I want to share with him. I want him to know what I’ve already experienced . . . how I got to this place . . . so he can better help me move forward.

I guess it is kind of like therapy for the body. It’s the same kind of conversation I would have (did have) with my psychotherapist . . . except this is confined to matters of my body. But, it’s not just about my body . . . since my body is so intertwined with all the other parts of me (my soul, my mind, my emotions), I really have to include some information about those parts of me, as well, if I’m going to give Kyle a solid picture of where I am right now with my body. Yet, I don’t want to overload him with stuff he doesn’t need to know . . .

It’s a delicate dance . . . this business of getting ready for a first appointment with my personal trainer . . .

Kyle has told me how important he believes the connection is between the soul, mind and body. So, I don’t think he will think it is too weird that I’m sharing more than just “body” stuff. I think he will actually appreciate at least some, if not all, of the information.

So, in anticipation of our appointment tomorrow, I’ve prepared some papers . . . I know . . . it’s long-winded of me (anyone surprised?) . . . but, if it is too much, he is free to ignore what he doesn’t need to know.

Here is what I’ve put together for him . . .


Marie Smith / Kyle Jones – April 6, 2012

Agenda for today (?)

My story (where I’m coming from)
Information I’ve already collected (test results, books)
What I’ve been doing (current stats, activity/results log)

Create a cardio plan (treadmill chart, alternate machines)
Instruction on use of other cardio machines

Get a baseline for current strength levels??
Create a general plan for weight training (start in May?)


Current stats

Back injury from motorcycle accident in 1996 is almost a non-issue as it has gotten better with time; chiropractor’s instructions are to do everything possible to strengthen my back muscles to better support my spine, no restrictions on movement or lifting (within common sense)

I’m not on any prescription meds, but I do take allergy meds at night (benadryl & zyrtec) and an occasional ibuprofen for minor aches and pains

I strive to follow a daily eating plan that includes: 1200-1400 calories, 60-80g protein, 15-25g fiber, 50-100g carbs, 15-20g sat fat, eating 5-6 smaller meals a day. I had some testing done in 2007 and it was determined my resting metabolic rate was 1358 calories a day.

Current weight is 207 pounds, current body fat level is 47%. I’m thinking that an ideal body fat level is 18%, which would put my ideal weight at around 140 pounds.

My age is 44 years and my resting heart rate is around 74 right now. That means 60% of max is 146 bpm, 70% is 154 bpm, 80% is 161 bpm.


Marie’s Story

1967-1985 (ages 0-18)

Born in Colorado

Grew up mostly in a small town in Nebraska

Did plenty of physically demanding farm and construction work with my dad starting very young (age 5?), had my own yard care business in middle/high school, so got used to hard work

1985-1996 (ages 18-28)

In college, played piano for and sang in groups; after college, I found playing piano and singing on my own to be too emotionally overwhelming (when the music really came from my soul), so I stopped creating music despite my strong desire to do so

Started a career in software development and project management (Washington, DC)

Rode my motorcycle a lot (long distance touring and informal paved track racing)

Was a volunteer EMT and firefighter with certifications in pumper driving/operations, aerial driving/operations, confined space rescue, high angle rescue, haz mat, scene management, etc.

Was in really good physical shape (128-135 lbs, 15-18% BF)

1996-1997 (ages 28-29)

Wrecked my motorcycle and damaged a lumbar disc, resulting in one leg being about ¾” shorter than the other, didn’t really affect me much other than occasional back spasms

Was sexually assaulted (but was most traumatized by my belief he was going to kill me), never sought therapy, started experiencing complex PTSD (undiagnosed at that point), became reclusive, withdrew from fire fighting and from my social networks

Later in the year, moved back to Colorado with my job and got a “fresh start”

1997-1999 (ages 29-31)

In general, my life really took shape with the “fresh start” – excelled in my career, bought a nice house, traveled all over the world, started participating in social networks, discovered hiking, would either hike or ride my motorcycle almost every weekend, etc.

On the outside, seemed to be really “on top of the world”; on the inside, was trying to numb the symptoms of the still-undiagnosed PTSD, self-destructive behaviors escalated (binge eating, getting drunk, compulsive shopping, etc.), quickly gained weight (went from 135 lbs to 170 lbs in three years)

1999-2004 (ages 31-36)

Decided I needed to “get my act together” and lost weight with Jenny Craig (went from 170 lbs to 145 lbs), started taking better care of myself

Had a whirlwind romance, got married but quickly discovered after the wedding that he was critical, controlling and violent, quickly got divorced

Dealt with aftermath of divorce and with symptoms of PTSD by staying busy so I didn’t have to feel emotions (worked a lot of hours, rode my motorcycle, etc.), struggled to be less self-destructive, sometimes I did well, other times it was a real battle to stay functional, gained back the weight plus some (went from 145 lbs to 185 lbs)

2004-2006 (ages 36-38)

Lost my job, my industry (software development) dissolved and I was without employment for 20 months, burned through all my savings, sold my personal belongings to buy food, lost my house to foreclosure and had to beg friends and family for places to live, struggled unsuccessfully to find a new career

Did a lot more binge eating, gained more weight (went from 185 lbs to 195 lbs), became suicidal

2006 (age 38)

Finally found some minimum/low-wage work, much of which was in construction, heavy equipment operation and commercial driving, which were all physically demanding, so I lost some weight and got in fairly good shape (went from 195 lbs to 175 lbs)

Began feeling better physically, but not psychologically (still experiencing complex PTSD), believed I would never feel “good” (psychologically) because I was too messed up in the head, often wished I would die and not have to deal with life

2007 (age 39)

Got an office job, became sedentary again, gained weight again (went from 175 lbs to 200 lbs)

Started rebuilding financially

Realized I was making destructive dating choices in response to everything that has happened to me in the past, and that it would be best to stop dating until I got help for my mental health issues

2008 (age 40)

Started therapy (I knew I wouldn’t be alive much longer without it)

In therapy, realized the horrific “movies” that have been running in my head most of my life were not from having watched something graphic on TV when I was very young; rather they were from my own reality – the “movies” are really snippets of my own memories of being sexually abused by a family friend when I was four years old – this guy used music to connect with and “groom” me (he was the music director at our church)

This epiphany turned my world upside-down because, once I realized the truth about those little bits of memory, I started remembering more and more details; I started having invasive and vivid flashbacks during waking hours and in my dreams which made it difficult to remain functional within the routine parts of my life

While it was difficult to deal with the flood of flashbacks, it was also very helpful to finally understand why I’ve struggled with depression most of my life (even as a child) and why I pulled away from music 20 years earlier despite a deep longing to create and perform music expressive of my deepest emotions and most profound experiences

In therapy, came to understand that my dad’s habit of beating the crap out of me with a belt starting when I was a toddler, and threatening to disown me if I didn’t completely submit to his rigid rules was not normal and was not okay – and that I am not a bad/defective person as I’ve always believed

In the middle of all this heavy-duty processing, my housemates impulsively and serendipitously purchased a piano at a garage sale, which allowed me to start reconnecting with music as part of my healing process

Went into “emotional survival mode” and focused all my energy and time on becoming financially stable and on healing psychological wounds; I withdrew from all other aspects of normal life and became even more socially reclusive

2008-2011 (age 40-43)

Started allowing myself to feel and process emotions for the first time in my life; when the emotions became overwhelming, I managed the overload by sometimes drinking too much and by binge-eating on a daily basis

Gained more weight (went from 200 lbs to 218 lbs) but could feel that I was slowly moving into a much healthier place psychologically so I allowed myself the relief of binge-eating when I “needed” it

Shifted from being suicidal to being ambivalent about living or dying

Started teaching piano lessons and developed a thriving full-time business doing so, despite the fact my molester almost killed the musical part of my soul – teaching brings immeasurable joy and healing to me, it’s what I feel I was “born to do” – has been a major component of my healing journey

2012 (age 44)

Recently (4-6 months ago) had a major shift in my mental health: for the first time in my life, feeling “good” and “healthy” and “stable” is my “normal” baseline, I now know it is possible for me to experience a consistent sense of well-being and to be excited about living

Even when I hit a bump in the road, it is easier to ride out the rough period because I know I will soon return to that “feel good” baseline

I’m doing much better with managing my emotions: my bouts with binge eating are fewer and further between and typically don’t last very long, I haven’t consumed any alcohol in the last couple of years

Starting to build healthy social networks, even have gone on a couple of casual dates

Started hiking again after 2-3 years of no hiking


[Continued in the next post . . . ]

Quotes 738


  1. I’m really interested in your journey with exercise, as I have the same issues and so far they haven’t shifted much at all. I get overwhelmed by exercise and end up dissociated. I wonder if sharing your story about the PTSD will be helpful – it would never in a million years occur to me to do that with a trainer.

    • Hi, Ellen –

      I’ve found that I addressing the somatic memories has been critical in being able to maintain healthier exercise and eating habits . . . without that, it ain’t happening . . .

  2. I hope this turned out well. I have worked with trainers over the years, and wouldn’t share this much. I think if applicable, mentioning PTSD and triggers/connection with physical exertion is necessary, as well what he should *do* in the event you’re triggered, and sharing a medical history that could affect exercise is very important, but a detailed biography (good/bad/indifferent) is not needed, if it’s out of his professional scope. I am curious to see how your trainer reacted, and the outcome!

    • Hi, CW –

      It is my tendency to share more than necessary . . . but, I wanted him to know a bit about where I was coming from . . . that I was coming from a background where I’ve been in good shape before and that my process is more about “remembering” where I was in my 20’s while not being overwhelmed by the negative experiences. And, I wanted to share a bit of who I am athentically, in general . . . it seems I have a desire to do that with people because it is a new experience for me.

      – Marie

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