Small Steps

The one thing that l learned when I was losing weight was the importance of small steps.

Diets fail for lots of reasons. One of them being that the change is just too big.  Swapping to a whole new way of eating in one go.  New rules to learn. We go for the big bang.  Wanting immediate, big, noticeable differences.

Small, incremental change is always better.

Tackling one or two things at a time.  Cognitively more doable.

Old habits die hard. So creep up on them a bit at a time when they are not looking.

Lately, a long commute has meant my breakfast game has slipped. I’ve given in to unhealthy cereal as it is quick and easy. Busy days are leading to grabbing a sandwich on the go.  Not the worst food in the world… but not the best either.  There’s almost certainly far too much coffee too.

This week. Three things.

  • Better breakfasts. A few minutes earlier out of bed means I can make yogurt and fruit and take it to work with me.
  • Better lunch. Dialling down the carbs and upping the fresh stuff.
  • More water. Which also means saying out of Costa.

Just three things.

And next week…. A couple more.

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The wrong (size) trousers

I said I was back on it.

And I am.

Sort of.

Well, I am being better, at least.

This morning however…….

Work trousers.

You know when you do that thing of keep wearing the same thing? And then you find something in the back of the wardrobe you’d kind of forgotten about and decide to wear it.  I did that. With some work trousers.

Only to find that they didn’t fit.

Neither did the next pair.

When I lost all my weight, I felt so amazing. I couldn’t understand why people ever put weight back on again. Why people did the yo-yo thing.

Because when you had worked so hard, why would you undo it all?  Give it up?

Oh, but the bad habits are so easy to slip back in to.

I lost six stone. I celebrated the milestone last summer.  I have recently put 11lb back on.

This is where it stops. Right now. This is my promise to myself. No more.

There are only two options. Lose it again, or buy bigger clothes.

In the past, I did the latter. Only that’s the start of a slippery slope, as I know well. Because a size 16 turns into a size 18 turns into a 20 and so on.

This time, I chose the former. Again.

So a little bit better isn’t good enough.

I know what to do. I have the qualifications and experience after all.

More water. More protein.  More exercise.

Less sugar. Less sitting on the sofa.

Fewer carbs. Fewer calories.

Fewer excuses.

Trousers, I am coming to get you.

Eventing Again.

2017-05-14 06.47.21I haven’t done a fitness event of any kind since last July. Plans for several runs last year went out of the window when I relocated, and other life stuff got in the way.

Part truth… part excuse, if I’m harsh on myself.

Last year, I signed up to the Moonwalk with some good friends. If you haven’t heard of it, the Moonwalk raises money to fight breast cancer.  It’s a walk through the night, either 15 miles or a full marathon.

What I didn’t know when I signed up for it was how much of an issue I would have fitting in any training – and how much my fitness levels would have slipped back.  I also didn’t know my own mother was going to be diagnosed with the disease in a matter of weeks.  The fundraising suddenly got a little more personal.

I moved house a few days before the walk. An old knee injury was giving me some hassle, mainly as a result of carrying too many boxes up and down too many stairs.  On the night I set out to walk a marathon. My knee, coupled with a hip problem I have had since my teens, scuppered my plans.  After four and a half hours of continuous walking through the streets of London, as the sun started to come up, I realised I didn’t have another 13 or so miles in my leg.  So I reluctantly dropped onto the shorter route, completing it in six hours.

It meant that I didn’t get to walk across the finish line with my friends. It did mean a couple of other things though.

It reminded me how much I love a big event. Getting the pack with your number in through the post. Walking to the venue with all of the other competitors. The build-up on the day.  Waiting for your turn to do the thing.  Crossing a finish line.  Competing only with yourself.

It also meant that I was back in the game. Kind of.  I have much fitness to regain.  Once again, I have weight to lose. But it has begun. Again.

It reminded me too, that diet and exercise is, and always will be, a constant challenge to be faced.  And it is very, very easy to slip back into bad habits.

I was disappointed not to have done the full walk. But did not finish is better than did not start, which is better than didn’t even register because I didn’t believe that I could.  When you stand on a  start line at an event, you are doing more than most people ever do.

Onwards and upwards.

 

Back in the game (again)

Towards the end of last year, I blogged about how hard I was finding the fitness stuff.  How life stuff was getting in the way and I couldn’t find my energy.  I wondered if it has left me for good.  The desire, the ability, the need.

I made promises to myself.  I broke them all.

But.

I have been running.

Not far.  Not far at all. I didn’t measure it.  That was just too big and scary.

But.

I have had my running shoes on my feet.

I moved my body.  I felt the familiar rhythm of the run.

It was hard.

I ached, after just a short distance.  A mixture of feelings.  Elation that I did.  Sadness about how far I am from the girl that was, this time last year, training for a half marathon.

I’m not the person that I was.  But it is still there.  Somewhere.  Underneath.  I could feel it.

Ready to be reborn.

No. More. Lists.

At the weekend I clicked onto an article that appeared in my Twitter timeline.  I knew I shouldn’t have.  I knew it was clickbait of the worst kind.

But I was curious.

What were the eight habits very successful woman do on a Sunday?

It was Sunday.  I had’t had a very productive day to be honest.  There had been a lie in, quite a lot of toast, and some horizontal style lying down on the sofa in front of the tv. Perhaps I would be more successful, evening winning at life, if I adopted some of these habits as yet unknown to me.

This was one of them:

blog-one

Another suggested setting some formal goals for the week.

blog-two

All the eight tips were all a bit like this.

My mood after reading it?

FFS.

The same day, there was an article on Twitter about the new trend for smaller nipples, and how there is now cosmetic surgery available to help you attain such a thing, should it be required.

This is what I have learned in the last few years.

There is always a list.

Someone with helpful advice.

Some so-called ideal to live up to.

How thin we have to be.  How fit.  The size of our thigh gap.  How many yoga classes we can fit in every week. Whether we have been mindful or meditated. Have we food prepped for the week?

Not in my house.  Not unless you count the weekly Tesco Big Shop.

My click free advice is this.

Give yourself a break.

There is no list.

There are no eight things to make you successful. Or 5, or 10 or 20.

There are only your things.

Things that make you successful.  Or happy.

If you want to spend Sunday in the gym, then go.  Good on ya. I’d come with you but there are three back to back episodes of Columbo on 5USA.

If you want to food prep, organise your sock draw, have a digital detox or plan your schedule for the week to avoid any nasty suprises, then fill your boots.

Alternatively, if you want to spend your Sunday chilling out and pretending that the ironing pile isn’t like the north face of the Eiger then you do just that.

There is plenty to feel bad about already.  If you read any women’s magazine lately you’d be forgiven for thinking that unless you are thinner / have shinier hair / tiny nipples/ wear expensive designer yoga pants / only eat nutritionally balanced cardboard then you are a failure in life.  Ditto any internet articles that start with a number.

Whether we are talking weight loss, fitness or just how to spend your Sunday, no one can or should tell you how to do it.

Other than yourself.

 

Wot, no mince pies?

Christmas weight.

You got me.

I braved the scales.

It was not pretty.

I blame the mince pies.

And the prosecco.

And the After Eight mints.

There was also what can only be described as a ‘Christmas Cake Incident’.  I made a big one.  We were going to take it with us on a family visit.  But it wouldn’t fit in the car / might have got left there by accident / we forgot all about taking it / no one probably would have wanted to eat it anyway*.

There’s this thing about Christmas.  About the buying of food that you don’t even want, don’t even need, and to be frank, makes no sense.

Take chocolate biscuits.  I like them.  Rather a lot TBH.  When I am in Tesco doing the Weekly Big Shop I tend to purchase a packet or four.  Chocolate digestives mostly.  Or, if I am feeling flash or flush a dark chocolate HobNob.  A packet.  Not a tin.  Especially not a tin with some in that you don’t even like and will still be at the back of the cupboard come Easter.  And a tin where you  have to dive in straight away to get the one you really like before someone else eats it when you not looking.

And don’t even get me started on Cheese Footballs.

But lets face it.  I can blame Christmas.  I can blame the supermarkets and their seductive advertising. I can even blame all of the Prosecco.  But the only reason I’m in a ‘comfortable’ (e.g. elasticated waist) trouser today, is me.  I ate too much of it.

Time to sort it.  Get it back off.  Before the trousers become a permanent fixture.

Mind you…. there are some of those biscuits left in the back of the cupboard.

 

*Ok.  We decided to keep it and eat it all ourselves.  It isn’t my fault.  Tim Scott made me do it.

Don’t be a (gym) dick

Today, my good friend Amanda posted a tweet that I loved.  She is working hard right now on her own fitness.  And she had this to say:

Hey, when you get to the gym and see new people getting started, don’t be a dick.  Be kind, helpful and welcoming.  We all started once.

Hell yes.

A few years ago it was me, with the bright white trainers and the new (double XL) gym gear.  Feeling out of place.  Wondering how to work all of the scary machines. Wondering if everyone could tell that I didn’t know what I was doing.  Wondering if I could do this thing.  Wondering if it was a place I should even be at all.

Having recently relocated to a new city, these feelings came flooding back when I joined a local gym.  Figuring out your place again.  Trying a class that sounded like one at your old place but finding it totally different.  Feeling out of step.  Like the new kid.  A little bit of a klutz.

When you turn up at a gym and you are on the big side it is even harder in my experience.  Standing next to the fit people and the thin people.  The gap between you and them so wide you wonder if it can ever be bridged.

I’ve been guilty of getting frustrated in January when I can’t get into a class or on the machines I want to use.

But I know this.  By walking into a gym and getting started, by taking some steps to make a change for the better, by overcoming the nerves and the doubts, these folks are doing more than most people ever will.  Many more people talk about it but say right there on the sofa.

So props to the people that do, and keep on going.  And just like Amanda says, if you are already established, know what you are doing, have already walked your path to fitness, help along someone just getting started if you can.

PS. Check out Amanda’s blog on her own journey here. She rocks.

Resolution Free Zone

I used to make New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly, they didn’t work.  I’d set myself something vague or ambitious.  Get better.  Do more.  Weigh less.  Be fitter.

Not specific.  Hard to measure.  Impossible to know when you had been successful.

But one year, at midnight (as 2012 became 2013 to be precise)  I made a promise to myself.  That this time it would be different.

And it was.  Today I am six stone lighter than I was on that particular 31st December.  I have not found it easy. I have managed to get to some degree of fitness but it remains a struggle and I guess it always will.

For anyone thinking tonight, that tomorrow they will start something new, I offer my thoughts on what worked for me, with hope that they might be helpful to someone else.

The first thing that I know is this: it wasn’t the 1st of January that made the difference.  It wasn’t a diet or a programme.  It was no big bang quick fix.

Instead, it was simply lots of very small changes, one by one.

Many diets fail.  They do so because they are just too big.  If I’d started my journey with a plan to lose six stone and run a half marathon, I doubt I’d have got there.  Too much to tackle.  Too much change all at once. Too much to get my head around.

Instead, one habit, one change at a time.

Strange as it may sound, I started with orange juice.  The sugar monster that I pretended to myself was a healthy option. But not at a litre a day.  So, I cut it down by half.  Then I stopped buying it all together.  It only took a few weeks before I stopped missing it. Now it is something that I drink very rarely.

And then I tackled another one on the bad eating habits list.

One leads to another. Easier every time.

It is a slow but surely approach.  It won’t give you the fast results that a 500 calorie a day plan will.  But cognitively, it is doable.  And from a lifestyle perspective, sustainable.

So, if you sitting there tonight having eaten all of the cheese and all of the chocolate and all of the mince pies this festive season, and are thinking about making a change tomorrow, then ditch the diet.  Don’t fall for the false promises or the celebrity endorsements.  You don’t need no resolutions.

Ask yourself this instead.

What is the one thing that you can do differently, today?  What will make the biggest difference?

And then do it.

Erm, also, you could buy my book.  #sorrynotsorry #shamelessplug

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A year of two halves

The first half of 2016 went something like this:

Training

Triathlon

Training

Half marathon

Publishing a book on weight loss

Training

Total Warrior mud run.

Training

Qualifying as a personal trainer.

Training.

 

The second half of 2016 went something like this:

Biscuits

Prosecco

Cake

Prosecco

Sofa

Biscuits

Prosecco

More sofa.

The first half of the year represented my greatest personal achievements.  I was the fittest and healthiest that I had ever been.  Frankly, I looked the best as well.  I had actual muscles.  That you could see.

Then some complex life stuff happened.  And it all slipped away from me.  One morning I looked in the mirror and realised it had all gone.  That person I was for a little while.  The physical shape too.

I am back in the gym.  Kind of.  Not working as hard as I did before if truth be told.

I always said I’d be honest on this blog.  If I am honest with myself and with anyone who reads this, I am not entirely sure I want to go back to living as I was during the first half of the year.  It was all protein and 5.30am starts and food prep and two gym visits a day and writing down every single calorie consumed and frankly, a lot of washing of gym gear.  I just don’t have the time or inclination for that anymore, even though I liked the results.  Even more truthfully, the things that drove me to that lifestyle, no longer apply.

I have learned much though through this process.  I have learned that good habits can be undone quickly,  no matter how much you think you have something sorted.  How one ‘I won’t go today’ can turn into many.  How hard it is to begin all over again. But that it is possible, no matter how far you have fallen.

I am hoping that in 2017 I can find balance.  Between the person that I was in the first half of the year, and the person that I am today.  More gym, fewer biscuits.  The benefits without the gruelling regime.  The ability to run, once again.

2016 was about extremes.  Next year, it is time for something else.

Rage against the diet machine

Its nearly that time of year again.

No, not Christmas.

After that.

After all of the adverts have encouraged you to eat mince pies like they are about to be made illegal.  Buy Quality Street by the tub full.  Drink all of the Prosecco.

It’s nearly the time of the detox.  The celebrity exercise DVD.  The new year’s weight loss resolution.

The diet machine.

Consider the messaging.  Eat, drink and be merry.

Then find a quick fix for those extra pounds because of all the food you scoffed.

The stampede to the gym will commence, brand new shiny white trainers in hand.

I’m not knocking that by the way.  A few years ago, I was one of those new year new you sign ups.

But the messaging gets me.

The disconnect. The way that people are encouraged to think about food and their bodies.

Here’s the thing.  When someone loses weight, it isn’t thanks to Weight Watchers. Or Slimming World.  Or Lean in 15 (as good as I think this plan is).  It isn’t down to some celebrity who has been paid money and had plenty of help to get down to a certain size, in order to shift some diet merch.

It is because someone makes the decision to make a change in their life.

And here’s the thing. Anyone can do it.

Don’t believe me?

I was one of those people who believed that she couldn’t lose weight.  That they would always be fat.  That they would always shop in the plus size store. That they had ‘tried everything’. I was a big, big girl and I had tried most of the so-called solutions from weekly classes to juice diets to the 5:2.  Fads.  But I had never changed my mindset.

One day, on New Year’s Eve 2012 to be precise, I made the decision to make a change.  And I did.

It is still hard.  It is still a daily challenge and I know it always will be.  I don’t pretend to have this all figured out.

What I do know from my own experience is that the first step to changing your life is changing the stories that you tell yourself.

You don’t need to sign up to an expensive plan.  You don’t need to follow a guru.  Let them inspire you, yes.  But weight loss starts with you.  With a decision.  With making real change. Believing that you can and you will.

If you want to make that change don’t wait for the 1st January.  Just do it.  And I wish you all the luck in the world.