At some point in your life, you’ll have to trust yourself.

I suggest you start today.

I’ve said before I can be a bit black and white in my thinking. In my natural state, I’m in or I’m out, I’m on or I’m off. I’m going hard, or I’m going home. I’m eating well, or I’m bingeing on junk. I’m running a marathon or I’m sitting on the couch.

So this week was always going to be tough for me. I have been waiting for months to have a little medical procedure done – nothing major, but it involved cutting and stitching. And I knew they would tell me I couldn’t exercise while it healed. And I have been trying to prepare for that.

Well, when I say trying to prepare for that, I was looking for the caveats. I was hoping they might forget to tell me I needed to rest. Or that I might feel so great post-procedure, I’d be able to run straight back to the gym for a quick afternoon session.

Because I don’t trust myself to take a week or two off, and be able to get back into it. I don’t trust myself not to plonk myself on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of chips, a pizza and a tub of icecream and return to normal. Not the new normal… the old normal, the one I’ve just spent fourteen months working off.

I am trying to learn to trust myself more. To understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. That a week or two off doesn’t mean it’s all over, and it’s a bust. But I have to admit that I am struggling.

I have hated my body for a lot of years. I hated the way it looked. I hated that it let me down. I hated that I couldn’t control it. In the last fourteen months, I have learnt to control it. Mostly. I have learnt about calories in, calories out. I have learnt that I control what I eat, and I control what I burn.

But I am feeling very out of control today. In an effort to maintain control I walked for a couple of hours (walking is the caveat, by the way – I can walk because I can walk without sweating). I have been extremely careful of what I have put in my mouth. I know I am winning the calories in, calories out battle today. But I am feeling really anxious, and really out of control. Really uncomfortable. And I don’t like it.

On Monday I was congratulating myself for being able to have a night off over the weekend, and get back into routine, and understand that having a night off was OK. Today I am terrified that a week or two might be too big a test for the new normal, and that I’m not ready. That I might fail. And go back to the old me. The one I wasn’t proud of, and that I didn’t like.

I guess for now all I can do is what I have taught myself all along… to keep taking it one day at a time – one meal, one decision at a time. To trust myself, until it starts to feel better.

But if anyone has some handy tips or caveats… please, feel free to share. I’d be glad to hear them!

I’m also on twitter.

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Don’t let the weekends ruin your progress…

… fight hard towards self control.

It can’t just be me. Weekends make it harder to stay on track. Something about the lack of routine… and so many opportunities for brunches, lunches, dinners, parties, each with their own traps and pitfalls.

I try and keep some routine in my weekends, because I know I do better that way. Saturday I head out to an 8am Pilates class, I stay on for the TRX class – so by 10am, I’ve burnt a few calories. Then brunch, catch up with friends… sometimes a massage or a trip to the hairdresser. The rest of Saturday is usually taken up with weekend chores – shopping, cleaning, washing – all the regular stuff.

Sunday is harder – I try and get in an early run, but I’m more likely to stick to it if I’ve organised someone else to go with.  Catch up with some friends, recreational shopping. Sunday afternoon I try to reserve for food prep and planning for the week ahead. Sunday night I sometimes have friends over for an early dinner before we plunge back into another week.

But even with a bit of a routine, there are little traps. Like brunch. I love coffee. Really, really love it. One brunch date with good conversation could easily cost me 500 calories in coffee if I’m not careful. I have to be constantly vigilant. Moderation in all things. Including milky lattes. Even when it’s skim!

But then there are nights like Saturday. A friend’s birthday drinks. I don’t drink alcohol all that much any more, so I volunteered to be the driver. The fact we had to get a cab home probably tells you some of what you need to know here.

We walk in. “Would you like a lemon martini?” Martinis are a particular weakness of mine. Start the night off with a kick, I think, why not? Then there was the first top up. Still time to stop, I think, we’re using small glasses. You can finish up here and still drive home, I think. At the second top up logic and experience told me I was in trouble. Then we shifted to the French champagne, and I knew I’d lost the battle for the evening. Enjoy yourself and grab a cab, I think. Shortly after, I pretty much just stopped thinking for the rest of the night…

And that’s ok – it doesn’t happen often, and it was a great party.

Not so long ago, a night like that would have thrown me right off track. I tend towards “all or nothing” in my thinking, so a big night would have meant I’d fallen off the wagon, and I would definitely have written Sunday off too, maybe longer. But Sunday I got up (late and seedy, I admit), and gave myself permission to skip the run. But I had an egg white omlette with micro greens salad (and a couple of small skim lattes) for brunch, went for a walk into the city with a friend, and spent the early afternoon trying on a few frocks (and buying a couple), then I cooked a healthy dinner and had an early night. And this morning, I got up in the dark and went and trained.  Right back into it. The new normal.

I guess what I’ve learned over time is it’s OK to have a night off, it’s OK to have a few drinks every now and then, it’s even OK to skip the Sunday run occasionally. This is about the long game. It’s about getting most of the meals right, and getting most of the workouts done. It’s about having enough of a routine to cover me most weekends, so they don’t ruin my progress. And even though it still makes me nervous, and more than a little anxious, I can breathe deep and know that the work I’ve put in last week before the party, and the work I will put in this week after it, covers me.

And the biggest thing to remember is it’s not how I do every weekend anymore. Because doing it that way all the time can stall my progress – and I work too hard the rest of the week to do that.

I’m also on twitter.

Losing weight over the phone

We hear it in the news all the time.  In western countries, obesity rates are rising. Dramatically.

In my own country – Australia – over 14 million people are overweight or obese (Monash University Figures). That’s from a population of 23 million.  And there’s lots of reasons for it – cheap, fast and plentiful energy-dense food. More screen time. Busy lifestyles. Less need to move.

Those Monash figures go on to say that if weight gains continue at the current rate, by 2025 close to 80% of Australian adults will be overweight or obese, and that it has become the single biggest threat to public health in Australia.

I’m a pretty lucky person. When I finally decided to get serious about losing weight and getting fit and healthy, I had the resources available to get the help I needed. I joined a good gym, I got a good trainer, I had a group of supportive friends around me. I also knew how to cook, and I’m educated enough to at least know the basics of good nutrition.

But not everyone is so lucky. Like most health indicators, obesity is linked to disadvantage. That means there are a lot of overweight people out there who can’t afford the kind of interventions that I paid for.

Now – I know I had the knowledge to do it on my own. But it was a long haul. I’m a pretty determined person, but I know that at some point on a bad week I would have gotten a bit disillusioned, decided it was all to hard, and consoled myself with a bag of chips, a pizza and a tub of icecream. So would have ended another diet and fitness regime. It had happened before.

Knowledge by itself just isn’t enough. There needs to be a supportive element. But how do you produce that in a way that is accessible to the numbers of people we’re talking about?  How does a health system – which even after massive injections into preventive health over the last five years, still only spends around three percent of the budget on prevention – afford interventions that support so many people to lose weight? Especially when the external environment is working so hard against it.

I read an article this week that gives me some hope. This group telephone intervention would be relatively inexpensive to run, and the results show it was even more effective than individual telephone support, because of the encouraging environment created amongst participants over time.

Now that’s not the whole answer by a long shot, but it is encouraging to see some work being done on interventions that are cost-effective and easily replicable.  Because if we don’t start doing something, as a community we are not going to be able to afford the health bill.

I’m also on twitter.

(I would also like to acknowledge Heather Frey and Lori Shemek for their twitter support, freely given. A couple of timely messages of encouragement, which may not have seemed like much, but were truly appreciated.)

Do it today…

… and be proud tomorrow.

The longer I go to the gym, the more reasons I have to be proud of myself. Scattered along this journey there have been lots of proud moments – the first week I didn’t hate it, the first time I could do half an hour on the elliptical without thinking I was dying, the first sit-up, the first push-up, the first time I realised I could run, the first time I realised I was enjoying a workout! But today was a big one. In fact, today was huge.

Today I weighed in at 50% of my starting body weight.

My first day in the gym – the 9th of May, 2012 – I weighed in at 136kg. It was the biggest I had ever been. I was ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated. I didn’t just think I was the fattest girl in the gym, I was the fattest girl in the gym. By a long shot.

Today – 14 months later – I weigh 68 kilos.  I am literally half the woman I was.  I have lost 68 kilos.Well – when I say lost, it’s not lost. Not really. I know where it’s gone. It left step by step, squat by squat. It was in every cupcake I didn’t eat, and every apple I did.

I’m not finished yet… there are three kilos left til I hit my goal – and I know now that this is my life. But for right now, for today, I am proud.

(I am also thankful – particularly to my trainers Mark and Jace at the Workout Club in Darlinghurst, who stood by me every single step of the way. There are not enough words.)

I’m also on twitter.

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… you’d be done by now.

I decided last night that even though the Ladies Running Club (more about them later) had cancelled on me, I was still going to get my Tuesday morning run in. I had a busy day ahead, so I wanted to be out the door by 5.50am, on the treadmill by 6.00am and off the treadmill by 6.45am.  That was the plan.

You don’t know me well, so I’ll just put this out there. I am not a morning person. Never have been. I find mornings hard. I find cold, dark mornings really hard. So this morning when the (first) alarm went off at 5.24am, I hit snooze and did just that. The second alarm went off at 5.28am. The third at 5.33am. You get the picture.

I finally dragged myself out of my warm, cozy bed at about 5.37am. My feet hit the floor and I shuffled off to the bathroom, thinking dark thoughts.

And then I heard the rain.

It almost enough to send me back to bed. I really considered climbing back under the doona. I bullied myself into getting dressed, and heading out into the cold, dark, rainy morning. I made it to the gym. Of course I was late. Of course all the treadmills were busy. Of course I was now grumpier than ever, and of course I was cursing the snooze button and my lack of resolve.

My tale of woe ends there though. I mean, like they say, the only workout you regret is the one you didn’t do. I got a treadmill in the end. I did my run. I got the smug feeling I get when I’ve done it. My day went on, and was better for the run.

But why do I do this to myself?!?

I have learnt many things since I started this fitness thing. One is that my day is better when I work out in the morning. I get the smug feeling. I eat better. I feel better. I’m happier.  So why do I fight myself ? If I didn’t insist on “snoozing”, I could have had an extra 13 minutes sleep this morning! Quality sleep. Not “snoozes” with regular interruption!

I don’t think I will ever become a morning person. But in the “new normal”, I think I’d like to stop being the person who makes the morning harder by being grumpy, mostly out of habit.

So I resolve to try getting up on the first alarm tomorrow morning. That resolve is likely to be tested, because I can still hear the rain outside. And it is cold. But I’ll give it a go.

Let me know if you’ve got any tips!

I’m also on twitter – @SportyMaenad01

 

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… just take the first step.

So, here I am. The first step on this new journey. My first blog post.

I’m on a quest for my “new normal”.  Just over a year ago I moved back to Sydney, bought a new flat, started a new job and decided I was going to try one last time to “lose weight and get healthy”.

For some background – I’ve been the fat girl for all my adult life – increasingly so as I got older and less active, and life got more complex and busy. And I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like myself, I hated the way I looked, and I was pretty sure I was eating my way to an early grave.  I had tried all the diets, paid out a lot of cash to different weight loss companies and gyms. None of it had worked, and I honestly didn’t have much faith that anything ever would.

But I decided to give it one more go. I decided to be honest, and ask for help when I needed it.  I joined a new gym , I got a new trainer, I got a food diary and I got started.

My first day in the gym was Wednesday the 9th May 2012.  Today I am more than 65kg lighter, and the fittest and healthiest I have ever been.  I run, I play tennis, I ride my bike, do CrossFit, TRX, Pilates and yoga, and I lift heavy things. A lot.

Like all the best things in life, it hasn’t been easy.  There have been tears and tantrums, good and bad weeks, great triumphs and disappointments. I have learnt an enormous amount – about food and exercise, but most importantly about myself – and I have truly changed my life. I have done things, and continue to do things, that amaze me and which I never thought possible.

So now I’m just under 5kg from the goal (turns out everything they say about the last five kilos is true – but more on that later!), and I’m trying to figure out what happens from here. What is the “new normal”? How does this all fit into my life from now on? How do I transition into less structured eating? Can I have chocolate in the house? Is there a place for spaghetti in my life? Do I keep working out like a woman possessed? Can I count shoe shopping as exercise?  Will going shopping and fitting into the pretty frocks ever get old?

But maybe most importantly, will I ever stop being the fat girl in my head?

In the beginning I was too embarrassed to do anything as public as blog about my journey. Since then I’ve gained a bit of confidence, and frankly, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved so far, so I’m gonna give sharing a go. I hope you get something from it, and maybe I’ll learn something from you too. Let me know what you think.

I’m also on twitter – @SportyMaenad01