Moving More.

11 Feb

So the final thing you need to do to be able to lose weight and keep it off is to move more.

This is an interesting one, I was an active child, I loved gymnastics and spent a lot of time hanging upside down off the swing in our back garden! However once I reached secondary school and the emphasis switched to team sports my attitude to exercise changed, I wasn’t any good at netball or hockey so I found myself sidelined with a growing hate of any exercise.  And in the end I dropped PE at 14 and did extra maths classes – despite having sporty friends through University I still didn’t do anything myself, it didn’t feature as being necessary and as I was a little thing no-one voiced any concerns. And until January 2010 I did no exercise.

So when I’d lost 3 stone and felt a little more confident about my body, I actually wanted to be more active, fourteen years of being very inactive had sewn that seed and strangely (for me) I was intrigued about it.  Swimming was my thing it turned out, I have no idea why, as it meant getting semi naked which was something I didn’t exactly do given my body issues, I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand that one!

But it doesn’t matter, what was important was that I started to get active, with my history it was possible, at 42 in the space of 16 weeks to be swimming a 5k charity event (I did 14 lengths that first night and thought I was going to keel over).

Exercise doesn’t mean going to the gym, or jogging, it can of course but it doesn’t have to – I hear lots of people say that they don’t like the gym so they can’t get fit.

Personal trainer assessing a client's goals an...

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There is so much you can do to get more active, and what I found was as I got smaller and started to exercise that I had more energy and just got generally more active.  At work I found myself bounding up the stairs without getting out of breath or not worrying about a long walk and would I be able to get back.  It was just a natural progression.

One word of caution though, as a very big person, it can often be difficult to start exercising at the beginning of your journey, it’s not going to have a big effect as you won’t have the energy to do anything dramatic or that you will eat more because you’ll feel you need it so there is a risk that you’ll get de-motivated or scupper your eating plans?  Everyone is different though, but this might happen to you, I waited until I’d lost a bit of weight, got the eating plans well established and got to know how my body worked.

Oh and before I forget,  if you do need to lose a lot of weight, do it safely, get yourself checked out by your GP, being big does present risks like high blood pressure and you shouldn’t start any exercise without this being managed.   Don’t be silly, going hell for leather on your first time out, the best results come from taking it slowly and safely.

If you can get some advice, this doesn’t have to be expensive, talk to friends who do exercise, if you do join a gym use any free access you get to personal trainers, they will be able to help so you get the most out of the exercise you do.

There are some things I’d like you to think about:

  • Mix up the exercise, you don’t have to go to the gym – walk, swim, buy a skipping rope, play badminton, do pilates. There are hundreds of different things you can do!
  • It doesn’t have to be expensive, a friend of mine has got very fit with an exercise mat, some 3kg weights and some exercise DVDs which she uses at home.  Spring is a great time to find DVDs in Charity shops by the way;-)
  • Take it slowly, it’s not a competition!  Set small goals, starting out with a marathon in sight when you’ve only just bought your trainers isn’t a good idea, a better goal is to to be able to run 1k comfortably in a couple of weeks and build it up.
  • Everyone is different, what works for you, won’t work for someone else, give things a try, if it doesn’t work move on.  Importantly for exercise to be part of your new life, you have to enjoy it!
  • Eat well – this is vital, if you don’t have the right fuel in your body, it won’t process it in the right way and a lot of what you’re doing will be useless, make sure you make the most of every minute of exercise you do.
  • You won’t lose weight from exercise alone especially if you have a lot to lose.  You do need to eat less too. You can maintain your weight later on using exercise but initially it’s just not possible.  Don’t get into the place of doing exercise and then trading it for a takeaway later, think of that core principle – to lose weight you have to eat less and move more, if you move more but eat the same (or more) nothing or very little will happen.  It’s unlikely then that you’ll stay motivated.
  • If like me you start a lot of strength and toning work later on in your exercise programme, you may not actually lose weight however you will change shape and get smaller. There have been several points in my weight loss where this has happened, your body almost takes stock, your body fat decreases and the results are pretty amazing. Everyone is different though but for a lot of women this can be the case so be prepared. It’s another reason why being a slave to the scales at home isn’t a good idea.
  • Don’t think that because you’re too big, too old or too experienced to start – I did think that and it took a while but it was worth it, remember you have nothing to prove to anyone other than you…….look around you at the people who are doing nothing about their weight (you are) or those who have (they had to start somewhere).
  • Listen to your body, it will help you, if it hurts there’s a reason, get it checked out, the way I differentiate between it hurting because I’m working hard and if there’s something wrong, is a time thing, if it still hurts an hour after I’ve finished there could be a problem, but you’ll get used to telling if it’s good discomfort because you’re working your body or it’s injured. But don’t let it stop you, there will be other things you can do. I did almost 2 yrs of exercise with a very dodgy knee but I still did it, I just adapted so I didn’t damage it further. Don’t risk injury, it’s not worth it.
  • Everything you do where you move is important, if you were to monitor your activity all day, you’ll see that. So if you work in a building where there are stairs, use them and go up fast! Don’t email that person on the other side of the building, get up and go to their desk.  If you’re standing talking to someone, move your body.  Fidgeting is good too, move your legs under the desk – seriously it all makes a difference!    Park the car in a car park further away from the office or the shops.  Brainstorm all the ways you can just be more ‘active’!
  • Drink lots of water, even if you swim, hydration is very important.
  • Everything counts – just move!

My final thought is that if I could do it anyone can. You won’t know until you give it a go though, it’s a bit like black pudding.

I always said I didn’t like black pudding, a friend asked had I ever had it, I said no, he responded with ‘how then did I know?’.  In my usual way I took up the challenge and found to my surprise that I actually really liked it.  My initial ‘not liking’ had been formed when I was much younger, my tastes were very different then, so now I was probably more accepting of it.  We all change during our lives, sometimes we just need to try something new, if we don’t try we’ll never know if it might be the best thing we ever do. I can’t have a cooked breakfast without black pudding now.

That cold evening in the pool two years ago when I did 14 very hard lengths, could barely breathe and left looking like a beetroot were a turning point for me 🙂   And I would never want a life without being active now, which is about as far away from the teenage Trudy as you can get!   Go on give it a go!

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