Archive | March, 2012

Keeping Motivated

29 Mar

One of the things I’ve never really had any trouble with is keeping motivated to stay smaller!  My biggest motivation is the thought of what my ‘bigger’ life was like, all I need to do is spend five minutes thinking about all the embarrassment, frustrations and sadness and the one thing I can confidently say is that I never want to return to that world – why would I?  Of course that’s a negative, so on the positive side I look at my lovely new clothes, the photos of all the fab things I’ve been able to do and how great my ‘smaller’ life is!

So I was quite challenged by my latest objectives as things didn’t move as quickly as perhaps I’d hoped, it wasn’t all bad, progress was made but one thing I have learnt about myself is that I am very competitive (with myself) so in order to keep motivated I needed to see results.  There was thankfully enough progress to keep me motivated to an extent but it was more difficult.  However at this point I’m very pleased to see that real progress is now taking place!

This morning thanks to a blast of unseasonally warm weather I got my linen trousers out of the ‘summer clothes box’, now I have two pairs in two different sizes, in a slightly sleepy state this morning (I now leave home very early to get to the gym before work) I thought I had put on the larger pair, however when checking realised what is quite a baggy pair is in fact the smaller pair!  This means that finally my hips and tummy are shrinking, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about women’s bodies and genetics, these areas are always going to be a challenge, they would probably be so even if I hadn’t got so big so I need to be a bit kinder to myself about it.

So along with my face, fingers, chest, and shins, the rest of me is now joining in and I am shrinking again. This is great news, what is even better for me is that I feel fitter and stronger, I am lifting my 6kg weights now in a far more controlled way, my squats are deeper and I positively run up the stairs at work.

It will also mean that there may be summer clothes shopping on the cards – again!

It’s now 5 weeks until my 16 week deadline, now I won’t be stopping as such at that stage, what I feel I’m now doing is working towards finding an even healthier lifestyle, I’m sure though that I will be able to find a new objective!  I am looking forward to seeing the readings though, whatever they are I feel so much better about me, exercise and being fit and healthy!

The main thing to take out of this post is that sometimes results do take time, in my case I think my metabolism needed to settle into a new way of eating and exercising – as long as you keep up the momentum you will see progress.  It’s not a race, it’s about a slow, sustainable approach, it has taken tweaking from where I started so it suited me and my lifestyle, no one size fits all. If it’s a constant struggle then it’s likely that you’ll lose motivation so be kinder to yourself, it doesn’t matter if it takes a bit more time if you still reach your goals.

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All you can eat?

25 Mar

My approach to losing weight has always been to start with ‘how much’ you eat.  We all eat way, way too much. The easiest way for most of us to make a difference is to start reducing portion sizes.

How do you feel when you see photos like this one?  Do you see it as a challenge, would you carry on eating until you could barely move, would you enjoy eating it or would a smaller amount of everything be fine?  Firstly no human needs to eat that amount of food in one go? It is going to stretch your stomach beyond anything it is supposed to do and put a ridiculous amount of strain on your digestive system for days afterwards as it tries to cope with the fat and sheer volume?

If you overeat on a regular basis, you will confuse your body, your stomach won’t have the chance to recover, it will tell your brain it’s not full purely because it’s stretched so you will run the risk of eating more and more to satisfy your appetite.  So is it worth it?

I feel I’m lucky now, I’ve managed to re-set my appetite, it feels as though my stomach has reduced in size, if I attempt to overeat now, my body will react, it’s not pleasant and serves as a reminder that I don’t need to stuff myself.  I actually enjoy food far more now, I’ve proved it’s about quality not quantity where food is concerned.

Now the effect is similar to what happens with gastric surgery, what many won’t realise is that it is possible to reverse the surgical effect, despite the stomach being reduced in size, if you gradually eat more and more it will stretch back allowing more food to be eaten and the weight will go back on. People are having repeat surgery because of this.

So visualise what happens to your body when you eat, your stomach is about the size of an adult closed fist – then think about your  intestines, that enormous amount of food has to go into the stomach first and then into the rest of your system – does that seem reasonable or even possible?

Would you enjoy the meal just as much if you only eat a smaller amount?

My closing thought is that we should be kinder to our bodies, don’t make it hurt, it does that for a reason to tell you to stop, listen to it and think it has to last you a long time, is the Eat as Much as you can Chinese Buffet or that super size mixed grill really worth it?

 

 

Why did it take me so long?

23 Mar

One of the things that I often ponder is why it took me until I was 42 to do anything about my weight. Well firstly it’s was never just about my weight, thanks to some professional help I’ve been having over the last couple of months it’s clear now that the overeating was purely a symptom of a bigger emotional challenge for me.

Never under-estimate the impact that not dealing with emotional issues can have on your physical well-being.

The help has been amazing, it does feel as though my brain has been re-programmed to a degree, it costs some money but has been invaluable in being able to move forwards, I thought that I was actually in a good place and in a whole lot of ways I was however there was always going to be something that sat in the shadows threatening to scupper all my good work. The work I had done had enabled me to be able to lose all the weight I have and to build my self-esteem again but to make sure I was able to carry on I did need to make sure I dealt with everything and not hide anymore. I’d built some layers into ‘me’ as a coping mechanism but until I stripped these way, I was living with some risks and to be totally honest I was probably not being as much ‘me’ as I could be.  

My little black clouds were also caused by just being a girl, and as I’ve got older my hormones were starting to declare war so if I was in the wrong part of my cycle and also struggling with my other issue all hell was likely to break out, this situation couldn’t really be allowed to continue.

So now thanks to a very understanding GP and another therapist I have made massive steps forwards, the world feels a whole lot brighter and I am now more in control of my feelings which is incredibly liberating.

What I now know is that for years I wasn’t emotionally ready to deal with my issues – depression, self-esteem problems, and a whole host of things (some of which had been around for donkey’s years) were all sitting in the way of being able to change,

I did start to make some headway before I actually started to shrink, I did feel better about myself but it was only once I could see the beginnings of a physical change that it hit home that I was making progress and was ready to move it further forwards.

The one thing I can’t stress enough is that for so many people a ‘struggle’ with their weight is down to deeper issues, until you deal with them, you either won’t make any progress or the struggle will continue and the weight will go back on. It isn’t easy to admit to, or to deal with however the rewards are beyond words and worth all the effort. Often though you can’t force the situation, it does sometimes have to happen in its own good time for it to work properly but don’t be afraid to ask for help – that’s what makes you strong! It is NEVER a sign of weakness to ask for help. The other important thing to remember is that only YOU can make the change, it is up to you to take responsibility and to make it happen but it can be done.

Over the last couple of years I’ve talked about my issues a lot more and found that others too are experiencing the same thing. For me being smaller means being happier because I can do so much more. I never realised what I was missing out on so much when I was bigger, emotionally and physically – the change is massive, overwhelming but so good.

So that is the long answer.  Do I have regrets that it took so long, no, not really, what I went through had made me the person I am today and it was worth waiting for in the end. I’m lucky in a way that I have averted the health issues I did have, however I do realise that had I waited much longer it may have been more difficult. But I can’t change the past only the future so regrets are pretty useless really.

My advice though is to deal with issues early on, don’t let them become an ingrained part of your life so it takes more time for them to be able to be sorted out. Don’t concentrate just on losing the weight, it is really important to understand why you got big in the first place and stayed that way if you’re going to be successful – I promise you it will be worth it and the sooner you’re able to do it, you’ll be able to turn your health around!

And I really love ‘me’ now!

Update

18 Mar

It’s a been a great week – little update on the Challenge page!

We’re all getting older!

18 Mar

There is one thing that is certain in our lives – we are all going to get older.

I’m quite positive about that now, I know the work I’ve done has resulted in me looking and doing well for my age, I quite like revealing just how old I am now.

The chances are that I will live to a ripe old age (fingers crossed), and I have every intention of making sure I keep as fit and healthy as I can for as long as I can so I can enjoy it.

My Aunty Mair is in her late 80s, she’s always been an active lady and it has really benefited her as she’s got older so it’s clear to see how important it is.  At 60 when we ‘retire’, we’re not ‘old’ by any stretch of the imagination now, we could have another 30 years so you might as well get out there and be able to enjoy it!

So deal with those niggly aches and pains that might stop you keeping active, it’ll keep your healthier longer, there’s no reason to suffer or use it as an excuse for why you can’t do things, see your doctor and get some advice on the best way to keep fit, most things can now be sorted and as we get older it’s also important that any more major problems are caught early.

In keeping fit I’m not talking about running a marathon but keeping your body in as good a state as possible so you can keep active and moving, however this week I’ve noticed a lot of older people in both the gyms I use and they were putting a lot of the younger people to shame!

And I met a lot of ladies last year on my pilates trip who were incredibly active and one thing was very clear, they all looked great for their age!  They most certainly motivated me and made me a lot less concerned about the future.

I hope I’m like my Aunty Mair – she’s a star!

Pushing it!

15 Mar

It had been a long day at work, tiring on lots of levels but I sent myself off to the gym tonight for a cardio session in the gym. Now my target is 12k on the bike from resistance levels 7  through to 10.

At 4k I was so tired, legs were heavy and the easy decision would have been to have finished it there however my head kicked in, it told  me to do another 2k, that’s half way and then see how I felt.  I then got to 6k, now my head told me that I was on the home straight….push on through another 2k, at 8k it’s only another 4k to completion. Once I’m at 10, well it’s a breeze to get to the 12k target!

In fact at 12k I felt fine, everything was nicely warmed up, I’d kept a steady breathing pattern throughout and most importantly I felt great that I’d achieved it. I always do feel good about what I can achieve now, it never ceases to amaze me about what my body (and my head) can now do.

Let’s be totally honest it’s not ‘easy’ to get fit and lose the amount of weight I have, it takes hard work, motivation and commitment, it’s often the last thing I want to do, it would be ‘easier’ not to go to the gym or the pool or to have that packet of sweet chilli crisps. However the rewards from making the effort are immense, it has changed my life and it continues to, therefore the choice to do it is an easy one, in fact it’s the only choice now for me.

I would probably not have my current job if I was still bigger, I wouldn’t have met some of the wonderful people now in my life, I wouldn’t be looking in the mirror and loving what I see.  I am pretty sure that my life wouldn’t be anything like it is now.

It is the ultimate motivation – that my new life is so great, why would I change that??

I was also really pleased to see a lady in the gym who had obviously lost a lot of weight too, the tell-tale sign is the upper arms. It’s always going to be the body part that is so hard to get rid of the loose skin when our arms were so big.  She’s done brilliantly though!

And the photo – one of my favourites of me and given a warm glow!

 

Food and the Biggest Loser

14 Mar

Two subjects for the price of one!

So on the food front I’ve been increasing my protein/decreasing my carbs in my latest challenge.  I’m actually quite enjoying the food, I’ve developed new lunches, found a passion for new vegetables and am now seeing the benefits.  I’m not eating any junk food at all and have vastly reduced things like potatoes, pasta and bread (still having them but they’re now on the treat list).

One thing I did try were protein shakes, they however didn’t agree with me, we thought it was the whey so I swapped to a soya based mix, however it’s still not doing it for me and I get a degree of bloating, it’s almost that my body just doesn’t like a burst in this way, it’s the same with protein bars and I have now cut them in half.  So I was interested to read this article from Charles Poliquin which gives some interesting information about how your body deals with food and that you really do need to listen to it.  Whilst I’m fine with eating a more protein based diet, I did need to modify for how my body reacts to it.  And the good news is that I am enjoying food (what’s the point if you end up hating what you ‘have’ to eat, that’s no long-term solution and leads to all kinds of relationship issues with food, been there, done that, dealt with it and not going back), loving cooking and as a fabulous bonus seeing the benefits! 

So onto the Biggest Loser which finished its current series in the UK last night, I have all types of issues with this type of ‘obesity entertainment’ – when I was bigger the last programme I would consider watching would be something about people who looked like me, most of us are in complete denial. It is totally unrealistic, the difference between the world of the programme and ‘normal’ life is immense – all of this leads to others having unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a short time.

The guy who had won started at 32 stone and lost 13 stone in six months, now firstly it’s great, he looks amazing but I have a couple of points to make. Firstly he started from an extreme, therefore the initial loss will always look big, it gets harder as you get smaller – google it, it’s true and he is still 19 stone, the hard work for him has only just begun.  Secondly, losing this amount of weight in such a short amount of time is not healthy or sensible and without a massive team of people around you looking after diet and exercise is not achievable in a normal environment and shouldn’t even be encouraged. It’s not necessary and it is better for you to lose it in a slower, more controlled way.  All the research says the quicker and more extremely it comes off the less chance you have of being able to keep it off. It’s far from a realistic goal for the vast majority of people and sets a poor example.

I was also hoping that as with other ‘reality’ programmes that we could revisit contestants from previous years to see how they were getting on in sustaining their weight loss however they seem to have disappeared?  I will always maintain my point that losing weight is only one part of the story, I am far prouder of what I’ve managed to do since the initial weight loss than of losing it per se. 

I found this article which sets out a lot of the issues I have with the programme.  I will never be negative about people losing weight and changing their lives, I know the joy and power that can bring. However what I would like to see is a move away from ‘entertainment’ based programmes and more about the true reality of being big, constructive, realistic help on being able to solve problems and a whole load of education for parents and kids to break the cycle.

Oh and the help of the food industry (production and outlets) to help us help ourselves (more on that later in the week).

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