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Do you have it in a size 12?

12 Oct

Throughout my weight loss story, clothes have been such an important part.  Getting rid of the old ones, fitting into new ones, being able to wear things I could only have dreamt of!

I was a little ‘off’ clothes after my shopping trip last week but I have an important night out tomorrow and I wanted to feel really good about myself so needed to have a re-focus and get out there and buy something!

There is a lovely independent clothes shop in town, around the corner from my flat, I’ve bought things from them before and the service is great, I needed somewhere I felt ‘safe’.

So I went in and declared I needed a dress.  The lovely ladies went off and came back with a stack of them.  The first one went on and was fabulous, it fits to my curves and I loved it!  I also wanted this season’s sweater dress, it looked like it might be grey or black but I still have an aversion to wearing them, I spent so long draped in dull non-colours in an attempt to disguise and hide myself that I felt I needed to move on.   Luckily after a hunt in the stockroom, a beautiful dark cerise version was found, gorgeous!

Of course I now had two that fitted, I was on a roll!  The final one went on, it was too big, I had in my head that it was a 16, so took it off and had a look at the label, only to find it was a 14!   So after taking a very deep breath, said the words I had dreamt of saying ‘ Do you have it in a size 12!!’   I could have cried!

And yes the size 12 fitted and will be worn on my important night out.  It makes me feel lovely, we did joke in the shop that perhaps the label needed to be on the outside!  I really enjoyed that hour, I’ve learnt my lesson, no High Street for me, it’s depressing, overwhelming and I deserve better!

Oh and I bought the other two dresses as well – that’s my winter sorted!

So my motivation is boosted!   I want to be wearing and enjoying those dresses for a long time. And getting the joy out of wearing a size 12!

My message to you is, that as you lose weight, buy clothes that make you feel wonderful about yourself, even if you are planning to lose more, do it, it will boost your motivation and confidence!  You can always sell them or give them away afterwards – you’ll also get some satisfaction out of doing that.


Making the time

10 Oct

I mix my exercise up now – swimming, the gym, skipping, walking etc etc.  This keeps it interesting but also ensures that whatever opportunities I have available I can at least fit something in whatever the weather or the time I have.

I hear a lot that people don’t have time to exercise, you can find time believe me.  And what’s more I’ve found that as I got fitter I have more energy and other things tend to get done faster,  I don’t want to sit around watching the TV either.  It takes an hour three or four times a week to make a real difference?

Of course what is important is that you have to want to do it. I will happily hold my hands up and say for many years I could come up with every reason in the book for not doing anything and of course I was very good at saying I was ok with being big and unhealthy so in my blinkered head it was fine not to do a thing about it. It wouldn’t have mattered at any point during that period of time what anyone said or did it wouldn’t have changed anything?

Together with avoiding having to face it, I was also very good at not watching any TV programmes or reading books about losing weight or obesity.  I even bought books but then put them in cupboards, they remain unread to this day.  Watching a programme would have been too close to the truth, I didn’t want to face it so by not watching them I could remain in my safe ‘I’m fine as I am’ world.

I started watching the programmes a few months ago – my particular favourite is ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’; the first one I watched featured a blonde girl who wore black who was massively overweight, when they revisited her a few months later she’s lost 4 stones and was wearing red. She was so like me and I sobbed my heart out.

Maybe if I had been able to face watching them years ago I would have seen someone else like me and found it inspirational?  Who knows, you can’t change the past, all I can do now is build the future.

And this morning I have a bit of spare time so I’m going for a swim and maybe the gym too.

So what’s my message to you, well firstly you have to want to do it in order to make the changes to your lifestyle to lose weight and keep it off. Only you can make that decision?  But it might just be the best one you ever make, it won’t necessarily be easy but there are lots of people out there who can help you get there.

And it is so worth it in the end.  For me this weekend that meant throwing out some of the clothes I was wearing last winter because they’re too big, it always makes me smile now.

What are we waiting for?

2 Oct

I spent a long time doing nothing about my weight gain, apart from add to it.

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions since I started writing about my story why that was?   The honest answer is I don’t know, days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and before I knew it there I was at 41 and in quite a state. An element of procrastination together with a fear of failure, if I didn’t start, then there was nothing to fail at was there?  It all feels pretty ridiculous now but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

It does make me sad now to think about the amount of time it took for me to make the changes and all the opportunities I may have missed, some are more significant than others but it is a hard pill to swallow now. However it does make me even more determined not to go back and waste any more of my life.

I’m now looking forward to winter and getting down to work.  It’s a weird old situation, since I came back from Italy the sun has shone and today, the 2nd October I have been out in my flip flips in 25 degrees plus of beautiful weather!  Winter still seems a long way off however the BBC weatherman assures me it will make an appearance mid-week so my beloved flip flops will be consigned to their new role of slippers with only their memories of their summer of travel!

So if you do want to lose some weight, just ask yourself the question, what are you waiting for?   And if you want a reminder about getting motivated, take a look at my previous post on Motivation.


Boosting your Confidence

27 Sep

I picked up a really useful article this morning, I’ve learnt how much exercise can boost your self-confidence and make you feel pretty darn good about yourself over the last couple of years.  I’ve also met lots of people who have also found the same thing.

Take a look:

At your Age?

27 Sep

So I’m back from my trip, loads to Italy, loads to tell you about and I’ve been busy writing while I’ve been away. There is also going to be a new blog about my experiences over the summer so watch this space!

The one thing that has really inspired me on all my trips are the women of all ages who are keeping active and the difference that it makes to their lives, they have ranged from 30 to over 70 and are all loving it!

Many of them have had limitations, either because of injuries or just age – but nothing stops them from keeping going and they all look great because of it.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is the aging process, it can’t be stopped, it does present challenges but it also brings with it opportunities, as I now lurch into my mid forties, I am more confident about my body than I have ever been before.  I spent my teens struggling with being too thin, too flat chested, all the normal angst I guess. My twenties of course brought illness  and massive weight gain, my thirties, well I think I have well documented what happened  then! So my forties are proving to be a very positive experience.

And when I look at these wonderful women who are older than me I am filled with optimism and joy about future of my body and fitness, not in any way dreading it. Yes there are big changes to come but I am hoping that if I can maintain my health and fitness that I can see it through in a more controlled and continue to have a good relationship with my body.

My body will change with age, it’s not going to stay the same but I now know how good being fit and healthy can make me feel and the amount of confidence that has brought me.

Ladies – I thank you and I hope to be swimming topless in the pool when I’m 60+!

Packing and Re-prioritisation

11 Sep

I’m really lucky, I’ve been having the summer of my life and now I’m at the end of what has been a wonderful and fulfilling time but hopefully I’m at the beginning of an exciting future.

Losing the weight changed more than just my appearance, it started off a whole new way of thinking. My job had changed post surgery and was no longer making me happy, it felt like the right time to make some changes.

Maybe it is an age thing, maybe the universe was in the right place, maybe I was, but whatever it was, I found myself handing in my notice excitedly, there wasn’t anywhere near the panic I expected, I was after all giving up a job that paid relatively well and was stable enough but it wasn’t enough.

I had some savings, but I wasn’t interested any longer in material stuff, I could have moved or bought a new car but I wanted something else. I was fitter, happier, stronger and healthier than I had probably ever been and I was craving experiences.  So I bought myself the summer, the weather could have been better but it hasn’t mattered that much.  And it’s been wonderful, what is even more exciting and important though is that I have finally had time to get to know the new me, I’ve spent time working that out and what it means. I had no idea at the start that it would prove so significant.

So the summer has entailed mountain climbing, beaches, sunsets, pilates, Tuscany, sailing, walking,  photography, writing, reading, climbing walls, being life coached, new friends, old friends, bouncing and feeling just about as alive as I could be!  I’ve seen and done things that wouldn’t have been possible in my old world and I am very grateful for that.

And on Tuesday I fly to Rome for the final bit of the journey I promised myself, I have a beautiful apartment booked to receive me, the camera batteries are charged up, the notebooks are ready and the iphone has photo and guide book Apps downloaded.  The train then takes me slowly up the coast to Tuscany for another week of pilates, food, cooking, wine, swimming and limoncello.

And on the work front, things are falling into place, there’s no panic, just a feeling of anticipation for the future. It might not be easy but in some ways that doesn’t really matter, I have different priorities now and I’m determined not to lose sight of those.

On a less positive note, on the horizon I already know that there are going to be some sad times ahead, as a family I hope we’re ready for them. It reinforces my thinking that life is so very short and you do need to grasp onto all opportunities, or life will just pass you by. I spent a long time doing that and I have no intention of letting it happen again.

What I have learnt is that sometimes we need to stop and take stock. If we don’t we may never really see what could change.  It might not be as radical as leaving your job, it could just be giving yourself some time in the day to reflect and focus.  And of course this has all a bit of a reward for the hard work over the last couple of years, it’s been quite a trip!

So bring on the future (and the sunshine and the limoncello!).

The photos – The view from the Kanzelwand (2078 m up), me on midsummer night, in the pool with a bottle of limoncello. and one of my favourite sunsets of the summer, totally unexpected, around the corner from home and quite stunning, it took my breath away.  And a final thought, why does limoncello not taste the same in England as it does in Tuscany??

Body Mass Index

10 Sep

Let’s talk BMI.  I have had various discussions with health and fitness professionals about the virtue of using this as a tool to motivate. I am still classed as overweight according to my BMI, strictly speaking I could lose another 2 stone. Yet I am fitter and healthier than at any other point in my life. When I was classed as ‘normal’ I was smoking ( a bit!) , eating a stupid ‘student’ diet and did no exercise whatsoever and looking at photographs I think I look far too thin.

BMI doesn’t take into account, age or fitness levels, people who have a large muscle content e.g. rugby players will be classified as overweight and long distance runners may be underweight.  And very importantly you can be classified as ‘normal’  but be completely unfit, as you smoke, drink and eat all the wrong things. I think you get my point?  Even the professionals admit it has limitations.

Let’s be realistic too, I’m 43, I have spent almost half my life very overweight, biology has declared that my skin will not contract back to the place it was in when I was 25. In fact the more I have lost and toned, the more loose skin there is, so for me to lose the recommended weight to be totally ‘normal’ would result in me looking ridiculous, it has though been something I have had to come to terms with, me and my naked body have had to develop a new love for each other!

I thought I’d share what I think has happened.  I have toned the muscle and lost the fat, when I was bigger the muscle was covered by a layer of fat, this levelled under my skin and sort of held everything together, padding it out.  Now that layer doesn’t exist, the skin hasn’t contracted back in certain areas – tummy, thighs, upper arms (all the areas where there was excessive stretching) so there ends up with a ‘loose’ effect.  It won’t happen to everyone, some people have stretchier skin than others and the length of time you are overweight will also have an effect, as will age. It wasn’t really something I had even thought about when I was big, but for some of us it is a reality. I do remember though that when I was a teenager I did get quite a lot of stretch marks as I grew and this also happened when I got bigger in my 20s, this is an indication that the collagen in my skin isn’t amazing so it’s not too much of a surprise.

While we’re discussing the loose skin,  I have friends who have ‘tummies’ after having babies, unfortunately it is unlikely that in their 40s that this will go away no matter how much exercise they do but hey it’s amazing what support underwear can do!   It needs a degree of acceptance and that this is also probably those extra few pounds they are striving to lose.  I’m pretty sure if all my loose skin was removed I’d lose quite a bit more weight, but that’s not going to happen but it doesn’t mean that I am unhealthy or unfit.

If you are over 40, it’s worth thinking about what you think you will look like when you’re smaller, if you think you will look like you did when you were 20, think again, it’s not going to happen, Mother Nature has other ideas I’m afraid.

Now I’ve reached what I feel is a sensible, healthy weight, I have no intention of losing any more on a significant level, I don’t want to get to a stage where I am more self-conscious about my body than when I was bigger, this would be a sorry state of affairs.

I think about it this way, even if I had not put on all the weight and remained a smaller person for the last 20 years, I might still have a tummy and bingo wings – that’s just aging?   Men in particular seem a little obsessed with regaining their youth, it’s just not going to happen and they are starting out with an impossible goal!  So my affirmation here is look to become a fit and healthy ‘whatever you are’, don’t hanker after what has gone before!  You will still probably look better and be fitter than the majority of today’s 20 year olds anyway!

BMI should therefore be taken as a guide, especially when you are starting out. If you feel you need an official ‘you’re way too big’ label then it may help and give you a quick kick up the bottom, please don’t make it the objective, it’s only one possible motivator you can use and for me it hasn’t been that helpful.

Personal trainer monitoring a client's movemen...

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My gym won’t even weigh people anymore when doing inductions, they measure instead.  My instructor told me it was very depressing to have women who complained after their first 3 months of training that they hadn’t lost much weight, they had though changed shape and in some cases lost a couple of dress sizes, remember muscle does weigh more than fat.  Getting fit will change your shape and you will shrink!

One thing I do once in a while is to do a bit of people watching in a shopping centre to get your head around what the majority of the population actually look like.  Focusing only on the fit bunnies in the gym isn’t going to help you as much here in reminding yourself how well you’ve done. I promise you once you’ve done this you’ll feel much better about yourself and as you shrink it just gets better and better.

BMI is an indicator, it should just be one thing you take into consideration but for me it’s a bit like the scales, a bit unnecessary on a regular basis to focus on now.   Be realistic about what your shrinking 40 something body may look like, love it, you’ve achieved something pretty special by getting smaller and your life will be so much better, wobbly bits and all.

A final thought, is your weight loss target too big, could you be fit and healthy but not have to lose it all?

The top photo is me on my 21st birthday, according to the BMI scale I was ‘normal’ . Bizarre.

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