Tag Archives: Motivation

Getting wet

25 Aug

When I had lost 3 dress sizes (about three stone but of course I didn’t have any scales) I decided that I wanted to try the swimming thing, I was starting to get a bit excited about what was happening, I was shrinking and it was now getting visible to me and those around me which is one hell of a motivator I can tell you!

It was December 2009, I ordered 4 swimsuits online, in various sizes from the size I used to be, to a very optimistic size 18. They arrived on a Saturday morning. I looked at the pile wondering how to approach this trying on session, I believe the last time I had a swimsuit was 2003, so my experience was somewhat lacking in how to do this.

I decide that my course of action will be to try on the small one first, that way I can get it out-of-the-way when it doesn’t fit, and move on to a more realistic size which will be fine. So I get my kit off.

I slide the size 18 swimsuit on and to my utter surprise it fitted, I looked in the mirror and saw something quite amazing, and yes I burst into tears. It was one of those turning points in my shrinkage, all the hard work, all the emotions I was feeling about what was happening came out. It was a pretty special time and its one of the moments I try to remember when I need a bit of motivation to keep going and how going back is not an option.

So I now had a swimsuit, I had a body that I didn’t think would now scare small children or me quite as much, so the next step would be actually getting in the pool.  If you ever wondered, a swimsuit is actually a great piece of support clothing, I wear the ones with support panels just about everywhere, find the right one for you, don’t skip on the expense, you’ll look and feel great and swimming is exercise, you do need support!

Disappointingly I end up with a cold over New Year so it ended up being the first week of January before I set off for the local pool, I gave myself every excuse, it had started snowing, it was freezing but off I go, I pay my money, and put on my lovely new swimsuit and for the first time in years, I potter out and make my way to the edge of the pool.

I get in the shallow end and look towards the other end and realise that the last time I was in a pool I was 14! I may have floated in the sea on a couple of holidays but no ‘real’ swimming has really taken place for a VERY long time!  Maybe I hadn’t really thought this through?  I also realise that there is no wall for most of the length for me to cling to, so drowning may be a possibility!

Anyway I set off in the slow lane telling myself that if I can do 2 lengths that’s more than enough, I can go home with my head held high that I had met my very personal challenge! Of course my feet hit the bottom as I’m in the shallow end and I had zero technique. Once I get into deeper water it all suddenly becomes a lot easier. I get to the end and realise it’s going ok! I haven’t drowned, I then realise there are no steps at this end, if I wanted out I’d have to haul myself out and that is not happening I can tell you. So off I go again…and again!

I’m out of breath by length 4, I realise that as long as I concentrate on just 2 lengths at a time I can cope. Once I set off I know I can make it back – very simple mental exercises!

On the first night I do 14 lengths, I’m amazed, I’m breathing very hard, my heart is pounding, my legs hurt and I’m wobbly when I get out of the pool. I get a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I’m bright red, resemble a tomato and look like I’ve had a hard workout!

I cannot tell you though how immensely proud of myself I was, for a lot of different reasons, not only had I done some exercise but I’d got to a stage where I was prepared to be seen in a swimsuit, I’d begun to love myself and my body which was a very important move forwards.

Seventeen weeks later I swam 180 lengths in 3 hours for Marie Curie and I never looked back.  Not bad for a 42 year old with very, very little exercise experience (or interest), it never ceases to surprise me.

Importantly what happened after that night was that I had found a massive amount of self-belief, I also had tremendous support around me, that is so vital, if I hadn’t had that I don’t know if I would have been able to keep going, they all had faith in me and that was a great motivator!

I decided at that point that nothing or nobody was going to stop me doing this, it was too important and I was actually enjoying it. There were some people who couldn’t understand what was happening to me and I did find that I moved away from them, however there were always others who were amazing and I will be forever grateful for having them in my life. You can’t do it alone, take the support, the compliments, the encouragement, surround yourself with people who want it for you and want you to succeed!  Make sure your nearest and dearest know that this is a really big deal for you and that you will need support and how you’d like them to do that. You will need them, especially on those days when it’s hard work but you will need them even more when you’ve done well, celebrating success is vital!

So finally, start off with exercise when you feel ready, it will happen when you feel confident enough, set small, realistic goals and surround yourself with people who care! You may just surprise yourself, I did!

The photo is of me during the Marie Curie Swimathon in April 2010, I put myself into training and met the biggest physical challenge I’d ever set myself and wore a yellow swimming cap. And my parents got to watch me in a sporting event for the first time since the infamous obstacle race at the Priestley Primary School Sports Day, captured for eternity on cine film but best forgotten. Maybe one day I will tell the story!


Small & Achievable

22 Aug

If I had told myself in August 2009 that I was going to lose 6 stone, get fit, get to a stage where I loved exercise, swim 5k, climb a mountain, sail a yacht, do Race for Life and write a blog about it all, it would never have happened!

  • How many times have you started a diet and told yourself that you’re going to get into a bikini on this year’s holiday when in fact the last time you wore one was in 1996?
  • Or that you’re going to get into that pair of very small jeans that you’ve been keeping in the back of the wardrobe?
  • How about I want to look like the very toned, tanned, 20 something fit bloke who pounds the treadmill in the gym (that was for the blokes by the way!) but you get the idea?
  • And finally if you’ve been told or found out that you are obese or even morbidly obese, that to lose what is an enormous figure is just impossible.

If the goals are too big and unrealistic then you won’t ever succeed, you can’t visualise the end result, that may be years away, you won’t be able to appreciate what you are actually achieving and you are setting yourself up to fail from the start. It will be too overwhelming to comprehend.

As I’ve mentioned before think seriously about how many times you have started a diet, lost some weight and then put it back on, at the time can you remember what were you trying to achieve? Was it a ‘big’ goal?

The trick here is to set achievable goals, something that looks like it might just be possible.

What did I do?  Well I bought the next size down in my normal jeans, of course they didn’t fit when I started, but within a month they did, the sense of achievement was amazing, and this brought with a real sense of motivation, I was then firmly focused on getting to the next pair, I always bought the next pair as soon as I got into them. I still think though that the two best times were fitting into the size 22 ones and then being able to go into Evans, buy the size 14 pair and declare that as this was now their smallest size I wouldn’t be back!

From someone who had no willpower, I found I could walk past the ‘birthday food pile’ in the office or appreciate why the mini bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate was a better choice than the 2 for 1 offer on the full size bars.

I was celebrating the achievements as they came, I was buying myself something smaller to wear, they did eventually get sold on ebay but hey they did the trick in motivating me and making me feel great about what I’d done.

If you get complimented on how you look, bottle that, when you’re feeling de-motivated, think about that feeling, how good it was and how you want more of it. Think about what being ‘bigger’ means to you, do you want that anymore?

So by small and achievable try some of these:

  • I’ll lose a dress size/an inch in a month – even less if you get overwhelmed by the whole thing
  • I’ll be able to climb the stairs and not be as much out of breath in six weeks
  • I’ll be able to reduce the amount I eat in the evenings or halve my alcohol amounts in a fortnight
  • Be able to swim/run/whatever you’re doing by a small advance each time, not an enormous jump, as you shrink you will be able to increase at a faster pace, remember the Hare & the Tortoise?
  • I’ll feel great because I am doing something – celebrate that, look for the small things that seem easier

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned actual weight lost, I don’t own any scales, I didn’t weigh myself until I’d lost 3 stones, all the initial shrinkage was monitored through how my clothes felt, it’s well documented that yo-yo dieters will weigh themselves very frequently and become quite fixated on it.  If you only see very small losses on a daily or even weekly basis, you lose motivation, you can’t really see what you are achieving, if you lose 2 pounds one week, then only one the next week, you’re already wondering if it’s all worth it, why if you’re doing the same things in respect to exercise and food why didn’t you lose 2 pounds.  However if you weigh after a month, and you’ve lost 6 pounds, that’s fantastic, you haven’t seen the up and down cycle across the month. Then there is biology, our bodies don’t help us here, we will put on weight due to not being 100% well, what we eat, a woman’s cycle will see weight gain at certain times of the month.

So I see the scales as taking away motivation in respect to small goals, you are taken straight back to that enormous ‘eventual goal’. Of course when I did get on the scales it was a very, very pleasant surprise and I can’t tell you how motivational that was. If you can put the scales away and even better get rid of them. If you do feel the need to weigh use the ones in Boots or at the sports centre and limit it to once a fortnight at an absolute minimum.

If you start off not being a slave to the scales then you stand a much better chance of being able to sustain weight loss too, I know that my weight will fluctuate now,  I’ve had periods of doing a lot more exercise or times when there have been holidays or events where I probably eat more than I would normally do, however by not getting on the scales I’m not feeling ‘punished’, my clothes might feel a bit tight, so I adjust exercise and food again (I’m learning all the time here by the way!).

The motivation that I got each time that new pair of jeans fitted was immense. Even when I first went to the ‘Eat as much as You’ want chinese buffet and I didn’t leave feeling as though I was going to burst because I was now in control of what I was eating was motivation too.

So following on from that a question for you to think about:

  • Are you in control of food or is it in control of you?
  • What are the foods that you feel are stopping you losing weight – for example bread, cheese, chocolate etc?
  • Are you prepared to give them up forever or would you like to be able to still have them in your life?

We’ll look at your answers later…as ever be honest with yourself!

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