Tag Archives: Weight loss

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:

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/exercise-better-body-image-101919111.html

Getting Technical

9 Sep

I’ve been doing a bit of research into the technology out there, what might be able to help in keeping the weight off and also enjoying exercise.

My thinking on it though is that the technology is a tool to help motivation and provide some guidance, it’ s not the holy grail.

Why?  Because it’s not infallible.

I have found some interesting things out in a geeky way, I’ve tested the treadmill, the cross trainer and the fixed bike in the gym,  I burn roughly the same amount of calories whatever I do……and if I speed walk on the treadmill, I burn the same as someone who runs the same distance!

This is of course because I am not feeding in tons of data into the machine about my body – height, weight etc. It is basing it’s measurement purely on distance and speed.  It is though a guide and I use it purely as that.

If you want a true figure you need to use something that is far more scientific, one such thing is KI performance.

The key thing here is that is works to educate you about metabolism and how you can listen to your body, understanding more about how it works and responds to food and exercise. You wear an armband that collects over 5000 data points, it looks at what you eat, all your activity (not just ‘exercise’), sleep, it’s a complete picture.

You then upload the data onto the website and it reports back.  You start a process of working out the crucial thing, how many calories you need vs the amount of activity you do, you can then adapt to either maintain weight or lose weight in the first place.  It does have an initial outlay plus a subscription but once you’ve got the hang of it and got a good amount of data about your body then you could get away with not renewing. It’s all about the knowledge you can gain.

There are also the applications that help you assess your exercise, some of these are more scientific than others but all useful in giving you the motivation to keep going. I like the fact that a lot of them now link into Facebook and Twitter, brilliant if you like your friends to give you lots of encouragement!  You also become part of a community of like-minded people.

Here are two I’ve been told about and some feedback.

Runkeeper – works through a smartphone, tracks your speed and distances covered and if you load in all the data will report back on calories burned, weight and body fat percentage lost.  It posts to your social media sites too and will show where you’ve been if you use it on outside runs or walks.   It’s great for giving you a view of what you achieve over a period of time, I like this idea as it gives you a real indication of how you are progressing, when I was in swimming training, I had a spreadsheet log, I’d publish it every week and I got a great deal of motivation from seeing how each week things got better, I was starting to challenge myself which was interesting! This App seems nice and simple and I have friends who use it both in the gym and outside and enjoy using it!

Endomondo– again works through a smartphone, works using GPS so you be tracked while out running, cycling etc. Again downloads into Facebook so your friends can see what you’re doing, it will say when you’re starting so you can be tracked in real-time too via the website.  You enter your weight information and with the right kit it will monitor your heart rate and allows you to challenge yourself and set goals.

Not as scientific as the KI, however gives a really good history of your activity online and allows you to comment on your friend’s activity too. One thing I don’t like though is that because some of the science is missing, the calories used data is going to be ‘out’ and thr system then equates it to ‘Burgers Burned’!    So a bit more ‘blokey’ really and I’d prefer it to equate to something a little healthier – just a little nit pick there!

Image representing Endomondo as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

And of course don’t forget that if you go out and burn 1000 calories, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can come home and consume an additional 1000 calories, if you are looking to lose weight you will need to adjust your food intake too!  My view for this one is that it is more designed for the more experienced fitness person, not really designed for an initial go or for losing weight?

Once you are into a ‘maintaining’ mode then this is easier but beware at the beginning, you may be putting in tons of energy and not losing any weight if you don’t pay attention to both.  Worth getting some advice at the start on the best way to do it.  My weight loss accelerated once I had lost an amount through less food alone, I got more energy and moved more, but I didn’t then eat more as a consequence so the weight loss continued?

One little thing about the Apps that use GPS, remember if the online site is public or you don’t have tight security on your social networking sites, you could be giving away your current location and that you’re not at home, if you run from home, worth changing the start point just in case any potential burglars are watching!

There are though hundreds if not thousands of similar Apps out there, my view is if they help to motivate you, they’re fantastic! Beware the ‘calories’ burned data on some though and if you are really geeky, it’s worth looking at something like KI to start off so you get a clear view of how your body performs then moving onto something that just measures distances etc will be fine as you will know how your body performs.  There are also lots which give you calorie figures for all foods, great if you’re out on the move, however if you follow the same regime as me you shouldn’t need them, I for one would have not enjoyed being a slave to the smartphone!

If you have any others you think would be useful to tell people about, please let me know.

Photo is of me doing Race for Life this year, two years ago I held the bags and waited at the finish line to cheer on my friends!  And I even ran a bit at the end! I didn’t use any Apps, I just followed the several thousand other women doing their bit!

My Core

7 Sep

I do lots of different active stuff now and would love to try more! One of the key things I do is pilates. It’s fantastic.  I hear a lot of people say it’s a bit like yoga and there’s an assumption that it’s an easy option, I can tell you and so can the super fitties and blokes in my class that it’s not at all!

I came across it a bit by accident.  At the end of October 2009  I developed a persistent cough, it  was ridiculous, I would cough all day, to the extent of starting to choke, it appeared to be related to speech so every time I started a conversation off I would go, I was exhausted and at my wit’s end with it.  My doctor tried lots of things and we even got to the stage of using strong drugs to knock me out to try to break the cycle and give me some respite, it got to the stage where work was impossible too.  I needed to see an ENT specialist to check there was nothing sinister going on, of course the wait to see one on the NHS was about 4 months, I couldn’t wait that long so went privately.

Interestingly this didn’t cost that much, I was lucky when a friend told me that there were now 2 levels of private fees, one for those with insurance and one for those who were paying themselves which can be significantly lower and affordable. It even turned out that my GP surgery had an administrator who would locate the best specialist and price for you – if you’re ever in that position it is well worth asking if going privately may be an option.

After some tests, the specialist found nothing awful, however what he did find was that my vocal cords were in almost constant spasm, my brain therefore thought that there was an obstruction, as I tried to talk the spasms increased even more and set off the coughing. What was concerning though was that it was severe and I ran the risk of the condition moving to a stage where I would just choke, something had to be done as a matter of urgency.

The recommendation was emergency speech therapy, this would have to happen privately too.

The therapist was fantastic, there was barely any work on my voice, from discussing what was happening to me something bizarre came to light.  I had lost almost three stone by this point, my muscles had no idea what to do about that, they were shifting position on my body and severely tensing. The  top of my spine was being pulled over to the extent I’d lost about half an inch in height and it was probably why my vocal cords were reacting in such an extreme way, they too were being pulled by the muscles in my neck. Everything was tight and compromised.

I found a pilates class at about the same time as I started swimming,  I was a little stunned by what some of the other people in the class could do, there’s one exercise where you are lifting your body weight, for me that seemed amazing!  We started slowly and I was surprised how quickly I got better, the breathing really helped and I found that together with the shrinkage and the swimming that my body shape changed quite quickly.  I was walking tall, taking care over my posture and felt that my core muscles were now providing me with some real strength. And the cough got better.

And by the summer I was doing that exercise – the one where you lift your body weight!  I’ve also been on an intensive pilates trip, a whole week with two sessions a day and I get to a class whenever I can, it is hard work, I feel the difference quickly and it makes me think about my breathing.  The vocal cord problem is much better and I can manage it, even when a choking episode happens, it has turned out that they are damaged, thanks to a general anesthetic I had for a knee surgery 4 years ago and 3 months of constant coughing but it is manageable now.

So give pilates a go, for people who have lost a lot of weight it is invaluable, it’s a very flexible exercise in that there are different levels so you can find the best one for you and build on them.  And for the boys, it’s not just for girls, it can be extremely good for men, it can provide a lot of stability for your muscles which will help with any other exercise you do, it keeps your joints in good condition too as you get older, there’s a guy in his 60s in my class, he runs and swears by pilates to keep him strong, he’s also the one who groans the most too!

And when you do lose weight, strange things can happen as a consequence, just as putting on weight causes problems, losing it can be a challenge for your body, listen to it, respect it and ask for help if you are worried.  It will be worth it in the end.

And for some more reading about the benefits of pilates have a read of this:

http://pilates.about.com/od/whatispilates/tp/Pilates-Benefits.htm

And the photos – the Italian pilates class on my trip earlier in the summer and by the end of the week I was flexible enough to get my feet behind my head, I used to be able to do that when I was in my teens, I am overjoyed to be able to do it again! 

Being in the Black

4 Sep

When I was bigger the majority of clothes in my wardrobe were black, I was the queen of black clothes shopping, I could track them down, I could almost smell them! I would be overjoyed if one of the very few shops that stocked my size had new black stuff in!

What wasn’t black I had for years, things needed to last due to the lack of availability, one blouse I bought in 1996 was only thrown out last year. I would panic if it looked like a retailer would discontinue one of my ‘essential’ items, if they went having to replace them with something that fitted would be very stressful.  I even bulk bought some wide leg trousers from M&S just in case, I had seven identical pairs at one stage.  Evans introduced a new line in jeans once, I was overjoyed because a size 26 fitted, I did cut the label out though.

To compensate for the abundance of black I did though have great accessories, it was even brought up at a work ‘team away day’ that it was something people really noticed about me, I used them to detract from the rest of me.

From a clothes point of view I could cope with everyday, however parties were a challenge and entailed a lot of heart ache, and fancy dress parties, well they didn’t happen, I could come up with an excuse for not making it.  I had enough problems dealing with how I looked every day without having to dress up and the odds of there being something in my size that wouldn’t just look ridiculous were pretty slim, it was always easier not to go.

So the shrinkage was interesting, all of a sudden a whole new world of clothes opened up.  For the first three months I carried on wearing my old clothes, it felt good somehow to be covered and wrapped in them.  However I decided I would like a new dress to wear at Christmas, I arranged to meet my best friend at a shopping mall, I got there first and went for a bit of a wander.  I didn’t really know what size I was anymore so I was ambling around without any real focus, I walked past one shop that I’d never even been in before, after all they didn’t stock anything smaller than a size 18, the clothes were always lovely though.  I took a deep breath and went in to have a look, I found a beautiful purple dress, decided to try it on while I was waiting for my friend.

Off I went to the changing room holding the size 18, thinking it probably would be too small but at least I could then eliminate the shop and focus my efforts elsewhere which would be fine.  I looked in the mirror and realised that it fitted perfectly, but I was completely bewildered, I was still going through this period of not being able to see me in a mirror, so I took off the dress, went to a nearby cafe and sat clutching a coffee, I needed my friend to arrive, I needed her to tell me what I looked like in it.

Of course once she saw it, she told me how lovely it looks and half an hour later I walked out of the shop with not one but two dresses, both in a size 18, it turned out the dress came in different colours so I ended up with the purple one and a spotty one for work.  I was so happy, that bag meant the world to me.

I walked into work the next week wearing that dress, and my shrinkage was very evident for everyone to see, heads turned that morning!  It was a kind of coming out ceremony and letting everyone know what I was doing. I had been up to that stage not really talking about it to anyone other than very close friends, I was still getting my head around it after all, I didn’t even really know how to explain it.

It started off the process of replacing my clothes, as soon as something was too big, it went to the charity shop or was thrown out. But this meant buying new things, there were all these shops now where I could go, it was exciting, overwhelming and rewarding. I did though find I needed someone with me, the head thing was still proving to challenge me in being able to see what I looked like, luckily I have wonderful friends who were more than happy to help me!

I have a lovely wardrobe now, full of colour, I find it hard now to buy black and I would never wear it head to toe. My accessories are now far more understated, I don’t need to hide.

So my thoughts from this for you are:

  • Evict the clothes that are too big, if you keep them ‘just in case’, what you are actually saying to yourself that you will fail and need them in the future, don’t give yourself the option, free yourself.
  • Buy new things!  There is nothing more exciting than finding a smaller size fits!  Don’t keep telling yourself you’ll wait until you’ve lost loads more weight, you’ll keep much more motivated believe me if you do it as you go along!
  • Look at things you wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing when you were bigger, there’s no need to hide anymore!
  • And ditch the black!

And the photos, the first one was taken in September 2009, I’d lost a little bit of weight then, the second one was taken in May 2010, that pink top proved to be very important and I’m wearing white, big girls don’t wear white?

Tricks for eating out and enjoying it!

3 Sep

The vital part of losing all the weight was finding a balance.  To be able to continue my love affair with food, I had to try really hard to find the best way to sort out how much I actually needed to eat.

My stomach was shrinking, my body was actually helping me to help myself. So the smaller portions weren’t that difficult to manage at home, the biggest challenge came when I had dinner with a friend, he is a great cook, the food was bound to be good, so how would I be able to cope, in my head was a fear I would eat too much and my stomach would protest and make me ill or that I would offend because I’d be seen to not appreciate his hard work by not being able to eat it if I was worried about eating too much and how bad it was for me! The trauma of it all!

As predicted the food was great, I asked for about half of what he had dished up, it didn’t actually look too bad, not ridiculously small anyway, I had still had something of everything, and I really enjoyed it!

That’s been the thing, I haven’t damaged my relationship with food in any way, I love food more now than before. Back then there was a love hate thing going on, I loved eating it but hated the control it had over me and my body.

Because I now have control, I can enjoy it and relax.

There were other challenges to come, eating out was an interesting one, of course I don’t have control over the portion size, however I decided early on that this wasn’t going to force me to always end up choosing what looked like the lower calorie option in a restaurant, that seemed like quite a waste!  Or even worse never be able to go out or always feel it was traumatic and no fun!

And after all because I was doing well at home, I should be able to go out and enjoy food too, for a long-term sustainable approach, this had to be tackled head on.

So the trick is to eat about half, then put your knife and fork down, I normally then have a bit of a chat with my fellow diners, while this is happening, my head and my stomach sort themselves out and I can then decide if I am full or not.  Amazingly this is the point where I do normally decide I have had enough, I have enjoyed the food, savoured it and am not stuffed, I then place the napkin over the food or if it’s looking like the staff are beginning to clear I put my cutlery on the plate, it’s then normally taken away – result. I have changed the way I eat, I stop more than I used too, I think we all perhaps just look at the food on our plates and just shovel, it’s a kind of endurance challenge!

Yes it takes a bit of willpower to be able to do that however I counterbalance with the thought of being stuffed and perhaps feeling ill later and the waste that will be, together with the fact that because I use this technique I can eat what I want, not the salad or the boring options.  It makes eating so exciting!  I’d never have been able to have gone on a week’s foodie holiday in Italy without being able to perfect it!

There are some things I do to help myself, I may not have the chips, I love chips however I love new potatoes just as much and I can have a few more of those…but essentially there isn’t much I won’t eat now.

I can do it for puddings too, more difficult but it can be done, Pizza Express have really helped me out here with their ‘tiny’ desserts which come with coffee, a result!    And often if I’ve been really good with the main then a pudding on a special night out is not going to end the world, especially now I’m in maintaining my weight loss!

Same principle for takeaways, stop when you’ve had your small plate full, chat, reflect and if you then think ‘I’m full’, put the lids back on the containers, for some reason once I couldn’t see the food, I lost interest, others could help themselves but I was more than happy…..with a pizza, cut into 8ths not quarters…it’s all really about tricks.

And if the waste bothers you, well for takeaways, order less next time!  Even talk to your takeaway proprietor and see whether they can do you smaller portions, you may be surprised.  I’d love to see pubs and restaurants reduce their portion sizes anyway, some are just crazy, you don’t need to eat massive amounts to enjoy good food.

Give it a go once your stomach has started to shrink, you’ll be getting used to smaller portions, and have in your mind that this is the way forwards to be able to have a normal and healthy relationship with food, it is a head game of tricks!  I can go out and eat, enjoy a takeaway and the lovely food that friends prepare, that’s what motivates me!

So again, it’s all about less.  Just let your head and stomach work together, stop regularly when you’re eating and think, believe me it does work.

The photo is of my first attempt at home at making pasta from scratch! Went quite well, because I’ve sorted my relationship with food, I even love cooking more!

Why it’s different for boys (over 40)

2 Sep

Yes, I am 43 and heading rather too quickly for my liking towards 44. One thing that I’ve learnt about is that the ‘over 40’ body is very different to the one we had in our 20s. Therefore we need to approach losing weight and exercise in a different way too. Our metabolism is slowing down and our bodies are just starting to see the effects of time, we can’t do anything about it, it’s just biology!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m finding from my research that support and information specifically for men in losing weight and keeping it off isn’t as extensive as it is for women, us girls to tend to talk about it, swap stories and hopefully offer each other some support, but I wonder if men do this?  The sexes do think differently so this is another one of those things where plans built for women will not necessarily work for men.

So if you add the being over 40 thing as well, then it’s becoming obvious that some help is needed!

The piece below is from a web site I’ve found, written by a bloke, he does a great and honest job at looking at why things are different once you reach 40 and uses a lot of the techniques and thoughts I have.  None of us want to be older (ridiculous when you think how much of our lives we spent wanting to be older!) but if you listen to the advice and understand why things do work differently the results can be so much better and hopefully easier. And as things will continue to slow down, starting to make changes at 40 seems like a really good idea!

So check out Forty, Fit and Fabulous , there are a lot of really interesting bits, it’s well worth reading up about how your metabolism now works so you can adapt.

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Weight gain for men over 40 is a natural sign effect of the aging process. Why? Well, because the body’s metabolism is slowing down which most people don’t realize. So they continue to eat the same amount of food that they did when they were twenty years old, and the result is that the body stores that extra fat on the belly mostly.

Combine that with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and we have the two main reasons for weight loss over 40 for men.

Did you know that the mortality rate up to six month after retirement is at the highest in your life. As all of the stresses of work and life disappear at retirement there are no goals anymore and no exercise. Getting older does not mean getting lazier.

There may be other reasons for the weight gain as well, such as emotional and mental health problems that may need to be addressed.

Losing Weight Tips:

1. Diet: Your key to eating right is eating enough nourishing food that you won’t feel famished and binge on empty calorie, high-fat snacks. Good balanced meals, combined with smaller portions at every meal is the way to go. Be aware of what you are eating and how much. Keep a food diary and record everything you eat.

2. Exercise: 30 minutes of exercise everyday is a good goal. Aim to exercise everyday. Walking is good for your joints, and is low impact, as well as being more effective than running. Running is harder on the body, especially when you are over 40 years old, as well as being less effective for weight loss because joggers burn more sugar than fat.  Make the walk something you do where you are breaking a sweat. Walk up a hill or two. So incorporate exercise into your daily life.

3. Mental and Emotional Health: If you aren’t happy with yourself, then you will lack motivation to take the time to put some effort into making yourself feel better. You just wont care. Just getting started with exercising will start to make you feel better as exercise helps to melt away life’s hassles. Adopt the mindset that eating healthily and exercising is a way to tell yourself that you deserve to be healthy and to live a long, productive life. Find a way of exercising that you enjoy and get started with it.

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