Seeing is believing (when it comes to progress)


I may have been quiet about it, but I’ve been getting to the gym really regularly for the past 3 weeks, determined to spend more time getting my body in shape and dropping the stealth almost-20lbs I’ve gained over the past few months.

I’ve been focused on weights again after a long time away from the lifting and I’ve also been determined not to get frustrated by slow weight loss. It’s funny how you can know that slow weight loss is normal and that week 2 weight loss never matches week 1. You can know but still want to see the immediate results. As much as I tell The Boy not to get frustrated, I find myself getting frustrated and then get annoyed at getting frustrated. Luckily, I’ve managed to stay pretty much on track for almost a month, so bonus!

I know that I’ve been feeling better and stronger again but I haven’t wanted to shout it from the rooftops yet, since I figured I haven’t lost much yet and it’s not that noticeable. But I was wrong! I had a session with my trainer today and he hasn’t seen me in a month since he’s been away. He immediately noticed that I was stronger and got super excited, pulling over the 12kg kettlebells and 10kg weights instead of the lighter weights he’s used to needing. He kept asking if things were too heavy and I think he was expecting me to complain but I was on fire. Plus he noticed I’d dropped weight and he was massively impressed. I walked out of the session feeling awesomely strong, massively fatigued and tempted to lie down on the side of the road and just sleep.

I didn’t, don’t worry. Instead, I walked/shuffled the 15 minute distance home, munched on a muesli bar and basked in the glow of feeling stronger everyday. Yes, I’m sore and tired and really want to nap but I’ve picked up some freelance work so that’s not on the cards. But I feel awesome and motivated, even if the scale is only moving slowly. Muscles, it’s nice to meet you again!

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Staying motivated even when the results aren’t obvious


Logically, we all know that the weight won’t drop off the minute we walk into a gym, or choose the first healthier meal. We know that the weight crept on and it will more than likely creep off too. We know this but we still want to see results NOW. Scratch that, we want results yesterday. We want to look in the mirror and see a svelte self; we want the numbers on the scale to start descending immediately. We want it all.

Compounding this is the fact that the first week of being on track – be it exercising or eating better, or both – we usually see results. We lose a lot of excess water weight and we feel quite virtuous. So, we step on the scale and voila, the number is lower. This is good, we think. This is easy. Why didn’t I do this years ago? This was me last week – I was down a pound and thrilled. All it took was making a few different decisions, like avoiding chocolate and moving more, and amazingly, I lost weight. Easy.

And then week 2 hits.

We gain it back or don’t lose anything else. Our body betrays us. And we remember why we didn’t do this years ago – because it’s not that easy. It’s bloody HARD actually. This week, my scale deserted me. It stood on the other side of the bathroom and laughed at me. It stayed the same and then, slowly, went up and up. I’ve gained that pound back and more. This week. I exercised more, I drank more water, I ate as well as I did last week and I gained weight. My skin has broken out, the weight hasn’t shifted and I feel like crud for it.

This week, I realised why weight loss is not easy peasy; why staying on course is not a given. It’s easy to stay focused when you’re losing weight because you’re getting a constant reward, but it’s when you’re not losing weight that you need to be even more focused and motivated. It’s when you’re not seeing the results that you need to remind yourself why you’re doing this. It’s not to look fabulous (although that could be one reason) but it’s to be healthy, to be strong; to feel great. It’s to be here for many years more.

Week 2 is when you need to support yourself and everyone else who’s on the course with you.

So this week, I’m still making good choices. I’m still going to get to the gym 4 times this week. I’m still going to drink a riduculous amount of water so I stay hydrated. And hopefully, my body will catch onto the plan and start doing what I want it to do.

I am focused because this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. This is for good.

 

Things I’ve Learnt


1. Buying books about weight-loss and exercise does not actually make you lose weight or exercise.

I know, it’s bizarre, but it’s true. I’ve been buying books about weight loss and exercise and all these healthy recipe books and not actually opening them. Or opening them, reading them and not actually, well, putting them into practice. So I really shouldn’t be surprised that I’m not actually losing weight. But it annoys me none-the-less.

2. Eating 6 meals a day does not help you lose weight when those six meals are all the size of a dinner plate.

Again, bizarre but true. I’ve turned into a snacking machine and I’ve stopped listening to my body. Or rather, I’ve turned every murmur from my body into a “I’m hungry!” signal. And every snack is not really a snack. For a while I was eating breakfast at home, then breakfast at work, then a morning snack, then lunch, afternoon snack, after-work snack and then dinner. For your information, this is not a surefire way to lose weight. Or even to maintain your weight. I don’t recommend this diet.

Unless, of course, your aim is to gain weight. Then it’s highly effective.

3. Living with my parents is not a good way to lose weight.

My mother, bless her, loves to cook and loves to please people. So every meal time is a production in many ways. We may not eat starters with every meal (thank goodness!) but there’s veggie sides and salads and dips and sauces. And if that’s not enough, she’s offering leftovers in the fridge or other dips or snacks or … It’s neverending food.

Then she bakes and of course offers us something to test, or the crumbs or the leftovers. And it’s so yummy that it’s tough to say no. I know I should have more willpower but it’s not an easy task I tell you. I’m not blaming her really but it’s hard work!

But there’s a solution! A family friend is going away for 2 and a half weeks and has offered us their place in exchange for some dog-sitting. So our own place for two weeks + a built in reason to exercise everyday = awesome! And my mood has shifted already.

Oh, and things are happening on the Work front too. The Boy will hopefully have an offer coming through soon – they’re busy doing the whole background and reference check thing right now, so fingers crossed it comes through. And me, well, I’m in demand which is good and confusing but I think I’ve made up my mind. More later!

My own worst frenemy


I think I know why I’ve gain a yet-to-be-determined amount of weight.

Self-sabotage.

I realised this this morning as I was looking at the latest CAE Short Course catalogue and musing about taking a chocolate making class at the end of April. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Yes, fun and fattening.

And this morning as well? I went to the kitchen to get a piece of Babybel cheese for my snack. It was a pre-planned snack. How did I end up with the cheese AND a biscuit from the biscuit tin as well? Did it jump onto my plate?

So yes. I am officially my worst enemy. I should have my own face on a WANTED poster. Because people, I am a self-saboteur.

I know how to avoid other sabotaging “frenemies” quite easily. I have all those techniques but how do I avoid myself? It’s a bit of a challenge since I’m kinda stuck with me. I need to find a way to control my frenemy side. The side that justifies that biscuit or that snack or that lie-in.

That word-that-rhymes-with-witch must go.

But people, this is HARD. That voice in my head has been given free reign over the last 6 months really. Every meal is a choice and every choice has been justified, conveniently ignoring all the previous choices. Not that I’m saying there’s “good” food and “bad” food but there are better choices out there than I’ve been making.

It’s the small things I’ve been justifying. The chocolate in the afternoon. The biscuit with tea (or sometimes without tea). They’re easier to justify really. And I need to confess something else. I bought a funky water bottle and have been drinking LESS water than I ever did before. Somehow, being in a bottle and out of sight (on my desk) has made me “forget” to drink up! So that’s got to stop too.

Now if only using my brain again and doing all the things I know are good for me would make me lose weight overnight. That would be nice *sigh*.

New Year’s cliche


I weighed myself this morning, after a week of particularly bad eating and no activity. I really didn’t need to weigh myself to know that I’d gained weight but I had that little kernel of hope that maybe I was being paranoid.

Nope. I have officially gained 10lbs since the wedding.

I am at my heaviest in 2 years and I hate it. I hate the way I feel – the lack of energy, the sluggishness. I hate the muffin top over my “big” jeans. I hate that none of my work pants fit me, or that my work shirts are tight around my arms. This is a problem now because I have interviews lined up and I suddenly need new clothes, but I like my old clothes.

I hate feeling fat. I hate looking in the mirror and this morning, the number glared at me.

Suddenly I find myself a New Year’s cliche – I want to lose weight NOW. Yeah, me and everyone else. But I’ve done this before and I know how it’s done. I’ve been letting myself slide – 2lbs here, 2lbs there – and it’s not okay anymore.

Normally I would say, well, I’m in Melbourne with the family this week and there’s no gym for me there so I’ll start when we get back. But I hate how I feel NOW so I’m going to make the effort this week as much as possible. Normally, I take gym clothes with me and either never use them or only use them once. Not this time. Hold me accountable people!

These 10lbs may have started 2011 with me but I’m sending them back to 2010 as soon as possible.

When supposedly clever people are idiots


I logged into facebook yesterday and saw this status update in my live feed

Facebook status update

This was from someone in their 40s, well-educated and someone I consider intelligent. The comments on this update? All from similarly intelligent people and all agreeing with this update. That eating is BAD and if you don’t eat much, you’ll lose weight.

Well, duh you’ll lose weight. And yes, you’ll probably lose weight quickly initially but doing what worked for you in your 20s, almost 30 years ago, when your metobolism was different and when the information out there was different, is not an intelligent thing to do. It’s like saying that tanning was fine in your 20s, so you’ll do it again, even though you now know the dangers of skin cancer. Or smoking was fine and this whole lung cancer thing is baloney.

As The Boy says, when people are desperate, intelligent or not, they don’t always make intelligent decisions. And I understand that but seriously, I want to smack these people on the side of the head, a la Gibbs in NCIS. The poster was bragging about losing 4lbs in 3 days of this regime and I wanted to yell out

Of course you lost weight quickly. It’s water weight but this is not sustainable.

I wanted to comment about how she’s losing muscle and not fat and how this is not a sustainable way of life. I wanted to remind her that she didn’t gain the weight overnight and so losing it will take time. I wanted to ask her if she’s only relying on diet or if she’s lifting weights as well.

But after reading all the comments agreeing with her revolutionary regime and asking for tips or talking about how not eating at all during the day was the only way for them, I walked away. My comments and queries would not be welcomed and I would be pilloried as this young ‘un who know nothing.

Am I crazy or is this just, well, whacked?

The 2 week itch


I’ve reached that stage of a new habit. Everyone reaches this at some point when they’re trying something new or different. Stop shaking your head or walking away slowly. Admit it. You start out all gung-ho and excited. You’re going to DO IT this time. You’re going to be the skinniest one in the room. You’re going to be fittest of your friends. You’re going to run that 5k and WIN.

For the first few days/weeks you’re on a roll. You’re acing your plan. Every meal is perfectly portioned. Every exercise day has a big tick next to it. You are AWESOME.

And you ARE awesome but also human. But at some point, your enthusiasm flags. Maybe you’re tired after a really long day at work and you can’t be bothered going to the gym. Maybe you wake up craving pancakes and cheese and chocolate and you tell yourself “It’s okay. It’s just today. I’ll be back tomorrow”. And tomorrow you wake up at a crossroads. Do you get back on track or do you give up? It’s not always such a clear cut decision – if it was, it would be super easy. Who really chooses to give up over staying the course? I mean, most of us do at some stage but after one day, it’s not as obvious when you’re making that choice. After one day, all it seems to be is that you’re choosing to take it easy – I mean, you’re busy at work, right? It’s the holidays, it’s too hard right now. You just don’t have the time. But you will later. You’ll start again later.

I’m at that stage right now with trying to eat healthy and exercise again. It’s been 2 weeks of enthusiasm and excitement. I’ve been losing that extra weight (only 6lbs to go!), fitting into my clothes better, feeling brilliant about myself. You’d think that this would be the ultimate in motivation, right?

Yeah, not so much. I’ve become bored and complacent. I went over my calorie budget last night by 500 calories. I’ve eaten almost my entire calories budget today already and it’s only lunchtime. I’m annoyed with myself and annoyed with the fact that cheese has a lot of calories – why in G-D’s NAME does my favourite food have so many calories? And why on EARTH did I decide to know that?

What I do now is going to influence what happens to this newly unformed habit of mine. If I choose to be grumpy about it, I’ll stop tracking entirely and give up, convinced that my weight is FINE THANKYOUVERYMUCH and maybe I’m being ridiculous to even keep trying to lose weight. Or I can choose to give myself a day or two of chilling out, eating pizza (for dinner, it was lovely) and then get back to it, knowing that this is a GOOD path and a GOOD choice. And it is a choice. Everyday is a choice. Every meal is a choice. Everytime I exercise is a choice.

Everyone has a different way of staying motivated and different reactions to blips along the way. It’s important to remember that we’re all human. Nobody is perfect. If we were perfect, none of us would be unhealthy or unfit. Sometimes you may just need to remind yourself of why you’re choosing to do this.

I’ve done this today by re-reading my archives, by remembering how good it feels to be strong and fit and healthy. Knowing that, remembering that, means I’m back on track tomorrow.