Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss

Some Weeks…

…are great, others not so much. In terms of weight loss, mood, work, everything. What goes up must come down and all that. But we all know this, yeah?

So why do I punish myself so? One of the things I’m trying to do to make myself a better person is to cut myself some slack. Aside from my father (sorry, Dad) I’m my harshest critic and repeatedly insist on beating myself up over the slightest deviation from my success mission in life. But I try, I really do.

Right now I’m buried in my own turmoil over having what I would describe as a ‘bad’ day yesterday. I feel guilty, like I’m a failure and that I’m never going to get anywhere with my goals in life. Why? What was so bad about yesterday? That’s what is so ridiculous about it. I had a great day yesterday. For the first time since moving, I spent a full day with James. We don’t get a lot of time together. We didn’t do anything spectacular, but we took the chance to relax, venture out and actually enjoy each other’s company. Which was lovely.

BUT…

I ate like a pig. An actual, wallowing, greedy, oinky pig. All day. I didn’t do any writing. Not a single sentence. I have a novel that isn’t even going to be finished THIS YEAR, and I’ve already been working on it twelve months. Then there’s housework. Nope, none of that either. NOTHING. So am I completely deranged? Possibly. One of the many parts of my contradictive personality caused the conflict yesterday which made for interesting internal dialogue. My rebellious, spontaneous, fun-loving side had locked horns with my deliberate, routine-centric, I-must-succeed-at-everything-all-the-time side. It got ugly. All the usual negative thoughts came pouring out, which I won’t bore anyone with.

The upshot was that the time I spent fighting with myself was detracting from what should have been a carefree day. It’s not like one day means the collapse of my novel, nor does it mean that the house is going to rot to hell. And most importantly, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to gain the weight that I’ve lost. But that is very, very difficult for me to deal with. How can something that goes against everything ‘good’ about weight loss be enjoyable?

Not only am I a complete hardass on myself, I also seem to have an incredibly short memory. This week I’ve upped my exercise and started running again. Not just that, I’ve signed myself up for a race to give me something to focus on. One bad day doesn’t mean a bad week, and even if I don’t lose at the scales, does it mean I’m going to be fat forever? No.

Using this logic, I’m trying to draw a line under yesterday and starting again today. I AM allowed to have fun once every few months with my soulmate. We work hard for that precious time. I did some housework as soon as I got up, and I’ve allotted an extra hour for working on my book this evening.

I’m only human.

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Weight Loss

The Curse of the Jeggings

I love them and hate them simultaneously.

Jeggings are comfy, and you can pretty much wear them with anything. If it hadn’t been for them, I’d have spent the first three months post-surgery dressed in a bin bag or pyjamas. Dress up, dress down, they do it all. They dry a lot quicker than common-or-garden jeans, and you don’t get that horrible, crispy, shove-the-pockets-into-their-rightful-place ritual once they’ve been washed. Being a strictly jeans kinda gal, what’s not to love?

It dawned on me the other day while I was walking the dogs -in allowing myself to wear them, I’m actually facilitating my own fatness. Yes they are comfy. They’re still comfy when you’ve overeaten – there’s plenty of ‘give’ in them. For this same reason, it’s easy to gain a few lbs and not notice. Instead of living in them, I should be listening to Cordelia (the slim, slightly posh voice in my head) – “Come on, dear, try and squeeze into your genuine jeans in that size and see what happens.” – I’m not striving towards getting back into my much-loved denims.

I’m kidding myself on. My plan is going well in terms of what I wanted to achieve after moving house – find as meeting,  exercise every day, get into a routine. But it’s all going a bit too slowly for my liking. And that’s because, for whatever reason, I haven’t quite got myself back into the ‘zone’. (And now live in jeggings.) I lost half a lb this week, and STS the week before. At this rate, the summer will be over before I’m back running.

I don’t really know what to do to get myself back into the mindset that I usually have. Perhaps heading to my first Fife WWs meeting next week will help – I’ve had to wait because of work commitments, with meeting choices being limited in the locality. I’m hoping it might be able to channel my general enthusiasm back into the positive realms of weight-loss. But I think the key might be in the jeans. I feel slightly wretched. Woe is me.

I can get into one pair of my actual jeans. They are tight, but I can fasten them. So this week, I’m giving myself a shake. I’m going to make myself wear them. I’m going to let them cut into my flabby stomach and constrict the blood flow to my thunderous thighs as a constant reminder that jeggings are not the way forward.

 

Mental Wellbeing

Anxiety vs. Depression

They are not the same thing.

I’m aware of the stigma STILL  attached to mental health issues (particularly in the workplace) and I refuse to be ashamed. Why should I? I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was going to make myself a crazy person.

I used to struggle terribly from the second week in January through to my birthday at the beginning of March so I’m very self-aware at the moment, and the start of the week  I could feel the deathgrip coming. The overwhelming urge to dive beneath the duvet and let the world steam-roller over the top of me. This is the feeling that puts me into lockdown – that place where I revert to self-preservation and scrape by doing the bare minimum to function as a human being, because it is all I am capable of.

What I am experiencing is anxiety, not depression. I’m not a doctor, but having suffered both, I can tell the difference. When your brain is swimming and your logic is drunk, sometimes it’s hard to separate the two. They often go hand in hand, and one can lead to the other. They tag-team your ass. And they’re sneaky.

Depression is a mire. You feel worthless, demotivated and cannot see any good or beauty in anything. There is no point in anything. I often suffer terrible lethargy, prolonged bouts of tears/feeling hopeless and the want to do absolutely nothing because everything is so terrible. I can’t feel positive or happy and have no interest in myself or others – which in turn makes me feel worse because it means I’m a selfish, self-absorbed cow. I take no interest in hobbies or pastimes, which is why I find it very difficult to write when I’m truly depressed. I don’t sleep well for weeks on end. And the weirdest thing of all? Brushing my teeth. I kid you not. Chronic sufferers of depression will tell you that taking care of themselves no longer rates, and with me it’s my teeth. I have no idea why.

The main thing about depression for me is cause. If I can get to the root of why, I can take steps to start fixing it. Until I find the root cause (or admit the cause to myself) I might as well stay under that duvet and wave on the steam roller.

Anxiety is worse. Depression I can feel coming on over a period of days, weeks, sometimes months. Anxiety sneaks up and bitch-slaps me whenever the hell it feels like it. Which is frequently. It’s a fast, snappy feeling which contrasts with the sluggishness of depression. Anyone will tell you – I talk a lot. A LOT. No, I mean A LOT. I’m not sorry. It’s the way I’m wired and I can’t help it. I really can’t. I’m one of those people that has a million tabs open in the browser in my head all the time, and things compute on all these tabs at squillions of miles an hour, all simultaneously. It has to get out somehow, or my brain would explode. I think this lends itself to bouts of anxiety.

The things I juggle in my head suddenly start to pile up, and more and more thoughts come crashing in. I become overwhelmed. My heart races, my stomach knots. Intense feelings of guilt engulf me and I panic. My concentration drops to nil. This can last for hours, sometimes days. If I’m in that delicate state, or on the cusp, the slightest little thing can tip me over the edge  and I start to over-think, blow things out of proportion (my doctor used to jokingly call this ‘analysis paralysis’) and I make myself physically ill. I get pins and needles in my face, fingers and arms and my bowel turns to water. I vomited violently before my final Degree exams because of this. (Romantically, this is one of James’ earliest memories of me. Lovely.)

For me, learning to tell them apart has been key in managing my mental state, controlling my weight and generally getting more out of life. Mental illness can be crippling. I’m good at it now, having had years to discover what works. It’s a bit like diabetes. I’ll never be able to make it go away, but I can manage it and take steps to keep on top of it.

I’m not scared to talk about it. I don’t think people realize how common mental illness is, and some don’t even recognize what is wrong with them. Having a mental illness doesn’t make you weak or a lesser person. It doesn’t make you a weirdo. It makes you strong. I cannot begin to describe to someone who has never been depressed or suffered chronic anxiety how frightening it is to fight with your own mind every day and know that the battles are coming.

 

Life Journey, Relationships, Targets, Weight Loss

Boom!

So I dropped into class with my Mum on Thursday. I stepped on the scales knowing that I definitely hadn’t put on any weight, and was feeling good about a STS. Having a handle on my eating habits makes all the difference when getting on the scales. I genuinely didn’t care if I didn’t see a loss, simply because I felt as if I had got my eating back under control. I was delighted to hear the ‘beep’ and see 13st 5 – my 10%! BOOM!

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I gladly posed for my little photo that my leader insists on taking and received my card and keyring. In ten years of trying to lose weight, that is now my third 10% keyring. I still have the other two, and I’ve kept them as a reminder. Not to remind myself that this is a third attempt or that my previous two attempts were a failure, but to serve as a testament of my stubbornness never to give up. Keep trying. Keep on truckin’. That’s all I can do. IMG_1375

The meeting itself was quite a deep and emotional affair, and I talked candidly about the effect a large weight loss has had on my mother. She’s lost 80lbs, and genuinely is a different person, inside and out – it’s changed her life. And she’s awesome. It made me think about myself. By the time I’m finished, I’ll have lost over 50lbs. Will it change me? I don’t have the lacking confidence like mum did, or the health issues. What else is there to change other than what I see in the mirror?  I had a little talk with myself and decided it doesn’t matter as long as the changes are positive ones –  but I’m not giving up until I find out.

I don’t often go to class with Mum because of my work schedule, but I’m really glad I did. The mutual support is a big help, and there are more connections than both of us realize. We should be there for each other as much as possible, and I’m going to go with her every chance I get. My next goal is my 25lb certificate, which is 4lbs away. I’ll get it at the same weight my mum was when she got her last certificate… I think the weight-loss gods are trying to tell us something?

 

 

Mental Wellbeing, Targets, Weight Loss

Working in the Background…

I talked a few weeks ago about ensuring enough ‘me’ time to look after yourself. I always try to make time, but the last little while I’ve felt it has become almost impossible. I’ve been off the radar for almost a month. When I’m stressed or things are getting on top of me, I go into lockdown. That’s pretty much where I have been recently. It’s self-preservation on a very basic level.

This, however, does not mean that I’ve ‘given up’ on one thing or another, nor am I ‘ill’ – it just boils down to the simple fact that I don’t have enough time or energy to focus on all of the things I would like to. Right now, work is very much a priority. I’m busy on-farm, which means early starts sometimes at three in the morning. Teamed with grandmothers in hospital, the return of James (Yay! We’re a family again!) and a run of unfortunate incidents with the canine portion of the tribe, something had to give. When I’m not at my best, I focus all my energy on functioning properly and getting through the things I need to do. (My concentration and energy levels are the first to suffer, and that’s a recipe for disaster in terms of doing my job properly.) Oddly, it’s at these times when I’m at my most organized. I have to be, or my days would be spent hiding under a blanket watching crappy T.V.

Over the years, I’ve found lots of coping mechanisms to deal with low or overwhelming times, and one of the best things is to get into a routine as quickly as possible. Getting up, meals, writing time, whatever. Just some sort of constant. It instantly makes me feel like I have regained control of my affairs and seems to have a natural knock-on effect into other areas of my life. It’s this routine mentality that has saved my ass the last few weeks. Having not weighed in or been to class in over a month, one would assume that I can’t be bothered, or I’ve lost my motivation, or that I’m simply going to have gained weight. Not so. In my latest lockdown, I have been mindful of my eating and while the chaos has been swirling around on a day-to-day basis, my good eating habits have been working away in the background, a little routine all of their own.

I know myself well enough to know that losing on a regular basis in this state is an unrealistic and unachievable goal. But now that I’m feeling calmer, I’m going to class. Tomorrow. I also know that in the five (maybe six?) weeks since I last weighed in, I’ve not put on any weight. I’m confident of that. I’d love to achieve my 10% goal, as that was next on the list, so fingers crossed I see that on the scales this week or next. I feel like it is some sort of vindication that anxiety/stress/whatever doesn’t make me useless, and that I can achieve what I want and I’m a perfectly normal human being. Which I am.

People mock me for my lists, goals and bits of paper. It doesn’t matter a jot because it’s what gets me through, and it works. Do what works. It gets results, and the proof will be on the scales in the morning.

I’m now in the process of letting the routine mentality wash over into the the other neglected areas of my life that have been ticking away quietly in the background. Writing and Running are next. And yes, I already have goals set.

A 5k and Chapter Ten, anyone?

 

 

Exercise, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running, Targets, Weight Loss

Fat Girl Who Runs

When it comes to healthy body and mind, I used to worry about what people thought of me. I used to slouch my shoulders to hide my ample bosom and avoid photographs with my ‘skinny’ friends. I was ashamed. I used to go out of my way to hide the fact that I’d suffered mental illness – no-one wants to deal with a nutcase. During my months of inactivity pre and post surgery, I felt as if I had to justify to people why I’d got fat, and why I wasn’t sleeping and looked like crap. Much as we live in a more accepting and open world these days, people still judge whether we like it or not.

Friday was a very special day for me. I laced up my running shoes. Running for me is about keeping a mental balance, proving to myself I can work hard and follow my commitments through to the end. It’s not about weight loss, that’s an added bonus. When I’m mentally ‘up’, I find it a lot easier to control my food intake, but also how well I cope with day-to-day life.

I was absolutely scared stiff.

Not only had I not run for over a year, but I was 28lbs heavier than the last time I pounded the pavement. My ‘big’ running gear was tight. Thankfully I’m a bit more level-headed these days, and my sensible, positive voice Cordelia sat me down and had a chat before I set out. She told me to forget what I’d done before. This was going to be a new start. Today was the first step. She patted me on the knee and ushered me out the front door.

I chose a 2.6 mile route simply because it was an easy out-and-back, and I knew 5k was out of the question (lamenting my 16-mile run to my WWs class in times of old). Come on Gem, be sensible. Okay. No expectations. Start with little more than a walk. Really slow. But I’m on a main road. Everyone can see me. So be proud. Show all those people you think are staring at you as they drive by that you’re a warrior, and being heavy or slow isn’t going to stop you. Yes. Cordelia, you’re right. I’m a warrior. No-one knows how far I’m running, no-one who passes by and judges knows my story. Screw them. Just run.

And I did.

I held my head high, puffed and panted all the way, wiped sweat away and talked to myself (out loud) pushing uphill. I stopped to walk when I needed, and I completely ignored everything else. As I came downhill on my last half mile, I felt strong, confident. I sped up a little. Three men in a white transit van approached, and they were looking at me. Uh-oh. Talk about a buzzkill. I looked straight back at them, waiting for the sneers and perceived taunting going on inside that van. Guess what? It never came. They beeped the horn and gave me a thumbs-up as they zoomed past. I sprinted the last tiny bit home.

If I had looked away instead of at them, I’d have taken the horn-beeping as a cruel, judgmental gesture. That might have been enough to kill my confidence completely. I suppose the point I’m making is that what we think others see is often what we torture ourselves with, and if we lack confidence in what we do, our own judgement can swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Don’t worry about what others think. It’s too delicate a balance to be upset.

So what if I’m big and I go running? So what if I’m proud of my 12-minute miles? One day I’ll be back at 8-minute miles, 16 mile runs, chasing a long-forgotten and insane 5k PB. The people I think are judging will be long-gone by then, and I’ll only have the Fat Girl Who Runs to thank.

 

Targets, Weight Loss

Didn’t She Do Well?

That escalated quickly.

I sauntered in to my weigh-in this morning full of hope for my 5% goal of 14st 2. I stepped on the scales and my leader said:  “Oh my God!”…. I panicked. I’ve been really good this week, exercised and tracked everything. Surely I hadn’t put on? No, no, no. It was an exclamation of surprise, but for the right reasons. I’ve lost 5lbs – I’m 13st 12.5. Smashed my 5% target, into a new number and half a pound from my stone, and second silver seven. I couldn’t believe it. Cordelia was smiling proudly in the corner of my brain, clapping demurely.

My brain reacted quickly to the clapping – always one for a challenge, I immediately said, “Let me get off and on again to see if I can’t get this stone.” I took off my shirt and hopped back on.

Beep.

13st 12 on the button. Cordelia dispensed with the conservative clapping, whooped, and started dancing in circles, flashing her petticoat at all and sundry. I did a little dance too, and got a massive cuddle from my leader, accompanied by applause from the other WWs. Pleased as punch!

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Although I feel like I’ve achieved above my own expectations, the hard work needs to continue. I have still got a long way to go. I have 5lbs left to lose to get running again, and more hard work will need to follow to get my fitness level back to where it was this time last year. But I’m ready.

More pressing is the coming week. I have my partner home from work (he works away). It’s his birthday, and we will be eating out no fewer than four times before I next weigh in, as well as ‘socialising’ a few nights too. I’m being realistic, I don’t expect a loss next week, maybe even a gain. I’m not one of those people who goes out and orders a chicken salad with no dressing. Life is for living, but I’m taking a tempered approach. I’m going to stick to low-point foods and meals outside of these occasions. I’m going to plan ahead if I can with online menus from the restaurants. I’ll estimate Propoints for meals which I don’t know the value of, and continue tracking and walking as I have been. No beer, no wine. If I want to drink, spirits and diet mixers only. I’m hoping this all-encompassing approach will limit the amount of chaos this week will cause, and draw a line under it next Sunday when James leaves.

Wish me luck.