Exercise, Mental Wellbeing, Running, Weight Loss

Preparations Underway

The day before my 21st birthday I stepped on the scales at Weight Watchers for the first time. I was upset, ashamed and I felt like a failure – the figure that flashed up on the scales confirmed my suspicions. I was half a pound shy of weighing 15 stone. I made a promise to myself there and then to never see that number again. After surgery I came close, but I’ve kept my promise.

Today I’m making myself a new promise – I think 12 years of success from the old pledge is more than enough.

5 per centI’m changing my promise today because I’m making preparations. This week I hit my 5% goal. Tomorrow morning I’m going for a run. Running makes me happy. It always has. It ticks every box for me. Due to a dodgy old knee injury, I’ve learned (nearly the catastrophic way) that weighing much over 13 and a half stone is not conducive to injury-free running, and my knee complains at anything over a mile. So like before, I’m making a promise to myself – I’m never going to be heavier than that ever again.

The benefits are huge. Why would I not want to be able to run all the time? This is the second time since my surgery that I’ve had to work towards getting down under that ‘heavy load’ threshold, and I’m not doing it again. Aside from the obvious fact that running aids weight loss, it has so many other benefits to me. I’m an early morning runner, and even a few miles sets me up for the day and makes me more productive, motivated and positive. It also has a meditative benefit on longer, slower runs where I can let my mind wander, or use the exertion as an emotional outlet – I’m no stranger to venting anger (read: swearing a lot) or having a good cry on a run. (It’s probably just as well I don’t see many people when I’m out running.)

With that in mind, it’s in my best interests to get sorted and be out there clocking the miles, and I’m delighted to be at that stage again. Today saw the pulling-out of the running attire box, which kinda left me with mixed feelings. Most of my winter running clothes are bigger, so I can slip into them no problem – I was running in them at this weight, but my summer stuff is considerably smaller. The last time I ran a full summer season I was nearly two stone lighter than now. That made me sad. So I tried everything on. Rather than sorted by season, my gear now stands in three piles: what fits, nearly fits and no-freaking-chance.

I soon perked up again when I found my favourite running socks and vest – a vest that I

vest
Favourite vest and socks

can just about squeeze into – two items that I associate with achievement and success, and that I love wearing. I also pulled out my Garmin which has been out of use so long it wasn’t even telling the time. I put it on to charge and went on with my preparations. Dust off the favourite shoes. Check. Dig out the running diary. Check. Get out the sports br…. uh oh.

How I can forget about my boobs I’ll never know. Sports bras. My ‘newest’ ones are tiny. Well, tiny by my standards. They do still resemble a reserve for the Scottish skydiving team. My old ones that fit no longer have the support in them for running and I’ve been using them for farming. So there I was frantically rummaging through a box of sports bras that are all the same, colour and everything, except for the size. My hand touched a label. A shiny, cardboard label – not a material one. I pulled it out, attached to a bra strap, closely followed by a whole bra. At this point  I was already praying to the booby gods that it’s the size I needed… If so, how the hell did I not know it was there?

I looked at the label.

Bingo.

And then I remembered. I bought this bra when I lived in England – I was close to surgery and very heavy, and it was on sale in one of the lingerie shops. I knew it wouldn’t fit, but seeing as it was the one I usually wore, I bought it thinking I could slim into it once I was back running, as an intermediate step before going back to ‘tiny’ ones.

As I thought back to that snippet of my past, I sat for a minute, just holding the bra. I remember trying that bra on post-surgery and I couldn’t even fasten it. I forgot how desperately miserable and depressed I was at that time in my life. It couldn’t be further from where I am now. And it made me grateful.

bra
Shock Absorber D+  – The only bra for me.

The bra is a bit snug, but it fits. I’m glad I found it. When I go out and take those first steps tomorrow, it will remind me once again that I have made progress, and sometimes it doesn’t need to be on the scales.

 

 

Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

Sometimes You Have To Fight It

I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed when I stepped on the scales at class this week. I put on half a pound. I wasn’t upset that I’d gained that particular amount, but because I’d let it happen. My week has been a whirl of my own work, lambing, bottle-feeds and checking stock. Some nights James and I weren’t getting in the house until after ten. This resulted in grabbing food if and when I could. Some days I was barely eating, and others so hungry that when I started munching I couldn’t stop. I didn’t track, and that’s what annoyed me. I let my priorities slip – something I promised myself I wouldn’t do over the weeks of my challenge. After all, if I can’t look after myself, what good am I to five hundred ewes and their babies?

bottle feed
Yet another feed

We’re now mid-way through lambing and hitting the busiest part. When this time comes, I’m tired, run-down and it begins to drag me down. It becomes difficult to focus on the successes and every sick or abandoned lamb tends to dwell on the mind. I’m not alone, and it isn’t because of my mental state. We’re all feeling the same and we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel to remind us that another few weeks and we’ll be done. James, who can be a typical hard-hearted farmer, was wiping tears away as I went into the shed, after losing a lamb we fought hard to save. It’s because it’s hard work.

Normally when my mood dips like this, I go into lockdown and focus on the simplest of tasks and ignore the rest of the world, sort of like running on an emergency power generator. Complete the essentials like washing and working to achieve the minimum requirements. I’ve learned to go with the flow and not worry about how little I’m sleeping, or the fact that a million other things aren’t getting done (I’m normally great at ‘getting stuff done’) knowing that I’ll come out the other side and things will go back to normal.

Not this time. This time I’m dealing with it head-on. Aside from the sleeping part which I can do zero about, I’m working hard to stay positive and not slip below the surface into that horrid pool that so often drags me under. The expression ‘pick your battles’ springs to mind, and I’m up for this one. I can’t lose focus, and I’m determined to get through lambing without my mood ruining me and my weight loss.

I’m even busier this coming week, with on-farm visits and early morning milkings piling

walking woo
Walkies with Woo while the collies work

up on top of lambs (not literally, obviously). If I can get through the next fortnight, I’ve won. I have the knowledge and the tools to do it. This week, I’m making time for me. ME. Snatching a few minutes to track on my app and taking an hour out to walk the smallest dog makes all the difference. Walking gives me head space and a snippet of relaxation and tracking on my app shows me if I’m eating too much or too little over the day, so I can regulate my intake. Wow. Too little?? Never thought I’d say that!

I’m hoping this strategy will carry me past the halfway point in my challenge a few pounds less than I weigh now, and I won’t have to revert to my defensive lockdown. The end of lambing will be near and my heart will be a lot lighter again. It’s funny how easy it is to forget that it’s the simple things that work. I am NOT gaining again this week.

Let battle commence!

 

Exercise, Life Journey, Running, Targets, Weight Loss

Quarter Challenge and Being a Hobbit

I’ve now completed week four of my Quarter challenge – the time is going in so quickly. But so far, so good. Six and a half lbs down, it’s not looking likely that I’ll make the rather ambitious goal of 13st for my holiday, but I won’t be too far off.

This could be an ideal opportunity for me to revert to the old ways of being negative and reminding myself of what a useless failure I am, and that I’m going to struggle all the way and that I can’t even set myself realistic goals. I did mention before that I am getting better at being kinder to myself, and I definitely feel in a much more positive frame of mind. Rather than dwelling on the coveted number that I may not meet (there’s time yet!), I’ve pulled my focus closer. Half a lb this week will see a silver seven and take me to within four and a half lbs of my ‘safe’ running weight. Although this particular goal is light years away from even being a healthy weight, it is one of my major milestones.

Running changes everything. It makes each and every pound I lose have purpose. It makes my step lighter, my knee better, my recovery faster and my times quicker. It makes me not want to ruin a ‘good’ day of eating after sweating like hell. The chances are too, that my first few weeks back out in my trainers will see an increased loss at the scales as my body adjusts to the extra exercise. Just what the doctor ordered.

lambWe are now full swing in lambing season, which translates as very, very busy. There are babies EVERYWHERE. It’s an interesting time as sleep is minimal and a pretty intensive schedule piles up on top of all the normal work. Regular eating patterns disappear out the window and this can go either way – some days there literally isn’t time to eat, and others I find myself shovelling in anything I can see because I’m so hungry. This may balance out in terms of weight loss, but I’m trying to remain mindful and track where and when I can.

 

One of the things that has struck me in the last few weeks is my similarity to Bilbo Baggins and his chums. And I’m not talking about the hairy feet. Hobbits are a race who thoroughly enjoy their grub, and are more than partial to a second breakfast. I too am now an advocate of the second breakfast. For long and weary a cup of tea and a banana have been my meal of choice first thing, which is a throwback to going out running early in the mornings. I don’t have a particularly harmonious running/digestive relationship, and I was amazed at how far you can go on a humble banana and sugarless tea. I find now that if I eat porridge/eggs/crumpets somewhere between 10 and 11am as well, my body seems a whole lot happier and I eat less at a later lunchtime, which then rolls into the afternoon and omits any snacking. So you can eat more to eat less. (Does that make sense?)

So in the coming weeks if I maintain my hobbit-ness and my positivity, I’ll make it through lambing and be back running in no time.

Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Targets, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

A Quarter-Challenge

I went to my new meeting. It was fabulous. It is indeed very small, and everyone is so supportive of each other. Because I’ve moved about a fair bit, I’ve attended a lot of different meetings. I can usually tell straight away whether I’m going to like it or not, and I knew the second I sat down in the little room that it was going to be splendid.

One of the things it did was lift my mood, and for the first time in weeks I’m beginning to feel better about myself. It feels nice. Getting up and getting on each day feels easier. I want to go out more and I’m becoming less irritable. In my normal pattern, this ‘up’ episode usually begins around the clocks changing at the end of March and I think the early turn is due to going back to Weight Watchers. That sounds a little dramatic, but sometimes isolation in large doses can skew your thinking more, and having a group of people who share your struggle can just be enough to knock you in the right direction.

IMG_2522
One of our farm walks – what’s not to like?

Having turned the proverbial corner, my mind has floated towards my weight loss and my holiday at the beginning of June. I tried on some of my holiday clothes that I kept from waaay back – I got rid of most of them when I started to slim down. The ones that were left were all too tight to put on. In most of the major/nice times in my life, I can tell you what weight I was, and my last holiday abroad was a long time ago and I was 13st dead.

That’s where we’re going.

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My last holiday ~ 13st

The funny thing about it was how big I remember feeling then. There are no bikini photos, any time I stood up I put a sarong on and even now I still can’t stand the sight of my legs in shorts in those pictures.

But I was healthy then and still in my 20s. I wasn’t even aware I had any problems with my reproductive organs, let alone in agony waiting for surgery. I’ve come through a lot since and the thought of being back at 13st right now is delicious.

So I have 12 weeks. A quarter of a year. My challenge is to get to 13st by the night before my flight. Funnily enough, my class happens to be the night before I go. Once again, I feel like the gods are trying to help me as best they can.

That works out at a little more than a 1lb per week for the next 12 weeks – a goal that is not unreasonable. Every week I will set a different intention to help me get there. If anyone wants to join me, feel free – I’d love to hear how you get on.

Week one for me is about assessing my fitness routine. At the moment most of my exercise is covered by walking my dogs round the farm and mixed yoga practice most days. At some point in the next twelve weeks I’m hoping that will change. I’m a keen runner but a old dodgy knee injury will not carry me up and down the rough trails on the farm at my current weight. If all goes to plan, I should reach my ‘safe’ running weight sometime in the course of this challenge.

If I can establish a baseline fitpoint achievement this week, that will allow me to set myself minimum standards and increase it as I get lighter and fitter (again).  So this week I aim to track all of my activity using my Weight Watchers app.

It’s so nice to have found a bit of hope and motivation again, and have someone tell you that yes, you can do it, yes, it is feasible and yes, help is at hand. We can all do this, one week at a time and with a little help from some friends.

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss

Staying Positive

I’m trying. I really am.

During a ‘good’ depression, I can maintain my weight, but it takes every ounce of willpower and self-motivation (usually to the detriment of something else) to do it. Normally if things are ‘bad’ I’ll gain weight as I comfort eat out of emotional instability and boredom.

I’ve had a tough week. I’m still fighting with the weight I put on over Christmas and stopping smoking. I’m still too heavy to run on my duff knee.I’ve had some very frank conversations with my doctor which haven’t pleased me. My mood has started to tip downhill, and it’s not surprising.  Every year around this time I hit a cycle of depression and I can feel it. I usually occupy myself with a selection of my wretched personal attributes and wallow, hidden away from the world feeling guilty until it passes. I can’t do that this time. I won’t. This year is the year for weight loss. I promised myself. So I’m trying to remain super-positive to the best of my ability while I see out my black spell.

I’m not saying it will work and I’ll continue to lose every week, but it may help with damage limitation and I might have a few weeks where I lose a pound or so. I wanted to share the things that I’m consciously making the effort to do, because somewhere out there, someone else might be struggling too.

  1. Exercise and fresh air every day regardless of weather – Walking my dogs (even for 15  minutes) every day gives me a sense of purpose and helps lift my mood.
  2. Track food on my WWs app – This helps me to curb my emotional eating binges and remain mindful of what I’m putting in my mouth.
  3. Brain space – time to relax and reflect and leave the ‘guilty’ brain behind. Yoga every  day to help settle my mind.
  4. Mid-Week weigh-in – A gentle reminder not to lose focus!
  5. Continue to Blog – I clam up when I’m depressed, and I find it difficult to write. I’m going to do my best to produce a post every week for the next few weeks.
  6. Take one day at a time – Positivity and routine come easier when you don’t look at the bigger picture.

All of the above I’ll document as a tick-box list in my journal – this shows me a visual representation of how I’m doing and it’s something that I find helpful (Especially when I make it pretty with my coloured pencils 🙂 ). Here’s hoping I can get through the coming weeks with some level of success. I just keep telling myself that if I keep trying, keep bringing my mind back to my weight and keep positive, then I’m doing all I can.

 

 

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

The Beast Has Risen

And that’s exactly what I’ve turned into. A whopping, flaming great big beast. I feel huge. Exactly one year and one month from being diagnosed with an abnormal cyst on my ovary, I made it into hospital. Surgery went well, but the recovery process is slow and right now I’m six weeks post-surgery. I’m still not back to normal.

The State of Play

My body is wrecked. Medication teamed with the permanent discomfort towards the end has left me weak, flabby and with a lot of work to do. I’ve piled on over 3st since last September and been unable to exercise for most of that. I was absolutely overjoyed to be able to return to Weight Watchers last week, and after week ten of recovery I’m allowed to start exercising again (Not that I’m counting or anything). I’m pretty much back to normal mobility-wise, but lifting anything particularly heavy is still a bit iffy, as is twisting in certain directions. Thrown into all of this, my other half and I decided to move back to Scotland. It’s been a tough decision, but the right decision.

Silver Lining

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are positives to come out of the situation. I am SO GLAD to be home – the South of England is definitely not for me. It’s all the little things you miss (like hills, familiar accents and not paying for prescriptions) and I’ll stick out the crap weather for all the good stuff. I’m convinced all that good weather was turning me soft anyway…

I’m delighted to be returning to my old Weight Watchers leader who is fabulous, and my weight-loss journey just hasn’t been the same without her. I’ll look forward to weighing in again!

Over the last six months, I also had to find something to occupy myself – the hardest thing about this whole process has been not being able to run. It’s killed me. I enjoyed it for about three days. Then I got a bit grumpy. Then I felt like I was in taper. Then I started climbing the walls. So I decided to start writing more – something I could do without hurting myself! Short stories, little paragraphs, and pages in my journal filled up my days after work. I joined a critique group, and have made a whole bunch of new friends who give me honest and experienced feedback on my writing. Then the unthinkable happened. On the second of June, I officially became a published writer. That little gem gave me such a boost, and I swear it stopped me losing my marbles completely throughout this whole ordeal. I’ll not make my millions any time soon, but someone has definitely been watching out for me!

To the Future

So here I am, back in not-so-sunny Scotland. I’m fired up and ready to go. My work schedule is sorted. I’ve started writing a novel. I know exactly what I need to do to get this weight off. I’ve done it twice before, I can do it a third time. I’m ready. I’m also really fired up about getting back running. I’m never going to let anyone or anything take that privilege away from me again, because that’s what it is. It’s such a massive part of my life. Due to my old knee injury, I’m not starting back until I hit 13st – which actually works in my favour as it gives me an interim goal in what is going to be a very long journey (again!) In the meantime, I’ll be back in the pool once my stitches have healed fully, and heading for some spin classes.

A long time ago (a decade ago!), when I went to Weight Watchers for the very first time, I promised myself I’d never get that big again. I really feared the worst when I stepped back on the scales last week, and fully expected to see 15st staring back at me. Looks like I’ve still kept my promise. Bring it on, Sissy.

Life Journey, Running, Targets

Hanging On In There…..

Weigh-in: 1lb on

I’m trying really hard. I was disappointed to see that my ‘nervous’ weight loss from race day has righted itself once again, and I’ve tried everything. My water intake is high, and bar a boozy trip to the city with a friend to celebrate my 30th Birthday, I’ve been good as gold. The last week I’ve been eating the bare minimum to try and kick start some sort of loss, and it hasn’t worked.

Lost

I’m frustrated. I’m fed up. I’m a wee bit angry (for a change!) I feel as if I’m suspended in limbo, and my efforts are pointless. I think this might be the cumulative effect of hormones, bouncing back and forth between a few lbs and now having no sense of direction in terms of my running.

If feel as if the bottom has dropped out my training regime, as I now have nothing to work towards. I’m still out plodding away, but just feel the efforts aren’t really worth anything. I curse the postman on a daily basis for not bringing me a letter from the hospital, as everything I’m working on hinges on this stupid operation. I’ve thought about it over and over, and I really need to get my head together. I realise there is no point dwelling on what may or may not be, but it has a tendency to put a serious dent in my very goal-orientated world.

Walter has been suspiciously quiet recently, and I’m beginning to think that he’s taken pity on me- he’s obviously an attention-seeker and realised his efforts are in vain in the current climate….

Plans

I decided after weigh-in that I’d make a mini-plan. It’s unlikely that I’ll be whisked into hospital in the next four weeks, so that’s my new timescale. I’ve set myself two goals in this time.

I’m supporting my friend Kerri in May, running her first 5k, so I’ve decided to focus on shorter distances for now. My 5k PB sits at 26:43, and that was in December. Some short sessions on speed work, sprints and hills will be the order of the day for the next few weeks. I’d like to get down under 26:30, and would like to make it before Kerri’s race day.

My second target is to get up what I affectionately call ‘Hells’ Bells Hill’. It’s a 3-mile stretch of steep, unrelenting winding road running up from the glen and finishes at home. I attempted this a long while back, didn’t even make it a third of the way up, and never attempted it again. I have, however, had great fun running down it as part of my 13-mile route!

I think I’m fit enough now to make a reasonable effort at it, and I may have to chip away at it over a couple of attempts, but I think I can do it. No, wait, I KNOW I can do it.

Freakin’ Food

I’m fed up with food. I hate it. Some people have said it’s all psychological, and I’m just not paying attention to what I’m doing because of my ovary problem, and that’s why I’m not losing weight. I beg to differ. I’ve been golden, and it’s not made one iota of a difference. Although my body has clearly slammed on the anchors with letting me lose weight, the thing I’m holding onto is that I’m not skyrocketing in the opposite direction, which I am very, very thankful for. Matters are further complicated by medication, but I know that I am VERY capable of putting on weight quickly all on my own- so surely I must be doing SOMETHING right?

After a quick chat with my lovely leader on Saturday, this week I am ‘eating my points’- I.e using up my daily allowance and some of my weeklies. She pointed out that eating the bare minimum may not be helping, (the body panic-stores fat when food is in short supply) so I’ll try that this week and see how it goes.

I felt sad at my meeting too. I’m really proud of all our WWs people, and I’m also very protective of them. I know as well as the rest of them what losing weight means, and how much it can change your life. Seeing everyone losing round about me and watching them change over the months is usually uplifting and motivational, but seems to be having a negative effect now- I feel as if everyone is moving on and I’m being left behind.

It’s not a nice feeling.

But as I’ve said many times before, you only lose the fight if you stop fighting, so I’m still damn well fighting- I’m like a boxer who’s made it to the last round, but is grasping at straws- I’m just hangin’ in there until the bell goes.