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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Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

Progress Nonetheless

I don’t know what I was expecting. Miracles maybe? This week I focused on taking the path back to a more normal eating pattern and cutting out the junk food that has been my security blanket during the move.

This started with a trip to the supermarket to stock up on healthy staples to fill my now-numerous cupboards and a menu plan for the week ahead. Armed with a basic shopping list I toddled to my supermarket of choice and looked around to see what else would spring out at me. I’ve never felt so uninspired and demotivated. I don’t really know the reasons why, but it was not a good feeling. I like cooking. I like eating good food. Perhaps I’m not entirely engaged yet, not in the ‘zone’. It made me feel flat and fat and a little bit sad. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not getting somewhere, right?

I returned with a halfhearted shop and half an idea of what to cook for the coming week. Not really the ideal position to be in for reincarnating your healthy eating lifestyle. When I thought about it over the course of the week, it was a damn sight better than where I was the previous week. (Takeaways, white bread, biscuits and booze. Every day.) At least I managed to cut down on the grazing and the junk, so that was one success. I ate fruit, limited the munching and actually started cooking again. Hmm, see? Two successes. I reminded myself of last weeks’ post about keeping positive and not beating myself up.

I will need to try harder with alcohol this week. This has sort-of been thwarted with the arrival of my mother. I’m not blaming her in the slightest, but when she comes to visit, I seem to go into ‘holiday beer mode’; however, my overall consumption is still a lot lower than it used to be – it’s more the frequency rather than the volumes.

The exercise front has fared slightly better. A combination of work and exploring my new surroundings with the canine proportion of our tribe has lead to that success. Part of the enterprise at the new farm encompasses dog-friendly holiday cottages. Trails have been carved into the landscape to provide walks for the holiday-goers, which give me perfect routes to expand my exercise regime. I’ve been tramping these trails most of the week. This coming week, I’m going to mile out these routes using my Garmin and plan some 5k runs to get me started again. I think that there will be more walking than running to begin with, but hey – no shame in that.

I suppose this week has been what the cool kids would call ‘meh’. Something tells me I should be gung-ho and throwing myself into an all-encapsulating healthy-lifestyle bubble. Truthfully, I fare much better at making healthy habits routine if I introduce them one at a time. Patience, grasshopper. I still need to set myself little goals though. By doing so, I have a focus. By mentioning them here, I make myself accountable.

This coming week, my aims are as follows:

  • Lower alcohol consumption to no more than 2 nights a week
  • Plan out trails and set a 5k route
  • Continue to exercise with dogs

Despite a considerably mediocre week, I hopped on the scales to find myself two and a half lbs down from the uncomfortable truth of last week. So my little successes are having an impact. I’m hoping that with the enforcement of the above goals, I’ll see another loss this week. It’s still progress after all.

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

Ready To Go

Most of the chaos has passed. All six of us are now firmly installed in the new place, complete with almost all of our furniture and creature comforts. We’re minus a full set of dinner plates which were kindly broken by the removals men and our new bed is being worked on. Aside from that, we’re good.

I mentioned in my last post about the longing to feel secure and settled – the key aspect of me being healthy, happy and taking good care of myself. On another of my meanderings with the dogs, that’s exactly what my mind turned to. I feel now I can focus on myself again and actually give it 100%. Unfortunately I’m the type of person in a crisis whose brain locks on and I can’t move past it until the situation is dealt with. It’s such a lovely feeling to know that the ‘moving phase’ stressor is starting to ebb away.

Fighting through a sea of bubblewrap, I managed to locate my bathroom scales. I figured things must be heading in the right direction inside my head for me to even contemplate weighing myself. half of me is glad I did, half of me really isn’t. I fully expected to have gained weight on account of my food and alcohol consumption rising in accordance with my stress levels. What I didn’t expect was to have put on 14lbs. I did think I might be sick in my mouth a little.

Once I got over this initial shock, I started to look at it objectively. After all, that was the point of weighing myself, wasn’t it? So I had something measurable and tangible to base my new routines on. I reasoned with myself. It wasn’t like I’d put back on ALL of the weight I lost post-surgery. I knew there was no way I’d get through another move without gaining, so why be shocked, horrified, whatever?

So I decided to stop myself right there. I wasn’t about to beat myself up and get into that horrible negative head-space that I’m so good at occupying. Nope. This week is about getting back into a more positive routine. Cutting back on the junk food that’s crept in, scaling down the alcohol consumption to a normal level, and getting out in the fresh air on a daily basis for some exercise. That sounds like a good place to start.

In my head I know I’m really thinking “Lose x-amount of lbs to get back running” – the new place is screaming to be belted round in trail shoes, and I’ve been mapping out various routes and circuits in my head nearly every time I go out. But right now it’s not about that. It’s about getting back into those normal habits and building some momentum. Making healthy choices second nature.

I’m amazed at my attitude towards my weight, and I think a lot of it is to do with my surroundings. I’m genuinely at ease and happy to be in such a great place – even the view from my office as I write is spectacular.IMG_1658 What’s the point in beating yourself up over something that’s already done? Most of us have had that time in their lives when the healthy lifestyle has gone out the window for one reason or another and then berated ourselves repeatedly. I say, don’t do it. I say, be kind to yourself. Draw a line and move on.

So onwards and downwards, and maybe if I’m feeling brave in a few weeks, I’ll try and find myself a new WWs meeting.

Healthy Eating, Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss

Enough is Enough (AKA When to say no)

I find it funny that its the one thing that not many of us are good at. Apparently it’s a very British thing. I’m not sure if it is politeness, fear of repercussion or some other imaginary voodoo factor, but the bulk of us are rubbish at drawing a line before things go too far.

I’ve made a conscious effort since the start of the year to be aware of how far things are going and willingly putting a stop to situations before they escalate to a point where I am unhappy.

Straight after the inevitable Christmas gain at the scales (5lbs!) was the first time I put my strategy in play. I had my festive fun and decided to call a halt to the decadent eating a few days before New Year. I gave away all remaining party food and rearranged my cupboards back to the ‘Gem friendly’ configuration, and dug my heels in. I said ‘no’ to beer. I said ‘no’ to takeaways and pleading puppy eyes from James. My first class in January resulted in a loss of 4lbs, putting me almost back to my pre-Christmas weight. The strategy seemed to be working.

Fast forward another week, and the world fell in on top of me (damn it, I lasted a whole week and a half of 2016 before getting my knickers in a knot) – everything just happened at once. Poor weather stopped my running. I had an extremely busy week with some difficult customers who caused me no end of grief. This just added insult to injury on top of my snotty, frostbitten nose and numb fingers covered in cow poop and raw milk. My new car arrived, and I had to familiarize myself with it on treacherous country roads at three in the morning. My collie came in to season which caused logistical issues with my other (entire) male dog, who howls the house down if you separate him and leave the premises. You get the picture.

I still tried to employ my ‘Keep calm and say no’ strategy, albeit with a higher level of difficulty. I said ‘no’ to trying to squeeze in runs on slippy roads. I said ‘no’ to going to class to weigh in. Enough was enough, and I had to make sure my work was completed to the usual high standard and I didn’t end up with a litter of unwanted puppies. I survived with only one meltdown on Thursday night.

I realize now that I said ‘no’ to the wrong things. Yes, I employed my strategy, but to all the wrong situations. I should have said ‘no’ to my farmer who wanted me to attend his farm late on a Friday night. I should have said ‘no’ to extra responsibilities. I should have said ‘no’ to convenience food and poor eating choices. Sometimes planning ahead isn’t enough, and I’ve definitely learned a lesson from this past week. Next time a heavy week looms, I’m going to say ‘Enough is enough – but what is not important? What should I say no to?’

It is important to manage the expectation of your abilities and goals. Sometimes you do have to say no to things. Be strong and do it, but consider carefully whether the impact will be positive or negative on yourself – after all that’s the reason for doing it in the first place.

 

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

Goodbye, 2015

‘It’s definitely a good idea to get weighed in between Christmas and New Year’

Said me, pre-Christmas. Kind of regretting that decision now. I tip-toed onto the scales like they were going to bite me. I had horrible visions of a repercussion of Christmas 2013, where I’d put on a whopping 7lbs over the festive period, and that had included me running most days. This last week, I’ve done no running. At all.

It was bad, but not as bad as expected. 5lbs on, deservedly so. But guess what? I loved every minute of those 5lbs. For the first time since my partner and I got together, I had him at home on Christmas day. It was lovely, if slightly odd. I also had the pleasure of my gran and my parents company, and what a great feeling it was to sit round the table with them.

I’ve stopped panicking about things like putting on 5lbs at Christmas. I know my weight is on a downward trend and won’t take me long to get it back off. This is a revelation for me. In previous years, I’d have spent days and days berating myself for being a pig, and regretting everything that passed my lips. So in a way, I suppose I’ve turned a corner (shame you can see my Xmas Belly before the rest of me). I do kind-of feel like I’m cheating a bit because I’ve got a weeks’ head-start. But that’s good – it gives me the opportunity to put a sizeable dent in those 5lbs before the first weigh-in of 2016.

In the tradition of tying up loose ends for the year finishing, I’ve tweaked the blog to make it a bit more user-friendly, bumping up my social media links and ‘follow’ button. Other places on the web I like have a page all to themselves and you can now find this under ‘Helpful Links’ along the top tabs.

Thank you all once again for your support over the last year, and Best Wishes to all of you for the coming year. I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite posts from the past twelve months, and see you on the other side.

Keep on Truckin’!

2015 Selection

The Apple never falls… – A lot of self-realization went on here. A post about difficult family relationships.

The Beast Has Risen… – My first post-op blog, and moving back to Scotland

Fat Girl Who Runs… – On being big and exercising

SmartPoints 3… – Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because it’s last weeks post, but it’s one of my favourites 🙂

 

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

Smartpoints Part 3 – Smile

First of all I’d like to say hello and welcome to my newest followers *waves* – if you missed the first two sections, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here. For my regular readers, thank you for sticking in and the support you have given me in 2015 – it’s been immense, and made my brain-farts completely worthwhile. I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016.

So now we’ve covered the eating and the moving part, I’m delighted to talk about a completely NEW part of the Weightwatchers plan. It’s laid out in a third booklet called, simply, ‘smile’.

I am ecstatic. I am satisfied. After a short discussion with my leader, I am now also convinced that the plan developers stalked the two of us before coming up with the third part to the new approach. For regular readers of this blog, you’ll know that I have anxiety problems and have fought hard over the years to not let it ruin my life after a nervous breakdown nearly did. I’ve talked long and weary time and time again about the importance of not just physical health, but mental health too. I’ve banged on endlessly about how the two go hand-in-hand and being healthy ‘upstairs’ is just as, if not more important than the physical part. It affects weight. It affects our attitude and habits towards food. By bringing out this little booklet, Weightwatchers have told me I’m right. I’m not going to lie, I like being right.

The idea behind the ‘smile’ booklet is to focus on the mental wellbeing side of your weight loss journey. I’d like to mention that this is entirely new territory for a weight-loss company and therefore very brave indeed. It’s perfect. Every single thing they mention in this third booklet I have talked about in blog posts, so WWs, you’ve done right.

So what does it actually entail?

The idea here is to put yourself first. Take some time to look after your brain and reap the benefits in your weight loss journey. Suggestions for a generally more positive outlook on life, self appreciation, relaxation and accepting flaws are all mentioned. Tips and ideas to help empower and ultimately make better choices because you don’t feel like a bag of crap all the time. To me, this is far more valuable than anything else WWs has to offer. I hope members take this part seriously and actively pursue this aspect of the plan. I’m convinced it will pave the way to success.

What has creeped me out is the uncanny resemblance to things both my leader and I have been doing long before the plan came into being.

My leader has always talked a lot about being ‘thankful’ or ‘grateful’ for things, and you see a lot of it even in her

Week 25 of the Gratitude Challenge from my journal
Week 25 of the Gratitude Challenge from my journal

personal social media posts. In the ‘smile’ booklet, there’s a page on gratitude and how it affects our outlook. Weird, eh? Because I do a lot of writing (fiction as well as blog posts), every year I take up a writing challenge. In December of 2014, I decided this year I was going to do “52 weeks of gratitude” – a challenge which gives you a weekly prompt on what to write about being thankful for. It’s been thought-provoking, and made me a much nicer, more tolerant person. And I’ve completed it. So what the ‘smile’ booklet wants me to do, I’ve already been doing for the last year. If you fancy taking the challenge yourself, just Google the phrase. I dare you. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, even bullet points once a week will do if you’re not the creative type.

I’m a firm believer in harnessing creativity and I think everyone has some, you just need to dig about to find it. One of the things the booklet mentions is inspiring that creativity through Pinterest – a virtual pinboard (I call it virtual hoarding) to collect ideas, concepts and stuff you like. Surprise, surprise, I’ve been using it for years. If you’d like to take a look at my Pinterest boards, you can find them here. I have over 12,000 pins on various subjects including running, writing, computer games and boxes (yes, you heard me). If you decide to use the site, you can find oodles of Weightwatchers-inspired boards with recipes, tips and giggles.

The other odd thing that really got to me about the ‘smile’ booklet was the ‘relaxation’ partIMG_1026 – Adult colouring has become quite popular again recently, and in the back of the booklet is an abstract rabbit for that purpose. I’m not much of a fan of colouring in, but a week before the plan was unveiled I drew the picture on the right-hand side in my journal. Creepy.

Although I am 100% weirded out, I know that I’m doing all the right things to keep myself on track, and doing the best I can to combat those dark days and my inevitable periods of lockdown. I’m just so, so glad that Weightwatchers have recognised this – I know I’m not alone on this one, and by writing this blog I wanted to share my experiences to help others if I can. Thank you Weightwatchers for making my private whispers loud enough for everyone to hear.

Exercise, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

SmartPoints Part 2 – Move

Now that we’ve covered the eating part, it’s time to talk about an equally important part of a healthy lifestyle – activity. WeightWatchers have always been at the forefront of ‘healthy living’ plans, and exercise is no exception. WWs were one of the first to encourage people to get off their backsides and move to aid in weight loss and create positive habits for a lifetime of good health. The tweaks to their very successful plan are no exception. Nowadays, it’s a well accepted fact that exercise is a necessary and inevitable part of a normal lifestyle. Up until now, activity points have been ‘earned’ and were freely available to gobble up for parties/events/Saturday nights.

The nice thing about the new approach is that not a lot has changed really. It’s more the attitude towards moving more that’s changed. The WWs app will now give you a weekly fitpoints target to aim for. If you ask a leader now about ‘eating’ your fitpoints, the answer will be “If you are running on zero, they are there as a backup”. This is fundamentally important. It gets rid of the ‘reward’ cycle mentality. Previously, it was very easy for members to say “Oh, I did two classes at the gym today, so I’ll have an extra helping of dessert” – thus a member was basically undoing their hard work and congratulating themselves with the very thing that caused them bother in the first place.

We should not think of exercise as ‘work’ and think that we should be entitled to some sort of prize. That’s not how it works. Unfortunately, in modern sedentary society, taking some form of brisk exercise is a requirement of not being a lardass – something that no Weightwatcher wants to be. So stop rewarding yourself because you’ve been to the pool twice this week. If you have a rigorous training regime you will need to eat more – remember, the key to losing weight is an energy deficit in the foods we consume versus the energy we put out. When the boundaries of this are pushed by strenuous exercise it’s inevitable one would need to eat more. Monitor it – it’s very easy to get carried away and land back up where you started on the scales.

You can’t avoid it now – WWs are even giving you a target to work towards to get you moving! Everyone’s level of fitness and ability is different and this is recognized by height, weight, age and the survey questions you answer. So your fitpoint goal should be within realistic reach. Exercise is something (luckily) I’ve never had a problem with. I’ve always loved it, particularly anything that involves being outside. I understand that not everyone feels the same. One of the most common excuses I hear is “I’m too big to (insert activity here)”. I call pants on fire, liar liar. If you recognize this, stop it. Right now. Would you rather not do something in case an occasional person who has nothing to do with your life says something unsavoury and just stay overweight? I ran my first half marathon nearly two and a half stone heavier than my ideal running weight. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t die. Or get laughed at. People were impressed. Be brave and go for it, whatever ‘it’ is. The satisfaction you’ll get from seeing progress is worth it.

The key to fitting activity into your life on a regular and permanent basis is simple. Find something you enjoy. It might take you a while to find out what it is, but you can have fun trying. If you don’t enjoy yourself, it becomes a chore very quickly and that’s what you don’t want. Be brave, try something you wouldn’t normally do. Walk. Swim. Cycle. Yoga. The possibilities are endless. Once you find something that you are passionate about, you are on to a winner. I can promise that before long, you’ll look forward to it.

The final point about regular activity is the effect it has on the brain. Regular readers will know I’m a huge advocate of exercise for a healthy mind. It helps keep me balanced. Sciency stuff tells us that moderate exercise on a regular basis lifts mood by stimulating the feel-good hormones which outlast the period of exercise. I’ll vouch for that. I’ve also found it has a relaxing effect, allowing me to sleep better (something I’m not very good at) and generally be a more chilled-out chapette. It also has a temporary appetite-suppressing quality with may or may not help with controlling the volume of food we eat after exercise. Aside from this, the sheer sense of achievement you get from doing something that requires effort and perseverance is the best mood-lifter of all. Whether it’s perfecting a dance routine, upping your reps or simply walking faster and further. Once again, well done WeightWatchers. Bravo.

So why is all this mood-lifty nonsense important? Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3!