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.

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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.

Weight Loss

Mechanics of Weight Loss Pt. 2

Happy New Year to all my fellow writers, bloggers, readers and healthy folks. I thought it kind of fitting (unlike my trousers- ha!) that this second part has fallen in after the festive period. My intention was to post this much earlier, but work basically destroyed my life in December.

I digress. Part two is all about the bit I’m not so good at controlling – the eating. We’ve already discussed how exercise is a lifelong commitment to stay fit and trim. Monitoring food intake is exactly the same.

Some people are incredibly lucky and subconsciously self-regulate their eating. My partner is one of those annoying people. If he starts to gain weight, he just eats less, but he’s not thinking about it. It just happens for him. I asked him about it once and he had no idea what I was talking about. Needless to say James has never had a weight problem.

For the rest of us mere mortals I cannot stress the importance of food intake. I remember being out on a long run once with some of the chaps from my old running club. We were talking about being piggy eaters, and one response was, “If you run ten miles three times a week you can eat anything you want.”

I laughed so hard I nearly fell over. Apart from the unfathomable logic (to me a ten-miler is fine, but three times a week, every week just to eat and drink??) I pointed out that these gentleman had clearly never seen an Italian eat. I could destroy the calorie deficit of thirty miles in under an hour. Easy. Extremes of anything are not good.

So yes, although exercising helps to burn the calories, keeping track of what you eat is vitally important. It’s easy to over estimate activity and underestimate calorific values, or even the actual items you have consumed. How many times have you ‘forgotten’ about the wee biscuit you had with your tea, or the few chips that were left on the kids plates after dinner?

You know what comes next.

Write. It. Down.

If you do nothing else, write down everything that passes your lips. It has been proven that in going through the physical act of putting pen to paper, it makes us more aware of what we are consuming and in turn we become more mindful before eating something. It can also help to pinpoint ‘danger’ times for mindless eating and shows the pattern to our eating habits – I’m a nightmare between 3 and 6 p.m – meaning you can take steps to avoid mindless overeating.

Just like exercise, make it a habit. Practise it every day until it becomes second nature. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes. It makes you face up to your eating problems and tackle them head-on.

Now that Christmas is over and everything is back to normal, I’m going to take my own good advice and track, track, track. Maybe my trousers will become as fitting as this post?

 

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, Weight Loss

“I Haven’t Got Time”….

… “I’m too busy”. Go on, how many times have you said it? Work. Family. Obligations. Stuff. Life. It gets in the way.

Or does it? Being a veteran (10 years and counting) on the weight loss,  I’ve found that nine times out of ten it’s an excuse. The whole world is ‘too busy’. You’re not special because you are busy. If we weren’t ‘busy’, we’d all be depressed hermits and for those of us who like our food/drink, probably really, really fat. There are many people in this world that are ‘busy’ but seem to make time for things. I am not on my high horse. I’m the worst one for it, and it’s an ugly habit I’ve picked up from my father (sorry Dad).

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that you are actually not too busy. If you want to be fit and healthy, wealthy and wise, rule number one is – Look out for number one. No-one else is going to do it for you. If you aren’t fit and healthy, chances are you will come a cropper at some point. For most of us, being unable to work is detrimental to household cash-flow, which in turn opens up another can of worms entirely. So don’t be too jammed with tasks to look after yourself. A very wise person once told me the best way to maintain a balance between modern hectic life and self-preservation was about hobbies.

Everyone should have three hobbies: one to make you money, one to keep you fit and one to be creative.

I’m unintentionally living by it now, and it seems to be working. For the time being I am on my own with three dogs to care for, two of which are hyperactive collies that need ‘run’, not walked. My dogs never get left alone for more than four hours. If I’m going to be longer, my dear mother pops in on them. It’s not often. I’m working two different job roles, one of which involves working ungodly hours (hobby for money). 3 a.m start, anyone? I’m trying to write a novel, keep my blog and other writing duties in check (creative hobby) and I’m back running (keep fit hobby). I’m keeping the house. You get the picture.

In all of this, by some minor miracle, I still have time to chill out. Cook a nice roast for the family. Even if all you have is a teeny-tiny slot of 20 minutes to yourself each day, you can make time for yourself. Get organized and don’t let anything butt in on it. You are important – just as important as everything else you are committed to. If you really want it you won’t be too busy. This might be to take up one of the aforementioned hobbies.

In deciding how much time I have to assign to lovely little me, there are a few things I’ve noticed that seem to suck hours away in a flash:

Television/Netflix/Other generic binge-watching media. To me, TV is for weekends, not a default every night as soon as the table is cleared.

The dreaded iPad/mobile phone. Pinterest is a killer for me. I enjoy browsing the web for a bit of chill time, but I try to limit it.

Lack of ‘help around the house’. Not much I can do about this one, but others can. When someone asks you what you are doing on XX day, how many times have you replied, “Doing the ironing” or “Blitzing the housework”? Balance out the chores a bit – give yourself some breathing space. Even small children can do a bit to chip in, and you are teaching them about life. It’s a well-known fact that most households, despite both parents working full-time, rely on the female for most of their meals and ‘keeping house’. We do not live in the dark ages. I’m not suggesting that you make radical changes, but every little helps.

Aren’t we all entitled to a bit of ‘me-time’? That particular phrase usually conjures up images of a hen-pecked mother sinking into a bath with candles and a glass of wine, but not so. Physical and mental fitness are BOTH important, especially when losing weight. Use the time to go for a walk. Clear your head. Do something for yourself. Your future self will thank you for it.

I’m going to do my best to make sure I keep the ‘me time’ available for as long as possible. Hopefully y’all can do the same.

 

Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Targets, Uncategorized

Game On!

I don’t normally enjoy trips to the hospital (Who does?), but I can honestly say Thursday was the best day of my life in a long, long time. I have news. I have a timescale, and now I have my precious plan.

My new consultant is a serious, efficient man. He insisted on another scan (done right there and then!) another blood test and a cervical smear. My growth is now half a centimetre larger than in September, and he took no time in deciding to send me for surgery. The NHS in England pledges to provide treatment after referral within sixteen weeks. By the end of May this will all be over. HUH-FREAKIN-RAY! 

I swear blind, I could have kissed the guy. By the time it’s over, this will have been going on a year, and it has progressively affected my healthy lifestyle more and more. Not for much longer! (Small Happy Dance outburst)

I’ve been doing a lot of research on how hormones affect weight loss and suitable ways to keep active in a limited state, and I found some really interesting stuff. I also spoke to the doctor about it too. One of my main concerns just now is how to slam the brakes on my weight gain. I’m now 2 lbs heavier than when I started at Weight Watchers in 2013, and have gained a total of 2 stone (24lbs) since my lightest in September of last year. I’ve learned that this is a nasty combination of inactivity, a now-sedentary job and Horrible Hormones. I’m not the type of person to starve myself, but have found a few methods to try and stem the gains until post-op. 

Right now I track using the ProPoints system and eat anything I want within my allowance, which clearly is doing me no favours. So now we are paring back to sheer mechanics. I need to eat only as fuel. Eat to stop me feeling hungry. Although I take great pleasure in my food, I need to try and put that to one side for the purposes of the next six to eight weeks. I’m cutting out alcohol, refined carbs and sugars from my diet, as these are common foods that ‘stick’ when the body is struggling to metabolise properly. Another step is to cut main meals to very small portions- it’s easier to gauge accurately when you are no longer hungry (I can always go for more if I’m still feeling hollow). Naturally I’ll still use all my Weight Watchers recipes, so meals will still be full of good stuff. 

In terms of exercise, I’m going stir-crazy. So this morning I squeezed myself into some of my bigger running gear (thank god workout gear is stretchy) and took myself out for a walk. The sun was shining, and in the Fens you can see forever on a clear day. I mapped out a 5k route and did a teeny-tiny bit of very slow jogging with no ill effects, and it felt amazing. I was so happy. I sang really loud as I jogged and soaked it all in. If I can manage this most days, I’m hoping it help with halting the weight gain. 

Now I have my plan in place, all I need is for the letter to drop through the door with a date for theatre and it’s Game On. Bring it on, Sissy. 

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing

Game Plan

So the uncertainty continues. I’m used to being a self-aware, forthright and organised person, so this whole business of not being in control does not sit well with me. I’ve turned it over numerous times in my head. Day after day, week after week. I know I need to reach a conclusion sooner rather than later, so I’m not allowing these thoughts to escape into the recesses of my mind. I’m starting to develop a game plan. Granted, it’s in its infancy, but I feel like I’m currently mourning the loss of the healthier person I was gradually becoming. In essence, I’m back to square one. I know I have reasons for it, but I don’t want excuses for it – leading a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t cease due to a medical problem. I still have my tea and banana when I get up (Breakfast of elite runs in the Days Of Old, y’know) and still eat my oats, blueberries and maple syrup.

I’m due to attend the consulting surgeon in a few days. This is a repeated step from my treatment at ‘home’ (Scotland) as I’ve got to go onto a separate waiting list for surgery in this area. I absolutely loved my last consultant, he was amazing. He was a slightly rotund Indian fellow with a warm and round face and excellent bedside manner. More importantly, he was able to tell me roughly how long I would have to wait for surgery.  I’m hoping New Guy will be able to do the same and not want to prod around too much! Once Thursday rolls around, I’m hopefully going to be able to take definitive steps in deciding how to handle the interim period. I think it might just be needing a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ – in this case a rough timescale for d-day. I know I’ll feel so much happier just knowing what’s going on.

Planning is obviously a major part of my life, and secretly I love it. Having a plan for anything makes me feel competent, confident and in control. This is especially true of losing weight. You have to think ahead, and plan accordingly. How many times have you thought about where you will be for lunch during your week ahead? Planned dinners for the working days in front of you?

Forearmed is forewarned, and that’s exactly where I intend to be after Thursday.

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

Acceptance?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week-long hiatus, which consisted of birthday treats, a visit from Mamma Bear, a few Jacks and lots of computer games and books. I chewed through a popular trilogy in a day and a half, and it was the best time I’ve spent on my own in ages. (Dear lord, that sounded geeky) No work, no writing, no housework. Fabulous! I also felt like I needed the head space to reflect on a few things this last week.

The term ‘acceptance’ has been floating around in my brain a lot as I struggle to decide what it actually means to me at this moment in time. The dictionary defines it as ‘A person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognising a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest.’

Now, isn’t that interesting? I am very self-aware, and know that I am an all-or-nothing type. I consider myself to be a relatively accepting person. That is, in relation to other people. I tend to take people as they come and make room for reasoning of their beliefs and principles, and have found little use in trying to change people. However, when it comes to other matters I am the antithesis of acceptance. Rejection. Denial. Refusal. I’ve often thought of myself as a breathing contradiction, and these previous points just strengthen my case.

I like to be organised. I like to plan and be in control. I write lists. I don’t like surprises. Yet, I am prone to the most illogical bouts of spontaneity and throwing the plans out the window, and thoroughly enjoy them. I am a scientist who thrives on numbers, statistics and processes, yet finds joy and satisfaction in creative pursuits including writing, drawing and music. I’ve always been good at a lot of things, but never excellent at anything – the old ‘Jack of all trades’. At the risk of sounding big-headed, there are very few things that I’ve turned my hand to that I’ve been terrible at. I’m rubbish at being quiet, sleeping, sewing (I once stitched a pair of trousers to the jeans I was wearing trying to turn up the hems) and playing pool – that much I’ve learned in my 31 years. So the conflicts of my own personality continue on, and I need to make sense of it in my current situation.

I have accepted that my medical status is affecting my ability to lose weight. Does this mean I’ve accepted I won’t lose any weight until after my surgery? I don’t know. I’m confused. If I’ve accepted the second hypothesis, would I still be fighting with food? Would I still be going to Weight Watchers? Am I wasting my time? It sure feels like it. The constant back-and-forth is wearing me out, and weighing in is stressful. It’s the most horrible feeling in the world knowing you’ve done everything right and you might still put on weight. The one thing that fixes that for me is running, and I can’t do it.

I know that I cannot accept not being able to run because of it. Walking my dogs, I’ve conjured up all sorts of plans and tactics to allow me to run. Do it during the day so James doesn’t find out. Load up on painkillers before I go to minimise the searing pain in my abdomen. Run flat-out but only for 60 seconds. Try a walk/jog ‘scouts pace’. ANYTHING to let me go out and do it. Hell, if cutting off my left arm was an option I’d do it. (I’m left-handed, by the way) I don’t think I can accept getting bigger and bigger until all of this is over. Conversely, I also think that it doesn’t matter how big I get, because I know that once I’m back to full health the weight will slide off. I’ve considered starving myself. Living off fruit and liquids. Living on alcohol to block it all out. I’m pretty sure I’d make a good alcoholic, I’ve had plenty of practice!

The conflicting views are affecting far too much of my life at the moment, and spilling over and tarnishing everything else- it’s affecting my other circles. After a week of contemplation, I’m no clearer in my thoughts or opinions, and I don’t know what I should be doing with myself. Everyone knows that’s no use to me, I need to make a plan.