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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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

Groundhog Day

If I believed in God, I’d say he’s trying to tell me something…

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I’m holding my hands up. I’m lost. Out at sea. Falling by the wayside. I could have a million reasons and motivations to want to lose weight, and I’m pretty sure I do, but they’ve left me. I’m hoping it’s temporary, but my determination is at zero.

As I reach for a bottle of wine to while away an evening with a book, it’s as if my mind shuts down and selectively blocks out things like alcohol, or anything else calorific for that matter. I seem to turn into someone who no longer gives a s**t about what I look like, what people think or the state of my health. Shortly after disposing of said consumable(s), there I find myself back in the prison of guilt, torturing myself over and over and regretting ever having gone near the corkscrew in the first place.

Well. Some higher being soon put a stop to that, didn’t they?  I have a history of snapping hand-held tools… I took the handle clean off my Denman hairbrush not so long ago. Even so, I can’t help but think that some force or deity or whatever is trying to give me the kick up the arse that I need. Problem is, I’m wearing padded cycling shorts.

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When the corkscrew snapped, I should have called it quits. I didn’t really need the wine anyway. Unfortunately I’m a stubborn and resourceful little so-and-so, therefore more than capable of fashioning a makeshift corkscrew. (Did you know there’s more than 10 ways to open wine with no corkscrew? Seriously, Google it.) Bye-bye wine.

So as I sit here writing at my lovely desk (sober), I’m trying to figure out a way to bump myself out of this horrendous cycle. I stayed the same weighing in this week, and I just feel that I’m stuck in some sort of Groundhog Day and nothing I do seems to let me move on. I looked back longingly at pictures taken back in 2014 when I was  on my way to being a ‘normal’ weight again, and it seems like a pipe dream. I know a few more lbs would be enough allow me to get back out running, which in turn would help regulate my mood thus improving my weight loss attitude and getting me back into that positive cycle again.

I know there’s no magic formula, but if I happen to figure it out, I’ll let you know.

 

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.

 

 

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Stop Smoking, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

That Man

I had a loss at the scales this week, which was important for me. I also had an epiphany. It’s been an interesting week.

Writing my post last week very much finalized the fact that I don’t smoke any more. It’s the first time I’ve ever called myself an ex-smoker, and it sort-of felt like the end of a chapter. Closure? I don’t know. But it’s an end.

I pondered this as I walked my foggy path round the farm one day with the dogs. I’ve conquered something massive that has blighted my entire adult life. It’s quite liberating. It almost makes me feel like I can get on with the rest of my life and achieve the things I want to now that it no longer cripples me. And it did – financially, socially and mentally.

That made me stop and think. Sub-consciously I think smoking has been an excuse not to lose weight. That horrifies me. I did say I felt like a fraud and that I’d never lead a healthy lifestyle because I smoked. (Go on, look back at the last post – I did say it, didn’t I?) How long have I struggled with my weight? Have I been sneakily sabotaging my weight-loss attempts with a sub-conscious negative attitude for years? Uh oh. I have. That thought sent all of my nerve endings prickling and brought the familiar flip-flop stomach that I hate so much. Right there in the middle of my ‘safe’ place among the firs and needle-cushioned paths of the farm, I returned to self-loathing Gem in a flash. Anxiety went from zero to ten in less than a second.

And that’s how quickly my triumph of the last few weeks came tumbling down. I mean, reality check. I am horrendously overweight. I’m back to being ‘fat’. Too fat to run. All my clothes are tight. My underwear doesn’t fit. I’m unattractive. I’m never going to achieve the weight loss I’ve longed for. I’m useless. I can’t do anything right. I’ll never achieve the other goals in my life.

By the time I got home twenty minutes later, I’d mired myself in a self-created pit of pure hatred and spite topped off with negativity. It was time to retreat to one of my other ‘safe’ places – playing computer games. I needed to forget all the thoughts that had just destroyed my confidence.

I’m currently enjoying a zombie-mashing, button-bashing affair (Dead Rising 4 if anyone’s interested) on Xbox. I got playing with this American guy in multiplayer. I knew nothing about this man. Zero. After playing with him for two hours, I knew him well. He was very polite.

I could hear him smoking. He had a wheezy sort of breath which his microphone picked up when he spoke. He told me that smoking calmed him as he suffered with severe anxiety, and that was why he allowed himself to smoke. He coughed in a short, sharp rasp roughly once every six minutes. He told me that if a doctor told him he was dying of cancer, he’d stop, and he could stop no problem. Through other routes of conversation I established this man to be between thirty and thirty-eight. He lives alone. He drinks spirits because beer doesn’t get him drunk, and he can and does drink a lot. This man is overweight. I was this man.

It made me realize how far I’ve come. How much I’ve already achieved. What I no longer am. The habits I’ve dropped and how my life and attitude has changed. And that my earlier internal outburst (I realize that doesn’t entirely make sense) was out of proportion and very, very harsh. There was still a grain of truth, though. A chance that I might stay this way forever, or worse, return to being ‘that man’.

I took action. I have the tools, I know the rules. I no longer need food as a nicotine replacer, I am aware of that now. So, it’s time to boogie. I fired up my Weight Watchers app, and I’ve been tracking ALL my food and exercise properly. A few pounds off and I can run. I feel better already.

This isn’t about failing at weight loss. It’s about picking battles, timing and appreciating the positive steps that have changed your life. No matter how small. It’s those things that keep you positive and turn you, however slowly, into the person you actually want to be.

I’ve come a long way.