A couple of weeks ago I passed a milestone; I reached the half way point in my weight loss journey. Of course, at this stage, it might not be quite half way point – or it might be a bit more. As I approach that magical goal of Target Weight, I may decide that I need to adjust my plans. I picked a weight that is smack bang in the middle of the healthy weight zone for my height. At the start I needed to lose a mighty 10 stone 6 pounds to reach this goal. So, on losing 5 stone 3 pounds, I considered myself to be halfway there. I also considered myself to be doing quite nicely, thank you.
I’ve now lost 5 stone 6 pounds. It feels great. All my clothes are getting too big; I can buy smaller sizes. I get compliments. And I feel healthier. That’s the most important thing for me.
This actually all began a few years ago. After almost a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, I’d given up, and decided to let what would happen, happen. Hence, 10 stone plus of surplus weight. I toyed with the idea of losing some weight, without conviction. Then, one day, when on a training course in a nice hotel, I fell victim to the ubiquitous hotel bathroom mirror. How and why do hotels feel it necessary to place such large mirrors in bathrooms, and in such a way that you just can’t escape the view? So, after showering, while trying to look the other way, I caught sight of myself in all my fatty naked glory. Such a sight. But what shocked me was my own reaction. I felt disgust at myself, yes. But beneath that disgust was something else, a sort of satisfied self-loathing; a little voice saying ‘yes aren’t you revolting, and that’s all you deserve to be’. I caught myself being pleased that I hated myself.
So when I got home from my course I made changes. I signed up to a calorie counting app, Myfitnesspal, and began logging everything I ate or drank. I took it slow and steady, and it took me about two years to lose 4 stone 9 pounds. I didn’t really exercise, but I was active and on my feet all day. And I believed I’d changed my attitude towards food. But then disaster, didn’t exactly strike, it just sort of slipped in. A stressful job, sleep deprivation, tiredness, feeling low and craving, craving, craving, all played their part; over the next year I put back all but one stone of what I had lost.
Which beings us up to January this year. Still a stone lighter than my heaviest weight, but feeling unhealthy, sluggish, tired and, once more, disgusted with myself.
On January 2nd 2018 I began logging my food and drink once more. A new job was on the horizon, I had turned 50, it was time to make changes. I may have been helped in part by the fact that, from January to April, I repeatedly caught colds, tonsillitis (several times) and the flu. My immune system seemed to have gone on holiday. As a result, my appetite was low, and I didn’t each much at all. I began losing weight pretty fast. I have read somewhere that it takes 30 days to establish new habits. My new habits were firmly embedded by the time I started to recover from my bout of seasonal ailments. Feeling so unwell had also scared me. Then routine blood tests, related to my wimpy immune system, suggested a slightly raised blood sugar level. I began exercising more. Nothing too strenuous to begin, as I felt utterly exhausted. But I didn’t just want to weigh less; I wanted to be healthy.
Over time, better nourished, and benefiting from a more active lifestyle, I felt better and better, and the weight started to melt away.
This, for me, is the most important thing; I’m not, absolutely not, on a diet. I have changed the way I eat to better suit my nutritional needs. I use the app not just to count calorie intake, but also to ensure I’m getting enough essential nutrients and a good balance of macro-nutrients. I exercise my body more effectively. I look for balance. Because I’m not ‘on a diet’, I also won’t be going ‘off my diet’ when I reach my target weight. I also don’t ‘take days off’. I’m not perfect. I do sometimes eat more than I need on a particular day, but then it evens out over time.
And the one thing that I believe will make the difference this time around is exercise. Yes, you can cut weight by reducing calorie intake alone. But add exercise to the mix and, not only do you burn more calories, but your entire body and mind benefits. Before, when suffering from stress, I might turn to chocolate. Now, when stressed (and just lately I’ve been extremely stressed), I turn to exercise.
My weight loss is a journey. The destination may be a specific target weight, or a certain dress size. Or it may be reaching a certain level of fitness. It might be reducing my blood pressure; it certainly needs to be reducing my blood sugar. But one thing it absolutely cannot be (and I’ve made this mistake so many times) is a return journey.