Sunday, 23 February 2014

How I turned it around

Disclaimer - I would just like to reiterate that all the things that have worked for me that I mention in my blog are aimed specifically at me. What works for me does not work for everyone. Please seek out further advice and recommendations for yourself before embarking on anything I suggest.


How did things change?

Following on from my last post, we're probably now just before Christmas 2013. In my head I'm still a size 16 but a lot of my clothes are actually a size 18. I have still been avoiding the scales, the excuse this time is that the ones I own are not very accurate. I'm still doing my once a week Zumba and walking to and from work, and convincing myself this is enough to lose weight. I'm still eating like I'm about to be told I'll never be able to eat ever again.

The dots started connecting.

I needed new trouser for work. I was still squeezing myself into my size 16's, telling myself this was just my new shape and I had to get used to it. I was uncomfortable so finally accepted I might need to try a bigger dress size. I took a size 18 and a size 20 into the changing rooms. You won't be surprised to learn that the size 18's were a snug fit. Being the master of denial I am, I convinced myself that the sizing must be a bit small and its better to get clothes a bit roomier when you're in a job where you sit down all day.

It wouldn't leave my thoughts though. I had just bought a pair of size 20 trousers! Admittedly, the only place they fitted properly was across my tummy, they were loose elsewhere and very unflattering. I say were, I'm still wearing them on and off now.

Then I needed an outfit for Christmas. I had started to accept I wasn't a size 16 any more and my clothes-wearing confidence had pretty much disappeared. I was living in leggings and baggy tops or dresses. I tried looking round the shops for something but all I could think about was how unflattering everything was. Things I tried on just seemed to exaggerate my flabby belly. I settled on a sparkly jumper dress but only because it was loose and I could wear leggings with it.

Inside I was pretty miserable and I started to dread any though of a night out. I would start planning well in advance what to wear for any potential do and then would still spend all night feeling uncomfortable and fat.

I'd finally had enough. This had to stop.

I couldn't go on gorging myself and expect to lose weight. I had gone from feeling super confident when I was pregnant to now hiding myself away. I'd once loved clothes and fashion, now I felt entirely lost when it came to picking outfits.

I started as I always had before, a little half heartedly. It was Christmas after all, who diets at Christmas? I bought myself a Zumba Wii game and started doing it on and off vowing to kick it up after Christmas. I downloaded a weight loss coach app called Noom and started tracking what I was eating. I wasn't weighing myself as I didn't trust my scales. They were saying I was nearly 14st! It had to be wrong.

The pieces started falling into place!

After New Year, I really kicked up the pace. I was doing my Zumba game every day, eating a calorie controlled diet of around 1800-2000 calories. I was really pleased I'd managed to drag some motivation from somewhere and was really trying my best. I had weighed myself and while I still didn't trust my scales I knew I needed some indication of how things were going and that I was actually shifting some pounds. I was disappointed to find the scales still said 13st 9lbs but at least I was doing something about it.

After my first week I excitedly got on the scales thinking I must have at least lost 1lb as I'd been trying so hard. Nothing. It was saying I had lost nothing!! Needless to say I was devastated. I really thought what was the point in this, it was never going to work. In the past, it probably would have been enough for me to throw in the towel. But I was turning 30 in 3 months, there was no way I was going to feel this miserable turning 30. I was not going to hide from the camera so there was no record of my big day. I was not going to dread having to plan an outfit and spend all night miserable, uncomfortable and feeling like everyone was looking at my tummy.

You have to exercise and eat healthily to lose weight right? So what had I done wrong? The thought entered my head that perhaps I had over done it with the exercise, but was it even possible to over exercise? I started Googling things and read a few forums and a couple of interesting articles and apparently, yes it was possible. (I've tried to find them again but couldn't, if I can dig them up I will share them as they're really interesting). From what I had found, I needed to stay generally active at a low level and push myself for workouts no more than 5 times a week. So I made a plan - Zumba class as usual on a Monday, zumba game Tuesday, rest day Wednesday (I was in work so not a complete rest, back to low level as I'd researched), zumba game Thursday, Friday Saturday, rest day Sunday.

Good, I had a plan, it had to start working now. I started thinking that it was all well and good doing all this exercise, but what about toning? I knew that as I'd had a caesarean, I was likely to be prone to a saggy flap of skin on my tummy that hung over the scar - or at least that was what I told myself. There must be a way to fight this. I had started yoga on and off after having my son (again, uncommitted as before) and again had an app for it on my phone called Pocket Yoga. Maybe I could fit this in somewhere? I remembered the articles saying you should do a low level exercise on your rest days, not just stop completely, so Sunday became yoga day. I also found another app (I love my apps!) called Workout Trainer and found a great tummy toning workout that took only 15 minutes! So the plan was then 30 mins yoga, 15 mins toning. Great! This had to make a difference!

And it did! That second week I lost 4lbs! I had never lost that much weight in one go before. I was ecstatic! I tried to be realistic though and told myself that yes, I was doing great but my scales were unreliable so it was entirely possible that this reading was wrong or that I had lost weight the week before and they hadn't showed it. I told myself keep going, at least its definitely coming off!

And it definitely fired me on! The following week I lost another 1lb!

Then I got sick again and was so angry! Why did it have to happen now when I was doing so well! I couldn't afford to stop now. In the past this would have been excuse enough again to stop, telling myself I needed to rest and needed food to help me get better. I really didn't want to stop now though, I was just getting started. I'd also managed to tap into one of my greatest resources and sources of motivation - the lovely Aimee, my zumba instructor. She'd advised me to drop my calorie intake to around 1400 kcal as this would be what I would eat at my ideal BMI, and anything I burned off over this would be extra - as of course you have to burn off more than you eat to even touch the fat that's already there. I'd found calorie counting fairly easy as the calorie content is on the packaging of everything you eat, and had been gradually reducing my calories anyway so a little bit further wouldn't hurt at all.

So anyway, I was ill and as anyone would I found it hard to keep going. I was reasonably ok sticking to the calorie intake, just going maybe 100 kcal over on a bad day. The exercise was so hard though. I was dragging myself through it and not putting in anywhere near enough effort. I took a couple of days off at the beginning of the week but got stuck in at the end of the week. When I hit the scales on the Tuesday they told me I'd put on 2lbs. This time it didn't hit me as hard because I knew I'd been ill and hadn't stuck to my diet and exercise religiously so it was ok, I'd do better next week.

And do better I did! I got back on the exercise wagon and stuck to my calorie allowance. I also managed to tap into another excellent resource. I work in a hospital for a surgical department and the nurses I work with run a pre-op clinic where part of the work up for patients undergoing surgery is to weigh them. A colleague of mine had been going down to the clinic with one of our nurses before she started and using the scales. The particular nurse is also a runner and another good source of advice and motivation. They encouraged me to join them and I was only too happy to do so just for the access to reliable scales!

I got on the scales and was 4lbs lighter than my scales had told me! I couldn't believe it, I must have still been losing weight despite being ill and not pushing myself! This was great, it was working!! Finally, it was working!! I was so spurred on and went on to lose another 2lbs the following week and the week after, which was last Monday, I lost an astounding 4lbs and hit the magic 1 stone mark. In 7 weeks. I actually got a bit emotional when I weighed in that week, I couldn't believe I'd done it and done it so quickly.

Aimee had been amazing and gave me the biggest hug at zumba class that evening. I told her that I'd had a chat with my nurse colleague and got tips on running - something I had despised previously. The nurse had recommended a programme called 'Couch to 5k' which was aimed at getting anyone of any fitness level running 5k. I'd found another app from the NHS 'Change for Life' scheme and couldn't wait to get started.

I did my first run the following day. I bundled my son up in his stroller and went to the local park. I admit I found it tougher than I expected but I was so proud of myself when I'd completed it. I never, ever thought I would take up running at all, never mind enjoy it! But I enjoyed it so much I did the next run the following day, and after a days work! I completed the first weeks 3 sessions this very afternoon and am looking forward to starting the second week and pushing myself that bit further. I've also sat down and worked out a new exercise plan where I am doing something every single day - Monday - Zumba class, Tuesday - Yoga, Wednesday - Running, Thursday - Zumba game, Friday - Running, Saturday - Yoga, Sunday - Running, rinse and repeat!

So that brings you bang up to date with my journey. I hope you can see what a massive turn around I've made and I hope you can see that if I can do it, anyone can do it!! From here I'm not sure what this blog will turn into but I hope you stick with me. I have a lot more information and tips and tricks to share. Oh, and I'm now very excitedly planning my birthday outfit.

I'm going for a weigh in tomorrow, cross your fingers for me! Aimee has advised me to aim for maintaining my weight this week as I had such a big loss last time but I remain hopeful! I'll update you soon.

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