At the beginning of last year I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to change about my myself. It was my very first Wobbly entry. I was sad. I was frustrated. I was done with being overweight. School holidays were crowding me. I needed space and direction. So, I started this weekly journal to make me accountable to myself. I thought if I wrote down my goals, I’d be more likely to stick to them. It worked for awhile. I lost about 10 kilos, was exercising regularly, eating healthy foods and on my way to reaching some short and medium term goals.
And then life happened and I slowly stopped exercising as much, started eating more cake and donuts and chips smothered in gravy. Now I am heavier than when I first started on this path. I’m pretty sure I do this every year and slowly over time I get larger and larger. However, I am in a better place than I was this time last year. I feel stronger within and am getting better at ignoring people and things that make me feel unhappy. Life too short to stick around dealing with that shit. I’m getting better at searching out people and activities that make me feel happier about myself. I’ve also made a couple of changes to my daily life – I don’t have sugar in my tea or coffee and now I only drink decaf. And generally, despite being a bit lazy over the past few weeks, I exercise at least three times a week – whether it be a ride, walk, swim or skating. I’ve also been eating less meat. And I’ve been stopping and smelling the roses – deep breathing, simple meditation techniques.
I feel calmer.
As I’ve been saying for the past year, this process is not just about trying to get skinny it’s about getting healthier and changing my mindset. I can lose weight. I’ve done that over-and-over-again. I just can’t keep it off. I think me losing weight and keeping it off will be a long process, that starts with my emotional wellbeing and attitude, not with a strict diet plan. I am not getting all gung ho about the start of the year. I learned from past experience that it’ll only fizzle and I’ll get disheartened. I am taking little steps towards my goal.
I went to the supermarket earlier today and saw people like “me” everywhere. They are full of “start of the year enthusiasm” and resolve. They wander the shopping aisles in their gym gear or like me – my black leggings and big floppy t-shirt because I can’t find cool gym gear to fit. They’re wearing their new sports bra – it’s a little tight, but they’ll be skinnier soon. They have trolleys full of kale and coconut water. Green smoothies will be their breakfast of choice. Nuts and carrots make a great snack. They will probably throw the kale out in a week. I always do.
They’ll go home and throw out the crap food from their fridge because they saw a dietician on the Biggest Loser do that once. From now on they’ll only eat protein and salads. And never eat after 7pm. Perhaps they’ll fast two days a week or go sugar-free. Maybe they’ll get a couple of new books – Yoga for Beginners and Paleo Living. And when it comes to booze, they’ll only have two glasses of wine on a Friday night and vodka sodas for a treat.
They’ll spend their free time trawling the internet for the quickest ways to burn tummy fat and might even join Weight Watchers or Michelle Bridges – I’ve done both of them and lost over 10 kilos on each (and then put the weight straight back on again). But out of all the new members there will be success stories. They might be one of their success stories and appear on Sunrise as the Slimmer of the Year. Yes, that’s how dedicated they’ll be. They’ll even take a “before” shot, holding a sign with the date and their current weight scrawled on it. They’ve already imagined themselves in their “after” photo in a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, looking effortlessly slim and joyful.
Everywhere they look there’ll be ads encouraging them to lose weight and change their lifestyle. They’ll download all the apps and maybe even buy a Fitbit. They’ll be tempted to join forums and start training programs. They’ll be enticed with zero membership fees at gyms and early-bird specials. So many companies feeding of people’s self esteem issues. It’s January – it’s time to finally achieve your New Year’s resolutions. They’ll fork out the cash and for the first six weeks they’ll be the best member ever. And then life will catch up with them. They’ll have too much work on to go to the gym or they’ll have a mid-week party so have to break their no drinking rule or they’ll start to feel skinnier and give themselves rewards of chocolate cake, schnitzel and creamy pasta. They’ve worked hard. They’ve earned it.
Soon, they’ll realise they’ve been paying for a gym membership that they never use. But that’s ok because it’s cold and when they’re not so busy with work and life they’ll use it way more often. If they get back into healthy eating by September they’ll have a fab body by Summer. The magazines at the shopping aisles where they stand with their trolley full of chips and ice cream will remind them it’s time to get back into shape again. And they will, next week.
I’ve been there. Over and over. Losing weight is not about overhauling your life over the period of a weekend. You have much work to do behind the scenes before you can become a committed gym junkie, health freak. You can not sustain such an aggressive change in lifestyle simply by putting on gym gear, signing up to a weight loss program and putting kale in your trolley.
Set more attainable goals. Take smaller steps towards change.
I read somewhere that a dietician simply asked one of his clients to just change one meal a day. Instead of skipping or filling up on crap for breakfast, he asked him instead to eat a healthy one. That’s it. And slowly over time more changes were introduced. It wasn’t an entire meal plan all at once. He also gave his client a 12 month weight loss goal which was split into three month periods. I think it was 20 kilos over the year. which worked out to 5 kilos every three months. That is achievable. That is what I am considering for my next 12 months. Little, sustainable, changes. Weight loss in small incremental stages. Health being the focus.
That I can do. How about you?
You’re absolutely on the money – it’s about long term shifts of mindset, and a lifestyle overhaul. For years, I was ‘that’ skinny girl – ridiculously fast metabolism, struggling to keep weight on, and actually, not feeling fab about myself because I always felt scrawny next to curvy women. Then a couple of things happened – I turned 40, and believe me, SOMETHING changes then, and my rheumatoid arthritis which had been mild for 20 years turned feral, and for the last two years I’ve been on the nasty grown up drugs. Those drugs are slowly giving me back my life, but there’s way more of me than there was before I started taking them. Combine the greatly reduced mobility with weight gain as a side effect of a few of them, and it’s been disastrous. Not having every done the dieting seesaw, I find that I have no mechanisms to deal with a ‘diet’ as such. Thankfully, I’m not a big junk food person, and I don’t have a huge sweet tooth. I do like a drink now and then though, and at times that can be more than the odd one. I did, in a panicked state after my rheumatologist made a comment about the added weight, try a few radical diet plans – and predictably, failed. So, I’m back to just being aware of the quantities I’m eating, making darned sure that what I eat is fresh and healthy, and I’m slowly managing to get my exercise back to something that feels like it might do more than just keeping me mobile. Last week I got back in the pool for the first time and managed 500m in the 25m pool. Took a while, in 100m lots. Today, I did 600m. I used to do 1000km four times a week. I may or may not get back to that – it depends how my shoulders hold up. I have my bike on a trainer in the sunroom, and I try and get on that the days I don’t swim – so far, my longest session has been half an hour, and I reckon that’s pretty good. Eventually, I’m hoping to get it off the trainer and be out in the fresh air, riding with my partner (he bought a fixie for those rides, and will leave his nicks and road bike at home!). Walking is still difficult, because my feet and ankles don’t allow for enough pace and distance to be burning too many calories, but every little bit helps.
Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’ll get there, and so will you. x
You have just sung my song ! Turning 5o in April and I am determined to get my “shit” together before then. I am that person in your post, been there and fine all that, time and time again!! This time, baby steps, baby steps ….
Yup – think I should lose around 5kgs. I can tell you now what’s not going to happen.
I used to make resolutions too. I stopped years ago because all they did was make me depressed, not thin.
Six months ago I got a Fitbit. It’s been life-changing for me (I respond to the stats!). Over 6 months I’ve lost 5kg – it may not seem like much but the only change I’ve made is checking that I meet my daily 10000 steps and ’30 active minutes’ quota each day. That’s it. And I’ve stuck to it. So yeah, 5kg in 6 months isn’t huge but it feels huge compared to all of my previous weight loss efforts because half a year on, I’m still committed.
For my money, you could do worse than hook onto this Kiwi’s approach. Using her health professional background (pharmacy) she’s rethought weight loss and health and launched this way to eat and live. Can’t go wrong in my book: http://www.ditchthecarbs.com/2015/01/01/new-year-new-you/
I totally agree! I really believe in small, incremental changes. These are the ones I have been able to sustain and build on over time – it’s worked for me. A great way to start is by keeping a diary of whatever it is you want to change for a week – e.g. if you want to lose weight, write down every single thing you eat for one week – and look at where you can make small, simple, but clear changes. It could be eating dessert after dinner, sneaking chocolate at 3 pm every day, not eating breakfast then pigging out on cake at morning tea… Then choose only one thing you know you know you can change and all you have to focus on for the next two weeks is breaking that habit. Swap the habit for something else if you have to (like a cup of tea or a piece of fruit). Once you’ve conquered it then you can move onto the next… over time you’ll find you’re creating a healthier life rather than forcing a grand diet or ‘lifestyle change’ on yourself that you just can’t maintain… Anyhow that’s my thoughts and what has worked for me in the past so I really like your idea and I believe you can do it!! Best of luck and I hope 2015 brings you lots of joy and contentment!
I think you’ve got absolutely the right approach! I remember reading somewhere that it is much better to add in what you do need than focus on cutting back on what you don’t – so eating more vegies, drinking more water, continuing the exercise will build back the nutrients and energy you need and you are much more likely to be healthier (and may lose weight too – but that’s a bonus). Good luck!
I think that getting the mental health bit right is vital – say this as a comfort eater, and, if I am very honest, a comfort drinker which probably is worst calorie wise than my food intake.
In 2014 I worked more than I had for many years, and even in an office for the first time in 18 years. Great work and really enjoyable but my health has been the thing to suffer so 2015’s motto is less work, better eating and more focus on family and the totally cluttered house.
Here’s to a good start to 2015 healthwise, mental and physical.
I feel exhausted just reading that! I can’t bring myself to put all that effort into failing anymore. My resolution is to eat what when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. That’s it.
Reading that last paragraph was like turning on the lights for me. Bloody brilliant, my friend.
(PS: we need to start up our walk club again for 2015 very soon x)
What a brilliant post. One which I think everyone needs to read at this time of year!! The cycle of dieting and the marketing that goes with it each year (get the bikini body, burn that winter fat etc) is hard to swallow, as are the myriad of options out there.
I was on the diet cycle for years, but my weight just skyrocketed more and more. Eventually I did make changes – and they most definitely began in the mind, being kind to myself. They’ve also involved a gym membership, personal trainer and eating healthy food. No other programs, books, recipe plans, apps, watches, special headphones, magazines etc. I think just changing one small habit at a time makes for the foundations that you can then slowly add to more and more as you go.
I’m now a pretty healthy eating/gym going/bike riding/yoga enthusiast but I am 1 year and 9 mths down the track from when I started (with 42kg of weight loss and 18-20kg to go). When I started out, I just aimed to get more sleep, eat the right food, and see the PT three times a week – and that was absolutely enough to start with. Good luck with your new approach to habit changing – 5kg every three months is terrific.