Eight months ago I started taking pictures of my body. The photos on the left are from Dec 2012, and on the left Jan 2013. I had hoped to start making changes in December, but failed, and so had to take new pictures come January. I wasn't obese, and if we agree with BMI charts, I was at the higher end of the OK column. But I definitely wasn't healthy. I carried excess fat, and although I had worked on accepting my body as being good enough, it actually wasn't really. I was lazy, and making poor choices.
What did I use to eat? A typical day could well have been Starbucks fruit toast, or a kitkat or two at the salon, followed by a jacket potato for lunch, and for dinner perhaps pasta and cheese, or pizza, or noodles and stirfry. Dessert would be a large chocolate bar, or a packet of biscuits or Haribo, or a yoghurt. If I met a mate for coffee I'd have a slice of cake with it. If I went to the pub I'd grab some crisps or nachos for dinner. If I came home drunk I'd grab some houmus and Dorritos. If I wanted to relax in front of a tv show I'd treat myself to some snacks and dig in. Perhaps a tub of icecream, a packet of sweets or a box of cereal.
How I ate embarrassed myself slightly, but I was lazy with food. I don't enjoy cooking, and although I'm a vegetarian I didn't enjoy many vegetables. I was addicted to those fast and satisfying options. Heavy, comforting and carbohydrate based options felt quick, cheap and easy. I enjoyed feeling full as well as the process of eating.
But I just decided I'd had enough. I wanted to be healthy and strong.
I blogged previously about how to remove the failure points from the path of your success, and creating success points early on to sustain motivation. It's odd to recommend your own blog post, but it's actually an interesting read inspired by Tim Ferris.
I take photos because I don't measure myself. I explained why in this older blog post- The three reasons I don't weigh myself. I find them to be a super helpful way to observe my body without an emotional bias. Looking in the mirror can be very decieving!
So what do I eat now?
- Rainbow foods! This is such a turn around for me, and I'm almost proud of myself. I eat fruit and vegetables, with houmous, beans, soft cheeses, and eggs. If I fancy something hot I'll have a soup, or sweet potato wedges.
- I don't really 'treat' myself, or 'earn' with poor food choices. I just don't want to anymore. I may enjoy the fat and sugar rush from junk for 3minutes, but then what? Nothing is banned, but I need to make a choice, I can choose my old body or my new one.
I focused on adding goodness into my life, rather than trying to remove the badness, so in theory nothing was banned. I don't follow a no-carb diet, but actually I now eat very few carbs. I don't ban cake, but I rarely choose to have a slice. This viewpoint means I don't feel deprived, but enriched.
What do I do at the gym?
When I started in January (it is now August) I visited the gym perhaps 3 or 4 times a week. I wanted to create habits, and see progress quickly. I'm currently at 1 to two visits a week, which feels like a realistic expectation for my long term forever goals.
I go for about 30-45 minutes, and I do about 10 mins fast running, and then do weights and weight baring stretches/exercises. Things like core exercises (planks, squats etc). I want to get stronger, fitter and leaner.
I try to give myself new challenges to push my body further. At the start it was just turning up to the gym, it's currently to try a handstand every morning. I did my first this week (leaning on the wall of course!).
Do I miss pizza?
I miss it when I'm tired, as fat is such a comforting food, and pizza has to be one of the fattiest dinner choices! I ate a lot of it too! But no, not really. I don't miss my lifestyle, and how my body felt. I enjoy the feeling of treating my body well, and fueling my body with what it needs. I enjoy seeing and feeling the difference in my body. I guess I don't even mind that my boobs aren't as good as they were, as the pay off feels worth it.
I wanted to start something that was a forever solution, and eight months on, I really feel I may have found it. It feels scary to state, but I haven't felt so healthy.....ever really. I can't imagine why I'd ever give it up. Winter does make me a little nervous, but I'm preparing ideas already - soups, stews and stirfries.
I'd really like to get stronger, and I've recently started feeling like my body is going backwards, rather than forwards (perhaps in my mind, but also as I've lessened my gym visits) so to remain positive with maintaining, rather than always wanting progress. I think we all know how to lose weight, but the challenges we tend to face are in learning how to keep it off forever. Hence I have tried to focus on a forever solution. There is no finish line.
What have your experiences been with trying to create a healthy life as opposed to following a diet? What does health even mean to you?