Sunday, 20 October 2013

'Dream On'

As I sit here writing to you all tonight, I am still living off the runner's euphoria that comes after completing a great race. I just did another 5k, it was at Twilight and the route was all along Bristol's harbourside. It was beautiful, the weather was in my favour- not hot, not cold. Damp from earlier but no rain. I completed it in 45 minutes and 14 seconds. Which is nearly 11 minutes off my time in July. So I'm happy, I'm too awake and muscle weary but happy.

Flash back nine hours and you'd see a VERY different picture. I woke up not feeling very well, I can feel the wetter, damper weather beating down my immune system and a cold is almost sure to follow. I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself and was trying everything I could to say it was okay if I didn't compete. I wouldn't be damaging anyone. This is, of course, a lie. I would have damaged myself and my confidence had my lazier urges (Oatmeal's 'the Blerch) won out. As some context I should explain that this came off of the laziest week I've had on this programme. I haven't been gymming nearly as frequently, I've been lazy with my cooking, lazy with my tracking and just didn't feel bad enough to do anything about it. In general (other than some self inflicted boy troubles) everything is going pretty damn well in my life. I'm loving my studies, I feel positive about my abilities and I wasn't feeling NEGATIVE about my weight loss. I'd just became complacent. And so, it'll come as no surprise that I gained weight. I wasn't surprised by this gain but it was a sense of shame for me and lead me not to tell anyone about it. I didn't want to be reminded every time I talked about it that I'd just been a lazy git. Or worse, I'd come to terms with a gain even before I got on the scale, having people say 'oh that's too bad!' or something similar may just have made me feel worse than I would just within my own head. This was not one of those occasions where nature just was conspiring against me and kept my weight the same or secreted in a sneaky pound. Sometimes it's exhausting trying to be the person you want to be for yourself and all of the others who care deeply about supporting your efforts and it's even worse having someone pick out your faults- even if they do so in a non-judgmental manner.

This should have been a line in the sand where I just learn from the mistakes of the past week (of which I could easily see many) and move forward, but this sense of complacency was still there. It was still there this morning when I didn't want to run, it was still there minutes before I donned my running shoes and headed out the door.

And yet, now that it's done, I have the clarity to see just how very important doing this race was to me. It gave me back some of my edge, some of my drive and reminded me of why I'd come to love fitness and activity so much. I just feel better, even now when my feet are a bit sore and my legs feel heavy and uncooperative, I feel better than I did before. Doing this race showed me how far I'd come- 11 minutes difference in 4 months is nothing to be sniffed at! It made me once again think about how I nourish my body and how it nourishes me and that, even when it gets hard and all you want to do is order those onion rings, I need to take care of this body I have and this includes not limiting yourself just because it may be 'easier'. If fitness and activity were 'easy' everyone would be doing it.

So, as I crossed the finishing line with Neil Patrick-Harris singing 'Dream On' in my ears to the cheers of the wonderful people who came out to support and gained my medal (let's be honest, I'm in this for the cheddar) I felt once again, renewed. I am capable of so much more than I would ever have thought- I just have to try.
Here's a motivational Bruce Lee quote for your Sunday morning. It seemed appropriate for this post.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

When you reach a milestone.

Well, this blog has been a long time coming (or it certainly feels so to me). I have finally reached my 50lb weight loss goal. If we're being more specific 53 lbs. But who's counting...I kept putting off writing a blog until I hit an arbitrary goal, so I'd finally decided that enough was enough and I needed to sit down and write. And then I actually DID hit this, really important and really long time coming, goal.

When I started this process I believed that the numbers on the scale meant more than anything. Before I came home for the summer reaching that 50lb goal was all I could wish for, but I have learnt so much since then- deeply important things which are just as (if not more) important as the number on the scale. So, I won't lie I had a glass of champagne last night to toast this long awaited goal but it's the other, sometimes little, things that I really want to celebrate with all of you here.

My shiny new medal. 
I did my half marathon on the 28th September. There were, of course, moments where I was certain that my feet were going to fall off, that my back was about to go into spasm and that I was simply going to give up. But I did it. The actual walking bit took about 4.5 hours and no amount of training (and I did a fair amount of training) could really prepare me for what it was going to be like. Walking: for hours, at night; with eight thousand other people. My goal of completion in 3.5 hours was never going to happen when I hadn't accounted for all of the other people and the pit stops and the result of continued exertion in the VERY early hours of a Sunday morning. Had I not done it with Sarah I know I would most likely have stopped. But even with the support of another person personal emotional motivation was what really got me through to the end, to the finish line and to the medal collection area. When doubt set in I thought of my parents; my mother who wishes she was still capable of walking distances, my father who I hope endlessly to motivate to stay active. My friend Lucy who was too ill to take part and for all of the people the world over who, through no fault of their own, are simply unable to use their bodies in the ways they no doubt would like. I almost certainly would have become one of those people. So I did it for me. And once the pain in my feet had subsided (c. 6pm Sunday 29th) I could finally see it for the amazing accomplishment that it was. You could also say I got the bug, as I'm signed up to do another 5k race next Saturday. That'll seem like a doddle now.
Me, before the race started. Before the sore tootsies.
I am now over a quarter of the way into my weight loss. You may or may not remember my coming up with a (beautiful) spreadsheet to keep track of the important goals. I worked out how many pounds I would need to lose when I was 25, 50, 75% into my weight loss and ticking that first one off was hugely important to me. That's not to say there isn't an awful long way to go, but every day and every step feels a little bit closer to that goal. To anyone who is thinking of doing a similar weight loss program I cannot encourage you enough to work out manageable goals that will truly keep you going when the going gets tough, which is does. More frequently than you might wish.
Weight loss Jars, still being used weekly.
I go to weekly yoga classes and I started kickboxing. Both of these do similar things for my body and mind. I may go in carrying a lot of tension (why, I sometimes don't know) but once you're done punching something or going through a full sun salutation with full yogic breathing, it all seems clear again. It's easier to focus, and it makes it far easier to keep going when I would previously have allowed myself to become entirely bogged down with the day to day living of your life. I hate to be a cliche, but incorporating activity in my life has given me part of my life back. And it's not necessarily a part of my life that I knew I was missing. I feel more at ease with who I am, what I do and how well I can do it. This is not something I'd anticipated. I knew that becoming fitter would make my body feel better but when it comes to stabilizing my emotions and taking control over my mind and feelings it has come as a complete shock. If I'm honest, this is the best I've ever felt. About myself, about my life and the best I've felt about my ability to deal with problems when they get handed to you.

Clearly, reaching that goal of 50 lbs is hugely important to me. I was at this point back in March 2009, I'd received the certificate but I eventually stopped being proud of this accomplishment. The framed certificate found itself being shoved under my bed never to be seen again. I'd failed. But now, I've changed my entire way of being. I'm comfortable in my skin and have a good relationship with myself. Change has stopped being about wanting to be different from what I was before and has everything to do now with loving who I have become and wanting to continue to do good things for my body. It's the only one I'll ever have and I now see why it's important to do something every day for myself. It's a strange feeling realising that the way you were before was neglectful to this body that supports me, keeps me alive and only occasionally complains about this neglectful treatment.

In short, I thought I'd managed the 'lifestyle change' before, but I don't think I had. I have now, and I count my blessings daily that I've finally done it.

To the next 50.