The Worst Ways To Lose Weight (And The One Way That Really Works!)

Health and fitness

At the start of the summer, I stepped on the scales and was disgusted.

I won’t reveal the exact figure here but, suffice to say, it was significantly more than I expected. To anyone reading this who knows me, I acknowledge now I am not fat, however, after a few months of promising myself to be more healthy, failing most of the time, yet all too smugly (aided by some strategically timed weigh days) seeing little impact on those all important figures and still squeezing in to the same size clothes, it came as a massive wake up call.

The second I stepped off the scales , my mood changed. I knew that I hadn’t been eating healthily for quite a a while and, even after a week of being ‘better’ (whatever that means!), had eaten out and drunk far too much on that Saturday night, but the shock was still huge. It was as if every calorie in every crisp or cookie I had consumed over the last few months had conspired against me saying, “Hold on lads, let her believe all is ok for a little longer,” then piling on their pounds (more than just plural, SEVEN times more!) over one weekend.

I was disgusted and my face betrayed me to my boyfriend. Instantly, he asked what the matter was and, in that same instant, I began to cry. Yet when he heard my sorry confession his sympathy seemed to disappear. “Well, if you want to loose it you know what to do.” And he’s right, I have lost weight before and know exactly what works and have known all along.

However, in exactly a weeks time I would be boarding a plane to spend three weeks in swimwear in Spain and common sense waved farewell as all I could face was this fact. I resolved then and there to shake those pounds in whatever way worked. Stupid I know.

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Monday was easy. Those vile figures still flashing before my eyes, I breezed through the morning without a morsel passing my lips. Even the left overs from my daughters breakfast bypassed my mouth and headed straight to the bin. What a martyr. At lunch time my mother attempted to tempt me by presenting me with my favourites; cheese and ham sandwiches (from M&S of all places!) and a whole bag of cookies. But I wasn’t to be fooled. I had a plan. My will power was super strong.

Fuelled by the success of my ‘fasting’ (five hours without food was possibly a new record for me), I consulted my faithful friend typing how to lose seven pounds in seven days in to good old Google. The range and combination of foods suggested by so-called success stories astounded me. Some of these fads I was familiar with whilst others seemed simply strange but the common factor claimed by them all was that this aim was more than just achievable, it was easy. Experience tells me that losing weight requires words I don’t associate with something being easy. Words like will power, determination, focus and restraint.

Additionally, aside from this common factor, the information all seemed so contradictory and therefore very confusing. It seemed to go against everything I had ever learnt about a healthy lifestyle; everything in moderation. These recommendations seemed excessive and extreme in every way. And whilst one recommended limiting your calorie intake every day or consuming only one particular food, others claimed this was a sure fire way to ensure you stored and created fat or that said food was sent from the devil himself. What should we believe? I stuck with what I knew; limited calorie, low fat salad and a run before bed.

Tuesday was tricky. Still focused, still determined, I woke early and headed out for another run. I was tired and hungry but plugged in my headphones and upped my pace. It felt good. When I returned home, on a high from fresh air and exercise and with a whole host of fresh positive thoughts, I skipped breakfast and instead refuelled with a glass of sparking water. Something about the bubbles fools me into feeling full. But by lunch time I was ravenous. A slice of ham, some cucumber and two (dry) ryvita. Yum. Still starving (yes, I am aware of the true meaning of this word and acknowledge that, although very hungry, it doesn’t apply to me), I simply upped my intake of diet coke.

By three I clock I had consumed three bottles and the buzz from the caffeine sparked a memory of a trick tried and tested by a friend who had been highly successful in losing weight; herbal weight loss pills. Immediately, I headed to Holland and Barrett to scour their shelves. However, as you can see, I had conducted very little research in to why these might help or the methods they were claiming would work and, faced with row after row of so-called wonder drugs, felt completely bewildered and simply opted for the cheapest. I have no idea if a pricier option would have been more effective but I doubt it. I stuck with the stated dose but within the hour I was flying. I went to text my friend for reassurance that all was well and I wasn’t having some awful adverse reaction but the screen kept shifting before my eyes. I couldn’t keep still. I found the bottle and, through shaky vision, made out the advice that the pills should not be consumed alongside additional caffeine. This wasn’t the product for me.

Wednesday was worse. I had work. For me, that alone is reason enough to comfort eat. I started off strong but then realised I was in fact due to stay late that day. I hadn’t planned for this. When would I run? What could I eat that would be below my calorie limit? I fought my fears all day and again ate nothing until, at 5pm, I found a lonely low calorie sandwich awaiting me on a supermarket shelf. I ate the whole thing in less than a minute and believe me when I say that bread has never tasted better!

However, by this point I already felt failure was inevitable. Despite my usual rule of weighing myself no more than once a week, I had been partaking in a daily weigh and seen little difference in those figures. And that sandwich was just so good…

Thursday was full of cravings. From the moment that I woke until the second I stuffed that cookie in to my mouth it was all I could think about.

And by Friday night I was eating a proper (albeit rather heathy) dinner and enjoying my usual end-of-the-week glass of white.

Fad diets aren’t for me.

Spain came and went. I took extra care to avoid any mirrors whilst wearing my bikini. I continued to run a lot, then a little, then forgot about it at all. A little yoga. Much too much wine. Then home again and on those scales. The same again. I told myself I’d start again once the summer was through…

And here I am, the second week back in to the new school term. The mornings are dark, the leaves are golden on the ground and it is time to dig out that winter wardrobe and hope it still fits.

I know that if I want to lose the weight I have to make the change. I know that it’s not what I do for seven single days that counts. I know that when I start, I should stick to it. I know that it’s not easy. I know that it’s not fun.

Because the wonder behind weight loss simply is no secret. But often the truth is the hardest thing to swallow.

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My salute to the sun

Health and fitness

Feet fixed. Toes spread. Rooted to the earth. Engage and zip up from below. Tall now, really tall. My head pulled up to all that is possible. My heart open. What might be?

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Inhale…long limbs lift and encircle the world. My world. In this moment. Look to the sky before I…

…exhale and dive down. Stiff at first, it seems more a sigh. Then blood rushes around my ears and fills me with that force. Energy. Determination.

Inhale. Look up. Feel it again.

Hold and step back. Strong. Powerful. Passionate. My favourite moment. One that can’t last just like all the others.

Exhale down and press down. I feel the progress. Pride. Let it go and…

…push forward to reveal the imperfection. Inhale. Almost. Beauty and grace and goodness bending back and looking up. Again, it can’t last.

Exhale. Push back. Tight legs, bent knees, heels that just won’t reach the ground; flawed. Sink a little deeper. Feel it. Hands spread to hold firm and the rush returns.

Inhale. Jump. Look up.

Exhale. Fold. Feel it.

Inhale. Find that world once again. Mine, all mine. All that is possible. All that is real. All that might be.

Exhale. Hands pressed at heart. Peace…begin again.

Reasons why I hate running

Family, Health and fitness

Ok, this headline is a little deceptive, I don’t hate running. A better title would be Reasons why I simply can’t stick to the habit of going for a run as part of a healthy lifestyle. But not quite as catchy, is it?

And that’s where my first problem lies. I’m simply not passionate about it. I grew up in a family where my dad ran (and, well in to his sixties, still runs) everyday. Anyone who has ever gone to a gym with him says the same; he will probably die on a treadmill. He runs like a man possessed, completely goal orientated. Over the years he has completed many marathons in very respectable times and, as children, we were encouraged to go and watch, join in with training and participate in the attached ‘fun’ runs. And this approach was highly successful in installing a love of physical exercise and a passion for running…in my brother. My brother is now the one to fill those enormous muddy trainers and pound the pavements, day in, day out, whatever the weather. And he’s good at it. This year he completed the London marathon in a more than respectable time that was well under three hours. How can I compete?

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My brother and parents post London marathon 2014 – look at the pride on my mum’s face!

And there’s the second problem. Whilst I am an alright runner; a style that’s not too shocking and a pace that’s still not shameful either, I am simply not the best. And I don’t like that. Not one bit.

Add to this the outfits (trainers may have recently had a massive make-over for the female market but, at the end of the day, it’s still a trainer), the fact that, without a private gym at home, you have to leave the house to do it and (the most obvious reason of all) if you do it properly, it hurts, I simply can’t get excited about the prospect of committing to a life lived this way.

And, so, I don’t. I am, and will probably continue to be, a fair weather runner. I will take it up for a few weeks every year and enjoy it while it lasts, safe in the knowledge that the promises I make to myself each time about keeping up the the habit just won’t last. I accept that now.

But there is one reason why I love to run. One reason that gets me out there despite the rest. One reason why I am waking up this morning, leaving my house before anyone else and, yes, putting on my trainers.

Running works.

Running makes your heart race. It makes your head strong. It gives you a sense of accomplishment in a short time.

And, this week, this morning, today, I need that.

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