Never say never, say goodbye to negative excuses – part 2!

So according to my last weight in I’ve dropped a pound and you know I’m actually rather please with that, considering I’ve been munching cough sweets as though they were going out of fashion for the best part of two weeks

So according to my last weight in I’ve dropped a pound and you know I’m actually rather please with that, considering I’ve been munching cough sweets as though they were going out of fashion for the best part of two weeks. I must confess, dear reader, that I have been ever so lax in recording my calorie intake for the last week. I’ve been very remiss but, as I noted in the last blog, I’m picking up it again in the morning as I’ve got a new book (I had got to the last week in my 3rd dairy). So I’ve been back in the gym, switching to morning workouts where I can so I give myself more time in the evenings to work on material with the band for album number two, do some bits and pieces for my hobby of LRP and to also spend time with my long suffering other half. And so far it appears to be working.

Anyhoo, onwards and inwards, one pound off is one pound off so it’ll be interesting to see how I fare next Monday.
So in part one of this themed set of two, I admitted to going off the rails and that I’m not kicking myself about it. Well what’s the point? Think about it for a moment. Why do we beat ourselves up so much? Isn’t it about time you cut yourself a little slack and said, no I’m not doing that anymore how can I make this negative a positive? Well that’s exactly what I have done with the excuses that I used for years, the same excuses that I’ve listed below, and the same excuses that got me to becoming and staying fat.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a stubborn old mule at the best of times, so what made weight loss so very different. Why did I never stick to anything to get the weight off? Mainly it’s because I allowed the little voice in my head to wear me down over and over. She’s still there, quiet in the background, gagged for the moment. There are days I let her out and she gets the better of me, then I shake myself awake and gag her again and put her back in her box. I’ve nicknamed her Pandora, yeah i know obvious eh? What made it all so different and the stubborn mule side of me hide is that I listened too intently to that voice in my head that said ‘go on one more won’t hurt’, the same voice that then said ‘you fat cow look at the state of you’. We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen ourselves as unattractive, fat, whatever. And because we don’t want to listen to anything in case it’s that voice again we close off and retreat inward behind a wall of negative excuses.

So to the negative excuses that I’ve used. It is important to stress that some of these excuses are also very positive. Some, however, are a little more tricky to put a positive slant on, but you change the wording of the excuse and, hey presto, positive affirmations.

Let me start with the one that I opened the whole blog with:

‘But it’s not my fault’

I covered this in the opening blog, briefly. For years I used this excuse to alleviate all feelings of guilt over what I was doing to myself. I hid behind it as a security blanket, as in my own head I had made myself believe that it couldn’t possibly be me that was at fault. Denial can be a terrible thing. It forces us to back away from facing up to the reality of a situation. By backing away from that reality I compounded the problem. The more I denied taking responsibility for my own health the fatter I became. I still hid behind this blanket even as the weight started to come off. As far as I was concerned I had joined a gym and given up smoking, therefore I was taking responsibility. Had I really? I had taken the first steps, yes. But responsibility and openly admitting that it was me that was making me fat? No, that came a lot later on. I carried on for years stating it was this excuse and that excuse, (all excuses lead to this one, which is why I’ve started with it), every single day believing that it couldn’t possibly be my fault. After a conversation with a dear friend in September 2010, I realised that I hadn’t admitted to myself that it was indeed my own fault. He had been on a course through his work that looked at the habits of effective people and the first thing was to take responsibility for yourself.

It was an enlightening conversation and one that resonated with me. So once I had got over the initial shock realisation of, yes I am doing this to myself and that needs to change I started to look at ways I could now make it my asset, how do I make this a positive. By changing the way I looked at food, learning the no so mystical formula to losing weight, I now made what I was doing to myself an asset. As I noted in the opening bog, I was my own worst enemy. I had lost my way with food and nutrition. Once I had admitted that this was MY fault, I started to research all the ways that I could now assist myself in ensuring what I did from then on in was only an asset. So now when I lose weight, then yes, that is my fault just the same as if I put a pound back on.

Admitting that you are responsible for how you feel about yourself and how your actions are impacting on your body is hard, and it’s emotionally draining but it is a worthwhile experience. It’s not something you’ll forget in a hurry. But also cut yourself a little slack, it won’t happen overnight. It does take some time to get your head around, but as with everything else you take it one step at a time.
Of course there are instances where weight gain isn’t your fault to begin with, but don’t ignore the gain if it’s making you miserable. If something has happened and you can’t do any activity etc, then chat to your GP about a programme that will at least help you maintaining weight until whatever ailment has passed. That way you won’t fall into hiding behind the excuse later on and you won’t have to go through years getting off the pounds that it took only a few months to pile on.

‘I have a medical condition’

Oh I used this too. I blamed my lack of weight loss on PCOS if you recall. What a shocking state of affairs. But after being diagnosed with PCOS I clung to the excuse that I had a ‘condition’ with both hands and I was damned if I was letting go (again denying it was my fault). I was under the illusion that this condition which made losing weight difficult was also making me fat no matter what diet I did. Laughable when you think about it, but how many of us have clutched at such things?

If anything having PCOS was more of a reason to research ways to get my weight under control. The PCOS wasn’t making me fat, the sugar, fat and rubbish foods in my every day eating were making me fat. The hormonal imbalance that PCOS brings with it was making it harder to lose the weight I was piling on as your hormones are your metabolism. My whole system was out of whack and I kept compounding the problem. I was given the micro pill to aid in restoring hormone balance. It turns out that perhaps this wasn’t the wisest move as I was piling in more hormones without really knowing what battle my body was fighting. In the last year I’ve moved away from all processed foods, only eating them now and again, and have gone to organic produce as much as possible. I never thought I would enjoy scrubbing potatoes to get all the dirt off them, but I do as nothing beats the taste of home made wedges. Some might say that with all the pesticides in farming and goodness knows what that has been added to animal feed over the years, that it’s a fruitless exercise going to organic, but every little helps in my eyes and if I can reduce the amount of chemicals I add into my system then that’s a bonus. Now the hormonal rage as I call it is nowhere near as severe and the weight is slowly but surely coming off. It’s all going in the right direction, and the effects of my ‘condition’ appear to be stabilising.

‘I don’t have time’

This is possibly the most annoying of the excuses I used because, now when I look back at it, it was an out and out lie. When I worked as a professional singer, I worked 4-6 nights a week in the pubs and clubs all around the country. During the day I didn’t work, but did I do anything constructive with my time? No I sat around and watched TV, did a spot of cleaning and then sat down again, lighting cigarette after cigarette eating unconsciously and usually it was handfuls of crisps and chocolate. It’s no wonder I was the size I was. And yes all the time saying it wasn’t my fault. I had lots of time on my hands and chose to ignore that by not being proactive I was causing myself harm. In those 5 years I could have dropped any weight gain and maintained a healthy body, a healthy weight and learned all that I know then, I was so lazy! I guess I just wasn’t ready to face the truth of what I was doing even though I was becoming more miserable and depressed with myself.

When I went back to University at the age of 25, the weight continued to pile on and I still did nothing about it, this time using studying as the excuse as to why I didn’t have time. Silly really, as my university had a free gym so there was nothing stopping me getting in early in the mornings to get in the gym. During this time I also lost my grandfather to cancer, and even that still didn’t make me sit up and take notice what I was doing to myself. If anything I had the frame of mind that life was too sort and it was pointless worrying about these things as it could all be taken away in an instant so why not do what I wanted, smoke, eat, drink and be merry (was I really merry, no not really). I was really in a bad way looking back.

When I had my breakdown day in 2006 I was working full time and doing a masters degree. So if anything it was at this point that the ‘I don’t have time excuse’ would have actually made more sense, but now I rearranged what I was doing and made damn sure I had time for me. I stopped watching any old rubbish on the TV, I got in the gym and I stated taking those first tentative steps to sorting my life and body out. That’s part of the battle I think, making time for yourself. We are so wrapped around everyone else that we need to ‘take care’ of that we forget about taking care of us. So after you’ve read this go for a brisk walk, run yourself a bath and have some you time, you deserve it!

‘I’m big boned’

Yes I’ve used this one as well. I shake my head now, as no one is big boned to the degree that they should be overweight by the 7 stone that I was. Again, it was looking for a way of saying ‘well it’s not my fault that I’m a ‘large’ lady, I’m genetically predisposed to being this way’, knowing full well that both my parents were slender creatures in their 20s and 30s. I despair at myself on times. Alas there is no positive slant that I can put on this, at the end of the day I was fat, I just didn’t want to admit it.

‘I’ve tried all the diets and nothing works’

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Going religiously to our weight loss club, paying our subs and not losing an ounce. We come away feeling utterly de-motivated and worthless. I joined anything and everything in my community centre that was associated with weight loss, when I first started this journey. The daft thing is I had tried half of these weight loss clubs in previous years, and they had failed then so why on earth I thought they were going to work at this point, the gods only know! Again even with weight loss clubs you have to burn more than you consume.

Another thing I came to notice was that I was dependant on their processed food, ready meals etc. I wasn’t learning about nutrition. Instead of making informed choices about the nutritional value of the food that I was consuming by joining these clubs I was letting the club do it all for me via their pre-made foods. The reason these diets didn’t work was because I was still passing the buck to someone or something else to do the work for me. I now realise it’s important to do the work for yourself. It’s also very rewarding when that 2 pound comes off on the scale to know it’s your hard work and efforts in absolutely everything that has paid off. And you’ll be more inclined to keep the weight off as you will have a better understanding of the food you are consuming.

Here’s a little trick that I’ve started to use to maintain motivation, for those days when it flies out the window (as they do still crop up, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t). Day one, take a deep breath and take a picture of yourself, front on full length, side on full length and a close up of your face. Do your food diary and any activities/exercise for about 6-10 weeks. Take a similar set of photos again at the end of the timescale you’ve set yourself and compare them on the computer side by side. And then repeat in another 6-10 weeks and so on and so on. Note the difference in the pictures. You won’t always register the changes in your shape or face because you see yourself every day in the mirror so your brain just replaces the old image with a new one on a continual basis. The pictures also help to reinforce a positive mental image of yourself, so allow yourself to say well done and be proud.

‘Fresh vegetables and fruit are so expensive’

Oddly it’s not the produce that are expensive, it’s how we shop when we embark on a new regime that pushes the weekly shopping bill up. I’ve done the same, started a new healthy eating regime and have gone gung-ho to the supermarket, filling my trolley with lots of leafy greens and weird and wonderful veg I had never tried before. And then I would still go to the processed food in the chiller/freezer and the crisps and chocolate lanes and filled my trolley with those too. It was an expensive shop!

So I did an experiment, and this is something you can do too if you fancy it, it’s quite fascinating:
I did the household standard weekly shop in week one, and bought all the stuff I would normally buy and lots of healthy food on top as I had previously done every time I started a new diet. The shock at the checkout was amazing, over £160 for a weekly shop…. I know, ridiculous. But there were 6 bottles of ‘low cal’ wine in there. The following week, I sat down and pre-planned all the meals and made my shopping list from that. I added in fresh salsa and fresh humus with some celery, bell peppers and carrots to replace snacks. Most importantly I cut out all the crap that I was still buying – no snacks, no crisps, no chocolate, no savouries, no cakes, no biscuits, no fizzy drinks, no alcohol – I left them on the shelf and walked away (it was tough but it had to be done). I spent around £90 on the weekly shopping that week and still had healthy alternative snacks in the trolley, but they were nuts and fruit. Yep I could spend £70+ on crap…. frightening really.

‘I can’t afford to join the gym’

This one my husband used and he’s asked me to include it. When I started at the gym I asked him to join the gym with me and he refused on the grounds that we couldn’t afford membership for both of us. I recall having many a discussion late at night that it would do us both good to get in the gym, as I was very conscious that here I was on this health kick and I could see him doing what I had been doing. Still he refused saying, “I can’t afford it’. In the end I had to use a very hard tactic and it hurt to have this conversation with him. For those of you who read my other blog, you will know that my father-in-law passed away this January after a severe stroke. He had been battling various ailments over a number of years all brought on by that horrid disease, diabetes. I had had the horrible talk with my doctor of possibly developing diabetes by the time I was 40 and that had shaken me knowing how ill my father-in-law had been. Peter had undergone a kidney transplant not long after Gav and I married, he had lost sight in one eye, could barely see in the other, and a few years ago had had his right leg amputated below the knee. It was hard to see such a strong man wither slowly before our eyes. It was hard on Gav who is very much like his Dad. In the end I used his Dad as an example of why he HAD to reassess his lifestyle.

In essence Gav could afford to go to the gym because he ran the risk of following his father and developing diabetes if he didn’t do something about his excess weight that was continuing to increase. It was a very hard conversation to have and one that lead to many tears and some hard things that needed to be said, and these were all the things I had said to myself the day I had my wake up call. As I said this journey is not easy. Your health is the most precious thing you have. Afford yourself, even if it’s a brisk walk/run around the block three times a week, some time to exercise and join a gym if you can. You wouldn’t drive a car if it ran the risk of breaking down on you, would you? Thankfully it was the shake up that he needed to reassess what was happening to him and he joined the gym with me. Instead of saying ‘I can’t afford to join the gym’, he started to say ‘I can’t afford not to join the gym’. And gym membership doesn’t mean going to one of the expensive clubs, the YMCA etc all have gyms and fitness classes at reasonable rates.

I don’t know if any of the excuses ring a bell, I’m guessing one or two do. Something that I have noticed about all the excuses I used is that they were all so negative. They were either ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I can’t afford that’. That negative demon in my head was winning all the time. I’ve started to say, ‘I can do this’. You can be quite stubborn in this too, well we’ve already established I’m a stubborn mule.

There are times when some of the excuses will be reasons, but when those times come, look for ways to not let them hinder you and seek advice from you GP/trainer at the gym etc. Being the best you that you can be does require effort, and it’s not easy as I’m sure you know only too well. But with some simple positive affirmations that you can give yourself, you can make it easier. And yes there will be days when the negative will cloud the positive, and you will say something on the lines of ‘oh I can’t be bothered I’m having a day off’ and that’s fine. Have the day off, pamper yourself a little, give yourself a break, you’ve earned it. Then the next day start a fresh and carry on again. Sometimes we need to have those days where we think ‘oh sod it’. I’ve had that this week, I hit a little low point mid week and I’ve taken the time out to brush myself off and get back up again. Tomorrow I get back to carrying the little black book and noting everything down again, oh and we’re off to the gym. Onwards and inwards…onwards and inwards!

As always, be kind to yourself, and go run that bath and give yourself some papering. You deserve it.

Much love