An interesting comment was made this week, when talking with workmates about weight loss.
One said: ‘You will never be able to eat normally again, or stop working out, because you’ll put it all back on’. That got me quite perplexed.
Let’s look at that sentence in two parts. Firstly, ‘You will never be able to eat normally again’.
When I said ‘but I do eat normally.’ The answer came back as ‘But you won’t be able to eat that chocolate bar after breakfast, or that chocolate bar after lunch. What I mean is you won’t be able to eat 3 or 4 chocolate bars a day, you’ll be dieting for the rest of your life.’ I almost choked. Firstly, I don’t diet. I stopped dieting around 2 years ago when I realised that diets were setting myself up for failure. Secondly, three to four chocolate bars A DAY! That’s excessive eating and that’s what got me in to being obese in the first place, as well as being horrendously inactive. As I mentioned to my workmate, you can have the healthiest diet on the planet, one of leafy greens, whole-grains etc but if you are eating 4000 calories a day and not moving enough you are over eating and will gain weight. Eating in excess will constitute a weight gain unless you are exercising enough to warrant the excessive calories and even with my intensive training (as I do like to train hard) there is no way I’d move enough to warrant eating four chocolate bars a day!
This got me thinking, have we become so ill educated about what is good for us that we see 3 or 4 bars of chocolate in our daily diet as the norm? And the frightening conclusion is, yes, yes we have. It’s all part of the quick fix mentality that we see around us in the everyday. We are now so ingrained in that ‘must have/do/see/eat it now mindset, that we do not have the time to prepare and cook anything and we opt for the ready meal. The ready meal although convenient is so packed with simple carbs that release energy quickly, caked in salt and smothered in sugar that come 3pm we suffer the mid afternoon slump. The slump hits and we go for the most convenient source of energy which is a chocolate bar. The old blood sugar spikes and then we get another slump as the energy quickly diminishes and we go for the next quick fix and so on and so forth. It’s a viscous circle and one that ensnares us far too easily, unfortunately.
To break that circle and to maintain a level of convenience in my lifestyle, I prepare everything well in advance. I never have the need to venture near the vending machine for that bar of chocolate. I chop up a bell pepper, some celery and some carrots in to battons and put them in tub in the fridge. I buy the mini pots of Hummus to have with said batons. I wash and chop all my fruit (except apples) and put them in tubs in the fridge as soon as I get home from the supermarket. My eye level shelf in my fridge and cupboards are filled with healthy stuff and the sweet treats are up on the higher shelves (out of sight out of mind and all that). It might sound like madness to some, but it’s just utilising the same marketing strategy as the shops but geared towards my healthy lifestyle. All the stuff I’m putting at eye level is the stuff that isn’t going to have me craving sugar again in 2 hours time. I’m making my healthy stuff convenient. It takes me seconds in the morning to weight out a portion of mixed berries and some melon to take to work for snacks if the slump hits. And yes I still eat chocolate. Only I’ll take a square or two out of the fridge and not the whole bar! It’s really all about control. Who has it, you or your food?
Now let’s take the second part of the sentence; ‘You will never be able to […] stop working out’. Originally when I started to workout I didn’t do it to lose weight. If you’ve read my fat story you might remember that I joined the gym because I have an addictive streak in my system and to stop me going back to cigarettes I swapped my nicotine addiction for a healthier alternative, getting a sweat on in an aerobics class. And I learned quite quickly that working out gives me the best feeling in the world ever. It’s the one thing that comes closest to the feeling I get when I’ve bounced about on a stage for 40 mins singing. (Singing is a great workout if you’re in a band, get moving on that stage – it’s entertaining for the folks watching and you can burn almost 700 cals in an hour! But I digress).
I workout to feel good, not just to look good (that’s just an added benefit). If the morning has been particularly irksome in the office, I trudge down the steep hill my office resides on to my gym. I run for 15 mins and do some resistance training. I stretch for at least 7-10 minutes, stretching is SO important. 40 – 45 mins later I’m in the shower, but my headspace is cleared of whatever it was that was frustrating me earlier. I LOVE working out, it is a joy in my life that I have rediscovered and I’m not going to give it up anytime soon. Working out for me is not just a means to an end, it’s a huge part of who I now am and is part of my normal routine.
You see, my mindset has changed so much from what it was in my teens and 20s. I may be on a weight loss programme of my own design but I am NOT dieting. I wouldn’t restrict myself so grossly. Why make this journey miserable? I’ve have my headspace to sort out and that was going to be hard enough as it was, why make it harder through choice? No, no. No restricting anything. If I want it I’ll have it as long as I’ve earned it.
With working out, why would I workout if it was a chore? What’s the point in exercising in a gym if it makes you miserable. Getting exercise should be fun, so find fun ways to do it. I can’t wait for the summer when I can don my rollerskates and get down the beachfront skating up and down the promanade. Heck I even have retro 70s space hopper in the house and when I have a moment of something perplexing me, I jump on and hop around the house thinking the question through. Or I get the vaccum cleaner out and do some housework. Anything that has you off the sofa and moving is a good thing.
So in answer to my workmate, what I eat and my exercise regime is normal. It’s normal for me and normal is such a subjective word. If normal meant that we all did the same thing, wouldn’t this world be ever so boring?
As always, be kind to yourself.