Reaching a Milestone (and Moving On)

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Around about the end of this past week, I reached a personal milestone. I stepped on the scales and realised I’d well and truly lost 10 whole kilos (22lb or 1.8 stone, if that helps) since I took matters into my own hands last February. I’d been a bit optimistic back then and hoped to have lost 20kg by October, but I realise now that that’s a asking a little bit much of my body (and putting myself at risk of gaining the weight back really quickly again). Still, 10kg is no small feat… imagine strapping 10 cartons of milk to your body and trying to run around! 🙂

Yet weight is a funny thing. I’m going to be totally honest, even though it’s hard for me, because this is a lifestyle blog and I feel I owe it to you… no less because you owe it to yourself to be honest about your own weight, if the situation requires it. I truly believe that’s how change happens, with a healthy dose of honesty.

Last February, when I went to visit my nutritionist for the first time, I weighed 101kg. 1-0-1. One whole kilo more than the dreaded 100. Yeah… Bleh.

There, I’ve said it. I know that there are plenty of people who weigh a lot more, and so have more to lose should they try to, and also a lot of people (most of the people I know) who weigh a lot less and have no idea what it’s like to weight 100kg. A lot of those skinny people still think they’re too fat and sometimes I wish I could just sit on them to show them how ridiculous they’re being. But hey ho. I guess there are some things about ourselves that we’ll never like… but I also do believe that unless you’ve experienced that slight beginning of a waddle when you walk, you’ve not really come close to having serious excess weight issues.

The strange thing is, when I weighed 101kg, I didn’t waddle. I had experienced a bit of this waddle 4 years ago, when I weighed about 98kg but actually looked (and felt) puffy. I didn’t exercise back then and didn’t feed myself particularly well. In the following year, my weight dropped to 88kg just through walking 20 minutes every morning to the train station and changing some of my eating habits, though I wasn’t consciously trying to lose weight. It just seemed to fall off and I felt great. But then my lifestyle changed again and the weight slowly piled back on, going up to about 97kg, then dipping down again. Last year around the time I got married, I weighed only a couple more kg than I do now. But then it soared again and right around New Year 2014, I finally stumbled over into 3 figures.

If you’ve never experienced that, trust me, stepping on the scales and seeing 3 figures hurts. I’m sure it’s just psychological, because too much weight is too much weight anyway, and whether you weigh 99kg or 101kg, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference really. 101 is a number just like 99 is, something humans use to quantify things because someone decided that was the way it would be done. But in a sense I’m grateful for these psychological triggers… because who knows? If I’d stayed around 98 or 99 forever, I might never have though: “right, that’s enough. I’m sick of this. I need to do something now, before it gets too late and spirals out of control.”

The thing is I’m not THAT large, all things considered. I’m tall, and a body-mass composition test at the nutritionist’s confirmed what I’d always suspected: I do have a high bone density (no, people don’t just say that as an excuse, it can happen). Surprisingly enough, I also have a good muscle mass that makes up a large portion of my weight. So even when I weighed 101kg, I could wear a nice dress and look half decent. I even had a waist, although it’s more pronounced now (yay!). I was doing Zumba once a week, so my physical condition wasn’t all that rubbish. But because I was doing sport and had still managed to end up weighing more than I did in my students days, when I mostly sat around watching TV series (and studying of course) all day, it made me pretty sad. How unfair was that? Why was I gaining weight when I was actually exercising?

Well, it’s really no mystery, is it? Food.

So I made some changes and started this journey, not really sure if it would stick this time or if I would keep it up for about 5-6 weeks, lose 5 kilos and then gain them back again as my will dissolved and I spiralled into a pit of self-loathing and despair. I’d tried changing my eating habits before, but because I was the one making the decisions, I was never quite sure if what I was doing was right or wrong. That’s why I went to see a doctor, because I needed someone else to guide me in the right direction. To this day, I think it was a good decision. I cried a lot during the first month, having total nervous breakdowns because of what I could and couldn’t eat (I followed my eating plan really strictly at first, because it had been dictated by someone else and therefore I felt ‘obliged’ to obey). But the weight steadily dropped away and so I kept at it, adjusting during the second month to a lifestyle I felt I could follow a bit better without losing my mind (and my passion for food and cooking).

Then in May, just after I started running, I went to Italy for a week-long cookery course and ate almost continuously. I don’t think I’ve ever ingested so much food in my life, in such a short amount of time, but oh my goodness it was heavenly. I tried some restraint at first (I was also recovering from an intestinal infection at the time, which meant I was avoiding certain foods for a few days) but soon I realised it was futile. So I gave it my all and ate like there was no tomorrow, savouring every bit of it and going to bed every single evening feeling like I was about to burst.

I gained 2 and a half kilos in that one week, less than I’d actually anticipated, but because I applied myself to running and walking and doing Zumba and eating reasonably again when I got home, I lost the weight again within two to three weeks. It was a relief, and it means I feel absolutely no guilt about what I did. Would I do it again? Hell yes… but perhaps I would eat a little less, purely because I’m learning to listen to my body and stop when it tells me to. And I would make sure I exercised enough during and afterwards, to make the whole experience more manageable overall.

So at the beginning of the summer, I was down to about 93kg, a weight that made me fairly happy and meant that some of my clothes felt fairly loose on me. But at that point, I reached a plateau and for several months (until about the beginning of September, actually), my weight didn’t budge. It was tricky, because I was torn between frustration (that I wasn’t losing as easily as in the beginning) and relief (that it wasn’t going back up either). August was filled with birthday and anniversary meals (involving quite a lot of cake) and not so much exercise, so it’s hardly surprising nothing happened.

But then in September, I spent a week or so being more or less sensible, and took up my normal exercise regime again (walking every weekday at lunchtime, plus doing more strenuous exercise 3 times a week). A few grams came off every week and I started to feel hopeful again. It didn’t stop me from indulging (and overindulging) occasionally, but I seemed to be doing enough again to have set the process in motion. Even with my injury of a couple of weeks ago (which now seems okay, thank you to the people who asked – I was able to run normally yesterday morning), the weight still dropped off slowly but steadily.

And when I weighed myself yesterday morning, there it was: 90.9kg.

So I did it. My next milestone (don’t worry, I won’t write another whole blog post about it) is dipping below 90, and I hope to have achieved that by the time I leave for Japan a week on Tuesday. The realm of the 80s is one I enjoy very much. I start to feel “normal”, even though I’m still massively heavier than the BMI chart says I should be. But soon I’ll be leaving the “obese” zone for the merely “overweight” zone. It does make a difference, psychologically. I also know that the BMI chart doesn’t apply to everyone in the same way, and 72kg to be in the “healthy” weight zone might be too much of an overall loss for me. But once I enter the 80s, I’ll start to inch towards the weight I was as a teenager (I remember 85kg, at one point) and then hopefully lower. I’ll carry on listening to my body and see how each weight makes me feel. I’ll enjoy casting away old pairs of trousers that now sag around my middle and be able to fit into tight new ones. And more importantly, I’ll enjoy running faster as I gradually lessen the weight I have to carry around with me everywhere.

So that is my journey so far and my goals for the future. Being realistic (based on the experience of the past 8 months), I’d like to be in the low 80s by the time I run the relay race for the ING Night Marathon next May. This may or may not happen, as winter is around the corner and I tend to eat more because of the cold. But at least I’m aware of it and hopefully I can adapt my diet accordingly. In any case, I’ll let you know, because the only way I’ll manage is to hold myself accountable for my actions… and this is kind of why I wrote this blog post. Because as long as I face the truth, my own shortcomings and barriers and hang-ups, I can achieve what I set out to achieve.

So please remember, the first person you should be honest with is yourself. Anything can happen after that. 🙂

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