Unleashing My Inner Awesome

My "journey" through health, fitness and life in general

Archive for the tag “weight loss”

How to lose friends and piss people off…

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There’s a known psychological phenomenon called the Confirmation Bias. Basically it means that you tend to look for evidence to support what you already believe, and ignore things that contradict your beliefs. The more strongly held the belief, the less you’ll look for contradiction. 

So why am I telling you this? Because it’s time I came out. This is a pretty tricky blog post to write, and it’s been going round and round in my head in various ways for a while. Apologies if I ramble, and for those of you who are used to my brevity you may want to go and make a cup of tea, but here goes. 

I was wrong. There, I said it. I was wrong but now I know better and I’m changing. 

I lost 28kg last year and the year before by restricting my calories to 1200 per day and exercising most days. It worked. My body shrank, I went from a non-exerciser to running a half marathon and doing triathlons, I fitted into a size 12 most days and a 10 on a good day, and my body fat percentage decreased massively. 

People kept saying to me “you must feel so much better!” I’d smile and nod and say “yes, I do!” But you know what? That was actually bullshit. I felt the same. No, I felt sluggish. I did my workouts and then went home and slept. My hair fell out, my nails got spotty and my skin got dry. I was fuzzy in the head and just didn’t want to most of the time. But I had LOST WEIGHT! I felt awesome, didn’t I? I dunno, if this was what it was supposed to feel like it just all felt wrong.

I’d stopped losing weight. My solution to that was to try harder. Eat the “right” 1200 calories and exercise the “right” way and my body would continue to drop weight, right? Obviously I was doing it all wrong. I was still only at the upper end of my healthy BMI. 

And the restriction! Low fat this, sugar free that. Saturated fats and sugar are the devil incarnate, and if they don’t kill you you still shouldn’t eat them because they take up too many of your precious precious 1200 daily calories. 

So one day I was randomly cruising the internet, researching nutritional information as you do. Did I mention a large part of my waking non-working non-studying mental time was spent thinking about what I had eaten, what I was going to eat and what I “couldn’t” eat? Yeah, fun. And I found GoKaleo. Actually, you know what? I found it when I was searching for the perfect “Green Smoothie”, which for the uninitiated is a particularly tasteless and bitter concoction of blended green vegetables, intended to give you a concentrated hit of nutrients without using too many of the precious precious calories. 

I read. And I read. And I read more. Initially with skepticism – eat my total daily energy expenditure to maintain my metabolism? Yeah, right. Obviously this chick didn’t realise that my TDEE was usually over 3000 calories a day. Obviously I’m the exception to that rule. 

And stop exercising while your body “heals” from massive undernutrition? Pigs bum. 

And what was this shit about eating disorders? I eat healthy. Quite clearly Amber, the page’s author, was a particular version of insane. 

But something started to niggle, and I did more research, and I found my thinking gradually but quite clearly swinging in a very different direction. 

So here’s what I’ve learned. In a nutshell. 

  1. Restricting your intake to less than the amount needed to keep a comatose 18 year old girl alive does not do your metabolism any favours. 
  2. When you exercise you need to fuel your body. The more exercise, the more fuel. Exercise isn’t a punishment for eating the “wrong” foods, it’s a way to maintain your body’s health. 
  3. Eating less than your basal metabolic rate will destroy your metabolism. Your body will shut down and stop losing. Then when you eat more, it will hang onto Every. Little. Bit. that you give it. It’s in full on panic mode! It doesn’t know when you’re going to feed it properly again. That’s why 95-98% of people (depending on which study you read) who lose weight regain it within 2 years. 
  4. There are no bad foods. There are foods that nourish and nurture your body better than others. But eating “bad” foods? No such thing. 
  5. Exercise is supposed to be something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Don’t do weights/cardio/Crossfit/swimming/yoga/whatever because it’s the latest and greatest, do it because you LOVE it! 

So here’s what I’m doing now. I’m eating the food! And lifting the things, and running and swimming and cycling. The net result so far is I am HEALING! My metabolism is running faster than it ever has, and I know this because I feel healthier than I ever have. Ever. Oh, and there’s the little issue of an appropriate amount of fat and calories leading to hormonal stabilisation, which apparently is good for the libido. Or so I’ve found… 

Right now, I’m in healing mode. I’m pretty sure I’m nearly done with that, and I will be able to start getting rid of my excess fat that’s still attached to my hips. But how I will do that will be to build muscle by lifting heavy shit and EATING (are we seeing a pattern yet?), and by eating a slight restriction of 300-500 calories a day under my TDEE, which means I will still be eating 2500 – 2800 calories a day. Unless I do a really big workout, like a 100km bike ride or something, in which case I’ll eat MORE FOOD! Sacrilege, I know. I’ve put on weight. I’m 10kg heavier than my restricted lowest weight, and that’s now stopped, which hopefully means my metabolism has healed and I’m maintaining, and now I can work with what I’ve got.   

As a poster child for calorie restricted weight loss coming out like this is difficult. I was wrong, and by definition I’m saying most of my friends are wrong. I’m never going to come over all evangelical, this blog is the one outlet where I’ll actually talk about this, and in real life I’ll just do what I need to. But I will no longer hide what I’m doing. 

My clothes are a bit tight, but I can eat icecream, my hair is glossy and thick and I have energy to do things! I feel as awesome as I should have felt when I lost weight. Now I’m working on creating the best body I can. I went a bit FINGER UP FUCK YOU UNIVERSE initially, and did the whole shebang, including a dose of KFC. Bad idea as it turns out. Apparently even in the “I can eat anything I want!” universe, my body doesn’t like KFC. But now I know that for sure and I’m not just restricting it to prove a point. 

Oh, and the “I don’t have an eating disorder” thing? Yeah, according to the DSM-IV, I put on weight initially due to a binge eating disorder, and lost it with a bad case of orthorexia. And judgementalism, for which I apologise profusely. 

Amber’s Facebook group is here. Feel free to come and hang out if you like. 

Don’t criticise my body.

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So, this photo is obviously not me. Yet. The hair’s totally the wrong colour to begin with. But I want to talk about judgement and making comments on people’s bodies. Any people.

One thing I’ve noticed lately, since I’ve discarded the extra flab that I carried for so long, is that people now feel that they can make comments. “Don’t lose any more weight, you’re starting to look too skinny”. No, actually I’m still 2kg over my healthy BMI range (sorry to mention the dreaded BMI, but it IS a nice convenient measure that applies to lots of people). “Your face is starting to look too thin”. And the one I’ve noticed most frequently lately, “You’ve lost weight!”

No shit Sherlock! Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed! Those are the responses in my head (no, I haven’t verbalised them yet, but I’m this >< close!).

I’d like to know what makes it appropriate or polite to comment on the appearance of someone who’s either thin or has lost a lot of weight (enough to be obvious). If it’s rude to comment when someone is obese, has a big nose, has an arm or leg missing or has a physical appearance that is otherwise slightly different, why is it not rude to comment on everyone’s physical appearance? Would the same people who said to me “You’ve lost weight!” have said “You’ve gained weight!” No, they didn’t. And they’d never even consider saying “Don’t put on any more weight, you’re starting to look a bit chubby”, would they? One would hope not anyway.

So how about we start treating each and every person with respect and dignity, no matter what their physical appearance? How about not commenting on how someone looks, ever? Unless it’s complimentary. How about following Grandma’s old maxim, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all?

One year on…

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On this day one year ago, I stood on the scales and cried.

On this day one year ago I set my laptop up on top of the piano, and took dodgy out of focus pictures of myself holding a magazine, and cried.

On this day one year ago I entered all of my before details into the 12WBT website and cried.

On this day one year ago my life changed. And I’m never never never going back.

Where do I go from here?

I’ve been struggling lately with my food and exercise. I’m starting to overcome the exercise thing by attending more group activities. After saying last round I was going to cut back, I’ve realised it’s in my best interest to have a commitment to someone. Otherwise I just don’t do it.

So on the nutrition thing, I’ve been self sabotaging in a major way. McDonalds, alcohol, ice-cream etc. I know what I need to do, I know I just need to shut up and do it, but there’s a little voice in my head which has turned into an overwhelming roar that says “it doesn’t matter. You can have the <insert vice here> if you want”.

Today I’ve done some serious reflection on why it’s happening. And here’s what I think it is. Warning: this next part may induce hysterical laughter at just how messed up my thinking is…

Physically I’m smaller than I’ve ever been. I’m a size 12. By all measurements except my BMI I’m a healthy size. My body fat is in the normal range, my waist measurement is under 80cm, and while my BMI is over 25 it’s only 25.5. So realistically I could stop losing weight now and be healthy. Sure, I’ve got some serious gains to make in the fitness stakes, but that’s a work in progress.

But I haven’t lost my 30kg. My goal was to go from 99 to 69, a number which I picked for no reason other than it was a kind of cool number. And 69 sounds better than in the 70s. I have been close to the 30+ crew and it’s a nice round number.

So I’m wondering if I’m deliberately self-sabotaging so that I’ll gain a little bit and then have to lose it again? I’ve got used to attacking my weight, and seeing a smaller number on the scale each week and I’m not sure my head is ready for the number to be the same each time. I haven’t really thought about what will happen when I get to goal. My goal weight is some weird far-away thing that I’ve never even got close to. I keep saying to myself I want to be a size 10, or an 8, but I don’t know if I do really. I think maybe a 12, and with a healthy body fat level and awesome level of fitness is where I really want to be.

As I read and digest what I’ve written I think that’s where I am. I want to sit somewhere around the size I am now, but a tighter, more toned version. If that’s heavier or lighter than what I weigh, so be it. I really think I’ll start working on maintenance mode from this time on.

The thing that’s really bugging me is that I feel like I’ve failed the 30+ crew. Those guys (and you lot who are in it!) have been amazingly supportive. They’ve kicked my arse on numerous occasions and been a shoulder to cry on on others. In my head I don’t want to stop before I get to 30kg lost because that will feel like I’m not one of the gang any more. While I’m still “losing” I can pretend that I belong.

I know that sounds sad and pathetic. I know I need to get over it. But knowing something and doing it are two different things, as we know, otherwise it would be easy.

Thanks for listening… xxxxx

Just a little milestone.

It’s a dodgy camera phone photo in the dim light of my bathroom, taken at some ungodly hour this morning. But this number on my scales is significant for a number of reasons.

It’s the first time I’ve seen a weight starting with a 7 in my adult life. Yep, I passed through the 80kg mark somewhere around my 18th birthday, and have been over that ever since. I’ve fluctuated somewhere between 80 and 100kg for the last 25 years of my life. I’ve been obese longer than I’ve been a healthy weight.

It’s 2/3 of the way down to my ultimate goal weight. I may revise it as I get closer, but at this stage I’d like to be 69kg with a body fat of 20-22%.

It takes me to 20.1kg lost since I started the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation, which was actually 23 weeks ago. 20kg in under 6 months. 20kg feeling fitter and healthier and stronger than I ever have in my life. 20kg of fat and unhappiness, gone forever.

I’m a bit excited about this milestone. Someone asked me if I was going to do anything to celebrate. Actually I am! This week I started a new job, and next week I’ll get the payout from my old one. Several weeks of annual leave, along with excess salary packaging. I plan to purchase a rather expensive bike… This one. Yep, not new clothes (because they won’t fit me in a short time!) Not a massage (that’s part of my regular routine now). Not food, or alcohol, or any of the other indulgences. I’m excited about an unexpected windfall so I can buy a freaking bike! Not like the old me at all.

Happy New Year!

Happy January 1st, everyone!

This year is going to be my year of transformation, physical and mental. I’m part of the way there already thanks to an awesome end to 2011, and now I plan to continue the way I’ve started. I got off to a good start this morning when I dragged my sorry hungover arse out of bed, not too early, to jog down to the footy oval and do some interval sprints. Nausea inducing, headache exacerbating, and calorie burning! Love it, and what a great way to start the year. As of tomorrow the boot camp I attend with Sweat Depot starts again, yep, at 7am on a public holiday (they give us a bit of a sleep in…) and I’m fully back into training.

I don’t normally do New Years resolutions. In the past I’ve made some half-hearted attempts, but I always seem to end up breaking them quite early on in the year. Probably because they’re a token attempt to improve myself with no real plan or goals. But this year is different, this year I’m going to list my “achievable goals”. So here they are:

  1. Lose more weight. Ok, this one is a no-brainer, but you want specifics, right? Ok then. By the end of Round 1, 2012 of the 12 Week Body Transformation I will be in the healthy BMI range, so 73kg or less. That puts me at a BMI of 24.9. I will achieve this by 6 May 2012 (by my calculation of the date, I may change that if I have miscounted!). I’m currently sitting on 82.9kg, so that’s a loss of 10kg in 18 weeks, or about 0.6kg average per week. Easy!
  2. Run 10k without stopping. The Bridge to Brisbane is in August, and I can run 5K now non-stop. So I’m going to follow the Freeway to 10K program from DJ Steve to get me to running an hour, and then work on my speed and endurance to get up to 10K. Then I’ll run the Bridge to Brisbane, start to finish, without walking or stopping!

So that’s pretty much it at this stage. There are a whole bunch of measurement and fitness targets that I have as well, but they are components of the above two goals. I’ll let you know my progress!

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