So after a few months of just adding notes to My Fitness Pal, a blog seems a good idea, so I can actually track my progress in a better way. I’m good at forgetting things, including what I did last week, last month, and certainly last year! I guess this post has to begin at the beginning to remind myself of just how far I’ve come.
So how far have I come? That’s a difficult question to answer yourself, but all I know is, I’m a very different person to the one I was a few years ago. Something clicked into place in March 2011 and now I’m on a journey to who knows where. Certainly places I never thought were open to someone like me. After all, how can a lazy, fat, thirty something woman turn her life around? It’s impossible right? Well apparently not! After numerous years of being overweight, undervalued and generally unappreciated (more years than can be counted on both hands) I sorted out the main problem. A husband that was dragging me down in so many ways, and in November 2009 I somehow found the courage to call it a day. Getting out of that I suppose was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, but after 18 months of pure hell and being at some of the lowest points in my life, things slowly began to turn around. A little voice in my head was telling me I had to sort myself out, and to create a new identity for myself. An identity was something I’d never really had, so where did I start? All I knew was it had to be an extreme change, and it had to be the complete opposite of what I’d been conditioned to believe about myself.
I decided the obvious thing to change was my weight, so I started ‘yet another’ diet. How many diets are there out there? I must have tried several… including Atkins, Weight Watchers and Rosemary Conley. I’d had some success before, but the trouble with diets is there’s always an ‘end point’ and when you get to that or you get bored, you just go back to old eating habits. End result… putting the weight back on. My brother had mentioned My Fitness Pal (a calorie logging system) a few months previously and I’d not really taken much notice and signed up half heartedly, but in March 2011 I decided to give it a try. It seemed to make sense. Fat people eat too much, that’s why they’re fat right? No matter how many excuses I made, I was eating too much and not burning it off. Therefore eating less calories than I was burning theoretically just had to work. Somehow I managed to stick to the calories I was allowed for a day, which then became two days, which turned into a week. I’ve no idea how I stuck to it with hindsight as I was hungry still, but something told me to keep going as I was giving my body enough calories to survive therefore I didn’t NEED the food I wanted. Once I began to see results on the scales it gave me even more determination to stick to it… then people began to notice and comment about my weight loss which was really encouraging as I hadn’t even told people I’d been ‘dieting’, for fear of yet another failed attempt! In fact it wasn’t a diet I was on, it was a lifestyle change, and a permanent one that wasn’t going to see me returning to old eating habits. 9 months on I had hit a bit of a plateau after losing 2 stone, and although I was really happy with the weight loss I knew I needed to do more.
The next reality check was Christmas. Having guests over, and feeling the need to feed people (well that seems to be what Christmas is about) I had managed to gain a few pounds in a matter of days. After an absolutely appalling nights sleep for feeling bloated and rubbish, I got up and hot footed it to the gym, and signed up there and then for a membership. I remember someone asking me why I’d joined the gym on 29th of December and hadn’t waited until the New Year. My response was that that would be another 4 days of eating rubbish, and I’d have even more pounds to shift! Realistically I think I would also have made a few excuses about why I shouldn’t join the gym in those 4 days as well, so I had to seize that moment of determination and go with it. At that point, eating junk and drinking alcohol just wasn’t a priority. Feeling less sluggish and bloated was. And who needs New Years Resolutions anyway? They 9/10 times get broken, and that wasn’t my plan. 2012 was going to be a year to sort out my fitness, but I didn’t need to wait for it to begin to get started. I remember being asked by the gym instructor what my goals were and saying that I just wanted to lose a bit more weight and get fitter. Then I quickly added (before my brain caught up with my mouth) that I’d like to be able to run but couldn’t even manage 1 minute without feeling I was going to die! After achieving the weight loss, I wondered if I might actually be able to learn to run for just a few minutes… but when I told the instructor this, I didn’t really think it was possible, but somehow some determination had just come from nowhere. I’ve always been quite a determined person and don’t see quitting as an option, but this was different. This was me deliberately choosing something I felt was about the most impossible thing for me to be able to do, and then attempting it!
Well I managed to go for the induction… then tried a few classes with a friend who was also a member and began to get into the habit of going. I can’t say I was actually enjoying it because it was all new and I felt a bit rubbish at everything, but I got chatting to one of the instructors who was a runner and she got me to try interval training on the treadmill. Running for a minute and walking for 1 1/2 minutes for 20 mins! I thought she was having a laugh and that I might need to be stretchered out of the place, but somehow I managed it, and remember going straight home to tell one of my best friends I’d managed to run for 6 mins of 20! It seems funny now, but back then it was more than I thought I could ever do, and the sense of achievement had me hooked! As the days went on, I was running a couple of times a week and doing some classes, and the intervals of running were getting longer. In fact within just a few weeks I was up to 3 mins with 1 minute walking between. The instructor I’d been chatting to mentioned the comic relief mile and suggested I give it a go. I decided that if I was serious about running I had to give it a go as it was in a couple of months time and would give me something to aim for. Surely a mile was possible, even for me, and I was determined I was going to run the full way! So I signed up straight away before I could talk myself out of it, then decided to give some longer runs a try. The first time I ran for a full 6 minutes it seemed like a lifetime, but then I managed 10, and finally my first full mile at just over 12 minutes. At this point I decided I had actually managed to be able to run… the impossible was possible, but it was one thing to be able to do it on a gym treadmill, and another to be able to run a course! With poor weather and a ridiculous fear of being seen running and feeling stupid, I only attempted one outdoor run before the comic relief event. Although I managed over a mile, the difference of having to run up and down inclines made me think I’d been utterly stupid to take the challenge on, but as race day dawned, there was no way I was quitting! The night before the race I didn’t sleep well at all… which seemed really ridiculous as it was ‘just’ a mile, but the worry of failing the task was getting to me. I just had no idea what to expect. I also felt daft at the start when so many were doing 3 and 5 miles, but I told myself I was doing it for a different reason and that many wouldn’t run all the way!! So the time came, and I just ran! The course wasn’t at all flat… it started with a slow steady incline, followed by a big downhill stretch and so many people overtook me here but I just kept to my pace and decided not to use too much energy. I think my theory was right as straight after this was an incline that seemed to stretch forever! It went almost right back to the start line, and I told myself there was still no way I was walking ANY of this mile, so I kept to a slow jog pace and began to overtake a few walkers that had shot past me on the downhill part! I remember hearing people clapping at the finish, and bizarrely I hadn’t expected this as I’d ‘only’ run a mile. But then I guess that mile was an achievement, for me anyway! Even more so when I found my time was quicker than at the gym and I’d managed it in 10:48, even with the hilly parts.
So what was next? I knew I had to keep giving myself targets to stop myself slacking off, and had deliberately entered the Derby 5k race for life before running the Comic Relief mile (6 weeks to go til that one!) so I couldn’t slack after the mile, but I wanted something else… something else that was difficult seeing as I’d conquered the impossible! Something ‘normal people’ don’t do. Long runs didn’t seem a viable option as although I can now run, I’m not good at it. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever be good at it, but I know I have to keep pushing to see what I can do! So what was the next task going to be? Well I’m not even sure how I first came across the idea of a triathlon, but that’s what jumped out at me! After all I can kinda swim OK, and surely a bit of cycling could be accomplished, as it couldn’t be harder than running! So triathlon is the new mission. After looking around at some it seemed there were 2 options. One with a pool based swim, or one with an open water swim… so being completely confident about swimming in the pool the obvious answer was to do the open water swimming… well I was never going to go for the easy option, was I?! So I booked an intro to open water session in a lake in Lincoln, then booked an open water event for June, and without even getting on a bike, or trying open water swimming, I booked my first super sprint triathlon for September 2012! Fortunately the intro session went well, even though it was only 7 degrees and raining on the day, with a water temperature of 10 degrees! I loved the feeling of freedom in the lake, which is just as well having already booked events! A few weeks later I went back to the lake and managed a 1.5k swim, and decided to book a crazy distance 3k swim for the end of June! Last week I managed a 2.4k swim… the furthest I’ve ever swum, which was pretty tough, but somehow I’ll manage the 3k one… after all it can’t be as bad as running!
Which brings us up to today… 14 months ago I did nothing in the way of exercise really. I ate too much and wore size 18-20 clothes. Now I’ve lost 3 stone (actually 4 1/2 since I was at my heaviest in 2008) and I’m either at the gym or out training 4-5 times a week (if I’m being really naughty it’s 6 times!) plus I mostly wear a size 14. Something I’ve not done since I was in my teens. My fitness levels are far better than they’ve ever been, even as a teenager, which shows it’s never too late for anyone to be able to get fitter. My food tastes are totally different, though of course I do sometimes eat junk food still, just far less of it! I think the one thing I’ve really learned is that no one can make you change, you can only make progress when you’re ready as no amount of people telling you will make a difference. However; although it is largely only you that can make changes and maintain them, it has been vital for me to get support and encouragement along the way. I have been very lucky here. I have an amazing friend that has supported me and encouraged me in so many ways, and I don’t honestly think i’d have got this far without his support. Seeing as he’s now going to be there for me when I do my first triathlon event, how can I possibly fail?! 🙂