I’ve written previously about my relationship with food and a need to lose weight, primarily in the posts Why my relationship with food is the most complex in my life and needs to change (Feb 2021 – link here), Using food & alcohol as a comfort blanket (Jul 2019 – link here), Time to change for good, starting with body fat (Sep 2019 – link here), Weight-loss update (Feb 2020 – link here), and The mental health benefits of exercise (Jun 2020 – link here). Regular readers will know I really don’t like how I look and this self-consciousness is seemingly one of the root causes of many of my issues. Regular readers will also know that addressing this is not as straightforward as it should be. The seemingly simple step of losing weight to ensure I feel better about myself is more difficult than ever to achieve.
In the February 2021 post referenced above, I wrote that the exercise, fasting, and healthy eating I’d started in mid-2020 had tailed off, especially over the winter period, with a number of bad eating habits returning and having seemingly become the norm again. Basically, it was a pretty painful admission that I hadn’t changed to any great degree and was, in fact, in exactly the same position I was back when I started this blog in early 2019. But something has changed over the past couple of months. Something has clicked inside my head – I’m ‘back on it’ and more determined than ever to change this time. Seriously.
I’m not quite sure what has changed. Perhaps it’s the recognition that I’m not getting any younger and if I don’t do this soon, I never will and I’ll therefore be doomed to a life of flabbiness and low self-esteem. Perhaps it’s down to trying on another new t-shirt (in my usual size) and noticing it’s a little too tight fitting around the stomach. Perhaps it’s subtle little recent comments from my daughter, saying that she’s noticed I seem more dedicated than ever this time around and she’s happy about that. This last example really hit home as I realised that if she is noticing these things, is she quietly keeping an eye on how I’m doing? Deep down, is she concerned about my health but keeping it to herself? Am I causing her to worry simply by being who I am? This has proved to be a bigger driver than anything else I’ve previously written about. If that is the case, I simply cannot allow it to happen and must change for the better. It’s easy to forget that our children are deep thinkers, especially as teenagers, and we don’t always consider just what is going on in their minds. We really should take the time and effort to find out…
So, since early-April, I’ve really knuckled down. I’ve started fasting again for 3-4 days per week. On those days, I eat between 10.00-18.00 and don’t eat (or take in anything containing refined sugar) from 18.00-10.00 the next day. This works well for me and isn’t as difficult as it sounds. We tend to eat healthy meals anyway, but I’ve cut out snacking – I no longer raid the biscuits at 9pm at night or turn the cupboards upside down trying to find a morsel of chocolate. I’m currently 9 days into a trial to determine if I can go the whole month of May without eating a single biscuit, piece of chocolate, piece of cake, ice lolly or ice cream. Spoiler alert – I will do it. I need to just so I can prove to myself that I don’t need sweet treats anywhere near as much as I think I do. I need to break that particular bad habit more than any other.
I’ve also just achieved 12-months of barely drinking alcohol. This has made a huge difference to my mental health. I’m not teetotal and don’t intend being but I have only drank alcohol on 6 occasions since May 2020. 3 or 4 of those occasions were just a single drink and the other 2 were certainly not excessive. The eye-opener for me was that I didn’t enjoy any of those occasions – it really does seem as though this will be the norm for me moving forward. I may still have the odd drink on certain occasions but waking up without hangovers, not wasting full days due to feeling rough, and having clarity of thought all day, every day has been a real game-changer for me. I have no desire at all to go back to the previous version of me who drank every weekend and to excess on a number of occasions. It isn’t where I’m at right now.
I’m also exercising much more. I’ve created a home-based routine which is working really well for me and I’ve been for a few short runs to supplement that. I may try to build up the running again but it isn’t high on my priority list right now – I can get fit and healthy without it and I do find it a bit of a chore so I’ll see how that one progresses. The exercise I value more than any other right now is walking. Whilst there is still scope to do more, I walk more than I used to and a midweek walk up Rivington Pike (if you don’t know it, in basic terms, it’s a local landmark at the top of a hill) with a few very close friends is one of the highlights of my week. It gets the much lauded 10,000 steps in, it provides an invaluable opportunity to catch up with people I like to spend time with, and it is really beneficial for both my physical and mental health.
If I can get through May without eating any sweet treats, I’m sure it will act as a further spur for me and I’m more determined than ever to be where I want to be quite soon, hopefully by Christmas. I’m hoping that I’ll have lost the amount of body fat I want to by then and in doing so, I may be happy with my appearance for the first time in around 25-30 years. I may even share before and after pics at that point, though I’ll think very carefully about that, primarily as I’ll still think of the ‘before’ pic as being truly hideous, plus I’m not a narcissist and I doubt I’ll ever be truly comfortable in sharing such images. I may do though if I believe a future post warrants this.
Finally, some of you may be wondering why there’s a reference to scales in the blog title this week. It’s purely as I hate bathroom scales. I hate them as so many people become slaves to them. People embark on their own weight-loss efforts and feel the need to use scales far more often than they should. They weigh themselves numerous times each week and feel down if they don’t lose weight each time. They may weigh themselves on a weekly basis and beat themselves up if their weight remains the same or, God forbid, if they put a pound on. This is dangerous. Sudden weight loss is not beneficial – it should take place over a lengthy period of time. It isn’t feasible to expect to have lost weight every single time we step onto the scales. Life is about peaks and troughs; highs and lows. As long as those highs outnumber the lows, everything will be fine where weight loss is concerned. If it’s a 6- or 12-month journey for example, the end goal is all that matters, not the isolated occasions when a minor blip occurs. This is precisely why I won’t use bathroom scales. I need my state of mind to be fully primed in order to get to where I want to be, which is why I’ll log my progress by determining how happy I am with my appearance and how many of those previously tight t-shirts and shirts I can now comfortably fit into. I couldn’t care less how much I weigh – I just know I want to shed body fat. Some of that may turn to muscle due to the exercise I’m doing, which may not lead to weight loss. I don’t care if I’m the same weight at the end of this (around 18 stone, if you’re wondering…) as I was the last time I stepped onto the scales – my state of mind is all that matters during this process. If I’m finally happy with how I look, I’m hoping that I’ll be more confident, less anxious, less self-critical, have greater self-esteem, and will not suffer from impostor syndrome as much. That matters far more to me than a figure on a bathroom scale.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind to others and to yourself.
Best wishes and take care.