Getting fit starts in the mind.

When I was 33, I lost a lot of weight and got fit. I’d just had my second child, and was on maternity leave for a year. With my return to work looming, and a new found interest in running (which I’d started before my pregnancy as a way of helping manage my blood pressure) I decided that I’d do my best to get fit, lose some weight and return to work with a ‘ta da!’ moment.

And I did. I lost two and a half stones through a combination of diet and exercise, taking six months to do it. I hadn’t been that fit since I worked full time in a stables, mucking out horses and throwing around bales of hay all day.

But, like many weight loss stories, it didn’t have a happily ever after. Over the past few years, the weight has returned and although I’m still nowhere near my heaviest (which was two years before having my son) I don’t feel like that fit, athletic person either. And with the prospect of a week in Iceland to look forward to, I want to be. I want to be fit enough to walk and climb in that volcanic, mountainous, other-worldly landscape as we’ve planned to do. And there’s another reason I want to be fit to go to Iceland…

In Iceland, there are loads of public baths, spas, hot pools. And you have to go to the (very often communal) shower before you go in them.

Naked.

Trust me, I’ve googled the hell out of this and the answer (from ‘I Heart Reykjavik‘, my guru on all things Iceland) is yes. Naked showering is a thing. And so I’m just going to have to get over my body issues and be naked, in Iceland, a week after turning 40. Excellent. I suppose at least it will only be in front of other women, but I definitely need a plan to get myself in a place of confidence before this happens.

To do that, I’ve been thinking about the last time I lost weight and got really fit. About what worked and what didn’t. I’ve come to a few conclusions:

Recording works:

It’s a well known fact that when people know their behaviour is being recorded, it changes. It’s known as the Hawthorne effect. And for me, that works on the way I record myself. Using either a pen or paper or an app (like My Fitness Pal) to record what I eat and how much exercise I do, changes both for the better. No-one wants to record a lunch of a fist-sized lump of manchego cheese and three Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (my actual lunch the day I decided it was time to get a grip) so just by having to write it down, I make better choices. My Fitness Pal is now installed on my phone and I’m using it again.

My life is what you focus on:

I’ve realised that–without wanting to sound horribly cheesy–my life is what I put my attention to. If I want to be healthy, that’s where I need to put attention. To cooking, to exercise, to getting enough sleep. It doesn’t happen by accident. Incidentally, focussing on good stuff is making me really happy too, so that’s an added bonus. I’m still using my Dailygreatness Journal and including my exercise as goals.

Never give up on a day:

On Manchego and Peanut Butter Cup Lunch day, I could have just quit. I’ve done it before–thought to myself that a day is over, because I’ve eaten rubbish for half of it, so I might as well have a loaf of bread with Nutella in front of the telly. But it’s not. That night, I ate well; loads of vegetables and grains. Because it’s never too late to make some good choices in a day. So, I’d eaten crap for lunch. But I had spinach for dinner. That’s a win, in my book. And it gets your head back in the right place for the next day.

It starts in my head:

One of the biggest reasons that I think I failed last time, was that although I managed my body, I didn’t deal with my head. I was so busy being ready for my first day back at work that I forgot about the day after that and the day after that. It was almost as though I’d already decided that being fit and healthy wasn’t the real me. That I’d accepted I would gradually put back all the weight, lose my fitness and return to ‘normal’ after I’d seen everyone for the first time. And that’s exactly what happened.

This time around, I’m spending lots of time dealing with my mind. Really concentrating at what I look like now and what I want to look like. Reminding myself that I deserve to be fit, to be healthy, to look after myself to the best of my abilities – and not just for one day! I can be a fit person for the rest of my life. A few positive affirmations like ‘I AM fit, I AM healthy’ can work wonders on my self perception. Because being that person means adopting that person’s habits.  I remember how it feels to have really strong muscles running down the front of my thighs. I remember having upper arms that were toned and more sculpted. And I remember not having the dreaded thigh chafing any more; usually the worst thing about summer. And I remember the confidence all of that gave me. I can ask myself what would fit, healthy me would do? Then do that…

I’ve started this year with the strongest, most positive mental health that I’ve been for a long time and I know that will help me get my physical self back to where I want to be. For my birthday. For naked showering, even though the thought of it still makes me shudder. For the summer. For the Women’s Running 10k that I’m going to do in October. But mostly, for the rest of my life.

I won’t be turning this blog into a fitness blog any time soon. But I might let you know how I’m getting on; being accountable to you will help!

 

Are you planning any fitness goals this year? Got any tips for me? I’d love to know…

Also, if you’re interested in a Dailygreatness Journal, get in touch as I have a discount code you can use!

 

I might re-read some of my other thoughts on fitness, maybe you can join me over here:

Ten Ways to Keep Exercise Motivation

Wild Swimming and Body Confidence

Running without Music

Energy In, Energy Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Responses to Getting fit starts in the mind.

  1. Shiona says:

    All I can say is Fitness22 0 to 10k app. I ran 10K last Sunday having started in August a ‘no way runner’. An American lady tells you you’re awesome and you get badges. Crucially, as you say, it records your progress so I know I’ve run 300+ k since August and over 50 hrs of running. But this makes me hungry so I will now be starting to record what I eat too!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I want badges! I’ve just had a look and the bit that I really like is the voice that tells you when to run/walk – I really struggle with pacing and so on. So this will be really good! Thank you so much – and bloody well done. You’re most definitely a runner now…

  2. Jem says:

    Oh wow, Iceland sounds amazing!

    As for running, you’re doing fantastically. It takes flipping ages to build fitness and form and only a tiny time to lose it again. Onwards, keep going and enjoy the strength again. I agree about the feeling of strong legs…
    Jem recently posted…In which I receive a HowlerMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      You’re so right – it does feel a bit like I’m starting from scratch, but there’s some muscle memory knocking about somewhere!I’m enjoying myself running again, which feels like a big thing too…

  3. Katy says:

    I wish I could find the oomph to lose some weight and get fit. I lost weight post separation 3 years ago. I’ve put a lot on in a stereotypical way – being happy in a new relationship. I’m not back to the original weight but I will be if I don’t watch out. I work in a stressful job and have long hours and children when I get home. I feel guilty if I then think of going out for a run or to a ffitness class, like I should be there for them. But really I know I just haven’t got the discipline and the oomph you’ve found to sort myself out. Good post.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I empathise so much – it’s really hard to find the time/energy/enthusiasm/mental health with work and kids. Honestly, I can only do it because I exercise when my kids are at school or with their dad (I’m divorced and we share parenting between us). And, I have a flexible working pattern, which helps. My discipline ebbs and flows – I think that I just keep going because I remember how good I felt when I was fit last time! Starting with one small change at a time can be a good way to ease into it… But don’t beat yourself up – it sounds like you have a really full life (and a happy relationship, which is wonderful!) xx

  4. Carlie says:

    NAKED!! Oh God! I want to have my fortieth in Iceland, too, but I didn’t know about the NAKED bit. Eurgh!

    I think you’re wonderfully brave, and bet you’ll feel great – thank goodness you can tell us all exactly what it’s like before I go. Good luck with the fitness!

    PS. love your lunch…

    • Elizabeth says:

      I KNOW! Terrifying…

      It will be FINE. I keep telling myself this. And then having a little panic. But it will. I’m sure. And I’ll definitely be telling you all about it before it’s your turn! HA 😉

      x

  5. Best of luck – it sounds as though you have the right mindset, which is a great start.

    Have you read ‘The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat’ by Tim Spector. The man talks a lot of sense, and makes it clear that it’s not about calories, fat and carbs but about the quality of what you eat. In particular, you need to nurture your gut microbes. So the manchego cheese probably did you some good, even if the portion size was a bit bigger than you thought you ought to have!
    Ruthy @ Minibreak Mummy recently posted…Walking back to happinessMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I haven’t read that – it sounds really interesting. I’m really trying to improve the quality of what I eat (based on Michael Pollen’s ‘Eat Food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants’ principles which I love) – and have started to see quite a few books about gut health that looks really interesting, but I’ve not had chance to read any yet. I might have to give this one a go 🙂

      And hurray for manchego!

  6. Catherine says:

    The threat of naked showering – I think you have the basis for a new ‘get fit’ method! I totally agree it’s the mental aspect that dictates how permanent a healthy habit becomes, I’m definitely guilty of prioritising other ‘stuff’ instead of admitting what will really make the difference and making time for it. Great post 🙂

  7. Cerys says:

    “no naked jacuzzi-ness!”…please tell me you watched that series of Big Brother?!…otherwise I’m going to look like a right twit!! And that’s not me telling you not to do it…I’m like “HELL YEAH! DANCE AROUND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT TOO!”. What a great way to celebrate!
    Cerys recently posted…Goals / Reminders / Whatever you want to call them…just not New Year Resolutions…My Profile

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