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.
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:
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: