Is hitting a weight loss plateau something to get worked up about?

plateauI’ve hit one, 17lbs from my ultimate goal of being in a normal weight for my height. This is the first time I have not seen a decrease in weight on the scale or a downward shift in inches since I started out on my journey just over a year ago as an over 300lb unhappy lady.

I’m amazed that I’ve got this far for this long without having hit a plateau before and I really think that has been down to changing my activity and my diet a lot throughout the past year or so, experimenting with this and that and never really letting my body settle into a comfort zone. I don’t know if that would work for everyone but it seems to have worked for me.

Who-were-the-cavemen1
Even cave men chilled out

I also have to tell myself that as I lost weight just moving about was going to be using up less and less calories and it was impossible to imagine increasing my activity to accommodate for this. I was on pretty intensive activity quite early on and I don’t think I can fit more activity into my days if I tried. Besides I don’t want to try because there was a point where I became obsessed with activity and I was in danger of blowing myself out. Whilst the human body was made to move it was also made to rest and to know its limits, we were never designed to spend all of our waking hours thrashing ourselves into a sweaty breathless mess. Yes we were built to be able to do that if we really had to for a short time… think walking or running long distances now and then for food/water/shelter/communication or throwing ourselves into a physical challenge like climbing a tree/a battle/protecting children from lions by launching into hand to hand combat with one… but really we were made to take it easy now and then too.

Besides all of that, flippancy aside, I recently posted about the impact of exercise on fat loss and ultimately scientists and other professionals concur that  diet is the key to losing the fat and should be the real focus. Exercise is great for so many many reasons and should be engaged in but it’s not going to make you skinny alone… if skinny is what you want to be of course.

But anyway, all that aside, I have to tell myself that reaching a plateau is not a bad thing. It’s not something after all of the progress I’ve made to beat myself up over or to need to find an answer to. I’ve been the same now for about three weeks, after the second week I got angry with myself for weighing myself each week. I’d promised to only weigh once a month but as the end grew closer I got addicted to the scales. That was a big mistake and I have now learned from that. This week was my weigh in with my trainer and so I couldn’t avoid it and was disappointed to see that same figure staring back at me.

Then I thought about it in the whole scheme of things and realised I’m an absolute imbecile and got angry with myself for undoing in a couple of weeks all of that work I’ve done over the past year of gaining perspective, learning to look at things in positive ways, not getting down on myself, not having feelings of failure in my repertoire of emotions. I’d let myself down not by reaching a plateau but by allowing all of those horrid, fat person on a diet, negative emotions back in. In a way it was good, it reminded me of what I’d always feared, those feelings will always lurk around me, I may have expelled them but they’ve not gone far, they’re just waiting around for moments when I become weak stupid and then they pounce. So to some extent I’ve lost that complacency I was maybe beginning to feel and that’s a good thing that plateauing has taught me.

0dce47bfaae733d8ab86ce9b320f094e
I can live with this

I also got to thinking, I remembered when I really believed my ideal weight for me was around 15 stones, I thought this because I always had trouble getting below it, when I made a determined effort to lose weight I mean, not when I was starved by the psycho I lived with. I had done it but it had never been in a healthy way. So for me to be way below that now and to have achieved it in the most healthy way I can imagine is a huge achievement and maybe this is my real ideal for me weight. What if I am 17lbs overweight? It’s better than 180lbs isn’t it? Why can’t I be happy to be 17lbs over weight? So I started thinking like that and it made me feel better, I gained perspective as well as having realised I was an imbecile for even feeling bad about it in the first place and as well as having learned that I really would always struggle with the emotional and mental issues of a fat person or of a compulsive over eater or of an emotional eater… whichever label sticks best.

Then I started to think about time. I thought, what if I carry on doing what I enjoy in terms of my movement and exercise and fitness, what if I carry on eating healthily with a treat now and then but making good choices for myself and eating foods I’ve come to love, cooked in ways I’ve come to really enjoy and find easy to fit into my day… those 17lbs might gradually vanish and if they do that will be fabulous but there is no time frame for them to do so, they go or they don’t either way I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m healthy and fit and doing the best by me. I’m giving myself the best shot of a longer life, a healthier life, a more active life and a happier life, how could 17lbs threaten that? If those 17lbs want to stick along for the ride then so be it, if they want to slowly slip away then so be it but I’m not going to stress about them. I’m stupid if I do.

I thought about what I could do to make those 17lbs shift. I realised very quickly thankfully that I can’t do any more and remain healthy. Yes I could go on a liquid only ridiculously low calorie fad diet for a month and probably see those 17lbs off especially if I upped my PT sessions from 3 a week to 5 but would that be healthy? Would that be sustainable? Not in a million years. I’m doing the best for me now and that’s that. Those 17lbs are not significant to me and I’m not changing for them. I’ve spent a life time letting fat dictate who I am and what I do and don’t do and those days are gone, I’m free from being dictated to by invisible layers of gloop under my skin.

downloadThen I thought about goals and I spoke to Nick about it and he said to me “You’re at your goal honey” and I said “I’m not, my ultimate goal was to be a normal weight” and he said “No, your absolute ultimate goal was to be happy and healthy, you were there ages ago”.

17lbs? What 17lbs? He’s right, I’ve already done it, I have what I wanted and those 17lbs are not going to take it away from me, they are insignificant, just numbers and stay or go they are not going to take away my joy at having done this, at having made it to where I wanted to be.

I’ve transformed my life, everything about my life screams happy and new and free… my career, the way I dress, the colour of my  hair, the design of my home, the way I have fun, the way I love, the way I parent, the type of friend I am, my role in my community and so much more, it’s all better and it suits who I am, who I always was under that fat. It really has been a total and complete unwrapping process, not a transformation but an unveiling of who I was always supposed to be before fat took a hold, before I used food as my go to healer, food as my shield, food as my comfort. I’m never going back again and this plateau is pretty cool, I can see for miles from up here and it’s all looking bright.

Advertisements

Happy New Year

Well we dragged out the festive period as long as possible and enjoyed every second of it, even the challenging parts and they were thankfully few.

Even my first major emotional trauma was weathered and is being weathered without even a flicker of a need to turn to food for support. I am certainly winning.

I think I’m coping better with events than I would have done this time last year and that shows me that this journey to a new healthier me in mind, body and spirit is working on all fronts and I realise the holistic importance of being healthy for real now. I get how good health bolsters us to weather not just physical onslaughts from the world but mental and emotional too. And that is a good reason to get healthy because life does have a canny knack of throwing us a curve ball now and then.

As I reflected on the past year standing on the banks of the Thames wrapped in the arms of my lover and new best friend with my kids and his kids and some friends huddled just a couple of feet away, music and explosions of light filling the cold night air, the heavy chimes of Big Ben still  ringing in my ears I simply felt grateful.

Grateful for all of the experiences I’d had, grateful for the learning I’d done, grateful for the growth I’d achieved as a person. Grateful for the wonderful people who I hold dear in my life who are few but excellent quality, grateful for the love I feel for them and its reciprocation, grateful for all of their opportunities, triumphs and joys.

Grateful for the strength I’d had to help turn my life around and for the people who have helped me in person or through the internet, for all of the advice, support, encouragement, empathy, recipes, humour, challenges and the boundless enthusiasm for life, for sharing, caring, spirituality and self expression through words and pictures. Grateful for all of that powerful inspiration which has carried me and cushioned me along this journey.

Most of all just grateful to be alive and to know that there is every chance I’ll be around to hear those chimes of another few new years dawning yet because I’m healing myself, I’m taking all of the damage I’ve done to myself or allowed to be done to me over the past forty something years and I’m clearing it all out, scraping off the residue of years of self loathing, of not ever feeling good enough, of self harm and disrespect for myself and the amazing person I am and I’m emerging clean and fresh and new as the person I should always have been. I’m taking back my life and I’m not done living it yet. For the strength and power to do that I am truly grateful.

As I stood reflecting I projected forward to try to imagine how I would be feeling next new years eve and all I could see was light, happiness, love and good things. I want some more of that and can’t wait to get me some.

The fight is on to complete this journey to goal and to start living as the new me, making all I’ve learned a way of life and never again going back to that awful place I’d put myself in. That’s my dream for 2015 and beyond.

I just want to leave this post on some words of wisdom from my daughter. People always comment on how she dreams big and a friend had bought her a little plaque with her name and “Shhh big dreamer at work” to hang on her bedroom door as a gift. On the reverse were some of the lyrics from a well known Disney movie song. She loved it.

She’d obviously been thinking about it and said to me as we were prepping Christmas dinner “Mum, a dream is not a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep at all. A dream is identifyng something you want and then making a conscious decision to make it happen by taking positive action towards achieving it. Don’t you think?”

“Yes most definitely” I agreed “but they’re not exactly Disney princess lyrics are they?”

“Well maybe they should be” she replied.

Make a dream or two of your own come true in 2015. You have the power to make changes.

The day so far…

Well this morning was my first day of being beasted by Darren. I decided to get an early start, I didn’t go to bed until 4am and was up at 7 unwinding and focusing with a bit of Tai Chi.. not the same in the house on my own (but fear not… news to come). I must say I was slightly apprehensive about how I was going to cope with an exercise situation where I was going to be pushed beyond what I consider my limits. I’m not good with being forced to do things, I think it comes from when I was tortured by my first psycho boyfriend and vowed to never let anyone do anything I was uncomfortable with to me ever again and I’ve taken it to a bit of an extreme. Largely because I’ve never properly dealt with that horrid episode and how it impacted on me.

But, important thing is, I’m doing it now and part of that was not running away but facing up to whatever Darren throws at me and proving that I can do it, not running away because I think he’s trying to manipulate me. As I walked around to the gym I kept telling myself “he wants you  to succeed, anything he does is for your good, it’s for your benefit, Darren does not want to hurt you”. Make no mistake I am far from fully healed in terms of my emotional problems and I have to talk myself through things like this a lot, don’t let the flippancy fool you into thinking I’m care free and this is all easy for me, the exercise, Guy-Tangled-in-Lightsthe eating, the shopping, the fashion, the dating because it isn’t. Internally I’m a sack of wires trying to untangle itself, I think of my emotional state as the Christmas tree lights that were not put away properly last year… I’ve got lots free but there’s still a whole bundle lying there threatening to f*ck up Christmas.

So as I was on the way my friend Liz called to say she’s not going to make it to visit this week as now her daughter also has the virus and she needs to step in and spend her few days off work playing nurse. So we’ve postponed hoping that I will have time before I’m back at work to catch up or failing that we’re flying from London so we’ll catch some time together before or after we fly.

So Darren was waiting for me with a glint in his eye and said he was pleased I’d come back. I told him when I’ve paid a 50 quid joining fee and I’m on a 50 quid a month direct debit for membership tied in for a year and paying him for his undivided attention on top of that, I was never NOT going to come back.

90 minutes later and I was exhausted yet exhilarated, bouncing off walls to be frank. He had me pumping iron, skipping (I mean come on the floor must have been reinforced) and boxing, I got to do a press up… believe me that was harder than it sounds, I wasn’t allowed to stop trying until I got the technique perfect, I thought my arms and chest were going to combust and I face planted several times with sheer exhaustion but I did it in the end. Burpee-Challenge-Diagram.001-e1336111610689Then I had to transform that into a burpee.. I’ve seen these things and I didn’t think I would ever do one but I did just that… one. Again, it took a while to get the technique right but in the end I executed a slow but accurate burpee and I’m proud of that achievement.  Once I believed I could get from the squat to a push up position I did it. As Darren said, now we have the technique right and I’m using the right muscles in the right way and won’t cause myself any damage we can only improve on one, we can’t get any worse, because worse than one is nothing and nothing is for losers and I’m not a loser. I loved his vocal motivation, I just wish he wouldn’t say it in such a sexy seductive tone of voice. I think Tenalady (discreet things for ladies with bladder control issues) are going to be required for Darren sessions in future.

At the end he made me row and that was the worst thing, I really thought I couldn’t rowdownload (3) any further after 50 meters but he pushed me on to a slow and painful 50 more and then I did another 100, the first 50 were pretty hard but the final 50 were easier, my head was around it by then and willing my body on.

It was such a good all round work out, everything aches, I did a huge variety of exercises which had rhyme and reason to them and at the end I challenged him to a batak wall battle which he slaughtered me on but it was fun and I wanted to do more movement even though he had exhausted me.

I then changed out of my sweaty gear and sat in the steam room for ten minutes, which was lovely. There I chatted to a young guy who was a pro body builder and preparing for a competition, he explained all about the processes they go through before a competition to remove all fat and water from their bodies to define the muscle. Gosh I never realised how complex all this stuff is.

He was very encouraging about my quest and he didn’t throw up at the sight of me sweating profusely in my pink tankini, he was very interested in my eating habits, my whole journey and gave me some tips on eating which were really useful. He said that he isn’t much different to me but at the opposite end of the scale as in I use food and slothfulness to control my inner feelings and he uses food and exercise to do exactly the same. He said he thinks that anyone who is obsessive about food/diet/exercise/body image either negatively or positively are all sharing more issues than they realise. I think he might have something there. Especially as Darren was saying the same thing.

Difference between a power lifter's physique and that of a body builder
Difference between a power lifter’s physique and that of a body builder

Darren’s a power lifter so unlike a body builder he is bulky, sometimes mistaken for being fat, less defined muscles but very strong. He started doing that to make himself feel bigger when he was a teenager after he witnessed his father beating his mother and vowed to get big and strong so he could challenge his dad and protect his mum. I wonder if there are many amongst us who are not screwed up and using food and exercise to fight our emotional demons one way or another. I just learned not to look at a slim fit person and imagine they have life happy and easy.

Bodybuilder was called Chris and he joined me in the jacuzzi where we carried on our chat. (Note all of this large ladies… nobody treats you like a freak at the gym, so if you want to go to one just GO!).

As I didn’t need to rush home I decided to have a shower and then pop into the beauty woman-feetsalon, they have a Clarins salon at my gym so it would be a shame not to use it. I had a mini facial which was delicious and a mani and pedicure. They all turned out to be free as a new member’s introductory package and so I was even more glad I stopped by. So no make up for me today, I’m letting my face breathe.

I strolled home drinking water and eating a lovely nectarine and an apple wearing my flip flops, a pair of white leggings and a simple tunic top with handkerchief hem in bright pink… feeling like a fresh, beautiful butterfly finally emerged from a dark cocoon. I was aching everywhere but even that made me feel good. Nick has been calling and texting me since he left, I think he misses me. He rang me as I was walking along and I told him about my morning and he asked if he could come back as I was now going to be alone until my kids come on Saturday… I had to think about that one for a moment… OK so for like a nano second. He’s on his way 😀

So I took a detour to the fish monger and stocked up on some nice mackerel for a soup for tonight and some lovely sea bass and some fresh sardines. Just as I arrived at my house a van pulled up and out jumped a lovely lady (I knew her actually, she is the daughter of a former neighbour of mine all grown up now but instantly recognisable) and she handed me a beautiful bouquet of perfect fresh vibrant yellow roses. I assumed they were from Nick until I read the card and found they were from my kids. The sweet little things knew I was going to face many demons today by going to that gym, putting myself at the mercy of Darren and that I’d planned to take a step into the steam and healing waters of the spa. They must have been so pleased to have their mama coming back to them that they had to make sure there was no mistake in my mind that they were happy and behind me all the way.

Those poor kids must have had the weight of the world on their shoulders these past few CreateYourOwnSunshineyears, they must have been so worried about me and knowing my fierce independence reluctant to talk to anyone about it. I’m going to have to have a good chat with them on Saturday and let them open up and spill out the angst I’ve caused them before it does them any damage. I love those two people with every fibre of my being and to think I’ve hurt them in any way breaks my heart and knowing they’ve just kept on loving me and being fabulous kids breaks my heart even more. I’ve been very selfish, very selfish. It makes me sad but I need to feel this sorrow and regret and hurt because I’m never going to do this to them again, never. They are awesome kids and they deserve an awesome mum and I’m going to be that for them from now on. No more wallowing, just looking to the brighter days and getting stronger and better every day for all of us.

Sharing My Goals

Following on from my Targets and Goals Post I thought I’d share my own list of goals. These are my long term goals, my shorter term targets are not so clearly displayed and are on post it notes scattered around the house as I write them as they come to mind and they change and become achieved so fast that they are difficult to keep a track of. Although what I do is when I have achieved one I don’t just throw it away, I stick it to an old clipboard in my bedroom and now and then I read through them and remind myself of how many targets I’ve reached and how my objectives shift and change as I change. It’s quite useful for motivation.

Just click on the link below and it should open a PDF.

Goals

I do a lot of motivational things and use visual goals and progress monitors a lot it’s just because it suits me, I like that kind of thing, it appeals and it inspires and I know I need it. It’s not for everyone but it really helps me.

Anyway, these are my long term goals and some of them I’d say I’m close to achieving or have achieved already after just a few months. It makes me feel like I’m winning… which I am!

 

How long does it take?

I was reading a fellow blogger who mentioned making habits and my memory flew back to what I’d previously blogged something about breaking habits (when I quit smoking)

It made me think. (Sorry when I think I blog lots)

But yeah, anyway it made me think, how long does it take? Forever? Then I thought “No not forever… maybe… yes forever”

Is there a time frame on changing your whole life? What we’re doing here, what we are changing either little by little or dramatically, either in the short or long term is our whole outlook on what we do and how we do it and who we do it with. We’re climbing a mountain.

We’re dealing with deep seated issues, some of us will never understand where they come from or why. We’re dealing with genetics which we can’t change.

I kind of got to thinking that we expect to put a time frame on weightloss: “I’ll be at target in 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months” We set interim targets for weight loss. 7lbs by this date and 9 by this. Don’t get me wrong I do it too, I need to but when we do the long term goal we’re effectively setting an end date for what we’re doing and there is no end.

What other life changing experience do we stick a time frame on? What other emotional adjustment do we put a target on? What other mental and physical upheaval do we sit and consciously set goals to accomplish? (OK I know there are people injured in accidents who say they will walk by their wedding or whatever and that’s slightly different I’m talking more about the emotional rather than the physical effects).

How about bereavement? Do we say “Oh well I’m destroyed right now because [somebody I loved] died but if I really put my mind to it, in 12 months I will be over it and ready to continue with my life, I’ll have stopped crying myself to sleep by 3 months and stopped thinking about them by 9 months and at 6 months I will have stopped wishing they were still here. That should do it 12 months and I’ll be all over this. I will have dealt with it and adjusted my whole life and everything I knew and this will be behind me”?

What about divorce? Do we say “Oh well, that’s the end of that, in 6 months I won’t even think of that marriage, in a month I’ll stop being angry about him/her sleeping with his/her boss and it won’t cross my mind again. In 4 months I will stop thinking about the 10 years of wasted life and time I just spent and I will have no more regrets. In 5 months I’ll stop those silly murderous thoughts and shake myself off and love him/her again just for being a person. In 2 months I’ll stop feeling guilty that my kids are now a broken home statistic, I’ll get over that. Yeah, by 6 months my life will be as if that marriage never happened and I’ll be happy again”?

Even redundancy? Do we say “Oh darn I lost my job the career I worked hard for for 20 years, I guess I’ll get over it in 3 months. Let me see, by 4 weeks I will have stopped worrying about how I’m going to keep a roof over our heads and just learned to accept it. In 8 weeks I’m going to make sure that I stop crying when there’s not enough money to buy things my family needs and yeah by week 12 I’ll have forgotten about that career I forged for myself and I will be happy on welfare” ?

Do we heck! We live with the effects of those significant life changes day after day, month after month and year after year (perhaps not in the case of the last one but sometimes yes, even in the case of the last one) we are affected by that change, we are adjusting to that change, we are reeling from that change forever, for the rest of our lives. We learn to live with them, we subdue our feelings, we subdue our pain, we subdue our regret, we subdue our anger and worry but we have to live with it all.

Just the same for us, as former fat people we have to live with it, we will never be free of the fat monster because even if we can totally retrain ourselves to another way of thinking, we will always remember the days when the fat monster was on our back and the way it felt and the sadness we sometimes felt or the rejection and the things we missed out on because of it. As much as we let it go there will be times it pops up.

Goals are good but this is forever and we have to get that right now. Temporariness in attitude when it comes to weight loss brought me from a pretty, chubby 15 year old girl to the 46 year old 300+ lb mess that I am today and I am a mess, no one can convince me otherwise. I do not like what I look like, it is not good. My kids think I’m beautiful and I love that, it helps me, my students adore me and I love that, it motivates me, my friends wouldn’t have me any other way and I love that it gives me a sense of self worth but I don’t like this body and thinking in terms of temporary fixes is a huge contributor to me being here now. It’s why I’ve yo-yo’d all my life, because I got to the end or I reached a target and I thought that was it, over.

There is no “when I’m at goal I’ll….” it doesn’t work like that, we do not keep it up, we don’t. Goal IS not having to think about being healthy, not having lost X amount of pounds, it’s not about being able to run a marathon, goal is about the rest of our lives, goal is loving ourselves, goal is believing we are beautiful and goal is about never giving in to the fat monster again. There is no end date.

So now I want a cake :S  Seriously though I feel we have to be brutally honest and that’s why we have to have a lifestyle plan which is sustainable, our ‘diet’ has to be something we can keep up for always and if that means a minor indiscretion now and then that’s fine as long as we pick back up right away, our attitude to exercise has to be something we can maintain beyond goal and dealing with our psychological issues has to also be a life long attempt at understanding ourselves and why we do the things we do so that we can control ourselves better and keep that finger off the self destruct button.