New Year New Me – Bleh!

I think it would be pretty fair to say last year was a tough year for myself and Hubby. In many ways I came full circle. I started the year in a mental health clinic, balancing my epileptic medication as side-effects from my seizures were causing crippling depression, and I finished the year in hospital having a shoulder operation to fix a debridgement of my rotator cuff – something that took over six months to diagnose. I spent much of the year in doctors’ rooms, including two other hospital stays, I went for many scans and x-rays and swallowed a lot of pills. I lost my best friend to suicide. I felt like joining him more than once. I cried. A lot.

But I also had an amazing 30th birthday party with all my best friends, a jumping castle and a homemade birthday cake with mirror glaze icing and a ninja turtle on top – courtesy of Hubby’s hard work. We had an amazing overseas holiday for my Big Bruv’s wedding in Glasgow where we also managed to squeeze in an Emeli Sande concert, a Russell Kane standup show and a stay in a five-star hotel in the heart of London (generous belated wedding gift courtesy of my Aunt). We welcomed two beautiful kittens into our family, Gazza and Seba, and have watched their individual personalities develop with amazement and amusement. I tasted the most amazing cheesecake ever. We finally finished the 150-metre “buy in bulk and save” tin foil that we bought about two and a half years ago (a proud moment). We got to visit the in-laws twice, which always involves sand between my toes and a special feeling in my soul that only the sea can awaken. I strengthened the friendships worth keeping and loosened ties that were weighing me down.

So, when people on social media are all about “Can’t wait to see the back of 2017!”, “2017 sucked, bring on 2018!”, I can’t help but think, “Did it really suck? All of it? Enough to be wishing time away?” Because the saying goes that life is short, but in truth, it’s the longest thing any of us will ever have (that we know of for sure) and it seems awfully tragic to wish any of it away, even the painful parts. There’s also this weird phenomenon that I’ll call New Year New Me, where people seem to think that when the clock strikes midnight and the date changes from December 31st to January 1st, everything will magically change and all that was wrong in 2017 will magically disappear. Everything they struggled with in 2017 will no longer be a challenge; any and all trials and tribulations will suddenly become completely avoidable. But the truth is, who you were yesterday, is exactly the same person you are today. Literally the only thing that’s changed is the date. And you probably have a hangover.

So, this is the point at which you start to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Those grand, vague empty promises you make to yourself about the person you’re going to become this year, so that if 2018 turns out to be just as shit as 2017 was, at least you’ll be able to turn that shit into compost and grow some freaking flowers in it, cos that’s the kind of optimistic, proactive, energetic, go-getter you’re going to become. Problem is, you have no idea how to become that person. You’ve identified the destination, but you have no road map for how to get there. So, before you know it, it’s December 31st and your social media posts are looking oddly familiar: “Can’t wait to see the back of 2018!”, “2018 sucked, bring on 2019!” And you’re wishing even more of your limited time on this earth away.

Right, now let me step off this soap box before it crumbles under my considerable weight. I too have been that person, making my fair share of New Year’s Resolutions, usually revolving around wanting to lose weight and getting fitter and healthier. I’ll usually throw something extra in about wanting to read more and write more – pursue those things that make me more me. But I inevitably spend another year on the couch, watching series, eating healthier perhaps and going for the occasional walk, but also stuffing my face with junk food and before I know it another year has passed me by and I still feel uncomfortable in my clothes, I still can’t walk up the stairs without feeling out of breath, the first draft of my novel has still gone unedited and the pile of books I haven’t read has quadrupled in size.

But this year I’m determined to make things different. Because this year I’m going to have a road map. No more vague destinations in mind, but clearly defined landing points, right down to the GPS coordinates, with exact instructions on how to get there. I started off by signing up for the Sleek Geek 14-day challenge (it was free – yay!) and I have learnt quite a lot so far:

Shift in Mindset: Change is a skill and requires practice. You can’t change overnight, it requires deliberate and consistent action in the right way and the right order, over time. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. As you would build on any skill, if you want to make a change, you have to practice getting better at making changes. So, don’t start off huge with a “I’m going to lose 20kg”. That’s basically equivalent to someone who has never touched a piano in their lives saying I’m going to learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” flawlessly by Friday. Pick a low hanging fruit. Something small, simple, and repeatable that you’re guaranteed to succeed at. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you succeed with it. This will help you to practice change. I have chosen a few that I plan to build on once I have (hopefully) achieved success with these in the coming weeks:

  • Take my multi-vitamins and supplements every day (I have a tendency to forget).
  • Drink 2 litres of water every day.
  • Sit outside for at least fifteen minutes every day.

I think that’s a good place to start and a good place to leave it for today. I plan to post throughout the year on my lifestyle goals and their progress. Let’s see how well I do on that ‘resolution’. A prosperous 2018 to you and yours!

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It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change… bleugh!

Please Let it fit

Last week I had a “oh my god, I am not going to fit into my dress at my next fitting in two and half weeks” meltdown. It wasn’t pretty. Ever since putting on a bunch of weight during a very difficult year of my life six years ago, I have struggled to love my body. I get angry at myself when I think about how healthy I used to be and how easily I ‘let myself go’. I make all sorts of deals with a potential higher power – just let me go back to how I was then, I swear I won’t let this happen again! PLEASE! But our choices determine who we are and my choices have made me fat.

Everything was as easy

Last year I turned a corner and finally exited the denial phase. The phase where I thought an entire year of bad eating habits and limited movement could be undone with a little bit of walking and eating more vegetables. I needed dramatic change, which required dramatic efforts. And so began the lifestyle change.

I started exercising in earnest, personal trainer and all. I started eating healthily and cutting back on the junk food. My mood started to lift and the grams started to fall off, albeit very reluctantly. The buffet of tablets I take for my epilepsy makes losing weight extremely difficult (excuse #1?). By Christmas I had lost 4.5kg; nothing to write a book about, but enough to make me proud of myself. Fast forward to last week and I have put it all back on and then some.

What happened? I’m not really sure. Wait, that’s not entirely true… I have a fair idea. I fired my personal trainer (irreconcilable differences), I sat still a bit too much and took comfort eating to a professional level. Turns out I lied to the potential higher power – Even if they returned me to my original state, I would probably end up making the same bad choices.

People tell me to go and see a dietician, but I feel like that would be a waste of time and money. I know what I’m supposed to eat and what I’m not supposed to eat. A knowledge gap is not the problem here, a lack of willpower is. But during last week’s meltdown I discovered what truly powers the will – the love and support of friends and family. Everyone I reached out to came back with words of encouragement; none of the blame and belittling that was going on in my head; no self-righteous suggestions, only reassurance and inspiration. I could do this. I can do this!

Dress Workout

Mixing a bit of everyone’s thoughts together I came up with this: being overweight is just like any other battle one has with oneself. It’s an addiction to hedonism; to the easy way out. It’s unfair. Others are blessed with a fast metabolism and skinny genes, I am not. And so I must fight. One step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time. This isn’t a sprint, or even a marathon; it’s my life. This may have a starting point, but there is no finishing point, I can’t let there be. Some days I will sail through, other days I will need my friends to carry me. It’s a fight I have to win.

It’s only week one but I’m ok. I managed to avoid the birthday cake for a colleague and the roadtrip to KFC during lunch hour. I managed to drive past two McDonald’s on my way home from work every night without insisting that we go there for dinner. I know there will be days when I eat the cake, days when I join the roadtrip and nights when we go to McDonald’s. And that’s fine. Because I will be kind to myself. This isn’t a race, this is my life. Once step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time.

I hope to update you regularly on my progress (or lack thereof). Please share your stories in the comments below. Maybe we can help each other.