Day to day life really does have a habit of getting in the way of our goals, which is why I admire people who say they're going to lose weight and get through to the end with the results they dreamed of. I've managed it twice in my adult life, it's that significant I can remember how old I was, 23 and 41!! On both occasions I lost at least 2 stone. Why the success, I had a point to prove, a way of getting back at people, in other words, I metaphorically stuck my middle finger up at them, gave them 'the bird'. It seemingly is the only way I succeed. It gives me the will, the determination and I can see into the future, how I'll feel, the look on their face, their body language and ultimately the huge sense of satisfaction that I'd be the winner, not because of the weight loss, but because of a sense of achievement that I'd beaten them. Of course this is all in my head, but it works for me and low and behold, I find myself with circumstances, in the right place, ripe for weight loss, I get into the zone quickly and just do it, [more] importantly, I exercise. I don't have the determination to do it just for myself, I have to have a reason.
Being Brought Up in a Certain Age
I was brought up in an age where you had to be trim, if not skinny and it's a battle I've had all my life. Throughout adulthood, I've constantly compared myself to other women, always worried about weight. My Nanny, once said to me, "don't put weight on below your knees, you'll never get it off again". Something I've never forgotten, even though I was about 8 at the time!! Whether what she said was true or not, I don't know. My mum would quip, "look at the state of her". So you can see I had a set of thoughts from a very young age and those have gone on to my adulthood. Without sounding old, I admire the younger, they are who they want to be and as a teacher, I see pupils recognising , accepting individuality: it's more the norm now.
The F*** It Approach
For the last few years I've been prone to this 3 step process, often giving up, rather than giving in. Prone to the odd treat or two, maybe three, sauvignon blanc at the weekends, but my view has been, if 80% of your diet is great, let your hair down the other 20% of the time, maybe I've got my maths wrong, or my memory!!! Not being the best dieter in the world, I have to come up with strategies, no.1: I'm not going to be be using the word, 'diet', as soon as I do, I just want stuff I don't normally eat; no.2: reduce naughty things from your diet, (in the normal sense of the word). I started a job in September which involves almost an hours drive each way, for the first 6 weeks or so my lower back and left knee were killing me, so I tweaked my driving seat less than an inch and within a couple of weeks all my pain had gone. So I thought why not apply that principle to my overall diet.
Part of Life Approach
Up until I went to college, I never even thought about it, sport was second nature to me, I rode 3 miles to school and back again and had a very outdoorsy lifestyle. As soon as I went to college, even though it was a longer journey, I was walking and only playing tennis during the summer months. It's then that I started to notice weight creeping on and having to control it. I had independence, my own money through my Saturday job, I was introduced to nights out with college friends and of course alcohol, as they say, the rest is history.
I was conscious about weight because of boys, how I looked, the clothes I wanted to wear and generally all that stuff, but I had an iniate determination, going to the gym every other day (religiously), upping my targets and the ability to weigh everything I ate. Weight was controlled. I understood what I needed to do.
The Bad Habits of University
Then university enough said, bad food, late nights, lots of alcohol and partying, I ballooned, but every summer I would go home and by that September, I was thin again ready for the next year.
Exercise is for Life, Not Just January
During the first years of working in my twenties, I generally maintained my regime of exercise, often being in a swimming pool at 9.30/10pm at night and then real 'adulthood' kicked in and that's where life gets in the way of determination; holding down a job, the humdrum of day to day life, a family, if you have one, a social life, the invitations out and just living and the 'I can't be arsed' feeling; that's why I admire people who achieve their weight goals because it's so hard to juggle and just give over time for yourself. After a day at work, all I want to do now and for sometime is be at home. I've had periods of successful dieting, but none as good as those mentioned in the earlier part of this article, that's what I want. I've just got to get back and engage with that determination I've had in the past.
Getting a Handle on Size
At 5ft 6" my happiest goal has always been Size 10, in the times that I've achieved that, I've felt incredible, light, the feeling of energy was phenomenal. I was buying Boden like it was in a clearance sale!! The clothes looked fantastic on me. The two images below show both times I was at size ten. Currently I'm a top end 14 feeling the exact opposite. And for the first time I can understand women who aren't at the size that they want to be not wanting to shop, I feel exactly the same, it's a chore, not a pleasure. So it's starting to look like I'll have to buy into a new gym membership, which at David Lloyd is pretty pricey, but if that's what it takes......
My chosen exercise is Swimming
My dad threw me into an outdoor swimming pool when I was about six, I couldn't swim, but he wouldn't let me out until I did, I sobbed my way through the water until I could. I love swimming and I'm a strong competent free-styler. The feel of the water pouring over me during the first comfortable lengths is amazing, particularly when the pool is empty and the sun is pouring through the windows and shooting into the water. If you're going to use swimming as your exercise, you've really got to work hard and push yourself, otherwise you'll find it's a total waste of time. You've got to add lengths into your swim every time you go and you have to increase your speed as you do it. Swimming done well, is a great fat burner and also a fantastic overall toner.
Time is of the Essence
To me, time and structure are the keys to successful dieting. That's what I had through my childhood, into my teenage and early twenties. I've always said anybody, that doesn't need to work and has the money to spend on gym memberships, shouldn't be fat, because they have what's needed most..... time. Although a working woman Carole Middleton is a prime example of this, at 64 she has an incredible figure, a steely determination, but most of all like her daughters, she has the time and the money to get the results. It's the same with food, the cost to eat healthy doesn't come cheap and again I feel for people who have limited means and have to make buying decisions based on what money they have at the time.
So to me now, everytime I falter, I'm going to metaphorically stick my middle finger up to remind me of what I want to achieve and think about the feelings I've had when I felt miserable about my size on a particular given day or occasion. I have a goal, mid-May. I'm going to The Downs Syndrome Ball at The Titanic Hotel. I have a target, a particular dress, this one.... This Laura Ashley dress is now classed as vintage and was bought on #1 successful diet (see pic above). It's a beautiful, makes you feel a million dollars, it's a stunning fishtailed velvet dress with a beautiful neckline, plunging back and takes no prisoners, you have to be the right size to do it justice and this year, I'll do just that.
So well done to all those successful dieters who get the weight off, keep it off and carry on, in semi-control in this manic world we live.
What ever your dieting will look like this January and this year, remember.......
Good luck!!! Be determined and as Violet Beauregarde's mother said in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, "Eyes on the prize."