Monday, May 26, 2014


All mirrors should come with a warning!
It's funny because although I knew I was big, in some ways I think I didn't know quite how big I was. You look in the small bathroom mirror at your face, and without consciously doing it, you angle your face, tilt the chin, flatter yourself. For me it was being deeply unhappy with myself, but trying desperately to convince myself that I wasn't. I avoided full length mirrors, shop window reflections, and so on. I bought brands that had 'vanity sizing' where I could pick a 20 instead of a 22. In some brands I probably would've needed a 24, to be honest.

I knew I had health problems and I knew logically that they were probably linked to (or caused by) being obese. But I still somehow managed to be in denial about that and convince myself that the situation was reversed - my health problems such as knee pain, fibromyalgia, hip pain, achilles tendon pain, all prevented me from losing weight! So in my head I had decided it was a vicious circle I could never get out of. So why try? I always come back to a Simpsons quote here, "I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas!". I used to tell myself that I "couldn't" lose weight. "Nothing worked". But I actually didn't really try anything. I told myself I ate relatively healthily, so reasoned food wasn't the issue. I couldn't move more because of my health issues so that was that. I figured that maybe that was just the way my body was meant to be. How wrong I was!

In January 2013 the scales finally tipped the other way for me. It was January 17th. I went to the orthopedic specialist to discuss my knee problems and the results of my MRI. He gave me grave news, I had pre-arthritic changes in my knees, simply due to carrying around excess weight for so long. I was horrified. I was only 29, and looking at developing arthritis simply because I was fat and putting so much extra strain on my joints! I remember coming out of the appointment, standing waiting for the bus, I cried. I got on my phone and re-downloaded MyFitnessPal. I had used it on and off over the past few years, for no more than a week at a time. I decided I was going to try again. The next day I began logging all my food and sticking to the calories it told me. I didn't care what I ate, as long as I was meeting my allowance. I kept that up for months, the first day I didn't log in was at the end of May when we were in LegoLand and it poured with rain the entire day, so my phone was safely tucked away to stay dry!

The weight started to come off.

I didn't exercise for months. But as my weight dropped, my pain levels improved, and on August 10th I went to my first exercise class. It was circuits at the community centre and I was sick halfway through (probably helped along by drinking a large cup of tea and a full bottle of water that morning before the 8am class!). I really struggled. Even the few minutes of jogging at the start was hard work. But I kept at it. I felt so accomplished when I had finished 3 rounds of circuits. My friend and I went every week. I rarely missed it, usually only because I was very ill or was away! I then started to go on a Tuesday evening as well. Before long I was wishing I could go more often, but the class times just didn't fit in with my schedule. In December another friend joined a gym and started raving about the classes. They offered a 2 week pass for Christmas so I got one and in January, yet another friend and I did our two week trial. We both loved it so much we signed 3 year contracts! Now that's commitment! At the moment I go to 4 classes a week and lift weights 3 times a week.

After I started classes in August I really began to think more about what was going into my body. I was thinking beyond just calories. Yes I could stay under my calories eating bacon sandwiches, chocolate, and drinking Coke Zero, but was it good for me? Aaron and I watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (available for free on YouTube) and decided to do a juice fast. Unfortunately we only managed four days because it was so expensive, you need so much fruit to make just one cup of juice! We felt great though and didn't want to go back to eating the same way we had been, so we decided to go 'whole foods plant based' through the week. This meant not eating any animal products, and nothing processed (including oil). So we ate fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc. At the weekends we only ate organic dairy and local butcher's meat. Pretty soon after starting this regime I woke up one day and had a revelation - I was pain free, and couldn't be sure exactly when the last time I felt fibro pain was! My back didn't hurt when I slept, or when I got up in the morning, I could bend down, it was bliss!

Since then we have switched to eating whole foods plant based all the time. I am not militant about it, I still occasionally eat meat and dairy, especially when out and about with limited options (if I'm needing actual nutrition and it's a choice between chips or a veggie lasagna with cheese, for example, I'll choose the lasagna!).

I've now lost almost 80lbs. 79.2lbs at last count. I've had to adjust my goal weight a few times. The first goal weight I listed was 150lbs. I was basing this on the fact that as a very slim teenager I weighed 140lbs. So I figured, 10lbs more. However, right now I weigh 190lbs. Given my body fat measurement, and the fact that I plan to continue building more muscle, realistically I don't see me losing that much more weight. Perhaps 10lbs. Slightly disappointing that I won't ever probably get to that 100lb mark, but that's a small price to pay because I would far rather be fit and strong and healthy than "skinny"!

To get back to the original topic of this post, about seeing myself differently than I actually was? Now it's almost the opposite. I see photos and think "Do I really look that slim?" - because that's not what I see in the mirror. Or when I look down at myself. I see the same thing that I always have - me. Big thighs. Big belly. I still double take when I catch my reflection in a shop window. I still automatically reach for the back of the rack when looking at clothes, because that's where I always used to hope I'd find something big enough for me (and often didn't). Then I remember that I don't have to look at the back anymore.

One of these days, my head will catch up with my body. I hope.

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