Monday, April 14, 2014

The Skinny

I haven’t been blogging too much for a number of reasons but perhaps the biggest is that I have been a bit too preoccupied with that most boring of all things: losing weight.

My weight loss has not been a big exciting thing, like those women you read about who lose 200 pounds, but a sort of small, slow and pretty dull thing. I only had about 5kg to lose and I lost it in the most boring way possible: I went to the gym more. I ate less. I drank less. I socialised less. It was fiiiiine.

Now I find myself in that weird place where I’m no longer doing what I’ve spent the past couple of months trying to do –lose weight – and just trying to keep it off. It takes practices that maintenance does. I’ve never been one for regular weigh-ins in the past but that’s probably why my weight has fluctuated over the years. In the past I’ve never really realised when I’m getting plumper or skinnier until I see myself in photos and think ‘oooh’. Now I try to weigh myself most days and although I know plenty of people who think it’s weird and head fucky to weigh yourself that often I find it works for me and stops me from freaking out over an anomaly. I try not to let my day be determined by the number on the scale although, as Andy can attest, it does affect my mood. I’m only human. Except for the fact that a lot of my dresses no longer fit as well as they did and tend towards looking slightly sack-like I like my ‘new’ body. I’m fitter than I’ve been in years and years, I think I look better. My boobs are… well they’re actually kind of small. I’m not sure how I feel about that bit, actually, but I’m getting used to it. So for me, although it’s been a boring few months I’m glad I did it.

This post is not in keeping with the spirit of this blog, inasmuchas there IS a spirit of this blog but for whatever reason I felt like I had to write something to acknowledge what I’ve been up to. Losing a few kilos, which is not such a big thing, has changed other aspects of my life too because of the ways in which my lifestyle has changed. It's made me happier, calmer, just... better. 

Anyway, this entry was prompted by a recent meeting with a friend, who was surprised by my slightly-skinnier body and asked how I’d done it. I mumbled something self deprecating and changed the subject, as I am known sometimes to do, but when I got home that night I lay awake and thought about it. So this, young readers, is what I should have said to my friend.

  • I ate less food. Yeah, I know: it’s boring.
  • I wrote down what I ate. I plugged it into a handy little app on my phone that came with an even handier little wrist gadget that tracks my steps and sleep patterns but I could just as easily have written it in a notepad. Something about knowing I would have to type in ‘giant Caramello koala’ into my phone would make me stop when I reached for the fundraising chocolate box. Some of the time anyway. I'm not going to lie: I still ate quite a few Caramellos.
  • I exercised more. Again: Zzzzz. I tried a whole bunch of different gym classes I’d never tried before, got well and truly out of my comfort zone and had, dare I say it, a lot of fun doing so. I never thought I could go to 6am gym classes before work. I'm not a morning person, I told myself: I love staying up at night. But I started doing it once a week, then twice, then more and it made me feel so good I didn't mind adjusting my bedtime to 10.30 instead of 12. I've never been an exercise nut but throwing myself into it like this and making it part of my daily routine has changed my life for the better. I've always been prone to what you could nicely call 'blue moods' and as many times as I heard that exercise was a great treatment for depression I didn't pay it as much heed as I should have. I can't say whether the change in my outlook is down to the exercise or a whole bunch of things but, although I still have days when I feel soul-crushingly down, my good days are getting more common and my bad days less common. As much as I really hate it when my alarm goes off at 5.30am my morning workout sets up my whole day so that I go to work feeling tired but also energised. I don't think it's endorphins per se - in no way do I get anything approaching a natural high from exercise, I seriously have no idea what people talk about when they say this - but I feel healthier and that makes me want to eat better and be nicer to myself as well. This attitude definitely did not arrive overnight - for a few weeks I was dragging myself to the gym basically against my will - but it did arrive and I'm grateful. I know, I know: VOM. I’ll let myself out.
  • I told people what I was doing. Not a lot of people but close friends heard me crap on about “Project Skinny” probably more than they cared to. I don’t know why telling people about it helped but it did. At the very least I guess I didn’t want to publicly fail.
  • I prioritised. Along with the whole exercise thing this was maybe the biggest change I made. Before I was trying to lose weight I’d always say yes to everything: yes to work drinks, dinners, coffees, cake at work… I could go on. In hindsight I can see I had a total fear of missing out on a great night. Once I was trying to lose weight, however, I found I had to learn to say no. So although I still went to the dinners and drinks and coffees I really wanted to I no longer felt obliged to go to the pub if I wasn’t in the mood or felt guilty for staying in on Saturday night when I had loads of people I 'should' have been catching up with. I had an excuse. Similarly, when someone at work brought in cake for their birthday I didn’t feel obliged to eat it to be polite: if it looked great and I wanted some I had it (I'm still thinking about that warm fig cake FUUUUCK). If I thought I’d rather skip the cake and have wine with dinner  for comparable calories then I did that instead. Prioritising like this actually felt tremendous and is something I intend to apply to all aspects of my life, not just my still-kinda-soft tummy. 
Phew. There you go. The first and last time I ever hope to write about weight loss. Because: boring.

Less boring: Comedy Central’s new show, Broad City (just to completely change the subject). I’ve only watched two episodes and it has thoroughly charmed my heart. Go watch.

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