Week 6: February 8
Weight: 97.5 kg
It’s amazed me how actually, sometimes letting go a little can really end up with everything going as it ought to.
The past week, I’ve been resting up my ankle. And my diet has taken a hit too – I’ve a friend visiting for the week and, wanting to make sure they enjoy their holiday, I’ve been eating things I normally wouldn’t.
We’ve been out for a dinner with wine, had Dominos to go, and home-made curry, lamb shanks and spaghetti.
And with all the entertaining, there’s been little time for exercise.
And yet, I’ve still shifted almost half a kilogram. Perhaps it’s because I stopped concentrating so hard on losing weight at staying fit, and instead opted to have fun and enjoy my friend’s company.
Obviously, it means I’m not really shifting any of the weight I wanted to – but I haven’t gained any more either, and I know having this week ‘off’ will leave me refreshed, recharged and ready to get back on track.
And perhaps taking a break is what everyone needs every now and then.
Week 5: February 1
Weight: 97.8 kg
I am still paying for the epic slip-ups I made last week, gaining another half kilo rather than losing it.
There is little so demoralising as seeing the scales move in entirely the wrong direction. Especially after you’ve put in so much hard work, desperately resisting the office cup cakes and high-calorie lunches courtesy of Mr McDonald.
There is a consolation I’m hanging onto, though. I haven’t gained more weight than I was when I started this latest endeavour.
Which is lucky, because picking up an injury could have the potential to let the weaker voice in my brain take charge, and command a downing of tools and upping of sugar intake.
For months now, I have struggled with my ankle. I have always been fairly clumsy, and easily tripped over my own feet since I was little. Where some people twist their ankle maybe once every ten years, I would turn on mine every two weeks.
It made them weak, but it meant I was used to the pain and it was bearable. A short rest, a tubi-grip, and some gentle massaging normally did the trick to set me on my feet again.
Of course always being overweight, putting extra, needless pressure on my ankles never helped.
But last summer, after a long break from falling over, I tumbled on a tuft of grass.
And this was bad. I swear my left ankle did a 360, vertical turn. And it’s re-opened a weakness I thought I had overcome.
In the past few months I’ve desperately tried to give my feet the support they need – relinquishing my vanity in exchange for a squat dumpiness by hanging up my kitten heels in exchange for flat, sensible winter boots.
And beginning to get fitter and shifting the pounds was helping, I was walking further, and I could feel them strengthening.
So when I casually slipped off the pavement on a sober walk home from the pub (and yes, I really was sober) and twisted it – AGAIN – you can imagine my grief.
Initially I was angry, frustrated – and in a lot of pain.
And then I decided to take a philosophical lesson from it. There’s always a tendency to do more, to push harder than perhaps you’re really ready for. And injuries are a reminder you are human and you have to be good and kind to yourself.
So I’m slowing it down, taking it easy, practising good form. The speed and super-strength will come on its own.
Week 4: January 25
Weight: 97.5 kg
After a pretty storming start to my new diet, I’m sorry to say I haven’t just fallen off the waggon, that waggon has rolled over the top of me and carried on down the road, kicking up dust in my face.
I’m talking binge central. Pizza, Chinese takeaway, cookies, cake and lashings of cheesy chips. Beer, wine, Jaegerbombs and all-out dietary mayhem. Switching a healthy morning walk for a sweet lie-in.
And the worst part of it? I couldn’t care less.
Alright that’s not strictly true. I care, a lot. I care that four week’s hard work can so easily be undone by a night or two of debauchery. I care a lot that I feel like a failure because of how easily I’ve been tempted away from my determination. And I care that my clothes – beginning to loosen up around my midriff – are once again tight and squeezy.
But it is easier to push aside the feelings of shame and guilt, shove it down, ‘forgive’ myself for indiscretion and lack of self-control. And buy-in to all of what that little voice in my head is always telling me. What kind of fool are you, of COURSE you can’t do this. You are the fat girl. That is your role in life. Now put aside this foolishness and carry on being the fat girl you were born to be.
The problem is, that’s all very well. If I want to die of diabetes, heart disease, and gout.
And it denies responsibility for myself. It’s whining, whinging, smacking of insecurity and an unattractive lack of confidence.
It’s giving up on myself, and if I can’t take myself seriously how can I expect anyone else to?
Which is why I’ve decided to take this week to take stock. Give myself a break, accept sometimes the proverbial poo is going to hit the whirring, air-pushing mechanism on the ceiling. And remember it’s less about not failing, and more about how you pick yourself up and move on.
Week 3: January 18
Weight: 96.2 kg
In just three weeks, I’ve lost more than 4kg. What a great start to 2017!
And most of that has to be down to my weekly bootcamp sessions – impossible without my fitness buddy.
It hasn’t all been rosy though. Every morning after I go to bootcamp, I can barely walk where every muscle in my body seems to be screaming out in agony – a punishment for what I’ve put it through.
And it hardly seems fair. Not wanting to go to bootcamp in the first place, hating every minute of the hour while I fight off what must look like a heart attack, drenching my clothes in sweat.
In fact, of the burpees, sit ups, press ups and myriad of other torture devices used by the instructor, there is really only one exercise I feel anywhere near comfortable doing.
True, they aren’t for everyone. Take Lulabelle, for instance. How can I put it… a more blessed lady, and recently a mother for the first time, she struggles with star jumps despite the help of her over shoulder, boulder holder in her upper regions.
I, however, with a slightly less endowed couple of girls, can power away, quick as you like, for the full 20 seconds of each eight-minute set.
Except, of course, for the slight issue of a weakness in my kegels.
Now, it’s fairly embarrassing, being in my late 20s, single, child and fancy free, to have to admit I have an issue in my nether regions. Be it laughing too much, being snuck up on by my brother, or sneezing, for much of my life keeping my pee bag sealed up in times of trauma has always been slightly problematic – if an issue of pure hilarity to my friends.
Thankfully, I know I’m not alone. And something can be done.
Rest assured I’ll no-longer be known as Puddler. I’ve discovered pelvic floor muscles, and intend to make them as rockhard as my flappy abs.
Week 2: January 11, 2017
Weight: 97.5 kg
I’m not going to lie, every day during the past week has been hard.
There’s the avoiding chocolates, alcohol, cheese, even. Trying to get used to the pervading feeling of hunger as I hit my diet hard.
And I’ve not made it an easy ride for those around me either. Feeling hungry makes me quick-tempered, and generally even more unpleasant than usual! And that’s before being entirely selfish when it comes to menus.
I’ve refused to go for impromptu, spontaneous trips to the pub or takeaway. Turned down extra treats to go along with home-made teas. And reacted with annoyance when brought a cake as a present.
And that has made me feel miserable. After all, all my friends and family are doing is trying to make me feel happy, loved and appreciated, inviting me to consume things they know I enjoy.
But it’s also been quite empowering. It’s a real shame that it’s only when you say ‘no’ people start taking you seriously, and you have to say ‘no’ to start feeling in control. But it also sends a message of strength.
For the past few years, I for one haven’t felt particularly strong. In fact I often feel like a doormat, in my professional and my personal life. There is nothing more demoralising than feeling you are not the leading lady in your own story; of not having control over what happens to you.
And that’s why these kinds of journeys are so valuable. The entire process of it involves learning to say ‘no’, and the progress made as a result builds you self-confidence you might never have experienced any other way.
And it’s clear, after the dramatic drop in weight I’ve achieved during my first week, it’s paying off.
I’m under no illusions, the rate of my weightloss is like to slow in the coming weeks as my body adjusts, but it’s a great start. And there’s no way I’m going to stop now.
Week 1: January 4, 2017
Weight: 102.4 kg
I admit it. I’ve joined the ‘New Year, New Me’ crew.
And suddenly I find myself, sweat dripping from my nose, a face ballooned so red the instructor clearly fears I’m on the verge of heart attack, staring at black matt in a gym studio, pathetically failing at a push-up.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve done any serious exercise, and the pain is excruciating. It’s taking every sinew of my essence to fight the urge to get up, walk out, and go back to the cream cakes on the sofa.
I don’t need this, the overwhelming sense of patheticness, the demoralising realisation years of hard work have been completely undone, and now my personal shame is here, in this room, dripping itself into the floorboards in front of 51 other people, all skinnier, fitter, pounding their way through the circuits.
And we’re only five minutes in.
One of those other people is my friend, we’ll call her Lulabelle, and she’s just had a baby. She’s just a miracle to watch – but she has to take it steady, and she hates it as much as I do, remembering where she was 10 months ago.
And I want to tell her to stop being such a silly lady, she’s just had a beautiful baby boy and she would have every excuse in the world not to worry about putting herself through this pain any more. It is going to take some time for her to get back to where she was before, and she needs to be gentle and kind to herself.
And I realised something. She would be saying exactly the same thing to me. Ok so not about the baby bit, but the bit about taking it easy, and being kind to yourself.
And it was then I remembered the reason I put myself through this class tonight. It’s because I’m fed up with avoiding the mirror every morning, of having to buy bigger and bigger clothes to suit my expanding waistline. Of being stuck in that oh-so-predictable rut of feeling worthless, stuffing my face, and feeling even worse.
I have had enough of being embarrassed about getting stuck between an awkwardly placed toilet and the adjacent wash basin. Of asking people to move so I can squeeze the monstrosity that is my rear end between a gap any normal sized person could get through.
And I’ve had enough of always being tired, the aching knees, the swollen ankles – all a clear consequence of simply giving my poor bones, no matter how naturally wide-framed they are – far too much weight to carry.
And then I remembered something else. There has never been anyone, anyone who has truly been successful at anything, or who has truly won the admiration and respect of anyone, who has not had to hold onto their goals, and persevere to achieve them.
Everyone has set backs, and the real making of any success is how well you deal with them. Grit is the ability to kindly accept your current obstacles, no matter how self-imposed, but fail to be limited by them. To dream big, and have the stones to go for it anyway, no matter how unattainable it seems.
I’m going to be very sore tomorrow. And the next day. But in a month’s time, I won’t be so sore.
And perhaps I might even be able to do more than three push-ups in a row.
160 APPEAL: Shadow of her former self
Published in Swindon Advertiser on December 23, 2014
When Adver reporter Liz Mackley signed up for a Prospect skydrive she never could have imagined where it would lead her IF you had told me when I first got involved just how much fundraising for the 160 Appeal was going to tumble dry my life I would have run for the hills.
It’s one thing to be pressed into doing a skydive for Prospect Hospice by your boss. It’s entirely another to be tasked to lose four stone, run 10km, and buy a whole new wardrobe for the same cause.
Add to that walking solidly for 24 hours, becoming a yogi, and revolutionising your outlook on life – well, that’s crossing the line from the ridiculous to the perverse.
But somehow, this is exactly what has happened in just nine months, and I am still not quite sure how.
Or why there had to be quite so many photographs.
The most embarrassing thing in all this, of course – aside from sporting my own rogues’ gallery in Adver Towers, the endless teasing about what ostentatious fundraising I will do next, and the pathetic inadequacy of anything I say to truly express the extent of my gratitude to all the people who have supported me in all manner of different ways along this journey – is that charity is supposed to be about giving.
Somehow I can’t shake the idea that I have gained so much more than I have given away.
The 160 Appeal hasn’t just changed my life. It’s grabbed it by the short and curlies, given it a good shake, and set it back down again on a different, unimagined road.
That’s why I still find it so humbling when people congratulate me, or tell me how I inspired them to join the gym and start tackling their own demons. Because most of what I have achieved so far is pretty much accidental. If it hadn’t been for the strangers who became my first few sponsors for my skydive, I would not have been quite so keen to lose the necessary three stone to take part.
And if it hadn’t been for personal trainer Ronny Terry, who staked his professional reputation on helping me shift the pounds in just three months, I doubt I’d have mustered quite enough motivation to come in on target. Taking part in Charlie Speller’s hot yoga class was just another means of increasing my overall activity levels.
And, like when I started running and gradually began to achieve first 5km and then 10m distances, contorting my body into increasingly difficult poses came about incidentally as I refused to give in to defeat.
After inadvertedly signing up to accompany Ronny on his 24-hour walk, continuing to lose weight and increase activity levels was just another means to prepare for the challenge – and ensure I wasn’t going to be the idiot who couldn’t finish what had been started.
Everything I’ve achieved, I achieved accidentally, propelled by the blind fear of disappointing those strangers who’d put their faith in me.
It was through their faith I found faith in myself, and with their support and guidance I remembered how to be brave.
I started accidentally achieving things I had never dreamt of attempting, slowly realising that the only limit to what I am capable of is the boundary of my imagination.
The thing is, I am renowned for having a rather over-active imagination.
My one hope is that I never become truly fearless.