October 11, 2008

Taking care of business

So daylight savings has started and the days are getting longer and warmer and the thoughts are turning towards exercise and health and the whole weight can of worms.

I've been following Jenny Crusie's posts here and here and reading Barbara talking about celebrating her 5 year anniversary of giving up cigarettes because she wanted to be around for a long time and turning things over in my head.

I'm not a tiny girl. I'm five foot nine. I have broad shoulders, I have hips and boobs. I'm never going to look like Kate Moss or Keira Knightley or any of those naturally skinny creatures (and I'm not sure I'd want to). But being tall and curvy has meant I've always struggled with weight issues. Back in high school I thought I was too fat (when I was pretty much smack bang in the top end of my healthy weight range). I've always been a bookworm and liked sacking out with a good book but back in those days I walked to and from school and did PE and played various sports and did ballet and various things. I walked or rode a bike to most things I went to (other than going to friends houses that were a long drive away, being a country girl). My folks used to nag me to do more exercise (back then the concept of walking a lot every day being 'exercise' hadn't quite filtered through to the public psyche like it has now). I could blame that (but you know what, I'm all grown up now and my parents were doing the best they knew how and I'm the one who chooses what I eat and how much I move) or I could blame genetics but the cold hard fact is I'm built to gain weight pretty easily. Which is great if we ever have a famine but not so great when we don't.

So back then I thought I was too fat. I look at those pictures now and think man, I was gorgeous. Then I went to uni. Fell in love. Went on the pill. And suddenly stacked on about 15 kilos. Stupid hormones. Then I moved off-campus so I was driving and taking public transport to get around rather than walking and, what's more, moved in with boys who eat a LOT and those fifteen kilos crept up to maybe twenty. Then just after I turned thirty I got glandular fever. Which completely screwed with my energy levels in a lasting way. Since then I've never felt like I've had much of an energy reserve. A lot of feeling tired. A lot of feeling exhausted. More weight crept on. At the same time I threw "I want to be a writer" into the mix and so effectively started working two jobs. Guess what, like a lot of people, when I'm tired and stressed I tend to eat. And don't feel like exercise.

Then a few years ago I got sick of being what was by then way overweight and joined Weight Watchers. I lost about twenty kilos in 9 months or so which is pretty sensible weight loss. Mostly by tweaking eating habits, writing what I ate down so there could be no snack amnesia : ) and doing some exercise. Then I kind of got stuck for a while. But at that weight, I felt pretty good and was doing pretty well maintaining. I'd occasionally put on a couple of kilos in the stressy times but would lose them again. Couldn't quite get it together to lose the last 8 or 10 to get to the top of the official health range but figured I'd do it eventually. I'd found some balance somehow, my energy had improved a bit and most of the balls stayed in the air most of the time. But the second half of last year was kind of stressful at work thanks to a project from hell and at the same time I was starting to feel really tired all the time again. Exercise was falling by the wayside. Net result was that by the end of the year I was about 7-8 kilos above my previous maintenance point. I'd go down a couple but they'd creep back on. Then my house flooded at Christmas which did not make for a relaxing break. By January I was feeling really bad. I got poked and prodded by various doctors in Jan/Feb who proclaimed everything normal. My muttered response was something like "feeling like I have had no sleep all the time is not normal".

In March I started seeing a naturopath who basically said your hormones appear to be out of whack, let's work on that. What followed was several months of what may have been referred to as the crazy naturopath diet on this blog where we gave up aspartame and lots of other things to give the body a break and took lots of pills and potions to do mysterious things. I lost a few kilos, my hormones evened out a bit and my energy levels have improved a LOT. Then came the big six weeks off (sorely needed by this point). I was no longer on the crazy naturopath you-can't-eat-anything diet.

The result was somewhat predictable. The reason I like Weight Watchers is that they don't say "you can never eat x again". They say eat x when you really want it, work it into your week, do some exercise, watch your portions, watch why you're eating. All that sensible stuff. Tell me "you can't" and I tend to react with "but I want to". So on the holiday I was in holiday mode and ate what I wanted and read a lot and slept a lot and travelled and did whatever the heck I felt like. Not surprisingly, that meant I kind of ended up back where I started at the beginning of the year weight wise. Nobody to blame for that but me but I'm starting to get sick of being on the up and down wagon.

The plus side is I'm far far better energy wise than I was at the start of the year. No excuses on that front. I want to find that balance point again and ideally I'd like to find it at the top of my healthy weight range or something close by. So I need to find my motivation. I'm not in my twenties anymore. Hell, in a cough-cough number of years I won't be in my thirties anymore. I can't just eat carrots for a few weeks and the weight drops off. I need a sustainable eating and exercise way of life.

Obviously just "I want to weigh X and wear size Y clothes" doesn't do it for me or I would've lost weight years ago. So what do I want? I want to be healthy. I want to be fit. I'd like to be around to be a fabulous eighty year old with my fabulous friends. I want to go on a walking tour in Italy and be able to walk 10 or so kms a day and be fine. I want muscle tone. I want energy. I want to be able to write great stories for many years to come. The smaller clothes thing is just a bonus.

And if that's what I want then I have to move and I have to eat sensibly most of the time. So here's what I want to do.

1. Start doing WW properly again instead of vague point calculations in my head. Write it down. Plan my meals. Eat well most of the time.

2. Manage my energy levels - which means exercise yes but also more meditation and quick naps when I get home so that I then have energy to write and exercise.

3. Stop thinking I don't have enough time. I do. I have lots of time. I tend to think I have to hoard time for writing or something. I don't. I have enough time to write and do other things. And doing other things will help the writing.

4. Get fit. This is the hard one. I'm going back to pilates next week so that's the easy part. The hard part for me is always, always, always, the cardio. I have a big old "I don't like cardio" tape in my head. Which is just plain wrong because I do like it once I get going. I just need the "how to get going" part. None of my friends live close enough to be regular exercise buddies, so it's just me. And, quite frankly, I need to get it through my head that "just me" is the most important reason to exercise. I could get a dog but I'm not home enough really and the cats have reached elder statescat age (grey cat is 14, orange cat will be that early next year) where I think introducing a dog at this point would just be unfair. So it really is just me and my excuses. So I need to start small. Small walks. The same "just do ten minutes" technique I use on the writing.

5. Give up a couple of obvious bad habits. I gave up diet coke and caffeine for the naturopath. The no caffeine thing has slipped a bit during the travel and return to work. Trouble is, given I'm not a coffee drinker and I don't really like tea, I tend to drink Coke which is way too much sugar. It would be okay if I could do one a week but one a week slips to one a day then two a day and then it's not good. I don't want to go back to diet coke because really I think the aspartame had a lot to do with how bad I was feeling. So get off the caffeine again and train myself to drink something non-Coke/non-aspartame for energy when I really need it. The other one is chocolate. Prior to the naturopath I'd pretty much given up regular chocolate eating. I'd buy a bar now and then but it wasn't something I had in the house very often. But during the crazy naturopath diet, dark chocolate was one of the few treats I was allowed and I've gotten somewhat addicted. Which means I'm eating 100g or 200g of chocolate a week that I wasn't before. Even if it is the 70% cocoa kind, there's still a whack of fat and sugar in that.. So back to one small block (aka the 35g ones) a week I think.

6. Take another look at some FlyLady routines to keep the house feeling like it's under control and help with the 'no time, no time' feeling. I did Flylady for about a year at one point but it's one of the balls that got dropped but I'm slowly rebuilding my work week routines post holiday, so I think this is a good time to look at it again.

7. Be kind to myself. I'm not going to be perfect at this. I'm going to fall off the wagon now and then but I need to let that go and just get back on. I have lots of good cheerleaders to help me so I need to be a cheerleader for myself. Work with my strengths so it all works for me.

And man, this has turned out to be long and rambling. But it needed to get out of my head and written down. Having achieved that and a short walk this morning, I can just keep going.

No comments: