My weightloss story

I’ve been writing this blog for some time now but I’ve not really spoken too much about a major part of my life and that has been my relationship with food, how it contributed to weight gain and ultimately how changing it led to a big weight loss that I have maintained more or less for 15 years.

From a young age I was obsessed with food, it was very important in my childhood. I would visit my nan every weekend and eat til I was stuffed on her delicious rice pudding, bread and butter pudding, cheese and beetroot sandwiches and the bag of sweets we got with our pocket money. Memories of my childhood are still strongly associated with this food.

Unfortunately at the same time my family was also very concerned with weight and appearance. I remember being weighed in front of my sister and cousin and of course I was heavier than what my older relatives believed was the “right” way to be. This did not stop them feeding me up as always with the food I loved.

Not surprisingly, this gave me some very mixed messages and put me firmly on the route to disordered eating. Over the years I suffered my weight went up and down and while I was never massively fat I was always slightly overweight.

That all changed when I got to about 18, various medications and starting college led me to pile on the pounds and even though this time saw my bulimia return with a vengeance I still couldn’t control my weight. I did start treatment for my eating disorder though and was able to stop the harmful behaviours I engaged in. The only problem was that once my therapy ended and I had no one keeping an eye on me, I started to binge on all the things I had denied myself. Before long I was up to 18 stones.

During this time my now husband stood by me and I wore nice clothes, no one really mentioned how big I was possibly for fear of sending me off on a downward spiral again. It wasn’t until I saw a photo of myself at my sister’s wedding that I woke up to the problem.

So one day after my 21st birthday, I resolved to get healthy. I changed medication, picked up a healthy eating leaflet from my drs and started walking for half an hour every day. Soon I increased this to an hour a day and started swimming.

My eating was sensible and balanced and included plenty of carbs and a treat day every week. Chocolate and booze were out except for Christmas and holidays. It took 18 months to lose all the weight and was a long, slow process. Some times it was frustrating but bit by bit I was improving my life and showing that I could stick to something. The worst bit was losing the last stone which took six long months of losing and regaining the same few pounds!

Losing the weight was a revelation, I always believed I was healthy even when I was big. Now I realised how much of a toll it took. I could walk faster, not get out of breath and didn’t feel tired all the time. However mentally it took years to see myself as slim. Even when people complimented me or expressed disbelief that I had ever been overweight I still had many “fat” days. Looking back I regret worrying so much as I can see I was very much in shape. Sadly we are the product of our experiences, it takes a lot of work to overcome unhelpful thoughts.

Anyway, 15 years down the line here I am. I’ve maintained the bulk of my weight-loss for that time. I find it annoying that there seems to be a popular belief that it is impossible to keep the weight off. I think that is true for those stuck on the cycle of dieting, extreme exercise and bingeing but that is not the only way to lose weight.

It’s not popular but the only healthy, sustainable method is good old fashioned healthy eating and challenging exercise that you enjoy enough to stick to. Understand that if you have a lot of weight to lose you need to commit to spending as long as it takes. Even if it takes 2,3,5 or more years the fact is you will still be getting slimmer and healthier every day. You are worth taking the time!

These days I find weight training very effective at controlling my weight and choose the right nutrition to get me to my goals. I actually eat more than I ever did but I understand that I need to feed my muscles for them to grow. Again it is a slow process but it is so nice to see new muscle and shape appear and best of all it is all down to me😊.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions then please ask!

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Women are not a special case!

At least, when it comes to the fitness and lifting world they shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, women have been targeted by those who want us to believe we are weaker or should only care about how thin we can become. Many businesses exist that see women as delicate flowers who should never be in the same room as men working out for fear of bulking up or worse distracting our male counterparts! It is assumed they want to be thin above all else or that their emotional state has to be focused on as part of their training.

I myself have been guilty of focusing to an unhelpful degree with my past issues with eating disorders and body image problems. This has had the effect of distracting me from what I could achieve and my emotional state impeded me. I’ve come to realise that I no longer want to be defined by what has happened in the past. It’s done, I’ve learned lessons. Now I owe it to myself to put in the work to achieve the things I want.

Let me be clear here, the idea that women need or even want special treatment is rooted in sexism and outdated gender roles. More and more women are finding confidence and smashing their goals by going into environments that are mixed gender and focused on pushing past limits and comfort zones. Most are fully aware of what they want to achieve and want someone to help them get there. Fitness is an expensive business both financially and timewise.

Therefore, when I commit to hiring a PT or going to a gym I want to be confident that I will be pushed to my limits by my trainer. Growth is not comfortable, it shouldn’t be. Everything I have achieved in my life has had painful moments but also a lot of feelings of achievement and pride in myself. All women deserve to feel this. The focus should not be on dieting or losing weight per se. More in encouraging the individual to become the very best they can be.img_20161021_110335_processed

What I am returning to is why I fell in love with lifting in the first place and that was the lack of gender division. Whether male, female or other everyone trains the same and gets results. That, I feel is how more women will be won over to seriously take up the iron. Window dressing is nice but it detracts from the real attraction of the sport and lifestyle.

 

 

Why you should never miss legs day…especially if you’re a woman

img_20161010_181929_processedWhen it comes to training, the world is divided into those who train legs like a religion and those who avoid it like the plague.

It goes without saying that those avoiding it are missing out and cheating themselves for several reasons.

People don’t like legs day because it’s hard and it hurts. It requires discipline and a will to push through the pain. Mental toughness is an added bonus to legs day.

Having strong legs is essential for achieving toned, defined legs that are desired by many women. Too often we are discouraged from building muscle but there really is no better route than to train legs hard and regularly.

Training legs is also fun, it’s not all about squats either. In fact concentrating on just one exercise will only get you so far. We all have weaker areas that need extra attention. With legs this includes quads, hamstrings and calves and there are lots of exercises that target each area and should be included on legs day.

Strong legs also make you healthier overall, you use your legs a lot and so it’s worth giving them a bit of love! You’ll be able to walk or run for longer and be more agile. Maybe not the day after legs day though😂😂😂.

So there are just a few reasons why you should train legs, there are plenty more. So stop skipping it and prepare for awesomeness!

 

Nutrition tips from a former fat girl!

I’ll preface this post by saying that I am not a nutritional expert and obviously if you have any medical conditions then see a doctor before you make any changes to your diet.

With that out of the way, what I can say is that as someone who has weighed a lot in my time and managed to lose it and keep it off I do know a few things that might be of use. This is not about crazy diets and there is no expectations on my part that you have to lose weight if you’re happy. One thing we can all do with though is to tidy up our eating habits to become healthier.

So what are my tips? Here we go:

1. Do not skip meals.

Starving yourself will not make you thin and it definitely won’t make you strong.

Understand that your body’s only concern is your continued survival. It does not care that you want to look like a supermodel or be ripped. If you try to cheat it or deprive it, you will not win! Your body will do anything to hold on to that precious fat whilst getting rid of useful muscle which is a big reason why people put weight straight back on. Starving yourself just makes your body get better at getting fatter in the long run.

2. Eat for the energy you expend

This is probably the hardest thing to get your head around when it comes to nutrition, especially if you’re a woman who society dictates shouldn’t eat very much but the reality is that much like a car you need fuel to function and this should be determined by how much you exert yourself. There are plenty of apps that will help you work this out.

3. Muscle needs fuel, that fuel is protein!

That means meat, fish, eggs, tofu, quorn, dairy products and beans basically! You can also buy shakes and bars to get a quick shot of protein following exercise but ots best to get your nutrients from real food.

Protein is vital for gaining muscle so do not scrimp on it and ensure you have a regular intake throughout the day.

4. Carbs are good but use them wisely

This means eat them when most needed which is generally before strenuous exercise and just after to aid recovery. Personally, I eat a large bowl of porridge or mix oats and protein in a shaker before training and then have a banana afterwards. I also have 1 carbs rich meal a week as a “cheat” which helps me stay on track and not feel deprived.

You can lose weight on a high carbs diet too, I lost 8 stones that way but nowadays my goals include strength and gaining muscle so a diet more centred on protein is more useful for me.

5. The bank analogy

This is simple but effective. Think of your calories as money on the bank. Certain transactions will gain you interest or result in you going overdrawn. You can use your calories as you see fit but just like with banking some decisions will have more consequences than others.

6. Habits, rituals and control

You may feel losing weight is hard but the truth is we are creatures of habit and many of our behaviours are learned and our brains have been subconsciously trained by us. The good news is what has been learned can be unlearned with time and consistency. It may be a struggle at first but with enough practice it will become second nature.

7. Want a better metabolism? Then eat dammit😉

Can’t stress this enough, eating regularly and we’ll maintains your metabolism. You are giving your body adequate nutrition so it will function properly and help maintain a healthy weight.

8. Stop being picky!

It’s often amazing to me how picky many people are with their food, and this applies to many overweight people! Contrary to popular belief just because you are fat doesn’t mean you eat everything in sight. When I was overweight I never ate regular meals, I just snacked all the time and lost count of what I took in over a day. Establishing proper meals including all food groups and choosing fresh whole foods over processed was a big step in weight loss.

9. Eat your greens

Sometimes mom’s advice is the best, getting enough fruit and veg is important to ensure you get plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Plus it makes life a whole lot more interesting. I love my veg, unless it’s celery which is the work of Satan!

10. Remember genetics

Why is a supermodel a supermodel? Why do I have muscular calves no matter how little I train them? The answer is to a great extent genetics. You can’t escape your genes but you can work with them to make a better you. Stop going after an unobtainable ideal and instead concentrate on making the most of yourself. Unfortunately this will more than likely involve some hard work but is so much better than being trapped in a destructive cycle that will never lead to the thing you want to achieve.

11. Fail to plan, plan to fail

This is actually the one tip that will determine the success of your diet. Keeping a food diary is a great way for you to see what you are eating at any one time and makes you accountable for it. As weight loss is determined by calories in/calories out this is very important. In addition it is helpful to plan your meals for the week ahead as this keeps you on track and you can work out in advance what you need to include in terms of calories and nutrients. This is equally useful if gaining muscle is your goal as again it all depends on numbers and tracking your intake.

Hope you have found this useful, please let me know😁

I am who I am, no apologies

After yesterday’s more negative post normal service is resumed.

I’ve worked my chest and shoulders to burning point today and my mind has begun it’s healing process.

As always I’ve been deep in thought, fathoming out my motivations and why I act the way I do. The reason? Because I’m me. I am the sum of everything that has ever happened in my life, good and bad. Someone who despite that doesn’t give up or find a pile of coats to lie under until it all passes!

Sometimes I go out into the world feeling like my skin has been removed and the inner me left exposed and vulnerable. It hurts and stings, sometimes the infection of other people’s opinions or actions gets in and takes root but sooner or later I come back fighting.

I am me, I am sensitive and aware of my place in the world. I am aware that my actions have consequences and I am responsible for them. I am an independent spirit, I don’t need people but I do love company and if I let you in its because I value what you have to offer.

At the same time this sensitivity and independence is what makes me stand out. It’s why I could leave home fairly young and move to a distant city. It’s why I could spend a year living in Russia with support a long way away. I love learning and working things out and seeing new things and places that may not appeal to everyone but they appeal to me.

I’m happiest when I’ve got my head stuck in a book, when I’m figuring out a new skill, when I’m pushing myself hard in training and when I can have deep conversation with like minded intelligent people.

I don’t fit in with everyone and you may not agree with all my opinions. I think it is important to love yourself and have a healthy relationship with your body. To me that means looking after it as best as I can. Look, I’ve been overweight and I don’t intend to go back there. Those extra pounds represent excess emotional baggage for me and I will do my damnedest to not go back there. I have a limit where I’m comfortable and I enjoy working hard to get what I want. That is my personal view, take it or leave it.

I agree it’s important to think positively but I also understand that sometimes that’s not always possible. I know that sometimes the pressure to be positive can actually have negative effects of causing people to feel ashamed and worse about themselves. So I choose honesty, I can not stand here and say that I always feel positive and that it’s easy. I won’t edit my life and choose only to share the good times because there’s enough people doing that out there and it gives a false ideal that is unobtainable for many of us. Think of it as life Photoshop, that’s what social media does.

In conclusion, you don’t have to justify who you are to anyone but if you feel different or isolated it’s well worth thinking about the value your difference adds to your life. You wouldn’t be you if you were the same as everyone else.

No excuses, I don’t feel happy so I won’t pretend I do!

I know I’ve not been around for a while but I’m feeling despondent today and I need a vent.

I don’t know what I’m doing in life, I feel stuck. I can’t express myself and no one seems interested in knowing me. Basically I’m feeling sorry for myself but I’m so tired of all this.

I feel tired from waking up every morning and looking at a face that never gets prettier and a body that never seems to improve. We live in a lookist society, I don’t measure up.

I feel exhausted from the knowledge that I can’t maintain friendships, that if there’s an inner circle I won’t be in it for long cuz I don’t fit, my views aren’t the right ones or I’m not fun.

This is how I felt yesterday, sometimes I get dragged back into the darkness. Sometimes I see and hear opinions that I should be grateful, think positive, look on the bright side etc and sometimes I just can’t. It makes me feel ashamed.

But today is a new day, I’ll start rebuilding again. Life just isn’t going to be easy for me so what choice do I have but to keep going?

 

 

 

 

 

Doing what’s right for you, admitting when you went wrong and growing in strength

The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions and a fair bit of introspection and struggle has occurred to get to the place where I am now.

That place is being content, and I reached it by accepting I was going wrong and addressing the changes I needed to make.

Powerlifting has taken a back seat in favour of bodybuilding. I credit it with making me a strong, capable woman and I love lifting heavy. It is empowering no doubt but it’s not the only activity that is! Turns out that by focusing on me rather than pbs has actually been good for me even though I would never have thought it.

With bodybuilding I find that I can concentrate on the way my body feels in response to resistance, the workout is varied and the reps are good for my mental well-being. Too often when powerlifting I would get too focused on what I couldn’t do and it just added to feeling inadequate.

I realise that I need to keep my focus on lifting and not on the emotional baggage and pain that was overwhelming for me. I understand that I don’t have to stick to accepted methods of gaining strength and I am not sacrificing my values to do so. Being empowered means making the best decision for you.

This is what’s right for me now, it may change but that’s fine because we all change as we grow. If you feel things are going wrong don’t be afraid to look at what you can change to make it right.