Fix up, Look sharp

In a desperate attempt to ward of imminent depression and general dissatisfaction with life I resolved to make some pretty big changes with my life. This primarily involved living healthier. I refused to think of my new choices as a diet. Instead I thought of it as making lifestyle changes. Permanent changes that I would henceforth have to live by.

Top of my agenda was exercise. Of all the things I was resolving upon to make a change in my life exercise was the one thing I was most comfortable with. I planned meticulously how I would fit in various activities around my shifts, vowed to start running and spent hours investigating different work out regimes so that I would get the most out of being active without having to pay an arm and a leg for a personal trainer. I committed to exercising for anything from 30 to 90 minutes 5 times a week. When I look back now that seems like a hell of a lot.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of free gym membership thanks to Lara and her perks of the job. Heidi started the year with the same motivations as me and we vowed to be gym buddies. About a month into our regime we weren’t really seeing amazing results just yet but we’d both noticed that we had more energy and zest for life. Often after a workout we’d be on some sort of exercise high and want to go out to play afterwards. One night we talked Daryl and Lara into it and after our workout on a Friday night we got ready for a night out clubbing in Bristol.

I didn’t drive that night, I remember getting rather drunk. Heidi and I were buzzing for the night out and it wasn’t long before Daryl and Lara were on the same page as us. We were heading for the gay bar Flamingos, it had been open for a few years but Lara and I had never been there before. It was clear from the car journey that we were going to make this a night to remember, all of a sudden I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t have my camera with me. We were already in Bath by this point so instead of doubling back to get it we stopped of at the supermarket to pick up a disposable camera.

The photos were epic, of such a calibre that when I uploaded them to Facebook I made the album restricted so that only myself, Lara, Heidi and Daryl could see the pictures. Using a disposable camera reminds us just how lucky we are to be living in the digital age of ‘Ew, I don’t like that one, take it again…’ I remember looking at the photos and thinking to myself how glad I was that I was finally doing something about my weight, I thought never again would I look at photos of myself and be that size again.

I never weighed myself when I was at my heaviest, that would have been to scary. However after about a month and once I had lost two dress sizes and so I’m guessing about 2st I decided I was brave enough to get on the scales. I was still over 19st, I must have been in the low twenties when I started this regime. Over the coming year I would stick like glue to my routine and it paid off.

Like I said, the exercise part I was more than happy to tackle. The food however was a whole other problem. I’ve mentioned before that I have issues when it comes to food. I still do however slowly but surely I’m getting over them. Food neophobia is something that almost everyone experiences in childhood, that moment when you start saying ‘don’t like it’ to everything that’s put on your plate. Most people grow out of it soon enough, however I never did.

I hated food, that seems like a broad statement but trust me, even now it’s a lot easier for me to list all the foods that I would enjoy eating than list all the foods I think I hate. And in that there lies the problem, I *think* I hate food, often before I’ve even tried it. I wouldn’t eat any fruit or veg, I refused to cook (still do) and I would snack relentlessly on chocolately baddies. Which was fine when I was 18 and would stay up all night dancing the night away or out galavanting with friends, I had become idle with it and the pounds had literally piled on. I was twice the weight I had been when I did my GCSE’s.

Now my mother was obsessed with watching those wonderful TV programs like The Biggest Loser, Freaky Eaters, Fat Families and so many more. Quite often if we were ever watching the telly together there would be smart remarks or poignant glances towards me that specifically called out just how challenging my eating habits had become and that I desperately needed to do something about my weight. It’s no surprise that my parents were thrilled when they finally saw me doing something about it.

The trouble was I just couldn’t do it alone, I needed help and asking for help isn’t actually something that I’m comfortable with. I did however and with the support of my parents I was rolling. I still kept my choices limited but I started eating just three meals a day, cut out all the snacks except for Fridays. My dad would make me up a lunch box to take to work every day, I forced myself to eat whatever was in it, which often meant that I would end up eating fruit that I had never given a chance before and would have previously said I disliked. At home my Mum decided to start cooking for me again since I was trying to eat healthy, I still can’t abide salad but I branched out by trying various vegetables. The biggie was cutting down on carbs, man that’s hard.

In order to try new foods I had to employ a means of deception. Firstly I was really self-conscious when I would be trying something new, so I preferred to eat alone. For a while at work I would leave the office and sit in my car to eat as I was very aware that my uncertainty about new foods would show on my face and invite unwelcome questions. The deception I employed was a trick I learned from the TV program freaky eaters, I had to distract myself from overthinking while eating otherwise I’d focus on the unusual textures and flavours. Instead I focused really intently on doing something with my hands like a repetitive motion to perfect or like tapping out a complicated rhythm with my fingers, it worked surprisingly well.

I surprised myself at how well I managed to stick to it over the coming months. It was really hard to get motivated to begin with, Heidi was an amazing support, she remained positive and kept me on track just by knowing that if I cancelled a work out I’d not only be letting myself down but I’d be letting her down too. However eventually Heidi got to busy with work and other commitments that she couldn’t keep up with the regime, however by this point I was seeing the pounds literally drop off week on week so that was motivation enough.

Every so often I would plateau and wouldn’t lose any weight for a week or two. So I went back to my research to find out what I was doing wrong. I guessed that I was getting too used to my workout as my fitness improved, it just wasn’t challenging enough anymore. Every few weeks I’d have to shock my body to get it burning fat again. This often involved upping the intensity of my cardio workouts, or lifting more weights in the gym. Before long I was actually really enjoying exercise again, I was getting better at it all the time and I was in constant competition with myself.

Running was good fun, for a long time my Dad had been running regularly. He’s a rather fit old chap and he can run 10k in about 50 minutes, I would by no means even attempt a distance like that let alone the time. However I did start running and so did Lara. Lara was about 10 times more fit than I was. She could literally run circles around me and generally had a healthier lifestyle than me yet she still wanted to lose weight and get in shape, so occasionally we’d go out running at the same time but not always following the same route, mine was typically shorter.

It became a hobby rather than a chore. I started to enjoy buying sportswear, looking for cool apps and gadgets to assist my personal training. It wasn’t long before we discovered the nike plus app. I bought myself the extension kit for my iPod nano (which had been a birthday present from Lara the previous year) and at Christmas I bought my Dad the nike plus sports band, and bought one for Lara when it was her birthday in March. We were all set to go and all comparing PB’s for out fastest mile. When you clock up miles on the app you go up levels too, it’s quite motivational altogether. I’d highly recommend it.

I felt better about myself in general, my new focus gave me purpose. I was less predisposed to focus on all the negative elements of my life. Sure, I still wished that my relationship with Lara would function better, that I’d feel more fulfilled by it but now it wasn’t my sole focus. I would go much longer spells without bringing up concerns about our lack of intimacy. I felt like for the first time in a very long time I was taking control in my own life and fixing things I had been putting off for years.

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