I’ve made many unsuccessful attempts to lose weight and regain my life over the years. I think that I have tried every scheme, every plan, every get thin quick gimmick. I made up a hundred reasons why they didn’t work. Not surprising if you have read my other posts, none of the reasons had anything to do with me. It was always the plan that didn’t work. Now I am not going to say what plan I actually used because my firm belief is that once your mind set is right the plan doesn’t matter.
A big part of my job is change management and it’s always been an area that I am quite good at. If I had to describe my unique talent, I would say that I am pretty good at getting people to do things that they don’t necessarily want to.
In executing change, the first part of any successful process is to have an imperative to change. Without reason to change, there is no buy in. Without buy in, any change process is doomed to failure. My imperative to change my life was an increasing awareness that life was going to pass me by. I was in constant pain with my joints, I had certainly lost my edge from both energy and thought perspectives. I was chronically exhausted. I was on blood pressure medication and anti-depressants. My glucose was sitting at a level that I was going to have to have investigated, my cholesterol was rising and my self-esteem was at rock bottom.
I started doing some gentle exercise, basically walking, only 500 metres or so, but all other aspects of life were going along as before.
I can’t tell you exactly what the trigger was for me to say, “Enough!” I remember going to my doctor, bursting into tears and saying that I was not happy and had no idea why. I made an appointment and got into my psychologist straight away I walked into her office, sat down and burst into tears. There is a pattern developing here I know. I then proceeded to unload a whole lot to her of minor things right back to when I was a very young child. I sat in her office saying, “I have no idea why I am telling you all of this.” Well, I skipped out of her office and went back to work. Two of my colleagues had just signed up to a weight loss programme and by lunch time that day, I had joined them.
The next part of a successful change process is to break it down into bite sized pieces and celebrate small wins. My overall goal was and still is to have a healthy BMI. It’s still around 27 but I am getting there. So, I made an initial goal to lose 5 kilos. When I achieved that, I bought my team at work chocolate frogs, 10 kilos, more chocolate frogs (I still haven’t had a chocolate frog despite the fact that my feelings about chocolate were nearly as strong as my feelings about alcohol. I am just high on life and really don’t either need or want it.)
When I started the weight loss programme, I stuck like glue to it and started to see results. I continued with about 500 metres per day of walking and after that effort I was exhausted. Every joint continued to ache and every muscle joined in… Awesome, you’re thinking. I can tell you, that’s not what I was thinking. I have never progressed beyond walking as far as exercise but it is now a brisk 30 minute walk every morning in the company of one very happy cocker spaniel, Crash. The reasons I have not progressed to any heavier duty exercise is two-fold: this works for me and I was afraid that if I injured myself I would lose momentum.
Now as a perfectionist, in the past I have thrown in the towel when I slipped up or had a night off. If I couldn’t be perfect at this diet / programme, then I wasn’t going to do it at all. Early on I was speaking with my daughter, L, who is heavily into physical fitness. She said that her personal trainer had advised her that if she is not cheating 10% of the time, she would not stick with the programme. Despite the qualification that I am about to make to this, cutting myself the slack to not be perfect was a huge factor in maintaining the stamina to continue. I probably scored 100% for about the first 6 weeks and I lost 9 kilos in that time. After that I went back to having the occasional drink and soon, sadly, discovered that I could drink a bottle of wine a night and still lose weight. I went back to it but kept it pretty much from my family. I hated the secrecy and I think that that feeling was a contributor to my finding an imperative to give up alcohol.
I am still dieting but cut myself the slack to go out to two dinners last weekend and enjoy whatever I wanted. Probably not surprisingly, I chose to make the healthy choices anyway!
I have to stress that the baby steps approach was also imperative to my success. I first worked on clearing the fog, then gaining some fitness, then losing some weight, then tackling alcohol. My overall health issues were overwhelming but in small bites I got there.
I went yesterday to my doctor for the first time since I started my journey. I don’t really think she recognised me in the waiting room: glucose normal, cholesterol normal, blood pressure 105/69 with permission to cease my medication immediately and a plan to be fully off anti-depressants for the first time in 15 years before I go back to see her in 6 weeks.
Loving life and so very, very proud of myself!