“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”
Every time I read an article about how gastric bands are someone’s “last chance to lose weight” or about a new “miracle weight loss drug” I want to scream that it isn’t necessarily true. I could write a blog entry explicitly detailing the diet and exercise that took me from a morbidly obese 20st 7lb exercise phobic to a healthy 12st 7lb(ish) exercise lover. However this would a) bore you and b) wouldn’t be very beneficial. Instead what I am going to write down are the thoughts that go through my head, and hopefully this a) won’t be boring and b) may be beneficial. I believe that if you start with changing your thoughts and attitudes the weight lose will follow. I feel I must add at this point that I followed the Weightwatchers plan.
What Confucius said is also true when making the journey of losing 100lb but there are many challenges that need to be faced before even taking that first step. I had to acknowledge and accept the painful reality of just how much excess fat I was carrying around. I also had to work out what my motivation was for losing the weight as this would be what would sustain me through the long journey.
I had to be truly honest with myself, I could put on a façade to anyone else but I had to drop that façade with myself. I had fooled myself thinking that I wore size 30 because I liked “loose clothing”. The honest truth was that I wore size 30 because that was the size I needed. I broke a chair at a friends house not because the chair was weak but because I was too heavy. When I eventually found the courage to take the first step on the scales and saw there in black and white that I weighed over 20st, I was shocked, humiliated, disgusted but equally I felt empowered. I was facing reality and was making my first steps towards taking control.
The media is full of dire articles about the global obesity crisis, the latest celebrity diet, programmes about the super morbidly obese, as well as adverts for the latest weight loss or exercise product. Losing weight is as simple and as complicated as creating a calorie deficit. These products may, in the short term, create a calorie deficit but I knew that what I wanted was a sustainable long term weight loss. I also knew that I needed to change my lifestyle and my thinking.
I could blame so many things for my weight gain, my polycystic ovary syndrome, my genes, modern technology, society, failings of the NHS, the list is endless. If I did find the one thing to blame, would it magically make me thin? The truth is I had to stop looking for whom to blame and take responsibility for my weight. Ultimately I was the only one responsible for what I put into my mouth. I also had to realise that there wasn’t one thing that made me morbidly obese there were many.
Your lifestyle dictates the amount of calories that you consume. It dictates what, where, when, with whom and how you eat and drink. It dictates whether you cook from scratch, eat ready meals or eat take out, it dictates whether you sit down at a table or grab and go. Your lifestyle also dictates the amount of calories that you burn, whether you walk, cycle, take public transport, or drive to work. The results of all these habits contribute to the amount of calories I consumed and the amount that I burnt. Fundamentally I needed to completely change my lifestyle, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy but I knew that if I wanted to live the life I wanted to lead and not die young I needed to put in the hard work. This didn’t make it easy but knowing why I wanted to change my life made it bearable.
There were many ingrained bad habits in my lifestyle that I needed to discover and remedy. For example I used to quickly eat my main meal and dessert then found I would look for more food as I still felt hungry. I have since learnt that it takes roughly twenty minutes for the “I’m full” message to go from your stomach to your brain. Now when I know that I have eaten a good meal I try to wait before going for that second helping. I knew that taking weight-loss drugs, having bariatric surgery, using meal replacements wasn’t going to magically solve these bad habits, it wasn’t going to teach me how to cook food, what was actually in foods or how your body uses them. This journey hasn’t been as quick as I would have liked or as straight as I would have liked. However I learnt (or at least tried to learn) for all the detours and wrong turns that I have taken along the way.
I may have completed the first part of my journey of loosing the 100+lb but I am now on the tricky part of maintaining the balance. I still have days when I eat a second piece of cake, when I hadn’t intended to. However these are now just days and they don’t turn into weeks or months or even years of eating badly. It has been about making the small changes when I feel I can make and sustain them.