I was so angry with myself this week
In November and December last year, I ate my way through the stress of starting up a new business (www.teenagates.com), I ate my way through the sadness of saying goodbye to old colleagues, and I ate my way through the celebration of spending Christmas with my family and the excitement of my new start. Happiness or sadness, I turned to food. Result? I put on TWENTY pounds in two months (over 9kilograms).
It wasn’t really about being lazy or inactive either. I was tearing around the place and doing lots of cycling and swimming; although I probably wasn’t putting as much effort into it as I usually would. Looking back at the last few months, it was definitely food that was the problem. I easily returned to my old 23-stone lifestyle of skipping breakfast, not bothering to plan my day’s food, grabbing a roll at lunch, eating out, trying to starve for a couple of hours as guilt set in, and then caving into food cravings and ordering a take-away just before bed – the worse time of the day to be eating.
Amazingly I didn’t notice the weight-gain for a while. It’s incredible how easy it is to slip back into denial. I noticed a couple of tops and dresses getting tighter, but thought they’d shrunk in the wash!
It wasn’t until I went kayaking before Christmas and had to get my mate Fiona to prise me into my buoyancy aid, that I noticed something was wrong. Even then, I stayed off the scales for a couple of weeks, telling myself I’d get the weight off first before taking the acid test. How dumb is that? Of course that didn’t happen, and I didn’t brave the scales until December 28th to measure the shocking extent of the damage done. I reached that point once before, on my way to morbid obesity. Back then I put my head down, right into a chicken snackbox and munched my way to oblivion. At least this time I’m facing the truth.
I’ve reintroduced the word ‘diet’ into my vocabulary.
In today’s world, it’s not polite to say ‘diet’ and it’s virtually unforgivable to say ‘fat’. But for me, I need to face both words and deal with them. The alternative is to slip back into the void that leads to obesity, depression, diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, heart disease, increased risk of cancer and stroke, and inevitably, if I don’t put the brakes on, death. Being badly overweight really is that serious. I’ve been there before, I’ve faced death in the face and walked away from it, taking a different road that brought me to a whole new journey of adventure of discovery, and I’m not giving that up. I’m not giving up my mountains either, and the particularly large one that I plan to climb later this year… (Mount Elbrus in Russia with Irish Adventurer Pat Falvey of ‘The Summit’ film and book.)
The anger came when I went back running with my athletic club. In 2013 I started the Le Chéile ‘Couch to 5K’ programme and went on to run 10k and take part in adventure races in Wicklow and Killarney. Now here I was on a dark, rainy, winter night – back where I started – huffing and puffing over my boobs, as I heaved my way around the track, gasping for breath and limping over my sore knees. There was embarrassment too, as everyone else streaked ahead of me. I hated every second of it. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that next week will be easier, and the week after will be easier still. Not easy, just easier!
I was angry too over all my pretty dresses. It is not the washing machine that is to blame, I just don’t fit into a size 12 anymore, and no matter how I rant at the designers, it’s not their fault. I used to fit into dresses that I don’t fit into now. How the heck did that happen? Subconsciously I must have been grabbing the stretchy, looser stuff, without noticing what was happening to my waistline.
No more denial. I’ve bagged up all my pretty dresses and tailored suits and stashed them up in the attic until I’m fit to wear them again. In the meantime, I’m looking at empty hangers as a reminder of where I want to be – and I am NOT buying new, bigger clothes. So apologies in advance if I turn up at your event in running pants!
Since January 1st I have been eating well. Porridge, chicken, eggs, brown rice, brown pasta, a little olive and coconut oil, some oily fish, nuts, fruit and lots of vegetables and salad. I have also been drinking at least 2 litres of water each day. Most importantly, I am facing up to the fact that I need to eat slightly less than my body requires, because I have a storehouse of energy stored around my belly that needs to be unleashed! That means I don’t give in to cravings, and sometimes it’s ok to feel a little hungry.
I’m back in the gym, back on the hill, swimming, cycling, and hiking to my heart’s content. I’m back running with Parkrun on Saturdays, I’ve rejoined Le Chéile AC, and I’ve joined up with a global event on Facebook to run ‘100 days of miles’ in 2014.
There are absolutely no food ‘treats’ in my diet, instead I’ve set targets with much better treats in store. I collect the first tomorrow. I promised myself that if I lost 10lb across January I’d get a mountain bike. Well I’ve lost 9lb in 9 days – so tomorrow I’m off to the Giant Bike Store to pick up my new baby; and my new baby will help improve my fitness as I work to target number two…
I’ve realised writing this, that I’m not angry with myself any more. I am determined….I’m getting back on track, healthy and fit, and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.
Around this time last year I took my brand new bike on the road and I blogged about how slow I was, how it took an hour and a half to get into work, how I was overtaken by an octogenerian riding a rusty Raleigh, and how I expected to be overtaken by a mum pushing a pram!
Today I felt just like that again. I huffed and I puffed as I slogged into work against the wind – and the rain caught me just before I reached the quays. As my mind drifted, I suddenly realised I was headed for my old radio building near the mouth of the Liffey, and not our new offices near Stephen’s Green. Cursing into my soggy buff, I swung around against the traffic, trying to figure out how I’d just managed to put another 10 minutes on my journey. Later, after finishing work for the weekend, I growled again, when a perfectly dry and bright day disappeared into a snarling storm just as I pushed my trusty steed out into the evening rush-hour.
As I heaved against the uphill homeward haul through the Phoenix Park, I reminded myself that I’ve been here before, and today doesn’t feel quite as bad as yesterday, and Monday won’t feel quite as bad as today. I’ll get there.
The rain eased and so did my mood. I didn’t even curse when my chain jammed as I switched down gears on Castleknock Hill. So nice of the Prince Charming who came to rescue me. The poor chap abandoned his own bike to help me in the fading light, and when he failed to free the pesky mechanism, he left with good advice to bring it to the experts, and try using oil in future! He was right of course, as I looked at my once shiny chain looking sadly back at me – but you know that female thing, where you just can’t give up and you just have to have one more bash… 5 minutes later I’m cycling down the hill at Castleknock with a sneaky, self satisfied grin.
Apart from showing off my technical expertise with a jammed chain and a handy rock, I’ve just remembered another reason why I keep on doing this. In the dark hours this morning, just before the rain got me. I pedalled out of my estate, gazing in disbelief at the frosty brightness of the moon and stars; and as I headed towards the park my arrival was heralded by the dawn chorus. The birdsong swept out of the darkness with it’s cheerful embrace, the first time I’d heard them singing this year.
Early morning commuters may not have noticed it as they drove into town or listened to their iPod on the bus or Dart – but today, February 1st, Spring arrived in Dublin – and I was there…. 🙂
Sometimes friends and family are not your best allies in the battle to get fit and healthy. Suprisingly, I don’t always NEED encouragement to take the easy option and sit on the couch. Instead I need encouragement to get moving, or even a friendly boot up the bum…and I would have been a long time waiting last year, if I’d hung on ‘for better weather’. I would never have trained and would never have made it to Africa to cycle and hike and kayak and do all the exciting things I got to do last November.
After 2013 kicked off with the doc banning all exercise for close to a month, I got on my bike, literally, this morning and battled the storms and the darkeness to cycle 15k into work. As I pushed my pedals through the Phoenix Park, I was cynical enough to ponder whether the wind blasting me in the face would refuse to play fair, and be mean enough to swing around and crucify me again on the return. I was right. It took 50 minutes to cycle into work this morning, which is 10 mins longer than usual. But eight hours later it took me a whole hour to cycle home…
It wasn’t quite home either, I was hitting the gym on the way. With the doctor also ordering lighter weights for the next week or two, I had somehow told myself I was in for an easy session. I don’t understand why I keep believing that gym guru David Dunne will go easy on me – ever! Instead, he doubled the reps and extended the circuits. Ignoring my groans and heavy breathing (behave), he grinned wickedly as I crawled away after an hour, to wriggle back into my wet cycle shorts and return to the rain.
Finally I made it home and parked the bike in the hall to a chorus of sympathy and recommendations about taking it easy, minding myself, and taking the car tomorrow. I settled for a hot bath and a steamed chicken dinner. I’m eternally grateful that this body of mine lets me do stuff like cycling and hiking, after all the abuse I’ve chucked at it over the years. But I’ve learned I’ve got to do my bit too. It may not always be pleasant, but you can’t cycle in the heat of Africa, if you’re not prepared to cycle through the brunt of a dying Irish winter. When it feels too tough, you’ve got to remember the goals and the rewards.
Tonight I’m definately ‘On the Couch’ – but tomorrow, the car will stay on the driveway….. 😉