Like a lot of woman, I’ve struggled with my weight throughout most of my adult life. As a teenager and into my early twenties, I was an international gymnast. Fitness and healthy eating were therefore a big part of my life. I trained 5 or 6 times a week so within reason, I could eat what I wanted. Once I retired from competitive sport though, I put on weight and really struggled to find a healthy balance.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve joined Weight Watchers. If I’m in the right frame of mind, it’s a programme that works for me. I lose weight but the problem has always been keeping it off. About 18 months ago, I joined again and managed to lose quite a lot of weight. I even managed to maintain it over Christmas, and carried on into the new year. I really thought I’d cracked it, but then we started potty training! I’m definitely a comfort and stress eater and the two months or so we battled with potty training, I put all of the weight back on. Despite half hearted attempts since then, I’ve not managed to get back into the zone and my weight has been creeping up and up.
I’ve also struggled to find a form of exercise that I enjoy that I can slot easily into my every day life. A big part of why I could eat more freely when I was younger was the level of exercise I was doing. So I set out trying to find something I enjoyed as much as gymnastics. Several of my friends are avid runners so I thought I’d give it a go. Other than appropriate clothing and footwear, it doesn’t cost anything to do so I thought it was a good way to keep fit. I tried really, really hard to get the “buzz” people talked about experiencing from running. I even signed up for a “fun” 10k run and a half marathon.
Unfortunately, I hated every. Single. Step. It very quickly became a chore and something I dreaded doing. Even on lovely warm days with the sun shining, a run in my favourite park was torture. I persevered and did the half marathon but I don’t think I’ve been out running since.
Swimming is something else I love to do. Unfortunately, it takes up quite a lot of time. If you factor in travel time, getting changed before and after and then the actual swim, you’re talking about an hour and a half. With a 4 year old to keep occupied on my non-working days, I just don’t have that kind of time. And the rare occasions I do have the time, I can think of a million other things I should be doing rather than swimming.
Christmas 2017 unfortunately wasn’t quite the magic and sparkle I had planned. Early December was lovely and little miss experienced some lovely Christmassy things. However, our Christmas plans started to crumble around us on Christmas Eve when my mother-in-law was taken into hospital. She was discharged later that day but still very poorly and was rushed back in on Christmas Day. She ended up being in for over a week. I quickly reverted to comfort eating everything in sight so I’ve started the new year feeling very unfit and unhappy with myself.
Receiving the annual invitation from Weight Watchers to join again got me thinking. Do I really want to continue with the cycle of spending a few months on a diet, and then the rest of the year putting the weight back on? I don’t want to lose weight because of pressure to look a certain way or be a size 10. For me, it’s to do with how I feel about myself. When I’m eating healthily and doing regular exercise, I feel so much better. I have more energy and confidence, and generally feel better in my own skin. I feel in control.
Feeling unhealthy makes me down. I get into a cycle and usually feel that the only way out is to start a diet. As I’ve said, that works for me short term but isn’t sustainable and isn’t how I want to live my life. So, this new year I’m doing things differently. I’m not going to diet. My aim is healthy home cooked meals as much as possible, the odd bit of cake when I fancy it and, probably the most important bit, a lot more exercise.
I’m a mum to a young daughter so it’s not just about me. The example I want to set little Miss is about eating healthily and making exercise a part of her life. I don’t want her to growing up thinking dieting is the norm. She likes to help in the kitchen and she particularly loves to help me bake. I want to encourage that not just because it’s a lovely way for us to spend time together. It’s also a way of educating her about food and teaching her about having a healthy balance. There’s nothing better than a home made cake or cookies and I want her to enjoy that in a healthy way, balanced with nutritious meals.
I’m going to involve little Miss in my quest to find exercise that I enjoy too. I’ve always loved dancing and used to love going to aerobics and Zumba classes. These days though, I find I’m too tired to go out to a class on an evening. So, I’m going to try doing dance DVDs with little Miss at home. She absolutely loves to dance and I know she’ll love to get involved. It means I can do a decent work out a couple of times a week, while spending time with her too. Win win!
To try and keep my motivation levels up with my long term healthy regime, I’m going to write about it here on my blog. So there’ll posts in the coming months about our journey as a family to find a healthy balance. I’d love to hear any tips or ideas that work for you too.