Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fitness / Health / Journey: THE START!


I have decided to write a blog, I have been through a lot in the last 16 months, from both a professional and personal perspective. This blog is to explain what I went through, how I felt and to, if possible, inspire or help people. For others to understand that you aren’t on your own, others feel the same, but more importantly changes can be made and there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel.

It is mostly on the fitness and health perspective, but will have other bits and bobs in there too. I'm new to this, so we shall see how it goes. I have a fair few blogs to upload at first and will then become a weekly or fortnightly blog of my progress, learning and thoughts.

Looking back I don’t think I was ever happy with my body, always thought I was never good enough, regardless of what I did. At secondary school I ate minimal (toast for breakfast (if I chose to), 4 ryvita, butter and marmite for lunch, with a diet coke and a full meal at night), I used to exercise quite a lot, I had a horse, which I cycled to as often as possible. Often I was lethargic, napping for about an hour every day, now it is so clear why this was.

Fast forward a few years, going into a loving long term relationship, then that relationship breaking down, you put on more and more weight. On top of this I was diagnosed with PSOC (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which is a condition where cysts are found on your ovaries, you put on weight very easily and struggle to lose it. This is a lot to do with the mixture of hormonal in-balances in the body that are created by the condition.

I finally had the answer to a lot of my questions, but losing this weight was not going to be easy (18 stone is no easy weight to think you can lose, it still to this day surprises me that I was that big, I was, the picture evidence is there). I joined a bootcamp, which I loved, working out outdoors, 3 times a week, I sometimes stepped that up by going twice in one day, which at the time seemed a bit much. Eating wise I kept the same and still managed to lose 3 stone. I’m not sure now why I stopped going, memory is shady, I do remember coming back from holiday and seemed to have lost my drive. So for the next few years, I maintained that 3 stone loss, but still had a long way to go and not motivation to go that extra mile and achieve any weight loss.

In these few years, I had 2 hits of serious depression, both hindered me greatly. It is hard to work/lose weight/maintain relationships when you hate yourself. I was in a time with no man in my life who loved me, lived with my sister (which was a blessing, I don’t think I would have got through either depression times, if I was living on my own).

Depression is a hard thing to admit, feels almost like such a weakness, not just in yourself but in your way in which you get better. You feel like a failure to not be able to stay happy and focused, it took such a long time to learn and realise that this is not the case. I very much put other people in front of myself, even if they don’t realise that this is the case. I often found I was working too hard, not feeling any benefit from that hard work, always trying to please both friends and family all the time. I like making people happy, this isn’t a failing, but I never put myself first and this lead to me hating who I was and hating the way I looked.

It very hard thinking back to those days, but as a wise person once told me (he knows who he is!), I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t gone through these times.

I would say the second time of depression, is where I truly learnt how to deal with the condition, identify it and learn what it does to me. This second time ended in September (ish) time in 2012, it took me to the next year to start realigning my life to what it is today. The trigger points are key to understand why depression happens and to stop you experiencing it in the future, or to reduce the risk should I say. Depression is a horrendous condition and in a way only those who have had it will know how bad it can get, with both cases I had, it got to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed, I was tired all the time and I felt there was no point in getting up.

In reflection, what have I achieved in the last 16 months....

Well this time a year and a half ago, I was in a job I didn’t enjoy, change was ripping through the HR department, people moving into new roles/teams with a lot of uncertainty. For me I was staying where I was, no change, no progression not even a sideways move.

My health was pretty much in the same place, I was a member of the loft gym with a programme, as massive goal in front of me, 5 stone to lose and drive/motivation was hugely lacking and with a daunting goal, which I was failing to believe I could ever achieve – I felt like I was failing before I had even started.

Job wise, I decide to start looking and making changes for myself. I knew that no one was going to give me the inspiration/guidance I craved, so I would need to seek it myself. Hindered somewhat by no vacancies coming up in my department, I focused on improving my confidence day to day, taking it one day at a time. Setting myself daily things to be proud of at the end of the day. Almost so I could be thankful for them, I think this is a brilliant thing to do and comes from my post depression days – you don’t have to have been depressed in the past to do this. Why not do something everyday that makes you feel proud, or that makes you happy or makes someone else happy.

After a few months (May/June) the HR Department settled slightly and roles not filled from the restructure were advertised. I decided a sideways move would be best and applied for a role in the HR Architecture & Design team. A brand new role which could be scoped from the start and would be a challenge me, within the Central HR team, where I’ve always felt more comfortable, but taking my business HR knowledge with me.

At the gym I had started a more regular regime, going 2- times a week, following my programme. But eating never really improved, despite trying different diets, lets just say I have tried nearly every single diet that is out there, name it I have tried it and as a result made my situation worse (I know that now, I didn’t then). I decided to open up to the personal trainer and owner at the gym about my condition, what I’ve done so far, etc. I decided to try the crazy diet he seemed to suggest along with attending nutrition lectures once a week.

It opened my eyes to say the least, to eat the volume of food I needed to for my body and my gym training was bizarre to me (I know now that this was to find my maintenance & try to increase my metabolism, but at the time it was very foreign to me). Struggling to pack in all the food required took dedication, focus and motivation. I don’t know what clicked in me, but something did. It almost felt like the last change, I was either going to do it and succeed, or fail and never try again. Maybe that’s why it worked...... My personal trainer would say otherwise, that it’s science and always works if you follow it. But the following it is the tricky thing.

After a review with Tom (my personal trainer) in July 2013, I made the choice to up my game, start personal training sessions once a week, taking my training to 3-4 times a weeks, although more often than not 3 times a week, because of work. Often turning up late at night and training up until the gym closed. At this point, I was working in London, travelling 3 hours a day at least, if there were no delays. To go to the gym during the week was tricky, work was my focus then, not myself, it was priority.

Work had taken an up turn in July (also), I succeeded in obtaining the new role and end of July started the job. Immediately feeling like it was a great fit for me. Challenging and yet within my comfort zone! A very strange concept.

Both aspects of my life started to make sense and although I didn’t really have much of a social life, it didn’t seem to matter. My commute killed me during the week and working out killed me at the weekends. But I still managed to see friends and family, I didn’t become a hermit!! I was enjoying it, this was a different way of living, it took dedication and determination to stick to my sessions at the gym.

Results at the gym started to come through, logging progress regularly in a notebook, not only my measurements were being lost, but the progress I was making with my weight lifting, the weight I was lifting going up every week. Logging both types of progress really helped me stay focused and see that it was working. When I felt like not going to the gym, or to pick up fattiest, carb loaded, sugar filled snack, I would pick up my progress notebook and really focus on the figures on the page – for me that helped it made me realise it was worth it and kept me going.

I think this blog is long enough, I will continue in my next blog to talk about what I did wrong in the past with my diet, changes I made and continue with the next stages of my journey.

Thanks for reading

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