I almost decided not to write this post, as I'm having a fantastic week so far, and feel as though all the problems and mistakes of the last few weeks are well and truly behind me. However, as I decided to make this a week for re-evaluating and reviewing my weight loss to date, I thought it would be important to admit to myself (and to you) the things I am/was still doing wrong, and how I plan to change that going forward.
CONFESSION: In the five weeks prior to this one, I only ran twice. OK, not so much a confession, as I never claimed otherwise, but more something I just wanted to acknowledge to myself. Time really has flown by since lectures stopped, and my days lost that structure. Its a worry, not only for my weight loss, but also my revision! I can't believe I did so little exercise in that period. I don't really have an excuse for it either - just a general descent back into a lazy mindset, I guess.
CHANGE: Well, start running again! I'm pleased to report that so far, so good - have been for three runs already this week, and going for another before weigh-in on Monday. Now I'm close to exams I've started structuring my day better re. work, and that has made it easier to fit running into my day too.
CONFESSION: Reducing calories by cutting out GOOD foods. I haven't been a saint over the course of this weight loss, and still treat myself to the occasional chocolate or ice cream. The problem arose when, due to not exercising much over the last month, I decided to reduce my calories to compensate. When I did that, I didn't cut out the treats, but dropped proper, healthy foods, so that I could still have my candy. That obviously won't do at all - this isn't JUST about losing weight, but also about changing my eating habits and lifestyle so that the weight STAYS lost. I'm also a firm believer in 'you are what you eat,' and I'd really rather not be made up solely of emulsifiers, preservatives and E-numbers!
CHANGE: I am still going to allow myself treats now and then, but they are no longer allowed to make up part of my 'normal' calorie intake. I only eat them now after I have exercised, and burned off their calories in advance. It works really well, actually - it makes me want to run, it makes me feel like I've earned the treat, and I'm not having to sacrifice any healthy food to do it!
CONFESSION: I ought to have recorded a gain. Part of the problem with having been so successful at the beginning is that you don't want it to end. Having recorded so many consecutive losses, you start to dread the day you see a gain. And to be honest, on a couple of Mondays my first weigh-in HAS shown a gain. Occasionally just moving my scale solves that, or perhaps just waiting an hour, and trying again. But this Monday I did the unforgivable - I starved myself all morning, not eating or drinking, and weighed again in the afternoon, so that I could record a loss.
CHANGE: THAT is unacceptable. I'm only cheating myself if I carry on like that. Plus, its not an accurate weigh-in, as its likely just dehydration. It also leads to a big gain on the following morning, so you're almost taking one step forward, two steps back. AND it gives you a skewed perception of how you're doing, so you don't really address issues when they arise. I now pledge to record whatever weight I see in the morning, loss or gain, without waiting to see if I can improve on it an hour later. A gain is not the end of the world - its a warning sign that something needs to change, that's all! (I'm pleased to report that I am currently at an honest loss for this week so far, and if I don't gain by Monday, will official not be obese anymore!)
To finish this post off, I am again going to answer a question posed by The Evolution of C., about whether it was really JUST my weight that made me so unhappy before this program started. Because of course, it was not - rather, the weight gain was just another factor. In truth, it was a general dissatisfaction with myself, and how I had allowed my life to progress.
I was always one of those people who just did well at school without really trying, and that meant I could spend most of my time on fun things I enjoyed, like drama etc. It meant I never really developed a good work ethic, and got used to doing well with minimal effort. I grew lazy, and that meant that when my studies got harder, or I started to gain weight, I wasn't willing to work harder, I didn't up my game. I developed almost an "All or Nothing" attitude, such that if I couldn't have it ALL, if I couldn't ace EVERY exam and drop EVERY pound with minimal effort, then I wasn't going to try at all. I sneered at effort - people who wanted to lose weight were vain, and people who tried hard for exams were nerds. It was all just a defence mechanism, of course, probably born out of fear that if I DID try and failed, I'd learn what my limitations were, find out I wasn't as clever as I thought. But it meant that when I finished my first degree, I had no idea what to do with myself. I went travelling for a year, then returned home at the beginning of the financial crisis, and suddenly found myself unemployed, still living at home, a good two years behind my class-mates (who had got jobs straight from Uni), AND severely obese. I suddenly seemed to have thrown everything away. To have missed every opportunity, and lost any promise I had shown. I felt like a failure, completely worthless, and it was all my own fault.
I'm well out of that vicious cycle now, fortunately, though the old darkness still crops up from time to time. I managed to get myself into medical school, and I've done well dropping the pounds so far too. Things are a lot better since I started to lose weight, and I don't think that's because I'm slimmer, but more because I MADE myself slimmer. Through dedication, and hard work. Putting the effort in and seeing results has meant I'm putting more effort into other aspects of my life, which is fantastic. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.
Anyway, I've spent enough of this week making myself sound like a vain, arrogant, lazy, envious asshole, so I think that's enough confessions. I really am a nice guy, I promise! I just wanted to get EVERYTHING out there, to make sure I don't repeat old mistakes, and also for the catharsis of being completely honest with myself. I really do feel fresh and dandy now - I'm enjoying my runs, I'm eating healthily, and I'm looking forward to weighing in, rather than dreading it! Thank you all for putting up with the last few posts - I'll aim for a cheerier one tomorrow!