Oh hello again weight loss journey…

For the last 3 months I have been signed up to Weightwatchers and following their new Flex program to lose weight.

I had put on a bit of weight this year (about 2 stone) due to too much snacking and too many treats as well as an issue with my contraception which meant I had to go on the pill for 6 months which changed my body shape/weight completely. I was unhappy with how I looked, was struggling more and more while running and knew my issues with food were rearing their ugly head again, so in September signed up with Weightwatchers for 3 months.

My start was a little slow but after 4 weeks I had lost 7lb and got my first ‘silver 7’ sticker. It took me a while to get used to points rather than calories but I soon adjusted and was tracking my food every day.

While I was on my 3 month subscription, the Flex program was launched – this is where my weight-loss really sped up. This new system builds on the existing SmartPoints system, but has expanded the zero point foods to include more than 200 different foods. You do get a lot less points per day though – mine dropped to just 23 but I have to say it worked for me. According to Weightwatchers in a six-month clinical trial, WW Flex produced better weight loss results among participants than in clinical trials of previous Weight Watchers programmes.

As always with Weightwatchers, no food or drink is off limits and now members have the freedom to eat many more foods without tracking or measuring, including eggs, all fresh fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey breast, fat free plain yogurt, beans, peas, sweetcorn, lentils and tofu. For even more flexibility up to four unused SmartPoints each day can be rolled over into your weekly points to use however you wish (for me usually on something sweet!).

Find out more about Flex here – I definitely recommend it.

My next milestone was losing a stone…and you get a little certificate! They say a stone is a dress size and my this point my clothes were definitely starting to feel loose on me plus some bits that had got too tight now fitted again.

Once you achieve a loss of 10% body weight it is also marked with a certificate as its an important milestone in health. According to Weightwatchers losing just 10% of your body weight is scientifically proven to lower your cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure, and high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are two major risk factors for heart disease. Also if you’re overweight, you’re at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which means your body can’t make enough, or properly use, insulin, a hormone that helps convert food to usable energy. By losing just 10 percent of your body weight, you’ll improve your body’s ability to use the insulin it makes, possibly preventing the onset of the disease. My blood pressure and cholesterol were already fine but its still great to be keeping an eye on these things particularly as I am now in my forties.

Exercise was a key part of this process for me – I ran in the snow…

I ran at night…

I just basically ran a lot!!! I have been exercising regularly the whole year anyway, running 5km three times a week, every week currently adding up to about 725km/450 miles in total – but weight loss is 30% exercise/70% diet so sadly the weight still crept on. If you’re interested in starting running but don’t know how to start, I’ve written some blogs about running as it has been a lifesaver for me – find links to them at the bottom of this post.

My last weigh-in was this week and I lost another 2lb taking me to 1lb over my goal of losing 1.5 stone by Christmas. I am so proud of myself as it has been really hard particularly as it got closer to Christmas.

So what have I learnt? After losing over 6 stone about 5 years ago I really thought my struggles with my weight were over…sadly I was wrong. I realise now this is something I am going to have to manage my entire life and must always be aware of.

So at the end of 2017 I am 22lb lighter, off the pill, my running has improved again and I am back to a size 10-12. For my work Christmas party I wore a heavily sequinned top which I would never of worn 20lb heavier…and I felt fantastic!

Always a blue sky girl 40 plus fashion blog blogger Sarah Gorlov blueskygirlie very sequin party christmas top

Always a blue sky girl 40 plus fashion blog blogger Sarah Gorlov blueskygirlie very sequin party christmas top

Losing weight has not been easy, but it definitely has been worth it. I realise not everyone wants to lose weight but for me the bigger I am, the more unhappy I am.

I enter 2018 much more aware of how easy it is to put weight on and feel I am back in control of my body and mind again. I feel healthy and strong but most importantly, I feel the best version of me again. I still have about 7-10lb to lose but for now I’m going to enjoy Christmas (although not go mad, I’ve worked too hard for that!) and then continue my weight loss journey in the new year, knowing I only have a few pounds to lose. Most importantly I am going to do what I have always done for the last 3 years – keep my running up (3 x 5k a week), walk as much as I can and generally be as active as possible…it really makes such a difference.

This is going to be a life-long struggle for me, but I am never going to give up. People throw around the phrase ‘lifestyle change’ but thats sadly what it has to be. This change has to be for life…of course every day cant be perfect, but as long as theres more healthy days than unhealthy ones, thats what matters.

Find previous blogs on my weight-loss journey here and here.

Find previous blogs on my running here and here.

Still Running

Someone asked me the other day how I motivate myself to keep running. They wanted to run, in fact they could run a 5k OK, but they couldn’t motivate themselves to do it regularly so it wasnt having any effect.

It got me thinking – how have I bucked the trend and run 3 times a week every week for the last 2 years come rain or shine and havent given up?

Well firstly its definitely not due to any physical prowess! Let me be clear – I still find running hard – I’m tired at the end and I definitely dont look forward to it.  But the thing I’m best at is never missing a run, so these are my 5 tips for not just starting running, but keeping running…

1) Treat it like a commitment you cant get out of – when you get up for work in the morning not going in isn’t an option you consider even if you’d rather stay in bed. I treat running the same way. I have ‘running days’ that fit around my work and childcare schedule and think of them as an appointment in the day that is non-negotiable. This change in how I think about them makes them a ‘have to’ rather than a ‘might do’.


2) Provide yourself with tools that make it easier – buy yourself some bits of clothing that mean youre not reliant on good weather. Any gaps for excuses is dangerous.  A hat, snood and gloves for winter and sunglasses, vest and water bottle for summer.  We can all make excuses to get out of doing things but dont give yourself the option. Carry an ipod or phone with you and listen to music or an audiobook – if you can find ways to make yourself feel more comfortable within the act of actually running it wont seem so hard.


3) Get to know your body – your body is a machine and you need to treat it as such. Know when you’ll be running and make sure you eat a decent meal beforehand. Dont leave it too late though, everyone is different but I would suggest a gap of least 2 hours so you dont feel like youre going to see your food again! Stay hydrated too and then take some water with you particularly in the summer and you will find running so much easier. If youre a woman don’t push yourself too hard at certain times of the month – a slow steady run is still a run. And finally a small thing but its mega important, ALWAYS make sure you use the loo before you leave 🙈.


4) Revel in your acheivements and be proud!  Hey, youve done something amazing. Realise that. It shocks me how many people do no exercise at all – I used to be one of them. Share your run on social media – you might get the odd sarky comment but you know what? People that do that are just jealous (and usually doing no exercise themselves) and on the whole I find friends very supportive. Join a running community online or find followers via Strava – kudos from others can be a powerful tool.  And if all else fails treat yourself to a favourite dessert or treat with dinner that night…after all the more you run the more you can eat!!!


5) Push yourself and acheive some ‘bucket list’ goals – when I started running just the idea of running a 5k without stopping was my only goal but as I’ve gone on (and its got easier) my goals have become bigger. Trying to get better times, running with others and recently doing my first organised run – a daunting concept for me – a charity Colour Run where we got pelted with paint powder as we ran. That had been on my bucket list so I was very proud…plus I got my first running medal!

Dont wait for January with the New Years resolutions losers, or during a short-lived health kick, or even wait till Monday, start now. And then, most importantly, DO. NOT. STOP.

All images via my Instragram – follow me here.

My health & fitness journey…the story so far!

I’m just back from a 5k run and its time for a bit on my health and fitness progress I think… My change started about 4 years ago –  going from a size 20/22 to UK 12. Now, I am by no means a preacher for how you should live your life but for me being fat was like being imprisoned in my own body. I hated myself, felt terrible, was a slave to panic attacks and suffered various aches and pains.  I had a family history of heart attacks and looking back I was a ticking time bomb.  You would never of know this though as I was always perfectly presented, with the nicest clothes, make-up etc and seemed bubbly and confident.

before and after…

 

before and after…

The history: my weight has always been an issue.  I remember being on my first diet at about 11 years old and my issues with food carried on from there.  My 16 I was about 11st ish and at a super bitchy girls school where I developed Bulima and via that, crash dieting and an old exercise bike got down to 9st 12lb by the time I returned to 6th Form that September. Of course I couldnt maintain that weight and I quickly put weight back on. During the early 90s working at Harrods, partying hard and enjoying the rave scene (plus a summer working in Greece) I slowly lost some weight and was around 12st 7lb on my return to the UK – ironically this weight became my dream weight throughout my 30s that I desperately wanted to get to. I was 13st 11lb on my wedding day – I felt great but in reality I was still a size 16/18 – my wedding dress was a size 20. I told myself it was ‘couture bridal sizes’ but the fact was I was still fat. Diets came and went, losing and putting on the same 3 stone. After the birth of my son I was at my heaviest – 16st 13lb and in desperation went liquid only for 100 days on the LighterLife plan. I lost 50lb but also felt terrible, my hair fell out and my blood pressure got so low even my doctor looked worried…and the minute I went back to normal eating my weight started going up again. I stayed big for a few years totally in denial telling myself I was big boned with a poor metalobism and that people should just accept me for who I was. I did no exercise, binge ate, had no portion control and suffered terrible anxiety.

after the birth of my son in 2006

In 2010 my best friend announced she was getting married and I decided to try and lose weight again as she had asked me to be a witness.  This time something felt different, I felt different – I was in my late 30s and so tired of being fat, feeling old and ill, being scared for my health (my father died aged just 52 of a heart attack). I joined WeightWatchers and over a year or so slowly lost weight, started walking as much as I could and going to the gym doing Vibroplate to tone up. This coincided with some big life changes and I stopped attending group and just kept up the dieting at home using the MyFitnessPal app to track my food and find support. By 2012 I was 11st 11lb and well below my ‘dream weight’ from that summer in Greece, a comfortable size 12/14 and for a while that seemed perfect.

But something niggled me…I knew I could do better. In 2013 I decided I would try one last push to see if I could lose another stone and started running using the C25k app. I was petrified of high impact exercise – it took me a year or so to run 5k without stopping but I run 3 times a week every week running on holidays and even on Boxing Day!
Its been hard.  Very hard.  And I haven’t got to that illusive goal weight. Who knows, but for now the pain required outweighs the benefits…the body I have at 42 is not going to be the one I had at 16! I’m still technically very slightly overweight but I’m ok with that – I am so proud of the body (and new person) I have created. The saddest part as I write this is I remember every weight, at every point in my life. That’s how I judge myself. Thats how I remember things. I realise now I am more than a weight, that I have beaten my demons and found a way to change my lifestyle forever.  Its not easy but its so worth it.

And most importantly I run whether its hot…

…or cold….with no excuses. And I watch what I eat. Simple really.

The here and now: So where am I currently? Ah the joy of weight maintenance and regular exercise with no excuses! I run 3 times a week without fail, my speeds are ok but I’m trying to get faster. I’ve been working on fat burning around my torso area to make it more defined especially my rib area (see pic below). The hardest part of all this is keeping the same weight while living a ‘normal’ life…holidays, parties, nights out and generally enjoying eating all are a part of life and not something that should be given up. After a bit of overindulgence on holiday I’m currently back dieting to lose a few pounds again. But thats the difference now – my weight will go up and down, the trick is only have to lose 1/2 stone not 3,4,5,6 stone…! Losing weight is relatively easy, but keeping it off? Now thats hard – for me its been like rebuilding myself from the inside out and a challenge I face every single day…

My current maintenance routine:

  • Restricted calories 5-6 days a week (1750kcals) but any exercise undertaken tops this up
  • All food tracked every day but treat day
  • 3 x 5k runs a week
  • Minimum 1 hour of walking a week
  • Low salt, low fat, teetotal

Saturday is my cheat day and I enjoy it, lets just leave it there 😆


What I’ve learned – 

  • Change is a very frightening thing for me.
  • The pain of exercise & not eating what I want is tough but the rewards are better.
  • Its hard to not obsess over every lb but weight is not the perfect measure of success.
  • Free apps and having the right kit can really help a fitness/weight loss journey – and they dont need a lot of money spent on them.
  • Mental heath and physical fitness are irretrievably linked. Wellness is everything.
  • Not giving into my food addictions is a non stop battle on par with alcoholism or drug addiction.
  • Find an eating plan that works for you. If you want fatty processed food once in a while (oh hello, Dominoes) then have it, enjoy it, but remember you’ll have to work harder the next day to balance it out. I eat a small chocolate bar most days but I make sure I keep my other portions small and within my calorie allowance. I realised early on that if I tried to live off of lettuce and juices I was just going to get depressed.
  • Vanity often drives weightloss (it did mine) but feeling healthy, strong and powerful is the best feeling in the world.
  • I’m realistic that having to stick to this for the rest of my life will be tough but I could never bear to go back to the old version of me.

…but I’m winning my own personal battle. I’m not totally happy with myself (who is?) but I’m very proud of the changes I’ve made – not bad for a 5’2″ 42 year old mum who used to be a size 20/22! No-one can or should tell you how to be or look, but for me being ‘normal weight’ has improved my life no end as my addictions had made me ill both mentally and physically.

me now…

 

Good health is everything and I aim to hang on to mine as long as I can.   

All photos via my Instagram

Find the c25k app here

Find the MyFitnessPal community here

Find your nearest weightwatchers group here