Hiking, bikinis, and… what should I eat?

The Cathedral Range- looking south along the ridge towards The Farmyard

The Cathedral Range- looking south along the ridge towards The Farmyard

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about what I was going to write about here this week. I want to tell you that I went hiking last weekend, and I want to tell you that I wore two-piece bathers (swimsuit? togs?) and felt comfortable in them for the first time in my life. I want to tell you about a discussion I had with my colleague about growing up as a ‘not very active’ kid, and about my idea to just smash out the clean eating for one week. Just one week- baby steps!! I guess I’ll talk about it all, at least for a little bit.

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View from the top

Last weekend had the Australia Day public holiday tacked onto the end of it, so after only a week back at work I got a long weekend. With some friends I headed out to the Cathedral Range State Park to do a day hike- and what a day hike it was. The hike was part of our training in preparation to climb Mt Bogong in March, so we knew the day would be a tough slog, but it turned out to be a tougher slog than expected. For a variety of reasons, the walk that we’d estimated to take 4-5 hours ultimately ended up taking 8. You know what though? Physically I was fine – in fact I was great. It was a long day of walking across 12km and very varied terrain, but I pulled up really well at the end of it all. About 2 km from the end we faced a huge staircase uphill, and for some unknown reason I ran up the entire thing. I guess I had energy to spare!! Ultimately a full day hiking through beautiful countryside is definitely not a bad thing at all, as long as everyone’s safe and happy. Which we were!! I’ve put a map of our hike further down in this post, in case any of you care to follow in our footsteps (perhaps next long weekend!).

The long weekend was warm, so as well as hiking I ended up at the beach. It was just an afternoon trip to take a dip in the ocean to cool down, but I still managed to pack two sets of bathers. When my friend and I parked the car a decision had to be made: should I wear the one-piece with the built in support that hides my podgy tummy, or should I accept the fact that the only person I was going to see that I knew was my very non-judgemental friend, and therefore wear the halter neck bikini? I thought about it for a bit. I put sunscreen on. Then I sucked it up, put on the bikini and a huge hat and sunglasses, went swimming, and promptly forgot to care about how I looked. Lesson learned.

I think I might save my discussion on growing up ‘not very active’ for another day- there’s probably a lot more than half a post’s worth of musings and discussions in me on that topic, I reckon!

So, on to the week’s worth of eating clean. I was doing great last year. I cut out the refined carbs and refined sugars, was limiting the amount of unrefined carbs I was eating, and once I got through the week 3 withdrawal craziness I felt really good (and I was losing weight). Then stuff got busy, Christmas happened, and suddenly I can barely remember the last time I brought my own breakfast or lunch to work. It’s time to get back on it. I find it a bit overwhelming thinking about getting back into it all- I still feel like I don’t have much time, and honestly my habits have slipped badly. I’m back on a freddo-a-day habit. So in an attempt to #SayNoToFreddo I’m thinking I might start out with a week of hard line healthy eating, and go from there. Plan it all out, do some cooking, make no excuses- just for a week. I can handle that. I hope! I really do hope, because I’m really not sure. Except I’ve done it before, for longer than a week, so I can do it again 🙂

I’m not starting today, or tomorrow, so watch this space- and in the mean time I’ll attempt to be kind to myself by easing my way into it all.

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Our hiking route at the Cathedral Range State Park- starting at Ned’s Gully car park, and ending at Cook’s Mill car park (click for enlarged view)

 

Time to step up the exercise

day 21

day 21

Well, weekend #2 is down and I’m officially heading into week three- I’m up to day 15!! Time’s kind of flown and it makes me worried that I’m not trying hard enough, not pushing myself hard enough. My food’s been pretty great- the only thing I wasn’t completely happy with over the weekend was dinner last night- Indian takeaway. Having said that, I didn’t have any rice or bread- curries only- which means I was consuming veg and meat (all good) and a bit too much oil (not so good). As far as ‘bad’ meals go, that’s not too bad. Especially when the rest of my weekend was very good- I even said no to garlic bread on Saturday night. Garlic bread!!!! I was so so so tempted to just have on small piece with my pea and ham soup, but J was great and kind of talked me through it. His support has been so awesome over the past two weeks, I wouldn’t have got this far without it.

On Thursday night my trainer weighed me, and told me I’d lost 800 grams since Monday night. What!? 800 grams in three days?! That was pretty exciting. I’ll weigh in again tonight, so it will be interesting to see where I’m at post-weekend. I’m feeling a bit frumpy, and I’m a bit worried that nothing will have fallen off over the last couple of days (then again, I was feeling this exact same way last Monday and ended up having lost 500 g across the weekend).

So why am I feeling like this? The answer = exercise. I normally have a PT session on Friday night, but last week he couldn’t make it. He left me with exercises to do, but life got in the way and I didn’t make it to the gym (I would have had to cancel my session with him even if he’d been around). That meant I’d done three days of training in the week so far, my old benchmark, so I definitely needed to do some moving and shaking over the weekend to make sure my days were up from 3 to 4 or 5. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. It’s not like I sat on my bum for two days- I was busy the entire time, doing ‘weekendy’ stuff. Visiting a market, spending time with the family, all those kinds of things.

But three workouts in a week is not enough any more. One of the habits I want to kill is thinking that three in a week is enough, and one of the habits I want to kickstart is getting at least four workouts happening per week. For the duration of the challenge, it should really be a minimum of five.

I’ve been reading the forum on the Challenge website. Some people have shed more than 7 kg in the last two weeks. That seems pretty dramatic weight loss in a quick time to me, and I’m wondering whether some of them are becoming truly active for the first time at the same time as changing their diet, which is leading to such dramatic weigh loss? For my own part, last time I weighed in I’d lost upwards of 2.5 kg in less than the two weeks, and I was stoked. I guess I’m just at the point where I actually know I’m capable of more than that, and if the scales don’t show me what I want to see this afternoon then I’ll be really disappointed in myself. Honestly, whatever they show I’ll be disappointed in myself- because I know I could have done more to get a better result.

But I didn’t, and the lesson is learned. I’m heading into week 3, and it’s time to stop making excuses. Food’s doing really well- time for the exercise to match it.

My first weekend

Well here I am, on day six of my 12 week challenge. My first five days actually went really really well- and I suspect that’s because they were weekdays. On weekdays I have near complete control of what goes into my mouth, and the exercise I do. Breakfast, lunch and snacks all happen at my desk, and dinner is pre-planned, as is exercise. When I have my gym gear sitting underneath my desk, it would be silly to carry it home rather than heading to the gym if I’ve planned a workout.

But on weekends, things change. I wake up later, which means I don’t want to eat as big a breakfast (after all, lunch is just around the corner). Another factor for me on weekends is that I spend a fair bit of time with my family. By no means do my family eat unhealthy (in fact they eat really healthily)- they just eat differently to how I’m trying to at the moment. Today for instance, my mum made a delicious vegetarian cauliflower crust pizza for lunch. I was pretty excited about the prospect of this (lots of veg to be had here!!) but it turns out my mum’s recipe contains quinoa and chia seeds- both things which, honestly, I have no idea if I’m supposed to be eating right now. Given that I’m trying to make a complete break from most carbs right now, the pizza base combined with some fetta cheese on the top of it made me feel like I was eating a massive cheat meal, without really wanting to.

How crazy is that?!?! I’m sitting there eating a delicious cauliflower base pizza, and I’m feeling kind of like I’m eating a huge hamburger with fries, and I’m feeling that guilty about it. Cauliflower pizza. All veg.

If I reflect on today, my logic tells me I’ve had a really good day of eating. A long black with a dash of  milk, a few mouthfuls of a couple of raw vegan desserts my mum was trialling (mostly nuts, dates and fruit in these), the pizza, and some cherry tomatoes (dinner’s still to come). It’s a day lacking in protein, but besides that it doesn’t look too bad at all. Except that I feel like I’ve had a ‘bad’ day.

I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve had six days of (dare I say it) ‘clean’ eating, and that’s a huge achievement for me. I’ve lost weight- a lot more than I’d hoped I would in my first week. This time two weeks ago, my idea of an unhealthy lunch was a pile of lasagne with some chips on the side, and today it’s a meal that contains anything other than meat, veg, herbs and spices.

I’ve had a really good week, and next week’s going to be just as good. If I can just get through tomorrow (which I will), it’s all downhill until Saturday rolls around next week. At least that’s what I hope. And intend.

Two small days of achieving big

Good morning!

Before I head into a couple of big meetings for the day, I want to share with you two small days of big achievements. It’s Wednesday today- three days since the challenge started- and for the first time in my life I can say that for two days straight I have eaten exactly what I intended to eat. No cheating, no blow-out snacking, nothing ‘bad’, just healthy food.

I have met the challenge for two days. 82 left to go.

I also started my new gym habit last night, with a self-guided gym workout (no PT involved). It was cardio night so I did some time on a bike, then spent the rest on the rowing machine. Probably not as long a workout as it could have been, but I had to get home in time to make it to the fruit and veg shop before it closed. That’s compromise for you. I’m going to take a rest day today- it is not my intention to rest on Wednesdays, but if i’m adding two cardio workouts to my week that weren’t there before (on top of the pre-existing 3 days of weights training), then I need to work into it. I really don’t want to burn out on week one.

For that reason I’m also going to allow myself a piece of raw vegan cheesecake tonight. Not that there’s anything bad in it- some fruit and nuts really! The worst is some coconut oil and a little bit of golden syrup, but per slice it’s really not bad. If it tastes any good I’ll share the recipe here soon.

So that’s it- I have achieved big in the last two days, by my standards, and I’m proud of myself. Oh, and I’ve lost some weight! (a little bit. Not much, not enough to share numbers, but still- I’m moving in the negative direction)

It feels unnecessary sharing this on here, but then, that’s why I started this blog- to share my difficulties and to celebrate my successes.

What’s that countdown?

If you’ve visited this blog before, you’ll have seen that I’ve been counting down to something. Well the countdown has finished, that ‘something’ has arrived, and a new countdown has begun. Today marks the first day of a challenge I’m taking. It’s a 12 week challenge (but don’t worry, it’s not Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation. I’m not paying $19.99 a week for this one). The challenge is affiliated with a brand, but seeing as I have pretty much no intention of buying their products at this stage, I’m not going to name them here. That only seems fair. The challenge is free (because presumably they’ll make a heap of money from entrants purchasing their products along the way), but it does provide eating and exercise plans along the way.

could take their eating and exercise plans and follow them to the T, but for me that doesn’t seem particularly sustainable so I’m going to be adapting and changing things up as I go along. Having said that, I’m going to stick to the basic premise of the meal or workout as much as I can, just making changes to suit my tastes and preferences. To me, if they’re saying “eat 100 g chicken with steamed veggies”, I’m reading “eat 100 g of lean protein, with vegetables in some form”. So I might go a chicken stirfry.

So, why am I doing this? If you’ve read my first couple of blog posts you’ll know why I’m taking action, but why am I doing this particular challenge? The answer is this: I am a creature of habit, and I have some habits I need to kick. By committing to a 12 week program of eating and exercising (and committing to write about it on this blog), I’m giving myself a chance to change some habits for good. They say it take a minimum of 21 – 66 days to begin to form a habit, so I’m giving myself 84. 84 days of great eating, and as much exercise as I can.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, food’s my big problem- so food is my focus. I already do three sessions a week at the gym with my PT (leg day, arm/back day, bit of everything day), so I’m going to make a concerted effort to add as many cardio sessions as I can per week. I’m not a huge fan of cardio machines in the gym, especially treadmills, so I’m going to mix it up a bit- probably a mix of rowing machine, cross trainer and the stair machine thingo that I’m not fond of at all, but which I know is good for me. So I already have the three-a-week habit when it comes to exercise- if I can increase that to a steady 5 days per week with a sixth thrown in there when I can, I’ll be really happy. Especially if that’s a habit that I can maintain post-challenge.

In terms of food, I need to go all-out. Lapsing is not an option for me. I’ve formed some terrible habits, and I really need to kick them. Honestly, if I can kick those habits and pick up just a few small new ones, I’d be happy (although I reckon I can do better than that). Habits that will be kicked in the next 12 weeks include:

  • The 3 pm chocolate bar at my desk;
  • The ‘because it’s easy’ focaccia from the cafe at work;
  • The “because I brought my own lunch and need something to do in my break” vanilla slice;
  • The constant defaulting to eating out at dinner time
  • The ‘inability’ to find time to purchase and prepare decent food
  • Food FOMO (aaaaaaaaalll of the food fomo)
  • Saying yes just because it’s there/offered to me (hello Mum’s fruitcake. I don’t even like fruitcake)

I think the biggest barrier I’m going to face over the next 12 weeks (gosh that sound shorter than 84 days, doesn’t it?!) is time and convenience. I’m a really busy person, and it’s so much easier to pop to the cafe downstairs and buy a focaccia than it is to buy and prep my lunch the night before. Same goes with dinners, and mid-afternoon snacks at work. If I can get a handle on that stuff, I think I’m going to be ok-ish. It’s not going to be a breeze, but I can handle it.

Has anyone else out there in blog land ever done something like this (what a silly question! Of course you have!). How did you find it? How did you keep a healthy balance between kicking the bad habits and forming the new ones?

I weigh how much?!?!

I’ve always prided myself on having a pretty realistic view of my body. I know I’m not tiny, and I don’t try to squeeze my way into clothes that are too small for me in the desperate hope that fitting into a size 8 means I actually look like I’m a size 8. That’s not to say I’m beating up on myself about my size either- what I know about my body is that, in reality, I am ‘average’. My dress size is average, and my shoe size is average (how do I know this? There’s never any sales items left in my size. All the other average sized women have already gotten in ahead of me and bought those average sized clothes). Over the past few years I’ve learned, more or less, how to dress to best flatter my body.

And for that reason, I’ve never been too fussed about my weight. “It’s not about the weight, it’s about the shape” has been a common thought flitting through my brain. Similarly, “I feel pretty good, and I exercise regularly, the weight’s not an issue” and “I’m tall- I’m supposed be heavier than someone that’s shorter than me”. Funny. As I write this, I know I still believe these things, but seeing them written down also makes them sound pretty lame. They look like excuses right now. The only one that doesn’t is my firm belief that weight is not an indicator health- you can be heavy but that weight can be made up of muscle, not fat, and therefore you’ll be extremely healthy and fit despite what the scales say.

Anyway about 12 months ago I got myself a personal trainer. I imagine I’ll write about him a bit in this blog- let’s call him PT for the sake of ease. When I first saw PT I had goals besides weight loss- I was mainly wanting to focus on injury recovery. Despite that he weighed me, we set some secondary weight-related goals, and I assumed that without changing my diet, if I added exercise into my week I’d probably see some weight loss happening. It didn’t. When he weighed me 12 months ago I weighed 75 kg, and when he weighed me week after week, I still weighed 75 kg. There were some weeks when I put in a really concerted eating effort and would drop a couple of kilos, but inevitably I’d stay at 75 kg. During all of that time I was really upping the exercise- over the last year I have consistently done 2-3 PT sessions per week, focusing on strength-building and weights. I lift weights. I’m not afraid to lift more than 1.3 kg just in case I build muscle. In fact, I want to and have built up some muscle in the last 12 months, and as we know, muscle is heavy. So in my head, while my weight has stayed the same, I’ve been thinking “yeah but I know I’ve put on muscle, so I must be losing fat”. Nuh-uh.

Last week, following a hiatus on the weighing-in and my spending some time in the USA, PT decided it was time for me to weigh-in again. Now, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing. I wasn’t expecting miracles (despite that little voice in the back of my mind that says “maybe we’ll have miraculously shed some k’s” every time I jump on that scale), but I was expecting that I’d still be at that stable weight of 75 kg. Not this time. This time the scales flashed up a number I truly wasn’t expecting… 85 kg. I weigh 85 kg. I am a 26 year old female, and I weigh 85 kg. I’m definitely not that muscley- this is fat, and it’s got to go. Seeing that number flash up actually took my breath away for a second. I shocked myself with just how much I was kidding myself.

Technically speaking, I could lose 25 kg and still be within a healthy weight range for my height. I say technically because if I lost that much I’d look sick and out of proportion- I once did weigh that amount, maybe even slightly more than that, back at the end of high school, and looking at photos I don’t look good at all. I am not on a mission to become as skinny as I can- I’m on a mission to get healthy again.

Something’s got to change…

Something’s got to change. I’m in my mid-20’s and in the last 12 months, several of my relatives have had significant health scares. These haven’t been wake-up calls for me in the sense that they’ve reminded me how short and precious life is blah blah blah- instead they’ve reminded me of exactly the genetic hand I’ve been dealt. They’ve reminded me that the female side of my family’s ‘big bum’ syndrome means more than just a big bum- it means that I have the genetic tendency to be a bit bigger than I should be, in areas that count. They’ve reminded me that everyone has an increased likelihood of experiencing these issues if they’re overweight- even just a little bit. They’ve reminded me that I have, more than the average person, an increased likelihood of experiencing these same health issues, because these are now part of my genetics.

I’m 26, and it’s safe to say that it has taken me every minute of my 26 years to come to terms with, accept and perhaps even like the body that I have. I’ve started to figure out what styles of clothing work best for me, and I’ve figured out that there’s some that I shouldn’t even try (and that’s ok!). It’s not because of my size- it’s because of my shape. And the thing is, I’m ok with all of it. It’s fine. It’s all good. The tough thing for me now is the recent discovery that, despite my body acceptance, I need to make some changes.

I have what is commonly called a ‘spare tire’ of fat around my middle. I wear somewhere between dress size 10-14 AU depending on the brand and style of the dress, so I don’t classify myself as particularly big, but as I’ve come to terms with my body shape I’ve realised there’s actually a bigger factor than how I look: how I feel. And I don’t feel healthy. When I sit down I can feel the bulge of my tummy, and the blergh of fat on my hips (yes, a blergh. I can’t describe it any other way). I don’t feel like I’m the best that I can be, and worse than that- I’m potentially making myself sick. It’s been proven that the bigger your waistline gets, the more increased your risk of developing a chronic disease- and my waistline has, over the course of the years, been growing. Right now it’s not too bad, but my body’s on an increasing trend. I need to stop that. The chronic diseases that are referred to in regards to an increasing waistline are some of the exact health scares my family members have experienced, so the increased genetic disposition + the increasing waistline means that it’s time for me to do something.

I’m not an inactive person. I go to the gym three times a week, with a personal trainer, and over the last year I’ve been kicking some really great goals there. My strength and stamina has improved, and I’m feeling great. Unfortunately the exercise really hasn’t had much influence on my body shape or weight, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to review what I’m putting in my mouth. And that’s the point of this blog. I’m not going on a diet- I’m going to be making some sustainable changes. I’m a creature of habit, so I’m going to need to do some drastic stuff in order to kick-start the process, but I’ll tell you some more about that next time I write.

For now, you just need to know that this blog exists to help me keep accountable. It’s a diary for myself that I’m making public for a couple of reasons. Firstly I hope that documenting the process will validate it. By putting my efforts down on paper (or on screen), those efforts exist- even if I can’t see the results. Secondly, making it public keeps me accountable. Maybe you’re reading this, maybe you’re not, but the thought that someone might follow the entire process seems to me like a good way to keep me motivated.

Perhaps this process will also connect me to other people who have been on similar journeys.