My main goal with exercise was to make it a regular occurrence, a healthy daily habit. I figured the only way to do this was to choose something I like doing. I did wonder how long it would take for exercise to become a habit since the opinions out there vary from 21 days to 6+ months. It’s now been 3 weeks and I have gone for a walk, cycle or played tennis almost every day. Each week I skipped one day, wether I was too sore, too busy or too upset. Either way, although I am enjoying it and seeing the benefits I don’t think it is a habit yet. Even though its mostly a matter of putting on a pair of running shoes and walking out the door, it’s far from automatic and many days I have to convince myself that now is the right time. On the other hand, if I don’t walk in the morning I think about it all day and try to plan it into the evening activities, so I would have to say my body likes it.
Normally the moment I told my body it would have to lose some weight, it would rebel. “I’m hungry,” my stomach would moan and unquenchable hunger pains would start. “Enough is enough body, you can’t keep eating like this,” I would say. And in response it would demand sugar, the irrational part of the brain complicity reminding my body of the cake in the fridge whilst my rational thoughts tried to persuade me to ignore it.
This time I told my body it could have anything it craved even reminding it of the sweets. At first it thought that this sounded great and my stomach began to moan, but soon when it realised it could have anything it wanted, it became disinterested. It choose a healthy snack instead of cake, which wouldn’t have made it feel good.
The last few weeks, the more I have listened the more, my body has spoken to me. My mind has complicity tempted me with various treats but the body has casually responded that it wasn’t interested and that perhaps I should find something to do if I was feeling bored. My intense carvings have disappeared as well as the pre-mealtime madness. This isn’t to say the temptation hasn’t been there. But it was my body that said it had had enough, rather than my self discipline berating me that I would be fat forever if I ate another bite.
Although I committed to keep a food diary, I haven’t even written a single word. Interestingly, I haven’t had too much trouble most of the time in listening to my body. At times I have even become totally obsessive watching friends and family eating unhealthy food or worse still drinking soft drink and thinking how could they put that stuff in their bodies. At the same time I’ve come unhitched too, but by accepting it I was able to stop and move on instead of continuing the habit. The downside of not keeping a diary is that I have no idea how to tweak my eating as I slowly lose weight. So, for the next 3 week period, keeping a food diary is the goal.
After making my initial commitment to improve my health in 2009, I started off by analysing all the reasons why I was physically where I was, before delving into setting the boundaries of my healthy living approach. But in retrospect, I think I probably took the wrong approach. I thought that I could work on my body image as I went along, but it should probably be the very first thing that I thought about. After all body image influences our goals probably more than anything else. Just watch an episode of “How to look good naked” and you realise women don’t have an accurate image of the way they look. For me, body image has usually been my derailing factor also.
Thankfully because I bumbled along in starting this blog and making a firm commitment I spent countless hours analysing how I actually felt and if anything I wrote could actually be of use to anyone in the bloggoshpere (or random, hapless person who stumbled onto my blog). I was very scared that my contribution would be worthless seeing as I was staunchly against the idea of loving my body as it was now. The good thing was that this challenged me to really think about how I could feel better about myself in order to be able to document it, which I sub consciously started doing well before writing about it.
In part this was actually frustrating because by the time I came to really starting to exercise regularly and eat consciously I already ‘felt’ smaller even though volumetrically my body remained the same. I heard a brilliant quote on this ‘reduce the amount of space they take up in your mind’, with ‘they’ referring to breasts. Ah, it was relevant to the tv show about women unhappy about the size of their breasts because they were too large. But it’s equally applicable to our bodies, as I was experiencing. So for me, improving my body image has been very positive – I feel smaller, I am more conscious of looking after my body for it’s sake and I’m obsessing over the way it looks less.
So far, my ‘plan’ and attitude shifts have been very successful. I am particularly delighted that I am seeing volumetric changes in my body (which at this stage is a big motivator) without much effort. I won’t kid anyone and say it’s been fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve actually enjoyed myself and feel a lot better about my body. And apart from speed, isn’t weight loss mecca the place where losing weight isn’t hard?