Back in September I wrote a post titled ‘Time to change for good, starting with body fat’ ( link here ). In that post, I wrote that I believed being overweight is the primary cause of my anxiety, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. I also wrote about the need, for many reasons, to do something about that immediately and to eliminate my excess body fat. I believed that ‘putting this out there’ would make me more accountable and therefore act as a strong motivator.
So, five months down the line, it’s time for an update, and I’m quite ashamed to say that the update isn’t good. Basically, I’m no different. My body shape hasn’t changed. I haven’t shed any body fat and that really hacks me off. I could write for pages detailing possible reasons for this but it ultimately boils down to the fact that I simply haven’t been dedicated enough. I could say that the weather has been naff and it’s been difficult motivating myself to exercise. I could say that I’ve been really tired for much of the time and therefore haven’t had the impetus to really hit this head on. I could say that it’s been difficult breaking snacking habits when I’ve been hungry at 8 or 9 in the evening. I could say that life has been difficult at times and other things have taken priority. But, ultimately, that’s all complete and utter bullshit. If I really wanted to do this, and it is of vital importance that I do, then I’d have ditched all these excuses, knuckled down and got somewhere. After a period of five months, I should be feeling thinner, healthier and more energised. I should be wearing jeans with waistlines at least a couple of inches less than what they were in September. I should be wearing some of the shirts and t-shirts I couldn’t quite squeeze into last September. But I’m not.
It isn’t through a complete lack of trying though. A close friend told me how beneficial he’d found the 16:8 intermittent fasting approach to be. I usually have no time at all for what I consider to be faddy diets but this sounded achievable so I gave it a go for a brief spell and the results were fantastic. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an approach where people fast for 16 continuous hours within a day and eat during the other 8. Sugar mustn’t figure during the 16-hour fasting period but that suits me fine as I don’t take sugar in my tea or coffee and tend to drink water rather than pop. I chose a fasting time of 6pm – 10am which, breakfast aside, meant very little change for me (we have always placed great importance on eating as a family so we generally eat our main meal of the day at around 5.15pm). The idea is that you choose an appropriate number of days per week to do this, with greater results expected the more you’re able to address this. I aimed for 4 days per week over a 2-week period and felt better than I had done in a long time. Once I got through the first few days, the hunger pangs disappeared and it really wasn’t that difficult to maintain. However, that was just before Christmas and therefore it went by the wayside a little over the Festive period. I didn’t really fall back into the habit until now. So that, along with regular exercise and less alcohol, will be my main method of shedding the fat. It won’t be for everyone, and should be thoroughly researched if anyone is tempted, but it works really well for me. More importantly, I can see myself easily adopting it as a sustainable lifestyle change rather than a faddy diet that will go out of the window once I reach a target weight / level of body fat.
In addition to highlighting my acute embarrassment at having achieved nothing since September, there are other reasons for revisiting this. As mentioned in the first paragraph, I strongly believe that shedding excess fat will help me combat the root-cause of my anxiety and low self-esteem. However, another, potentially more important reason, is the health benefits to be achieved. A few minor (or perhaps potentially major – I don’t yet know) issues have concerned me over recent months, not least a brief tightening of the chest (on numerous occasions) and many more muscle / joint aches than I’ve previously experienced. Additionally, I’ve seen close friends and family members have quite significant health issues lately and that is preying heavily on my mind. A TV programme I adore (Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing) has included many discussions on health, particularly heart problems, and the warning signs which both Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse wished they had taken more notice of prior to needing a triple-heart bypass (in the case of Mortimer) and having stents fitted (in the case of Whitehouse) really did hit home and rang eerily true with me. Bearing all this in mind, getting fit and healthy can only be beneficial.
Finally, I must consider a significant problem, one which is very difficult to address, and that problem is alcohol. I certainly don’t drink as much these days as I did 20-25 years ago but I do still drink and I currently have a real love-hate relationship with alcohol. Fundamentally, I like a drink, and have a wide range of favoured drinks, with lager (good lager that is…), ale, bitter, cider, whisky and gin being particular favourites. However, I hate what alcohol does to me, primarily the lethargy and complete lack of energy which always materialises after a drinking session. These are the days when I achieve very little and get angry with myself. These are the days when I don’t want to do anything but laze around. These are the days when I really regret the night before. Recently, I’ve been thinking more and more of giving up alcohol for good but I just can’t manage it, for many reasons, not least that I like a drink, it does relax me and make me less anxious, and there is considerable peer pressure to have a drink when spending time with friends. However, I know the benefits from stopping would be fantastic. I’d lose weight. I’d be healthier. I’d get better sleep. I’d have more energy. I’d not lose full days (in terms of being productive) through feeling tired and groggy. I’d save money. I’d be setting a better example to my 13-year old daughter. I could go on and will address this soon in a standalone post as it’s an important issue and one I need to address in full. I know I should stop drinking but right now, I’m finding it difficult. However, cutting back, as a minimum, should certainly be achievable.
So that’s where I’m at right now. I haven’t shed any fat since September though I really am trying again now (I’m in the midst of my first ‘fast’ this year as I type). None of us are perfect and weight loss really isn’t easy to achieve, let alone sustain. However, I simply must achieve it. I’ll keep on providing updates via this blog, primarily as I see this as being a key tool I will use to achieve my objectives (largely due to the accountability), but also to illustrate that it isn’t easy and the perfect weight-loss / physical transformation stories that we so often see on social media channels aren’t always as straightforward to achieve as they’re made out to be.
Thanks for reading, good luck if you’re in a similar position to me, keep on trying your best, and appreciate that there will always be ups and downs, which is the very reason why I no longer weigh myself – I refuse to be a slave to the scales and beat myself up if I don’t lose weight every single week.