Wot, no mince pies?

Christmas weight.

You got me.

I braved the scales.

It was not pretty.

I blame the mince pies.

And the prosecco.

And the After Eight mints.

There was also what can only be described as a ‘Christmas Cake Incident’.  I made a big one.  We were going to take it with us on a family visit.  But it wouldn’t fit in the car / might have got left there by accident / we forgot all about taking it / no one probably would have wanted to eat it anyway*.

There’s this thing about Christmas.  About the buying of food that you don’t even want, don’t even need, and to be frank, makes no sense.

Take chocolate biscuits.  I like them.  Rather a lot TBH.  When I am in Tesco doing the Weekly Big Shop I tend to purchase a packet or four.  Chocolate digestives mostly.  Or, if I am feeling flash or flush a dark chocolate HobNob.  A packet.  Not a tin.  Especially not a tin with some in that you don’t even like and will still be at the back of the cupboard come Easter.  And a tin where you  have to dive in straight away to get the one you really like before someone else eats it when you not looking.

And don’t even get me started on Cheese Footballs.

But lets face it.  I can blame Christmas.  I can blame the supermarkets and their seductive advertising. I can even blame all of the Prosecco.  But the only reason I’m in a ‘comfortable’ (e.g. elasticated waist) trouser today, is me.  I ate too much of it.

Time to sort it.  Get it back off.  Before the trousers become a permanent fixture.

Mind you…. there are some of those biscuits left in the back of the cupboard.

 

*Ok.  We decided to keep it and eat it all ourselves.  It isn’t my fault.  Tim Scott made me do it.

Resolution Free Zone

I used to make New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly, they didn’t work.  I’d set myself something vague or ambitious.  Get better.  Do more.  Weigh less.  Be fitter.

Not specific.  Hard to measure.  Impossible to know when you had been successful.

But one year, at midnight (as 2012 became 2013 to be precise)  I made a promise to myself.  That this time it would be different.

And it was.  Today I am six stone lighter than I was on that particular 31st December.  I have not found it easy. I have managed to get to some degree of fitness but it remains a struggle and I guess it always will.

For anyone thinking tonight, that tomorrow they will start something new, I offer my thoughts on what worked for me, with hope that they might be helpful to someone else.

The first thing that I know is this: it wasn’t the 1st of January that made the difference.  It wasn’t a diet or a programme.  It was no big bang quick fix.

Instead, it was simply lots of very small changes, one by one.

Many diets fail.  They do so because they are just too big.  If I’d started my journey with a plan to lose six stone and run a half marathon, I doubt I’d have got there.  Too much to tackle.  Too much change all at once. Too much to get my head around.

Instead, one habit, one change at a time.

Strange as it may sound, I started with orange juice.  The sugar monster that I pretended to myself was a healthy option. But not at a litre a day.  So, I cut it down by half.  Then I stopped buying it all together.  It only took a few weeks before I stopped missing it. Now it is something that I drink very rarely.

And then I tackled another one on the bad eating habits list.

One leads to another. Easier every time.

It is a slow but surely approach.  It won’t give you the fast results that a 500 calorie a day plan will.  But cognitively, it is doable.  And from a lifestyle perspective, sustainable.

So, if you sitting there tonight having eaten all of the cheese and all of the chocolate and all of the mince pies this festive season, and are thinking about making a change tomorrow, then ditch the diet.  Don’t fall for the false promises or the celebrity endorsements.  You don’t need no resolutions.

Ask yourself this instead.

What is the one thing that you can do differently, today?  What will make the biggest difference?

And then do it.

Erm, also, you could buy my book.  #sorrynotsorry #shamelessplug

fatty cover.jpg

 

Rage against the diet machine

Its nearly that time of year again.

No, not Christmas.

After that.

After all of the adverts have encouraged you to eat mince pies like they are about to be made illegal.  Buy Quality Street by the tub full.  Drink all of the Prosecco.

It’s nearly the time of the detox.  The celebrity exercise DVD.  The new year’s weight loss resolution.

The diet machine.

Consider the messaging.  Eat, drink and be merry.

Then find a quick fix for those extra pounds because of all the food you scoffed.

The stampede to the gym will commence, brand new shiny white trainers in hand.

I’m not knocking that by the way.  A few years ago, I was one of those new year new you sign ups.

But the messaging gets me.

The disconnect. The way that people are encouraged to think about food and their bodies.

Here’s the thing.  When someone loses weight, it isn’t thanks to Weight Watchers. Or Slimming World.  Or Lean in 15 (as good as I think this plan is).  It isn’t down to some celebrity who has been paid money and had plenty of help to get down to a certain size, in order to shift some diet merch.

It is because someone makes the decision to make a change in their life.

And here’s the thing. Anyone can do it.

Don’t believe me?

I was one of those people who believed that she couldn’t lose weight.  That they would always be fat.  That they would always shop in the plus size store. That they had ‘tried everything’. I was a big, big girl and I had tried most of the so-called solutions from weekly classes to juice diets to the 5:2.  Fads.  But I had never changed my mindset.

One day, on New Year’s Eve 2012 to be precise, I made the decision to make a change.  And I did.

It is still hard.  It is still a daily challenge and I know it always will be.  I don’t pretend to have this all figured out.

What I do know from my own experience is that the first step to changing your life is changing the stories that you tell yourself.

You don’t need to sign up to an expensive plan.  You don’t need to follow a guru.  Let them inspire you, yes.  But weight loss starts with you.  With a decision.  With making real change. Believing that you can and you will.

If you want to make that change don’t wait for the 1st January.  Just do it.  And I wish you all the luck in the world.

Boiling Frogs

As I’ve blogged before, I also love a weight loss TV programme. I watch them all.  Fat Families, Secret Eaters, My 600lbs life, Fat the Fight of My Life.  And so on…

As is the way with a lot of reality TV, the most extreme examples are usually featured. No one wants to watch normal people doing the washing up, feeding the kids, going to work. We want to watch the richest, poorest, drunkest, dumbest… and of course, the fattest.

The fattest possible people eating the biggest possible portions. It’s easy to watch one of these programmes, to see someone who is super morbidly obese, and to wonder how they got there.  How they allowed themselves to get quite that fat, immobile, unhappy, ill.

I know the answer to that question.

One mouthful of food at a time.

You’ve probably heard the tale of the boiling frog. In case you haven’t, apparently if you put a frog in a pan of boiling water it will jump out.  Somewhat unsurprisingly perhaps.  However, if you were so minded to put a frog in a pan of cold water and then slowly heat it up, the frog is unable to perceive the changes in temperature and will simply sit there until they are cooked all the way through.  And hence, very dead.  Trust, me this is a real theory.  Honest.  Look it up on Wikipedia.  It is used to illustrate how people just often aren’t aware of gradual creeping changes because of how slowly they occur.

That is weight gain right there. Because it’s just one biscuit, right? And one takeaway won’t hurt.  There are only 200 calories in the whole packet.  Those leftovers in the fridge need eating up.

The thing with weight gain is how slowly it takes place. You only really notice when you go up a size in clothes, or you are suddenly no longer able to do something.

Here’s the thing. If you put on ten stone overnight and tomorrow morning found yourself unable to tie your own shoe laces, get out of a chair without help, or climb the stairs without pausing for breath, you would be horrified. If in the space of a week you went from a size 8 in Top Shop to the plus size store, you would very quickly do something about it.  You’d be on a diet and down the gym.

But it doesn’t happen like that. The water slowly heats up and you don’t even notice until it is too late.  One day you look in the mirror and wonder when and how  and why it happened.

And the answers are simple.

Slowly.

Incrementally.

One mouthful at a time.

Enablers and Detractors

If you want to lose weight or to get fit, there is an important but uncomfortable issue that you may need to confront.

Who around you is helping you to eat? And who around you is not helping you to make the changes you want to make?  The people around you can impact either positive or negatively on your weight loss journey.  I’ve experienced some of the negative, and a fair few folks with an opinion too.  See earlier blog post on that.

First things first. You are 100% responsible for every single thing that you put in your mouth – every single food choice you make.  Believing otherwise is the key to either never losing it or putting it all back on again. There are some things that make sticking to a diet harder.  For me, it is travelling with work, conferences or training courses where there are biscuits at every break, or just simply, the weekends.  But you are still responsible for all of the choices that you make. You are equally responsible for whether you get out of bed and go to the gym, go out for that run, take that Zumba class.

Only sometimes there are people around you who are either activity encouraging you to make bad choices, or helping you closer to them. When you lose weight, you find that other people share their own stories with you, whether those are stories of success or failure.  I’ve heard plenty of examples of enablers and detractors, as well as experiencing my own share too.

Some people are out and out feeders. You may well have seen the slightly strange TV programmes.  Often feeders are men who like a larger lady; they are both actively engaged in a consensual feeding relationship.  Weird?  Maybe.  But it is only an extreme of something that is often much more subtle.

It might be someone telling you that you look beautiful when you are overweight, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you the truth. It might be someone who is also fat, who wants you to say just as you are because they then don’t have to face their own issues.  It might be an insecure partner filling your plate with giant portions, telling you that he likes you ‘just the way you are’.  It may be someone who uses food to show their love and care for you.  It might be someone making you feel guilty if you don’t want to go out for a meal, eat what they are eating or drink a bottle or two of wine.  Maybe you get called ‘boring’ and it is supposed to be a joke.

Whichever category these people fall into, there is one similarity. This is their issue.  Not yours.  As the saying goes, you cannot change someone else, you can only change the way you react to them.  You may need every reserve of inner strength.  You may even need to remove yourself from these people as much as you able to.  You may need to call it out.

If you have an enabler or a detractor in your life, you will have to face up to it and deal with it in whatever way is most appropriate.

As I have blogged before, I have a rule about those that have an opinion on my weight loss. Those people that have waved chocolate at me or made fun of me.  If the person sharing their views also had a well-intentioned conversation with me about my weight gain, when I was obese and sad, then I will listen to what they have to say.  If they didn’t then I will take no notice.  And for the record, this adds up to precisely no people.

No Control

After the Christmas holidays, I had to face the horror of being weighed by my Personal Trainer.

He saw the number. And he asked me a question.  ‘What exactly did you eat?’

I thought to myself that this was a very stupid question. Because the answer was simple. ‘All of it’.

I mean what other answer is there?

Quality Street, mince pies, sausage rolls, Christmas cake, buffet food, chocolate orange, marzipan fruits, pigs in blankets, selection boxes, canapés, turkey dinners, pudding with custard, chocolate coins, crisps, dips, mashed potatoes, cheese. Chocolate for breakfast.  Chocolate for elevenses.  Chocolate just for the hell of it.

I ate all of it. Everything.

Oh, and the wine. Don’t forget the wine.

Because it was there. Because it was Christmas.  Because I wanted too. Because I was sick of eating clean, drinking vegetable juices, eating protein, protein and more protein.  Just for once, I wanted to eat whatever I fancied, without compromise.  Without making the sensible choice.

I worked out every day, only taking Christmas Day itself off. But you can’t out exercise a crappy diet.

And now I am paying the price.

This is, in truth, a form of self-sabotage.  Choosing the short term quick fix over what you want the most. Undoing all of your good work.

Things that I know:

  • It will take longer to get rid of this weight than it took me to eat all of the strawberry creams in the Quality Street tin.
  • I went too far. I ate too much. I told myself that I was having a treat, and in doing so lost control and set myself up for failure.
  • I will probably do it again, next year.
  • I will put this right, no matter how long it takes.

 

And if you too are still dealing with your Christmas indulgences, I wish you all the very best!

Mr Above Average

Today I am handing the blog over to my friend Gary Cookson, who  as well as being a fellow HR blogger (you can find his blog here, is a triathlete and fellow fitness fanatic.  But like many of us who enjoy exercise and competitions, he has overcome many challenges to get there.

Over to Gary…….

I am a big believer in having a sense of pride in ones physical wellbeing. I don’t think you need to be an Olympic athlete or a bodybuilder, you can be whatever shape you want to be as long as you are proud of that shape and your overall wellbeing.

In this blog I’ll talk about how I have lived my entire life not being proud of my sense of physical wellbeing, and what I do about it.

It’s both a curse and a blessing, the constant strive for improvement and sense of dissatisfaction with who I am.

 Obviously in my own blog, The Power of Three, I make reference to the fact that I am a triathlete, and how I place great emphasis in my work on physical fitness as well as mental resilience and career satisfaction. This blog post in particular focuses on the first, physical fitness, but the three are linked.

Anyway, for those of you who have only got to know me in the past few years, you may be surprised to learn that I used to be very fat and very unfit. Just 7-8 years ago I couldn’t go up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath, and couldn’t walk far without sweating. I ate wrong, very badly in fact. I drank heavily. I did hardly any exercise.

And now I’m the opposite. This is part of a cycle in my life of being thin and fat, fit and unfit, with each cycle lasting several years. As a child I was thin, but as a teenager very fat and unfit. At university and in my early to mid 20s I was super fit and thin but was doing so just to attract the opposite sex and once that happened and I settled down and had a family, I went back to being fat and unfit. Then my divorce happened and the cycle changed again to what I am now. Thankfully the cycle seems to have been broken despite me once again settling down, so I hope this time I stay fit and healthy.

And yet the dark times are never far away.

I have an unhealthy obsession with food dating back to my childhood. I’m well known for being a big eater, piling my plate high at buffets and the like and it’s a common joke amongst people I know. Sadly, I have no willpower when it comes to food. Put me in front of a buffet and I will overeat because it’s there for me to take. But serve me correct portions and I’m happy, because there’s nothing else for me to take. Leave me in the house with lots of biscuits and chocolate and I will eat the lot, but if there’s none there I’m not bothered or hungry either.

I have struggled with this throughout my life and I hate it when I work in open plan offices where there are lots of available snacks. One office I currently work in has regular snacks people bring in and it seems to be part of the culture that there are always chocolates etc on the table to help yourself from.

And I do.

But if they weren’t there I’d not miss them. In the other office I work at these days there are none, and I don’t mind. When I had my own office I was fine too. But put food in front of me and I have to eat it. I have to finish my plate, and I have to have a big plate if I can too.

No willpower.

Even though I know a lot about nutrition and what I should eat, I have no willpower.

Put that together with my pre divorce poor diet in general after marrying someone who had no pride in their physical appearance and who didn’t care what I looked like either, and no exercise at the time, and heavy drinking (4 pints a night every night) and it’s no wonder I was unfit and headed for an early grave.

Seriously.

Some of my health check indicators at the time were scary reading for someone in his early 30s.

But then I got divorced and suddenly had to cook all my meals myself, so found myself buying more healthy food. And I had time on my hands so joined a gym and started exercising. And the weight started to drop off alarmingly, and my health indicators started to improve.

And I realised I liked being fit.

To help me through the stress of divorce, and to find somewhat of a new identity, I started setting myself targets and challenges. Initially these were just to keep myself motivated, and to make myself feel better about myself, but they grew.

I started walking The Pennine Way with friends in stages and in the first couple I was embarrassed at how unfit I was, lagging behind, complaining, out of breath and looking a mess. So I started focusing my training on being better at this, and it worked.

Then I started making links between how I could train in certain ways and improve my performance in certain challenges. I was using data to improve myself and analysing things, stuff I’d been doing at work and in coaching sessions for a long time.

I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks (26 miles walking) in 9h11m and learnt how nutrition forms a vital part of performance in sport and fitness. I then did the national Three Peaks Challenge, solo but in an ever so slightly longer period than the standard supported challenge, and learnt the importance of proper planning, setting objectives and practicing.

I then did the Lyke Wake Walk (40 miles in 18 hours) and learnt the importance of having a support team and how to pace oneself in a long gruelling competition. I did the Isle of Man Parish Walk (80 miles in 24 hours) and got disqualified halfway through, learning the importance of knowing the rules.

All of these things were helping me become a better competitor, a better athlete, and a better all round person.

And they contributed to me having a lifestyle change. And to me that was a revelations. It’s not about diets. It’s not about going to the gym for a few weeks. It’s not about New Years Resolutions. None of these things have anything more than a short term effect. But a long term lifestyle change does have a long term lasting effect. I find too many people, myself included in earlier attempts, give up because they don’t see overnight changes in themselves.

You see, my problem is with body image. No matter what shape and weight I actually am, no matter how fit I become, I look in the mirror and see someone who is horribly overweight and out of shape.

All the time.

And I know others don’t see the same when they look at me, but I think I’m fat. I think I’m overweight. I think I’m unfit.

And whilst this is a curse in that I am never happy with myself, it is also a blessing in that it always, always, motivates me to keep my fitness training going and to always strive for more.

I don’t have a problem in motivating myself as I know all I need to do is look in a mirror.

And I find myself occasionally motivating others in an informal sense. I’m not a personal trainer, and yet I think there are enough overlap areas between that and HR and in particular leadership coaching, that I would make a good personal trainer.

I know I’d love to run a spin class. Or a boot camp.

A few people have asked in the past if I would give them some personal training advice, and I have. And strangely when I was talking earlier this year about going self employed, a few people thought that I was doing so to become a personal trainer.

Maybe there’s something in that.

And that brings me to triathlons…the ultimate Power of Three!

I decided to do my first triathlon in 2010 as just another challenge. I knew little about them. I could only swim breaststroke and had never swam in open water. I didn’t own a bike and borrowed a friends mountain bike. And I had never run as much as 5k without stopping ever. I had no clue about how to transition, and didn’t know what I was doing at all.

And yet I did it and found it exhilarating. I made loads of mistakes (including thinking I would be able to dry off and get changed after the swim in a private changing room) and walked most of the run course, but I did it and signed up the same day for my next race.

And here I am, 31 races later and with 7 more entered this year. I love them.

I like the fact that I’m wholly dependent on myself and not on team mates. I like how there is an abundance of data about my performance to help me analyse and improve. I like how there is always some new piece of kit or tech to try. I like how I can choose to race against the clock, my PBs, or against others to benchmark my performance.  And I like the variety they bring to my training, effectively training for three sports instead of one.

They’re very addictive.

I’ve been forced to integrate all of my learning from all of my challenges into one. I need to be very careful on nutrition. I don’t drink alcohol for a clear week before a race as it just fatigues me (meaning in summer I barely drink alcohol at all), or within 24 hours of any training session (meaning I must have at least 5 or 6 alcohol free days a week). I know how and when to carb up, and for how long to have the best effect on my performance. I avoid takeaways and overly fatty food for a clear week pre race also, and my final 36 hours is spent carb loading (pasta mainly). I know how much and what I need to the days before a race, and what I need to have inside me on race days to fuel me up. I know whether I need to intake food or drinks during a race. I know what food and drink I need immediately post race to aid recovery. I know the importance of tapering my training in the immediate pre race week, and only gradually increasing it post race. I know how to plan my training so that I reach race day in peak condition.

I also know what time of day I prefer to train and when I’ll find it hard going due to my body’s natural cycle and rhythms.

I have race week routines and I stick to them. It may drive my family mad but it works for me. I know what support they can give me and am pleased they do. 

I know during the race how I’m doing, thanks to the tech I wear. This helps me maintain focus and motivation.

And yet I’m only just above average for my age group.

Could I be better? Yes. If I worked less hours or spent less time with my family I could. But I am happy with my balance.

Ultimately, if you’d said I could be an above average triathlete 8 years ago I’d have laughed at you, as would everyone who knew me. It’s a good place to be, above average. I’m no Brownlee Brother, and will never win a race, but I’m ahead of 50% of my peers and ahead of 100% of those who don’t try at all.

And I get to see the impressed looks on people’s faces when I say I’m a triathlete. It’s awesome.

Above average in physical fitness is achievable for most people. Olympic standard isn’t. If I do ever dabble in personal training, I’d want to work with clients who aren’t happy with who they are and want to change. Those clients who recognise they could be better and want to learn all the various things that need to happen to be better, from nutrition, to focused training and objectives, to understanding physical limits and work life balance issues, to understand the rules and the need for support, the need to make lasting lifestyle changes. Those who want to be “above average” and harness the Power of Three.

I think I’m well placed to help such people as I’m Mr Above Average. I’ve made loads of mistakes but learnt from each one.

I can relate easily to Gem’s own journey as much of it mirrors my own, and I can sense she’s happier than she used to be about herself but still not satisfied. Like me. Like anyone who wants to change and embed improvements.

If you want to know more about anything I’ve talked about, please contact me.

Till next time.

 

Gary

#DietFail

Over the years, I tried diets. Lots and lots of diets.

Well, I pretended too at least.  For many years I was partial to a dramatic announcement that I was, sound all of the klaxons, ‘GOING TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT’.

I joined Weight Watchers once. I went to my first meeting held in a local school hall near where I worked. Paid the money, had my initial weigh-in, got the books and the points calculator and listened to the motivational speech.  I joined in with applauding those who had lost weight since the previous meeting.  It all sounded excellent.  I’m not sure I was entirely committed to the process though.  One of the colleagues that I went with is fond of reminding me that on the way out of the meeting I telephoned my husband and told him to put a steak pie in the oven. I hadn’t even made it out of the building before I was cheating on myself.  I preserved with the points system for a while, but it didn’t work for me.  The problem was that the book gave you the points value of all the really bad food too.  So I very quickly figured out the points value of everything from a Mars Bar to a McChicken sandwich.  I’d usually have eaten my entire permitted points amount (mostly in chocolate) by say, 11am.  It was my only trip to the school hall.

Then there was the juice detox diet. This was sure to work. After all, didn’t all the celebrities do it?  So I ordered from a juicing website three days’ worth of juices, to be delivered frozen.  I figured that even I could stick to three days of just drinking juice.   They arrived.  Juices made with broccoli and spinach.  Others based on carrot or beetroot.  And every, single one tasting like the devil himself had invented a drink for the sole purposes of torturing the souls of the unworthy.  Imagine drinking thick, gloopy, cold carrots.  I drank each one with a receptacle on hand to throw up in, so sure was I that my stomach would never tolerate such foulness.  By day two, the vegetables were fermenting in my stomach.  Certain lower bodily emissions were a regular occurrence.  I looked like I had a beach ball up my shirt so swollen was my belly.  On day three I decided I would rather be fat forever than drink one more bottle of frozen green sludge.  The rest of the bottles went in the bin.  Which is where I might as well have put my £120.

Then there was the 5:2 diet. With the enticing promise that if you could just restrain your piggy little self for a 24 hours period twice a week, you could eat what you liked the rest of the time.  The unintended consequences of this diet were a vile headache and even more vile temper.  The day following a fast I felt sick and faint all day.  I’d lose a pound of so, but then put it straight back on once I returned to more typical eating.  I tried for a week or two but I gave it up before all my friends gave up on me for being so unpleasant to be around.

I also tried drinks that were intended to fill you up, to help you eat less. They came in sachet form and cost me the best part of another £25.  You mixed the powder with water and then drank it – three times a day.  In terms of taste, I would rather clean my toilet bowl with my tongue.  One day I made a sachet at work, and before I had chance to drink it headed off to a meeting, leaving it on my desk to ferment.  An hour later I came back to find it had expanded right out the plastic cup, and was now a fluorescent pink thick goo that looked something like ectoplasm.  If you ever watched Ghostbusters you will know exactly what I mean.

These weren’t the only diets and quick fix solutions I have tried over the years. I know that some of these diets have worked very well for people, and they have found them of much greater benefit than I did.  But here’s the thing.  Every single time I had tried one of these diets, I hadn’t changed my underlying beliefs or behaviours.  I wasn’t committed to making lasting change. With the WeightWatchers attempt the hoped for behavioural change didn’t even last as far as the car park.  If you change how you think about food and exercise, then you can lose weight and achieve your dreams.  If not, you will just be going through the motions.  I can remember talking about going on a diet, and following it up with an additional comment along the lines of ‘only it never works and I never stick to it’.

So I got exactly what I subconsciously expected.

Nothing.

Change you thinking, change the size of your trousers.

What I have learned about losing weight

I have a weight loss milestone in sight.

The big one.

Target Weight.

As time has gone on, I have cared less about the numbers on the scale. I am now much more excited when I find that I can do something in the gym that I couldn’t do just a few weeks ago.  But that isn’t to say that the satisfaction in reaching a weight loss goal has gone away.

And I have lost my weight over the last few years, there are some things that I have found to be true about the process.  Here they are…..

It will be hard work. But then again, so is being fat.

It will take a long time. Longer than you think; there are no sustainable quick fixes.

You are capable of more than you ever thought you could be.

Sometimes, you will have a bad day or a bad week. You will fall back into bad habits.  You might even binge a little.  But you can continue along the path all the same.

Exercise hurts. In the beginning, it hurts a lot.  But you can get to like those aches and pains in a strange sort of way, as they are a symbol that you are changing who you used to be.

There will be times when you think you cannot go on. Trust me, you can.

If you eat what you have always eaten, you will weigh what you have always weighed.

You will never regret making this change.

Some bits of your skin will never go back to how you would like them to be. That sucks, to be honest.

Belief is everything.

It took years to put it on, so you can’t expect it to come off in a few weeks. One pound at a time – keep your eyes on the prize.

It is never too late to make this change.

Buying new clothes in the next size down is one of the best feelings in the world.

The only person who can do this, is you.

You will have to give up some of the foods that you love. You will miss them a little, but it is far outweighed by what you get in return.

Excuses don’t burn calories. Dieting alone isn’t enough.  You need to exercise too.

No matter how busy you think you are, you have time for exercise. You just have to want to make the time. Many people who say that they don’t have time to exercise have time to go to the pub.

You will start to enjoy exercise. Honestly.

Diets don’t work. Especially crash diets.  Sustainable lifestyle changes are the only way.

You will have bad days. But this isn’t a reason to give up.  Just start again, tomorrow.

You are totally in charge of your own perspective on your weight loss.

You are not trapped by your weight, and neither are you defined by it. You are only trapped by your own attitude towards it.

And the most important truth of all: it will be worth it.

Stuff people have said to me about losing weight

Over the last three and a half years, I have lost (as of today) a total of five stone and nine pounds.

I have learnt much along the way, but one of the things that I have most definitely found out, is that lots of people have an opinion about it. Whether you ask for it or not.

So here are some of my favourite things that people have said to me about weight loss and fitness, and my response.  Sometimes real, sometimes only imagined…..

I feel sorry for your husband, based on how much time you spend in the gym.

Well, the last time I checked, he was making the most of having the remote control all to himself.  And he can always come with me if he wants to.

I’m your fat friend now!

Yes. You are.

When are you going to stop?

Stop what? Stop getting healthier, reducing my chances of getting life threatening illness, improving my strength and resilience, feeling great about myself? Not any time soon.

It doesn’t suit your face.  You are looking a bit haggard.

Erm, thanks for that.

You are going to get anorexic.

I’m probably not actually. Anorexia is a serious illness. I don’t have it. I am making my choices well with the support of a fitness expert.

I bet because you work out, you can eat as much as you like.

Yes. It works just like that. I am just off four my fourth Big Mac of the day.

You need to stop now.

Actually, the best person to decide that, is me.

You were fine as you were.

No, I wasn’t.  I was very overweight, breathless, and heading towards serious health problems in the future.

I couldn’t be bothered. It’s boring. (usually about running or gym visits).

That’s you.  Not me. And I go because I love it and it is doing me good.

I have a rule about those that have an opinion on my weight loss. If the person sharing their views also had a well-intentioned conversation with me about my weight gain, when I was obese and heading in the direction of all sorts of serious health conditions, I will listen to what they have to say. If they didn’t then I will take no notice.

And for the record, this adds up to precisely no people.