I should have realised this a long time ago…dieting doesn’t work for me.
I’m not saying my body defies the laws of science. If I ate even less I have no doubt that I’d start shifting the pounds. No, what I’m saying is that the very concept of ‘dieting’ – cutting out food, counting calories, feeling hungry all the time, just doesn’t work for me. It makes me feel guilty and shifty and bad about myself.
I wanted to have a nice body by my 25th birthday. Over the last three weeks of ‘watching what I eat’ , mostly recorded in my food diary here (although the last four entries reveal a pretty indulgent bank holiday weekend) I have lost just 1lb and 1% of fat. With only two weeks to go until my birthday, that six pack isn’t looking likely.
BUT I’ve also realised a few things. I’m going to list them because I can’t be bothered to write in proper sentences anymore (I’ve got really into the story I started writing in Croatia and it’s taking up all my mind power).
1. It’s ok to have the odd treat
A wise auntie of mine once said ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ – and she’s right! There is a lot of tasty food out there in the world. It’s a wonderful and privileged thing to have access to good food; it would be foolish to completely deny these pleasures. It’s important to enjoy life. The trick is not to eat ALL THE FOOD.
2. Encouragement is the key
Normally when I diet, I diet alone, looking just a little bit miserable and sorry for myself. Now that I’ve got Bootcamp with regular health checks, I feel like I’ve got more support. Everyone in the class is trying to get fit, healthy and maybe a little bit thinner – they’re going through exactly the same everyday struggles as me (little first-world struggles, like learning how to order salad rather than a pizza in an Italian restaurant, or saying no when your colleague offers you a biscuit, or forcing yourself outside for a run after work when it’s raining). Sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one.
3. Have patience
I’ve been running regularly for 2.5 years now and have been Bootcamping and Boxercising since last September but I haven’t noticed any obvious differences in my body. People have said my shape is changing. I think what’s happening is my muscles are getting stronger so they’re pulling the fat inwards in some semblance of a normal-person figure. I haven’t lost fat, it’s just more compacted. But I’m starting to accept that weight loss for me isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s not even going to happen over months – it will probably (if I’m lucky) happen gradually over the years. By the time I’m 80 I’ll be rocking Elle Macphereson abs. But exercise is an important part of my daily life now and I’ll make sure it is for as long as I’ve got a body that works.
4. Other people aren’t as judgemental as you think
I have this stupid fear that when people see me, they think I’m really lazy and spend all my time slobbing out on the sofa, because my figure belies the work I put in. Sometimes I wish I could wear a sign that says ‘I try really hard, honestly.’
Back when I lived in Camberley I used to go to the gym after work pretty much every day for 1.5 – 2 hours a go. I was absolutely dedicated but I’d still be sweating more than anyone else, and I was still heavier than anyone else. Then something really nice happened. This big scary body builder with a South African accent bowled up to me while I was on the chest press – I thought he was going to tell me I was doing it wrong, but he just said: ‘I see you in here all the time. You work really hard, most people just come here a few times and get bored. Your dedication is impressive, keep going.’ Then he bowled off and disappeared into the depths of the gym, like a big wise gorilla.
I can’t really explain without sounding a bit pathetic just how good it felt to have that recognition, for someone to say ‘you’re doing well’. I’m always worried people are thinking bad things but the truth is, most people in the world are really nice. It’s my own inner voice that puts me down, not other people.
5. CHILL THE HELL OUT
The way my body looks should NOT be my main concern in life. I’m lucky enough to be healthy and pain-free, I’m lucky enough to have family and friends who I love, beautiful scenery on my doorstep and a man who, (not to sound too soppy or anything) actually likes seeing me naked. I’m a lucky girl. Why should I let a few tummy rolls depress me?
So there we go. Dieting doesn’t work for me, but exercising, eating healthily and staying happy will…eventually.