Three and a half years ago I made a commitment to my personal trainer, Pete and to myself to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle designed around improving and maintaining health. Call it Paleo or LCHF or clean eating or whatever you will.
The central theme evolved around losing weight ( I was morbidly obese), reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, managing my eating disorder and improving mental health. After a few months of great success I fell off the wagon and although I held onto it, I never really managed to climb back up.
Then, two years ago, the world exploded and I went into crisis management and have been there ever since.
And now? Well in terms of physical and mental wellbeing I’m back to where I started all that time ago BUT with one vital difference. The building blocks of life I smashed through have now been processed and tidied into piles. Toxic environments have been disinfected and dealt with. Debris has been swept up. The initial trigger that led me to Pete in the first place has gone. Clean lines have been drawn and I’m ready to start building something really positive.
But this time I’m going to approach it differently. And this is where the post from last week regarding motivation comes in. In the past, the motivation for health improvement, weight loss and fitness has been goal oriented. In my case, having a major event to compete in. Which in itself is fine. But it really depends on WHY you are doing the event. I picked marathon and Ironman for a reason. But on reflection, the reason for selecting those types of events were flawed.
It goes back to a time when I was a child. I was always big, especially for my age and gender. And strong with a natural aptitude for sport. I played hockey for the under 16 team when I was 13, I competed in athletics at a national level in my teens, I played hockey for Durham County on occasion and netball for Hartlepool Town for a while in their second team. I studied Sports Physiology at Uni and taught self defence for police officers when in the job. But in each activity listed there, I didn’t aesthetically fit in.
Because I didn’t look the way people wanted me to look I was subjected to comment, ridicule, bullying and humiliation.
The last straw was when I applied to be an officer safety trainer in the met police. By that time I was a teacher as well as a police officer and had just secured my post grad teaching certificate. I knew I was good at my job. But the trainers at the officer safety training centre didn’t like the way I looked. I was too fat and did not represent the aesthetic of what an OST trainer should be.
They told me as such.
And then they started to fail me. They failed every class I taught whether it be classroom or gym based. They failed me on the slightest thing. I allegedly delivered legislation incorrectly, or I didn’t stand correctly or I was too formal or too informal. Whatever I did, they ripped me apart and that three weeks destroyed me. It was at this time that I started to get my first fibromyalgia symptom. I can pinpoint it to the final week of that course.
In the end they had to pass me because other students started to comment on the unfairness. But it was a bitter sweet victory. It left me with no self esteem, confidence issues and of course the fibromyalgia symptoms. Ultimately it led to me leaving the job after they threatened disciplinary action as I dealt with the aftermath of that course.
As I result I started to do marathons and then ultimately Ironman. It was a way to prove to myself and other people that I may be fat but I could still achieve. But that mind set was not healthy. I didn’t achieve any end goal other than finish each one more tired and defeated than ever. It certainly didn’t move me forward to my end goal of physical and mental well being. I just kept setting myself up for defeat. A self fulfilling prophesy if you will. And yes, I crossed the finish line at Austria the second time. But I’d achieved so many DNSs and DNFs to get there, it was ultimately a bittersweet victory.
Last week I had another mental health relapse. It was a bad one and took me out for a about four days. At first I couldn’t even get out of bed, and then when I did, only made it onto the couch and into a bottle of wine. I switched the television on in the hope of finding a distraction and while doing so, caught the second half of an episode of ‘One year to save your life’.
It was a formulaic programme, the ‘star’ achieving incredible feats. I googled the protagonist to get her after story and the post programme edict is very different. But the point that struck me more than anything was that for the whole year she donated all of her time and waking thoughts to the cause… in this case herself. It was a revelation.
I reflected in my approach to my own story when I had actually acted in a way of benefit to me. Solely without prejudice. And I couldn’t find it. I had acted in search of a goal or event or to keep a business going or protect a former partner. But although to outsiders my acts may have appeared to be selfish, at no time had I acted in a way without thinking how they would affect other people. And to prioritise those people above myself.
It was clear these thought processes would have to change. I’m not talking about railroading over everyone I meet. But, in order to improve my health and wellbeing I must focus on myself as a priority and do everything I can in order to achieve my goal. And I will give myself a year starting from today to do it.
The article last year reflected on goals and measurement of those goals as a measure of progress an important part of motivation. So I will set goals along the way. The first is to move away from the ‘morbidly obese’ category into ‘overweight’, a weight loss of around 4.5 stone. This will be achievable in a year. Other measureable goals will pop along in the future I’m sure but at the moment this is the one that will occupy my focus. More subjective goals include, reducing the pains in my feet, improving breathing and reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.
G is joining me in the challenge and we are going to achieve this by the simple adage of living clean (more sleep, more play, less stress), eating clean (for me it’s Paleo, for you it can be whatever works for you) and moving more (do something every day). I’ll obviously share thoughts, successes and failures with you and would love to hear your own stories too.