I haven’t written about my health efforts in a while, but my fitness instructor said something really cool and clever to me today, so I thought I’d share.
A little background: Two years ago I suddenly (there were a lot of carbs involved) gained a lot of weight… 10kg+ to be exact. Read that post here. It was a combination of stress, emotions, working from home and just being a lazy lady. I never did any kind of exercise and I ate what I wanted. I was always drawn to healthy food, and still am… but I went through a phase of having dinner, having a few drinks and then having another dinner (and a bowl of cereal and toast and…)
I signed up for a half marathon and saw my ass. Properly. I mean, I finished at a good pace, but the training was like an awakening forward slash budget horror movie. I got blisters, injuries, stress fractures, shin splints, cramps. My fatty mac and cheese body was like DEAR GOD WOMAN WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! And I very almost gave up at least three times. Man, I was such an unfit, gross mess. I didn’t even know.
I joined a gym and started taking these Shape classes which is like a group class led by an instructor – much like aerobics but with some weight training. After the first class, my NECK was even stiff from doing sit-ups. Everything hurt, and it felt awful. I couldn’t coordinate with the instructor or keep up with the moves and I felt so ungraceful. I hated seeing my reflection in the wall-to-wall mirrors and was so self conscious. I tried yoga but my wrists hurt. I tried Zumba but lolololol keeping up with those instructors is probably definitely impossible.
Then I slot in to a routine of Shape classes, treadmill and doing some light running with the dogs. I experimented with my diet. I tried cutting out carbs, then sugar and dairy too. I went Pescetarian (vegetarian who still eats odd seafood) about a year ago. I ‘relapsed’ a few times. Once I tried a piece of boerewors and I felt so nauseated, I drove to the garage late at night to buy something to get the taste out of my mouth. Ghost pops, I think it was. I tried juice diets, which do work beautifully. I tried banting for a week or two just to see what it was like.
Two years ago, I weighed 75kg. I’m 1.75m tall, so technically I was still within a healthy BMI. That’s what the internet told me. None of my clothes fit and I felt awful about myself. Right now, I’m 63kg (12kg down, BABY!) and I’m so close to my usual weight again. My mom said something interesting the other day. She feels that we all have an ideal personal weight that our bodies are comfortable with. I used to weigh about 58kg throughout high school and 52kg in varsity. I was painfully thin, although not on purpose. I had two waitressing jobs and classes so I wasn’t at Res for a lot for meals. Any money I made went toward living expenses and booze (hello student life) My dad used to sneak muesli, nuts and fruit dainties in to my bag. I got so thin that I stopped getting my period, which I later learned was super dangerous. Girls aren’t supposed to talk about their weight, are they? Or periods. Whoops.
With the boys, I gained 17 – 20kg each pregnancy. Fine, like 11kg of that was the baby, amniotic fluid & placenta (yum) but I got happy and fat, and I loved it. I dropped the weight in a flash and never struggled until I neared my 30s. It just never stops, does it? I had like 4 wardrobes to cope with my shifting, adapting body.
Well, now the baby factory is officially closed. I learned that I can’t get away with eating 2 dinners and buckets of pasta anymore. I learned that my body DOES NOT like sugar or refined carbs – at all. I don’t eat take aways, I drink a lot of water and I don’t eat meat. If I do eat something unhealthy, then it’s mostly a tiny little baby portion. The thing is, you don’t know any of this stuff unless you experiment with your diet. If you’re gaining weight or feeling gross it’s because something is wrong with the mechanics and your body is not comfortable.
I learned that nourishment is absolutely everything. Empty and processed foods are the worst thing you can do to yourself. If your body does not recognize an ingredient, it freaks out and just stores it as fat. Imagine this big conveyer belt of ingredients entering your body, and someone sitting there sorting it to different routes. “Protein! Send to muscles. Vitamins! Send to organs. Grains! Send to energy. Preservatives? Wtf I don’t know. What is this? Send to fat I don’t know, I’m new.”
My biggest switch has been moving to unprocessed and natural foods. Things that grow on trees or come directly from soil. Nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs in their natural and true form. I’m drinking so much water. I’m doing little fasts where I’ll skip dinner and only eat at midday the next day. I try eat foods that are easy to process like smoothies and juices.
Don’t get me wrong, I can polish a bag of Quality Streets quicker than a mouse to cheese. Sorry if I sound like some sort of condescending fitness freak b*tch. I am FAR from that. I have such a long, ‘forever’ road ahead of me in terms of toning and fitness. My goal weight is 58kg. If I can hover between 58 and 60 for the rest of my days, then I’ll be well impressed. My body KNOWS that I’m not supposed to be at my current weight. I always had a more slender, athletic frame. My family never ate out and my mom cooked us healthy dinners from scratch every night.
I want to feel comfortable. I want to look in the mirror and think “damn girl” instead of “something’s not right, girl”
Oh, so this thing my instructor said to me at gym today: I’ve reached some kind of plateau in my training. I’m in a routine, and my weight and toning efforts aren’t really shifting. I asked if I should be doing more shape classes, or more cardio or maybe try pilates again and she gave me such good advice. I’m supposed to do all of it. All of us. You’re supposed to do like 2 aerobics / weight training / shape classes or sessions a week. Then you need to mix it up and add some running or swimming here and there. Do like 2 yoga or pilates sessions a week. Go for a brisk walk. A hike. Mix it up and don’t do the same thing every single day. Once your body adapts to your routine, it will likely settle.
So from 2016 I’m going to start playing around. Adding weird and cool classes like belly dancing and do some laps in the pool. Try spinning again (must remember to get knickers of steel) and get a skip rope. I seriously love pilates, so I want to do more than that. I don’t really have a deadline on these last 5 kgs, but my body and I want them to go.
The thing is: I do so many unhealthy things. From contraceptives to antibiotics and my (sugar free) red bull addiction. I drink pretty often. I can’t add being overweight or unfit to this pot, otherwise I know my body will take strain and probably won’t last very long. We all have a shelf life.
For me, not eating meat was at least 85% a health decision and 15% an ethical one. I don’t think that we’re supposed to eat meat the way that it’s being ‘manufactured’ in most places right now, and I don’t think it’s good for us. I DO think it’s okay to have the odd meat item, but scaled down to at least 10% of the current production rate. Neither our planet or our bodies can sustain our greed for animal flesh at the current consumption rate, but you know this.
I saw an article today about people yawning over all the “weight loss new year’s resolutions” that are coming our way. I say: Don’t get your body to the point where it causes damage. Whether that be too thin, or too fat. Putting pressure on your heart is fucking dangerous, as is not nourishing your organs. We all NEED to exercise. Go for walks, buy a bicycle or go swim at a public pool, but regular aerobic movement wards off ageing, cancer, heart disease and a shitload of other things. We know this. Weight training will save you from a hip replacement in your 50s, as women (especially mothers) are highly prone to developing osteoporosis.
I am not saying that you should go on a diet or join a gym as your 2016 resolution.
I am saying that you should think about everything you put in your body. Will it nourish you? Does it contain fresh ingredients? Will it feed your organs and skin cells and make your body feel good? Will it ward off diseases? Will it make you look good? Does it promote mental health? Do you need this? Or even: Do I need this much of this? Try cutting all your food portions in half for a week. If you usually have 2 slices of toast for breakfast, rather have one. Dish up half the amount you usually would at dinner. You’ll soon realize just how little our bodies really need.
If you’re the other way around and never find time to eat, then get organized. Cook in bulk and freeze. Shop online. Sign up with a delivery place in your area to send a salad to your office every day. Make or buy cold pressed juices in bulk and freeze them. Pop one in your handbag every morning.
If you’re making a health resolution for 2016, then make it to be comfortable. Say: “In 2016 I want to be comfortable.” Whether that means losing your muffin top or being able to wear shorts or firming your arm jiggle, then do it. Get that “damn girl” feeling when you look in the mirror – whether you’re a size 8 or a size 16, but just get there.
Right now, I’m super focused on my health. I take the boys to my gym and they do activities for 2 hours. We buy wraps and smoothies at the gym cafe, and we take the dogs for walks in the park. Ride bikes. Swim at Newlands Pool. It’s so important that the boys see ME living a healthy life so that they can get in to this routine. Benjamin never wanted to drink water, he would only drink juice. I realized this was because I never drank water. I started doing it, drinking tons of water every day (making sure he sees me) and now, that boy hasn’t asked for juice in weeks.
Your kids WILL mirror you. Every time I walk in to gym, I remember watching my mom on her fitness bike, watching soapies in the evenings. I remember her pink exersize mat and doing Cindy Crawford and Jane Fonda aerobics with her. I remember her going to weigh less and eating provitas and reading books on nutrition. Never remember seeing her run though, ma? haha.
Anyway. Wow. Sorry for lambasting you on HEALTH!!! and FITNESS!!! and DEAD ANIMALS!!! for like an hour, but I hope that something resonated with you. Saying all of this ‘out loud’ definitely helped me centre my current efforts.
Okay bye. Happy New year x