Starting a new fitness journey | Getting Back On Track Series, Chapter 1

Photo Credit: Glen Carrie //Unsplash

Photo Credit: Glen Carrie //Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I introduced my brand new Getting Back On Track Series for the lifestyle section of this blog, and today I am kicking it off by describing my starting point, what my goals are and how I am going to go about achieving them.

Weight and progress

I have made a decision that I am no longer going to weigh myself. I have never owned any scales and my parents have always discouraged me from weighing myself, but since my teens I have been concerned with how many stones and pounds come up when I step on.

Now, let me begin this by telling you that I do not think that I am fat or obese (I prefer the word ‘fluffy’ when describing my stomach area!) However, I’m not particularly thin or lean, and I comfort eat a lot and I don’t treat my body well.

If you’re interested, I usually weigh around 60kg (approx 9.5 stone). My weight is something that I actually used to be very confused by. As a teenager, I was puzzled as to how I was a UK size 8 and yet seemed to weigh significantly more than my peers who wore the same size clothes as me. It made me feel bulky and big, despite the fact that I was slender and not at all overweight. However, the simple reason is that muscle weighs more than fat, and I have always been relatively strong from years of cycling, hiking, dancing and athletics.

The scales cannot be trusted when determining whether someone is overweight or for tracking progress.

When I began lifting weights, I could see my hips and waist very gradually slimming down, yet my weight stayed exactly the same. This was because I was building a lot of muscle, hitting new PR’s (Personal Record) every week. What’s crazy is that even though I knew all of this information, I still found myself being frustrated by the number on the scale. My common sense told me that my body was changing for the better, but the uneducated teenager inside me believed that I had made zero progress because the numbers weren’t decreasing.

Consequently, I am going not going to be weighing myself and fussing over numbers. Honestly, if there’s anything that I have learned from my first time in the gym, it’s that numbers are utterly meaningless. (Side note: if you are looking to be more ‘toned’ – which is really just a feminine way of saying ‘building muscle’ – you shouldn’t really be losing more than one or two pounds a week, otherwise your body will start burning muscle as well as fat.)

Instead, as embarrassing as it is for me, I am going to be using progress pictures.

Diet

I am not dieting because I have done more diets than I can count. Some have lasted months, most have lasted weeks. I have done unhealthy 1000 calorie a day diets and I have also done healthy flexible diets like If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).

But I am sick of calorie counting and macro counting!

Whilst I never felt hungry on IIFYM, I quickly tired of punching in the numbers and fretting about how I was going to account for meals with numerous ingredients. By the end of it I wanted to burn My Fitness Pal.

Meal plans and diets are great if you have a particular goal in mind (e.g. a bikini competition), but they aren’t necessarily good for people looking for a long-term solution.

There is a reason why people revert back to their old habits when they go through diet programmes such as Weight Watchers. I think that it’s because many of us (including myself) focus to much on the weightloss itself. We just want to reach the magic number, the ideal dress size or the desired reflection in the mirror – we concentrate on the goal and not the process. It’s no wonder that after weeks/months of deprivation, tasteless supplements and replacement snacks, and miserable workouts, that we ping straight back to our old ways. Why? Because, honestly, our former way of life may not have been particularly healthy, but at least it was enjoyable.

All of these diets, whether they’re flexible or not, are a means to an end. I want my diet to be an end in itself. I want a healthy relationship with food and to enjoy cooking. I want a diet filled with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables because I enjoy eating them, and because they make me feel good – not just because they make me look a certain way. I don’t want to support fad diets and dangerous detox plans. I want to eat a piece of cake without calculating its calories, and I want to focus on nutrition.

I also want to take things slowly and to introduce these changes gradually because being kind to myself is my number one priority. Plus, this is a change I want to last me a lifetime and my health is not in a dangerous state so I’m not in any rush!

Exercise

My biggest goal at the moment is to recover from my injury so that I can go back to the gym.

Back in September, I returned to the gym after a two month break. I had been travelling in Indonesia where I contracted severe food poisoning that went on for more than a month (I was still sick on the plane home.) After a couple of weeks of being back in the UK, I joined my local gym and returned to weightlifting. I thought that I was being sensible – I halved all of my weights and carefully watched my form in the mirror. However, I just wasn’t cut out for the workout, and was completely unprepared for how much my body had weakened after being so sick, and I felt a terrible grinding in my right elbow during my final set of bicep curls. I stopped almost immediately, but the damage was done, and I’ve had tennis elbow ever since.

As someone who has danced and exercised for most of her life, I take stretching out and warming up seriously (not to mention being a perfectionist when it comes to form!), and have consequently never experienced any serious injuries. However, I just had no idea how much impact being sick had had on my body, and tried to do too much too soon. I might have sensible with my weights, but I wasn’t sensible with the number of exercises and reps that I was doing. It’s been a very hard lesson to learn.

For the moment, I am focussing on gentle strengthening exercises for my elbow (plus ensuring that it gets plenty of rest!), as well as Zumba and jogging (I actually love running – I know…I’m weird.)

Mental Health

I strongly believe that our mental health and physical health are closely linked. I binge eat when I’m sad and can’t be bothered to take the time to cook a proper meal for myself. Exercise and healthy eating are, in my eyes, acts of self love.

I have a great evening routine in place, but I want to develop a good morning routine and make sure that I get plenty of sleep. I also want to take the time to pre-prepare my meals at the beginning of the week as I definitely eat much better when I know that all I’ve got to do is heat something I’ve already made.

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I would love to know what your health and well-being goals are for 2016, and how you’re getting on with them.

Make sure you Tweet me as I’m always looking to support and follow other people!

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