Wednesday 7 December 2011

Weightloss and How Not to Do It.

Note: I'm speaking from personal experience, and things I've seen that are just plain wrong.
I'm posting this in response to some of the conversations I've had with some of my
followers on the subject, so this goes out to them and anyone else who cares
about their weight and wants to do something about it but doesn't know where to start.

   Personal Past Experience.
   I used to hate the idea of dieting and exercise. I truly did. I also thought that the Wii was a waste of time and that people should just go to the gym. Then I started warming to the idea of games that helped you lose weight and having easy access to exercise and yoga tips without having to leave the house. Going to the gym has never appealed to me. I've never done it, either. All I have to go by is P.E. in school. Physical Education was the worst. Having to undress in front of people who might bully you (fortunately, I don't know if it's generally England or if it was my school, but no one actually tried to bully anyone in the changing rooms. Well, the girls didn't, at least. Even the "popular" and chavvy/slutty types chose to change behind a wall in the changing rooms so no one could see them) then or later about it, and having to go from one lot of unflattering clothes to the next, and worrying because you've worn something embarrassing underneath, it's never fun. And then you have to go out into the cold, acoustic gym and do sports that make no sense, and be separated into teams. Fortunately, I was never picked last (well, once I was), but having to flail about and run like an idiot after a ball that you really just hope doesn't hit you in the Not fun. Not for me at least. Especially due to particular physical features.
   I used P.E. as a sort of basis. That was the first and only time I've ever actually done any sort of physical training around other people, and I didn't like it. Being judged by people who did and did not know you. It was for that reason I never went to a gym. This is why the Wii eventually appealed to me. I saw the adverts for Wii Fit and I went from scoffing at it to wanting one quite badly. My boyfriend took me out on my 20th birthday and bought me one, along with Wii Fit Plus, balance board and everything.

   The Wii.
   Now, I must state, that I've "tried" to get in shape for years. I've always been about 10stone, and while that's not huge, it was overweight as far as my BMI was concerned. I'm also quite short and broad, so from the front I've always looked bigger than from the side. It took me a long time to realise that that was just my build, not fat, and I began hating myself even more once I realised that.
   But now I can say I have completely accepted my build, and I know what I can lose and what I can't. I tried many diets. I tried not eating (for about a day, then I got hungry), then I also tried just eating soup, I tried exercising with dance in my room, nothing ever worked. I kept to my diets for a week or so, then I just got bored - that's, frankly, what stops most of us when it comes to dieting. We need to push past that. Then I only exercised for an hour a week. The rest of the time I'd sit on my bum doing bugger all.
   When I got the Wii, everything changed. For two reasons: one, was that the Wii was flipping expensive - too expensive for me to use it for a week then leave it alone. Two, it genuinely seemed to work. I only ever had a set on manual scales, and I had to get on and off of those several times to get an average weight, and even then it wasn't accurate. And, obviously, going by weight, you see little change. The Wii, on the other hand, records both your weight, and your BMI. By default, it works mosstly in BMI, since that's more important, and because 1lb is about .20 BMI, you really do see if you're making progress since there are more numbers to drop. I went from 26.09 (yikes!) BMI to...well the last time I checked I was 24.42. That's about...good lord that's about a stone:S surely that can't be right...I admittedly don't weigh myself much, but I don't think you should since weight fluctuates. Either way, it might not seem like much, especially since I got the Wii almost a year ago now, but the fact is, that weight has not come back. I can also say that while I used to fail quite quickly, I do 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day, Monday to Friday when I get up after showering, and I watch what I eat more, and the weight is steadily decreasing. I'm so happy now, and I know that when I get on my step, I am losing weight.
   I will admit, however, that I don't use the Wii as much these days, I actually bought a simple aerobics step a few months before my birthday, and I've been using that instead. It's much higher than the Wii's balance board, and it has extra feet to go beneath it to increase height.

   It doesn't have to be boring.
   I use my simple step now, that cost me £15 from argos, while watching TV (be it Harry Potter, Disney films - at the moment it's the last series of Doctor Who that I have yet to watch). I do 10 minutes on the low step, then I add some height for 10 minutes, then go back to the low step for another 10 minutes. A few weeks ago, it stopped working for me, so I do 10 minutes low then 20 minutes high. Sometimes I'll go on for longer depending on how I feel (or what I'm watching, Doctor Who takes me 45 minutes instead of my usual 30), but I always do it.
   As I said at the beginning, the idea of exercising every day actually frightened me. But, after almost a year straight of exercising, while I do wake up some days and just think I cannot be bothered, I actually realise that I don't know what I'd do with myself if I didn't have exercise to get me up most mornings. The idea of lying in bed for a few hours is gorgeous, but if I knew that I could do that every day, I'd be lost. As it is, Sunday is my only day for lie-ins, despite being self/unemployed (depends how you look at it). Monday to Friday: exercise; Saturday I clean Lucky's cage out, and Sunday I can sleep.

   My suggestions.
• No, it doesn't have to be boring. The fact is, you can easily eliminate the need to exercise all day every day by simply saying "no" to things. Not everything, no no, if someone offers you a chocolate bar, you can take it, just think before you do. Is it worth it? Are you hungry? When and what did you  last eat? Is it your favouritest ever chocolate bar in the whole widest world? Is it a mini, standard, or kingsize? Just weigh all of this in your mind. It would be easier to just automatically shout NOOO but it'll make you feel better about yourself if you come to the conclusion on your own. You also don't always have to eat dessert if you've gone out for a meal.

• You don't have to calorie count or join Weight Watchers, just think before eating anything. As above: are you hungry? When/what did you last eat? What are you likely to eat later? Saturday is a wonderful day because my family always has a lasagne with galric bread and chocolate cake for dessert. I won't cancel this out, I look forward to it, I just ask for less of everything, particularly carbs.

• While the Wii is great and is definitely what set me into the routine of exercising frequently, I will also say that, to be honest, all you really need is a step. They're easy to find in most department or sports stores, and it's only that one-time payment. It's not likely to break and it won't look at you stupidly. You can listen to music while doing it, you can buy special DVDs to work out with, or you can simply watch a movie. As long as you keep a steady rhythm. That's what it's all about.

• Don't force yourself if you really don't have the energy. That's not to say "oh I just woke up and I can't be arsed". It's to say that occasionally, I look out to the field that my bedroom window overlooks (great view, seriously, and my boyfriend loves how you can really see the change of seasons out there) and I see a rather overweight woman out there running laps. While I admire her determination and her confidence to go out and run in public during the middle of the day while she's quite overweight (the bigger you are, the harder it is to find the confidence to do anything), I have noticed that through most of it, she's dragging her feet and struggling. No, it's not supposed to be easy, but it's clear from her movements that she's not giving it 100%. There's no use in doing it if you're going to give it 50%, you have to try your hardest. Try hard and you'll get more done in your alotted time (remember as well, you decide how long to do it for - it can be 10 minutes or an hour and a half!).

• I'm not sure that it's true, but apparently, if you build muscle first, it's harder to lose the fat that's hiding it. So don't bother crunching or working on your abs until you've lost enough weight that you'll be able to see the work you put in. I'm still in the process of losing that squish, and a few years ago, I hadn't heard this, and so built up some good muscle beneath it. If you press my stomach, it's quite hard actually, but if you look at it, it's still squishy, and none of that work can be seen. Fortunately, I've not done any of that work for quite some time and am instead working on the fat, and I think it's more difficult - unfortunately I can't say for certain, obviously. But, I do think, it might take more work to lose the fat now, but what's waiting beneath is hopefully worth it!

• If you don't think you're getting anywhere after a little while, try using a tape measure around your waist. I've always had a 33inch waist (like I said, I'm not skinny, but neither am I fat). The other day, I measured and I have finally - for the first time in about 5 years - reached a 30 inch waist. I do not expect to drop beneath that, but of course I hope to. I've never put so much work into exercise before, but I am now, and while I look in the mirror and see little difference, my tape measure tells me other wise. It's not lying either, in my disbelief I measured several times over a few days and it kept saying the same.

• Do not weigh yourself every day. The Wii says so, but in that case, I disagree entirely. I used to, because the Wii told me to. My weight would go up and down and it always felt like I was getting nowhere. So then I decided to weigh myself on Monday and Friday - now let me tell you something interesting and quite important. When I weighed myself on Friday - having gone the last 4 days with an hour of exercise - I always weighed more than on the Monday previous. This always upset me, until I realised that when I weighed myself 3 days later on the following Monday, I was less than both the Friday and the Monday before. I was losing weight! A few days of rest is good - it can settle your body and it'll really help you to get clearer results. Now, I don't weigh myself at all. I've not done so in about 3 months, I think, and I am actually scared to do so. Despite having exercised almost every day since then, for some reason I believe that it's going to have gone up. But when I find my courage, I will update the blog so that you all know what exercising continuously can do, when you don't look at the scales every day expecting to see a difference.

• Don't set yourself stupid goals. If you tell yourself that you have to lose 5lbs in 3 days then you are going to fail, which willknock your confidence. It's generally best if you opt for something doable. I've always gone for 2lbs a week. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don't. I genuinely have no idea if I'm managing that at the moment, though, but when I go back tomy Wii, it'll be the same, since the Wii asks you to set a goal, and then it'll record it for you, and on your deadline will let you know if you've managed it. If you never manage 2lbs a week, or even 1 (which is likely to be the case if you're already in good shape), then make it 1lb every 2 weeks. The fact is, if you're quite large, you'll lose weight faster to begin with, and when you get much smaller it'll be a challenge to lose 5lbs. I was watching Scrubs the other day, and Carla said she needed to lose 2lbs. I was like "I could knock that in a week, why is she making sad face?" then I remembered it's not that easy when you're smaller, and in fact, when you are in shape and slim already, losing even only a few pounds can make a huge difference to your appearance - and not always for the better.
• Once you've lost the weight, tone up. It's harder to put the fat back on that way, but bear in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. Just because your weight goes up, doesn't mean your waist has. A tape measure is always a good idea in those situations.

   I have seen lots of things over the internet that can really give you simple motivation - pictures of people with the body you crave (whether it's physically possible or not), words, and ideas. I've seen great pieces giving suggestions for 10 minute work outs - most of which you could just get up and do right there and then! - though they'd be best suited if you were already slender and just wanted to tone up. I've also seen pictures of women with slogans like "nothing worth having comes easy" and "Want this? Work for it." - this is all fair enough, and true. You can't expect to have the body of a goddess overnight (and if you do, I hate you for it ♥ but in a nice way! My boyfriend can eat loads and not put anything on. His metabolism is just so much faster than mine, and I have to just accept that and work around it. Atleast when he eventually gets fat he can work out with me :P He's not looking forward to it!).
   But there are some things that are said that are just too extreme, and, while you can follow them, they have to be taken with a pinch of salt and some rational thinking. "Eat to Live, Don't Live to Eat" - this is good advice, but it seems just a little bit too "eat if you're about the throw up, don't gorge yourself until you explode". I can see what they're trying to say, though, you just can't take it too literally. "Eat to keep healthy and give you some energy to do your work outs and go about your daily business, but don't eat just because you're bored." That leads me to another one: "are you hungry, or are you just bored?" A lot of us eat because we're bored. I do it. You do it. She does it, and he does too. It's a common thing, but just because it's common doesn't mean it can't be kicked out.
   The fact is, it's all really very simple. You can make yourself lists and targets, you can count calories, but all you really need to do is exercise, keep healthy, and if someone offers you a snack, just ask yourself if you really need it, and also think about how good you'll feel about yourself after turning it down of your own accord. It can tell you, it feels better than that chocolate bar would make you feel. Yes, chocolate releases chemicals that make you feel happy. But so does exercise. Eating healthier will make you happier for a lot longer than that chocolate bar will.

   Bottom line: enjoy the holidays, but don't eat just because you want to. Also, don't say to yourself you're going to start a diet or exercising as a new year's resolution. Just do it now. The longer you put it off, the higher the pedestal will get, and the further you'll fall when you slip off. And you will slip off. Everyone does. The key is to get back up, brush it off, and carry on right then and there. If you do slip up and allow yourself a chocolate bar when deep down you know you shouldn't have, then make up for it that same day. Eat less of something else nice that you would have had that day anyway, exercise a little longer or take a walk. It's simple, really. It only becomes difficult if you set yourself ridiculous goals.

   I will take my leave here, but I'll also point you in the direction of Undressed Skeleton - If nothing I've said will help you then maybe this blog is. She's speaking from her own personal experience and has a hell of a lot more to show for it than I do. She's spent longer on it, and has come a lot further. She has fantastic recipes and tips to help you lose weight, as well as many before and after pictures, and lots of inspiring stories. Follow her Tumblr, you'll be glad you did ♥


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