This is maybe a little off the usual topic, for me. Or maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. Here’s the situation. You all know I work in marketing, right? I’ve confessed this plenty o’times before. Judge if you will, but let’s be clear – I […]
Month: April 2013
Yesterday, my gorgeous Mum came to visit me in London town, and I had the most wonderful day. We did some lovely touristy things – visiting Buckingham Palace, strolling down Carnaby Street, and wandering through St. James’s Park. It was awesome. I was happy. And […]
You may remember a couple of weeks ago I said I was starting to train with the lovely Tom Dyer of Ultimate City Fitness, to find out how much butt it is possible for one fat girl to kick. I’m nothing if not open to new experiences, even if they do seem utterly terrifying.
After all, I have this weight loss business down now – see you bye, 140lbs – but one thing I didn’t quite have nailed was the fitness side of things. I may be one queen of confidence, with a big chicken butt and proud – but show me a race track and I’m more likely to plant a picnic in the middle than run around it. It’s just not my style.
Or maybe it is.
I’ve had three sessions over the last two weeks, and it’s been enlightening, to say the very least. Enlightening, and intense.
It’s funny, because when you’re out of a good routine, it seems near enough impossible to get back into it. Bad habits really are a bitch to break, and I’ve developed a few since I moved here – so when I started trying to get back in the game, every tiny thing seemed like a slog. But, as I said last week, getting pedalling is the hard part.
Getting pedalling, that is, and cutting down my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day.
You all know my relationship with caffeine. This is not something I do lightly. But I’m nothing if not good at following instructions – so I did it. And – shock – I am still alive. Forget all the other stuff: this is big achievement número uno this week.
Achievement no. 2, though, goes back to my knees. I’ve always struggled with them – as a kid, when they’d give me endless issues in P.E. classes, and as an adult, after three surgeries and totally unable to walk, they’ve always been a problem. Screw Achilles and his poxy heel – I’ve got wobbly knees that are way worse. And as a result, I’ve always been a little too nervous to put more than a little strain on them – and so, I haven’t.
After the surgery in December, though, I’ve been edging towards using them more and more. I’ve been growing increasingly confident, but only ever to a point – because I don’t want to do myself any damage and end up back where I started. That’s a huge fear, for me.
As a result, I’ve never really tried to squat, or lunge, because I’ve always experienced pain when I do it – ’til now. Turns out, I’ve been doing it wrong. It’s all in the technique – focusing far more on your core and glutes to take the weight off your knees, and making sure you’re going down, instead of forwards, with each movement. Two weeks of doing that right, and I’m finally getting it. I have normal, functional knees, that are getting stronger with every single workout.
This is amazing.
I’ve also learned to use this damn thing (and no, I did not expect to have my photo taken with my butt in the air like so):
That’s called a prowler, and it’s every bit as evil and sinister as it sounds.
Anywho, I’m learning things, not just about fitness, but about myself. It’s a lot easier to push yourself when there’s someone telling you exactly what you should be doing, and telling you that you can, in fact, do one more (although I have my questions over Mr. Dyer’s counting skills, which always seem to involve a couple more than I’m expecting, I’m sure) – but that’s had me thinking: if you’re prepared to push yourself harder when someone’s watching, why is it so much harder to motivate yourself when you’re going solo?
I mean – you know you can do it. You know you’re capable of doing awesome things – but when you’re on your own, it’s easier to justify not giving it 100%. It’s easier to talk yourself out of doing one more set, or reading one more chapter, or writing one more page, or whatever it is you’ve got to do – because nobody knows about it, bar you.
So, when you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something like that, the question to ask yourself is: who are you doing it for?
I’ll give you a clue.
The correct answer is you.
Once it becomes about improving yourself, and your own happiness and wellbeing, it becomes – oh, so ironically – easier to motivate yourself to work on it as though the whole world were watching you. And that’s one of the things I’m gradually figuring out.
Because I could go in there, thinking ‘urgh, I’m about to get tortured and it’s going to be horrible.’ That’s a little melodramatic I know, but when I’m in a negative mindset, melodramatic is my middle name – so you get my drift. This would result in a horrible time had by all.
The alternative, however, is this: ‘I am about to do even more things I didn’t think I could do, and prove to myself that I’m better than I thought I was, with the help of this awesome trainer man.’
See the difference? Suddenly, it’s for me. And when that green light goes on, those squats, those deadlifts, those kettlebells and that god damned prowler thingy, all start to seem… Kinda fun.
And I think it’s important to apply this kind of mindset all over the place. Not just to fitness, but to everything. Work, hobbies, passions, whatever – if you go in there, fully present and doing it, not because you have to, but for your own development as a person, then you’re golden. You’re living to that 100% you ought to be aiming for – not just whiling away the hours between waking up, and going to bed.
And when you’re living that intensely, you’ll find it easier to find the joy in things that would otherwise seem like problems to be overcome. So you’re up against a challenging project? That’s one hell of a thing to tick off your to-do list. At a career crossroads? That’s a time where you’re about to learn a lot more about yourself and what you can achieve. Broken relationship? An experience, and one you’ll look back on, from new relationships or the freedom of being single, as something you got a lot out of – even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
And in my case: a sumo deadlift?
Got it. Boom.
Healthy livin’. It’s something I’m meant to be all about.
And I am, most of the time – or rather, I was, until, say, early December – back when I had my knee operated on for the 4th (and hopefully final) time; when I had a birthday that involved a lot of cake; when I was job-hunting and interviewing; when it was Christmas, and New Year, and my last few weeks in my old job; when I was selling all my worldly possessions and hunting for a new flat; when I was moving and starting my new job; when I was homesick and not quite settled; and when I was too busy to do anything but work, visit home, and try to get my bearings in my brand new life.
You can see what I’m getting at. There have been a lot of reasons for me to not quite have it together over the last few months. And they’ve all been pretty legitimate, until maybe the last one – at which point, things get a little fuzzy. I could justify getting my bearings for a couple of weeks, yes – but not the couple of months that I’ve managed to drag it out for. Alas, it’s felt increasingly like a bit of an excuse.
But I do believe in being kind to yourself, and forgiving yourself, and so on – so I’ve been flexible. Patient, even. I’ve been waiting on that point where my motivation to eat right and exercise regularly would come flooding back – when I’d feel every bit as awesome as I did last year, before I decided to throw everything out and start all over again.
I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and that motivation hasn’t returned.
It hasn’t magically reappeared in a flash of light and a booming “thou shalt work out” message from the heavens; in fact, it was barely even a whisper. Of late, my motivation couldn’t get a mouse to eat cheese. It just wasn’t coming back of its own accord.
I realised this last Friday night, as I was eating a reduced price egg and cress sandwich and a blueberry muffin for dinner after a particularly exhausting week at work. Not exactly gourmet, definitely not healthy, and all in all a pretty dumb choice for someone who’s a coeliac. Smooth moves, Katie – smooth moves.
As I sat on the sofa, post-sandwich, I realised that, on the healthy living front, I’d completely lost momentum. Motivation, it seems to me, is something you have to generate yourself. It’s like riding a bike up a hill – once you get to the top, it’s plain sailing back down, and you get to just drift along, enjoying the view, or something like that. You know I suck at metaphors.
I, last week, had reached the base of a new hill – having been coasting on down a mountain for the best part of five months. And there’s only one thing to do in that situation.
So, last Saturday, that’s exactly what I did. I went shopping, I stocked up on good food, and I hit the gym. I even did a little bit of yoga to stretch off afterwards. The next day, I ate well, and hit the gym again. And the day after that – you guessed it – I did the same. Again.
Three days of green tea, of real food, of yoga and making time for me – and I was good to go. After months of waiting on my motivation to come back of its own accord, I’d single-handedly kick-started it back into action. So by the fifth day of pedalling, I was rolling along nicely – which is good, because that’s when I had my first workout with Tom.
Notice the red face. I am hereby resigning myself to the fact that, no matter how much weight I lose, I’m always going to be that girl that goes purple when I so much as think about interval training.
Despite that, though, it was amazing – I did squats, I did lunges, and I did all the things I thought were impossible for me and my dodgy knees. Turns out motivation’s a powerful force, if you know how to use it – and I’m very excited to see how fit and healthy I can be. Watch this space.
What’s unique about getting motivated to live a healthy lifestyle is that it always, always pays off better than you expected it to, provided you’re doing it right. Getting yourself motivated to do a fad diet, for instance, is really god damn hard – because it’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be a form of torture, complete with cravings, hunger, and overall misery. In short – it’s going to suck.
Getting yourself motivated to be healthy, on the other hand, is pretty easy – because once you’ve been doing it for a few days, you feel awesome. And when you feel awesome, you don’t want to lose that – so continuing feels like a pleasure, rather than a pain.
And it’s okay to go through patches where you’re not perfect. I would hate for anyone to think I eat right and exercise well all of the time, because I don’t. I really don’t. But that’s fine, because I’ve abandoned the idea that there is a wagon that I could fall off. I have an issue with the whole “falling off the wagon” concept, in fact, because it implies that someone else is doing the driving. One might even assume fairly dangerously, if it’s that easy to fall off.
To my mind: screw that. If you’re pedalling yourself along, you can go as fast or as slow as you like. Heck, take a break and watch a nice sunset. It won’t always be straightforward, but at least you know that you’re the one in control.
What you’ve got to do, though, is enjoy the journey, and appreciate it for what it is. There’ll be ups, and downs, times where you’re loving it and times where it seems like a slog – but you can do it. All you have to do is start.