This weekend two years ago, I could barely walk. Every morning, I’d wake up, strap my immobiliser brace on to one knee (or both, depending on the pain), grab my crutches, and hobble to the bathroom. Some days I’d have to knock back four different types of painkillers before I could even get out of bed.
Things were looking grim. I’d had three surgeries to fix my knees, but both I and my surgeon knew that my weight was making it near enough impossible to correct the issue. He never said so outright, but he’d alluded to it a couple of times – but having pretty much decided to myself that it was impossible to lose weight, I’d concluded that this was just how it was going to be for the rest of my life. Pain, pills, crutches. Rinse and repeat.
But when I moved house, I found myself uncomfortably close to a gym – and this weekend, two years ago, I decided to sign up. I’m not sure what I was expecting – but it certainly wasn’t anything like this.
Two years on, I’m now 170lbs. There is a whopping 41% less Katie than there was two years ago. I can’t be alone in thinking that’s pretty ridiculous, right?
And the thing is, my life has changed in so many crazy ways as a result, directly or indirectly, of my decision to lose weight. I can walk, for one thing – in fact, I can run if I need to, so I’m considerably better off in the event of a zombie invasion. And my attitude to pain is very different now. You don’t have as much knee surgery as I had without expecting to be in some pain forever – I’m like the bionic woman these days – but the strain on my joints is so reduced that the pain I do have, I can generally work through.
That said, I’m also a lot more in tune with my body now. I had so many issues related to my weight – from plantar fasciitis, to lower back pain, to stomach cramps, to a constant, unquenchable thirst, to name but a few – that the ‘new me’ feels pretty much invincible. I was in complete denial, at the time – no way would I have ever admitted that these problems were related to my weight – but now, there’s no avoiding it. I was ill because I was morbidly obese.
I’m admitting all these things on here not because I’m trying to make anyone feel bad about being overweight – but because I know, having had such an amazing response to this blog, that I am definitely not alone in having done that. It’s a lonely place to be, and it can seem pretty hopeless.
But it’s not.
Those first few weeks in the gym – when all I did was walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes (which at the time still felt pretty exhausting) and tentatively tried out the resistance machines (which I was actually pretty good at – carrying 290lbs on crutches does give you pretty good upper-body strength) – they were hard. The point of this programme is that it’s easy – and relatively, it is – but I was in a very bad state.
Against all odds, though, it worked.
I could probably be even further along than I am now – but I had a 9 month hiatus of lapsing back into eating badly and exercising less. I know now that was because I was still very much reliant on processed foods – ‘low fat’ ready meals, high sugar yogurts, and cereal bars, for instance – so it was all too easy to fall back into a sugary, fatty diet. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tried and failed, or whether you’ve fallen off the wagon, or whatever you want to call it – you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again.
Sure, it would’ve been easier had I not had to re-lose 20lbs, and had I had an extra 9 months of healthy living under my belt – but I’m happy to take the hit on that one and call it a valuable lesson. Because now I know that it really is mind over matter, and I know how to motivate myself to get back up and carry on.
Weight loss suddenly seemed easy for me the day I changed my thinking to focusing on the long-term, rather than expecting a quick fix. You can only lose this much weight by looking further into your future than just next week. Two years really isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. It’s flown by, but at the same time, looking back on who I was when I first stepped into that gym… It seems like a whole different lifetime.
Which I guess it was – because the whole cliche of ‘it’s a lifestyle change’ rings true here.
If, two years ago, you’d told me my life would be this different… I’d probably have bashed you over the head with a crutch. You can do anything you put your mind to – but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you stay focused on the long-term benefits – being healthier, happier, and able to live your life to the full – it’s totally possible to change your life.
So… Where do you want to be in two years time?