Oi! You! Put that cake down! 5 pointers for staying on track with that new, healthy lifestyle. By someone who is definitely not an expert.

So far, for me, 2014 has been very different to any other year in that it is now February and my resolutions are still going strong. Perhaps this is because they were less ‘resolutions’ really and more like serious life changes which I realised needed to be done. I’m approaching 30, I’m getting married and I’d like to do both looking like the best version of me possible.

Firstly, I must admit that I have always been overweight, according to my BMI I am too chubby for my height (cue the “I’m not overweight, I’m under-tall” jokes. Yes, ha ha ha. Except that you’re not.) So, the start of 2014 saw me addressing my diet and my exercise regime, which I know I should have done years ago. And I’ve attacked both in a very head-on way. If you have read my previous posts you will know that I decided to switch to a vegan diet, largely for ethical reasons but also for the added health benefits it brings. I also have been exercising for at least an hour 5 times per week, big talk from the girl who dropped out of the bleep test at school the second that somebody else had, just so she wasn’t the first one to quit. Plus, with a wedding on the horizon, it really is now or never.

I knew that I did have willpower, when I wanted it. I have had no animal products, treats or alcohol since January 6 and I have been keeping a food diary, watching what I eat very carefully, limiting my carbohydrate and caffeine intake and I haven’t missed a session at the gym. And, do you know what? It’s working. Who would’ve thought it? It would seem what they preach is true; all you need to do is eat healthily and move more. Oh, and drink lots of water.

Now, I am by far no expert on either veganism or exercise, nor will I ever claim to be. But I have been thinking about the realisations I have made so far in the measly 4 weeks I have been doing this. Whilst I say I may have realised something, I don’t think I can claim that I am actually doing all these things 100% of the time yet, but they are what I figure I should be doing in order to see this through to my goal weight and my goal state of health.

These are the top 5 things I try to remind myself of on a daily basis, as everyone loves a list. And as I said, I am definitely not an expert;

1) Change your outlook – I used to HATE the gym, it was a bore. If someone tried to talk to me at the gym I used to get rage that all they were doing was adding precious minutes on to the total time I would be trapped in the hell hole and taking away minutes from my ‘me’ time, aka lying on the sofa. So now, I try to think of the gym as ‘me’ time. My time to think, listen to my music and watch the news. I realised that when I used to look at slim people in the gym and think “if I was thin like her, I wouldn’t even be in here!” I was actually being so stupid – perhaps the reason they are slim is because they are in the gym, you idiot! So, I am trying to change my outlook. I am trying to make the gym a hobby, or at least something I don’t dread with a passion.

2) Don’t compare – I have to admit I am still guilty of this, but I am trying to be better. I know it is pointless to compare yourself to every other human being you see. Yet, I still do it. Everyone is different, tall, short, slim, not so slim, it is so silly to compare yourself to anyone else. It doesn’t help with anything at all. I am trying to not wish I had legs like so-and-so and just focus on making what I have the best it can be, because no amount of comparing is going to make a difference. I will always be pale, I will always be 5 ft 6in, I will always have freckles. These things won’t change. But I can have toned arms and slimmer thighs; I just have to work for them. They may not be exactly like someone else’s but they will be the best I can do with what I was given. And that will have to be enough.

3) Be realistic – when looking through wedding magazines, there are models in wedding dresses that I look at and think “I’m going to try and look like that by my wedding day.” (See point number 2, Suzanne! Must try harder!) But, honestly, how realistic is it actually that that is going to happen? I’m not going to miraculously grow 4 inches and lose half my body weight in 8 weeks, am I? All I can do, I have realised, is set a realistic goal and I can adjust it later if needs be. Two pound a week is what I believe is a healthy and sustainable weight loss, according to the blogs and websites I have become addicted to, so I worked out how many weeks I had to the wedding and multiplied it by 2. That’s my goal, and I have no idea what that will look like. All I know is that it will be something; it will be an improvement on where I started from and will be a better version of me than the one at Christmas.

4) Keep the faith – after the initial drop in weight, which I am lead to believe is mostly water, I slowed right down for a little while and became a tad miffed. It’s so easy to be disheartened and fall off the wagon. I have done that before and thought “well, I’m working this hard and not losing anything, what’s the point? I’m having a donut. F-you!” But this time, with the motivation of the wedding and also the added bonus that being vegan means you can’t just turn to chocolate the minute you feel depressed, I powered through it. And if you can do that, you will start to see results on the scales again, it’s inevitable. One tip I have learnt when trying to keep the faith is to put my current weight loss in to perspective by finding something which weighs the same amount as the weight I have already lost, and carrying it around for a bit. You soon realise what a positive impact losing even just a few pounds will be having on your joints and your heart. I remember at Weight Watchers they used to make you sit and hold a house brick wrapped in tin foil every time you lost 7lbs as that’s what they claimed it weighed. It is eye opening, especially when your leg goes to sleep because you’ve sat with a brick on your lap for an hour while Linda tells you in detail why she only lost ½ a pound this week. (A piece of advice though; if you are going to do this don’t do what I did the first time round. I picked up a weight at the gym and carried it around for a bit feeling proud and beaming “blimey! I’ve lost loads of weight. How did I ever walk around with all this extra timber?” Then I had a eureka moment and realised that the weights are in kg and not pounds. Being 2.2 pounds to a kg, I was really carrying around over double what I had actually lost as what I thought was 10 pounds was actually 10kg. Motivating it may be, but accurate it is not!)

5) Treat yourself – it doesn’t have to be with food (who knew?) It could be a manicure, some earrings, a new piece of clothing (to replace something that doesn’t fit any more, hopefully!) or anything which you class as a treat. I find it helps me stay motivated and gives me something to look forward to. It also goes back to point number one about changing your outlook, too; treats don’t have to be of the cake variety to be worthwhile. Get that in your head and you are golden.

So there you have it. I am proud of what I have achieved in a month and I am half way to my first target. I just need to remember that something is better than nothing and that holding that weight at the gym and putting things in to perspective helps with perseverance.

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom as something to think about; think not about how far you have to go, but how far you have come. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.

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