One Year Down – Many More To Go…
One year ago I made a conscious decision to stop making excuses to myself.
I have, since childhood, battled and raged against the temple of my soul – my body. It has been the bane of my existence – the constant fluctuating weight, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and general despair. I hated the bulges, the fat shaming and the feelings of inadequacy that accompanies them. The excuses were many – and for many years I clutched onto them daily & dearly.
Yes, childhood trauma, hormonal issues and terrible gynos has had an impact. But I was no longer a child and I decided I had made enough excuses to myself. And so I started a journey of conscious eating – not just healthy – but conscious. Because the calories piled on in the unconscious moments of reaching for bowls of peanuts and murukku at events and on days when I felt a bit of angst, a good slice of cheesecake.
I knew I was not happy in the way I looked and felt. I knew I had to do something about it. I have always been into sports, been fit and been a person who enjoys exercise. Yet I had stopped gymming during Covid – save for the sessions I did with my friend online.
I would cycle, swim, do yoga and play badminton but these were sporadic. So when a friend recommended a gym that had personal training but in a different way to the usual Sri Lankan gyms, I thought what the heck, I would give it a go.
This was in June last year – in the middle of no fuel. I decided to cycle to the gym – a good 9km one way. It was fine – I enjoy cycling. And so I started – at a place designated for Athletes and Unleashing whatever they were hiding (lol). I liked their approach. No pushing, no shouting to do more. But gentle coaxing. And no toxic ‘bro hoes’ – thank God.
My strategy has been to count calories, do 10,000 or more steps a day and to strength train along with yoga, cycling and swimming. I arrived at this through years of trial and error, dieticians, intermittent fasting and of late, from fitness people, docs & sports nutritionists on social media who use science as a basis for their content.
I have never really lifted weights, even when I was training as an athlete. I did it for a while as a teen and then at a gym where the gym bros dictated to the trainers and where I watched men with belts, deadlift with the worst form I had seen. An old back injury that loves reminding me of its effects has been my warning for any bad form or back straining work. And so I am super aware and careful.
From June through the Aragalaya, through a bout of Covid (ugh), through about 4 bouts of food poisoning (thanks to old seafood at so called big hotels) and through nerve wracking personal challenges I told myself, no, you will continue to do this.
I got Omicron and since it didn’t affect my chest, I walked the 10,000 steps daily – around my room. Through days of food poisoning, I walked the 10,000 steps and ate foods that were not calorie dense. It sounds madness but it helped. It helped me to focus on a greater goal than just that moment’s pain (though it felt like death).
My weight steadily dropped as I was in a deficit of roughly 400 – 500 calories a day. Towards Dec, this number reduced and I felt the need to eat. I have not dismissed those feelings but I was taught to handle them by a psychologist. Because eating cues are more often than not, psychologically triggered. And no, it’s not something you can self diagnose or easily address. So I have not ignored those cues but I am aware of what they are and how to handle them. So I upped my calorie intake to a maintenance level.
I am a conscious foodie. I love food. I have a diverse palate and I love to cook. Which is why I firmly refuse to subscribe to boiled chicken breast & broccoli and the like. One must have the palate of a cow to find such items enticing. I do not. And so I would rather eat in a lesser deficit, eat small amounts of the things I like and still maintain my daily calorie goals. Yes, this includes chocolate, desserts and carbs.
I plateaued somewhere in Feb and finally told myself to screw it and stopped weighing myself all the time. I instead focused on being kinder to myself without having a berating session for not being able to maintain what I started. And so I continued, the calorie counting, the steps and the workouts. And I find I have a better relationship with myself than some miserable weight goal. My calorie deficit is less but it is working.
Right now, my focus is on consistency. Not perfection. And that has been far better than trying to be the superwoman types that you read about.
I told myself, it’s ok to have down days and to fall off the paddy wagon and eat like a piggy. What matters is that I get back on track. And that the down days aren’t as often as the consistent ones.
It’s not easy. But I am learning as I go along and I have become so much more aware of what I eat and to be kind to the body I have. It’s the only one I’ve got and I ain’t doing any cosmetic surgery to it. It’s about a better relationship with food, with myself and being patient. I am not a patient person but I understand the need to be.
I am yet to hit my target goal of being the best version of me – I don’t think I will ever be happy 100% and that’s ok. I have told myself I will always be a work in progress. And hence I will always be improving. My competition is with no one but myself.
I have no medals or accolades to show, it’s not some dramatic transformation but it is a massive learning curve from the binge eating teen to the existential 20 something year old with bulging discs to the person I have become today – stronger than yesterday and learning to love what is mine. It’s been a long journey and I have miles to go but what matters is that I stay true to the path and to myself. And that is sometimes a far greater achievement than winning a competition or reaching some weight goal.