The most difficult step in any journey is the first one. Often just the thought of taking that step is daunting and one that we may think about and even plan for a while, before we actually take the plunge and make it.
In my experience this is true of most things in life, but especially with losing weight. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have started this journey many times in the past with varying degrees of short-lived success. Each time I started again I would say to myself, ‘You’re going to do it this time!!’ And I would mean it, but if I was honest with myself, deep down I didn’t really believe it and if I was to be truly honest I always left a back door open just a bit, so the failure this time wouldn’t hurt so much or come as a surprise.
Before I embarked on my journey this time, I was going through some kind of rebellion against what was actually happening. I knew I was overweight, unfit and at risk, but I pushed against it. I remember feeling resentment and thinking to myself, I don’t care!! I remember eating ridiculous amounts of food to the point of feeling sick, to almost test that I could. I truly believe it was a form of self-harming and definitely self-loathing. Even though I was saying to myself ‘I didn’t care’ I did, as I felt terrible inside. I would describe this as ‘feeling black’ like the tar that encases a smokers lungs, I was consumed from within with the blackness.
However taking that first step is and was an important one for me and worth the effort, as I found out this time around.
For me it was a combination of things that finally pushed me into action. As I shared in my first post, one of these was the truly horrible picture me of my at my son’s tea party. But there were other underlying things that contributed too. At that point I felt utterly down, in fact I would say I had hit rock bottom. None of my clothes fit me anymore, I hated the way I looked, I only had mirrors that were shoulder height so I didn’t have to face the reality of how I actually looked and at my true size. And I felt physically ill.
Any form of movement never mind exercise was a tremendous effort and I even found walking up my stairs at home a challenge. It had reached the point that I had to pause half way up them as it was such an effort and I was labouring for breath by the time I had dragged myself to the top. I remember standing, puffing, on our landing at the top of the stairs, thinking to myself, as my heart physically pounded against my chest, I’m going to die if I don’t do something about this!
It was at that precise moment and I can remember it clearly, that I thought to myself, I’m going to change my situation. I remember is was an incredibly emotional moment, I actually had tears in my eyes, but I also felt an absolute determination to sort it out!
But how would I do this? Where would I begin? I had such a mountain to climb and I’d tried so many diets before and none of them had worked longer than a few week. What could I do that was any different this time?
Well, what I did was sit down and have an honest chat with my husband and explained how I was feeling and that I wanted to finally tackle the issue that everyone else could see but me.
I have to say that this was one of the most difficult conversations that I’ve ever had and it was daunting, but worth it. Rob was totally understanding and looked relieved that I was speaking about it. He said had been really concerned, but couldn’t broach the subject with me as it always led to an argument with me becoming upset and him feeling terrible for raising it in the first place.
It turned out to be the best conversation I could have had, as he was on my side and more importantly now by my side. This was the first step in building my arsenal of support, which I’ll look at in more detail in future posts.
We worked out a simple plan of action in what we were going to do to make a start, which included finding and me going to a local slimming group and beginning (as a family) to follow a healthy eating plan.
I found a local group and I remember the night of the first class, I was terrified of going in. But I didn’t want anyone else involved at that point, as my success was important to me. I didn’t want any extra pressure, however well meaning, to knock the precious amount of resolve I’d managed to muster. So I went it alone and it was so difficult.
I remember walking in and seeing literally dozens of people milling about, chatting and waiting to get weighed. I was the biggest person there and it took all my strength not to turn around and walk back out of the door and run back to the comfort of home and the ‘safety’ of my known, even if somewhat, dismal routine, but I didn’t.
I was greeted by the group leader and warmly welcomed, got myself a coffee and sat in a smaller group of other new people and listened about what the plan and ethos of the group was. Then sat through the group session, known as ‘image therapy’, where people talked through their successes, shared tips for people who was struggling or who had challenges coming up and supported people who had had a gain.
The atmosphere was so warm, friendly and supportive, there was no judgement or recrimination, no one said, well you shouldn’t have had that or you should try harder. Instead they focused more on the positives and in planning for the future and success. This was a new thing on me, as like most of us, I was my own worst critic, usually making disparaging remakes to myself, always ready to focus on the 10% negative and forget about the 90% positive. Little did I know that with a bit of help and practise this would also become my way of living or more accurately losing.
I remember sitting through that first group in a bit of a daze, but also with a sense of dread, as I knew that at the end of the session the new members were added to the system and weighed. This weighed heavy on me, as I had no idea how heavy I had become but I knew it was bad. I worried that the scales wouldn’t register my weight. It had been a long time since my GP scales tracked my weight, maybe this would be the same. How embarrassing would it be in front of everyone, if they didn’t…
Of course this was an unfounded fear, but a real one to me. It turned out at the end of the class, no one except the group leader knew what I weighed and that the scales took way above what I weighed, as it was a specialist slimming group. How rubbish would it be if their equipment wasn’t up to the job!
However the act of getting weighed was a traumatic one and I couldn’t believe how heavy I had become. No wonder I was struggling to walk and climb stairs, no wonder I was breathless and feeling so ill! That moment hardened my resolve to finally get this sorted out once and for all. I remember saying to the group leader, “I’m in this for the long haul, this is it, I’m going to change”.
I left the group that night feeling physically sick and burst into tears as soon as I got in the car.
However I left that night not only armed with a set of books, but with a newly set determination to get my life back!!!
When I got home, I told Rob all about it and shared my experience and we both agreed to read everything and give this our all, 100%
I read everything, felt truly motivated and inspired and then went to follow the plan for the first day and realised that I had nothing to eat… My cupboards was full of premade jars and sauces for meals, my freezer was full of convenience foods that we’d been living on for the past however many years and I was faced with my first dilemma.
Do I eat what I have and start tomorrow, once I’d been shopping? Or be creative and start as I mean to go on?
I did the latter and rustled up something that fit the brief and went shopping the day after, filling our cupboards, shelves, fridge and freezer with fresh veg, meats, cans of tomatoes and passata, herbs and spices.
It felt really good to be doing something so positive, but also a little alien too. For example, I was used to having sandwiches for lunch with crisps and maybe a biscuit or chocolate bar. I didn’t relish the thought of having salads everyday forever, however on really looking at the choices and options I had, I discovered I had lots of them.
Instead of sticking with my tried and tested lunches, I started having baked potato, baked beans and salad. Homemade soup, there are endless variation of these. Mug shots with fruit, homemade crustless quiche with salad. I found that if I thought about it there were lots of choices I could make.
That first week was a bit of challenge, as I had years of unhealthy and bad habits to unlearn and lots of new ones to develop and adopt. Apparently is takes at least 6 weeks to learn a habit, this fact became my mantra for the foreseeable future.
I learnt to think about things in advance, which meant that I could work out solutions and troubleshoot any challenges or potential blocks that may come up. Again I’ll go into this more in future posts.
That first week went by in a flash and when I went back to the group for the second time, I was feeling apprehensive as I had no idea how well I had done.
When I got to the scales, I could have fallen off them with surprise, I’d lost 9lb in one week, eating meals which felt pretty normal really. They were just cooked from scratch and made with a few tweaks like substituting oil with low cal spray oil and not eating lots of bread, and spreads, choosing other alternatives as I mentioned earlier.
As you can imagine I was delighted!
I had the choice at this point to set target for next week, which I did at 2lb. Setting targets gave me focus and something achievable to aim towards, rather than continually looking at the bigger picture and becoming overwhelmed by the scale of the journey.
This was also true for my overall target weight, you’re encouraged to set this at the start, however the scale of this was just too much for me to face at that stage and I decided to focus on smaller goals of 2 – 3 stones at a time, which I could reach then reset.
I’ve used this approach until very recently only now setting my final target, which I’m delighted to say is only 10lb away. I decided to stay with the group, as for me the structured and peer support approach was beneficial and has been central to my success.
However I’m aware that slimming groups aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and are actually only a part of the success I’ve experienced this time. I had previously attended a similar group on the same plan and had not been so successful. I will be looking at other aspects that I needed to consider and adopt in my next blog. Mainly around my past experiences and the demons that lurked there, hindering my many past attempts in different guises.
I hope you’ve found this post inspiring and that it helps you take that first important and scary step in starting your own journey. The first step is the hardest, but a wise teacher once said to me, in beginning to start something your half way to successfully completing it.