The cliched new years resolution post. {Except maybe it’s not.}

New year: new you!

It’s everywhere right now, isn’t it? And it’s no coincidence that all the magazine covers at this time of year feature all the “half their size” and “all the many ways to improve yourself” stories as yet another new year ushers in all the inevitable get-fit-and-healthy resolutions. We all treat the start of a new year as some magic bullet of inspiration.

So how do you go about actually grabbing January with both hands and making changes that stick?

As someone who used the new year back in 2006 to start a weight loss program and has maintained the results for a decade the truth is that you can do it at any time of the year at all. The key is that you decide to make changes when you really want to, when you know that enough is enough and you are actually doing it, regardless of what the calendar says.

Having said all that however, I’m at a point where I need to rein in some bad habits that have been indulged for most of the past year. Having kept my weight steady for over ten years has apparently made me so comfortable that in the last year, between the cafe and the subsequent laziness, I have managed to gain an impressive ten kilos. Even allowing for the hardcore near starvation diet I followed while doing Hypoxi last year and the vicious virus that got rid of a few more kilos not long after that, I’m about six kilos off my normal weight. Faced with too tight clothes and the need to go up a size I say fuck that, I worked way too hard to let that happen.

So despite being someone who never really makes resolutions, new years or otherwise, I’ve decided to use this January as the inspiration and motivation I need to make changes. For me these include ditching the cheese that has snuck it’s way into my mouth more than I would care to admit and getting back to sensible vegan food choices rather than relying on carbs and salty snacks, less booze, no more cancer sticks, and some physical activity. When I think how much of a slog it was to lose over 25 kg’s I figure it’s far smarter to lose six instead of waiting for it to become more.

Some tips to get you started:

  • weighing and measuring is very helpful. And not just your waistline or weight. Portion sizes are the key element in how I lost all the weight. We need far less to be satisfied than we think we might.
  • eat when you’re hungry, not when the clock dictates you should. I know this flies in the face of all the advice which suggests we should eat small meals more often to keep our metabolism going. When I was busy running the cafe this was a plausible idea, but I’m just not active enough anymore to eat that frequently. What makes far more sense to me, and helps shed the pounds, is to listen to your body and wait for actual hunger. When I spend the day working at the computer I find that two meals and one healthy snack works far better.
  • eat more slowly. It’s amazing how much less you can eat when you give your brain and stomach a chance to communicate with each other and let you know that you don’t actually need any more food. Putting your fork down in between bites and chewing your food well are easy ways to do this.
  • think one day at a time. I never actually set out to lose 26 kg’s. I knew I needed to drop at least two sizes but when I thought about the number I just didn’t think it was possible. So I set smaller targets, and promised myself a reward for the first 5 kg’s, whenever that happened. I only thought about that day, and focused on making good choices for that one day. As each week brought results it gave me all the motivation I needed to keep at it.
  • choose an activity you enjoy. Personally I fucking hate the gym with a passion. And despite some temporary initial enthusiasm on joining I never stick at it. I hate the whole sweating and jiggling in a room full of strangers thing, so I go swimming instead. I do lap after lap at the local pool and get an all over workout that is calming and uplifting at the same time. I also recently tried stand up paddle boarding and wow, what a workout that is. Do what you love and you will be more inclined to do it at all.
  • get friends and family involved. If you have a friend or family member who is up for some exercise why not join forces? It will also keep both or all of you accountable and more likely to turn up. My husband was my workout buddy and it was also some time out away from the kids when we could catch up on us.

on social challenges

It’s all good and well as you go about your day to day thing, you can cook whatever is healthiest, you can work out and train all you like, and you’re free to quietly chug along doing your thing. Then comes some big social occasion and the wheels will come off. And come off they will, but don’t let that be the end of it. It’s just one day or one night, maybe one meal that was too big or a few too many drinks. It WILL NOT undo everything you have done before, so do not feel like shit, just get back to the good habits the next morning.

Also, if you’re vegetarian or vegan please try not to let anyone make you feel guilty or anti-social. The operative word is try because I still struggle just within myself, feeling like I shouldn’t request we go to a vegetarian cafe because I know people like their bacon for brekkie, and I feel like I can never comment that a menu might be below average when nobody else seems to think so. But be warned that there are going to be people who will imply that you’re being difficult even when you quietly order what works for you, and you will always be begged to “just try some” of the amazing prawns/duck breast/steak/whatever. It’s just the way it is, don’t let it bother you, because usually your friends just hate the idea that you might be missing out. Reassure them that you’re not, and maybe offer them some of your meal to try.

on reading the nutrition panel & having a drink

When it comes to booze I stick to the skinny girl drink which also happens to be my favourite: vodka, soda water, and fresh lime juice: under 100 calories per standard drink. I love my margaritas but each one has 30 ml of sugar syrup in it so I think of them as a sometimes treat. I also refuse to mix my vodka with OJ or lemonade, and can’t enjoy a G & T anymore since I found out how sugar laden tonic water is {literally, a nightmare amount}. Ditto Krispy Kreme’s, as soon as I saw how much fat and sugar is in just one plain glazed donut I could not eat them anymore. Sometimes reading that nutritional panel is enough to keep you from indulging in something you know will just make you feel like shit anyway. The list of ingredients is important too, the items listed first are the ones that make up the bulk of the food. So if the first few ingredients aren’t good ones then put it back and find an alternative that’s better for you.

on sugar: you don’t need to divorce the sweet stuff but you should play hard to get

I followed Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program a few years ago and it was one of the best things I ever did. Mostly I have long since lapsed, although quite a few things remain {lemon instead of sugar in my tea for example}, but it did teach me to be more aware of how much artificial, processed, and added sugar I’m really consuming. And the fact that it does nothing for our bodies nutritionally means I try to steer clear as much as I can. Natural sugars found in fruit are fine with me as long as you don’t plan on eating your body weight in them, but when you find out that the average tomato or BBQ sauce is about 50% sugar then it makes sense to switch it for something less nasty. Garlic dip or hummus make a great alternative, as does a Sriracha type chilli sauce {half the sugar of tomato or BBQ}. Listed under carbohydrates on the nutrition panel, if the majority of the carbs is made up of sugar chances are you should skip it. Lollies and chocolates are obvious, but the amount of hidden sugar in food we think is healthy is frightening.

on eating how your grandparents ate

This is my own way of reminding myself that there are so many modern, usually highly processed foods, that I can do without. Our grandparents generation ate what was in season, what was local, it was simply prepared without the addition of too many extra flavours or seasonings, and they were far more active. My ninety year old grandmother passed away with skin as soft and silky as a baby, without ever once using any skincare products. Her whole life she and my grandfather ate the Mediterranean way: lots of vegies, fresh fruit, seafood, some lean red meat and a little poultry, and lots of olive oil. If they were peckish in between meals they either had some fruit or just waited for the next meal. The idea of instant gratification and upsized calorie-drenched mass-produced meals was horrific to them. My grandmother treated us with fresh fruit or her homemade crepes instead of chocolates or sweets. The key word was moderation, and a long indulgent family meal was meant to be savoured over many hours, rather than overeating in record time and being left feeling uncomfortably full. Not a bad way to approach healthy eating in my opinion.

Ultimately it’s not about how much you want it because if all it took was wishing then there would be no problem at all. It comes down to whether or not you want it enough to start doing what it takes. I think that January can be a great time to harness all the motivation and positivity that’s everywhere. Sustaining it is made easier when you are actually seeing results, and in the end there’s no harm in having a go.

I’ve also decided that in addition to swimming I might dare to dream of REALLY getting toned and fit, so I’ve signed up for the Kayla Itsines app on my phone, which should help me sweat my way to a better body. I’ve always settled for being happy with my dress or jeans size rather than looking my best in a bikini, but after a week spent feeling like jelly blubber and another summer holiday to look forward to in six months I figured it was time to go big or go home. I still can’t see myself actually being toned and strong but then I couldn’t see myself in size ten jeans either once upon a time ago. I might even check in next Sunday with an update.

Maybe.

 

  1. Love, love, love it! I told you that I’ve gone vegetarian for January, and who knows it may extend past the month. At this stage I am finding it relatively easy and feeling better for it!
    Can’t wait to hear about your progress 🙂 xo

    Reply

    1. I found vegan easier than I expected, it was a one month challenge too! But in saying that I think I’m going to ease back to vegetarian too. As for progress not being able to walk up or down stairs is a good start I guess!

      Reply

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