18 December 2012

Being yourself...

...and being true to yourself.

I'll warn you now, this is going to be a bit of a loooong ramble. There is a point (the clue is in the title), but it may take a fair time to get to it.

Before I start though, there's a song playing over and over in my head (and has been for days), and it pretty much sums up how I'm feeling at the moment. In my mind this track is all about keeping on and at it, even when things seem like they've got tough.

It's Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', and there's one phrase which just leaps out at me:

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down

Thanks Tom, I've needed this.

OK, back to the ramble... I was speaking quite recently to a someone (of about my own age), who I've known for a lot of years, about weight loss. As almost always happens, she wanted to know what 'my secret' was. Can you hear me groaning yet?

The usual questions came up, as in 'how' had I lost the weight, and 'what' had I done to make a difference. The final question (asked in an almost accusatory fashion) was 'why' was I able, this time, after years on the lose-regain diet roller-coaster ride (some of which she'd seen happen) to maintain a healthy weight and not just heap wodges of weight straight back on like has happened in the past. I started trying to explain... but we didn't get terribly far.

That was, by the way, because she didn't actually want an actual 'discussion', nor real 'answers', nor any 'advice' or 'tips' to lose weight. Unfortunately it was one of those 'where's the magic bullet' chats which quickly morphed into a diatribe about why making long-term changes was 'impossible' and 'couldn't possibly' work for her (my eyes roll and I sigh at this point). Just the sort of conversation I'm afraid I find quite difficult to handle. I growled, hissed and spat inwardly, but kept my patience... and that's quite a feat for the fat lass!

You see, what I actually 'did' to lose the weight was put in time and effort, and that meant first accepting that it would involve me in some pretty hard graft. That is, to take on board the fact that change wouldn't 'just happen'. I'd realised, at long last, that I'd need to think about 'why' what I'd done before didn't work, formulate a plan of 'how' to get going this time, then tweak, review and tweak again the 'what' I was doing, both with food and activity, over a period of time. In fact, it took several years, but that didn't matter. After all, I didn't get to be obese overnight, did I?

And only by doing that have I been able to drop down from my OMG! June 2007 levels, where I was hurting and miserable and in imminent danger of developing some unpleasant medical issues, to where I am today. This was NOT a 'diet', as I've said many times before, it was a radical and permanent change in lifestyle.

That's right, it wasn't a 'quick fix' but sustained hard work. It was also very much an individually tailored approach. Listening to what had helped other people often had some value, but experimenting and figuring out exactly which elements worked for 'me' - sticking with the bits which were useful and ditching the stuff which didn't help (or outright hindered) was the key.

It was a 'work in progress' right the way through, from the very start of the weight loss phase to the day I was happy to say 'OK, that'll do for me'. What's more, it still, quite frankly, is... even now I'm maintaining... a work in progress

You see, whatever lessons I've learned to date (and I feel I've picked up a lot along the way), I'm no expert. I still don't and indeed can't 'know' everything there is to know. I don't get everything 'right' all of the time and, because of this, I'm still acquiring new insights as I go. A largely empirical approach to collecting data, using myself as the guinea-pig (a.k.a. the 'suck it and see' method), is still one I lean upon, and I guess I always will.

But, having pondered this and similar conversations for a while, and having read a lot about other people's experiences, I've come to another conclusion too.

And that is that I've been pretty fortunate in finding things that worked out well 'for me'. I am all too aware that I'd have struggled much more had there been specific metabolic issues or medical issues contributing to my obesity.

In my case (sad as this may be), it was merely a mixture of a lack of control (guess you could call it greed), some serious emotional eating and a very negative attitude to moving my ass, which got me up to my highest weight. And it didn't plop on overnight - no siree, it took time for that to happen.

Another major element of my personal downfall was a lack of understanding that this was purely an internal problem. Where my increasing weight was concerned, I was doing this to myself and it took far too long (and too many failed 'diets') for me to realise that the 'cure' lay within 'me'.

These days, as you'll have seen from recent posts, I follow a low-carb, pretty much 'primal', type of lifestyle, and it works really well for me for in maintaining my weight loss. I enjoy it, I feel satisfied (and even guilty for this at times) and feel it is a long-term, sustainable plan without involving too much of an effort... mostly.

This self-same plan probably would have been a great way to help me lose the weight, had I known more about it (or maybe not been so darned cynical!) from the outset. However, low-carb isn't necessarily a choice I'd have actively considered had it not been for wishing to find a method to control lovely hubby's diabetes without drugs.

You see, the bulk (and I use that term advisedly folks!) of my weight was lost, slowly and steadily, by following a plan I was already well aware of and had tried many times before - a restricted calorie, healthy foods and generally very low-fat approach with a dose of exercise thrown in for good measure.

That was my plan, that's what I did, and that worked 'for me'. I guess that, in this, I am probably one of the lucky ones - although I wouldn't have agreed with that when I hit my inevitable obstacles along the way!

But, chaps, we are all different people, with different bodies, and what works for me may not work for you - and vice versa.

One of the reasons the whole 'diet' (oooh, how I hate that word!) thing worked for me this time around was partly my good fortune (since I don't appear to be either insulin resistant or particularly carbohydrate intolerant) and that sufficient 'time' and, of course, a fair sprinkling of 'effort' was what I gave it. Hence Tom Petty's track, as 'backing down' wasn't an option for me this time.

And that self-same 'time' and 'effort' is what I'm still prepared to give it so that I never, ever go back to obesity and all the problems and angst which came with it. The weight loss, and all it's benefits, quite literally IS worth a lifetime to me.

And so the point (if you've stuck around this long!) of this blether is...
...that losing weight is YOUR journey to make.

So be yourself. Yes sure, you can read loads about other people's experiences, but they will be, at best, some 'rough guidelines' only for you to choose to follow... or not. The choices YOU make are what will ultimately lead to your success (...or failure, to be blunt). But the changes you want to see won't and can't happen in the blink of an eye - be prepared to give it time too.

The journey is all about learning about YOU. Part of that will involve figuring out how to actually 'hear' and then 'listen to' the things YOUR own body is trying to tell you. Not always easy to do but, like most things in life, practise makes... well, if not 'perfect' then at least 'possible'.

Another part is learning 'how' to make the changes (step by step) that your body suggests. Again, not easy. But it is so worth it - as L'Oréal are always telling us!

What I hope will happen is that you'll find a way (your way) to take your body from the dark, 'heavy' place you no longer wish to inhabit to a lighter, brighter, happier one. But this will be YOUR way and don't let anyone ever tell you that it's the wrong way. If it works for you... well, 'nuff said!

This chap has it pretty well 'nail on the head'...
Be yourself - not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be” Henry David Thoreau

Heck, Tom Petty and Thoreau in one post! Who's feeling philosophical today then, eh?


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