A little energy & determination …

I’ve been described as quite a few things in my time (some not always good!), but for this blog post, I’m going to home in on the two words ‘determined’ and ‘energetic’.

I’ve always been keen and energetic when it comes to life, work and exercise. My best friend once described me as loving every job I ever had (even the so called rubbish ones which were going no where).

And the determined bit, well I’ve noticed over the last few years that when I set my mind to something I can be really determined to reach my goal or do what I’ve set myself to do.

Whether it be train for and run a marathon (or 7!) or quit alcohol for good, or refrain from coffee for a few weeks. I find I can set goals with good reason behind them, and be determined to achieve them.

Anyway, since the marathon I’ve taken some time out to recover, I’ve eaten and slept a lot, and only exercised when I fancied it.

I weigh myself regularly (about once a week) and have done since I started training regularly with the goal of weight loss.

For those of you who don’t know my story, I started with a BMI of 25, weighing in at 147lbs and with body fat of 29.5%. When my Dad (caringly) told me I was looking ‘comfortable’, I decided it was time to make some changes and get fit.

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I used to weigh myself in stones and pounds, but when I started my weight loss journey I decided pounds seemed like a better idea, so started with 147, with an initial goal of getting to 135 (middle of the BMI scale for me).

I reached my goal of 12lbs weight loss (135lbs) after around about 6 months = half a lb a week, or a lb a fortnight. Slow and steady. 6 months of exercising more (training for events) and eating ‘more healthily.’

I’d never been one for dieting and had always been brought up by my dad to eat everything in moderation that the odd sausage supper (or whatever) was ok, as long as you didn’t have it habitually every night.

There was no way on earth I could count calories, so what I did instead was just make better choices with my food (and drink) and made improvements week on week and month on month. I learned about what I should do training wise and nutrition wise and the weight came off, gradually and for good.

Then in 2010 after lots of 10k and quite a few half marathons, I started training for and doing marathons. Burning around 2,300 calories in a marathon, plus the thousands of calories you burn in training, the weight dropped off without me even trying (sorry, but it’s true).

I balanced out with my weight at 124lbs and at about 20% body fat. I’d lost 23lbs and almost 10% body fat. I was running and strength training and I’d found my ‘set point’.

I’d found what works for me, and I stayed there. Lucky me, my weight has maintained at 124lbs or there abouts for a few years now. I go up and down a bit, but generally I hovered around 124lbs and 20% body fat.

I’m really happy with how I am, and I go between being careful with what I eat, to having a greedy runners mindset of ‘I can eat / have anything as I ran it off already’. But there’s always room for improvement. 😉

So what am I getting at?

Well, I’ve found that being energetic (training or exercising lots, and being active throughout the day, taking the stairs etc) and being determined (saying no when I need to, and making myself train when I maybe don’t want to) has helped me to lose the weight and keep it off.

I’ve found something that works for me to maintain my weight and I’m always pushing myself to improve. Being active and eating healthily.

In December last year, I aimed to see if I could drop my body fat further. To 18%, or around 120lbs.

I got the help from a PT Ross from Kaizen (Mr Muscle as I called him), who helped me with my nutrition and training. I had to be strict with my diet, and push myself in my training.

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It worked to some degree, but I didn’t get down to 18% body fat. I lost some fat, but what I did learn was how determined I can be. If I wanted it to work I had to be strict with the changes I was making with my nutrition.

No more ‘I’m a runner, I can eat what I want’. I had to be really careful and restrict what I was eating to really healthy foods. It was hard. But I learned a lot. I learned that maybe being 18% body fat or 120lbs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Maybe it’s better to enjoy life a bit more and not be on a ‘diet’. Maybe I’m fit and healthy and I should appreciate what I have instead of going for what might be impossible?

It was tough for me to find out what works for me to shave the last few lbs off. I read about it, I know all about it. I know what’s meant to work, hard work, HIIT, Strength training, cardio, eating well, hydrating well… but my 12 weeks on a strict intake and training regime hardly made a dent in my weight or body composition.

I wanted to learn how I could shed weight and body fat so that I could help others do the same too. Change their habits, change their lifestyles and help them to lose the weight for good like I had. Find what works for them and help them lose it.

What I did come across was MyFitnessPal. Ross introduced me to it, and at the start I found it hard to use. But after a while it became easier.

Entering foods, having meals in there, copying meals and snacks over into new days. Syncing activity so that it goes straight from Garmin to Run Keeper to the MyFitnessPal app.

You put in your goals, and current weight etc, and it gives you a calorie intake to aim for. If you want to lose weight, your intake minus any activity calories you burn that day should be under your daily goal.

I have a friend who’s used it and it’s helped her lose quite a bit of weight, so I thought I’d pick it up again and see what I can do with it.

Training for and recovering from a marathon is strange. You become more about fuelling and repairing your body than anything else. Running and rest become the most important parts of your training and all else has to take a back seat.

Marathon training is not a time to go on a diet or restrict your food, as it’s this time that your body needs the fuel. For me, marathon training took care of any excess calories and helped get me in the best shape of my life. Forget HIIT, marathon training melted off the lbs, for good. 🙂

So, on the 4th May, the day before my marathon, my weight was 123lbs, and my body fat around 20%. I was in the shape of my life. 🙂

‘Racing Weight’ author Matt Fitzgerald suggests that a woman of my age should aim to have 18% body fat, which would be a racing weight of 120lbs. I was 3lbs heavier than that on race day, but I still did very well. 🙂 (3:32 woohoo!)

The shock for me came after the marathon.

Not only was I in bits, with sore swollen legs, and taking far too many ibuprofen in the hope it would help. My body weight jumped up to 129lbs in the days after the marathon. An extra 5lbs above my usual 124lbs. Eeeeek!

I had a feeling it was just my body rebelling (and saying, ‘what the f&ck did you just make me do?!’), or perhaps repairing itself. And my weight would come down within days as I recovered, but I have to admit, it wasn’t nice to see. I weighed myself again a few days later and my weight had gone down a little:

9th May 2014:
127lbs, 21.7% fat, 57.4% water
27.6lbs fat, 72.9lbs water

Remembering I had started off at 147lbs and 29.5% body fat in 2008. That means that 43.4lbs of me was fat. On the 9th May this year, my body fat was a little more elevated than normal (21.7%) but my fat was just 27.6lbs.

My next phase of training is to train to run the Skye half marathon and I wanted to see what I could get my weight, strength and training to, if I really trained and fuelled well.

So what did I do about it? Well, I took the opportunity to find out what works for me. I took some recovery time from exercise and on Thursday 15th May, I started tracking my food in MyFitnessPal again.

I set targets to get to 120lbs in 5 weeks, and carb / protein / fat ratios of 45/35/20. (I’m still not sure if this will work or not!).

Overnight I stopped eating like a ‘greedy runner’ and started eating like an athlete. I had to note down everything I ate in my app, and daily mars bars, chocolates and sweets wouldn’t be featuring on the lists.

If I was within my calorie intake (having exercised that day) then I might have a higher calorie meal (pizza on Sunday night) or the odd treat (ice cream) but I was being careful not to go over my calories for the day, and I’d aim to make the best food choices I can.

MyFitnessPal helps me to quantify my activity and the fuel I intake, and helps me to ensure I stay under my target calories for the day, and for the week, which SHOULD = weight loss.

For me, exercise is key, to allow me to eat as much as I like to eat.

My choice for these 4 weeks at least will be to aim to keep within my calorie intake (or less), fuel my training and make good food (and drink) choices.

Three days later, being careful and determined to achieve, I was already seeing results:

18th May 2014:
125lbs, 20.9% fat, 57.7% water
26.1lbs fat, 71.5lbs water

A loss of 2lbs in weight, 1.5lbs of which, was fat. Body fat % down by almost 1%. Big changes in a short space of time: using exercise and monitoring and tracking of what goes in. It works.

If I can do this, then so can you.

Now this week I’m getting back into my training and this is where my energy and determination need to come back to me (eeeek!).

Next up are my goals:
– Training for a half marathon in 4 weeks.
– Strength training to aid weight loss and improve strength.
– Racing weight? To get to 120lbs / 18% body fat and look healthy and strong! (If I can, I’m not sure I can, but I’ll try).

Now I wonder, for those out there who can’t seem to shift the pounds. Perhaps you just need to find out what works for you?

Learn about what you should be doing and what you should be eating to help change your life and help you lose the weight. Put the effort in, change your life forever.

No diets, no hunger, no short term crap. Change who you are, what and how you eat and how active you are, for the better.

Eat lots of veg, fish, meat, eggs, berries, low fat dairy, and avoid fried foods, sugars and sweets. Drink lots of water. Eat healthy, home made food.

Are your portion sizes too big? Are you drinking too many calories? Are you eating or drinking too much sugar? Is alcohol impacting any weight loss? Are you active enough?

You can treat yourself occasionally, but always aim to earn your treats by exercising it off before you have it.

Use substitution and make healthier choices to eat better foods to fuel your body, and don’t be greedy (like I used to be, and sometimes still am!!).

Track your weight and body fat weekly and if it helps, track your food and activity too (use MyFitnessPal). Plan your food, stick to your guns and remember why you’re doing this.

Make small weekly changes to improve your fitness levels and your nutrition. Earn your treats by exercising and being active. Be realistic, and be accountable. If you don’t do it, no one else will do it for you.

You can do this, just the same as I was able to lose the initial 12lbs in 6 months, and the other 11-12lbs after that.

A little energy and determination is all you need. Bit by bit, step by step, you can make changes to improve your life too.

What are you waiting for? Just DO IT. (I know you can!)

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1 Response to A little energy & determination …

  1. Gilly says:

    That was inspirational, xxx

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