Taking Control

Recently I celebrated my 38th birthday.  The countdown is now on until I turn 40.  Getting older hasn’t really ever bothered me.  Getting older while being overweight does.

I’ve been overweight for most of my life.  Except in my late teens/early twenties when I only ate one meal a day (assisted by an evening shift job after uni and sleeping lots – I couldn’t sustain treating my body that way now); and before we had Squidge when I lost quite a bit of weight via Weight Watchers  by correspondence (it seems sooo long ago!).

I’ve set goals and seen them sail past.  I’ve tried motivating myself by not setting long term goals but rather short term ones like, I’ll eat very well today.  Day by day.

Makes me sound like an addict doesn’t it?  Taking one day at a time. In a way perhaps I am.  Instead of dealing with anxiety and stress by drinking or drugs I reach for food.  On days when I feel anxious I can eat and eat and never fill a void that I truly feel in the pit of my stomach.  And over time it’s become a habit and one that I need to break.

One thing I remember about the period when I didn’t eat or when I was achieving success via Weight Watchers was how good it felt to be in control.  I controlled what I ate and when, rather than blindly giving in to the urge to eat.

Why now?  There’s more and more evidence linking being overweight to disease such as breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and the list goes on.  I carry a lot of my weight above my belly button – close to my heart.  And the simple fact is I don’t feel good.  I don’t feel attractive, or sexy, or confident.  I feel lumpy and awkward.

I know what I should do – eat fewer calories and expend more via exercise.  Sounds simple yet I don’t seem to achieve it.  But I’ve decided to take back control.  It is as simple as saying No.  To others when they offer me sweets or biscuits.  But most importantly to myself when I reach for food I don’t need.

What tools will I use to help me in gaining control?  Well outing myself on the interweb is one – I hope it makes me accountable.

What I really enjoyed about Weight Watchers was the thinking was done for me – I had meal plans which told me what to eat each and every day for 3 months.  It’s harder now that I have kids and have to take into account their likes and dislikes come meal times because I just cannot make multiple meals for the family.  The other thing it did was encourage me to keep track of the food I was eating.

I can achieve the same thing for free via Calorie King.  You set how much weight you want to lose and it sets a target calorie intake for a day.  You record your meals against for that day and see how you are progressing.  There are recipes, articles and forums.  The database of food is pretty good.

There’s also Weigh It Up – the group that was behind Channel 10’s Million Kilo Challenge earlier this year.  I’m sure they are connected to a health brand (Swisse from memory) but it sets out meal plans and exercise for 8 weeks of weight loss.  I’ve taken ideas from here but found it hard trying to juggle the various dietary requirements in the house.  And just recently I subscribed to Healthy Eating Planner on Facebook – they have weekly menu plans and regular motivational posts.

So how did I go today?  My calorie budget was 1460.  I snacked on a banana and mixed nuts but had lunch at a local cafe of a chicken burger with a few chips.  I came in at 1419 calories.  So far, so good.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Swim if you Can

There’s a song from the late 1930’s called “The Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Pool)” by Saxie Dowell.  It’s been a favourite in our house for years, brought to life by Play School (of course!).

One of the lines in the song is ‘”Swim” said the mama fishie “swim if you can”‘.

This is advice that my DB and I are now taking.  This year, for the first time, we enrolled our boys in regular swimming lessons on the weekend.  We found that the twice a year school & vacation swimming was only getting them so far.  They’d progress well during the intensive lessons and then after a break of weeks or even months (depending on when the lessons were held) would have forgotten much of what they’d previously learned.

This term, on a Sunday morning at the bright and early time of 8.20 we head off to the local swimming pool for lessons.  The lessons last for 35 minutes.  DB and I could sit and just watch the boys.  But we’ve decided to take note of the song too – “swim, swim if you can”.  That 35 minutes when the boys do their different lessons at the exact same time gives us a chance to get some much needed exercise.  We take 20 minutes to swim as many laps as we can and still watch the boys for the last 10 minutes or so of their lessons.

In the first week, we struggled to swim 14 laps in that time.  The first two laps were a killer.  Today we did 20 in about 15 or 18 minutes.  Now, the 6th lap is the one that hurts.

This morning as I did my first lap of freestyle I could feel the muscles in my back pull, tighten and then give in.  It felt nice.  I don’t think of anything much while I swim.  Is the band-aid on my toe falling off?  What lap am I up to?  Normally my mind is racing – what I need to do now, in five minutes, what I’ll cook for dinner, the dog needs a walk.

The time spent with DB is valuable, rare time.  A joint interest outside of our family life.  Something that’s just us.  Sometimes you just have to take the opportunities for me, for us, and grab them when you can.

When do you “swim if you can”?