If you haven’t read Part 1 of Juliets Story – CLICK HERE to read that first
On with Juliets words……
First Measurements With John
03/10/14 – It had taken me a few weeks to find a trainer that I thought was right for me. I needed someone who had experience of training women to lose weight and someone with plenty of knowledge and experience in weight loss, nutrition and training. I looked at many local trainers’ websites but John really stood out for me, he had lots of success stories of real people and I enjoyed reading his blogs. My first session training with John was a mixture of excitement and nerves with many fears running through my mind:
- What if I make a fool of myself?
- What if I can’t do what he asks of me?
- What if I am too fat to train?
- What if the scales don’t go high enough to weigh me?
- What if I faint/my heart rate goes too high/I’m sick/a UFO lands on the rugby field and beams me up?…………………………..!
Well needless to say none of the above fears became reality.
John was friendly and professional, he didn’t gasp in horror as I stepped on the scales or pre-judge me in anyway, he wanted to understand my goals and then help me to achieve them. It was clear that John was very knowledgeable and had already worked with many clients to lose large amounts of weight and become fitter and happier with their bodies. The great thing about John is that he also has nutrition qualifications and he has studied and understands the psychological aspects of weight loss too.
There was also another very important first meeting that day;
It was the first time I set eyes on “Dave” the Concept 2 rower which, against all odds, in the weeks to come, would become my favourite exercise! The session was challenging but fun and I left feeling like I had taken another big step on my journey to being a healthy weight. John explained that the focus was on losing fat and maintaining muscle mass and that high intensity interval training and resistance training was how it would be achieved. I would train twice a week with John and continue swimming on the weekday mornings when I wasn’t training.
John asked me to think about my fitness goals and encouraged me to look at other goals such as fitting into a smaller item of clothing rather than just focusing on the number on the scales. I had already set myself a list of 16 weight loss interim goals to see me through to target. I had already achieved the first 2 and was well on my way to the third! It gave me a great sense of achievement being able to tick off the milestones and helped me to focus each day on achieving my goals.
However I didn’t have any goals not focused on weight, so I began to think of other ways in which I could measure my success. I had jeans in sizes 18 – 26 from my previous weight loss attempts, my size 26 were already comfortable and I would try on the next size down each week to see my progress as my body shrinks into them. There was also some very basic fitness goals that I wanted to achieve –
- 10 full press ups
- 1 pull up
- Run 5k
As my training continued through October I began to really enjoy rowing, I seemed to be fairly good at it despite my weight and poor fitness level and so I wanted to set myself a bench mark in order to improve my rowing. I chose a 2k row to begin with.
John had begun to work on improving my confidence encouraging me to go it alone at the gym in between sessions. I started out just going on a Saturday and Sunday early morning when the gym was not as busy but I soon caught the bug and instead of my usual swimming sessions in the morning I was hitting the gym. John also gave me challenges of exercises to do at home if I wasn’t going to be in the gym, it began with setting a timer for 15 minutes and going up the stairs 2 at a time then coming back down and repeating as many times as possible in the 15 minutes. He encouraged me to do something every day even if it was just 15 minutes high intensity, this was a great habit and is do-able, there’s always a spare 15 minutes.
Although I was happy with my low GI plan given to me by the professors on the diet experiment John as a qualified Nutritionist encouraged me to think about how foods affected my energy levels. This lead me into eating a more protein based breakfast. Although porridge had been working for me I did find I was far more hungry come lunch time than if I had scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and a leafy green vegetable. I found my energy levels were higher at mid-morning and I wasn’t as hungry at lunch time.
On 25/10/14 I decided to get stuck in to my rowing goals and set myself a time to beat for the 2k row. It was incredibly hard work and I pushed myself very hard in order to set the best time I possibly could.
Afterwards I felt pretty awful, I didn’t hang around in the gym to stretch out I went straight to the changing rooms. I wasn’t too sure what a good time was for me but I knew I had worked very hard to achieve that time and it was just a benchmark to improve against. John was super pleased (and a little surprised) with my time. It wasn’t just about the time I achieved though it was also seeing how far I had come in less than a month, 3 weeks before this –
- I hadn’t rowed for 10 years.
- I was not confident enough to go into the gym for fear of being ridiculed or making a fool of myself.
- I was afraid to push myself with exercise for fear of being ill or having a heart attack.
Training was going well and I didn’t feel like I was dieting – just making healthy choices but I felt like I wasn’t losing weight fast enough. I had a total of around 16 stone to lose and some weeks I would only lose 1-2 lbs, I couldn’t help but feel I should be trying harder. Despite the fact that I was already training 6-7 days a week and eating around 1300 calories I decided that in order to lose weight quicker I would slash my calorie intake further. I began to aim to eat just 800 calories a day in the hope that this would result in a boost in weight loss of around 1lb a week. What I didn’t account for was the reduction in my energy levels and the mood swings that eating such a low amount of calories would bring. I just wanted faster results but actually I felt quite ill and unhappy. I talked it through with John, I had made quite an error in judgement but had recognized it early on and increased my calories back 1300 a week later. It was a good lesson learned by me and I will not make that mistake again!
As suggested by Tanya Byron when filming with the BBC I had also found myself a Clinical Psychologist that practiced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are a few websites that allow you to view Clinical Psychologists in your area and the therapies they offer. I began the therapy the week before my first session with John, I felt I needed to make radical changes to the methods I had previously used to lose weight as this time I would be successful in losing the weight and maintaining the loss. CBT was something new I introduced having never tried it before. It taught me to be kinder to myself and offered me techniques to understand my ways of thinking and how to recognise and overcome thoughts that could be detrimental to my weight loss efforts. One of my biggest downfalls when losing weight is the concept of being ‘on’ the diet and ‘falling off’ the diet by eating things that are ‘not allowed’. I am enjoying the low GI way of eating, I don’t want it to be a short term change, I want to eat this way for the rest of my life. I attended a family get together at the end of this month. There was a buffet with not a single item of food that would be considered low GI or healthy, but my new found CBT techniques helped me to see it as just 1 meal out of many meals I would eat that week and therefore it would have very little impact on my overall weight loss that particular week. On previous weight loss attempts I would have seen the buffet as a license to have a full blow out over the entire weekend which would lead me to feeling I had failed again and I would struggle to get back to my previous healthy eating. But not this time, I ate from the buffet and I enjoyed it but I also made sure the rest of my meals were the healthy foods I enjoy.
I also decided to buy myself a pair of designer jeans Waist 31” Leg 34” (Size 12/14) as another aim to shrink into. When I tried them on for the first time on October 13th 2014 they would barely go over my knees and I couldn’t get them any further up my calves. I had booked myself a holiday in New York for 31st August 2015 and these are the jeans I want to travel in ….
I am almost a stone lighter than October and feeling fantastic at just over 4 stone lighter than when I started, my size 24 jeans were fitting nicely and well on the way to wearing size 22.
John introduced me to a book ‘The Success Principles’ a rather large book and pretty daunting considering I had not read much non-fiction for the last few years. He suggested I tackle 10 pages a day and before I knew it I would be through it. The book was excellent and reignited my wish to improve myself in all areas of my life not just weight loss. It got me to thinking about what I actually wanted from my future. At 30 years old I wanted so much more, I felt I had plodded through life so far and not really lived every day. I drew myself a dream board or where I wanted to be in the future.
My CBT sessions were going well; I had begun Mindfulness Meditation as suggested by my therapist. When it was first suggested to me I must admit I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea because of the pre-conceived idea of what it actually entailed. I didn’t think I had time to meditate every day, I had rowing to do! How wrong I was! Not only did I have time to practice the meditation I also found it hugely beneficial. It gave me a different outlook, it seemed to help me to see things clearer. Guided meditations allowed me to see my thoughts as clouds in my mind just watching them pass by and not having to interact with them unless I choose to do so. As someone that suffers with anxiety I often find myself getting worked up about situations beyond my control. This type of meditation taught me how to allow those thoughts to pass on by without getting involved in them. My therapist and I were also doing a lot of work on compassion based therapy – being kinder to me. It became clear that the only way I was going to achieve my goals was by being kinder to myself. If I beat myself up every time I didn’t meet my expectations I was just setting myself up to fail.
I had caught the rowing bug and I was keen to see if I could improve my 2k time so I decided to give it another go a few weeks after my first attempt.
I was so pleased to knock a massive 6 seconds off my time but what surprised me even more was how I felt AFTERWARDS. After my first row I had felt awful but this time although I was tired I seemed to recover quicker afterwards.
By the end of November my time for a 2k row was down to 8 minutes 17 seconds and I decided I wanted to add a 2k row in less than 8 minutes to my fitness goals.
John was pretty confident that with a plan I would have this in the bag by the end of December, I wasn’t so sure, 7 min 59 secs seemed a long way away but I would do my best to better my time.
I couldn’t believe the change in myself, I was never very keen on sport because I was so awful at every sport I had ever tried I gave up trying. Finally I seemed to have come across something I enjoyed doing. I knew the rower was good for my fitness levels and of course it helped with the weight loss too. I was so keen to get to the gym as much as possible to practice my rowing and to get my time as fast as possible. It was such a motivation hitting personal bests week after week I almost forgot the reason for doing it to begin with was the weight loss!
Another stone down in November and my size 24 clothes are getting quite big now and I am able to fit into my size 22 jeans.
I have a 2 week all-inclusive holiday booked in Mexico at the end of the month over Christmas. I don’t want to go on holiday and put on weight so I am aiming to maintain my weight for those 2 weeks, John has given me an exercise plan for me to do whilst I am in the hotel as well. I’m feeling a little concerned about going backwards with my weight whilst on holiday but I have a plan(!) of how to maintain whilst I am away.
- Get out and about exploring the area – walking in 30 degree heat will burn a few calories.
- Do plenty of swimming.
- Do the exercise plan John set out daily – leg raises, body weight squats and press ups.
- Continue with a protein rich breakfast like an omelet as I know this keeps me fuller for longer.
- Eat anything I fancy but in moderation.
- At buffets just get a very small portion to begin with and if still hungry after go back for more.
- Eat until 80% full – not stuffed.
My CBT sessions came to an end in December, I was keen to continue with therapy but my role at work had changed slightly and I was unable to make the appointments fit around my work commitments. I was feeling much stronger though and I had learnt some fantastic skills with the CBT I had already received. I could continue with guided meditation and also self-help CBT at home. Also the book John had lent me reignited my passion for self-improvement so I ensured I had plenty of books to take on holiday with me that would continue to help me improve my self-esteem and self-compassion.
But before I could enjoy my 2 weeks of sunshine I had some serious rowing to take care of and a goal of a 2k row less than 8 minutes to hit! I set out my rowing plan for December to give myself the best possible chance to reach my goal I penciled in 3 attempts first thing on a Monday morning.
It didn’t take 3 attempts to reach my goal …… my first attempt on 8th December I rowed a 2k in 7:59:00!! I was over the moon, I hadn’t thought I would be able to reach this goal by the end of December so to do it on my first attempt was incredible. I had worked so hard to get to this point and I was so incredibly proud of myself for this achievement. I had never really felt proud of myself for anything before and it still makes me feel emotional thinking of that first row under 8 minutes. I had absolutely no intention of letting it stop there though, I wanted to get my row less than 7 minutes 30 seconds and so I added that to my list of goals to achieve!
I was all ready to go away and enjoy my holiday I had a plan in place and some new size 22 holiday clothes. Going away on holiday had always previously been a pretty humiliating experience. Sitting in a standard class seat was incredibly uncomfortable at 27 stone and I was always very aware of the poor person that had to sit next to me. I was unable to do up the belt so I had to ask for an extension too. I always felt like eyes were staring at me thinking, I hope I don’t have to sit next to her on the plane as we were checking in. To avoid this I had taken to buying an extra seat when I flew so no one else had to sit next to me. It made going on holiday pretty expensive and there were always issues when trying to check in with an extra empty spare seat the whole experience was utterly soul destroying but I didn’t want to give up my holidays and this was what I had to do. BUT … this time was different, I didn’t need an extra seat, I didn’t need a belt extension, I was still overweight but booking an upgraded seat meant I had more than enough room to be comfortable and not encroach on anyone else’s space.
The End of 2014
Finishing 5 months of dieting and 3 months of training 86lb lighter than I had started out on 5th July 2014!
The BBC show ‘What’s the right diet for you?’ was due to air mid-January and I was already becoming a bit concerned that it may have been the TV show that had kept me so focused over the last few months. I needed to work hard to ensure I stayed focused and continue to work hard after the show had aired.
In any case had more rowing goals to achieve!!!!