Just a few short weeks ago I was hibernating blissfully, cocooned in front of the tv with days punctuated only by the next decadent snack and walks down to the canal with the dog, and evenings by a lovely glass of wine. Fast forward, and I'm back at my desk (alot) having gained 18 stone. It’s time to get the show back on the road. But this year, I'm being kind to myself.
Remember when January featured the latest reality TV star releasing their cringe fitness DVD? At least their bodies were relatively normal. These days it’s Instagram and Daily Mail Showbiz with their images of surgically enhanced “influencers” we could never hope to emulate even if we wanted to. Because even they don’t look like them! But whatever your approach to health and fitness this new year, I believe being kind to yourself is more helpful than the subtle self-loathing the diet and fitness industries are so keen to tap into in order to sell more products. Especially when this has been a new year like no other, and not in a good way.
Like many people who’ve battled with a healthy approach to food and exercise, I've always had a bit of a history of berating myself for my bad habits, which of course led me down a rabbit hole of even worse habits. But refreshingly, this was the first Christmas and new year that I haven't beat myself up for falling off the wagon and gaining weight. I really enjoy having a bloody good rest in every sense and know that unlike my 30s – which saw me yoyo between all or nothing extremes (pizza and wine by night, smoothie diet by day weren’t uncommon) it won't last forever. I just don’t think I felt my needs were important enough back then, so I went at every attempt at a ‘new me’ hell for leather knowing I was on borrowed time before I folded and the takeaway menus came out again.
These days things are different. Those of you who’ve read about my weight loss journey know that after trying every conceivable diet, I finally found one that worked, and have been a 5:2 diet devotee ever since. So resuming my healthier habits last week, I reintroduced fasting on Tuesday and Thursday and although my body went into ‘where the hell is my selection box?!’ crisis mode, I survived unscathed because the rest of the week was pretty moderate, with no punishing extremes.
This week’s step was to introduce some exercise in addition to the two fasting days, but I had to consider the added complication of lockdown. My preference would always be running, but I also have a dog that needs walking and the rules say I can’t do both. So to improvise, I've set up a monthly subscription to Les Mills, which has allowed me to revisit the body combat classes I had to thank for getting me back on my feet right at the start of my journey. I’ve managed one 30 minute session, but I’ve also ordered a decent quality skipping ripe for the days when I just can’t get away from my desk for long. Just five minutes skipping leaves me feeling like I’ve run 5 miles! It also gloriously dawned on me that there are no rules attached to spending time in my garden, so come rain or shine (unlikely to be the latter), that's where I've been doing my workouts. And although working out in sub-zero temperatures surrounded by snow has been odd, I’ve loved it! All I have to do now is keep at it, which I know is far from easy when everything feels upside down.
I guess I’m sharing this because at this time of year, many of us feel ambushed by insidious messages from newspapers, magazines and social media which insinuate that we need to do – or be – better. But it’s ok to remember that you’re ok just as you are, and that any decisions you make about your health should be made independently of some twerking, Dubai-dwelling z lister promoting a tea/tablet/diet that makes you shit yourself thin.