Monday, January 7, 2013

What got you started? - What's your motive?

I remember as a young kid, and right through my mid to late teens I was always slim.  And by that I mean really slim.  Fit, active and agitated if sitting still for too long.  Then comes work, then kids and family commitments.  Month by month, year by year the physical activity goes out the door.  I slowly but surely lost the toned core and general fitness.  It took some time before I really noticed it in any form of consciousness.  I was not overweight nor carrying any real 'baggage' for the first few years but merely not what I used to be.

Sound familiar?  To many I'm sure it does.

It wasn't until my mid 20's where I began to notice that "hey I'm beginning to gain weight".  Not being all that happy about it I'd make weekly decisions to eat better.  Sadly this was generally a few day commitment and I'd go straight back to old habits and stayed with my pathetic excuses that I had no time to exercise due to long work hours and a family with 3 kids.  And so the continual pattern of weight gain slowly kept creeping on.  Nearing 30, and now well into the 'overweight' category I was emotionally upset with how I'd let this state sneek up on me.  "What an idiot" Again on a regular basis I'd decide to try and eat better but to no avail.

What was I doing wrong?  Why was I letting this happen even though I was not happy about it?  I knew the science. I knew what to do and how to do it due to studies in biomechanics and nutrition in my late teens.

So, I'm now fat, double chinned and ashamed of the picture in the mirror.  What have I done? I used to love being fit and active.  Now I can't even bare to remove my shirt in public and rarely even at home.  I swore to myself when I hit 95kg's that I'll in no way whatsoever let myself hit the ton.

Well............ October 2011 I braved a rare hop on the scales expecting mid to high 90kg's as per typical.  Having a reading of 106kg's and checking again.  My heart stopped.  WTF?????  104kg's for 186cm's tall was the line between overweight and obese on the 'height/weight' guide. (I know there's more to it than that but still, it's a poor reflection of oneself)

In a way I'm now glad I had that result.  The feeling I got that morning and how it cut me up inside I have deliberately held on to almost every day since.  Some may think it wise to forget the past and move on.  Not in this case for me.  That exact moment has been my driving force to do something about it!  Being upset by it for years was one thing, but what those 3 digits did to me was gut wrenching.  At that very moment; not tomorrow, or next week, or starting January 1......... but right there I made myself a promise to do something about it. I was to lose that weight and get back to my ideal weight ASAP.  I knew it was predominantly my poor eating habits with far too much convenience foods and carbohydrate reliance.  Exercise was poor but this was relating more towards physical fitness rather than the waistline itself.

I estimated by retrospect guestimation that I was consuming around 3000 calories per day, and these were predominatly empty calories.  With a relatively sedentry lifestyle this is not a good mix.  That day I agreed that NO MATTER WHAT I would not consume more than 1000 calories per day until I was under 90kg's, and then nothing over 1500 until at goal weight which was 82kg's.  Can I point out that this an extreme change and I do not recommend it.  It is not healthy on the body and can cause more harm than good; but this was the state I was in at the time.  I'm very much an ALL OR NOTHING kind of guy.  I knew that if I did not do it fast and get quick results I would lose faith in it and probably revert back like I had so many other times in past years.

So how am I going to drop to under 1000 calories per day and still keep some level of nutrition?  Personally I decided to use a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) shake as my staple for breakfast and lunch, and then have a normal but clean dinner.  I stayed away from the fad brands plastered all over TV by the celebs and went with a proper nutrition controlled product (or as best as this chemical feast can be anyway). The shakes were 150 cals per serve and contained all the vital nutrients the body needs to function, so by lunch I'm only up to 300 cals, leaving me a 700 cal budget for dinner with the family.

Like I said, this was to start TODAY!!!!  No excuses.  I went down to the chemist and got them.  By lunchtime my stomach was going crazy.  I don't care.  I still had the emotions and those 3 digits 106 burned into my eyes.  By dinner it was almost unbareable.  Still don't care.

By day 3 I was going nuts!  The only thing that kept me going was that feeling I'd learned to hold on to.  The feeling I was not prepared to ever face as  reality again.  Whenever it became too much, I'd guzzle a large glass of water and find myslef something to do to stay occupied.  It helped but only temporarily.

At the end of week 1 I'd lost 5.6kg's!!!!! WooHoo!!!!! What a relief. It's working.  Tough, but working.  The next week another 5.2kg's.  WHOA, 10.8kg's in 2 weeks.  I'm back under 100kg's!!!  I knew in the back of my mind that this was too sudden and I should really back off a little as there is no way that was all fat loss.  However, I was still so hyped up about where I was 2 weeks earlier I thought I'd deal with that later.  I had a fair bulk on muscle to begin with so I'm OK for now.

By week 3 the stomach was beginning to chill out a bit.  Yay, the body is becoming accustomed to the lower intake.  Still a challenge, but manageable.  Anytime I had the urge to break the plan I thought about how difficult the last few weeks had been and that one cheat day meant 2 more days of this to make up for it.  Soooooo not worth it.  What idiot would want to put themselves this any longer than neccessary.

By week 5 I hit 89kg's!!!! Woot-friggin-woo...........  I can now drop down to 1 shake per day and have 2 actual meals.  I decided to have a the shake at lunch, and replace the breakfast one with actual food.  Still clean and low calorie, but FOOD!!!!

Progress from here as you can imagine dropped as excess body fat was lower and calories were closer to 1500 per day now, but still achieving consistent results.

On the 11th week I'd done it.  81.8kg's.  That picture is another one burned in the mind.  24kg's gone in under 3 months!!!!  Time to celebrate.  Even though I'd had to change the majority of my wardrobe considerably during the last couple of months, I still had most of my old clothes there.  I literally went in to the wardrobe, grabbed everyting I owned and threw it in the car.  Off to the donation bins I go.  I decided to keep one pair of pants which sits on the top shelp in my wardrobe.  Not to ever wear, but as a reminder.

OK, now I have another small problem.  I've lost a lot of weight but I'm not too happy with how I feel and look.  I'm slim, but feel tired, can't walk 15 minutes without feeling stuffed.  I just realised that I'm not healthy. I'm just slim.  Massive difference.

I'd better stop making poor excuses about no time and start getting off my arse!!!!  So out the door I go for a run.  I hopped on to google maps first to see how far it was to the local high school down the road as it was a reasonable tree lined walking path to get there.  1.5km's.  "OK, I'll run there and back" (no big deal since I was running 12 and 15km's in late teens).  Well............ 500 meters in, face glowing as red as a blacksmiths tongs and breathing like I'm trying to blow up 15 balloons in 30 seconds I realise that I'm not as fit as I once was.  Holy crap this is tough!  Fianlly making it to the target I check my time.  OK, not good.  I should almost be able to walk that time.  Not only that but I had no chancve in running back.  So 1.5km is it for me right now.

On my slow and jelly-legged walk home I note my time in the Ipod and ate it; deciding right there that I will run it 3-4 times per week and take 25% of that time off in 1 month from that day.

2 days later, still sore I lace up for another session.  WHOA, this is even harder.  Now the legs won't work either.  Get to the end and time is even slower.  I don't care; I know the muscles will get used to it.

I decided some strength training was vital as I'd lost some muscle bulk in the rapid weight loss, so off to the gym stores to by a powercgae and freeweight set.  3 days a week on core and major muscle groups will be a reasonable base.

One month later; with the legs freeing up session by session, I'm not only running it in almost HALF the time, but returning back to make a 3km quite comfortably.  YES!!!! I'm there.  I have a base level of fitness back.  No superstar but at least I can chase the dog without feeling like I'd just laid down underneath a cement truck!

Where to from here?  I remembered my longest run was 15km when I was 17, taking out first place for the 16-19 year old category in the "River Run".  After some googling I found this had changed course and was now called the "Hills to Henley", and that it was on in July.  OK, it's a couple of months away.  The goal: run the entire distance without stopping.  I don't care about my old time, but just to finish.  If I can do it at 6min/km pace bonus.

3 times a week slowly increasing the distance, I'm up to 15-18km per week by the time the race hits, with one run at 12km.

Completing in 1:21:55, with no walking I was on top of the world.  I know it's not a great time, but it was a massive achievement for me at the time.

What was it that made me hold back for so many years?  How did I let myself go for so long even though I was unhappy with myself?  Why did it take such a kick in the pants to do something about it?  What I do know is that there is no way I'm EVER going to let myself down like that again.  The change that my kids seen me go through to improve my life is something I hold most proud, as I'm sure somewhere deep in their makeup this will benefit them in the future.

I'm not a very patient man.  When I want something done, it has to be done straight away.  I think this is why it took so long and so many half-arsed attempts to get going.  It took a QUALITY DECISION to make the change.  A clear distinct line between lifestyles.  No "I'm going on a diet" or "I'm gonna start running next week" but more of a "this is friggin ridiculous, and it STOPS NOW"

I'm now proud to float in the high 70kg's, and low 80kg's, running around 200km's per month with a single race distance PB of 105km's.  Loads more things to achieve and never looking back!!!!!!!

So what keeps me motivated?  That morning in October 2011.  The feeling I got when I'd topped 100.....  I hold that like a precious gem and use it at will against myself if ever I need it.