Twelve weeks of lockdown are behind us, and it’s still not clear what the future holds. Restrictions are easing across the UK, but not consistently, and it feels like some people have been ignoring them for some time. However, a lot of us are sticking to the rules and making the most of a difficult situation.
At the beginning of the year, with my 45th birthday looming 11 months hence, I decided I wanted a focus to help me get into the best shape of my life by the time I hit 45. In September 2019 I started exercising more regularly, and was reaping the benefits in terms of being able to manage stress more easily, sleeping better and generally feeling good for moving more. So I started Project 4/5, with the aim to exercise 4 or 5 times a week until my 45th birthday. To date, bar I think maybe 4 or 5 weeks where I only managed to exercise 3 times, I’ve met my goal. I feel better for it, and I feel stronger than I did when I started, but it hasn’t contributed to any weight loss whatsoever. In the last 12 months i’ve lost 1 stone, and altogether 2 stone since my heaviest ever, but since lockdown my weight hasn’t really changed – it’s fluctuated up and down a little, but i’m currently the same weight I was when this started. I’m actually fairly happy with this, as it could have been much higher!
However, i’m not achieving my goals. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was I did in the past that helped me get fitter and lose weight, during times that i’ve managed to achieve both, and it comes down to two simple things: walking and avoiding sugar.
In 2014 I bought a FitBit for the first time, and I’d committed to a 1,000,000 step challenge, walking 10K steps daily for 100 days. I successfully completed the challenge, and by the end of each work day I was champing at the bit to get outside and go for my daily walk. At that time, where I was living meant mostly just wandering around the local suburbia, but even then, I loved it. I felt refreshed, I’d listen to music, audiobooks or nothing at all, and it helped with stress, sleep and life in general. Of course, once the challenge and ended I ended up missing the odd day here and there until I reached the point I just wasn’t walking anymore. I can still remember the happiness it gave me to get out every day though.
In 2017, I reached peak exasperation with myself and my sugar addiction and the 27th January signalled the start of my most successful attempt to abstain from the substance entirely, reaching 83 days sober before quite frankly, it all went to shit when I foolishly thought i’d defeated the addiction and could manage to control my sugar intake. Wrong. I battled on though, having more success than not up until around September that year, when life stress took over, and in that time i’d lost nearly 3 stone in weight. What is important to note is that I did no exercise during that time. None whatsoever.
So I find myself now, three years down the line, 10lb heavier than I was in September 2017, fitter than I was perhaps, but essentially still far away from my goals. Project 4/5 has been a real incentive to me, but I can see now it needs a refocus. I track my progress on Instagram, adding each workout to my stories and tracking it that way. Having a goal to track helps, as accountability makes it easier to maintain success. While i’m not necessarily going to abandon my workouts, as I do love them, and they make me feel good, I feel like they’re an ingrained part of my life now, and as such I don’t need to track them. However, it helps me to have something to commit to, and based on what has worked for me in the past, from now, i’m going to commit to the following:
- getting out every day for a walk, even if it’s just around the block.
- living a sugar-free life.
I’ll track the daily walks on Strava, and likely on Insta too, as I will with the other exercise I do. I track sugar-free days on another app, but i’ll track this on Insta too along with the daily walks. It’s going to be fucking hard, sugar-wise at least, and I know that because i’ve been here many times. I know what works for me, and i’m not seeking advice or permission. There’s an overload of information out there, and I’ve reached the point I need to go right back to basics and keep it very simple, doing what I know works for me. N=1. What works for me might not work for you but that’s okay. You do you.
I’ll write more on how it’s all going in the fullness of time, but for now, the second half of the year is starting off quite simply, and will set me up for success.