It took me a while to figure out that I didn’t want to become an old lady who was crippled with infirmities. Once I’d figured that bit out, it took a little longer before I decided that I really needed to get my fat arse off the sofa every evening and do something positive towards that goal. I tend to think about some things for a while before taking any concrete action on those thoughts and this was one of those times.
Another factor that played into this decision was the fact that, in order to be an effective horse rider, you really do need a decent level of fitness and core stability. And I had neither really. Poor Obi. I have to say that making things easier for him when I rode was a big part of my motivation.
I’ve been overweight for nearly all of my adult life. When I wasn’t overweight, I was constantly being told that I was. I was a healthy and robust size 12/14 although I was utterly convinced that I was the size of a house. I used to walk everywhere, went out dancing anything up to 6 nights a week (my sister and I had a pretty good routine around our local nightclubs regarding ladies nights and the like). And then I moved to London.
I didn’t know where anything was, didn’t know the distances involved and so I went everywhere on public transport. And got lazy. Then I did get fat! I gradually put on more and more weight until, in my late 20s, I was heading up towards 19 stone, which I reached some time in my 30s. And then passed that and moved on. I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my mid 30s and spending 16+ hours a day sleeping really didn’t do me any favours, weight-wise and I edged my way up to just under 21 stone (around 290lbs) by the time the illness was in remission.
Up until that point the fact that I was so overweight with no health problems had really ticked off the doctors but that’s the subject of a whole other blog post. Let’s just say that getting the CFS diagnosis was tough as I had to fight with the doctors repeatedly. According to them my exhaustion was due to the fact that I was overweight. “Oh boy” I thought “Here we go again”
To go back to my original storyline, I decided to start relatively easily as I’d realised that I’d got myself into a bit of a hole, fitness-wise. Walking, I thought, would be a good place to start. A nice, brisk, 10 minute walk to gauge my levels. Oh dear. 10 minutes later I burst in through my front door, red faced and panting. In reality, I’d probably only gone about 1/3 mile but I felt like I’d just done a marathon.
I re-evaluated my plans and decided I needed to rethink my plans and how I was going to achieve my goal. In February 2012 I joined a gym just around the corner from the office and went there, religiously, 4-5 times a week, usually at lunchtime. Sometimes I went into the pool and swam, sometimes on the treadmill. It was hard and I needed lots of loud music in my ears on the treadmill so that I could try and forget that it hurt – not so much because of the excess weight, more because of the fact that my muscles had all been underused for so long that they’d pretty much decided they’d never ever be used again for anything useful and disappeared. Gone on holiday. Handed in their notice. Given up. Ouch.
On the upside, my enthusiasm for this latest project carried me through the paracetamol infused workouts and osteopath visits to decrimp my twisty bits. The good news about being so overweight is that you don’t need to do much to make pretty rapid progress and I was seeing results fairly quickly. The added bonus was that my weight started to drop. Not quickly (I was over 35 after all) but steadily averaging about 1lb a week. Within six months I’d dropped to a size 20 and by Christmas of 2012 I was down to a size 18. A comfortable size 18. I bought my first pair of denim jeans in about 25 years and started to ride my bike again. That wasn’t really rapid progress but I had my headspace sorted out before I started: this was never about a short term quick fix. I spent a lot of years getting myself into that state so I knew I wasn’t going to put it right overnight.
I’m currently still a work in progress. I have good days and bad. I struggle through the winter with keeping myself active but on the whole, I’m probably fitter than I have been in my whole life (in some respects). I’m still a comfortable size 18 although it perplexes me that I’m still 25lbs heavier than I was at a size 20 in my 20s. Everyone tells me it’s because I have more muscle and, thanks to quite a few sessions with a personal trainer, my muscles are actually starting to make an appearance.
I am a work in progress and suspect I will be for a while to come yet.