Trying to change your lifestyle, diet or eating habits is never easy. Whether you are trying to lose weight or just improve your health, there will be high and lows along the way. If you have ever attempted to change your lifestyle then I am sure you will have experienced it: some days you are just ‘in the zone’, and you feel invincible, other days you just can’t seem to get your head in gear and you feel like a total failure. Over the last four weeks I have been trying to pay more attention to my good and bad days to see if I can find the secret to getting ‘back in the zone’!
So I am third of the way through my 12 week healthy bikini body challenge. The aim of my challenge is not to see how much weight I can lose, but if I can get myself to a place where I feel happy and confident in my bikini without resorting to any extreme measures, and without heavily restricting any foods. Already in the last four weeks there have been highs and there have been lows. There have been days I have felt completely in control, I have been focused and making nothing but good choices. Then there have been days where I have found myself spiralling out of control. In the last few weeks I have tried to be more mindful on these days, trying to take note of what I do (or don’t do) and how I feel. Here is what I have noticed so far:
Bad decisions are infectious.
We don’t just go from one slightly bad choice to total failure, it is a general build up, one thing leading to another. I call it the negativity spiral. The negativity spiral can start with something small, but it quickly grows. Bad decisions spread rapidly, and they feel toxic and poisonous. We become frustrated and down heartened, so we make more bad choices. We lose motivation and sight of our goals, and so we make more bad choices. And it can continue to spiral until we feel we have lost all control, until the spiral has become too wide to see beyond it. It is often at this point we give up.
I found myself on a negativity spiral earlier this week. Last weekend some friends came to Leeds for a girly night out. I stayed (mostly) in control and made lots of good choices. I went to bed Sunday pretty proud of myself and the choices I had made. But inevitably after a long weekend I was tired on Monday, and starting to feel a tad guilty about having a few too many treats, and not keeping up with my food diary (or tracking as we call it at Weight Watchers). I started Monday well with a gym session and a healthy breakfast, but I wasn’t prepared for the rest of the day. I found myself grazing and nibbling, and still not tracking. I kept a mental tally, but I know damn well that not everything was included. That little biscuit that came with my cappuccino, that couple of bites of my mums bacon sandwich, that second coffee with a sugar. Doesn’t sound much but it all adds up. By dinner time I knew I had gone over my daily allowance and so just stopped tracking all together. Fortunately I managed to not just blow out at this point, for that alone I should have been very proud of myself. Normally writing off a day can lead straight to the biscuit tin.
Tuesday should really have been a good day, there was no excuse for me to continue me to self-sabotage. I had a good nights sleep, enjoyed my morning work-out, then I had some good news for my business, and later got home to find an unexpected cheque for £250 – excellent day really. However, something in my head was driving me to make some bad food choices. Again I didn’t track, and I found myself grazing and picking; the corner of a biscuit, a couple of nuts out the jar, a spoonful of peanut butter whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, and still not tracking. Looking back now I realise what was up: I was anxious about my Tuesday night weigh in.
Now I don’t normally stress about the number on the scales because I take in to account a whole heap of other factors to see my success. However, not having tracked for a few days I was unsure as to what the likely outcome would be. I had tried so hard all week up to the weekend, and even tried to be good at the weekend, but not having tracked I couldn’t be sure the damage. Had I gone that far over? Would my activity points cover it? I got to the scales and I had gained 0.5lbs,nothing really, half a measly pound for a great weekend with friends. But I was mad and annoyed with myself. I shouldn’t have been, I knew why really, and I know it’s just a number. I had been noticing lots of non-scale victories in the last few days- so I knew everything was going in the right direction, but I was on that negativity spiral, so I was pissed off with myself.
After my Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday I went straight to Clandestine Cake Club- that’s right a cake club, a Weight Watchers leader and personal trainer going to a club where you do nothing but sit around chatting and eating each other’s cakes. Sounds surreal, but why shouldn’t I? Cake can absolutely be part of a healthy balanced diet. I love CCC, I get great tips from other passionate bakers and get to try cakes for recipes I would never have thought of doing. Anyway, normally at Clandestine Cake Club I am pretty controlled. I enjoy a few small slices of what look like real good cakes, drink plenty of water and make sure to squeeze in an extra cardio session the next day. However this week I was on that negativity spiral, and really this wasn’t the best place to be. It
didn’t help I had made a pure evil Snickers Cheesecake without about a billion calories a slice. I enjoyed a few small slices of some yummy looking cakes, then went back for a few more, and a few more. I started feeling a bit sick, and still found myself picking. Normally I don’t bring cake back from CCC, I let others take home what is left over of my cake. However I had promised Mr B I would bring him back a piece of snickers cheesecake as he had been drooling over it for days (not literally, that would be gross). So here I was driving home with a massive slice of cheesecake calling at me. Mr B was away with work until Wednesday night, but I knew if that cake came in the house it wouldn’t survive the night. So…. I left it in the van! It was cold out overnight, it wouldn’t spoil and I would have to be pretty desperate to go back out and get it. I am glad to say I didn’t hit that low. I woke up Wednesday, had two early morning personal training clients, then did my own work-out, cleaned the launch pad, and got home late morning feeling strangely proud of myself for not even thinking about the cheesecake. That was it, one good decision and I was already feeling back on the up.
Good decisions are contagious
Then Wednesday felt a little easier. I decided after my cake overload on Tuesday I wouldn’t have any sugar the next day. That of course made me crave it, and I gave in to a hot chocolate after lunch, but it’s OK because I was back to tracking my meals and snacks. My hot chocolate was written down and factored in to my weekly allowance of ProPoints (technically I should have written off my weekly allowance after my blow out at cake club I didn’t want to be restricted all week, but it’s OK if I gain this week I know why). So I was feeling back in control, Wednesday went without any further incidence and I was feeling good. Then Thursday
morning the most amazing this happened. As I was getting changed at the gym I noticed the tiniest little sight of some definition in my upper abs- wahoo! It was better than the £250 cheque. Sometimes on Thursdays I enjoy a cappuccino on my drive to work, but after the first sighting of some abs I wasn’t going to scare them away with a milky coffee. Instead I stopped off and bought a 2litre bottle of water and set myself the challenge of finishing it before lunch time. Being a stubborn little mule I wasn’t going to fail a challenge, and decided I wasn’t going to eat lunch until it was gone. If you don’t drink enough water this is a great top tip to help you. If you are at a desk then just put a large flask or bottle of water in your eye line to keep reminding you to drink. With the threat of no lunch until its empty you will soon be chugging down! You can do the same after lunch with the challenge of not being able to go home until its empty.
So Thursday was top form, feeling positive lead to lots of healthy choices. Friday morning was my fortnightly check-in with my own personal trainer. The first thing he said: have you been working on your glutes, as your bum is definitely looking more toned and perky. Boom! Well yes I have, and again this is better than a £250 cheque hand
delivered by Brad Pitt in a thong on Christmas morning. It is one thing to notice a change in your body, it’s even more amazing when someone else notices, and to be honest I hadn’t noticed the difference, but the rest of Friday I couldn’t stop checking out my own ass. I smashed through my gruelling workout with the passion and enthusiasm of a Butlins red coat in the first week of the season.
I was well and truly on the upward spiral now. Saturday morning was my second Weight Watchers class, and the members just knocked my socks off with their amazing results- 69lbs lost between them: that is nearly 5 stone. I was genuinely more proud than when I personally got to my goal weight. Up goes my mood, and more good choices; a nice chicken salad for lunch. Saturday afternoon I was at my area meeting for Weight Watchers, which starts with each leader getting weighed. They don’t shout it out or anything, just so our area manager can check how we are getting on with our own weight loss journeys and offer support and help to those who need it. I should have been dreading it after my gain on Tuesday which had put me up to 10stone 6.5lbs, and I had had cake club since then. But I genuinely didn’t carewhat the scales said. I was in a good place and had seen all these other great results over the last few days. The result? 10stone 5.5lbs, a pound down- boom! And on freshly
calibrated, definitely accurate scales! Mood goes through the roof, there is no stopping me now.
The weekend flew by, not even a drop of temptation to blow out. I had a beer on Saturday afternoon with Mr B, a glass of wine with dinner and we split a Reece’s peanut butter bar as dessert- but all tracked and factored in. Sunday I even woke up and wanted to go to boxing. Sunday is religiously my rest day, but I was on that positivity spiral and ready to batter some pads. Another awesome workout and I am feeling indestructible. I had planned to spend the rest of Sunday vegging out and enjoying a rest, instead I decided to get all my meal prepping done for the first half the week. By the time I went to bed Sunday night I was feeling amazing, hard to believe that just 5 nights earlier I had been at my lowest.
And that is the thing to remember when you find yourself spiralling out of control: it goes both ways, there will be good days ahead.
Life can make it easier or harder, but it isn’t the real deciding factor. Tuesday was a great day but I continued to spiral downwards. In contrast Thursday and Friday were pretty busy and stressful at work, but I was spiralling upwards. The thing to do is recognise the signs of being on the negativity spiral. We don’t go from top of the world to the bottom of the pile overnight, there are always warning signs along the way. I now know that when I start picking at food, and grazing, and stop properly tracking- they are definitely warning signs. Once I start worrying more about the numbers rather than paying attention to my body, I am definitely on the downwards. When I start listening to my body, enjoying the non-scale victories, not lying to myself about what I have eaten and being accountable to my decisions, then I am on the up. I learnt this week that, unfortunately, the downward spiral seems so much faster. It took me just from Monday lunch to Tuesday night to hit bottom. Bad choices really are infectious; they multiply quickly and they feel toxic, like you can’t control the spread until it becomes an epidemic. Good decisions are more slow to spread, but they are contagious. One good decision does lead to another, and when we start to see the positives it makes it so much easier to make more good choices. So when you find yourself on the negativity spiral, start with one good choice and hope it is contagious.
I am Jennie, founder of set U free fitness, and Weight Watchers leader in Leeds. I lost 7 stone with Weight Watchers and transformed by body through exercise. I always dreamt that life after goal would be easier, but the reality is- it’s not. This personal blog is my ongoing journey to stay healthy and happy. It is a collection of my thoughts, tips, lessons learnt and mistakes made in trying to create a balanced healthy lifestyle that I can follow for life. I always love to hear your thoughts, and hear from people undergoing similar journeys, so please comment or get in touch.
This weeks results in my 12 week healthy bikini body challenge. Those who have read the previous blog posts will know I usually post progress pictures in ‘the bikini’ however this week Mr B was away and I had nobody to take the pics! I tried to do them myself but it wasn’t working. As you have read above- I did put on 0.5lbs at my official weigh in on Tuesday night. Meaning I have lost just 1.5lbs on the scales. But I really don’t care about that number as I am feeling so much better about myself. I have noticed some massive differences this week. So here are some of my off the scales success that show me everything is going in the right direction:
- My favourite pair of skinny jeans fit comfortably for the first time in months.
- I tried on a dress that I haven’t dare put on for a while (as I feared it wouldn’t fit) and it did.
- My running leggings are no longer showing my pants when I bend over! (when they a bit tight they do that and I have to wear the really thick leggings haha)
- I saw the teeniest tiniest bit of definition of my abs for the first time since before Christmas.
- One of my Weight Watchers members commented how small my waist looked.
- My personal trainer commented that my bottom looked more toned.
- I have been getting through my workouts much easier, had to increase weights and reduce rest and increase work time in intervals.
- I genuinely wasn’t dreading putting on ‘the bikini’ and taking the pics- until I realised I couldn’t take them.