Yesterday, the 11th of May 2012, marked one whole year of me declaring my own personal war on obesity and changing my lifestyle for the better.
By the 11th of May 2011, I was finally bored of being fat. Not just fat, obese. To be the same weight as my father, shocked me. I had a BMI of 35, I wasn't even 'just a little obese', I was firmly in the obese category. To know that my blood pressure had reached the 'high' bracket, terrified me. I always had headaches, walking upstairs in my own house left me slightly breathless and I would sweat ridiculous amounts at work or just walking into my town's centre.
Back in February 2011, when a car drove straight into the back of my motorcycle, causing me to fly off the back of it and land neck and back first firmly on the road, I felt ashamed at how many paramedics it took to lift my 5ft 2in body weighing in at 14 stone (196lbs). It took four - I know I was on a body board (so as not to risk breaking my back, though to this day my neck is still weak) but still, if I had been lighter, two may have managed. This moment I think, was when my mind was beginning to wake up and see the damage I was doing to my own health.
I never used to love food, despite eating so much of it. In fact, I used to skip meals and make up for it by consuming junk food on a daily basis. So much yellow and brown processed rubbish. Just the thought of it turns my stomach. I never drank water, it was just fizzy sugary drinks or alcohol. I rarely exercised, the most I'd get was walking a mile into the town centre every few days.
I was depressed, deeply so. I had realised by this time last year, that I was a mere shadow of the girl I used to be. It didn't feel like me and I didn't want to embrace being obese or being the fattest girl in every room. I didn't want the obese version me to be a part of anyone's memory of me. I dyed my hair darker to disassociate 'fat me' from 'real me'. I set to work on losing the unwanted pounds (thanks to a free app) and as soon as I had grasped a steady weight loss of 1lb a week, I began changing my hair back to blonde. The more I lost, the more blonde I'd dye it. I kept my new lifestyle very secret for the first few months (for reasons I explain here) so I think my hair colour was my way of communicating to the world that obese, brunette me was officially temporary and I was transitioning back into the healthy, blonde real me. The me that I had lost since the age of 15.
So let's fast forward to today, the 12th May 2012. I've just got back from the gym, where I worked my butt off in three gym classes. I've got a wardrobe stuffed with workout clothes which I never owned a year ago. I have a gym membership which has became my favourite piece of plastic in my purse. I'm wearing a FitBit and a heart rate monitor. I've been logging into an app every single day to log my food intake and monitor my calories and nutrition. I've lost 50lbs. My body fat % has dropped from 42% to 31%. My clothes have gone from a UK 18 to a UK 10/12, my bra size: 42GG to 36F.
Whilst the physical changes are great and obviously good for my health, it's the mental changes I treasure most and feel especially proud of. Over the course of one year I've developed a rather encouraging inner monologue. No longer does it say "Hey Karen, lay in bed all day, it's fine. Then stuff your face with pizza." instead it challenges me, "Can you be bothered waiting for the bus today? No? In that case walk four miles home, go on, it's worth a try and the weather's nice" and "You got in the pool extra early today, how about 100 lengths instead of your usual 60? Just prove to yourself you can do it".
Then there's the skill set I've developed. I can cook! Yes, this time last year the only thing I could cook was bread (it's the best tasting home made bread ever, but it's not a meal!) So I've taught myself how to cook. I happen to love my own cooking, and so does my family, so naturally this has replaced the fast food in my life, as fast food simply doesn't taste anywhere near as good. Cooking meals myself in turn helps out my purse and nutrition. The girl that only ate bland yellow brown things now has a huge supply of veg, fruit, salad, fresh basil (my favourite herb) and a spice rack in the kitchen to add flavour into my tasty recipes.
I've since built up endurance, balance, strength and speed in the course of one year via working out, first using DVDs and games consoles, and then moving on to the pool and eventually (January this year to be exact), the gym. I've discovered that despite hating P.E lessons at school, I actually love being active. There's something very empowering about the martial-arts inspired combat class I take twice a week, and the weight training class I take every week. I love the newly found flexibility which is a direct result of my yoga class and I love Zumba (both the regular class, and Aqua Zumba!) I feel like a fish whenever I'm swimming, which is every week. In general, I'm happier. I think it has something to do with the endorphins from the exercise and the increase in serotonin as a result of the foods I'm eating.
My mindset has completely changed: exercise isn't to punish my body for being fat. It's to strengthen it in every way. It's no longer a 'workout plan' it's a weekly workout routine. I'm not dieting, I'm permanently eating healthy food and drinking water on a daily basis. I'm currently on a calorie deficit to lose the remaining 10lbs, but I still don't see it as a diet because I'm eating the foods I love, big (yet controlled) portions of them. I'm not starving, or missing out on vital vitamins and macro-nutrients because of some silly fad-diet that recommends a daily glass of your own pee, five 'fat blasting' (diarrhoea inducing) tablets and a few strands of spiced seaweed. In fact, I've never tried a diet pill, or a fad-diet. Let's face it, if they really worked, we'd all be doing it, right? Seeing as we're not, that should be a good indication for any rational human being, that diet and exercise really is the only thing that truly works.
Tomorrow, I'm celebrating my year long personal war against obesity, by taking part in a charity walk. So far my team has raised £311 for a local children's charity that helps the children and families cope with physical and mental disabilities. As a soon-to-be trainee Social Worker, it's a matter that's close to my heart. The walk is just 8.5 miles long, but this is my first charity walk. Next year I'll probably be blogging about a much bigger charity event. I'm optimistic and excited for my future. I'm looking forward to graduation this July, as a size 10/12. Then I'm looking forward to going on holiday and proudly walking around in my swimwear, free of shame for my body.
I'm even starting to like my stretch marks. Seeing as I haven't ever been pregnant, I used to resent having a tummy like a tube map. I'm beginning to see them as a badge of honour. A medal for serving in the weight loss war. When people I've just met look at me now, they don't see what I've been through, they assume I've never been obese. Sometimes, like when meeting employers, this is a good thing. Other times however, like after a really good workout, I want to stand on a roof top and shout "I used to be obese, but look at me now!" I think my gradually fading stretch marks communicate this. I currently wear a tankini, but perhaps one day I, former lazy, sausage-roll eating, obese girl who now cooks like a chef and works out like an instructor, will wear a bikini again and proudly show the world her 'weight loss medals'.
Keep watching this space, on Monday I'll post a 'before' and an 'after' photo of me at the charity walk!
UPDATE: You can see my 'Before' and 'After' Picture here
UPDATE: You can see my 'Before' and 'After' Picture here