My reason for deciding to blog about this is to share and hopefully inspire those of you who have contemplated upping your fitness levels (or even starting to exercise regularly) but have, like me, never really given it full throttle!
Just to give this some context, I decided to sign up with Lawrie back in April; it was actually the same day Katie started as my PA, April 1st (!). I must admit that for the first two weeks it was hard. I ached and I found myself overeating for the first time in a very long time – and not for hunger reasons, which is totally unheard of for me. Knowing what I know, I had only one choice but to ask myself, “why are you overeating and eating when you’re not hungry?” and I realised that I was actually scared – scared of either not losing the stubborn fat in spite of the exercise or scared that I would lose it and then... what would that mean? (Don’t we all think we’ll be the one exception that doesn’t lose the weight or make it work?!)
After I had this conversation with myself I took a firm grip! Basically I did some inner work, not unlike that which I do with my clients and simply came to the agreement with myself that I would eat only when hungry as before and simply allow the process to happen.
The next chapter after this was challenging. My fitness was poor to start in cardio terms. Elsewhere I was pretty good but my first run ended at 5 minutes. One week later I was up to 15 minutes, then 18 and ever since we have run for 20 minutes + but more recently doing interval training (one or two minutes jogging then 30 seconds to one minute sprinting). This is the fat burning technique – it’s tough and it’s challenging, but boy does it work!
Once I’d started getting into the actual exercise and could start memorising some of the things we were doing I watched my body start to transform – though not in the way you might expect. On two or three occasions there would be a day where when I looked in the mirror everything seemed much more wobbly. Quite frankly it concerned me! I felt like I had gained fat, and yet after just a day or two it seemed like it had all melted away; it turned out that it was simply part of the releasing process, it was all just being broken down ready for flushing out – thank goodness for that!
My first proper assessment at 6 weeks revealed some improvements, although it appeared I had put on a couple of pounds. Lawrie said it was probably muscle as I had lost some fat (2%) but at least I could run now without collapsing in a heap and my body was starting to respond differently to food.
From week 6 to 9 it seemed like slow but steady progress. I was getting stronger, faster, fitter and could see some serious toning occurring around my legs and tummy area, but still a bit wobbly in parts for my liking and the dancer’s body that I have my heart set on was still covered with a fair amount of padding!
However, in the past 3-5 weeks, amazing stuff has occurred. My eating has naturally fallen into the much talked about “6 small meals a day” pattern (although sometimes it is 3 or 4, but they are still smaller). I eat less now than before, not more. I don’t like big meals or much fat or anything gloopy; my nut intake is down to maybe 2 small handfuls of almonds per week (I used to grab one or two handfuls of almost any kind of nut per day) and my avocadoes are usually going mouldy before I even get to them. I estimate I am eating no more than three of those per week.
What is really interesting to me both personally and professionally is that I have always known this stuff intellectually, but it wasn’t playing out in my own life and body. It was as if my body demanded fat, and thus, it got it!
Now in hindsight with this new experience under my belt I have realised something literally life-changing, a fat body will indeed demand more fat. A lean body will demand lean foods. Furthermore, and more importantly, I am now firmly of the belief (which has shocked me totally) that until we are fit our body simply cannot function optimally and therefore cannot make the best food choices or reach truly vibrant health.
Now to those of you who are fitness buffs already this probably isn’t news, but to those of us who thought that we could eat our way to a healthy body, this is HUGE!
So yes, this is a biggie and no mistake. I have always felt that intuitive eating was not dependant on anything other than asking the body what it wanted once it was clean. Perhaps it is time to get clear on what “clean” really means?
For me now clean means lean, strong and fit as well as detoxified - a major difference as you can appreciate. In fact in hindsight I think it was naive of me to believe that exercise was somehow optional before; I totally underestimated the power of exercise in my life even though all the people I know who are the healthiest do both, and daily, but as with anything, until you try it you don’t “get it”. Just as with raw food.
Physically, now my body is changing massively. Although weeks 1-9 did of course create a lot of change, for the most part to me it felt shrouded in “old body”. Last week at week 13 a very different Karen body began appearing, and not just a little bit either! What I thought was “baby belly” before has been lost; it was simply fat! Oh!
In fact in the past 6 weeks I have lost 6% body fat, 4lbs in weight and now, apparently, have the fitness rating of a 19 year old! Not bad for someone approaching 36, I would say.
So, my reasons for sharing this with you are, as I hope you can see, many and varied. At the start of my fitness journey I did suspect that I would be a food and fitness “freak” before too long, and now, my friends, it appears this is fast becoming the case! Quite simply this 3 month journey so far has made me realise how so NOT alive we are when we’re unfit or not pushing ourselves physically. For me, as much as I am tempted to cross my fingers as I say it, I really think that this time there really is no going back.
In my next post I’ll be talking about identity and how that is questioned/ challenged when we re-invent ourselves in this kind of way, because there’s a lot of things that need to change in our head before the fat can fall away and that’s what became abundantly clear in those first 2-4 weeks when I found myself doing odd food things. More anon.