Well, I’m four weeks into my Motivation Weight Management 20 week challenge and I’m still delighted with my progress.
Last time, I reported that after just a fortnight I had lost half a stone and I’ve knocked off a further 2-3 pounds since then.
That might not sound too impressive but the great news is that I’m losing fat and gaining muscle. Even better, I’ve dropped at least one clothing size. A month ago I dreamt about fitting into the trousers of three suits I’d bought two years ago. Not only can I comfortably wear them all day at work now, but they are actually starting to get a little bit too roomy!
To my way of thinking - that’s serious progress.
Goals that seemed impossibly out of reach, such as losing two stone before Christmas, now look to be genuinely obtainable. One of the important exercises you do on the Motivation programme is visualisation - picturing yourself at your target weight, wearing clothes that you like, doing something you’ve always wanted to do or would really enjoy.
The River Wild
At the beginning, I found this very difficult. I wasn’t convinced: it felt like indulging in some kind of fantasy.
Now, after just four weeks, I’ve practically turned into Meryl Streep in The River Wild...in my head, that is! Given that I live within a few miles of Rossnowlagh, I’m suddenly picturing myself in a wet suit, body boarding. Not to mention rowing on Donegal Bay or Assaroe Lake. And, of course, cycling the many picturesque rural routes in South Donegal.
All this from somone whose most strenuous form of exercise over the last few years has been leaving the bin out...and, to be honest, I try to get out of that most weeks.
So, that’s all the really positive news.
On the downside, I’ve been a bit of a slacker over the last week and I know this needs to be addressed. My excuses? Long, stress-filled days at work and way too much to do in far too little time at home. Not an unusual combination.
I’ve managed to stick to the diet...mostly. And exercise....a bit. The real casualty has been the homework that I’m supposed to be doing. There are books and handouts to read, with exercises to be completed, and CDs to listen to. All these are the tools that will help me understand the thoughts and emotions that cause me to overeat/eat poorly/not take proper care of myself.
As my Motivation counsellor Patricia explained last Saturday, the goal is to change my lifestyle - permanently. “Anyone can lose weight over a set period,” she advised. “The challenge is to ensure that you don’t put it back on again once you leave here.” Perceptive woman.
I’m not alone, the support materials reassure me, in straying from the path, especially a month or so into the programme. The trick now is to get stuck into the exercises that will help me break my self-sabotaging thoughts/feelings/patterns and habits.
The hard part of this is that it means looking at myself clearly and honestly. I’m now into the psychological/counselling part of the programme and, like many people in this position, I’m encountering blocks.
There are plenty of very simple techniques made available to help me through this process but do so means taking time, quiet time, to really think about what I’m doing, as I do it. For example, it’s patently clear that I look up on food (cheese Doritos and chocolate mainly) and wine as my reward. In fact, these are what I reach for any time I feel tired, stressed, fearful, unable to cope. So now, I’ve got to stop myself in my tracks, write down what happened to me and what I thought in response to what happened. Then I’ll begin to understand how that gave rise to the emotion that sent me to the fridge and be able to change it in future. My task this week is to identify five other ways of rewarding myself.
Getting stuck into this whole self-analysis properly is my big goal for the next fortnight. I’m encouraged by the fact that I had two nights out at the weekend and only drank one tiny glass of wine each time. Although I did gobble two small fudge brownies as well. Be fair, an American woman made them. They were the genuine article. You don’t come across that every day and I’m not going to walk away from them. Ever. But I only had two tiny ones. That’s a major improvement on my previously unbridled gluttony when faced with real chocolate fudge.
Wish me luck, folks, as I head into the trenches of my weird and wonderful thoughts and feelings!
For more information on the Motivation Weight Management programme, visit motivation.ie.