I’ve always been something of a yo-yo dieter. During my early teens, my weight rocketed to 12 stone before quickly plummeting to just over 8. For a few years, between the ages of 16 and 19, I found a balance at nine and a half stone, where I felt comfortable and healthy and actually fairly good about my appearance. I wasn’t super skinny but I just don’t have a body type that suits that.
I will entirely admit that after having a baby, I put on a lot of weight. Being at home and going through periods of depression really took their toll and I found myself not really caring about my health or well being at all.
Since moving to Cardiff, where I felt happier and more comfortable, I’ve tried dieting a few times. It always goes well until the weight loss starts to plateau, a common problem with losing weight I’ve heard, and my motivation just crumbles away.
At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to not bother with dieting but to try and make a real effort to be healthier. I’ve failed this goal, I’m afraid, as I’m actually now trying out the 5:2 diet. I don’t feel too guilty about this though, since I’m actually finding it so easy to follow, it doesn’t feel like any of the other diets I’ve tried in the past at all. For most of the week, I can almost forget entirely that I’m even on a diet and for the two fast days, if I keep busy I find I don’t really feel too hungry either.
But the main way I’m now trying to become healthier is through exercise. Running around the park with Pip tires me out far too quickly and, to be honest, I’m scared of becoming one of those mums that can’t actually engage in any active play with their children at all. So rather than focusing on reaching a certain weight goal or dress size as I have done in the past, my goal in exercising is to increase my stamina and agility so that I can keep up with my energetic four year old, no matter what we’re doing.
I’ve been doing two forms of exercise. Running, which I’ve been doing three times a week for the last three weeks, and pilates, which I’ve done twice now and plan to keep doing twice a week.
Since I’m a complete beginner to running, I’ve been using a series of podcasts designed by the NHS Change 4 Life initiative called ‘Couch to 5k’. Each podcast is around half an hour long and guides you through your run, telling you when to run and when to slow down to walking for a minute or two. As the weeks go on, you slowly progress to more running and less walking. On week 1, you only run for sixty seconds at a time. Now on week three, I’m running for 3 minutes at a time and that’ll increase to 5 minutes next week. By the end of week 9, I should be running for thirty minutes without any walking breaks. Because it’s such gentle progress, I really feel like I can keep this up. I’m even finding that I enjoy my run, especially as I’m now with Pip all day long since she finished at nursery. That little bit of time to myself three evenings a week are really refreshing and peaceful. Also, because the amount of running increases gradually, I don’t feel daunted by the extra running time at the beginning of each week. I find I’m actually looking forward to getting to five minutes next week. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it feels like an achievement to me and a step towards being fitter and healthier.
For pilates, where I’m also a complete beginner, I’ve been using a 30 minute beginners workout that I found on Youtube. My belly, legs and arms ache afterwards but I found my second session a teeny bit easier to cope with than my first. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to progress to more advanced videos before too long!
All in all, I really feel like I’m taking some good steps towards improving my health and fitness. I’m going to keep trying to focus on feeling more energetic and healthy rather than on weight loss or dropping dress sizes but of course, it would be a nice bonus!