New year's resolutions 2016 in review - 5

5. Lose all the weight I've put on since moving to TW – ALMOST THERE


In 2013 I started a new job, which eventually saw me move to a new town.

Prior to the move I was spending up to four hours a day in the car, which meant a lot of inactivity on top of my already quite unhealthy lifestyle. My weight went up and the new clothes I'd bought for the job became a comparatively skinny dream, but I wasn't too concerned because I was happy.

However I've always struggled with my weight and while I know you don't have to be skinny to be happy I'd be a lot more confident if I was that dream size 12 or dare I say it even a 10. Except in passing as a teenager I don't think I've ever been a 10.

As I type this I can finally say I'm not far off the size I was in 2013, having got down to a large 14. This means I've dropped two dress sizes this year. It's not much – and the success of resolution 6 set me back about half a stone in the summer – but healthy weight loss is not a quick thing and now when I lose a pound it stays off.

Exercise

I started this campaign in 2015 and got absolutely nowhere. I'd joined a gym because it was cheap and convenient, but I had no idea what I was doing and was surrounded by skinny people with only the odd regular human. I went along as often as possible but it was a painful, depressing experience.

So I swapped gyms. This time I joined the council gym, which was more expensive but came with a limited amount of personal training. I felt comfortable using the equipment and as I found a time that best suited me (an hour before closing) I gradually came to recognise a few faces to say hello. It was depressing that the fitness instructor always told me I'd only lose weight if I changed my diet, but I knew I was making a difference to my fitness and it's also a simple matter of maths: if you're burning more calories the odd small slice of cake (within reason) is still acceptable (see below).

On top of this, I also have an approximately 25-minute walk to work. When I first started this walk in 2014 it was hell. I'd take each step in the morning desperately hoping one of my workmates would drive past and rescue me. Then, at some point near the end of 2015 I realised I'd come to appreciate the walk. Nowadays I look forward to it.

FitBit

I wasn't entirely happy with how I was doing at the gym and so in February I bought myself a FitBit One that can be worn under your clothes, rather than as a wristband that makes me think people have been assimilated.

As I'm highly competitive, this was a great opportunity to compete against the step targets set, as well as calorie burning and exercise. I can see how the FitBit is not for everyone because I rarely find myself achieving the targets I set myself, but I take the attitude that as long as it's pushing me in the right direction each day I'm not a failure.

It was also a pleasant surprise to discover how close I naturally get to the recommended 10,000 steps a day – that walk to and from work became a satisfying achievement and one I'd often deliberately make a bit longer to see how many steps I could achieve. It continues to be a great feeling to achieve the step goal, but some days I barely pass 3,000 and that's okay too. I accept those days when I'll not walk anywhere or I'll eat the entire contents of the fridge and simply make sure I try harder the next day. As time has passed those days have become fewer and (even over Christmas) slightly less bad than they once were.

ParkRun

Another thing that's helped is joining in the weekly ParkRun which takes place nearby. I'm not a natural runner and generally finish within the last 20 participants (out of an average 200ish) but when I completed my first run in May the sense of achievement was unbeatable. I've also managed to gradually reduce the time it takes me to finish the 5k course, which gives me a personal sense of satisfaction.

Finding a friendly place to take part in exercise has been a big boost to my confidence, especially when the faster runners talk to me as an equal before the run: ParkRun really is about the taking part.

Diet

The FitBit also helped when it came to my diet. I'm a big fan of salads and vegetables, so to a certain extent I've been healthy eating for years, but snacks – especially crisps or sausage rolls – are my downfall.

I paid around £70 for my FitBit so I was determined to use every available feature. I religiously log everything I eat or drink and make sure to over-estimate the calories eaten. I'm probably – sometimes – being unfair on myself, but the calorie counter is there to help and there's no point in lying to it. My body knows how much I've consumed even if the electronic device does not.

It's this food log that's had the most impact. Seeing my lunch listed in numbers gave me a bit of a shock when I realised a packet of crisps can sometimes be more calories than the sandwich it's consumed alongside. Knowing the amount of calories I can't eat after having had a chocolate bar or glass of fruit juice has also been a bit of a wake up call.

I still eat all of these things, but now I know better I eat them less, stopping to consider if I really need X or if I'd enjoy it more on one of those days when I really do need to eat the entire contents of the fridge. It's also means crisps, cake and chocolate have returned to their rightful place in my mind: as treats, rather than everyday occurrences.

Know yourself

The most important thing for me in all of this calorie counting has been taking note of my body. According to the FitBit counter I'm supposed to eat 750 calories fewer than I burn. On the days I'm inactive this is virtually impossible, whereas the more exercise I do the closer I get to my target. For a long time I rarely hit that target, and sometimes after exercise I'll realise I've pushed myself harder than anticipated, or I'm perhaps not feeling on top form, so I'll eat the foods or drinks necessary to help me feel better.

I'm also determined not to be a calorie counting bore. If I'm out for a meal I try to choose sensibly (as educated by my calorie-counting FitBit) but it's more important to enjoy the experience of the event. Which is why I regained that half stone after meeting my boyfriend.

Two dress sizes had been my vague goal when I started this resolution, so in a way I have almost achieved it, and I do feel so much better, healthier and fitter for this, but I'm yet to hit the weight goal I'd intended so this resolution is continuing with more determination (and gradually increasing success rates) in 2017.

This was always going to be a long-term project and I'll continue to work at it until I get the balance right.

Read the next one: 4. Learn to cook one new meal a month

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