I’m proud of my weight-loss and how much my body is changing, but at the same time there are a couple of things that I’m going through which are a bit trickier! Like posting these pictures on the internet!!
Seriously, I am experiencing frustration with my training and feeling weak and fatigued in the gym. It felt like it was all going really well, that I was getting stronger and suddenly my body seems to be fighting me every time I go to the gym.
On certain days, I have chosen the treadmill and an uphill walk (my very worst type of exercise) over the strength training, but Alex assures me that this is all completely normal and that I need to learn to listen to my body and give it what it needs. Whether that is rest, recovery or even more food!
I’ve been in a calorie deficit for most of the last six months and recently started to feel the diet fatigue setting in. In the past even though I am not where I want to be, I would have thrown in the towel and called it a day. This time, Alex has put me on a month of maintenance. I get to eat more and it’s been pretty liberating to realise just because I am feeling a little overwhelmed, doesn’t mean I have to go in completely the opposite direction, give up and feel like a failure. So, I have a little more caloric wiggle room, and those extra 500 calories are like a gift from the food gods.
During the last half year, I have felt liberated with the flexible dieting approach to weight-loss and never really felt deprived of too much. I’ve had most of what I enjoy eating, even though in smaller, controlled quantities, and I’m learning that I don’t need to eat a party-sized bag of Doritos to get my little fix and that biltong and ice cream don’t need to be bought and eaten in bulk to be enjoyed. I’ve started to be less terrified of food and what it does to me, understanding that weight changes are not always about fat gain. And I feel absolutely no guilt, shame or fear when I eat my weekly pizza, topped with fresh ingredients (including meat & cheese). One of the major benefits of having a nutrition and fitness coach is that I have a far better relationship with food and a much better attitude towards exercise. And this all results in growing self-confidence, body awareness and love, and feeling leaner and stronger.
Along with this maintenance period my body is going to have a chance to feel a little less of the strain of long-term dieting. Some people would say that being able to eat the occasional chocolate, ice cream or sweets is cheating, but when it’s included into my daily calories it just means that I simply replace some voluminous, nutrient-dense foods on that day to allow for the more calorie-dense foods. I still eat the same amount of carefully planned and tracked calories, but I get to have a treat on some days (rather than a cheat!). for the most part I do eat mostly nutrient-dense, whole foods that give me enough energy and fulfilment to get through my hectic working day, as well as allowing me to work out four to five times a week.
I’ve wanted to change my body and my relationship between myself and food for so long, that the discomfort I feel sometimes is actually worth it, even though it doesn’t really feel like it at the time. I mean, I didn’t get to be thirty kilograms overweight in a year, so if it takes me 18 months to be healthy and strong, it seems like a very small price to pay. I haven’t been kind to my body, and learning to love myself and the way I look, take care of myself and practice self-love, -care and -compassion are new to me. I guess just because I am paying my body all this attention suddenly doesn’t mean it’s not going to feel sore, weak and hungry at times. Practicing patience, acceptance and humility are what’s needed to get me through this uncomfortable period while I nourish myself and my muscles, joints and bones. I aim to enjoy the rest of my maintenance month and give my body the chance to just rest a little, not lose any weight and give it a little more positive care and attention.
I have lived in an uncomfortable comfort zone for many years and need to remember that “Outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens”.
By: Leigh-Anne Brierley