Monday 19 February 2018

'Buying first pair of nice jeans was a real Oprah moment'

So much has changed since I walked into the bfit4life gym six months ago. Refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, biscuits and cakes are no longer part of my diet.

Meat, on the other hand, features largely -- particularly beef, chicken and turkey -- as do fresh vegetables and salads. Alcohol and the odd cigarette no longer feature in my weekends. Exercise has become a big part of my identity. If you knew me six months ago you would find all of the above quite strange.

I am happier, less stressed. I no longer get tension headaches or pains in my back from sitting at a computer all day. I am asleep by 11pm most nights.

What else. Well, there's the 32lbs of fat that I've lost, the muscle I have gained and the fact that I have dropped two to three dress sizes, from a size 14 to a size 8/10. Not only am I smaller, I have a different body shape.

It took a bit of getting used to. I was so used to buying clothes for big boobs and curvy hips, I found shopping weird for a while and bought nothing.

In a way, shopping when I was bigger was a cinch -- I just bought whatever fitted and looked best. There was never a whole lot of choice. Not that I'm complaining. Perish the thought. I don't think I will ever take for granted just going in to a shop and having so many things to choose from.

Buying my first pair of nice jeans last month was a bit of a milestone. I remember watching an episode of Oprah when she was really skinny, she got down to a US size 4 (our size 8) I think, and she said that her idea of thin was to be able to tuck her shirt into her jeans and look good. For her, that was the perfect shape.

Well for me, it was wearing really nice jeans, fancy jeans that cost a fortune but you don't mind because they are for going out.

But I have gained so much more than just physical benefits from working with Damien and the rest of his team. I don't think I fully understood the relationship between effort and results until I saw the pounds fall off in what seemed like direct correlation to the amount of pain I endured.

If I knew how easy that bit of organisation, discipline around food and work in the gym made everything else, I would have done this years ago. People have commented on how I must be relieved that I have finally reached my goal; that I must be looking forward to getting my life back and relaxing a bit -- as if maintaining weight loss is different to achieving it.

If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that this is most certainly not the case. To stay fit and keep this body size and shape, I will have to continue eating and exercising as I have been for the last six months ad infinitum, until the day I die.

There is no other way in the world to keep weight off and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Think about it. If there were another way, a quick fix that you could just throw money at, Oprah would always be a size 4 with her shirt tucked in. That's the bad news. The good news is it really isn't that bad. In fact, I eat more and enjoy my food and treats a lot more now than I did when I just ate and drank whatever came across my path. And since I started all this, I haven't been hungry once.

Every five days I have a cheat meal, if I have been really good I have a cheat day -- so I never feel deprived. And a lot of the things I thought I would miss six months ago, I haven't given a second thought. I really thought I would miss having wine at the weekends but, as it turns out, it is quite far down the list when it comes to choosing a treat.

That is not to say that the last six months have been easy -- they haven't. It took a total overhaul of almost every aspect of my life -- I have changed how I eat, how I work, how I socialise, the hours I keep, my whole approach to life. But the rewards are worth it.

And there is nothing special about me other than the fact that I decided that being fit and healthy was something I wanted and was willing to work for. If I can do it, so can you.

How I did it

  • The exercise: I started by visiting Damien for personal training twice a week, and went up to three, then four, times a week. We did weight training in the gym and I did interval sprints one or two other days a week. As the weight training got harder I took two rest days a week. No matter how tired I was, or how busy, I turned up.
  • The food: Initially, Damien started me on a protein breakfast -- eggs or fish. Then he gradually introduced better eating habits, cutting out refined carbohydrates. My diet mostly consists of fresh vegetables and salads and protein -- either fish or meat. I have three main meals a day and two snacks, which for me are usually nuts and seeds.
  • The secret to my success: Expert advice and support from Damien and his team, hard work and planning, in equal measure. The planning makes the hard work possible and the food easy. I was able to stick to the food rules by making sure that I was organised. From the very start, Damien made me keep a food diary and send it to him, which encouraged me to shop for, plan and prepare all my meals in advance. I brought, and continue to bring, my lunch and snacks to work with me every day.

Irish Independent

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