About two months ago, Smilin' Vic and I decided the time had come to get back to a healthier way of life. We decided to step away from a daily glass of wine and replace it with a lot more water. To put away the occasional takeaway menu and stick with home-cooked meals. To chuck the can of diet cola and take the juicer out twice a day. To get off the couch and step outdoors for a walk. To put away the i-Pads and go for a swim with Kiddo. To get back into a healthier state of mind and true fitness ...
For me, that meant the radical move of hiring a personal trainer. After several years of decline into a perfectly sedentary lifestyle, my body and my mind no longer had the strength or the will to allow me to do this on my own. So I decided to spend some bucks on me and put my money where my mouth is.
Six weeks ago, those first few workouts compelled me to write about the 'F' word: FEAR ...
Fear was holding me back in so many ways, and at first I wasn't sure I'd ever manage to overcome it. Fear of humiliation, fear of injuring myself, fear of stinking when I sweat, fear of grunting when I pushed, fear of not trying hard enough, fear of tripping over my own feet (justifiable ... it DID happen), and on and on.
But mostly fear of failure. Fear of trying and failing. Fear of convincing myself that quitting would be the better alternative, because if you don't try, you can't fail, right?
That fear of failure was what killed me every time I did my weekly weigh-in. Half a lb. down one week, one lb. up the next. Never really wavering. Except the one week the doctor put me on Diclofenac Potassium* to reduce the inflammation in my piriformis ... that week I went up 5 lbs!
I Googled ''HIIT training but not losing weight'', ''juicing and weight gain'', ''not losing weight when you start training'', ''gaining weight when you increase water intake'' ... I came up with every possible word combination to try to figure out the unwavering figure on the scale.
All the sites said the same: calories in must be less than calories out, whether you exercise or not. But I wasn't quite ready to give up the healthy appetite I've had for the last 44 years. In my shattered and weakened physical state, taking on a radical change in eating habits together with such an increased level of activity just seemed insurmountable. So I kept on eating healthy food - in copious amounts.
A few times, it really felt like I was failing. The weight was falling off Smilin' Vic faster than you could utter his 1-syllable name. Obviously my inability to shed a single lb. meant I was doing something seriously wrong?
Then one day at work, someone asked me what I was doing differently, why was my skin 'glowing' all of a sudden? Then someone else asked, and someone else, and someone else.
Last week, on our 4 a.m. walk, we came upon a foot-high concrete block (the sidewalks in Doha are littered with sign posts, potholes, broken jersey barriers, and all other manner of debris). I said ''Look what I can do, Smilin' Vic!'' and proceeded to swing my arms and jump up onto it, landing smoothly with both feet squarely and firmly onto the block. This might not seem like much to some, but a few short weeks ago I could barely hop one foot at a time onto a 6-inch curb.
Three weeks ago, when I noticed the weight wasn't coming off, I decided to take my measurements. This week when I measured, I'd lost an inch off my waist, half an inch off my hips, half an inch off my bottom, and half an inch off my thighs. Small changes, but changes nonetheless.
Smilin' Vic told me a few days ago that I never snore anymore. I know, hard to believe that a vixen like me would have ever displayed such uncouthness, but alas it's true. I was a light but constant snorer.
That may account for the fact that I'm sleeping much better. No more waking up throughout the night and scrunching up the pillows or rearranging the blankets in a desperate attempt to achieve zzzzzz's.
Which probably explains why I'm no longer tired during the day. I wake up refreshed and only rarely click on snooze these days. Granted we're usually in bed by 9:00 p.m., but when 4:00 a.m. rolls around I actually look forward to donning my sneakers and heading out for a walk.
My sciatica and back pain have eased significantly. They're not gone, but they don't dictate my every sleeping and waking moment. This may be partly due to the vitamin B12 injections I've been receiving, but I think the increase in vitamins through vegetable juicing and the increased mobility from exercising are definitely helping as well.
My pants are looser, did I mention that? Not substantially, just enough so I feel comfortable and no longer have to fear taking out someone's eye if a button all of a sudden pops off.
Am I where I want to be? Not really. But I'm on my way. Do I still care about what the scale says? Hell, yeah! But I'm not afraid of what it tells me; it's becoming a much smaller part of the equation. Am I still sore? Every. Single. Day. A new muscle or joint makes my acquaintance daily by sending a shot of pain to my brain. But it's okay; I'm actually getting to know my body - the neighbour I had for 44 years and only met formally last month.
This morning I came back from the gym exhausted after a work-out that ended with 5 rounds of stairs and burpees knowing that I am getting stronger. Still, my body's asking me to get a bit leaner. Not much, but a little bit will make it easier on us both I think. And as of today, I'm feeling strong enough physically and mentally to start logging my food and sticking to a daily nutrition goal.
Have I lost a single lb. in six weeks? Nope. Zero, zip, nada.
All I've gotten for my efforts are healthier skin, fewer wrinkles, better sleep, more flexibility, greater strength, increased energy, slightly more muscle tone, a better back, a positive outlook, and an overall sense of wellbeing.
Have I failed? I'll let you be the judge.
* Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories have been reported to cause water retention and temporary weight gain in some individuals.