I wasn’t always fit.
And then I wasn’t.
And then I had no idea how I ever was.
It was weird.
Long story short, I was a junior athlete, represented my country internationally, got injured, went to university, stopped athletics and got fat(ter).
At my heaviest I weighed 70 kg on a 5 ft 3 frame. Not obese, but overweight.
And I felt horrendous. I was fully addicted to over-eating and sugar, I was tired and lethargic. I had NO SELF CONTROL which was emotionally stressful. You know the feeling when you really want to stop eating but it feels like you literally can’t? That’s deep. And it sucks. Although I kept most of this internal, and thought it was normal at the time- I obsessed over my weight and body. It was always a thing, if you know what I mean.
University ball? I need to lose 10lbs. Tagged in picture on facebook? I need to lose 10lbs. Person looked at you funny? It’s cos I’m fat and need to lose 10lbs.
It feels crazy looking back. Turns out my journey to lose weight, to become fit and healthy was about FAR MORE than my weight loss. It was a whole journey of learning to love myself in a real and practical way – but we can discuss that another day.
I tried diet after diet. I’m quite an impatient person, so I usually went for the ‘2 week fix’ protein only no carb run 10 miles every day type of fixes.
Needless to say, they failed.
Year after year.
With each fail I learnt new ways to fail. I learnt the importance of accountability, enjoying my food, maintaining quality of life and meal prepping.
But for me the one thing that changed the game was when I took the time limits off and stopped rushing.
After around two years of yo-yo dieting and no lasting success, I realised that (by God’s grace) 5 years from now I’d be five years older either way.
So I took the time limits off.
I stopped googling ‘how to lose weight fast’. I stopped setting stupid targets of 2lbs weight loss per week. I decided that it didn’t matter how long it took – I would simply never quit. I’d eat a realistic, enjoyable and sustainable diet for however long it took. I’d keep exercising, slowly but surely increasing the intensity – not in a rush, but gradually enough to cope and improve.
I didn’t need to get fit for the ball or get fit for my 21st anymore.
I just needed to be fit – and fit doesn’t have a time limit.
Removing unrealistic time limits from your fitness goals sounds simple – but it is huge. It changes everything. It changes your perspective, your route, your focus and your tactics.
It’s like two people (let’s call them Lindsey and Chukwu) want to get from point A to point B. Point B is 100 miles away. It’s the year 1734 and the only method of travel is by horse back (weird analogy coming up but hear me out..).
Lindsey is inpatient. She wants to get there as fast as possible. She doesn’t pack a lunch or provision for the journey. She sets out with a dodgy plan that promises to cut the journey by 3 days by taking her through short cuts. There are no rest points in this journey plan. No time to feed the horse or nap. But Lindseys like, ‘that’s cool!’, she really wants to get there a.s.a.p so she will simply power through and go extra hard for a shorter period of time.
50 miles into the journey, Lindsey finds herself stuck in front of a river with no bridge to cross – one of the promised short cuts fell a bit short. She’s tired, discouraged and has not reached her destination. She quits and stays by this river for about 6 months because she’s super disheartened – after all she did try super hard. One day she hears about another shortcut. She’s about 6 months behind schedule now so she decides she needs to hurry and sets off on this new short cut. Lindsey does this with great enthusiasm for each new short but she hears of. She tries to take short cuts for the next 5 years.
Chukwu on the other hand, doesn’t take a short cut. In fact he takes about 10 days to simply plan and PREPARE for the trip. It takes him ages. Along the way he even adds in a couple more rest points because he had not anticipated how tiring the journey would be on his horse. It’s tough. It’s difficult, but he keeps on keeping on in the knowledge that he will reach his destination. In the end he arrives 3 days late.
But he arrives. In fact, he arrives 5 years earlier than Lindsey – not that he minds, because he wasn’t rushing. His only aim was to arrive.
And that’s the whole point right?
To actually achieve your goals.
I truly believe that I achieved my fitness goals the moment I chose to stop rushing. The moment I said – I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll take the long, trusted, genuine route. No short cuts, no fad diets. I’ll keep going until I get there.
Practically speaking, this change of mindset changed the game for me in many ways:
- I improved my diet. No instant fixes, no cutting out of whole food groups
- I didn’t get discouraged when I failed because my goals were realistic so I was much less likely to fail.
- I wasn’t running late any more. When you are rushing for a target – it’s like running late. There’s no room or margin to allow for error. Suddenly, my errors (e.g woops just ate 10 digestive biscuits) didn’t matter any more because I wasn’t in a rush and I had margin. This meant I didn’t beat myself up over my inevitable mistakes because they were already accounted for
- I enjoyed the process
- I was happier
And here I am.
However many years later with a lifestyle that I truly love, healthy food that I genuinely enjoy (honestly didn’t know this was possible at one point) a body fat of 14.6% that I am maintaining without any strenuous effort, and a truly happy relationship with my body.
It’s a process, learning to both love and look after your body. Like and good relationship it takes time and patience.
Breath in, breathe out.
There’s no need to rush.
You’ve got this.
One step at a time.
xoxo Dr Saz