Wednesday, September 14, 2005

First impressions and motivation

I'm sharing an office with a new trainee at work. In the 6 months I had the last one I lost 4 stone and he never mentioned a thing, I'm not sure he knew what to say (women tend to be better at this sort of thing, I find). The new one's a girl, thin, pretty etc etc. But I've started to realise that she doesn't have the same first impressions of me as the other guy, and that superficially at least I seem like I'm a different person now.

Jeff never questioned my gym going, my amazing intake of fruit or my frequent clothes shopping trips. I think at first he probably wondered how someone so fat managed to go to the gym every day and still look like that, but by the end of it he understood. He didn't mention it, but you could tell he knew.

New trainee has spent the past week and a half talking about going to the gym. She's transferred her gym membership (she moved cities for this seat) but hadn't got round to going yet. Meanwhile she quickly realises that I go every morning before work. Every evening she says she'll go in the morning, every morning I ask her and she's not got round to it. Fair enough, I'm not going to force gym going on anyone, particularly not someone who's thin anyway, but the next comment is the interesting bit. "I don't know how you motivate yourself to get out of bed every morning". If only she knew.

I motivate myself because I have to. She might not see it, but I know that before I started doing this I was nearly 5 stone (70lb)* heavier than I am now. And I'm no skinny minnie now. I look at myself and find it hard to visualise an extra 5 stone even though I know it was there, so I'd be surprised if she realised unless and until I tell her (or more likely someone asks me about it in front of her). I don't (yet) have appallingly flappy or loose skin, so it's not really obvious. I exercise because I realised that I'd rather exercise for an hour or two out of 24 every day than carry that weight around (and over time no doubt more) 24 hours a day for the rest of my life. It's a simple trade off, and I know what I'd prefer.

I've been there, I don't want to go back. The reason I've lost weight so dramatically isn't because of what I'm eating or how I'm exercising. It's because I've finally realised what it is I have to do, and why I have to do it. What I eat and how I exercise form a part of that, of course they do, but it's more complicated than that, and it's the mental aspect that is the key. It's the difference between knowing what to do, wishing I could stick to it and actually just doing it.

I may look like just another overweight person. Could do with losing a stone or two, although nothing too drastic. But behind that lies the simple fact that I'm fighting a lifelong battle with my weight, and that this is the lightest I've been for a decade. Without doing what I do I'm under no illusions where I'd end up, and I want to be healthy enough to do whatever it takes to get and stay that way. Who needs motivation when you've got cold, hard facts and undesirable consequences waiting for you. Why would I not want to do something that makes me feel so much better, and that actually works? But people who look at me with fresh eyes sometimes don't (and maybe can't) see that battle as part of my life, and that's an amazing confidence boost. If they don't see why I need to do it so badly, it shows that it's working.

I'm already thinking ahead though, to what the next trainee will think. I don't think I'll lose the same amount in the next six months as in the last 6 (scarily I'd be verging on being underweight if I did!), but I'm hoping to be at or damn close to goal, a normal weight and feeling fantastic. And that really will hide a lot of my story. I may always be the person who used to be fat to myself and other people who've known me for years, but that doesn't mean that other people have to see me that way. That will be possibly my greatest achievement, getting to and staying at a healthy weight so that people who meet me in the future never even know what I've had to do.

*67lb, but "nearly 5 stone" sounds far better!


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