Despite knowing better, I weighed myself the other day. Normally I don’t go near the scales because weight is not a great measurement for your body and doesn’t factor in muscle – I prefer to base it on how my clothes fit. But after a usually baggy pair of shorts felt really snug, I had the nagging suspicion that despite going to the gym tons, I had put on weight – and this time I mean fat, not muscle.
‘HOLY FUCK,’ I yelled and the lady next to me looked startled.
Frankly, I was shocked. I spent the entire car ride home feeling awful about myself: how had I managed to put on so much weight, despite working out? And then I knew exactly how, the same as always whenever I have a blind spot about mysterious weight gain.
I had fallen into that trap of deluding myself about how much alcohol I was drinking, and how much food I was eating. FYI shitloads.
What compounded this feeling of inertia and malaise was reading about someone’s incredible body transformation. Then another, then another. All these people had been beavering away, and now they had the body of their dreams while I was stuck in the body of a human potato.
It was bad enough that I felt terrible, let alone be bombarded with reminders that everyone else seemed to have their act together while I had the self-control of a fly in a syrup factory.
Maybe it would be fine if these body transformation stories were, let’s say, spread out over the year. But they seem to all be concentrated in January, a time when you want to magic away all the weight you gained from December, but you can’t.
I’m not undermining the achievements of all these amazing people who locked themselves away for 8 weeks because their bodies are the result of hard work and willpower. In fact, I have utmost respect for them.
But the problem with this message hammering home at a time when a lot of us feel least attractive about our bodies and are desperately searching for a quick fix, is that it feeds into this idea that when it comes to sustainable healthy eating and fitness choices, it should happen as quickly as possible. When the reality, is that it took these people a great deal of time and effort to look that way.
But perhaps the real reason I feel terrible: these pics remind me that I let things slide, and so now face an incredibly steep and frankly unattractive uphill battle of my own making.
The fact is, that I didn’t gain that weight from one or two cheeseboards. I gained that weight from a nightly cheeseboard over two to three weeks washed down with a couple of glasses of red. To expect my results to happen overnight is impossible – it would take two to three weeks of not eating a cheeseboard at the very least.
After I stopped boohooing about all those perfect bodies, I came home and I got my act together.
Despite the very appealing results, transformation programs were not for me. I wasn’t going to cut fruit and carbs from my diet, and anyone suggesting I eliminate caffeine could fuck off. My goal was to get back to my version of normality slowly and sustainably.
I was going to have to go back to what I know about healthy eating.
Which is, that it’s about eating proper portions, good protein and fats, not allowing myself to get hangry (which is when I make poor food choices) and unfortunately, cutting way back on booze.
It’s only been day three, and I know that I’m nowhere near the Amazonian form of a post-transformation body.
But the important thing is that I feel in control of my own body, and I am not going to make any rash eliminations from my diet which will allow me to return to my preferred weight consistently and happily. And that, really, is the foundation of a healthy and happy lifestyle lifestyle learned over years, not 8 weeks.
True transformation, I’m afraid, takes a lot longer than that. But it also lasts a lot longer than that.