Reflections of 9 years diet Free- Year One All about the Aesthetic
I've talked honestly about the things which helped me kick start the journey and I'll summarise below
Seeing my fat ass in all its glory
Committing to myself to give it my best shot for the 12 week timeframe, even through a snowboarding holiday, Valentine's Day and 12 weekends, I stuck to it.
Cooking everything from scratch using only real whole foods, no refined sugar, additives, preservatives, no dairy (since learned so much about how hard dairy is for the majority to tolerate ), no wheat and gluten (since learned its in everything hence the big problem.. Overload on our poor digestives systems)
Three structured 1 hour, weight based training sessions per week which changed every 4 weeks to keep the body on its toes.
When the initial good results of the first few weeks started slowing - not giving up finding a new motivator to push me on- for me that was raising money for the hospice who were caring for my Auntie Lynn by running a 10k run. Suddenly there were others I couldn't let down not just myself.
I had found a community who were working towards the same goals as me, to be healthier, happier, fitter and stronger
Let's focus on number 7
Really... I think not...lets be truthful the big driver for everyone was to look better- All about the ascetics that should really be the title of this blog, nobody was really driven by anything else to start off with. The fitness club was called 'Ultimate Body Club' so the clues in the name!
My ass shrank, I looked toned and my six pack shone, there was even a little hash tag going round #abslikedamage (Damage was my gym nickname) and I certainly was doing the 'Damage' . I stuck to my commitment and won the programme, which got me another one free.... 12 more weeks. I ran my 10k and raised over £1000 for the hospice but what now... I'd got in shape, go back to 'normal', start 'treating' myself as it's often referred to? I could have alcohol again now... I tried but it just didn't taste as good.... A curry at the curry house.... Again I tried but the food hangover, just wasn't worth it plus I could make amazing ones now, which I preferred. Staying up later than 10pm... I tried but I wanted to go to the gym at 6.30am more.
Subtle physiological changes had started happening to me and I now understood
"Nothing tastes as good as being Healthy feels". And most importantly 'normal eating' as we'd been led to believe it, generally the convenience food produced cheaply with excuses for ingredients were not in any way shape or form making anyone feel or look their best. A treat? Lacking energy, still feeling hungry so over eating and getting more cellulite, fatter and unhealthy? Not really a treat for me anymore thank you, I'd found real food again, something that really did satisfy me, a new way and I wanted to keep thriving from the energy and results it gave me.
Results wise, everything was tiny after those big changes, my weight didn't change much but my strength did continue to improve and my body fat reduced too. I was learning that staying in shape is much more than the image in the mirror and if I'd been motivated by the scales I'd soon have slipped off piste.
So what were the next steps for the next 9 months, the remainder of that year...
I continued to train and do a bit more to push myself.
I bought a bike and gave it a go, biking to work a few days per week.
I bought a wetsuit and started to swim in the sea.
I put my name forward to be the swim leg for a Challenge Weymouth Relay Team, getting in the sea every Wednesday at the Bustin Skins Aquathon regardless of the weather, as I knew if I did that I'd build mental resilience to have no fear getting in regardless of the conditions on race day and therefore wouldn't let my team down.
But above all else I wanted to keep looking good and I lived in fear that it would regress as it always had before, hence why I felt I always had to push harder, do more.
You see this is where the body dysmorphia came in. I still felt 'big' I knew I looked good but my feelings of how I looked hadn't yet caught up with the image in the mirror. When I did catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I'd be shocked not recognise myself as I still expected to see the big girl. Ooh the other thing I remember was shopping for new clothes. I was so used to buying what 'made me look thinner', that it was quite bizarre that everything looked good and now I had to choose rather than the garment which looked OK dictating.
After probably 25 years of dieting (since puberty really) and my weight going up and down like a yo yo and trying every trend going diet wise, it's understandable I felt differently to the reality of how I looked and I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing as it kept me motivated to continue to cook deliciously lunches, dinners and start the day well with protein rich nutritious whole food. But growing up as I did with the best cake maker on the planet as my Mum and developing the sweet tooth I had, treats were still a dark area for me and I couldn't even trust myself to make or eat healthy ones. So I limited that to an ice cream at the beach or if we did go out, a pudding. I was not ready to allow them back into the house or my world just yet. I couldn't trust myself.
However i'd soon have to as the demand for me to cook for my work colleagues and gym buddies grew and Michelle's Clean Kitchen as it was then just sort of unofficially happened and I had a call to make...
Be brave and go for it, do something I'd found a love for in a place I'd fallen in love with.... Or stay safe in the security of my job, waiting for them to tell me what they wanted me to do next or where they'd be sending me next.
Now when I write it like that, it sounds an easy choice but I'd spent 18 years doing what was required to build a career and the successes that brings and there's an ego that comes with the titles and stuff. I'd never lived in one place for more than 3 years as they'd ask me to go somewhere else to do my turnaround magic in another new division and after taking 18 months out travelling we had made a pact that the next place we landed would become home. We also knew we wanted to work together, for ourselves, after our time running the ski chalet in Morzine, France.... But hadn't quite worked out what. Things were happening and you can't fight against 'spiritual signs'
I chose to go for it, maybe as I thought it would be another security blanket to stop me falling off the wagon and back into the diet world, keep me 'thin' a very extreme form of dieting hey, but that's how these diets consume us, rule us. Thankfully this was a positive thing in every way.
So what's the overview of my first year diet free...
Unashamedly - Year 1 was all about looking good and I achieved that quickly through 3 gym sessions a week and Cooking all my food from scratch as it meant I had no added wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, preservatives, additive and the weight dropped off.
I was committed and disciplined and the result after 12 weeks is pretty much what you see when you see me today and after 9 years popping a baby out in the middle too, I think everyone can agree this way of eating is very sustainable, especially as The food we create at Clean Cook takes all the stress out of eating well- we cook it for you from scratch if you can't....helping bridge the gap between what I know I certainly need and want- convenient, tasty, satisfying food that's affordable but which doesn't compromise health, in fact in that area it only has upside.
Living a lifestyle which prioritises health and helping our lovely Clean Cook Family do likewise, I've found my purpose, something I'm grateful for everyday, proud of and which I know, when I'm looking back on my life from my death bed, I'll be happy and smiling at my chosen path.
Thank you for reading and I hope my honesty can help you with your journey too