Body mass index. Name a more feared set of words when it comes to the weight loss world. I’ll wait… (although I would accept that ‘gimme fifty burpees‘ may come close).
Sitting in with my doctor back in January for my once yearly, much detested, checkup – we started talking about weight. Partly because I’d happen to found a bit more of it than I should have over Christmas (or the whole of 2018 for that matter) and partly because there is even more reason to lose it as I age closer to my midlife crisis point.
Being the daughter of my father gave me a lot of great things in life, but in terms of hereditary gifts – the ol’ “Eddie” genes as we call them, didn’t leave me much to brag about.
My father is the third generation on the ‘Eddie’ side to have suffered a heart attack by the age of 50… and inclusive of his own brother, my uncle, one year ago… the only one to have survived. This means, I’m next in the firing line with the only advantage now being that I know it’s coming.
My doctor kindly pointed out that we had an opportunity to change the odds in our favour if I was willing to make a few new choices and give myself the best chance at seeing 50 years (oh, god!) through. Undoubtedly I wasn’t all that excited about more lettuce in my diet, but he had a good point and I’m not one for ignoring good logic.
Now, breaking every womanly instinct and manner, I’ll tell you I weighed 79.8kg as I looked down at the scales between my toes that day – which for me, is the largest I’ve ever been in my young life. The horror must have been written all over my face as I had sat back down, because my doctor smiled gently and said, “Try to look at it this way…It’s the perfect starting point”.
And while I felt a little like bursting into tears the whole drive home, something seemed to click inside me driven by a sense of determination to not be the girl who had a chance to change and didn’t. No one wants to feel large, and I really did that day.
At a height of 166cm, my increase in weight had ensured my falling out of range from the green healthy bar into alarmingly orange ‘overweight’ area. And as a side note, I truely believe the person who created the BMI charts was male, because no female would have ever named the next range up from healthy, “overweight” – it’s far too harsh. But whether I liked it or not, it was a universal truth thanks to every BMI calculator out there, and perhaps the obtusely orange overweight indicator staring me in the face was the kickstart I needed.
My doctor had said the weight loss didn’t have to be drastic, or immediate, but to just aim for 75kg at first and see what happens. According to the BMI chart, ‘Healthy’ for my body sits somewhere between 50 and 68kg apparently – which seems like a lot, because it is. And I think there has to be room in there for common sense, because when it comes to being healthy, I feel like this can never be rightly limited to a numerical boundary. There are different aspects to being healthy, and not all of them revolve around weighing in at a certain amount. While my goal is to lose weight because I do need to (doctors orders, not just mine!), more than anything else, I’m just trying to fall back into healthy – in more ways than the BMI chart dictates.
So now, in my year of ‘happy and healthy’, I’m choosing to do things a little differently than anything I’ve done before. I’m introducing five habits to my life in the aim to establish a health as the motivator, and weight loss as it’s beneficiary. The goal is to find a cohesive regime for my body that doesn’t focus on getting to a specific numeric weight, but rather editing the edges of my daily routine to change unhealthy habits into better ones, and to see that transform into a healthier body – inside, outside and love-handles included.
FIVE HABITS TO CHANGE A LIFE
- plan and schedule
This is a big one for me, and perhaps simultaneously the easiest. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am a planner. I love lists and schedules, I live daily by them and love the structure they give to my life. But being a nurse means no two weeks are the same. It can be hard to fall into a rhythm or routine when my work life is both sporadic and unpredictable, interwoven with night shifts. So sitting down every Sunday night for an hour, be it at home after dinner, or on my tea break at work, I plan my week ahead. This helps me allocate time to exercise and plan meals for the next seven days. It gives me a road map to follow, and once I have it, I find an odd comfort in having a game plan. It also works to relieve a lot of the stress I have around all the things I want to do in providing a time for them. Planning and scheduling makes me productive and accountable, and I love it.
- do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day
I think of this habit as a way of becoming a better dog-mum first and foremost. Being the owner of two golden retrievers means there is always plenty of energy in the house. From the moment I arrive home from work, Igloo and Millie are running loops around me. It’s not always easy to want to go for a walk – especially after a long day. But the reality is that I’m a better dog-mum if I do. The added bonus? It’s the extra exercise I need too. I’m starting out with something easy and achievable. Jumping into trend-led workouts has never really stuck for me, so by starting out with something that’s catered more to the little golden loves in my life makes it an easy starting point. The more intense stuff I can integrate later. And the more I do it, the more I actually find walking to be therapeutic. It’s fresh air, at sunset, with the ones I love most (my Mr. included). It’s fast becoming one of my favourite things to do.
- keep a food diary
Now not to advocate for counting calories as such, but logging my meals into My Fitness Pal, has helped me to decipher what foods are actually not as good as they seem! It also has helped me work out better portion sizes and keeps me in check when it comes to meals and avoiding overeating. It’s human nature to feel better about eating a Krispy Creme when you can’t see the calories that accompany the iced-wonder, but when you have to account for it later, you start to really think about whether it’s worth it. I am loving being held accountable for what I eat, and with the gentle push the app provides, I’m making healthier choices when it comes to food. Its rewarding to be able to look back at your day and realise you gave your body the nourishment it thrives on. And it’s even more rewarding when your body starts to feel it too.
- get enough sleep
I used to be notorious for not getting enough sleep. As I said before, it’s hard enough being a nurse to find routine, but sometimes finding enough hours to sleep between one shift to the other can be even harder. Then there’s errands, housework, and the weekly parental dinners – and before long, sleep becomes almost illusive (especially so when you have a racing mind like mine bursting with ideas and plans). So lately I’ve been making conscious effort to go to sleep earlier, I aim for 8 hours and feel so much better when I achieve it. The extra z’s also help with my digestion and I find myself less bloated in the mornings. The body just works better on a good night’s sleep – and although I already knew this to be a fact, feeling the difference really seals the deal.
- make your own meals
Over the years, I’ve always been a fan of easy meals. Off the shelf, processed, cook for 20 minutes and voila! But often these meals provide little nutrition and altogether, turn out to only add to the waistline. A couple of months ago, I found a website called DietDoctor which is a Keto Diet based collection of recipes. And while I don’t exactly use the website for it’s intended purpose as I don’t plan on sticking to the fad diet, I do love that the recipes on there are low carb. It has been such a game changer when it comes to choosing healthier meal options, and when they taste as good as they do – there’s really no turning back to all things processed. There are ingredients in some of the recipes I’d never even think to use, and with the intended use of healthy fats over saturated ones, you barely feel like you’ve missed out on anything at all – which gets the tick of approval from my Mr. We’ve picked up a few favourites so far like Chicken Pesto Casserole, and Cheese Garlic Stuffed Chicken Breast, but with more than 50 more recipes yet to investigate, we’ve got dinner sorted for quite a while to come.
And thats my five habits! While they aren’t big changes to my everyday life, they are are giving me a good foundation to start building a healthy life upon. I can already see the changes in my thought patterns and energy levels. I’m less emotional, and more driven to make these second-nature. And this week weighing in at 76.5kg, affirms that something is working.
So here’s to healthy habits, happiness and seeing any challenge life throws at you as the perfect starting point.