Citywide Fitness Transformation Contest 2011 – Kym
Someone wise, whose opinions I truly respect, has said to me on a number of occasions that “the physical transformations are easy but the mental ones are hard”. I really had no idea just how accurately that described me until I took on this 12 week transformation challenge.
In the (not so distant) past I have been mildly obsessed by the number on the scale, and the result can change my mood and my opinion of myself amazingly. A loss makes me feel fantastic while a gain can set off a spiral of disaster, whether it’s a day of eating anything and everything because I’ve wrecked my good intentions anyway or whether I decide to set some unrealistic, over-the-top goal in order to get that gain off. Usually some kind of extreme goal which I can’t stick to, which leads to more poor choices and another gain, and so the pattern continues.
Old habits are hard to break, so for me this 12 Week Challenge started off more about losing weight and seeing the numbers on the scale drop rather than looking at the real culprit – my head!
I’m often told ‘you can eat anything – you exercise enough plus you’re slim! You’re so lucky!!’ and I have also told myself that same stupid line at times when I need an excuse because it validates my poor choices, but history has taught me that it can very quickly become a vicious circle.
I have achieved a huge amount in only 12 weeks. I have, of course, seen physical changes, but having such a focussed period of time and having support from others also undertaking the challenge has really helped me to look deeper than that and I feel like I’ve made massive progress mentally. I do still struggle with that side of it all – my brain has really worked against me in the past – but I’ve really started to figure out the nuts and bolts of what does and doesn’t work for me both physically and mentally, which has enabled me to implement some sustainable strategies to achieve my goals.
One broad, overall achievement for me which has significantly changed the way I look at my training and diet is that my goals are now about being strong, healthy and fit, not about being ‘skinny’. Give me muscle definition!! Of course, changing this headspace has lead to physical changes too, which makes me feel fantastic. I’m still not perfect, but I don’t have to be! I’m ‘better’, and if I can be a bit better every day then think of the changes!
I love training so that was never going to be my biggest challenge over the 12 weeks. My biggest challenge was always going to be my diet – in particular eating things because they are there. Over the 12 weeks I’ve realised that I struggle with the idea of ‘deprivation’ and wanting something because I’ve told myself that I can’t have it, and not looking ahead to the consequences. I’m not talking weight; yes, it may show on the scales but I workout hard and I know the occasional feast will come off quickly. I’m talking about the disappointment in myself, the feeling of being tired and sluggish, the uncomfortable sick feeling from making my poor body try to digest the rubbish I’ve eaten. Sugar is like crack for me – I can happily go without it, but as soon as I give in and decide to have ‘just one’ of whatever evilness is on offer, my resolve deteriorates and all I can think of is getting more sugar. The lolly bowl at work is frequented on these days, resulting in repetitive sugar highs and the inevitable crashes, then more sugar consumption, leaving me feeling revolting and giving me a sugar hangover the following day.
I’m also talking about the ultimate consequence of stepping away from my goals and going backwards. I really felt like I went backwards a couple of times during the 12 weeks, however looking back at my progress over the whole period of time I realise that I didn’t because I still achieved my goals. It’s starting to sink in that one ‘off’ day isn’t going to derail my efforts – unless I let it! Unless I choose not to get back on track the day after, or the meal after. I also realised, looking back, that the events which led to those feelings of failure were social events, family events, celebrations. I don’t want to have a life where I can’t enjoy a celebration with my friends because I’m worried that a piece of birthday cake, a glass of champagne, or a wonderful meal prepared by wonderful friends will make me fail to achieve my goals. Bottom line – it won’t, unless I choose to let it be my excuse.
As it turns out, the bad choices I made over the 12 weeks made me realise something: I don’t really enjoy that food anymore. A delicious, rich home-cooked meal or the occasional decadent dessert, absolutely; but the rubbish I used to eat under the guise of a ‘treat’ – the packaged food, the take-away, the sugar-laden junk – doesn’t do it for me anymore. I can’t believe it! I ate chocolate and didn’t really enjoy it!! I ate it anyway, but afterwards I recognised that I was falling back in to the habit of eating what was there without making a proper choice. Yes, I made the choice to eat it, but a proper choice would have been to recognise that I wasn’t enjoying it and to stop eating it. This was a real wake-up call that I need to listen to my body because it’s starting to tell me great things, and by listening I will achieve great things.
A big part of my success over the 12 weeks has been the support that has surrounded me.
I don’t think my husband really understands why I’m doing it – he possibly thinks that it’s a weight thing, which he can be excused for because it always was in the past; and I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m a bit too obsessed, which is probably warranted – but he has always supported me. He has helped me to resist temptations; he has refused to drive to the servo for chocolate; he has let me choose restaurants because, in his words, he’ll eat anywhere; he has been patient in said restaurants when it takes me a long time to decide what to have; he has given me freedom to train 6 days a week and has even driven me to sessions at 6am when I didn’t have my car, even though he didn’t have to be anywhere that day so could have slept in. They may sound like small things but, to me, they are significant and he is wonderful!
The Citywide girls and the Inner Circle posts have been the most amazing inspiration! I found that the times that I was feeling unmotivated usually coincided with not having logged in to Inner Circle for a while. Reading about other people’s experiences, successes and challenges would always give me the boost I needed, and it was also a huge help realising that we all go through the same challenges and emotions. I would often think that I was the only one, surely, who did this, thought that, tried and failed; but wow, it really IS something that so many people struggle with! And for putting it out there for others to read, and for being so honest in what you all shared, I really have to thank you because you helped me more than you realise.
My Wednesday morning ‘therapy’ sessions – otherwise known as PT. It never ceased to amaze me how James would know just the right time to ask “so how’s it all going?”, which would generally result in me saying “good…..” then blurting out whatever was bugging me, whether it was (perceived) lack of improvement, nutrition and diet issues, or general life ‘stuff’. Not just a trainer, but a friend. It must be draining to give so much of yourself all the time, so thanks for giving some to me!
Even my work colleagues, in a somewhat backwards way, have helped! “You go to the gym enough,” they say, “so you can definitely have a piece! It won’t hurt!” They have helped me to realise that actually, it will. It hurts me in multiple ways! It hurts my progress towards my goals; it hurts my workouts because I feel sluggish and weak; it hurts my pride because I become disappointed with myself for backing down to placate them even though I KNOW I don’t want something; it hurts my stomach which is now used to eating clean; it hurts my body which runs so much better on good food. And, just a little bit, it hurts my feelings when people think I’m crazy and have decided that I must be starving and depriving myself. I know they mean well though, and every time I turn down morning tea it makes the next time easier. They are my willpower coaches!!
One thing I’ve really noticed, and that I’m making a determined effort to change, is that I’m definitely an ‘all or nothing’ person. I feel like I’m either powering through at 100% or I’m totally destroying my efforts. This leads to a real see-saw in my head where I feel positive and happy and confident while I’m eating well, working out consistently and achieving results but I feel depressed, I beat myself up and I really lack confidence when I ‘mess up’. Bearing in mind that my ‘all or nothing’ approach means I mess up big time. And also bearing in mind that my ‘all or nothing’ approach means I need to see big things before I consider I’m seeing ‘results’…. But this is changing.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to find the middle ground. Yes, that’s a very obvious conclusion, but it’s one that I haven’t been able to fully master. In fact I hadn’t even recognised the need for it until this 12 week challenge! Recognising that has been a massive turning point for me, and while I’m still working on it it’s something I’m really excited about because I can picture myself truly being in control of my thoughts and actions, and therefore really achieving my goals.
And, because old habits die hard, I’m also pretty damn happy with my physical changes:
Waist – down 5cms
Hips – down 5cms
Thighs – down 3cms
Weight – down 5.3kgs
Body Fat – down approx 3.5%