I'm very grateful today to my guest poster because she wrote this for me whilst away from home. I had no post lined up until I put out a request on Twitter on Monday for some new contributions - or the series would have had to take an enforced holiday. I know Tracy has been thinking of submitting her story for a while to me, and I'm glad she took the time to write all down for me. Tracy struggled with her weight after having children, suffering the cumulative effect of weight gain that successive pregnancies can bring, until she resolved to lose the weight for good last year. In total, she lost 5 stone in 8 months, which is pretty incredible - especially as she did it all by myself and all for herself, which is great. This story cannot fail to inspire you if you're struggling in any way with a diet or fitness programme. Over now to Tracy to take up her tale.
My “struggle” with my weight goes back to my early twenties. I had been a size 8 – 10 and put on weight after university having money, driving a car and eating out. I increased to a size 14. When I look back, this seems like nothing, but I felt bad about myself. My self-esteem has always been related to my size, and I didn’t feel good. So I read a book, “Stop the Insanity” by Susan Powter and I followed it. It was a way of thinking about food and exercise. It motivated me and I stuck to it. It was mainly about watching the percentage fat content of food and increasing your exercise. I became obsessed, both with food and exercise, until I lost lots of weight and got down to a size 8. I felt great about myself, but I couldn’t maintain it. I was exercising before work, running for 40 minutes, then swimming 30 lengths, and doing classes after work. In all honesty, I got too thin and I don’t think I am meant to be that size. My weight started to increase again, but stabilised at a size 10 – 12. I still felt good about myself at this weight.
|Me in 2007|
I was this size when I met my husband, 11 years ago. I was just under 10 stone when we got together. We met and married in the space of 10 months, but in that time I went from a size 10 – 12 to a size 16. My wedding dress was a size 16. A couple of months after the wedding, I became pregnant. I saw this as an excuse to eat, and put on 4 stone during the pregnancy. I had a difficult and traumatic delivery with my son and it took me a long time to recover, physically and emotionally. It wasn’t until he was 3 years old that I felt able to do anything about the weight. But, in 2004, I got a new job and decided I wanted to make a new start so I began the Atkins diet. Once again, I was obsessed. I followed the diet to the exact letter. It worked. I lost weight, and fast. Within 3 months I had lost over 4 stone and I felt good again. The feeling I got when everyone asked how I had done it, commented on how good I looked and complimented me on my achievement was wonderful. But it didn’t last for long.
|Christmas Day 2009|
I maintained for 4 months but became pregnant with my second child. I immediately started eating whatever I wanted again, and of course the weight started to pile back on. I put 3 stone back on during the pregnancy, and 8 months after the birth of my second child, I was pregnant again! This time, there was no time for weight loss and I just carried on eating, putting on another 2 stone. I was now a size 22 and 15 1/2 stone. I did not know what to do. I lacked motivation to do anything about my weight and suffered from post natal depression. It wasn’t until I resolved some of the issues relating to the birth of my children through counselling that I felt I was in a place where I could do something to tackle the weight again.
I was at work New Year’s Eve 2009, wearing my size 22 uniform and could not do up the trousers. I made a New Year’s resolution. In 2010, I was going to lose the weight. I was determined. I had been given a Wii Fit for Christmas and I intended on using this to keep me on track and hopefully be a fun way of exercising. On New Year’s Day, I stepped onto the Wii Fit for the first time. My BMI was right at the top of obese. I was mortified. I weighed 15 stone 8 lb. However, instead of feeling depressed, this motivated me, I had to do something! I started doing Wii Fit every day. For the first time, I was able to exercise with the children around because they enjoyed watching me do it, which resolved a major issue for me. I had found it very difficult to exercise. I couldn’t fit it in during the day, and was too exhausted by night. The Wii Fit resolved this. I know it is very low impact, but I was so unfit and lethargic, it got me moving more than I had done in years. I started to follow my own diet plan. Not as radical as I had been before, but combining things I had learnt in the past. I had porridge and juice for breakfast, chicken and salad for lunch, fish and vegetables for dinner. It was low carb again, but not in the extreme way that I had been with Atkins. I had “bad” days, particularly around my period, when I would lapse and have chocolate and wine! But this time, instead of thinking that I’d failed and blow the diet, I would get back on the Wii Fit the following morning and carry on. Pretty quickly, I saw results. The weight started coming off and my BMI started coming down. I carried on wearing baggy clothes and didn’t talk about what I was doing to anyone because I was doing this for myself. By August, I had lost 5 stone and my BMI was 24.6. I was thrilled. I started dressing completely differently and my work uniform was no longer the size 22 that wouldn’t fasten, but a size 12 that was a bit baggy. I felt so much better about myself.
|After my 10K|
I set myself a new target and entered a 10K race. This was my next challenge. I had lost the weight - now I wanted to improve my fitness. I had never done any running before, but I entered the Tatton Park 10k in September 2010 to raise funds for the Bobby Moore Fund for bowel cancer research. I enjoyed training - it gave me a real sense of motivation, having something to aim for. As a complete beginner with asthma, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I tried to follow a training schedule and enjoyed going out from my front door for an hour, exploring the local area doing run/walks. I did the route in 1 hr 16 minutes but the time wasn’t important, it was just doing it. My children looked so proud, and I felt a real sense of achievement. I couldn’t have imagined, only 9 months before, that I would’ve been able to run for a bus, let alone a 10K.
9 months later and so far, I have managed to maintain. I fluctuate a bit, and I have to watch what I eat, but I still feel good about myself. I am a size 12 – 14, and I am OK with that. I know, if I pushed myself, I could get down to being a 10 – 12 again but in my heart of hearts I don’t think this is where my natural weight should be. I am stable where I am, I don’t want to get big again, and I am happy to maintain where I am now. As I sit here, I am on holiday, and I have a glass of wine. I am planning on getting back to “sensible” eating again next week, after my holiday. Until then, I will not be worrying about it. The next challenge? Who knows. Maybe a marathon for my 40th birthday next year?!
What a great story. I'm sure lots of mums (including myself) went through similar experiences after they had children. I think Tracy's success can be summed up in this sentence: "instead of thinking that I’d failed and blow the diet, I would get back on the Wii Fit the following morning and carry on". We all have bad days - it's just how you react to them that decides if you succeed in the long run. I think it's an important lesson for us all - failure on a diet/healthy eating plan is not about one day.
Feel free to share experiences, as always, in the comments below. My guest posters really do appreciate the messages of support they get from readers.
If you would like to share your fitness story, then please contact me on Twitter or email me on the address on the About Me page. Posts can be partly or fully anonymous, or if you are happy to be named, I will link back to your blog. All contributions are really appreciated so do get in touch, even if you feel yours is not a worthwhile story. If it's a personal experience, it is. And I mean that even if you have failed at something, because it is still YOUR fitness story and you learned from it. If you want to read previous posts in this series, click on the My Fitness Story... tab above and they are all linked on that page.
Thanks for supporting My Fitness Story... and do come back for another guest post next week.