It’s been almost a year since I started exercising and eating better. Or trying to eat better. I used to be a normal-weight teenager, even trained in athletics. But an indulgent student life, wild nights, stress and a motherhood later, the kilos have piled up. Paired with the lack of time to do any kind of exercise at home or at the gym, the results for my body and health were not that positive any more.
I am familiar with every type of exercise and most health eating regimes – I was a gymnast for years, after all. But I thought that I should do a bit of research on all those compact high-impact workouts for busy people which are supposedly so easy to do at home. There are hundreds of ‘professional’ videos and articles online. Health nutritionists, trainers and all sort of ‘weight-loss experts’ are always advertising their products to desperate people who want to lose weight and look better.
I noticed that all these experts looked perfectly thin and toned. Most of the exercises were kinda difficult – I could only imagine how a really overweight woman could manage to do them. The healthy eating advice is targeting an audience of people who don’t like food. The whole weight-loss market online is designed for people who are already thin or need to lose a kilo or two.
What were those busy, stressed-out moms that had to lose more than a kilo supposed to do? I decided to ignore all that “professional” stuff, but was determined to look and feel better. I was too busy to go the gym and too tired to keep counting calories and measuring grams every day. Needless to say, adding a different dish for me to the daily cooking routine was expensive and exhausting. So I did a lot of thinking. The relationship people have with food starts from childhood and unfortunately continues until later on in life too.
I come from a culture that takes cooking seriously and that is defined by a long tradition of amazing, rich cuisine. Eating, for us, growing up, was more than just eating – it was a time for family bonding, laughter and long conversations. Late afternoon snacking was also a ‘thing’ in my family. We would gather all together to play games or watch TV while my mom would serve those delicious pies and cakes. Being a child, food was paradise! But as an adult, how do you get out of those now ‘destructive’ habits?
I took it one step at a time. I made a diary of what I eat every day and how it makes me feel afterwards. I also noted the times and reasons for eating. I noticed that my emotional state was to answer for a lot of my binging. I put my children to bed and went for late night walks. I made a commitment to go for at least a 30 minute walk daily or every second day. Even when I felt tired and wanted to relax I still went out for a walk or on a ride with my bicycle. I did’t like it but I did it.
Walking every day made me feel good so I decided to cut down on night eating altogether and have a more filling breakfast instead. I slowly cut down on sweets too and bread. I still had the odd one here and there but they now are the exceptions, not the norm.
I did not follow any ‘diet’. I just decided to think before I eat and not indulge on anything that happens to be in front of me. I made healthier choices which also helped my family too. I chose to have smaller portions of any meal that was prepared that day and when I felt like eating more, I had a coffee instead.
It was a difficult process full of emotional ups and downs, disappointment, relapses, hurdles and struggle. Twelve months and minus 16 kilos later I feel better about my body and health. I also feel really proud of myself. I have now started the gym and try to go as much as I can. I believe that everyone can do it. It is not easy but definitely worth it.