56 pounds, 25.4 kilogrammes - the excess weight I accumulated bit by bit, pound by pound over the years. The excess weight my poor body dragged around night and day; up stairs, down stairs, running for the bus, even to the gym. That's more than the luggage allowance most of us get on the plane when we head off on our holidays. It's more than I can lift or probably even move without wheels.
56 pounds, 25.4 kilogrammes. I have to keep reminding myself. That's the amount of weight I lost last year and I worked really hard to get there. I was focussed, disciplined and right in the zone. I went for it and I did it and it has improved my life in ways I never imagined. I was motivated by the weekly weigh in and the positive comments and encouragement of my diet mentor. I was exhilarated by loosening waist bands, dropping clothes sizes and a new shape. I was skipping with joy as I ran, walked, cycled and swam further, faster and lighter than ever before. I had so much positive feedback from almost every direction that I stayed fired up and motivated with relatively little difficulty.
Then came the hard part - keeping the weight off and I am struggling to keep motivated. There's no thrill in a flat line whether it's on the scales or the waistband. Running gave me a new motivation to keep healthy and has enriched my life in so many ways, but it's not about being slim or losing weight. See Rhona's recent blog on her experience of training for a marathon. http://www.redwinerunner.co.uk/
This isn't just about finding my old motivation or switching it on. It's becoming clear to me that keeping my weight under control is going to be a totally new challenge and I'm still working out what the challenge actually is and how it works. One thing I have worked out is that this time I have to go deep, I have to tackle my secret vice - my nibbling.
Yes, I nibble. I am a self confessed nibbler. I come from a long line of nibblers and at some level deep inside, I truly believe that calories don't count if no one sees me eat them. Nibbled food is special, secret and very, very addictive. That spoonful or three of Rachel's rhubarb low fat yogurt every time I'm near the fridge. The spoonful of low fat humous. (Has Ali never wondered why there are always loads of teaspoons in the washing up bowl?). The apples and grapes. The chocolate biscuit nibbled round at Mum's when I'm making her tea or the post holiday sweetie brought back by work chums. That rice cake when I pop into the kitchen to check the washing. I love to nibble: and it shows.
On my weight loss programme I did not nibble, well not much anyway. But even after only a few weeks at my target weight, my discipline began to sag and my old ways made a serious take over bid. I was very happy with my new healthy eating regime, that didn't change much, so I allowed myself to nibble the spare calories in my allowance. I do nibble much more healthily now, but it's not what I nibble that's the problem - it's the nibbling itself. I think this may have been a major tactical error and I'm trying to work out how to work with it.
So, I'm sitting here over my target weigh, looking at a weight-line that is probably going up, albeit very slowly, and wondering how to tackle my nibbling. Is it a failure of motivation? Do I focus on finding the motivation not to nibble? Is it hunger? Am I not eating enough at mealtimes and so the desire to nibble is stronger than it needs to be? Is it because I have some deeper need to comfort nibble that I need to address? Nibbling does seem to be linked to the caring role and is very much a treat just for me. Is it something to do with how my body works? Whilst I have always nibbled, my interest in cake only started after I had my gall bladder out. Hmm, that psychology degree is going to come in handy!
To try and keep on top of things, I keep reminding myself that I can achieve when I want to and I really want to stay slim. I still want a longer, healthier and more active life, to feel and act younger and more confident. I want to keep dancing and touch my toes, to run. But I have still to find the motivation to stop nibbling.
When we start a new quest, we're fired up and that drives us to new heights and feels great. But there's a time before and after the giddy excitement, when we work out what is to come and when we get ourselves mentally prepared. We decide to take on that chellenge and go for it. We need this thoughtful, often introverted time, but it can feel like treading water, like a loss of courage or direction, like failure. Often we have to dig below the surface of the problem to find what really needs sorted out, and often it's something about ourselves. It's also the time we size up what's ahead of us, summon our energy and make the decision to go for it. We set the foundations for our success. I know before my diet I spent years getting ready, this time I want to move a bit faster!
So I keep reminding myself about the rewards of taking this on and what can happen if I let things go. I need to turn up the heat under my motivation here and focus. This time there's no book, no website, no well trod path like there is for weight loss, I have to work it out for myself and stop nibbling or I will end up carrying round that suitcase again.
Yet again, success relies on knowing who we are and what makes us tick. Food for thought indeed......