When Health Isn't About Weightloss

Spring always kicks me up a gear. To me, it's my New Year. I'm a spring baby, I love the warmth from the sunshine, the light when the clocks change and everything just feels new and revitalised; like the year has finally found it's footing. 

So, as it's my New Year, I committed to taking some steps to making a few changes and upgrades in my life. 

I made a few decisions. One was to eat better. I'm not a terrible eater, it's more that I'm a lazy cook and I can think of 15 better things to do with my time than spend an hour in the kitchen every evening. This means I'm more likely to grab a burrito when I'm out, choose a bowl of cereal over real food if I'm tired, or even eat a bigger lunch so that I'm 'a meal up' on myself. All of which are crap. My excuses are crap too, so I'm not even going to bother with them. I've made myself commit to being better; I've drawn up a big list of meals that I love, that are easy to cook (in less than 30 minutes), make sure that I'm getting fresh vegetables in two of my meals per day (Cheerios are not vegetables, missy) and eat a decent breakfast. 

Along with this, I restarted my gym membership this month as my voluntary work has finished for the season. My gym is a cheap one, so I can justify a monthly membership and only go in on weekends (as I rarely have days off during the week). My office have also started offering weekly lunchtime yoga sessions for a fiver, which are great value. 

The thing that bothered me the most here was I kept thinking about health indicators - ways to measure my 'success' by. I have trouble with the word 'success' in relation to diet and fitness because my attitude towards it has been so messed up in the past. Previously I would have used weight loss as an indicator, or dress size, or how low my calorie intake was, or the number of green smoothies I could Instagram in a week. Yeah, about that ... no.

For one thing, look at my weighing scales: 

Yeah, that's not a health indicator, dude. I don't care what I weigh, or what dress size I wear, or what my food looks like on Instagram (unless it's a pastrami sandwich from Katz's Deli in NY because OMGGGGGggggg), I just want to feel good inside. I want to live a healthy and enjoyable life. Technically I don't need indicators for this, but sadly I'm a girl who does need something to make her accountable for her actions, otherwise nothing changes and I will still be laying on my sofa, watching Daredevil on Netflix and eating Crunchy Nut Cornflakes again tomorrow. 

So, here's what I decided upon: 

Indicator: Resting Heart Rate

Heart rate was suggested to me by a couple of my friends and seems a pretty easy one to track. I don't have any fitness trackers any more (because, surprise, they made me feel guilty and over-exercising happened) so at most I'd put an app on my phone but that's it. RHR is a brilliant indicator of cardio vascular health, it's non-intrusive and, thanks to a free app I can check it every morning whilst lying in bed (win). I know my overall blood pressure is healthy (I get that checked twice a year) but my RHR could do with being a little lower. So, that's my primary measure for the coming months.

And while I'm at it, let's give me some motivation too. 

Motivator: Post-Gym Me Time

Remember when I used to be a runner? Seriously, I got medals and stuff: 

9km in, knackered, sweaty, ran through 2 showers and ripped my running tights. 

I hated training for that run *so much*. It put me off running for months. In fact, I think I've only run a handful of times since. Anyway, back when I was training for this, I used to have set distances to cover on each session and there was one way to guarantee I would cover that distance in a really good time ... I would promise myself a pizza afterwards.

Hey, don't judge, it worked for me. I got a decent time on that 10k. Pizza did that.

So. to that end, as I'll be using my gym membership primarily on weekends, I decided make an event of my session.  For example, I can go to the gym, shower and then go straight to a place nearby for a post-workout brunch with my iPad. Already the gym looks far more appealing, far more enjoyable and is a whole morning of stuff just for me! Lovely. I might look into training for something more specific in due course, but we'll see how I get on. 

It's been hard for me to think of health in terms other than weight loss. Really hard. It's pissed me off no end. I've worked so hard over the last year or so on kicking out diet mentality and body shame that it always alarms me when it pops back up in my face. I genuinely didn't know any other way of living existed, and I've never thought of a gym membership and healthy eating in any other way. Why else would you bother if not to lose weight and look good? 

Because health, yo. Just simple, honest, health. Making my heart happy in every single way that life lets me. No scales. No tape measures. No dress sizes.

Just me.

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  1. Thought provoking stuff. I'm at the point where I know dieting doesn't work, but I still want to lose weight. At the same time I don't want to make it about numbers, so have chosen to go on feeling strong and rating that. I like the RMR idea though as something actually measurable.

    1. You need to work out why you want to lose weight specifically. If it's for health, focus on health. Weight loss might be a side-effect of being fit and healthy, but it's not the only measure.