When I first actually began to take care of my health and start to see that a decent diet and regular exercise was important, not only for a slimmer waist, but for my overall health and wellbeing, I learnt so much.
But the more I learnt, the more I began to be frustrated with myself for not being able to stick to the healthy diet, or for flopping on the sofa at the end of the day instead of heading out to my scheduled Circuit Factory class.
When I had a bad week, and the pounds crept back on (or bad month, as it often turned out), I got really mad with myself and was really fed up that I kept "falling off the wagon".
The problem with that kind of frustration and anger, is that it doesn't really give you a positive environment, which is the only type of environment where change is actually possible.
It turned into a bit of a cycle. I'd get mad at myself for not being perfect, and then I'd be upset, and then I'd turn to chocolate for comfort.
I began to realise that there are certain things I needed to learn about myself, and be honest about my limitations and my abilities. I also needed to be honest about what my body needed.
First of all, I'm really affected by my hormones. I don't know whether it's because I have a thyroid problem (and therefore a hormone imbalance to start with), or whether it's just because I'm female, or just because I'm weak.
But when the hormones are in flux then my cravings for sugar go through the roof. I can eat all the fruit in the world but I still have a taste in my mouth and in my head that won't go away. It's proving almost impossible for me to completely stay away from the chocolate and stick to a completely clean diet.
So I've accepted it. Rather than concentrate on eating no chocolate at all, I concentrate on reducing the amount of chocolate or cake or ice cream I eat during those times. This has been far more successful.
I used to literally eat a 500ml tub of ice cream when my period arrived, and now I am slowly tapering it down to a few squares of dark chocolate. So not only am I eating less calories in general, but I'm also eating food that has less sugar in it, and dairy, which I find difficult to digest.
So even though it's frustrating to have to give in to my cravings, I'm really proud of the fact that I can reduce the amount of rubbish I'm eating, even during certain times of the month.
I have also learned to look at my month as a whole and see where the problem points are. When we have guests out with us in Dubai, my diet pretty much goes out of the window. We go out to eat, we stay up too late and we drink too much.
So when our last lot of guests were with us, I made sure I had schedule in time for the Circuit Factory, and I worked hard to stick to a clean diet for as much of it as I could. I'm rubbish at going out to eat and not just eating what I want, but I made a big effort not to order dessert, and managed it.
As we are moving back to the UK, this will become less of a problem. People aren't going to come and stay with us for a week, they will probably pop down for weekends. I can keep my diet clean during the week and plan my cheat meals for the weekends, when we are likely to have visitors.
When I look back at my diet, I realise that my eating habits have improved so much. I no longer eat sugar filled cereal for breakfast (or chocolate croissants), I eat omelette and sweet potato. This fills me up and allows me to get through the day without being starving at 8am.
My snacks are pretty much set, fruit and cashew nuts. My food is grilled and not fried, I don't usually eat chips, and I weigh out my carbs to make sure I'm not over eating.
In short, other than the alcohol and the sweet treats, my food is pretty clean. That's a massive achievement, I used to think nothing of eating takeaway every week (or twice a week) and popping through the drive through at McDonalds.
So while I'm not looking like a supermodel, or in size 8 jeans (UK size), I'm making huge progress.
I've been struggling with my consistency in my Circuit Factory sessions. Some days I go, and while the session is really tough, my body feels strong, and like it can cope with a full workout.
Then sometimes I go and I end up un a crumpled heap on the floor before the warm up has finished. I get dizzy and all my muscles feel weak and I just cannot continue. I've left a fair few sessions within the first twenty minutes because I couldn't see straight.
When I stopped and looked back methodically, I realised a few things:
- Morning sessions don't work for me. I have no idea why, but I suspect that I don't have enough food in me to get me through the session. Whereas in the evening, I've eaten enough over the day to fuel my body. I've also had all my thyroid medication by then, so maybe that's a factor.
- Sleep deprivation is something I need to be aware of. If I haven't slept, I can't do a session. Full stop. I'd love to be one of these people who can just push through it, but I can't. Not unless I want to do the circuit with the room spinning around me.
- I cannot do a class on a hangover. It just doesn't work. Unfortunately a hangover doesn't require much drinking on my part, so I need to allocate my sessions around my planned glass or two of wine!
Taking the time to look back at my sessions and really work out what works for me means I can maximise the sessions that I am able to do.
I also need to remember that I am so much fitter now than I have ever been in my life, and while I'd like a slightly smaller pair of thighs, or a slightly flatter tummy, I have to accept that change does take time. I want to be able to live my life, as well as make progress at the same time.
Making allowances for the areas that I struggle to control, while working on the areas that come easier to me, has mean't that I feel like I'm moving forward without chastising myself.