What happens to your body when you get fit and lose weight

Pretty much everyone wants to lose weight to look better. But hardly anyone talks about the changes in your body that can make you feel better when you start to get fit and lose weight after years of, well, sitting on your arse.

So let me talk about a few of the changes I’ve experienced.

I sleep better. I used to suffer from the three a.m. nasties. You know – waking at three in the morning, and not finally falling asleep again until ten minutes before my alarm was due to go off. These days a proper night’s sleep is the default, not the exception.

I’m in a better mood. My family and friends are less likely to catch grumpy me, and far more likely to catch serene, content me. The difference is striking.

My skin and allergies are better. I’ve struggled with asthma, allergies and eczema all my life. These days you wouldn’t know it. Rashes are rare, I don’t need an inhaler (unless I come across a dog or a rabbit), and I barely touch antihistamines. My eyes are no longer puffy and red in the mornings either.

I don’t get earwax buildup any more. An odd change, but really noticeable.

I don’t get tartar build-up on my teeth any more. Another weird improvement. Go figure. I always thought tartar had something to do with water quality and getting old, but apparently it’s bodily wellness. Who knew?

I’m looking okay these days, for an old bird. I’ve more improvement to make, but I’m on my way to wellness.

Change comes from persistence. As does wellness. We don’t become healthier from one meal, or one “good day” but from real transformation repeated daily, over and over again every day of our lives.

We can get better. Those of us who are obese can become fit and well again. The slide into poor health and misery is not inevitable. It takes commitment and support from family, friends and groups such as Overeaters Anonymous, but we can do it. We just need to believe in ourselves, and believe we are worth the effort necessary to change.

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I’d like to say it’s easy, but it’s not

Id like to say successful, long term weight loss is easy, but it’s not.

None of the “diets” I followed ever worked for me. I’d manage a restricted eating plan for a few days, sometimes a few weeks or months.

The weight would come off, but then those old habits would creep back, shortly followed by the weight I’d lost.

It was disheartening.

It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am today – where I’m preferring to eat healthy options, and where I’m able to choose healthy foods at the supermarket and restaurant.

How I’ve done it, and am doing it? Sheer hard slog.

I realised I wanted to be healthy more than I wanted the laziness and crappy food.

I wanted to live a different life – one filled with wellness, happiness and activity.

It wasn’t the weight loss that was driving me at all. What drives me forward is the desire for change.

I want to be that person who glows with health.

I want to be that person with a normal relationship with food.

I want to be the best version of myself. My best me. And I knew I couldn’t do that by scarfing down kilograms of chocolate and guzzling litres of soft drink.

I couldn’t do that by eating junk food five times a week.

I couldn’t do that by eating huge portions.

I’ve made changes to my life, one at a time, that overall have transformed me.

Despite being hard, those changes are so, so worth it.

Healthy eating is a hard habit to make, and an easy habit to break

After just over a year on OA, and working hard to improve my eating and exercise, things are finally falling into place.

These days, I eat 2-3 healthy meals a day, exercise roughly 5x a week at the gym, and am attending OA meetings regularly.

I’m feeling better, eating better, and the muscle that atrophied over the last five years of not exercising is coming back.

It’s taken – is taking – a lot of dedication and consistency, and the results are starting to show.

Gone are my old habits of eating family sized blocks of chocolate and litres of Pepsi Max every night. Instead I drink plain bubbly water (thanks to my soda stream), and when I feel like a snack I have a piece of fruit or some low calorie jelly.

It’s nowhere near perfect yet. I still occasionally binge, and I’d like to be able to say no on our weekly workplace morning teas, but I’m getting better.

It’s true what they say about consistency. You just have to keep coming back to OA, and keep practicing the good habits instead of the bad. It’s not easy – not one bit – but it will become a lifestyle if you keep working.

It’s becoming a lifestyle for me 😁

Tracking the little things, ignoring the big things

I track my food on the MyFitnessPal app.

It helps to enter what I eat before I eat it, otherwise I tend to “forget” and not log everything.

Especially the “little things”.

The “little things” are biscuits, ice cream, cake at work morning tea, dressings…and all these “little things” add up. A lot.

Once I started tracking properly, I learned that, quite often, I was eating more calories in the “little things” than I was in my main meals.

This is why you hear OA people say “three meals a day… and nothing in between.”

It’s not usually the meals that cause the problem. It’s the rubbish in between.

For example, one day last week I had my usual smoothie for breakfast, then shrimp and veggies for lunch, and chicken and vegetables for dinner.

All good…and coming to about 1400 calories, which is my goal for a day.

BUT…I then had an ice cream sundae from the corner shop in the evening. Which I estimate at about 800 calories.

One “little treat” ruined a whole day of great eating.

So now I log food before I eat. Especially the “little things”.

That makes all the difference.

Diet + gym = happiness

I’m loving my return to the gym.

I’m finding that I sleep much better, and just feel better overall.

Gym keeps me sane. I forgot how well it keeps me sane, and wish I’d never stopped going. But covid happened, and everything ground to a halt, and the gym was closed.

Then when I could have gone back, I didn’t.

However, I’m back now.

I’m feeling very weak in comparison to where I was – I’m back doing baby weights again.

It’ll soon improve. I’m taking things very cautiously, as I don’t want to injure myself. It’s easy to forget I’m not young any more! (I’m in my 50s now…yikes!)

But I am loving the movement. I love feeling better about myself. I love eating better too.

I’m fully aware these days that junk food, like drugs or alcohol, is addictive. And I am an addict. So I have to keep away from junk, or it sets me off, the monster inside is released from its cage, and everything goes to hell.

I’m better off just eating well. I’ve learned from experience that I can’t control myself with certain foods, so more and more I’m just ruling them out of my life. That doesn’t mean I’m fully successful at ruling them out. But I’m doing the best I can.

Today’s food is prawns (well, shrimp really), and asparagus for lunch. Dinner will be chicken and asparagus. 1 cup of chicken, and a fair bit of asparagus (I’ve learned that I don’t have to count or limit green veggies).

So that’s where I’m at. Still doing OA, still eating well (mostly), and still doing gym every weekday.

Life is – dare I say it? – good. 😁

Apps for health and fitness

I’ve found some terrific apps that I’m using to track my progress. They’re all free, and they work well.

  • My Fitness Pal. I’m tracking everything I eat – before I eat it. That’s the clincher. Tracking afterwards doesn’t work for me. I find I forgot what I ate if I track after the fact. Before works brilliantly though!
  • Fit Notes. This is a great free app for tracking progress with weights. It’s nice watching the numbers go up!
  • AA Big Book. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous is available for free download. It’s advice, stories and prayers work equally well for Overeaters Anonymous.

I use all three regularly, and am finding the first two indispensable.

Gymming again…

I started back at the gym at the beginning of October. I’m going to Anytime Fitness and it’s working well for me.

Already – in less than a month – I can see and feel differences. My muscles are coming back (I used to go before covid) and I’m feeling fitter.

I’m also feeling in a better head space. I get a buzz from weights, and I’m feeling great when I leave the gym at the end of each session.

The next thing I’ve been doing is really starting to dial in my diet. It’s easier to stick to a meal plan when you’re going to the gym 5-6 times a week. It all fits neatly together.

So yes, with OA, diet and exercise I’m making life better 🙂

What does abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous look like?

For a long time I struggled with abstinence. I didn’t know how much to eat, or when.

I didn’t know what “normal people” ate. Correct portions were a mystery to me.

As time has gone on, I e got a handle on this. I’m learning why I’m overweight, and am learning how to remedy that.

Im learning to slow down my eating. Dinner used to be about how fast I could eat. I always finished first, and then was looking around for more.

I’m learning to enjoy the experience of eating. Savouring each mouthful, and enjoying the look, taste and texture of my food. I used to eat so fast I barely tasted it!

I’m learning to have fruit and vegetables with every meal again. Did you know that even at McDonald’s you can swap out the fries for a side salad at no extra cost? So a “value meal” of burger, fries and soft drink can become a reasonable meal of burger, salad and water. And if you can “healthy-ize” McDonald’s, you can make pretty much anything healthier.

I’m learning that exercise isn’t frightening. I’ve joined a gym, and am going regularly again. It feels good. But I’m also walking more, moving more.

None of this is rocket science. It’s all pretty obvious. But I needed to climb out of my rut and do it.

I’m doing it. I’m feeling better.

Daniel Fast: Starting tomorrow

I’ve decided to do a Daniel Fast, starting tomorrow.

What is a Daniel Fast? It’s refraining from all meat, dairy, sugars, alcohol and processed foods. Traditional lengths are 10 days and 21 days.

I’m going to aim at 10 days, and then possibly extend to 21 days depending on how I feel.

As I’m one of those people who enjoys routine in my diet, I’m going to base my eating on the following food plan:

Breakfast: oats made with boiling water, banana

Lunch: oats made with boiling water, apple, nuts

Dinner: salad with sesame dressing, miso soup, fruit for dessert.

I’m doing this to get more settled in my eating, and to get closer to God. I’m hoping it will help me understand my trigger foods and what makes me eat.

Once I’ve done the fast (with 10 or 21 days, depending on how I go) I’ll add back in meat, fish and eggs, and possibly a little alcohol (sake maybe).

I hope to straighten out my food and eating, getting back to basics again.

So: here’s to tomorrow, day one!

Minimalism, OA and me

I’m a minimalist, which I love.

Minimalism looks different for different people. Some focus on a particular style of minimalism (e.g. Marie Kondo) while others do their own thing.

I’ve been doing a capsule wardrobe for about ten years now, and haven’t looked back.

I also minimalised my makeup and skin care routine, as well as the items I own.

I find owning less – and buying less – helps me manage my budget and my free time. I have less to clean and maintain, and when I do but things, they’re good quality and will last.

Minimalism ties in quite well with OA, because both are about restraint. They’re about learning to use (or eat) what we need and nothing more. They’re about finding a sensible life, where we don’t depend on buying or eating to be happy and fulfilled.

I think restraint is vastly undervalued and underutilized in our society. We’re all about more, bigger, flashier than we are about moderation. Minimalism and OA are both teaching me about finding balance in my life. I’m thankful for that.

Still working the steps at OA…

I’m still attending meetings twice a week, still following the steps.

My miracle has started too. I was addicted to pepsi max, drinking up to 4 litres a day of the stuff.

Now I don’t drink it at all. But that’s not the miracle. The miracle is I don’t even want to drink it.

Not one bit.

That’s one miracle. Another is my addiction to chocolate. I was eating several family sized blocks of chocolate every week. I’d eat it so fast I barely tasted it, or remembered eating it afterwards.

I don’t do that any more. I still feel like chocolate would be a problem if I bought it and brought it into the house, but now I don’t want to buy it. And I’m able to walk past it in the supermarket and not buy it.

Then there’s the junk food drive throughs. I made a rule for myself that I could have junk food any time I wanted it but I had to dine in.

Now I’m no longer a regular at the drive throughs.

I know these all seem like tiny, baby steps. But I’m feeling happier and healthier because of them.

I’ve just worked on these addictions a step at a time and now they’re gone.

The next thing I’m working on is no snacking. I want to get to the point where I have 3 sensible meals a day…and nothing in between.

I’m not there yet. But I know I will achieve this goal. I have faith. It’s only a matter of time.

OA is working for me! 😃

Life isn’t perfect

Life isn’t perfect, and neither is my eating.

That’s okay.

Overeaters Anonymous is about “progress, not perfection” and while I’m nowhere near perfect, I definitely am progressing.

Overeating is becoming less common, and binging is very unusual these days. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but it is happening less and less.

I’m doing okay. I’m continuing working the steps (I’m on Step 4) and I’m attending two meetings every week. They help a lot.

When I look at how I am these days versus how I used to act around food, I can see things are getting so much better.

🙂