My Journey To a New Me

What does it take to change a life? I'm going to find out.

So, it’s been almost a year since I posted here. Covid. What can I say? I totally ignored my healthy eating/exercise plan and had to focus on my mental health which hid the skids on three separate occasions.

I decided on new years eve, (side note, I was convinced it was still the 28th. I got caught in post Christmas no mans land, I had do idea what day it was.) that I was sick of being in pain and out breath when I walked any distance. So, I decided, for me to get back on track and focus on my health.

So, I decided to start back with weight watchers. I hadn’t weighed in in over 6 months and had put on about 21 pounds, a stone and a half and was eight pounds over my first joining weight. But it could have been so much worse, so I’ll take it!!

So, one week in, with healthy eating and a little bit of exercise, I’ve lost 6 and a half pounds!! I am over the moon, everything was so straightforward and simple and works. So, I’m feeling motivated to keep going.

One of the pictures from my cold, but beautiful walk earlier in the week.
my favourite place to walk, two minutes from my front door. When I take up running, chances are I’ll run along here too. (photo taken earlier last year, when for once, it wasn’t raining.)

I know January is typically the time of year where everyone joins gyms, and goes all out in an effort to get fitter. For me, being unemployed and not having tons of money to spare, joining a gym is somewhat out of the question for me right now, (when I get a job and some money, that will probably change, but right now, not so much.) So I’ve come up with a few ideas for me to work on my fitness and get healthier.

I want to get fitter and to stop puffing when I’m walking up hill, or walking fast in general. This is in combination with weight loss so that I can work on my health and fitness goals at the same time.

I have definitely improved my fitness over the past few months, and I know that losing weight has helped with that, but I also know I still have a long way to go. I want to be healthier and fitter by the end of the year. I’m not aiming for anything crazy, just feeling better about myself and slowly but surely bringing my weight down.

The first thing I did was download the couch to 5K app. Now, I want to take this up, I’ve always been interested in running. There’s a few problems here though.

  1. I live in the north of Scotland and right now the weather is horrendous. I’m taking pouring rain and high winds. Not exactly weather conducive to taking up running.
  2. I am overweight. And have a sincere hatred of being either stared at or laughed at. So the idea of taking up running, no matter what the weather is doing, where people can see me is horrifying.
  3. Fear of injury. I am a clutz. I can trip over air. Hurting myself doing this is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point.

But now, on the flipside, there are a few things I love about the couch to 5K app.

  1. You can take it completely at your own speed. It says it should take you nine weeks but if you need to repeat weeks until you feel ready to go onto the next stage, you can.
  2. All it takes is trainers and a pair of headphones, and your ready. It’s completely free.
  3. There is no pressure whatsoever. Everything is set up to help you, with no expectations, no expensive membership. Just either download the app or download the blogs, and away you go.

I am definitely intending to take up the couch to 5k, but I’m not starting it this week. I don’t think bucketing rain and wind when I’m first getting started will convince me to get going. So I’m going to wait until the weather gets even slightly better, I can take wind, I just, at first, don’t fancy running in the rain.

In the mean time, I’ve decided to do a few things that I can do at home, in the privacy of my own bedroom, without much hassle.

Most of my plans are based around YouTube actually. If you look there are tons of videos for various kinds of fitness building videos. One of the things I’m looking into is yoga for beginners, to hopefully increase my flexibility and stop me creaking in the mornings.

Another is some kind of dance set up, again for beginners. I’m not the worlds best dancer, but if I’m building up a sweat and having some fun, what does that matter? After all, I’m doing this in my bedroom, so no-one will see me. And even if they did, so what? Everyone has to start somewhere.

I’m also going to start going on walks again. When it stops raining. If it ever stops raining. Seriously, its been three days and I don’t think its stopped raining for longer than an hour. I’ve got an idea, lets send it to Australia. They need it, I’m sick of it. win/win. If only I could, in an ideal world. The weather here is ridiculous 99% of the time, so you do get used to it.

Having said that, right now, as I’m writing this, I am sat on my bed in my pj’s and wrapped in my heated blanket. As I listen to the wind howl, I’ll be honest with myself and say it would take a dire emergency to get me out of my front door. Like, the house is on fire kind of emergency.

So right now, I’m going to go make a start on these fitness goals by doing some housework, turning up the music and dancing while I work.

I’ve done them in years past, but I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, its more of a new year, continuing on with what I was doing late last year, me. Not as catchy, I will admit, but I feel its more accurate. I rejoined weight watchers, or WW as its been re-branded into, in October, last year. I initially joined as a workshop and digital member, but in December, the majority of the classes in my town were closed. So, because of that, I was able to cancel my subscription, and rejoined a day later, at the end of december as an online (or digital) member only.

The good thing about that is that I kept the same details so the record of my weight loss was there, I hadn’t weighed in for most of december as I’d been ill, and to be completely honest, very demotivated with weight watchers in general. So I weighed myself my first day as an online member, and I was very pleased to note that I had lost 4 and a half pounds in December. Which was a surprise, a welcome one.

In March, 2018 I weighed my heaviest I’ve ever weighed. I stepped on the scales and let out such a scream my mum came running up the stairs thinking I’d hurt myself. She caught me about to drop kick the scales in a fit of shock-based pique. Cooler heads prevailed and the scales survived to live another day. Since then, I have lost 2 stones, 1 and a half pounds or 29.5 pounds. That has been slow, but a lot of the time I wasn’t actively trying to do anything about my weight, so I am pleased with my progress.

On a health front, I had my gallbladder removed on the 20th of September last year. It took me about a month to completely recover, but I did and now things are mostly okay. I say mostly because its left me with a few issues. One being that my system now can’t tolerate any dairy whatsoever. When I was having issues with my gallbladder, dairy was a big trigger for my gallbladder flaring up and causing me pain. I stopped eating dairy entirely, and after my operation, I tried to reintroduce dairy back into my diet and it was a disaster. Major stomach upset, bloating, nausea, you name it, I had it. So now, I am completely dairy free and because of my blood pressure, I am now totally caffeine free and mostly salt free.

I am a joy when going out for a meal, let me tell you. No, in all seriousness, eating out isn’t a problem, most places are accommodating. Its just annoying, having to be extremely picky and I know, at times it annoys my mum, but I have to be careful otherwise within ten to twenty minutes I have, oh no, I have five seconds to find a toilet or else, kind of upset stomach. Imodium has become a good friend. Usually just taking one will stop most of it, if I’m out of the house.

So, the plan is, I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing, eating better and exercising more and hopefully, slowly and surely my weight will keep coming down. The past couple of weeks, I’ve gained and lost the same quarter of a pound, which is fine by me, as I’m its my time of the month, and I’ve been bloated and uncomfortable so, we’ll see what the future brings.

I went to my GP yesterday because I am totally sick of all the trouble I’m having with my gallbladder while I wait for my operation, and I wanted to see if my GP could do anything about it. Turns out he could. He heard me out, I told him all my symptoms (having daily pain, heartburn and reflux acid. Every couple of weeks I have a big flare up that lasts a few days and leaves me in constant pain.) I told him it seems to be food related and I’ve done as much as I can to negate that, I’m dairy free, which is because I recently found out that not only does it make my gallbladder angry, it sets my eczema off. I eat as low fat as I can (which I haven’t been the best at recently but I am getting strict again) I don’t eat a lot of red meat and I’ve completely cut out caffeine and salt (though that was my blood pressure, but still.)

So he asked me if I knew where I was on the waiting list and had I phoned up to find out (that’s a thing you can do? Who knew?!) So he phoned for me, and spoke to the secretary of my surgeon. Turns out, NHS Highlands has a waiting list of nine, count ’em, NINE months. I am three months in, so that could mean that I have to wait until Jan 2020 to get my operation. My GP said he’d write to my surgeon and tell him all my symptoms and everything I told him but at the end of the day, its up to my surgeon.

Also, as a fun added bonus I found out that my pre-op checks are only good for six months, so if I go past the beginning of October without getting my operation I have to get all that done again. A heart trace, blood tests, the works. Which is fun. Nothing like walking to a room and having a woman tell me to take off my top and my bra and lie down while she sticks the heart monitor pads all over my chest, my wrist and my ankle, including under my boob. Oh the mortification. It only lasted about 30 seconds but still.

When I went for my appointment with my surgeon in April, where he gave the go ahead for my operation, he said that in most places, the wait is 12 weeks, but here it was 24. Now I find out its 36 weeks. 9 months. And I’m not entirely sure if the 12 weeks was from my initial appointment or from getting my pre-op checks done, but its probably more likely to be my pre-op.

That was 15 weeks ago today and thought I might get my operation around about my birthday, which is the start of October. Now to think I have 21 weeks, or 5 and a bit months of this, fuck that entirely. I looked up privately getting my gallbladder out, but it is £6,000 plus to do it private and I don’t have that kind of money. I’m unemployed and I barely get half of that a year. I feel really hopeless and dejected right now. I am in pain daily, I have nausea that makes me not want to eat, I have issues with my appetite disappearing, and I genuinely never know what’s going to set it off because its never consistently one thing.

Normally, I try and look on the bright side, for the sake of my mental health is nothing else, but today, I honestly don’t have the energy. I feel weird and selfish complaining because people I know literally have life-threatening health conditions, and mine is so much smaller than that. But, its my life, and right now, it sucks. I was prescribed Omeprozole for my acid issues and codeine phosphate for my pain. I’ll see how they go, if they don’t help, I’ll go back to my GP.

I feel broken to be honest. Before my gallbladder started playing up again last July, I’d never really dealt with pain on a constant basis. Dislocated my ankle as kid, having to get stitches, even period pain. That pain is fleeting. This isn’t. And I hate it. I constantly have my heated blanket on because that’s the fastest way to help with pain, and I just feel like I’m not living, I’m existing. And it sucks. Majorly.

My life has been marked by ups and downs. Years of (relative) wealth, health and happiness, compared with years of no money, poor health, and unending misery. I have had great years, good years, bad years and terrible years. I like to think I can say that without flinching, being honest and proud, but I can’t. My life is what it is. I can’t change that, even if I could, I wouldn’t. But how I feel about how my life has developed over the years, well, that’s another discussion entirely.

My life hasn’t been easy. And even as I typed that sentence I could feel myself becoming defensive, as imagined comments ran through my mind. I always find myself feeling defensive if I say I’ve been through struggles or my life has been hard because for years I was told ‘there are people out there who have it so much worse than you do’.

Which to my way of thinking just falls under the ‘what do you have to be depressed about?’ line of seriously unhelpful commentary. That’s not to say there aren’t people out there who have it worse than me, there is and I am very much aware of how terrible the world can be. For example, when I was at school, I had 180 kids in my year. As of today, of those 180, at least 15% have passed away. And I’m only 37. However, to me, that’s not the point. I’m not talking about everyone’s journey with depression, nor could I even if I thought about attempting it.

You can’t compare people or their level of suffering. This isn’t a ‘who’s pain is worse’ bingo, life doesn’t work like that. People have different ways of coping (or not) and different experiences that makes up their lives and their journey. I can only speak on what I’ve gone through and my experiences. That’s how I can be authentic about who I am and the journey that I am still travelling through.

I was first officially diagnosed with depression when in 2006, when I was 24. I was diagnosed with chronic depression about eight years ago. I live with depression and anxiety, I have had issues with self harming in the past and for as long as I can remember I’ve had suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts. I can remember being a teenager and thinking that the world would be so much better off if I wasn’t in it. Even now, I still get the occasional fleeting thought. It never lasts long and to be honest, I’ve stopped taking them to heart because to me, finding out the underlying issue is more important. Okay, so I had a brief moment, but what caused that moment, what is making me feeling like this? Sometimes that’s an easy answer to find, sometimes its more difficult. I am currently on a low dose of medication that works for me, for now. I was on sertraline or zoloft, for almost four years and it worked great for me, until it didn’t. The trials and struggles of coming of medication and trying a new one is not something that I would wish on my enemy its awful. But for right now I’m stable but my life is at a crossroads.

For the past eighteen months I’ve been unemployed, the first six months of that was working on my mental health and getting my meds changed and stabilised. And for the past year, it has been my physical health that has been the reason I haven’t been able to work. And that is a new thing for me, I’ve never had issues with my physical health, I’ve always been relatively healthy. But I’m waiting for a gallbladder operation, and its double the usual waiting times where I live for an op, and so I feel like my life has been on hold. I’m not living, I’m just existing. And that is what I need to change. How I get there? Well, that’s the question isn’t it. I don’t know what that’s going to be, or how its going to take shape. Today is day one for me trying to figure that out.

So, its been about three months since I last updated here and its fair to say that all the predictions I made and plans I put forth in my last post, didn’t happen. I stuck to the plan and kept losing weight for a few weeks, then in may, I kept putting on and losing the same three pounds. So, my desire to keep going was at a low, then at the end of June, the wheels fell off. I had put on eight and a half pounds in three weeks and then at that point, I gave up completely. I didn’t weigh myself or stick to plan or do anything really for four or five weeks.

So, I decided on Monday it was more than time for me to get back on track and stop eating so much crap that was making me feel like crap, but worse than that, was constantly triggering both my gallbladder and my eczema. So, I bit the bullet and got back on the scales and much to my shock and delight, found out that I’d stayed the same.

Which currently leaves me two pounds lighter than I was when I started with WW at the start of April. Now, having said that, I am still twenty pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest and that, I am proud about.

So, in the air of turning over a new leaf, as we are no longer gym members (as we were paying for it and not using it) I have made exercise a priority this week. I’m not going crazy with it. I realise at the minute my fitness level is low, so I’ve been walking. Tuesday I went for a walk after dinner because it was a beautiful night, and we walked about three miles. Yesterday, I went for a walk mid-morning, and it was a beautiful walk but by the time I got home, I was drenched with sweat as it was a hot day. A cool shower and a change of clothes and that was me sorted.

I’m back to eating three meals a day, and after three days, I can definitely feel the difference in my energy levels. Another thing that’s helping me is that the scales are out of sight in the bathroom. I know where they are but if I don’t see them, I don’t think about them. My aim is to only weigh myself once a week, on a monday. Nothing more, before I was weighing myself everyday which isn’t helpful, as everyone’s weight naturally fluctuates during the week. So, I’ll do my best this week and see what the result brings on Monday. Got plans to go for a walk tonight before dinner and tomorrow during the day, weather permitting.

I’m feeling happier than I have for a while, now that I’m actively trying to get a handle on my health again. No big plans, this is a slow and steady marathon. I have a long, LONG, way to go before I get to my goal, whatever that’s going to be. At the minute I have no idea what that’s going to be, i’m going to let how I feel in my body be the guide, not the weight on the scale. I’ve given myself until my 40th birthday to lose as much of this weight as I can, which as of today is 2 years and 2 and a half months away. So plenty of time to lose weight and get fit.

So, I had my weekly weigh in yesterday, and I’ve lost another 2 and a half pounds which takes my total lost in 2 weeks to seven pounds which I am very, very happy with. That also takes the amount of weight I’ve lost since Feb 2018 to 24 lbs, (Or 1 stone 10 lbs, or 10.8 kilos.)

I was supposed to have my induction to the gym yesterday, but my mum has issues with her back, and it was really sore, so we rescheduled it for this morning. Just in time to get a message from my friend, asking if I wanted to go to Frankie & Benny’s and to the cinema to see Hellboy with her and her son. Which I jumped at. The food was delicious, and I ordered Macaroni Cheese with a wince (and my fingers crossed, but today I’m fine, no issues with my gallbladder whatsoever). I didn’t really think about points, if I’m being honest, I just ordered what I really wanted, something I hadn’t had in months. Also, having a treat once in a blue moon isn’t going to ruin my life, so I just drew a line under it and went on.

We went to see Hellboy, and as vue has changed their prices, it now only costs me £5, which is an added bonus. As to the actual film itself, eh, it wasn’t bad. I’m not a film critic, nor am I a snob when it comes to films. I really enjoyed the Guillermo Del Toro version, and to me, the remake doesn’t have the same feel, or the same magic, but it was okay. Not overwhelmingly brilliant, but I wasn’t bored.

I went to the gym this morning for my induction, took about 25 minutes. Nothing terribly exciting, if you’ve been to one gym, pretty much they’re all the same. I wanted to stay and get a workout in but mum had other plans, so we just left after our induction. We’re going in the morning, not sure what time. If mum wants to swim when I go to the gym, then its going to be an eight o’clock start at the gym as the kids are on holidays this week and from 9.30 onward, the swimming pool is busy all day. If she just wants to go to the gym, then it’ll be later. Honestly, I’m not bothered what time we go, we’ll probably walk there and then get my dad to give us a lift back. Once I’ve been going to the gym a while and built up my fitness and stamina I’ll start walking back from the gym as that’s what I used to do, walk there and back.

I’m looking forward to getting on with my workouts and start going to the gym more often. Being unemployed, I can go the gym whatever time suits me, and that means that I can avoid the busy times as much as possible. I’m aiming to go three times a week to start with, the last thing I want to do is go too hard too fast and end up injuring myself.

Went for a lovely walk this afternoon with my mum. We walked along the canal near our house, to the local floral hall/botanic gardens (I never know what to call it, tbh.)

Our beautiful Canal, just a short walk from my house.
One of the flowers on view at the botanical gardens/floral hall

While we were out, we also went and rejoined the gym. It’s run by the local council and is really affordable. It’s £31 a month, and that’s a family pass, which is two adults and two kids, and since we don’t have any kids in our family, its just me and mum going.

I’m excited about rejoining the gym, and we have our induction tomorrow night at 6pm. I also weigh in tomorrow morning, which is going to be a bit of a weird one this week. I have no idea how my weight loss is going to go because its my TOTM right now, so I could stay the same, lose a pound… I have no idea.

My induction and going to the gym is exciting and this time, I’m going to be aware of 4 things.

  1. I am spectacularly unfit right now.
  2. I am at the beginning of my fitness journey.
  3. I am going to look like a tomato. That’s fine.
  4. Prepare to suck for the first couple of months.

Having done this in the past, I know that when I go to the gym combined with weight watchers I can lose weight, and do it well. This time I am super determined to lose my weight. I want to be the healthiest, happiest, fittest version of myself I can be. I’d love to say once I lose weight, I’m going to look like Helena Christiansan’s twin, but lets be realistic here. I just want to be the best version of me I can be. And anything else, well, that’ll just be an added bonus.

so. much. THIS. I believe this with all my heart.

So, I weighed in on Monday, and I had lost four and a half pounds my first week on WW. I was over the moon, and still am, to be honest. I didn’t feel hungry, I felt in total control of what I was eating and what I was doing, and if I had questions or needed something checked, the app is a life saver. It has bar code scanning built in (which isn’t 100% but works 85% of the time, it obviously can’t have every item of food ever made on there) and that’s been a big help too. For me, its either a case of ‘x product is really low in points, oooh, i’m having that’ or ‘they want what? Nope, not doing it.’

I tend to think about my points as money, I always have. This may sound odd, but bear with me. I get 29 points a day, so if I look at a sauce to go over some pasta and its 18 points for a jar, I’m not going to spend 18 of the 29 I’ve got for the whole day on one thing. That doesn’t make sense. For that amount of points, I could make an entire meal, and have a yoghurt for pudding. So, the lower the points, the less I have to spend, the more likely I am to go with it. Having said that, if I really want something and its higher in points, I’ll have it and work it out, that’s the beauty of the program, at least for me.

Another level of awkwardness to the whole thing is that I am completely dairy free. So it makes copying recipes somewhat complicated because, in my experience, dairy free cheese doesn’t react the same as ‘normal’ cheese, when it comes to melting and stuff. And I’m not going to lie, I really really REALLY miss my usual strong mature cheddar. Unfortunately, even after I get my gall bladder out, whenever that will be, I still have to go light on the dairy because my eczema is triggered by dairy. Sigh. My life is so much fun right now.

I’m slowly trying to build up my fitness and go at least three times a week for a walk. This week, I’ll be honest, bar walking around town yesterday, I haven’t done any major exercise, I am absolutely choked with the cold, feeling disgusting and have zero energy. So, for right now, I’m a slug sat on my chair with my laptop. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow afternoon so I’m going to at least try to walk one way, which is about half an hour walk, so that’ll help exercise-wise. I’m struggling today because I genuinely have no appetite but I need to eat so that I can take painkillers.

So, I’ll aim to write again later this week, I’m trying as hard as I can to keep up the two to three times a week schedule I’ve set for myself.

It seems like every year I renew my blog, ready to be a more prolific writer and be organised and post here often. And then, I go months without posting anything. This is something I want to change. In fact, there’s a lot of things I want to change.

One of the more recent changes I made on Sunday (31/3/19) I decided to stop going to Slimming World and go back to Weight Watchers. I tried SW for 12 weeks, which is what I’d agreed with my mum when I started. I got on fine over the first few weeks but then, in a familiar pattern, I fall out of love with the program.

It’s not a dig at SW, its a good program and is helping a lot of people meet their goals and live healthy lives, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Weight Watchers, or WW, as its been re-branded, works for me. I know this program, I know what I’m doing, and best of all, I’m comfortable.

I still have the same determination to lose weight. I don’t want to do any more damage to my body than I have already. I’m 37, and I’ve been overweight for the majority of my life up to this point. Well, no more. No more struggling to breathe walking a steep hill, having sore knees and hips and permanent back ache.

That’s not even mentioning the health benefits of my losing weight. I have an under-active thyroid and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, both of which would be improved by my losing even 10% of my body weight. I also have chronic depression, which is a entire situation all by itself, but for right now is being managed very well.

Also, over the past couple of years I’ve had recurring issues with my gallbladder. I’ve been back and forward to the doctor and a few weeks ago, I had an endoscopy, as the surgeon wanted to find out if my symptoms could be being caused by an ulcer. It wasn’t, and I’ve got an appointment at the end of this month to see him again, to hopefully get my operation scheduled. Or, being more realistic since this is the NHS, get onto the waiting list for my operation. Apparently the area I live in has a large waiting list for gallbladder operations and I’m being unemployed and mostly broke, I’m not in the position to go private for my operation.

So, I am currently on day four of my first week, and I’m feeling good. I’m actually back to eating three meals a day, I need to work on not eating so much carbs, in terms of pasta and bread, and figuring out what to eat instead. And, I need to eat more salad and veg. Which again, not a chore, love veg, as long as no one asks me to eat either sprouts or cauliflower. I am also completely dairy free as it sets off my gall bladder, and its not worth the pain.

I’ve also discovered at 37, having had eczema since I was 6 weeks old, that dairy triggers my eczema. Something no-one had ever mentioned to me until I saw a doctor a few months ago, and she suggested it. It was when I cut dairy out of my diet due to my gallbladder that I felt the difference and even just a small bit of dairy causes the skin on the back of my hands and my lower arms to flare and feel tight and painful. As I discovered a couple of hours ago, when I had toast with soft cheese, and my hands are sore now. So, now I have to figure out if there is a non-disgusting dairy free low fat soft cheese. Just typing that makes my nose wrinkle. I hate food experiments, but unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. Its just a case of trying what’s out there until i find something that a – is palatable and b – I actually enjoy. Who knows if such a thing exists but I guess I’ll find out the next time I go shopping.

From now on, I am determined to post at least 3 times a week, and hopefully that should be easy to do. I guess we’ll see.