Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Week 53

Here it is: the big one!

53 weekly blog posts, 12 months (to the day) of hard work, and over 70lbs gone.

Brace yourselves: it's a biggun'...

They say time flies when you're having fun, and while the last 12 months definitely haven't been 365 days of unadulterated joy and happiness, time has completely flown.

I vividly remember putting the finishing touches to my very first Transformation Tuesday post in the afternoon on Monday 30th June 2014. I spent several hours obsessively checking the spelling and grammar for the millionth time while frantically rereading every sentence over and over in a total panic. Acknowledging that I had a weight problem in such a public forum and admitting to the world that it made me more miserable than I could accurately put into words was so far out of my comfort zone I couldn't even see my favourite zone any more. It was also so, so out of character. I'd never, ever, mentioned my weight or the dire state of my head to anyone - not even my closest friends or parents - and I'm such a private person that sharing something so personal wasn't exactly an act I was familiar with.

Was I being too open or not open enough? Was I switching on a flashing neon sign clearly identifying me for judgement and gossip? Would anyone genuinely care that I was losing weight or was I being embarrassingly self-obsessed writing about undertaking a diet? If I went to all this trouble and really laid myself bare, would anyone actually read it and did it even matter if they did?

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I barely slept the night before I uploaded the post, and my heart was pounding so hard when I pressed "publish" the next day I thought it would burst through my chest. I was convinced I'd made a huge mistake: I'd forcibly shoved myself out of the wings and onto the stage in front of a bewildered audience. They'd signed up for something completely different but were suddenly faced with shy, invisible Emma unexpectedly sticking her head above the parapet and speaking about the perpetually unspoken. I assumed the link would innocently float down people's newsfeed or timeline, and while some may click through out of curiosity it would be largely unread. Even if in some parallel universe the hits exploded, I doubted anyone would admit to me to having read the post, and instead only discuss it behind my back (if it were even a worthy topic of conversation at all).

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As it happens lots of people did read it, but more remarkably lots of people contacted me with generous words of encouragement and support. I never anticipated such a response and it still blows my mind 12 months later to think that I was greeted not by jeers and judgement, but by positivity and kindness. When I've had good weeks you've all celebrated with me, and when things haven't exactly gone to plan I've received endless lovely messages from the most bonkers cross-section of friends, colleagues and total strangers buoying me on and lifting my spirits once more. As I secretly hoped it would (but never dared to dream would actually be a success) opening up to the world has helped me more than I can say. Writing about this year has to be one of the greatest - and most rewarding - decisions I've ever made.

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Writing was only the first step: I had to act on my intentions and follow through with my proposed weight loss plan. I'm astounded that I've lasted this long, and that I'm still going strong. I didn't think I was the sort of person that was capable of following something so challenging - and so ludicrously  easy to give up on - for so long. I genuinely believed I'd last a couple of months, then let it all fizzle out so I could shuffle back to obscurity. How wrong I was. I've been so motivated that there was never a chance of me fully falling off the wagon. Yes I've wobbled - I'm only human - but I'm still here. I thought I wanted to succeed last summer but that level of determination has just grown exponentially over the year. I want this more than ever, and I'm not deterred by my slow progress in the slightest.

I didn't set any particular goals at the beginning, and while I didn't have a weight or dress size in mind I did have lofty ambitions of dropping the pounds so quickly that by the following summer I'd be tiny, toned and looking totally different. I knew this was a little bold and that I was potentially setting myself up for failure, but that didn't stop me from secretly wanting it all year. As the weight loss slowed; I struggled to shift the pounds for months at a time; and it became clearer that I wasn't going to be "done" by Christmas or even my birthday in June, I learnt to adjust my expectations. There were so many times when I could have thrown in the towel, but I've come to accept that as long as I'm moving forwards it doesn't matter how long it takes. I may not be where I initially wanted to be, but I'm a million miles from where I was and that's all that counts. I refuse to be disappointed by my progress because it doesn't match up to a naive, partially-formed dream from 12 months ago.

(IMAGE SOURCED FROM www.instagram.com)

While the weight loss has been lovely, it's the problems with my head that have been the most difficult to tackle but the most rewarding to fix. This time last year I was bingeing disgusting amounts of food in secret every couple of days, routinely turning down antidepressants from my GP as I thought (wrongly) that I could cope without them, and letting my social anxiety take over my head to such an extent that I rarely left my flat. I'd lost sight of who I was, what I wanted from the world, and had no faith that I was capable of chasing my dreams or that I even deserved to. Food gave me an outlet for life's ills, and while it may have temporarily made me feel better in the moment, it was making me mentally implode in the long term.

53 LighterLife sessions later I feel like a totally different person. I've had the most incredible counsellor, and while the focus has been obviously centred on food, I've basically had an hour's worth of therapy each week with one of the loveliest women in Britain. I'm not "cured" by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm several months binge-free (and my definition of 'bingeing' has changed - I haven't binged awfully like I used to since last June); my panic attacks are far and few between; and my confidence has grown in spades. I now speak up in conversations and actually voice my opinion; I'm not a blind people-pleaser and instead take my feelings into account when making decisions that affect others; I've actually applied for jobs that mean meeting new people and seized the opportunity with both hands rather than shying away from uncomfortable situations; I say 'yes' more often than I convince myself to say 'no'; and I've finally been able to discuss my experience of university without crying and having a meltdown. The past is in the past, and like Queen Elsa, I've decided to let it go.

Most poignantly, I can now eat in front of people, I'm not embarrassed to buy food in a supermarket or order a meal in a restaurant, and I'm not ashamed to admit that whilst being back in Cheshire since graduating I've fought with an eating disorder and won so many battles.

(IMAGE SOURCED FROM www.instagram.com/boden_clothing)

Yes, I'm enormously pleased with the numbers on the scales and the measuring tape; but my favourite transformation over the last 12 months has been in my head. I feel like me again, and for the longest time I didn't think that would be possible. I now whole-heartedly believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and if I'm half as successful as I have been with this 'journey' (ugh) so far then I'm truly onto a winner.

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If you'd made it this far into the post then congratulations!

It's often been hard to physically see how well I've done but luckily I made sure I took cheesy "before" pictures last year, and retook them in exactly the same spot in the garden this morning. Here they are in all their awkward, nerdy t-shirt glory (completely unedited, so please excuse the shadows and lighting as a result of this bizarre heatwave!).

1st July 2014 - 30th June 2015

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 5st 3.5lbs // 73.5lbs
INCHES LOST: bust - 6" // waist - 6.5" // hips - 8.5"


(IMAGE SOURCED FROM www.instagram.com)

So, what next?

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I'm not happy at the thought of relinquishing my Monday LighterLife sessions just yet so I'll be continuing with the 5:2 for now, but I'm looking for a regimented plan for the 5 non-fast days. I'm going to read Dale Pinnock's The Medicinal Chef and Amelia Freer's Eat. Nourish. Glow. for meal and lifestyle inspiration for the interim period, but I also plan to do a fair bit of research into any actual diet programmes that I could start to follow. I want to make sure I'm eating properly and healthily, as I really can't face the thought of this year being in vain! As far as exercise goes, I'm now mid-way through week 6 of the Kayla Itsines BBG and I'm loving it. I haven't missed a single work out - both her circuits and my own thrice-weekly jogs/walks - and I fully intend on finishing the whole 12 week programme. After that I may start it all over again or pursue another fitness avenue, but at this stage I'm not entirely sure. I do know, however, that I'll be doing something as I've genuinely grown to love exercising every day (who am I?!).

From now on, I won't be posting a running total of how much I've lost each week. I'm glad it's been a part of my last 53 posts, but my focus now isn't on a number but on how I feel and look, and I don't think having a cumulative total at the end of each post would be particularly helpful at this stage. The next phase is going to centre on toning up, gaining even more confidence and attempting to tackle my hideous new found issue of loose skin.

Thank you for reading these over the last 12 months: you've kept me on track and been kinder than I deserve with your messages, texts and emails after each post, and I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

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Phase 2: let's go!

Emma xxx

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