- Exercise & Fitness
This is pretty hard to write but I feel it will help me personally and maybe, just maybe, it might help someone else who is in a similar situation. If it is a little self indulgent, sorry.
In late 2014 I had a 'well man' test at my local GP surgery. I was very overweight (I'm 5'7 and at my worst I was 14 stone 5) very stressed, did little exercise, drank way to much alcohol, ate badly and my blood pressure was sky high (so high in fact that I was nearly at Stage 3 hypertension.) My GP wanted me to go on meds but I really didn't want to do this. In short, I was in a bad way.
I cut back on the booze, started to eat a little bit better and bought a bike (it was winter so not a great time to start cycling after 20 years!) I didn't take the meds (maybe I should have but I just didn't want to go down that road) and things got a little better. I lost a bit of weight and started doing a reasonable amount of cycling each week and by the summer I was regularly cycling between 50 to 100 miles each week. My weight stalled though and the booze and bad food started creeping back in. My blood pressure did go down a little but was still too high.
In September last year I joined a gym and started to work out regularly as well. My weight went up and down, the diet and booze did the same and not much really changed other than I was doing a lot more exercise.
Fast forward to May this year and during a two week holiday to Thailand, I suddenly had the urge to do a Sprint Triathlon. A friend had talked about doing one but as I couldn't really run (my calf muscles seemed to get really tight whenever I tried) and couldn't really swim more than 1 length of front crawl this was probably a very bad idea. Anyway, straight after getting back from holiday I entered for Guildford Sprint Tri which was 5 days later. I was incredibly slow on the swim, had to do it breaststroke and even this was really tough for me. The bike was ok (but I was much slower than I thought I would be) and I had to limp round the whole 5.5k run due to an achilies injury. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I was hooked!
This changed something. We started talking about out next Triathlon and entered for one that was about 2 weeks later. I started swimming (badly.) Running was a bit difficult as my achilies was a big worry so I started doing physio.
The next Sprint Tri went a little better. The swim was still really tough but I managed a bit more front crawl before switching to breaststroke. The bike was much quicker and although the run was slow (shouldn't really have done it!) I enjoyed it!
I then started swimming lessons, joined a Tri Club and signed up for 2 more sprint Tris. I had already entered for Ride London which I completed last week. This was really tough but very rewarding. I then went a little mad and signed up for Brighton Marathon next April.
I have my next sprint Tri on Sunday (400m pool swim) and my first mass start open water swim in a wet suit at the end of August (750m.) The plan is to do another one in September and depending how the August one goes it may be a longer swim/Triathlon.
I have started losing weight consistently and currently my diet is really good and I'm hardly drinking any booze at all. I just did my first ever running club run and hope to join next week (achliles not withstanding!)
I can't explain why but I love Triathlon. Maybe it's because I never thought I could do this. I dislocated my shoulder 8 times previously through various activities so I always thought front crawl was impossible. Triathlon also seemed like 'something other people do.' I have finally realised at 43 that doing things that scare me is what life is all about.
My advice to anyone struggling with their weight is to find some form of exercise that they really enjoy. This will keep you motivated (at least it has for me so far!) My blood pressure has come right down and I have big plans for next year. The main thing though is that I'm really loving the training and can't wait for the various events/races I have planned! I hope to lose another stone over what is left of the summer and really step up my training.
Weight loss can be very hard and most diets just don't work, at least not in the long term. I believe the key to losing weight is to stop counting calories/fads and to eat lots of fruit/vegetables and cut out most refined/packaged foods. Exercise on its own achieves very little. I know from my own experiences that there have been weeks where I have worked out a lot but lost no weight (due to eating poorly) and weeks where I have lost weight but have done very little exercise (but have eaten healthily.)