I’m halfway through week ten in lock-down, and the only thing shaping my days so far has been the cat demanding to be fed. However, it’s possible that I’m finally starting to get my shit together. Having spent the first seven weeks watching the entirety of Netflix and justifying weekly take-away as “supporting local businesses”, I’ve finally started doing the workouts that I genuinely intended to start in week two.
I’m now running five km three times a week (although “running” might be pushing it, as I am very slow and take regular walking breaks). I’ve also started doing the Zombies, Run! Homefront workouts three times a week as well. That’s six workouts a week! That’s 600% more than I was doing for most of the first three months of the year!
I’ve also given up drinking for the month of May. I was previously coping with lock-down by drinking a distressing amount of wine or gin by myself on a nightly basis. I’ve made it two whole weeks, since I didn’t start till the second week of May when a friend suggested it and offered to do it with me. I did manage to complete Dry January this year, but I spent the whole time thinking about drinking and was back to drinking every day within three months. This time I’m actually doing a lot better. I’ve been using Headspace to set my intentions with meditation, and so far it’s helping with running and sobriety. I’m not spending every evening fighting the urge to get a drink – as long as I don’t have any in the house, I can genuinely go the whole evening sometimes without wanting a drink.
And I’ve resumed my veg box deliveries. It’s more expensive than getting veggies in the local supermarket, but they’re delivered to my door, and they come with recipe suggestions to help me make the most of seasonal, local food. I’m finding that I eat a lot better when I make the effort to plan ahead.
So far, I’ve kept all of this up for a full two weeks. It’s a lot of changes to try and make at once, and I’m a bit worried I’ll burn out from the effort, but at least being on furlough means I can devote all of my energy to making good choices since I don’t have to work at the moment. I’ll probably never get this chance again to focus all of my energies on forming strong habits. My plan is for each of my new good habits to support the others, making it easier to go ahead with all of them. Exercise and meditation help me sleep, which helps me get up on time, which helps me make time for more exercise and productivity to improve my mental health, which helps me stay sober and put more effort into cooking good food. And so on.
However, I am very aware that it is still early days. Running is HARD. I’m doing five km runs, three times a week, and I am still so damn slow. Every time I run, I sweat and pant so much that I genuinely get dizzy. I’m slower than a herd of turtles running through treacle, and I feel like I’m dying. Someone please tell me that this will eventually get easier? Will I really ever be able to progress to longer runs? Will this ever actually get to the point where it’s fun?
A side effect of the lock-down is that my little rescue dog has put some weight on. Actually, he’s put quite a lot of weight on – about 15% of his body weight. This is a big problem for a three-legged dog, so he needs to go on a diet ASAP. Unfortunately, so do I. I know this, because the only way to weigh him at home is for me to weigh myself, then pick him up, get on the scales again and work out the difference. Which means that I now know exactly how much weight I have put on during lock-down, and it’s information that I’d honestly rather not have.
I’ve been avoiding weighing myself at home since the gyms closed. The battery on my bathroom scales had died, so I simply procrastinated about replacing it. Alas, I no longer have that luxury since I need working scales for the dog. Long story short, I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life.
I’ve mentioned before that I weigh myself in kgs because I don’t have value-attachments to those numbers the way that I do in stones and pounds. Well I’m now heavy enough that even kgs might not be enough to hide it from myself, and I am battling the self-destructive compulsion to do the conversion and work out just how heavy I am in the units I’m most familiar with. Intellectually, I know this is a terrible idea. It will just make me feel awful about myself, which will lead to further self-destructive behaviour, which will sabotage my ability to reach my goals. But the compulsion remains, niggling at my brain like an itch I can’t scratch.
I’m telling myself that I’ve already been exercising regularly for a fortnight – it’s entirely possible that I was heavier even than this at the beginning and I’ve already started losing weight. I couldn’t possibly know if that’s true, but I want to believe it. I want to believe that two weeks of working out six days a week and not drinking has made some difference. I got heavier during Dry January due to all the chocolate I was eating to satisfy my wine cravings, so who knows if that’s even the case. Maybe I’m still getting heavier despite the running. Maybe that’s why it’s so damn hard.
I really want to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real change to my body, for the sake of my health and my self esteem. But I’m terrified that I’m only going to get heavier and heavier, slower and slower, forever. I am desperate to start seeing some improvement in my speed, fitness or size. I’ll take anything at this point. Anything that I can use as evidence that change is possible, so that I can keep myself motivated until it starts to feel more natural.
Any words of encouragement from people who’ve been on a similar journey would be greatly appreciated.