My Spring with small efforts and good results

Picking up where I left off in my last column, I’ll get more into my personal program these days, as well as giving you small pointers, to how to make your everyday life help you in your weightloss/ increased fitness journey.

As you can read from the headline, this is about ‘small efforts and good results’. On purpose I didn’t write maximum or big results, as I felt it sounded like one of those ‘eat a magic pill and lose weight’ headlines. And as you know, I’m trying to keep this honest, simple and down-to-earth so let’s start off with my own Spring, which has been no miracle trip. Just consistency and slow progress. 

My starting point was a low Spring, with too much in-activity, pretty big portion sizes (for visualisation, I could eat a full take away box from the thai place plus rice) and got into a habit of drinking juice and cordial daily. While I would always try do to a little training several times a week, it couldn’t keep up with my eating and drinking habits. I didn’t feel fat or out of shape per se, but I could feel my jeans maxing out and a general low energy in my everyday, especially running after a lively three-year-old. So I decided to change! 

My first change was to start doing 10 x 100 meter sprints whenever possible. My son either came along or his dad looked after him. I did this for a minimum twice a week. Due to the small distance, it’s a very quick session and therefore doable in an otherwise busy day. Sometimes I do a little more, but most often, it’s just 10 x 100 metres. As time has passed, I’m faster and can push harder, so even though the mileage is the same, the input has increased (and output equals calories burned).

Next step was to minimise my intake of flavoured drinks. Ginger ale and orange was replaced by sparkling water and juice and cordials replaced with tap water. If you’re like me, and you enjoy flavored drinks, there are many calories to lose from changing this habit. (And if you drink alcohol even more). I still enjoy a glass of juice or sharing a bottle of Orangina, but it’s not an everyday occurrence anymore. 

Third step was to look at how much I eat. Now, I could also have looked into trying out a diet, or simply eliminating different foods from my diet, but the truth is, I really really love food. And denying myself different foods doesn’t sit well with me, ergo I had to look at how much I eat. 

I spoke to another mum about this, and she said she had put on weight because she often finishes her son’s plates. This made me think of growing up, and how we are all (or most of us) conditioned to finish the food on the plate, sometimes the food in the pot. And it’s rubbish. It destroys our bodies natural ability to feel full and it programs us to basically behave like human garbage disposals. There is nothing wrong with saving leftovers for next day lunch, giving it to the dog or throwing away (not that I want to advertise food waste, but if it’s a question between you eating more after you’re full just to polish the plate or throwing away a couple of potatoes. For the love of your jeans, throw the potatoes out). 

Last step was and is an ongoing process of being happy with who I am, and how I look. Being able to sprint at a minimum twice a week has increased my overall energy levels and made me more satisfied as a human. Moving in the fresh air, feeling sun and wind on my skin have definitely boosted my endorphin levels and that in turn made me more happy about myself. I would describe it as a fundamental, almost primal, happiness that comes from using the body for what it’s meant for. It makes me feel capable and strong, which are feelings that translate well into other aspects of life, even with all the normal obstacles and occasional negativity. I do keep my head higher and happier.  

Now almost two months in, I’m a little lighter ( around 2.5kg. not that weightloss was my goal, but from eating less and moving more, this is part of the process), my fancy bathroom scales says I’m about five per cent less fat and I’ve cut seconds of my running time. So, while the numbers are small, the change feels really good and I am significantly more happy. 

So to sum up, here are my small steps you can take to either lose weight and/or increase fitness (And hopefully feel much better about yourself in the process):

1. Get active and if possible do go outside and get some Vitamin D while you’re at it. If running is not your thing, you can bike, swim, get a skipping rope, play ball etc. It doesn’t have to be hour-long activity. You can do like me and choose a high intensity activity; Do a short warm up, perform for 10 short periods, with appropriate breaks in between and end with a stretch and/or cool down. Do a minimum of two to three times per week.

2. Drink water! (Outside of coffee and tea, let at least 80 – 90 per cent of your daily fluid intake be water)

3. Portion control. While you don’t have to adhere to portion sizes on the back of the cereal box, just know that you don’t have to clean your plate or eat everything on the table. If you like to sit and eat, let yourself have two small portions, instead of two normal sized, or just stick with one serving. Try to be mindful when you eat. Taste and chew your food, be present and don’t eat mindlessly, as we often do in front a screen for example. This will also make it easier to feel when you’re full. And lastly remember, you’re not the garbage disposal. 

4. While I don’t believe in restrictions, you can always look into a healthier alternative. For example I’ve been practising my muffin baking skills and ended up with a version, which cuts down 50 per cent of the original sugar content. Same goes for yogurts for example. Choose the natural flavour and add fresh fruit to it, instead of getting the the fruit version, as they’re often sweetend with sugar. If you like porridge, you can use banana to sweeten instead of sugar etc. There is often a possibility to switch a product or a produce. 

5. Watch the emotional eating. Be careful not to eat if you’re emotional, upset, sad or angry. All too often we end up eating more when we are upset, because the mind is somewhere else than on the task of eating. Filling up the stomach, beyond the point of being full, only makes it used to a larger amounts of food, making you eat more to feel full next time. Also on a psychological level, eating while upset easily flows into comfort eating and that’s a bad start to using food to seek comfort for our unpleasant feelings. Instead deal with your emotions. Write them down, chop wood, go for a run,  tell someone, but let dinner wait until your mind is light. 

And just before I leave you for this month: Sometimes we are not supported by those close to us and change can seem even harder to go through unsupported. Remember this development is for you. Try not to give energy to the negative forces in your life. Believe in yourself. The stronger you get, the less you need them.

Thank you for reading, as usual all comments and questions are welcome:  

Tania Presutti

Tania Presutti is a Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional who now resides in Clonakilty.

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