Monday, 10 February 2014

A Brief Introspection: My Life, Food & Fitness

Amy @ thelittlehoneybee blogged this weekend about her food and fitness journey, and I felt really inspired, learning how she had developed over time and it got me thinking about how food and health have affected me throughout my life. Amy - I hope you don't mind that I've copied your idea - it's been really interesting seeing where I came from and where I'm headed!


Time in my life: Growing up, as a child

Foods I ate: Predominantly homecooked meals. School lunches were memorable because our cook was simply AMAZING, although notably, I know it was this period that put me off eating liver and cold lamb!

How I looked: I was never skinny, but not massively fat, although I did put on some puppy fat when I was around 10-ish and lost most of it by the time I was 12. I was pretty active and played on the netball, rounders and athletics teams, and the school took us swimming once a week. I used to go horseriding once a week as well.

How I felt: Generally pretty happy. I was obsessed with horses, which would go on to play a massive part in the next stage of my life.



Time in my life: Secondary school and 6th Form (1994-2001)

Foods I ate: Quick breakfasts at home. Lunches in the school canteen were generally unimaginitive jacket potatoes, chips (with very regional gravy, or cheese) or salads. Dinners were still my mum's cooking, occasionally my own meals as I developed an interest in cooking.

How I looked: I think I spent most of secondary school as a UK size 14 (the picture above was taken on the last day of sixth form - I was 18) but as most of the other girls in my year were pretty skinny, I always felt I was fat although in reality, I was actually very muscular. Never enough to worry too much about it though. I didn't play on the school sports teams often as by age 12, I was fortunate enough for my mother to buy me my first pony so all spare time was spent up at the stables. I went on to compete at regional level with pretty good success.

How I felt: Teenage angst. I hated my school with a passion and couldn't wait to get out of there, so the stables were my life.


Time in my life: University (2001-2004)

Foods I ate: For my first year of university I opted to live in self-catering flats, but limited kitchen facilities meant most meals revolved around pasta and potatoes and I put on some weight. Moving into a shared house in my second and third years was a bit of an improvement and for a while, I did do the Atkins Diet quite successfully, getting back down to a UK size 14, but found it SO expensive! Over this time due to very erratic periods, I was finally diagnosed with PCOS.

How I looked: I didn't really exercise much, although living at the top of a hill did help (I always walked down, even if I didn't always walk back up it again!). I did start dancing in my second and third years, going on to be the Swing Dance Society President. I also spent a summer learning to paraglide and lost some weight climbing up lots of hills (only to jump off them again). I also went clubbing pretty regularly but rarely drank when out.

How I felt: More myself - I enjoyed trying out lots of different things and experimenting more with food.




Time in my life: Post-graduate (2004-2008)

Foods I ate: After uni I moved back in with my mum for a bit whilst doing a Postgrad Diploma at a local college and picked up a part-time job. We tended to share to cooking until I eventually moved out to live with my boyfriend in Cheltenham in 2006. He was an incredibly fussy eater, so I usually ended up cooking 2 separate meals. Over this period I developed IBS and put myself on an exclusion diet to try to narrow down the culprit. I subsequently went completely gluten-free for a couple of years which did help a bit.

How I looked: I was hovering around a UK size 16 again.

How I felt: At this time in my life, I had my first bout with depression. Combined with the IBS, inability to get a job in the field I had studied in, and relationship problems, this was one of the lowest points of my life. I felt fat, unfit and really miserable. This culminated with me leaving my boyfriend of 7 years and going back to my mum's.



Time in my life: Career girl (2008-2012)

Foods I ate: After a few months of being back at mum's, I decided the job prospects there were non-existant and decided to move to London to search for work. Being the main time of the recession, jobs were hard to come by so when I was finally offfered work as a Team PA, I jumped at it. I was living in a shared house with limited kitchen facilities again, so was back on pasta and potatoes, along with shared meals as the housemates took turns cooking. As most were travellers, food was cheap but plentiful and I started to put on weight again. I reintroduced wheat as being gluten-free was too tricky in a shared environment. Working in Central London, lunches were expensive and pre-packaged.
In 2009 when my housemates were returning to New Zealand, I moved into a flat with new boyfriend so I finally had my own (tiny) kitchen again and was able to start making my own lunches.

How I looked: I was pretty consistently a UK size 16.

How I felt: Despite picking myself up after my previous relationship and some wonderful 'ups', including buying a house with my partner in 2010, towards the end of 2011 and 2012, I was sliding back into depression again. I felt like my life was a lie, I felt fat and my IBS was playing up again in a big way. I was signed off with depression for 6 months but managed to get myself a new, more local job at the end of the summer of 2012 and started to make peace with myself and get my life straight.


Time in my life: At  peace with myself (2012-2013)

Foods I ate: My current job is the closest to home I've ever worked - 25 minutes door-to-door. Having more time meant I was able to spend more time with food. I started baking again more regularly and having a full kitchen with more storage, meant I could start experimenting with recipes. BF is very definitely a meat-n-two-veg kinda guy, so whilst dinners tend to be more traditional British fare, I often got quite creative with my lunches. Breakfasts were generally from the canteen at work, and either toast, a panini or porridge.

How I looked: Still a definite size 16 but for the first time, not too worried about it as I carry weight well and no-one actually believed me when I'd state my clothes size. I joined a Zumba group for a while, but had to give it up due to financial constraints.

How I felt: Towards the end of 2013 I was starting to feel fat again, but the more positive me actually wanted to do something about it for good this time. In November 2013 I joined the gym at work, starting with just 15 minutes on the cross trainer and some basic weight exercises EVERY weekday. I also re-joined MyFitnessPal to keep track of my food intake. By Christmas, I'd lost over half a stone (around 10 lbs) and was feeling re-energised, ready to hit the ground running in 2014. Incidentally, I've not had a proper IBS bout since 2011, although I was diagnosed with gout in the summer of 2013...



Time in my life: Now (2014...)

Foods I eat: Generally portion-controlled, meats, vegetables, grains, legumes, salads... Anything in moderation as I don't believe in restricting myself or labelling my diet anymore. I avoid caffine, sweetners and most things 'low fat' or 'diet', preferring to have a 'little of something I like' instead of a poor substitute.

How I look: As of 10 February 2014, I've lost over 16lbs since November and bought my first pair of Size 14 jeans (in 10 years) recently.

How I feel: Happy and much healthier - it's amazing what exercise endorphines and good food can do! Very positive and confident that I can achieve my 2014 goals. I started blogging in January as a way to document my exercise and how I'm feeling, but I'm loving getting involved with the online healthy living community - it's been great knowing there are loads of people with the same outlook. I don't feel alone in my journey anymore. <3


Today's Workout (c25k W5D2):
Rowing (moderate, 32 spm) = 10 minutes
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 16 minutes
Running (slow, 5.0 mph) = 16 minutes (2x 8mins)

Shoes: New Balance Minimus WR00

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