I wrote a blog post last October about my 5 stone weight loss and how I’d kept the weight off for 5 years. It continues to be one of my most popular posts, and people still contact and comment to say how my story inspires them.
I now want to address the other side of coin… in the past 6 months, I’ve gained back a lot of weight. Around 20lbs last time I checked.
I’ve been confused and frustrated about why I’ve gained so much weight. I haven’t changed my diet or been eating excessively. I’ve been eating the same healthy diet which has helped me to maintain my weight for the past 5 years, yet the number on the scale has gradually been creeping up and up. I exercise more than ever, usually 6 days a week with a combination of running, cycling, swimming and strength training. Some people suggested that I’ve gained muscle due to the amount of training I do. It’s definitely possible that I’ve put on a few pounds of muscle, but surely not 20lbs?!
I started keeping a note of what I was eating throughout the day incase I had been underestimating my food intake. I gave a week’s food diary to my Personal Trainer and he agreed that my eating habits look very good and I’m getting all of the nutrients I need to support my active lifestyle.
I even rejoined Weight Watchers briefly, but I struggled on such a low calorie (Pro-Points) allowance. The programme worked well for me 5 years ago, but my lifestyle has changed since then. I found myself feeling faint and dizzy after training sessions and I felt constantly hungry. I’m not sure that Weight Watchers is right for me anymore.
I have mixed feelings about my weight. Sometimes it bothers me that I’ve gained so much weight. I’m back at an ‘overweight’ BMI after working so hard to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. I work in fitness and I feel as though my figure doesn’t reflect my career or my lifestyle.
Other times, I couldn’t care less. I’m fit and active, I feel good in my body and BMI is meaningless. Weight gain hasn’t slowed me down, I’m setting new PBs for running, swimming and cycling.
Sometimes I’m self-conscious of my body, but most of the time I feel confident and comfortable. I’m not about to go on a fad diet or cut out food groups just to lose weight.
However I did still want to find out the cause.
Finally I went to my GP and was referred for blood tests. My doctor feels that the main cause of my weight gain is down to stress. Stress triggers an increase in the hormone Cortisol, which leads to weight gain particularly around the abdominal area. It certainly rang true for me, as I have been feeling incredibly stressed for the past year. A combination of work, training, moving house and redecorating, money worries and other commitments have really started to get on top of me.
I have a real tendency to over-commit myself which leads to feeling massively overwhelmed. I love to keep busy and take advantage of every opportunity, but there are only so many hours in the day and I’m left with no time to relax. Even this blog becomes a source of stress, I get so many great opportunities through blogging, but I always have a backlog of posts to write. My life feels like an endless to-do list without any down-time. I have so many commitments and obligations, I hate to let people down and this only adds to the stress. I’m constantly on the go, always multi-tasking and rarely sit still.
I’ve been referred for therapy with an online counselling service, which I’m due to start next month. It works in a similar way to Skype or messenger, where I can talk to a therapist online at a time which suits me.
I’m sharing this openly as I think a healthy lifestyle is made up of a lot of different aspects. Many people focus on diet and exercise when trying to lose weight, but relaxation, stress management and sleep are all equally important. I need to get some balance back into my life.
I’ve started to be more aware of what I commit to and consider the consequences of taking on new projects. I’m trying to give up some obligations to focus more on my health and well-being. I want to get back into meditation. I’m scheduling in more rest days, where I actually REST.
I’m not going to focus on the number on the scale for the time being. My weight will settle at a level which is right for me, when I get my lifestyle back into balance.