Feeling the benefit

Monday = Pilates day.

Some days during the week I wake up crippled with back-pain and it takes me at least the whole morning to get over it.  That is, until I’ve got back into doing Pilates – it works wonders for my back.  A few quick stretches and a “position check” eases out the kinks and I feel 100% better and about 2 inches taller.  I’ve just invested in a foam roaller (to join my thera-band at home) so I can build on the work I can do at home in addition to my classes on a Monday.

I’ve always enjoyed Pilates (my chiropractor forbade me from doing Yoga years ago as my joints are on the verge of being “too flexible”) as it builds on core stability which strengthens my back which has been problematic since a rather nasty fall from my horse in 1994.  However, since getting a diagnosis of CFS and putting that together with the fact that most of my bouts of illness were preceded by my trying to add in some aerobic exercise, I have decided to concentrate on Pilates (and hopefully in the autumn some Tai-Chi) so I can increase my fitness by increasing my muscle density and leave the aerobic exercises for some point further in the future – apart from some gentle rides on my bike.

I’ve also sent my CV to a company who provide remote PA assistance to see if they want to take on any additional support.  Fingers crossed, it might be just what I need.

An Improving Trend!

This weekend has been manic!  My eldest sister and her three children came over on Friday to stay for the weekend and then my next eldest (from me) sister came over with her two children & husband and camped in the garden for Saturday night.  A busy weekend of entertaining 5 children aged 6 and under ensued – they are all great fun but as happens with kids who have seemingly endless amounts of energy they keep you on your toes!

I also went out for a good hour and a half ride in the morning, with lots of trot and canter work on Saturday morning.

Sunday morning I was stewarding at a carriage driving event with mum, which was lovely and fairly quiet and then all the family came and joined us for a picnic.

By yesterday evening I was really rather pooped – so much so that I tried washing my face with moisturiser!  So, I went for an early bed and slept the sleep of the righteous through to 8am this morning and still felt rather rough.

However, after all that I made it to my pilates class this morning and did pretty well managing to do most of the exercises at the higher intensity level.  I also walked in and back to the class and I feel a lot better for it – I’m certainly not as washed out as I thought I might be.

This is a great milestone in my recovery: a busy, highly physically demanding weekend and I’m not pushed into a setback.  Saying that, I’ve planned a few quieter, low energy jobs for this afternoon but I am in control of that, I’ve planned it as an insurance policy, not been forced into it by necessity.

Additionally, after a weekend of eating not wisely but very well, I’ve only gained back 1lb making a net loss of 4lbs since I started on the diet.  I’ve also realised, after having a look at myself in the mirrors in the pilates studio, that my body is changing shape, I’m getting a more defined waist and have greater control of my tummy muscles, which means that my net loss of fat each week is greater than 1lb because at the same time I’m gaining muscle which is denser (therefore heavier) than fat.

I’m enjoying this diet.  It’s something I never thought I would say about “dieting” but I think that’s because what I’m doing is not “dieting” in the commonly used sense.  It’s not a fad.  It’s not promising to shed masses of weight in a short period of time.  It’s not replacing meals with a shake or a bar.  Most of all, it’s not something that is going to fail as soon as I start to eat normally after loosing the weight.

What I’m doing seems very, very simple: cooked breakfast (grilled bacon & scrambled eggs with half a piece of toast or 2 boiled eggs), salad for lunch (with chicken, tuna, marinaded herring or other ‘extras) and then a normal main meal – with pudding – in the evening.  I keep off alcohol apart from Friday & Saturday nights (with occasional exceptions) and try not to snack.  I try to have a maximum of 2 slices of wholemeal/multigrain/seeded bread a day, and a lot of the time will have none.

It’s working.  The weight is coming off at a steady 1lb a week which, if it continues at that rate (I’m hoping that the usual difficulties of weight loss slowing down as you near your target weight will be counteracted by the increase in muscle mass I am trying to achieve and the attendant higher calorie requirement for maintenance) I will reach my target weight by next August.

The beauty of it is that I can go away for the weekend and have a couple of meals out, a few extra drinks and a few extra treats and it doesn’t wreck the whole diet.  It’s very low maintenance.

Part of me thinks that it is a long time to wait to reach my target but on the flip side, the longer it takes to come off, the less likely it is to be gained back.  Another advantage of this diet is that it is not something that will drastically change when I’ve reached my target weight.  There is also the fact that it will take me only slightly longer to loose the weight as I’ve been signed off from work – which isn’t a long time at all.  When you also consider that I’ve been carrying the extra weight around with me for the last 10+ years, what’s another year when all is considered.

I’ve also found that I have less cravings for ‘bad’ foods, and when I do have those cravings they are easier to resist.  I’ve also found that my relationship to food has become less “inappropriate” – I no longer find myself stuffing myself with food I don’t really want as some kind of punishment and then end up eating more as a ‘comfort’ because I’ve just blown the latest diet.

Although this diet is very simple, it has taken me a long time to get here because my head has not been in the right place to be able to cope with the changes.  I’ve been so unhappy, and just existing has been such a struggle that any diet I tried has invariably failed because I would either become ill or I would be emotionally unstable and resort to food for a comfort.  Also, I have always found that exercise is a key to any consistent weight loss for me but that if I took on any aerobic exercise to get fit I would suffer [what I can now identify as] a setback.  Having now received a diagnosis of CFS/ME I now know that my body responds to exercise in a different way and that the best way for me to do exercise to help my weight loss is to increase my muscle tone by doing things like pilates, rather than burn masses of calories doing highly aerobic exercises.

The time will come when I can get back to doing high aerobic activities [such as jive dancing which I miss terribly] but for now I’ll stick to the Pilates and keep saying “slowly, slowly catch-y monkey” and “less haste, more speed”.

I’ll stop rambling now and go off and give myself a pedicure!