Okay, I only called myself fat because: alliteration. I don’t believe in fat-shaming anyone, include myself, but I couldn’t help it for the unoriginal yet still catchy title I wanted to give this blog post. Here are the facts, though. I have been clinically overweight for a year. I have high cholesterol. I am unfit (I walk up a flight of stairs and I’m totally breathless). I blame the evil stress hormone cortisol, which went on a rampage inside my body during my prolonged period of stress last year. Cortisol, I know you’re still hanging out with me… go away…
I feel like I’m one of those guests on Oprah who laments “letting herself go”. Except I didn’t. I need to remind myself; this is not my fault. I am not lazy. I am not unmotivated. I have gained weight for two related reasons; my disease, and the side effects of my medications to treat said disease.
Even though I am now on the tiniest weaning dose of a medication called risperidone, I have been on a higher dose previously alongside phenergan as part of my cocktail of medications to make me sleep. Both cause weight gain. I would take them a couple of hours before bedtime, and then I would be absolutely ravenous! I’d inhale two giant bowls of cereal every night after I’d already eaten a full dinner. I had this insatiable appetite, and I still do.
Meanwhile, I am not burning any of these calories off because I am suffering from fatigue. I have small bouts of energy, but then by the afternoon I am absolutely exhausted. Rebuilding my stamina is proving to be a very slow process, but one that I am fiercely committed to.
I believe in setting SMART goals, which are; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic and Time-bound. My SMART goal is to run the 10km Bridge Run at the Sydney Running Festival in September. I usually go hard, but I know that I need to be realistic and take into account my current physical condition (poor – even my watch agrees. Thanks, Garmin). I don’t feel sorry for myself. Yes, it sucked being in hospital for 6 weeks and seeing my body de-condition, but I’m not going to throw a pity party over it.
One thing that gives me confidence, is that I have been fit before, and I have the knowledge and skills to get myself back to that state. The thing that overshadows this confidence with a big question mark is this: how will my body respond to my plan? This is something that I will only know with time as I embark on my plan, which I will share with you in this post.
One thing I need to be careful of, is not to push myself too hard. In the past I have over-trained and developed shin splints, which prevented me from running for a few weeks. My plan will be progressive in small increments. In fact, I am not going to run at all to start with – I am going to start with swimming.
Swimming is going to be a great way to gently build up my aerobic fitness. I mean, I have to take advantage of the buoyancy from all of my excess fat, right? (Seriously though, it actually helps…). When I was a first year medical student I went swimming at the uni pool if I had a long break between lectures or tutorials, and I lost a lot of weight without making any dietary modifications (11kg or about 24 pounds over a year).
Once my body starts to feel fitter, I intend on doing RPM or spin classes again. RPM is great because you can control how hard the class is with your resistance dial. I also enjoy it because the soundtrack is usually full of high energy, high tempo songs. If you want to get fit and lose fat, RPM is better than going for a cycle because the class includes lots of high intensity intervals, which are a more efficient way to burn fat. Of course some exercise is better than none, so if you want to cycle, then please do.
Swimming and RPM classes are a great way to build up your aerobic fitness, but to train for a running event, I’m afraid you have to actually run. If you cannot continuously run yet, you can go for a walk and then put in short bursts of running. You can use landmarks like running from one lamp-post to another in a park. With time, these bursts will get longer and longer until eventually you can run continuously. Again, I think that music is a great motivator. Nowadays I can run without music, but when I first started running it really helped to run with a “Running” playlist of upbeat tracks.
In the long term, not only do I want to reach the distances I used to run, but to smash my own records. For example, my fastest half marathon was just under 105 minutes, but during that race I fractured my foot, preventing me from the sub-100 goal I had for the race following it. I digress…
Back to my 10km focus… baby steps… One way to keep you accountable is to do the event with someone. My gal pal Ali has already agreed to do this with me, and I’ve already bought us matching outfits, so we can’t back out now! I’ve also created a team (called #RestedDocs for anyone who wants to join), and as Team Captain I will not let the team down.
I will keep you guys updated on how I’m going… I can be extremely stubborn so I’m not going to let this plan fail. Watch this space!
Best of luck to everyone else who is currently working towards a fitness goal – go you good thing!