Six weeks ago I embarked on a health, fitness and dietary challenge with the goal of losing some unwanted weight that I’d gained, and to learn some new habits that I could maintain as part of my lifestyle going forward.
This wasn’t about a quick fix (though of course I wanted the kilos to shift as soon as possible!) but hopefully to provide an insight into how to keep them off, because like a lot of people I have yo-yoed up and down in size all of my life.
My wardrobe is testament to that. It spans several clothing sizes and I refuse to throw out the fat clothes when I get thinner because I know I will inevitably need them again. Some might say that is a self-fulfilling prophecy but my experience has shown me again and again that this proves to be the case and it’s saved me a few dollars. Equally I’ve kept my super skinny jeans. They’re my benchmark. The ultimate goal. If keeping my fat clothes is a self-fulfilling prophecy, surely keeping the skinny ones is too? Or heck, they’ll probably cancelling each other out! If only it were that simple, as I would be quite happy to sit in the middle.
But let’s get to the results because I know you want to know whether the Refinery worked? Was it hard? Was it good? Can you be bothered?
I’m proud to say that in six weeks I’ve lost 4kg (of which 3.5 kg is fat).
“This is really positive, because it means you are not losing any muscle, you’re maintaining your muscle mass – which is exactly what we want you to do,” says GetRunning Refinery nutritionist Sarah Sinclair. “Maintaining muscle is critical especially as we age, sarcopenia or the gradual loss of muscle is a common consequence of ageing and poses many risks to older people and often results in an increased risk of falls, injuries and disabilities as a result. From the age of 35 we start to lose muscle of about a rate of five per cent every 10 years, so actively maintaining your muscle mass is really important, especially for women.
“Also not only aesthetically do we look better and feel better when we are stronger and leaner, but muscles require more energy to function so from a metabolism perspective the more muscle you have the more energy you will burn.”
I do look and feel better (I’ve dropped a dress size and am reintroducing myself to those old neglected friends in the wardrobe again), and I feel leaner and more muscly. I’m stoked that since my last weigh-in I’ve dropped another 1.85 per cent on the Body Fat measurement scale. When I started this challenge I was 32 on the scale and I’ve moved up into the middle (normal/healthy range) to 28.14.
Of course to achieve this has required some work and commitment, as well as support from others which helps see you through your goals (very important), and a bit of forward planning. It sounds hard, but actually compared to how I thought it was going to be like, it’s been easy though not a piece of cake (which you are definitely not allowed on this thing!).
It’s involved keeping a food diary, exercising for up to five times a week (walk/running and strength sessions), eating whole foods (nothing processed or anything with more than 5grams of sugar per serve) – I also promised myself that I would not touch alcohol on weekdays (limiting myself to 4 units of alcohol at the weekend), that I would drink 2litres of water a day; and lose at least 3kgs by the end of the six weeks. I did it all! I didn’t fall off the wagon. And the results speak for themselves.
But I can’t take all the credit because I wasn’t the only one doing the Refinery. The team at GetRunning, who did the challenge too, as well as all the participants, supported each other throughout, which helped. And it’s also important to get the buy-in from your nearest and dearest. My man has been super supportive throughout and I know he will continue to be, because I’m carrying this on. I still have weight to shift, and I’ve discovered that I prefer eating clean.
Today the team celebrated with a breakfast out at a cafe together. You’d expect everyone to order stacks of pancakes dripping in maple syrup, but no, the funny thing is everybody ordered a healthy breakfast. Not because of peer pressure but because they wanted to.
It’s not rocket science that eating a healthy diet and exercising are the right combination to losing weight. Though what I also discovered on this journey is there are other important factors too. Like relaxation, mindfulness and sleeping! I’ve had more sleep in the last six-weeks than ever before because I’ve finally made it a priority (it was one of the Refinery challenges) and I’ve realised the importance of getting enough ZZZ’s not only for how you feel and function but also for losing/maintaining a healthy weight.
So, I will continue to write this column because there are still many things that I’ve learned that I can share with you. And yes, you can do this!