Finally! A blog entry! It’s the first of a series, and actually one that is important to me. It will probably resonate with plenty of other people too. The topic I would like to broach is one that tends to be right at the forefront of people’s minds at this time of year, following the festive season. Weight loss and body image. I don’t want this to be a high and mighty piece about how everyone should place less emphasis on body image, or how the media is damaging young minds and your sense of body image. Those are topics that are thrown around on social media all the time, and often they bring nothing new to the table. My understanding from experience is that different people place hugely varied emphasis on body image, and that is unlikely to ever change. Those influenced by media beat ups will probably get hung up on their body image even if the media changes their portrayals/support for what is “healthy”, to “curvier” women or “cuddlier” men. People who focus on their body have a personally motivated, internally developed view of what they want their body to look like, and they will generally keep that mind set.
I view my own body with a critical slant most of the time. I have always been involved with sport for as long as I can remember. I was a reasonably high-level competitive swimmer for over 15 years, I played high-level rugby, and competed at state level in athletics. But before that I was also a very chubby child. I accept that my weight issues as a child were a combination of genetics and a comfortable lifestyle, but it didn’t make it easier to be teased at school for being fat. I was only 10 or 11 years old when I consciously made a decision to lose weight, and got my mum to support me. Through grades 5 and 6 at school, I lost about 8kg while growing about 12cm taller, and my entire body composition changed. To do this I did little to my physical activity, I started taking my swimming a little more seriously, but I was still only training 3 or 4 times per week. And while my diet improved a little in terms of portion sizes and cutting out some of the treats (soft drinks, biscuits, etc) I still had my fair share of “junk”. It was my first lesson in weight loss, and it taught me that weight loss doesn’t take drastic, unsustainable changes. It takes focus, a little bit of control and willpower.
Over the 15 or so years since that first weight loss period, my weight has slowly fluctuated. Through most of high school I was quite athletic, and it paid dividends with all the sport I did. But towards the end of high school, as year 12 came to a close, the amount of sport I was doing fell right off. There was some uncertainty and stress about what I was going to do with the rest of my life that led me to put on weight. By the end of year 12 I weighed 100kg (99.6kg, I never hit triple figures). I’m not tall, I’m moderate height, so 100kg for me is different to what it may be for others. To quantify it I will use a very general indicator of body composition, body mass index (BMI). My BMI at this time was 31.8, classified as obese. I have above average muscle mass, so it is almost a certainty that this was over-estimating my BMI. Regardless, seeing that I was classified as “obese” was crushing, especially since I had 6 or more years of already being conscious of my body image under my belt.
The lightest I could remember weighing through high school was about 75kg at a more athletic stage. I hadn’t grown much since about the start of year 8, so I couldn’t attribute it to growing. I had put on almost 25kg through high school, most of that in year 12. It was time for a change. The moment year 12 ended, the largest body transformation of my life occurred. I had more time. I had a little knowledge of how to lose weight, both from experience and learning the theory. But most importantly I had a goal, and I had willpower.
Over 8 months in 2007, I lost 22.8kg. I had used my basic skill set, internet resources, and information I was learning at university (studying exercise and sport science) to achieve this. I learnt a lot along the way, but something that is still painfully apparent: Willpower is quintessential to making a change. You have to want it, and commit to it. Making excuses is cheating you by taking away your accountability.
That is my history with weight loss. “But why is it relevant, Matt?” I’m glad you asked, non-descript generic reader from my imagination. It matters because after a stressful 2015 (good and bad stress), and a progressive reduction in my exercise, I have put on some weight again, and my paranoid, body image focused side is getting worried. I am only 84kg, but I have been trying to keep myself under 80kg since my major weight loss after high school. I go through periods where I successfully lose weight to get back there, but it slowly creeps back onto my body as I continue to enjoy life. This is something anyone who loses weight may find. Even if you make massive, sustainable lifestyle changes, over several years weight may creep back on.
This blog is more of an intro to an on-going story. I am going to walk anyone who reads this through the “how” of my weight loss. I will talk about what I do with my nutrition and exercise, how I track it, and the way I feel as I do this. If this is something you are interested in, then please subscribe to the RSS feed, favourite the site, and like Body Link Health Clinic on Facebook to keep up.
If you want to learn more, are interested in exercise that is right for you, or are looking for a solution to an injury or chronic disease management, please contact Body Link Health Clinic on 0400 225 116, or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org