Running in Circles

I spend 10 hours a day sitting behind a desk, I imagine at the very least that isn’t great for your health while also being exceptionally boring. You have to think the whole office environment isn’t great for either attempting to, or staying healthy. The hours of sitting, (which equates to doing a long haul flight every day) the barrage of sweet treats being constantly offered (are all offices filled with skinny feeders?) and of course the ‘quick’ drinks on either Thursday or Friday nights. Being totally honest the Thursday ones tend not to be quick at all. This makes my daily surroundings inherently unhealthy, which goes some way to explain the 70-80 pounds of weight gain through my working life!

However, once every year everything thing changes. Following the extreme excesses of November and December, (which in my line of work can be very extreme in terms of alcohol excesses) January finds the whole of the city on a health kick consisting of 5:2, soup detox, whole 30, paleo dieting etc etc. Where I work is no different, and in each of the last few years there had been a weight loss contest. Truly this was the only time of year to start any sort of healthy eating regime as it was also the only time my colleagues wouldn’t actively try to derail any diet plans, why people seem to delight in others dieting failure is a blog for another day. In 2016 I had won the contest, losing around 10% of my body weight – only to then put it all back on (and more) after the February end date. I had achieved a 20% swing in weight over the year both down and then up! I would guess that it would have been healthier to not start the diet at all than to have a swing of those proportions.

Another January came around and the contest started again. I wanted to win, or at least do as well as I could, even though at the back of my mind I knew that the constant yo-yo of my weight was not healthy at all. Knowing the old adage of not being able to exercise yourself out of a bad diet, I knew that staying on any ‘diet’ plan long term was difficult to impossible. I had tried them all, weight watchers online, calories counting with my fitness pal, harcombe diet, 5:2 etc etc. With that in mind and rather than punish myself with this year’s fad diet (the 6:1 I think for 2017) I decided to not concern myself with actually winning and worry more about using a plan that I could stick to long term. Less a diet plan and more a long term change in behaviour. I went for low-ish carbs, kicked out processed foods and did my best to stay away from those lovely sugary afternoon snacks (I love a good chocolate brownie). Now, we all live in the real world, so if I was out for dinner I wouldn’t stick to the plan to the letter, as who can really resist chocolate soufflé when offered (I just went out for dinner less!). The problem remained that I knew at some point after the contest I would crack and go back to my old ways. This is why running became so important to the whole plan, as without the targets of entering my 10km races I’m not sure I would have continued beyond the mid-February end of the contest (unless I had my previously mentioned relative move in! which is a horrifying thought).

It’s become the opposite of a vicious circle, I’m in a virtuous circle – I lost a little weight from my diet meaning I could start to run and because I was running it encouraged me to keep to my eating plan. I had become my own motivation. It’s such a shame it’s taken me until my 40’s to work out that circles don’t always have to be vicious.

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