Tag Archives: weight

A right fat git

BLDSA dinner

BLDSA dinner

I’ve had a few people recently tell me that I look like I’ve lost weight. In particular after I posted this photo online. And while that’s nice to hear, my immediate response is “maybe, but not enough.” And then I think it over a bit more, realise that I’m still nowhere near what I want to look like / weigh and just assume that I must have been a right fat git before if people think that this is better.

It’s funny how we react to things like this isn’t it? I’m the same when anyone tells me that my swimming is better / faster, it’s nice to hear but I react with a combination of not quite believing it and seeing just how much more improvement there is still to make.

I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks and then on the Facebook page of Team Bear someone posted a link to a great article by Chrissie Wellington about Beating Body Confidence Issues. Then we started discussing it in the group.

In the article itself a couple of lines jumped out at me:

“…really, our bodies are not the external form, but the internal – muscles, bones, blood, tendons and, of course, the mind… Our focus should be less on what our bodies look like, and more on what we can do with them each and every day.”

“Whether or not we have a spare few pounds around our waist shouldn’t define us, or our emotions. So please – be kind to yourself.”

And then the Facebook discussion yielded some excellent insight:

People make the mistake of judging by physical appearance.

“The godlike men and women at the lake turned out to be relatively normal and very nice people.”

I get far more inspiration from reading running and triathlon blogs from the average people that you describe, who are fighting similar battles to me, rather than the fitness models and the professionals that are on another level.

It’s interesting to learn that some of you have those negative images that I would look at and think I wish I looked more like that.

So here’s my attempt to say something clever about it all.

I can’t say what things are like from a girl’s / woman’s perspective, but I think that body confidence issues are ones that most people (regardless of sex) suffer from. The media is particularly cruel to women, but is rarely positive about any ‘normal’ shape. I know that I always had issues throughout my younger life and still do now. The difference now is that while those issues are still there, they aren’t anywhere near as important as some of the other issues – some which are genuine life stuff (work, family, money etc) and some which are training related (I’m more concerned about my swimming times than my waistline).

I like the sentiment that my body should be defined by what it can do, rather than what it looks like. And I’m very proud of some of the things that it has done – that doesn’t stop me wanting to be slimmer too.

For many people a very positive step to having a better body image (both a better body, and a better image about it) is to take part in sport and to realise just what your body can do with a little bit of pushing / training / effort.

However, it can also be very intimidating to get involved initially. And unfortunately sometimes articles like this one by Chrissie can be part of the problem.

For any competitive person (me included) you are always comparing yourself to people better than you. I’m the same with my swimming as I am with my weight. I know, deep down, that I am both a much better swimmer and a much fitter person (and I can even admit to being a bit slimmer too) than I was when I started all of this three years ago. However, at every stage I am comparing myself to those that are one step ahead of me – those swimmers who are still faster than me, those blokes at the gym who are slimmer than me. The fact that it is now different people (and I am faster / slimmer than the people I was originally comparing myself to) doesn’t really register in the dark, negative recesses of my brain that seem to take over my thought patterns in times of self-doubt.

As an aside on this, I do it all the time with my swimming. If I mention swimming Windermere to people most are amazed at the feat. However all I do is compare myself to the Channel swimmers I know and think that I haven’t even done (literally) half of what they’ve achieved.

The problem then becomes that we become the people that newbies are looking up to. I can’t quite believe this emotionally, but I can accept it rationally, but there are people out there who are wishing they could swim as fast as me and are wishing they had my body shape. And yet all I do is moan that I’m not like the people over there. How disheartening must that feel to newbies?

And the answer – I don’t claim to know how to solve this for everyone, but a little bit more love wouldn’t hurt.

Love of yourself. Take Chrissie’s words to heart – it’s about what your body can do. And don’t forget to celebrate those achievements. When people tell you that a particular thing you did (sporting or otherwise) was amazing then try to believe them, try to feel amazing, even if only for a few minutes. Cos, you are amazing!

Love of our kids, friends, teammates. Tell them all how amazing they are. Don’t tell them that they look amazing, tell them that they are amazing. The looks bit isn’t important, the being bit is.

And even love of strangers / celebrities. You know what, let’s not buy the mags or click on the links that tell us about “the shocking cellulite” of an actress that plays that character who’s name we don’t even know in Emmerdale. Who cares? We shouldn’t. She shouldn’t.

And if we just try to love ourselves and everyone else a little bit more, maybe we can all be a bit less concerned with how we look.

*Right off to weigh myself to see how many calories typing this has used up!*

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Nice comment

I like it when someone you haven’t seen for a while tells you it looks like you’ve lost weight.

I especially like it when they then give you a new swim hat.

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Thanks Paul.

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Weight…

Argh. How can it be the case that after all this recent exercise I still haven’t lost any weight? I weighed myself this morning and if anything I’ve put on a couple of pounds.

Now this blog isn’t really about weight or losing weight. And I’m certainly not going to be posting videos and photos of me before and after weight loss, like Julia_B has done (although it’s well worth a read if you’re interested). What I’m more interested in are the challenges I’ve set myself. But of course these challenges started because I realised that I needed to lose some weight.

As I see it there are two big problems at the moment to me losing weight. The first is my very sedentary lifestyle – apart from the exercise I do I’m almost always sat down (usually at my desk), so I need to develop a routine to get up and move about a bit more – if nothing else it will help my posture and mental alertness I’m sure. The second is that I seem to think that when I return from a swim or a workout that I can eat whatever I like, ‘cos, well I’ve just burnt lots of calories haven’t I? I know what I need to do with this one – but it’ll be tough.

As it happens, I’ve picked a sport that requires a little bit extra body fat – you need to keep warm on the long swims. In fact my Grandad used to try and put on weight just before and during the swimming season and then lose it over the winter.

What I have noticed recently is a slight change in body shape. Shoulders and lats are getting stronger and bigger and that is creating a little bit of a taper effect down to my waist – it’s not obvious, but there are differences.

At present the plan is that while I’m still swimming outdoors not to worry about the weight – it was just a bit frustrating this morning – but once the season is over to try and follow my Grandad’s lead and lose a bit over the winter. Don’t hold your breath though!

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What next?

I’ve done my first event, but that’s only the start. Now I need to build up to the big one – swimming Windermere next year.

I thought I’d jot down a few of the thoughts I had as a result of the swim at the weekend.

The first was how much I enjoyed it and how keen I am to keep going. As I’ve mentioned before, my Grandad was one of the founder members of the BLDSA, so as a kid I was dragged round to all of these swims. When we arrived early on Saturday morning I got an incredibly nostalgic whiff of sweaty swimmer, lake and liniment – it sounds terrible, but it felt very welcoming. I also chatted to a few people that knew my Grandad and so have now joined the “club”.

But beyond the enjoyment I also realised what a big undertaking this is. Obviously I need to keep up the training, but it’s a little more than just swimming. My plans are to use this summer to do as much open water swimming as possible – so far I’ve got another 3mile event lined up, as well as a 6mile one and a 5.25mile one. But that only takes me through to the end of July, so I’ll try to do at least a couple more in August.

However, after the summer, or at least once the end of this year and my 1,000kms target is reached (or not) then I need to change my training slightly.

I need to lose a bit of weight, that much is now certain (mainly based on the photos my wife took as I was getting into the water). Subconsciously I’ve chosen an event that requires you to carry a little bit of extra body fat for warmth, but I’m overdoing it a bit at the moment. This isn’t ever going to be a blog about my weight, but as for many people all of the exercise stuff started as a way to get fitter and a bit thinner. I seem to have managed one so far without the other.

I also need to spend some time strengthening my shoulders and upper body. Swimming the crawl is all about upper body strength – in fact you should hardly use your legs at all – so that’s something I need to improve. Obviously the swimming itself will help, but my plan is to use the gym properly to help me with that over the winter.

The final area I want to work on is to improve my speed. As I’ve talked about before it’s going to be a hell of a long swim if I keep to my current speed, so I want to work on that. Currently I’m so keen to put the miles in that I don’t want to be doing sets or focusing on sprint drills, but once winter comes then I want to use the time in the pool to speed up, rather than just swim up and down.

If I can spend the first 3-4 months of next year on those three elements, then I should be in good shape to get back into the open water next spring and work on a plan that will see me complete Windermere by the end of the summer. That’s the plan anyway.

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