I recently worked on a project and when I saw the finished product, I was a little shocked. I called a very dear friend who also happens to be a cameraman: "Is that what I really look like?" I asked. "Yes and no", he replied. "They used an unforgiving wide lens and you picked the most unfortunate outfit for a sunny day (think shadows)." I tried to console myself with his response but in the end figured that maybe a long winter, despite my very best intentions, had resulted in a little weight gain. My initial reaction was to take to Twitter for some slimspiration from my peers. But instead of being inspired, I despaired: I was bombarded with endless images of impossible-to-attain, hard bodies accompanied by hashtags like #traininsane #gohardorgohome and #eatclean. 'Go hard or go home' makes me want to go home. And put my feet up and devour a packet of biscuits when I get there ('every little helps' works way better for me), while 'eat clean' just makes me want to eat unclean. Don't get me wrong: I try and make sure those nutrient boxes are ticked throughout the day; that the bulk of my calorie intake comes from nutritious food. But I don't want to eat mackerel for breakfast. However, if the food purists are to be believed, that's what you have to do - breakfast biscuits are the food version of crystal meth (I love 'em, btw. There, I've said it.). Juicing I was prepared to try. I tried making a breakfast juice with that cure-all, cult vegetable: kale. I thought I had a strong constitution but two sips of this popular health elixir left me retching into the sink.' It's an acquired taste', cry the kale-ys. But why do I need to acquire it? I'll save the kale for my Sunday roast and cut back on spuds, thereby killing two birds with one stone and saving myself the expense of sink unblocker.
In the end, I stuck to my time-honoured, scientifically-proven guns and simply added another run to my weekly routine and wrote down every last morsel throughout the day (the latter helped in seeing areas for improvement: 'because I'm worth it' weekend takeaways had to go and the freelance journalist biscuit habit needed curbing). So did it work? It did indeed. Not as quick or dramatic as I'd like but at least I didn't have to exist on kale and mackerel. "No need to diet - just eat real food" may work for some but to many of us, that IS a diet. Eating 3 squares of Galaxy instead of 6 is do-able; striving to eat like my paleolithic ancestors isn't.
I have been tempted to post a post-'regime' selfie as proof the dreaded breakfast biscuit can play a part in a healthy, sustainable weight loss routine, but a) I'm not a fan of the selfie, and b) as I'm a personal trainer one would hope I'm at least capable of getting myself into shape. Oh, and c) I'm not sure posting "See?" pics on the internet is the best way to inspire and motivate others.
So now I've done my bit: eaten less (of the naughty, tasty stuff) and moved more, and by and large, accomplished what I set out to do. My reflection in the mirror still sees my 'strong' thighs staring back at me and then it occurs to me that they may actually be good for something other than tearing to pieces after seeing an unflattering bit of footage (like a phenomenal sprint finish in a race, for example) and that critical voice is silenced. Never mind training insane - less comparing and more acceptance, more like.