Around at the end of 2014, I decided to gift my self the gift of health for the festive holidays. I had spent a lot of 2014 in bed with Roseanne (yes the 90s sitcom), at my desk drawing and drinking all of the boozes. I had just moved to Edinburgh and what no one talks about is the fact that regardless of how much you actually want to move somewhere, there will always be an adjustment period. Someone at the time told me that it was going to take four months to settle in. I was promised literature on the subject, but as that never came, I always just reference this “fact” to just someone I temped with. (It doesn’t stop to amaze me how people that have such a brief interaction with you in life can sometimes have such a lasting impact.) I now always give something like a new job, new house or a new country the four-month trial period. It doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to like any of those things at the end of the four months, but the adjustment period theory stands.
So back to end of 2014, I was in my adjustment period in Edinburgh for a while and had fallen into some pretty slack habits with no one who really knew me around to call me up on them. Plus the fabulous Scottish weather enabled me to hide away in huge clothes. Let’s face it; I was doing exactly what I wanted. Who doesn’t want to go home after a long grey cold day at a crap office job to a bottle of red wine, cheesy pizza and trash TV … IN BED?!
Then I looked in the mirror one day and decided enough was enough. There was no real moment of crying while trying to fit into a pair of jeans that I brought with me from Melbourne nor breaking a chair in public. In all honesty, I only really gained about 5kg /11
pounds/.8 stone but it was the general laziness and waste of my own life that really got to me. I realized that I was basically wasting my life away and having no energy due to poor health choices is a vicious cycle. So I gave my self the gift of health for the holidays and joined a gym! The plan was to see how I’d go and then maybe gift myself the gift of television for my birthday that was a few months away.
It was somewhat a bumpy ride but I never lost motivation. I think because I had changed my mindset it was a lasting lifestyle change and not a form of punishment. I have always been a passionate salad eater and fan of breakfast so for me, the key was really to become more active and do the pizza-and-wine-in-bed nights as a treat and not as a Tuesday night regular.
By the time I left Edinburgh at the end of 2015, I was full of energy and looked my best. Most importantly, my mental health improved a lot too. I am (this is not a joke) quite a pessimist with dashes of depression, slashes of toska and strokes of anxiety kinda gal, but enough about me a classical Russian literature character for now. The whole fitness kick had really cleared up my mind too.
Now that I’m back in Melbourne, I’ve again been through the four-month adjustment period and am finally back on the path of health. The best thing I’ve been able to find in terms of exercise for me is barre classes. Back in Edinburgh I swore by callenetics but barre is my favorite of the options currently available in Melbourne.
Things were going really great until I somehow threw out my lower back and decided to road test calorie counting. Like all genius plans in my life, this came to me in an unexpected moment of inspiration, as I was getting my nails did on my lunch hour on Smith Street. The television was on ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] News 24 and not daytime trash so naturally I tuned in. There was some report about a new study the government was putting out about obesity and how most people don’t realize how many calories they consume due to the evil advertising and marking empire schemes. This got me thinking that I literally knew nothing about calories. So with my back out of action and my beloved barre classes on hold for a week, I thought it might be fun to give calorie counting a go.
I didn’t last a day.
At first I was really ambitious and saw this as a learning exercise but what it quickly turned into was torture. The app I downloaded didn’t automatically give me the calories of everything I consumed, instead I had to do the research and put that info in myself. Well I really didn’t need to know first thing in the morning that my large daily soy latte made by very fabulous hipsters that know my name is 171 calories! That’s even if the size of my serving was correct, because I’m shit at guesstimating the size of things. The entire thing took up way too much of my precious time.
Then at lunch, I was making my salad and discovered the scan barcode function of the app, which really did speed things up along. But I’m a fresh produce kinda lass and there was nothing to scan on my tomato, avocado, cucumber, celery or spring onion and then I had the most horrific thought that almost set me back to square one. I literally thought to myself, “Maybe I should just buy those pre-made salads. That would be super quick to scan and record!” and that’s when I put the down my phone and officially ended my calorie counting experiment.
I got so caught up in the moment of trying to count that I forgot the precious thing I learned in Edinburgh as I gave my self that gift of health. I forgot that healthy living in not a chore but a choice that I enjoy. I eat salad because I like the way it tastes and I like knowing that I’m putting good things into my body. I like learning about food in an organic way as I discover new recipes, read new studies, watch new docos [Aussie for documentaries] and try out new yum cha joints! Why on earth did I think that numbers boot camp was going to inspire me to be healthier is beyond me. I can only assume it was my mental health slipping due to lack of exercise for a week. In any case, I have relearned that there is no short cuts to good health but continuous commitment to doing good for you.*
*It’s also true that what might be good for me, isn’t good for you and you might love the counting game. That’s cool, as long as you love it for the love of health and it doesn’t feel like torture.