When your mind tells you to sit in the big chair

Hello folks

I had a HUGE revelation this week! With being in some pain yesterday with my feet, I popped along to a medical walk-in centre which was eerily quiet due to Covid. Once I got through the initial questions to make sure I was Covid-safe, I was asked to take a seat and this tiny act is what this extra post is about today.

You see, in the waiting room, there were regular-sized chairs dotted about and also some that were clearly wider than others. And where did I sit? Yes, I instinctively went for one of these wider chairs because that’s what I’ve done for years. I’ve feared chairs with arms because I’ve not always been able to fit. And I sat there for a moment sensing lots of space either side of me before daring to ask myself “I wonder! I wonder if I’ll fit in that standard-sized chair over there. Do I take that risk?” The other thing to ask myself was how it’d look to the receptionists and nurses behind the screened off desk. It might look a bit silly for someone to get out of a chair in an otherwise empty room and move to another one for no apparent reason but this was my opportunity to take a chance…and so I did. And, yes!!! I could sit there without my body touching either arm! Gosh, I wanted to cry with happiness but I just sang a victory song in my head and gave myself permission to feel a tiny bit smug!

It’s these non-scale victories that are there to be celebrated, these victories that others may not ‘get’ but, boy, help us walk along with a spring in our step. And I can’t wait to one day check out other seats like planes, theatres and rollercoasters. Perhaps I can start to imagine life without continually thinking “Will I fit?”

Love Erika xx

The gut-wrenching experiences of being big

Well guys, although I usually keep my posts hopefully oozing so much positivity as the weight falls off, I felt that it would be cathartic for me to actually reflect on things from the past. I’ve never actually talked about them before but, as I adopt a healthier way of being, I’m going to be brave and share with you some experiences. You see, although I feel like my mindset is so focused on losing weight (with 71lbs lost so far), I guess I wonder if anyone reading my blog thinks something along the lines of “But you make it look easy, Erika. You don’t really get what it’s like to be big. You don’t really understand what it’s like to not find the oomph to get started“. But you see, I do. Despite what’s happened in the past, it still didn’t make me think “Stop this! You need to take control

The cinema seat

Oh, this was a few years ago but I went to the cinema with a friend. I got in the seat okay but, you know, it was rather snug. Despite the cinema being pretty empty, a couple of ladies sat next to us….but for no more than about 15 seconds. Basically, I was aware that my super large thighs were spilling under the arm rest and they were making contact with one of the ladies. And after she whispered something to her friend, they moved away from us. I still remember my heart sinking.

The chair

Another chair – I haven’t liked many chairs over the years! I went to a family’s home and went up to the child’s bedroom to do an activity with him. The family had set up a desk and two collapsible chairs for us to sit on. Well, I don’t think it was designed to actually collapse under my weight but I did. Not only did I have the embarrassment of that but I then had to get myself off the floor. The family was lovely but I just wanted to cry.

The shop

I’ve never had any verbal abuse thrown at me per se but the one thing that did happen was that I was in a shop and someone made a pig sound right behind me. By the time I turned around, they were gone and actually thank goodness they had because I didn’t have to face anyone but it was nonetheless horrible.

Not sitting on the ground because I won’t get up again

I’ve had many situations when I’ve been in a large group (where they’ve done yoga or sat down to have a picnic) and, knowing that I’d struggle to stand up again, I’ve given excuses to remain standing. Many times, I’ve said about my “bad back” (which is perfectly fine) but it’s been hard when I’ve seen people 10-15 years older than me easily sit on the ground and get up so quickly.

The fall

A couple of years ago, I had a really bad fall. The pain was immense and it turned out that I’d done lots of tissue damage that left me on crutches for 6 weeks. But when I had the fall, people came over rushing to help which was lovely. And I could feel my leg bleeding but I couldn’t lift my maxi skirt to show my legs…..because I’ve been ashamed of them pretty much all my life. Until recently, they’ve been big, lumpy and the knees hidden somewhere in there. So I just smiled, thanked them so much for caring and just said that I’d stay seated on the ground until the pain had gone. When I did eventually stand up, I was in a pretty bad way but the thought of showing my legs was mortifyingly embarrassing. And this is partly why I don’t go to the GP. I cover my body. If I’d ever found a lump of something sinister, I probably would have just kept quiet rather than seek help. I don’t do smear tests with the GP for this reason.

“You’re fat”

I once had a child write “you’re fat”. Now, children can be honest and, yes, I was and still am. But it was just in black and white in front of me and I then had to spend another 3 hours with this child whilst pushing back the tears. When the mother saw what the girl had written, she just laughed. Both the mum and girl are on the autistic spectrum so I understand there are certain challenges but it still hurt.

“I never thought you’d be smaller than me”

Mmm, this one has been playing on my mind and it was my sister in law who said this to me. She’s probably a UK size 16-18 and I’ve been pretty much bigger than her since I’ve known her. But years ago, when I had anorexia, I was unintentionally much smaller than her and she said these words as were walking in a shopping centre. And they’ve stuck….I guess feeling as if my position is to remain the larger one out of us. I don’t know. This has been affecting me recently.

Despite these and other times, nothing has clicked in my head to make sensible decisions about losing weight without resorting to an eating disorder. I’ve missed out on so many things including going on a plane to see a terminally ill relative, going out with friends who are going on a long walk, going to a shopping mall because of the physical pain…..

BUT………that was then…. this is now and I’m slowly working my way through the obesity categories. My next major goal is 229 lbs to get my BMI under 35. I feel it’s actually been helpful to write about the above experiences so that I can mentally process them and file them away in the mental drawer called “Yes, it happened but look at you now, girl“! From here on in, it’s back to staying focused and POSITIVE ❤

Love Erika xx

Yes! I did ‘Couch to 5K’ whilst morbidly obese!!

There are a few reasons behind today’s post. As well as telling you what Couch to 5K is and sharing my experience, I REALLY hope to inspire at least one person to give it a go. I wonder if that person might be YOU!

So, what is Couch to 5K?

In a nutshell, it’s a running program designed to take the complete beginner to being able to run 5K in around 9 weeks. Now, when I say ‘beginner’, you may think that people still need to be able to jog but it really is designed for those who haven’t put on a pair of trainers since their school days or get puffed out just walking around the shopping mall. When I started it, I couldn’t walk 150 metres without being in immense pain and needing to stop to catch my breath.

In each of the 9 weeks, there are 3 runs to do with a rest day in between. So, you could do set days (like Monday, Wednesday and Friday) or do literally every other day if you don’t have to run on certain days. All runs start with a 5 minute walk to warm up and then a walk for 5 minutes to cool down. The very first run involves alternating between running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds. Over the course of the program, you start to run for longer until you’re actually running more than you’re walking and each work out session will last for 30-40 minutes including the warm up/cool down. But there are apps you can download so you don’t need to worry about whether to run or walk. You just follow the voice telling you what to do. The important thing to tell you though is that the aim is actually to be able to run for 5K OR run for 30 minutes….and most people can’t do 5K in 30 minutes at the end of week 9. That’s okay. Focus on your stamina to run for longer than your pace which can develop over time.

My experience of doing Couch to 5K

So, 25 of the 27 runs were done whilst still morbidly obese! Yes, you don’t have to super slim or fit to do this. I took it on as a personal challenge although I thought I may get half way through before my body gave up on me and I was shocked that I did the whole program. In week 8, I pushed myself beyond the official 28 minutes until reached 5K and I can’t tell you the incredible feeling of accomplishment when you graduate. I did some runs around my village but also some around my home and garden. I even wore leggings for the first time ever! I found that I could manage my breathing very easily but there were times when I could feel my shins hurting. Thankfully, I didn’t develop shin splints but this is why rest days are important. Your muscles will develop tiny tears when being pushed physically and the rest days are needed for them to repair. Of course, don’t run if you think you’re doing yourself serious injury but it’s quite normal for the body to ache so grit your teeth and push through it.

I even found a website called http://www.virtualracing.co.uk in the UK where you can sign up for the medal and then it’s sent to you when you submit your evidence. I’m now in the process of doing other fitness challenges: a 1,000 mile challenge between now and the end of the year; the August challenge when I’ll be emailed daily fitness activities to do and one that spans October to December. Yes, I’m a grown up but the thought of receiving medals is hugely motivating!

So, are YOU going to give it a go?

Couch to 5K has been on the news in the UK as record numbers of people downloaded the BBC app during lockdown, especially with the gyms closed. I found that there are amazing communities on Facebook where people really encourage you to complete the program, share tips (like apparently chewing gum can help breathing) and you feel like you’re on this personal journey. I can’t urge you enough to think about giving it a go. I struggled to run for 60 seconds in that first week but it’s designed to be followed to the letter and, if you do, you may find yourself say “I love running”. I now do!!

I’d love to hear if you’ve done Couch to 5K or you’re thinking about it ❤

Okay folks, I’ll be back on Monday with my weigh-in and telling you how the first couple of ‘August fitness challenge’ days have gone so have a great weekend everyone

Love Erika xx