It's now twelve months since I started my weight loss journey. I'm 17 kilos lighter, more fit, more flexible, more healthy, more muscly, more toned, more energetic and more happy.
A fantastic year
This year has turned out to be about so much more than just losing a bit of weight though. It started with that - but along the way I've ended up discovering so many new things, which have helped me to become a much stronger version of myself, not only on a physical level, but also on a mental and emotional level.
In March I discovered yoga. Initially I was just looking to stretch out a bit after my runs and personal training sessions. But yoga is so much more than that. Yoga is the embodiment of self-love in such a positive way. It's about giving time to yourself. It's a way to come out of your 'thinking head' and return to your physical body.
On the occasions where I truly melt into my yoga practice, allowing myself to fully let go, to fully connect with my breath, and fully focus on the physical sensations of stretching and breathing, the effect it has on me is amazing. I slow down. I calm down. My mind becomes clear. I become so relaxed and peaceful, and at night time I sleep so deeply.
Yoga with Kassandra
Kassandra, from Yoga with Kassandra, has been my guide throughout my journey into yoga. She's amazing. Whilst she has videos covering all sorts of styles of yoga, a lot of her videos are focused on the slower, more stretchy styles, such as yin yoga. It is these slow, stretchy styles of yoga, with longer-held poses, a focus on 'finding stillness' and 'connecting with the breath' that I love the most. I feel like they perfectly compliment, and contrast with the more energetic work I'm already doing in the gym.
If you're looking to give yoga a try I'd recommend Kassandra's 30 day evening yoga challenge, a series of short 15 minute videos to do in the evening before bed.
These are the first yoga videos I did (and still regularly do now) - they're gentle, relaxing, easy and accessible. A perfect introduction if you're new to yoga!
My first day at the gym
Aligning my life with the moon...
In June, I joined an online personal development course - another Yoga with Kassandra creation - which follows the phases of the moon, and involves things like yoga, meditation, positive affirmations, shadow work, journaling and pranayama (breathing) exercises.
I now loosely follow the practices in this course almost every month, and it's been life changing in terms of gaining focus and clarity, figuring out what things I want from life, and figuring out how I'm going to get to where I want to be.
In October I tried pole dancing, and whilst I've still got some way to go with that, it's good to be outside of my comfort zone, growing and pushing my boundaries in new ways.
Throughout the year, I've massively improved my eating habits thanks to ordering weekly recipe boxes, which take all of the time and effort out of meal planning. Mindful Chef has formed the basis of most of my diet this year, playing a large part in helping me to shift those 17 kilos of excess weight.
More recently, I've been diversifying and trying out some of the many other recipe boxes out there, such as Riverford Organic and Abel & Cole. I'm looking forward to trying many more this year, starting with a Balance Box, to kick start my weight loss journey for 2022.
Oh no! Weight gain!
It was a great year. I almost hit my target of losing 20 kilos of weight - at one point I had lost 19.2 kilos of weight. I was so close.
However, it was not meant to be. Not in 2021 at least.
As I was about to hit that target, some unexpected stresses towards the end of the year took my attention away from my goals. I ended up having no personal training sessions for most of November and December, my activity levels dropped off a bit, and my healthy eating slipped away just a little too. I actually ended up putting a couple of kilos back on over those final couple of months of the year.
But that's OK.
I'm a human, not a machine - and at that point in time I really needed to focus on other stuff for a bit. Despite the slight regression, I still did really well last year - and I'll have that final couple of kilos gone again in no time, now that I'm fully back on the case!
Goals for 2022
Goal 1 - lose 3 kilos in two months
My main intention for January and February is to get things back on track - to get back to where I was at the end of October last year before I had a two month break and put on 2 kilos of weight.
Specifically, I'm looking to lose 3 kilos over the next two months. That should actually take me slightly below the 20 kilo weight loss target I've been aiming for. Slightly below is OK, as it will mean I'll have some extra 'cake space' within me, and I'll be able to start going to my favourite bakery in Cardiff again, for once-weekly cake treats!
Goal 2 - gain strength and achieve a pull up!
By the end of October last year, my back, shoulders and upper-body were starting to get quite strong. My stomach was taking shape too, becoming more flat and toned. Then my unexpected two month break came and everything slightly fell apart. My upper body has lost some strength - and my stomach is definitely not flat anymore!
So now I need to regain all of that strength, tone and definition that I was beginning to acquire from the gym work - and once I've got it back, I need to keep pushing it further, to get even more strong and toned. In addition to the gym work, the pole dancing should help with my upper body strength, and the Yoga with Kassandra core exercises should help with my stomach and core muscles.
Towards the end of 2022, I would like to finally be strong enough to do that illusive pull up - something which at the moment feels like it may always remain an impossible dream!
Goal 3 - add more variety to my diet
I've successfully lost a lot of weight this year by cutting out sugary, unhealthy snacks, and eating three healthy meals a day. However, one thing I could definitely improve upon is adding more variety into my diet. My breakfasts and lunches in particular, are often plain and repetitive. It's a well known fact that variety in the diet is so important for good health - so this year I'm going to be making a real effort to think up some quick to prepare, yet nutritionally varied breakfast and lunch ideas.
Goal 4 - achieve my 25% body fat target
Losing weight in terms of kilos has been relatively easy. The much more slow, yet probably a lot more important statistic to shift down, is body fat percentage. My body fat was around 37% this time last year. It's now at 30%. The Renpho scales app tells me my body fat should be 25% for optimal health. A combination of exercising and further improving my healthy eating habits should eventually get me to my target body fat percentage over this next year.
Goal 5 - learn more about yoga
As I mentioned above, discovering Yoga with Kassandra has changed my life so much already. So I'm keen to keep building on that, getting more relaxed, more peaceful, more stretchy and more flexible!
I'm also curious to understand more about the philosophy and roots behind yoga. I'm currently reading You are more than you think you are by Kimberly Snyder - a book based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. This book kept insistently popping up at the top of my Instagram feed, as if it was waiting for me to consciously take notice of it. Eventually I did take notice - and I'm so glad I did.
I also have my eye on yet another couple of Yoga with Kassandra courses, which I intend to sign up to at some point later in the year:
So in summary, 2022 is just going to be about keeping going, pushing forward and doing more of all that I started last year. 2021 was a great year and I'm expecting things to only keep getting better! :)