Before Christmas, I undertook a mission to drop a dress size in 10 weeks for the festive party season. I was assigned to top Irish personal trainer Pat Henry, who swore he'd whip me into shape, and report on my progress every week in the Herald.
Regular readers might remember my sweat and toil, but also my ever-improving shape, which culminated in a big reveal of sorts in mid December. At the end of the 10 weeks, I had shed 23lbs, almost as many inches and was feeling (and looking) better than ever before thanks to an initially punishing workout regime, and a revamped diet.
Then the season of over-eating and under-exercising came with all its challenges. The reason so many magazines and newspapers run fitness and diet features in the New Year is because it's when we're all trying to frantically clamber back on the wagon after a period of excess. When I first finished my training with Pat and had achieved all my goals (and then some), I was adamant I wouldn't slip. And to all intents and purposes, I haven't, but I'm definitely not as well behaved.
Towards the end of my training, two things happened that curbed my enthusiasm. One, I got a new full-time job which meant I couldn't swan in and out of the gym as I liked, like when I worked from home. And secondly, I injured my knee following an overenthusiastic lunging session. These combined meant my great gusto was lessened slightly, and derailed my efforts.
Over Christmas, I managed to keep up my diet, by and large. I drank more than I had been and indulged in dessert, but I was pretty well-behaved considering I spent the previous festive season in a Quality Street and ham sambo coma. Everyone was mighty impressed, my family going so far as to hide the chocolate from me, and showing me pictures of when I was heavier to keep me on the straight and narrow. They thought they were being supportive, but I know they prefer me thinner.
The knee injury kept me away from training though and I soon fell out of the habit, which is a pity. The five days a week, 90 minutes at a time thing was unsustainable in the real world, but one day a week wasn't good enough either.
My schedule is all over the place so getting to the gym is difficult, to say the least, but I know in my heart that once I start working out I'll feel better. I've bought some dumbbells, and I'm working out at home and attending classes when I can (TRX, Ballet Barre and spinning).
Full disclosure -- I would say I have put on about three pounds since my final weigh-in last December. I don't know exactly because I haven't been near Pat's scary medical scales. My pitfalls are when I'm hungover and only pizza or Chinese will do the trick, or when I'm out to dinner and the restaurant doesn't substitute brown bread or pasta for white.
However, I'm not nearly as gluttonous or lazy as I used to be, and I don't automatically reach for the phone when I'm tired or hungry. I only drink spirits with soda water (unless it's free of course!), avoid carbs with my dinner and have given up fizzy drinks completely. And those hangover pizzas? They're personal sized instead of large. My boyfriend of six and-a-half years appreciates my new healthy outlook, but says I was more happy-go-lucky when I was in the gym all the time. Of course I bloody was, I was shedding weight like never before, and had all those endorphins coursing through my veins.
He'll never admit it, but he's something of a feeder, and more and more Kit Kat Chunkys are appearing in the house with my name on them. However, I now know that sharing is caring, and the key to maintenance.
Last week, vindication came when I fit into a pair of size 10 leather Topshop trousers. Any woman out there who's felt like crying in the changing room will know the happiness I felt when I pulled that zip up.
If (when?) those bad boys get too tight, I will be hot-footing it back to Pat and begging to be put through my paces. But I think I'm strong enough of mind and body now to know not to overdo it.