Mat’s Story – The Journey So Far (Guest Blog)

May 1, 2017 – Reset Day

Well folks, it’s reset day…again…and like many others I’m going to tackle May as if it’s the start of my renewed journey, and the ‘sins’ of the past are just learnings, not failings…and that’s fine! (Sam said so). I can reset as often as I need to – as long as I never stop trying – you never actually fail until you stop…

So my wife (Jackie) put a post on the 28 FB page which prompted me to take a retrospective look at what I experienced so far along the road to my eventual (inevitable?) healthier and happier self. I thought I’d share some of these random thoughts in the hope that some of you might find something useful, familiar or even re-affirming in what you might be experiencing (or about to)…particularly if you’re a guy – but not exclusively…

The Ramp up and the risk of ‘a rest’

So doing this 28 minutes every day sounds completely ‘doable’ – it did for me, and for a while I stuck to it like white on rice. The ‘ramp up’ to being able to complete every exercise, and give it 100% even at Rookie level, was a hard slog. I was super unfit, and hadn’t used half of these muscles in a long time. Possibly ever. I worked at it hard, and often found embarrassing photos of myself plastered on the forum by a proud, and completely devoid of any ‘respect-for-personal-space’, wife. I did it. Every day.

Eventually, though, I had a long day at the office and came home mentally and emotionally exhausted. Rather than go for the hard option (the long-term benefit) I took the quick and easy option of the couch and mindless TV (possibly the Bachelor at that point – and yes, daddy and daughter TV time is THAT important to me that I’m prepared to watch these shows). I missed out on the endorphins, but did get some instant gratification from shameless cat-fighting. Missing one workout wasn’t such a big thing. A couple of months later, and missing a week (or two) is something completely different. A couple of weeks ‘rest’, and I was back down at Rookie level – and struggling. Yes, my body dropped its game that fast. I’m going into May as if I’m starting again, and I’m not looking forward to the ramp up again I can tell you. If you are new, and struggle with the first few weeks – then use it as motivation to not stop, and have to go through it all again.

Speaking of Motivation

Motivation is just a word – one that personal trainers and life coaches throw around a lot to justify their fees. It’s simply a title for the thing that drives you to put the effort into the longer, better (and harder) benefit over the shorter and easier one. Sometimes for some of us it’s (unfortunately) a tragedy that’s needed to drive us to make the tough decision. Sometimes it’s merely a little epiphany that we just don’t want to continue living the way we have so far. Whatever it is for you, it’s likely to fade over time, or drop off completely. You might see progress and think that the drive just isn’t needed any more. You might not see the progress you thought you would, and lose faith. I lost faith due to that evil brain child of diets everywhere – the scales.

For a couple of months they didn’t move (or went up and down like the Assyrian empire), and I blamed the program. I ignored the fact I wasn’t giving 100% in my workouts, or that I hadn’t even done 100% of the workouts… or that I had frequently gone off-reservation, or that…well, you get the idea. I even ignored the other changes occurring during the months that showed signs of progress such as the good food decisions I had been making, incidental exercise I sought out and completed and a significant reduction in instances of migraines or sickness.

I was seriously considered dropping the whole thing, despite the fact that my wife and I were doing this ‘as a team’.

A Sack of Spuds: The best PT you’ll never pay for! Take home the good carbs.

So I was standing in Coles, having picked up a bag of baby spinach (the first item on a list of 28 approved groceries) and I was standing by the area where the potatoes were. I was stuck on about 110kg (a 9kg loss from my 119kg start) and I was staring at the potatoes (next to bread, my biggest vice) when I had a thought. I put the bag of spinach back, walked over and got another basket, and then went back to the potatoes, and put a 4kg bag in each. I then walked around the entire supermarket – every isle – carrying almost as much weight as I’d lost so far. When I got back to the potatoes, my arms and hands hurting quite a lot, I put another 4k bag in each, and just walked around the fruit and veg area. That was half the weight I needed to lose, and it almost killed me…which is pretty much what carrying it around is doing too…

Every time I feel I’m losing my motivation, I call on potatoes. Do it – don’t just think about it – it’s like bloody magic (and I should know, I’m a professional). Walking around without that weight makes you feel years younger!

Younger isn’t always better though…

What is going on? Am I going through puberty again? Why am I breaking out all the time…and everywhere? This is one thing I’m not all that happy about – and it’s not something that has completely gone away as I’ve progressed through this journey. Admittedly eating ‘non-approved’ foods like chocolate (hello Easter) and other sugary or oily food stuffs tends to set it off, but so do a lot of the foods on the moral high ground: That Snicker’s thing? The sugar-free coconut rough? Even – dammit – sticky chicken!? But mostly it’s because I’m sweating more, and that brings the oils out in my skin. For a long while there I suffered in ignorance, and it wasn’t until my wife’s cousin put me on to a great skin care range for guys, that I started to see a huge improvement in my complexion (oh god, I just used a term I think I’ve never done before).

This isn’t actually me (I know, hard to believe) but it IS my wife’s cousin, Chris in an ad for LCD.

This stuff wasn’t just good – it was the first time I’ve ever been convinced to do anything remotely like ‘caring for my skin’ – and I’m a convert. Just in case any guys are wanting to know (or any of you ladies have a guy in need – although my wife keeps stealing mine to use for herself) the stuff is called LQD.

While the stuff is great for your face – it’s a little too expensive to use as body wash. If the break out is happening in other ‘sweat centres’ then I can heartily recommend switching from ‘soap’ to a soap and scent free alternative – like Sorbelene ‘soap’. The difference in the effect on your skin is significant.

A ‘significant other’ is damn useful

I’m not talking about a wife, husband, life partner or anything like that – although it could be any of them – I’m talking about finding someone to be accountable to…and for. A person to whom you are honest and answerable to. There’s an old saying that ‘A burden shared, is a burden halved’ – that might have been particularly true if you were carrying a bunch of crockery to market – but in this case it should be ‘A goal and progress admitted to, is a hell of a lot harder to pike on’. I know of a peer who lost a ton of weigh by admitting to his goal on Facebook, and then committing to progress reports every two weeks. He skipped one along the way, and received over 100 private messages asking where it was, and what went wrong. The 28 forum is kind of like that – but with more love and support. The reality is, you need some tough love too. Someone to tell you to pull your finger out and just ‘get it done’.  Find that person. Admit to your goal (at least, your first one). Commit to a regular progress report. And then give them full permission to whip your ass if you pike. Or are you just not serious enough?

I guess that’s it for my first retrospective. Hopefully something there gave you a little value. If you have any pearls of your own – put them in the comments for everyone… 

Matt Unwin: 28er since August 2016

18 thoughts on “Mat’s Story – The Journey So Far (Guest Blog)

    • Thanks Ebony. I’m a long way from ‘there’ yet, but as 28ers love to say ‘progress – not perfection’ 🙂

  1. Thank you for sharing Mat! I really enjoyed this and at the moment I need a bit of extra motivation!

    • Sharon, I challenge you to find 5 minutes ,visit the veggie Isle of your local grocery store, and then let me know if it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t, I’ll come and find you and motivate you in person! 😉

  2. Thanks for sharing Matt, love that you had that thought process while at the supermarket, might have to use the spuds next time I want to pick up a non 28 approved snack 😊

    • I’m so not joking – a bag of spuds are always the answer to the big ‘why’ for me! Glad you liked the post!

  3. Really enjoyed reading your retrospective Matt. My husband joined me in Jan … I had started a month before, and it really was a game changer in terms of motivation for both of us. We are great with the exercise but completely hopeless with the food. I am going to take your suggestion of just committing to one goal with the food. We are going for a 5 week trip shortly, and I am a mix of excited and petrified (in terms of 28).

    • Chris, I know EXACTLY how you feel! Jackie and I are heading to Singapore and Thailand next month and the lure of the dark side (all meals included) is strong. My recommendation (and what we are doing) use the next 5 weeks to develop some healthy eating habits – everything from spotting the good breakfast options (poached eggs without the toast, bircher muesli, fresh fruit bowls, etc.) to what snack options are best – and get them sorted before you go. That way your tendencies will be towards the better choices from the outset… Plus I’m counting on the fact it will be nice to have a few less K’s to lug around… Good luck, and have fun!

  4. Matt, your post is another gift from 28 ☺️… I’m an exceptionally slow but very happy “progress-er” since August, and this blog has given me pause for thought about the things that I “let slip”, but also have actually achieved…. Thanks for the ideas and experiences you have shared and , please, keep blogging!!! 👊

    • Glad you got something from it Mary! Always remember your little victories, and use them as fuel to fight your little slips…

  5. Thank-you for your post – potato’s – I am so going to do that this afternoon – and I think we need Sam to remind us occasionally when doing the shopping to pick up a pack of spuds!
    I have let slip for that reason you spoke of – scales not doing what I wanted them to do – even though I was seeing progress in other area’s, easter, birthdays, holidays. Time to pick up the spuds and re-focus!
    Well done by the way.

    • Ayesha – Please tell me how you go! I’d love to know if it works as well for others…Keep going with the journey – even if the scales don’t move, you are doing nothing but improving your overall health, and that’s as important as anything else!

  6. Mat, thank you so much for sharing your progress thoughts. Your last notes on being accountable to someone is exactly what I am missing from my journey. I’ve been doing it alone since March 2016. Whilst I have been pretty great getting back on track with my exercising and am pretty good with following the meal plan for the most part (weekends make life tough!), BUT I’ve caved to a chocolate and sugar addiction which is destroying me. I now have that person to be accountable to, and I’m pretty sure that person won’t be afraid to whoop my arse. I best get in touch with said person and put the accountability in place!

    • That’s brilliant news, Hayley. Your buddy needs to be ‘tough, but fair’ so if you’ve found someone to keep you honest – that’s a great start. Soon it will be you, yourself who is your best enforcer…trust me…

      I can’t tell you how weird it was the first time that I walked up to the counter at the servo, looked longingly at the cherry ripe’s and Mars bars, and then heard a mental ‘Pffftssssss’ sound, as my own sense of preservation (driven by the fear of working that back-step off again) opened a can of whoop-ass in my mind….

      Let me know how the buddy system works for you!?

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