Walk then Knit

For six months I’ve been doing Weight Watchers. It’s been slow but steady. I’m down 9kg/19.8lbs as of this week and starting to feel the difference. I still have a way to go though.

I wasn’t going to write much about Weight Watchers, mainly because it’s sometimes really boring listening to someone bang on about calories and diet restrictions and waist measurements and so on and it was never my intention to make weight loss such an enormous part of my life that it took over everything.

This is probably why I’m not as far along in progress as I might be, but I’m ok with that because I wasn’t prepared to make such radical changes that I didn’t eat like I was myself any more.

In terms of writing about it, I didn’t think I could add anything particularly new to the discussion when there are endless resources out there on the matter. I eat better, exercise more and have lost weight. End of story.

But it’s not the whole story. That makes it sound far too neat and tidy. I have blow outs. Christmas saw me go up a little but i knew that would happen and was totally fine with knowing I’d have to reign things in a bit in the new year. I have an ongoing conversation with myself about why I’m doing this, what it means to me and how can I manage it without turning into someone I wouldn’t like very much. Food and sharing food is a huge part of my life and I never wanted everything I love to be turned into a reduced version of itself. There’s got to be room for good, proper indulgence.

But there is another element too, wrapped up in all this. The knitting.

What role does it play in this discussion?

I admit that in the past I’ve used knitting as an excuse to avoid exercise. I might not have consciously said to myself if I walk/run/work out more I’ll have less knitting time but it was certainly a flash of a thought that I felt guilty about and shoved in a darkened corner of my mind where all the best guilty thoughts go to hide. And it’s absolutely the case, I believe, that my intensified knitting in recent years has contributed to me reaching an unhealthy (for me) weight.

Knitting has been my shelter for the last few years. In unhappy times, it’s my comfort, my haven, my very best friend. Paired with comfort eating and drinking, it’s been a totally blissful place and I don’t mean to change that experience, at its core. But I can tweak it a bit.

Ailsa of Knitabulous was discussing this with me recently and she said her motto now is Walk then Knit. Three simple words. It’s easy really. I can knit. But I need to make sure I walk as well. Or run. Because I’ve been doing that too, though not a lot. I can run to the next corner, walk a bit, run to the next mail box, walk a bit and it seems to work. But the notion that I can walk then knit seems to have freed my mind a little from the sense that I must knit every spare moment. I can knit every spare moment as long as I’ve got some exercise in and am being more mindful of how I eat.

I’ll be honest. I hate Weight Watchers really. I don’t like joining formalised groups. I don’t like pep talks. I’m pretty uncomfortable with a room full of women obsessing about getting into their skinny jeans, which, truth be told isn’t quite what it’s like but even just being around that sort of conversation every now and then makes me squirm and wish we were all just a little less obsessed with how we look.

On the surface it feels utterly vacuous and the food discussion leaves me cold because I don’t seem to eat the way many of the women (and sometimes men) do. I don’t need encouragement to cook from scratch, or eat more wholegrains and less processed food, or make more time for me. I do all those things already. I just have some bad habits wrapped up in what is essentially a healthy lifestyle. Neither do I want to turn into someone for whom my appearance becomes the driving force behind everything I do. I’ve already got a reasonable level of vanity that doesn’t need further encouragement. But I’d like to feel less pudgy. Less slothful. More trim.

I’ve not had an epiphany. I’m not shouting from the roof tops that I’ve found the answer. There’s no point in that because it’s easy to ruin life changing declarations by a prompt reversion to old habits. Weight Watchers meetings are full of people who say they did well for a while, then stopped. I was one of them a few years ago. So it can  happen to any of us, which is why I’ve stopped going to meetings and am now using the Weight Watchers online tools. I can weigh myself at home (we’ve got some lovely digital scales), making it just part of a once a week routine and so far I’m doing well. Because I’ve tried carefully to avoid making such radical changes that I can’t sustain them, I’m finding the softly softly approach is best. I still eat out. I still drink wine regularly. If I turn into someone who cares more about denial than contentment, I won’t be any better off.

Some days I don’t walk. But I aim for getting it right most days, to allow for the days when I want to bake a cake or open a bottle of wine and knit for hours on end and not leave the house. Just like my Tuesdays off, I’m striving for balance.

Walk then knit. Walk then knit.



42 thoughts on “Walk then Knit

  1. Well, yeah. Or find a treadmill/ exercise bike in the classifieds, and walk and knit at once. Easy if it’s small, only one ball at one, and not too fancy.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog! Just so you know, I watched 5 Mile Creek to romanticize Australia! Walk then knit…I have been having these same thoughts. It is freezing here (Ohio) so I have set up my Wii fit and do 30 minutes of exercise before I allow myself to sit.

  3. I like the Walk Then Knit idea! I’ve made steady progress with Weight Watchers online but am not good about the exercise piece. Motivators are always good. Sounds like you’ve found a sensible way of making the whole thing work for you.

  4. Dear Bells, I have been reading knitting blogs since I went to the Craft ACT knit n blog exhibition and discovered them. I especially enjoy reading yours! This time I just had to post a comment and to thank you for a wise blog on important things, such as knitting and WW. I agree with you completely, having lost around 7 kg in about 4 months. I could do better but have decided, this time (have done WW before…) to do it slowly and allow myself to ‘live’. Did you know that knitting actually give you bonus points?! 1 point for 30 minutes knitting, there you go! 🙂 Hope to meet you and other knitters at a SnB this year! Kattan (RAV)

  5. What you say about weight watchers is very true, and I think you have a really sensible solution – the whole being a bad person, denying, and that is all that is thought about is too much. I like your attitude and agree to take what is useful and leave the rest. Congrats on the wieght loss, and on the rewards of knitting.

  6. Ah Bells, you’re wonderful! Here’s a holiday tip: get food poisoning! That happened to me on Christmas Eve day (lunch at a restaurant) and I did just fine the next several days (though I did insist on having a bit of the pumpkin pie anyway). I don’t knit (yet — you’ve inspired me to learn how to knit socks!), but how about Walk then Work? Only I’ve got to get up mighty early to be back before hubby has to go to work and we can’t really leave the kid home alone (or can we…?)

  7. Good on you for making your health and fitness a priority! There is a lot of satisfaction in choosing to look after yourself, and you can be sure that you deserve it.
    I’m with you – generally I cook healthy food from scratch, so I don’t find the idea of WW (or any other version) very appealing. However I put on weight easily, have always been rounded, and I need to make fitness a priority now, before I head down the heart disease path like so many of my relatives. (I’m hearing you Tink!) I’ve picked myself back up off my chair and gotten out a lot more this holidays – last year was long and dark and gloomy and had far too many biscuits and treats and chocolates in it. This year I am re-reading those two books by A.J. Rochester (crikey, if she can sort herself out, what kind of a wuss am I if I don’t at least try??), walking the dogs nearly every morning, taking myself to the gym more regularly, and cutting down on the biscuits and chocolates. Knitting is for evenings, or weekend car trips.
    Your attitude is great, I have every faith in your ability to achieve what, how and when you want to.

  8. That’s a great idea – walk then knit. I do become obsessed with my knitting & sit for hours without moving. Lately, I have been working more on my threadmill & all it need is 30 mins of my knitting time every day.

  9. This sounds like a post I could have written. Last May after gallbladder surgery, I resurrected my old WW Quick Start manual and cookbooks and dived back in. I decided to lose weight to feel better, not to achieve a certain weight number, and with a Wii Fit for early morning workouts, I’m 40# lighter and much fitter. I get lost in the number game at times but then I remind myself that I’m already a winner because I feel so much better. Good for you, Bells. Keep it up.

  10. Really interesting – must be a big city thing – because ours mainly focuses on not eating the second slice of cake, having less cream on your raspberries and refusing the 3rd glass of wine – seriously!

    I find that I run in the early morning – which is not knitting time for me anyway (and it’s light here really early – winter may be an entirely diffferent story.)

    My advice -eat whatever you like – just don’t have seconds! (and I still drink and eat brie and yummy stuff – just a little less of it)
    My motivation was less about vanity (although its there – of course) and more about not being like the rest of my family and dying early of heart attacks!

  11. Years ago when I took Nutrition in college we talked about dieting. You hit on all the things we talked about: cooking for yourself, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and that dieting is more of a lifestyle change than changing the way you eat in the short term. It’s about making small changes you can live with instead of big, radical changes you cant. With so much focus in fashion on being thin no matter the cost, it’s important to remember that not everyone is an size zero. It’s not the norm and most of the human population is not built that way. Dieting is not black and white. If you constantly deny yourself the things you most enjoy, what’s the fun in that? It’s okay to still enjoy the foods and beverages that give you the most pleasure. It sounds like you’re on the right track young lady. You’ve already seen positive change from what you’re doing. Keep it up, be proud of yourself, and any negative voices you may hear will soften.

  12. Wow. This is scary. It’s almost as though you were reading my mind. As I was driving into work this morning, I had this stream of consciousness that went something like, “I should walk more. But if I do, then I won’t have as much knitting time. But if you don’t, then you will keep gaining weight. Remember last Summer how slim you got? You’re right. I need to sacrifice knitting and walk more….” And then I got to work and read your post. Walk before knitting! Congratulations on your already-impressive loss.

  13. Wow. I had never quite processed it until now, but that’s EXACTLY how I have to do it, too – exercise is the “work” that you have to do before the “fun.” (It’s why I shove it in at 5:30 in the morning – to get it out of the way!)

  14. It is all about balance isn’t it. Balancing a heathy way of eating with a healthy amount of exercise and a healthy amount of sitting and knitting. I know this past year I have spent a whole lot of time sitting and I really need to get moving. Like you I have an essentially healthy diet, but portion size is probably my downfall. It’s nice that you are going slowly about your changes they are likely to be more sustainable that way and walking before knitting sounds like a great idea, one I should probably also take up.

  15. losing 9 kg is fantastic! you’ve done amazingly already. it’s not easy, i know. i love your attitude. there’s no doubt that you feel better and more energetic when you’re fit.
    … and i have tried knitting while on an exercise bike, but my arms got tired (not to mention my hands got sweaty)!

  16. Oh I love this post – I can certainly relate to knitting being a shelter and support!

    I have also been losing a bit of weight lately – which has meant giving up some knitting time to go to the gym. The way I see it, being fitter and having fewer sore bits (which is the main reason I have to keep myself moving) is GOOD FOR MY KNITTING! I asked gym-guy and my physio to suggest the right upper body exercises to prevent the whole round shouldered slumpy thing – and now I never have any knitting pain. I’ve also noticed that as my core body strength improves, I think I knit faster. I’m more balanced or something. Finally, I know I just snack (and drink) less if I’m knitting. Busy hands. And mind.

    I may have replaced comfort eating with comfort yarn buying though.

  17. An excellent post lovey. You are doing great with the lifestyle change – which is the way I see it – it’s not really about weight loss or body image, but it’s more about a healthy lifestyle and controlling the impulses which are not good for you. I can’t stand hearing or reading women talking about being thinner or fitting into their skinny jeans – particularly as most of the time, it’s women who are already very attractive and can buy clothes off the rack in sizes much smaller than me. I am glad I don’t have such a negative body image of myself – although I do need to take heed of your walk then knit credo, I can definitely be healthier and fitter.

  18. WW best lessons learnt……….
    1. stir fry vegetables in water – for crisp fresh steamed stir fry vege
    2. when you discover you’ve been craving the same [carbohydratey] thing for days/weeks (mine is weetbix) – its really your body saying “I’m starrrrrrving, give me some of that food stuff”. It really wants nutrients – have some fruit and a berroca!
    3. you dont really taste the sweet-treat after the 2nd/3rd mouthful – so dont go on shoving it in

  19. oh the great healthy eating relationship conundrum, as someone who has watched others struggle and come to terms with other bad relationships (drugs, alcohol,sex) the answer has been quite easy in undertaking a program of total abstinence from the problem. Food is not so easy, total abstinence from food is not possible (though I have heard about spiritual freaks who claim to live on nothing but air).

    So the problem and solution totally lies within the problem and the solution.

    I admire your bravery to talk about the subject and to share your solution.

    PS: today I learnt that Jenny Craig is a Nestle company, interesting.

  20. Sounds very positive and I love that you are using Knitting as a reward!! Though I love school, I am only good if I am in charge of the classroom. Walking is great, I can’t do the 10,000 steps a day, but I am very lucky because Labradors’ sad eyes are a great impetus to walk!! Keep up the great work.

  21. Great post on a tricky topic! I feel sure your measured, slowly approach will reap the most benefits long term and well done for the pounds you have shifted.

  22. I began writing a comment many times, but I cannot seem to put my thoughts down in english today, so I just want to say that I hope you find a way to be happier with your self and your body.

    /Julia – have now lost 33 pounds – and many more to go!

  23. Your WW experience is similar to mine, Bells. I remember feeling like I didn’t have much in common with the other women at the meeting. Many of the topics focused on not going to KFC, cooking your own food, and “putting yourself first.” But I already did all those things! It seemed so focused on the idea that we were all working mums.

    However, I did respond well to the group setting and the “school environment,” and consequently the whole experience turned into one of competition and game-playing for me. I did well on Weight Watchers because it was a system with rules and I became obsessed with beating it. I became the Hermione Granger of our group. The problem was that once I hit a stumbling block (a long bout of illness), I didn’t want to play anymore. And I hadn’t actually changed some of the underlying behaviours (emotional eating, etc) that I had buried in my quest to win. I put the weight back on.

    The funny thing is that I still think Weight Watchers was useful for me. I know now that I can lose weight, and I know what it takes. For me, it takes strict portion control, diligent recording, and daily self-denial. When I do those things, I get a bit obsessed. That’s the trade-off that I have to make. And you know what? I’ve decided that it’s not worth it right now. I’m happy where I am. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I did even when I got to Goal. I exercise now because I want to be fit, not because it’ll get me a gold star at the next meeting. I think we all just have to find the place where we feel happy and love ourselves, no matter what size we are.

  24. I think you’re approaching the entire thing very smartly. The fact that you’re goal has to do with how you feel (energetic vs. slothful) more than how you look or what the scale says is a good indicator that you’re not going to pack it all in.

    In the US, they have sock knitting bags that clip to your clothes, so you can knit while you walk on the street or on the treadmill. Have you considered trying one of them?

  25. *applauds*

    I’ll take a walk then knit button. It’s what I’ve been doing here. And having gone completely vegetarian now that I’m home… it’s been an interesting change in diet. I don’t believe in things like WW, but then, I’ve been lucky to not need to. But if we can all be a little more healthy and train our brains to think of knitting as a reward, not a security blanket, then that’s got to be a good thing, right?

    So here, here. Fantastic post!

  26. Your post was very stimulating, it is so how I think about it too. Esp. “I just have some bad habits wrapped up in what is essentially a healthy lifestyle” sounds just like me. And just like you, I use knitting for a rather sedate life: I have to finish this by … Why!? I don’t have to finish anything, really, not for me, not for any other.
    Very well written. I’ll start walking today too 🙂

  27. Small, sustainable changes are so much better than Lifestyle overhauls. I’m working on it. Slowly. I just would like to be able to climb steps and not be out of breath, and to ride my bike further than a mile. Not great big things, just small goals.

  28. I. Love. This. Post!!! Thank you so much for saying what I’ve been thinking. And I’ve been having the same guilty feelings about needing to exercise vs. wanting to spend that rare moment of free time with a set of needles (or my Kindle) in my hand. You’ve given me my new mantra. Walk, then knit. Walk, then read. Easy peasy! And so much easier to do with a friend. You’re fabulous Bells!

  29. A very well considered post on a very difficult issue. I can’t stand weight loss blogs, and if ever I need confirmation that fat is a feminist issue I only need to go to a ww meeting because they often are as you describe. But like you, I’m aiming for balance, or at least more energy out than in and you really are doing great! And taking the dogs out this morning means I can now sit and knit. Yay!

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