I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. I was a chubby kid, bullied in primary for being precociously rotund. In secondary I decided to do something about it and went on a crazy starvation mars bar diet, so I spent my later teens as a size 8-10, at one point owning size 6 jeans, but of course utterly convinced I was still disgusting because I didn’t have a thigh gap!
I worked in the Charity sector for nearly twenty years and struggled with my weight the whole time. As a result I was regularly signing up for random physical challenges, hoping that combined with Weight Watchers or Slimming World or whatever diet I was on at the time, that they might really help me conquer my lardy tendencies once and for all.
At 34, whilst training for the London Marathon, I was doing 5 runs a week, a least two of which would have been over an hour long. Running from Canary Wharf to Brixton (9 miles) at least twice a week on my way home carrying a rucksack of my laptop and work clothes. I was also living on 1200 calories a day and skipping dinner when drinking. I know that’s not healthy or sustainable. But importantly I lost 7lb. On race day I was 12 stone 7lb which was the lightest I’d been in my 30s! So that felt like progress but I was still desperate to get below a size 12. It felt like as I got older the chance of being less than a size 12 was getting slimmer and I wasn’t! It always felt like I was working harder and harder and seeing less postive change.
Likewise, in my role as a Communications Manager, I was feeling that I was working harder and harder to stay still. That aspects of my job were sabotaging my health, my weight and my wellbeing without my even realising.
The 9-5. Sitting at a desk for 9 plus hours a day creates an extremely sedentary lifestyle, burning few calories for the majority of your waking hours, and in my case being far too near the office kitchen!
Working with charity types, believe me there’s too often nibbles available, people who bring in cake for any occassion, over catered meetings filling the kitchen with Pret a Manger at 3 pm. These people do not believe in throwing away food and I merrily chomped on anything left within 6 foot!
The 9-5 by it’s vary nature constricts us, but as my dissatisfaction with the charity world, office culture, presenteeism, and various toxic bosses grew it became even more poisonous for my health and wellbeing. The more I hated the constraints of my work the more I ‘deserved’ rewards like chocolate in the day and wine in the evening. The harder I found faking my interest in whatever cause I was working for the more energy it took leaving me with less and less for exercise and fitness.
The very act of dragging my miserable self to an office by something obscene like 9 am or worse with a reasonable length commute meant I’d often be having a second breakfast by 9 am and having finished my lunch by 12.06! It was no surprise that my weight was out of control and frankly the mental health impact of feeling constantly out of control, unattractive, unhealthy etc was starting to create a negative spiral.
So how did I change things up, lose weight and get happy?
In 2017 I began my Airbnb journey with a small one bedroom flat. It soon became my dream to be a full time hostess, quitting the commute, ditching the frumpy office frocks and setting my own hours felt like it would suit me. I spent two years balancing work and my Airbnb. In one role three days a week was a good balance but that ended just as I was making the next step in my journey. I’d found another bigger proproperty which seemed an ideal Airbnb, and so I took on a full time post to get the mortgage arranged and completed on the Gatehouse in November 2019.
Running two Airbnb’s where one is large enough to sleep upto 15 people was a massive shift. Suddenly, my office was my car – something I’d only recently aquired! My schedule was my own but the fact of the matter is cleaning two properties top to bottom upto 6 times a week is a huge amount of physical activity. Without trying very hard I found weight dropping off. I’m around 10 st 7 lb today. I’ve hovered between 10 5 and 10 10 with relative ease since November 2019 and the best bit is I don’t even really have to hit the gym. I can easily hit 30,000 steps just making beds, cleaning and preparing my place for my guests.
Becoming self-employed just before a pandemic isn’t without it’s worries and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them in future, but right now not having to get out of bed till 9 am, having my mornings free completely and working 12-6 on average 3-4 times a week whilst hosting happy holidays and trips and being so active in my work has truly helped me find my zen. I’m 41 and I’m the fittest I’ve been in my life, I’m the slimest I’ve been in over a decade and I’m the happiest in work I’ve ever been. If you’re resenting sitting at a desk barely moving and often not even thinking I highly recommend it!