Its the month before Christmas... its that time between summer cocktails and work party canapes. Generally November is the month that we all quit drinking and we eat chicken and broccoli ready for the Christmas over indulgence that we know comes our way as soon as the second week of December hits.
The start of this year, as the pounds piled on after last years yorkshire puddings and cheese boards galore, I decided that 2014 was going to be the year that I got my body (inside and out) into the best shape it can be, for me. I have talked about 'feeling fat' in a post before, and the food issues that relate to our body image. I hold my hands up and admit that 'yup... I am in a large handful of people that find being kind to my body difficult.
When I was younger I was quite chunky. I looked a little like the honey monster. (I was cute) I was larger than my class mates. Funnily enough, I didn't really notice. I was young, no one really cared. Least of all me. Thats what I remembered anyway. But as this journey this year continues I have been thinking about the psychology behind my eating habits and my thought process's behind my body image perceptions.
I suddenly remembered going into Tammy Girl, aged ten, and being upset because I wanted to buy denim shorts and crop tops like my class mates. I put them on and felt horrible for a split second. Jump forward four years and I was around the pool in Greece and there was a group of sixteen year old girls. There was this one particular girl who wore a teeny black thong bikini and I remember that same feeling as being in Tammy Girl, and all I could think was 'I want to be teeny like her' These thoughts when I was younger, came every so often. I can recall those times and count them on one hand...
Until I was a little bit older and it became a habit for me to 'not feel comfortable in my own skin.' Thats the only way i can describe it. Since puberty I have never been overweight. I headed to secondary school, without a concern in the world about my weight or how I looked. But the years went by, my friends all wore hipster jeans from Miss Sixty, jeans that wouldn't fit me the same and through out those years my weight became a number I would focus on. In the three months leading to my 16th birthday I decided to loose the chub I felt I had put on since drinking Bacardi Breezers on the common with all our friends (friends that didn't put on any chub). I stopped drinking at weekends and instead of pizza with baked beans on and crisps and chocolate for lunch, I would have a sandwich and be done with it. My dinners would consist of a healthy pasta dish, and I lost weight. (It was as easy as that when we were young) On my 16th birthday I had lost a stone and I felt amazing. I looked like my natural weight.(whatever that meant) Basically, I felt comfortable in my own skin.
From this exact moment on, my life was going to be a constant yo yo. I would alternate a stone at a time. I would spend 6 months loosing a stone, be at my comfortable weight for two months and then the weight would creep back on. I would stay there for a while. Eating crisps for breakfast and Macdonalds twice a week until I felt too sluggish and too horrible to continue and then the cycle would begin again. This went on for the next thirteen years. And it pains me to admit that this would consume so much of my energy. That I would be forever in a battle with myself over such a (ridiculous) notion.
Food for me is joyful. It means happiness and indulgence. It means family time or meet ups with friends. Food signifies togetherness and contentment. So, to get comfortable in my own skin, I felt I had to restrict food, which meant I was missing out on the joy and the togetherness. 'Dieting' as I used to call it, always ended up being such a depressing time for me. So I associated eating healthy with being miserable.
After thirteen years of this mental battle with myself, I came to the conclusion that life was too short. It was too short to battle all of the time. To constantly be feeling guilt for a burger I ate or the exercise I didn't do. It was too short to only eat kale and wallow in my low calorie filled day. Life was too short for all the crappy perceptions that came with eating too much, not eating enough, not fitting into my fav dress or trying to always fit into that one particular dress, or fitting into it for one week only and then spending months feeling horrific because I no longer fitted into it.
I started to really ask myself what it is that I wanted. Was it the tight petite little body that fitted into denim shorts and a crop top? Was it that I wanted to eat as much as Sally, who could eat a bacon sarnie, a Big Mac and a full on roast with all the trimming, have cheesecake twice a day and not put on weight? Did I just want to go a day, one single day without thinking about my body or food intake. I wanted it all.The stark realisation was that, one, I would have to not only exercise my body, but exercise my mind as well, if I wanted to feel comfy in shorts and a crop top and two, that a diet of roasts and bacon sarnies everyday may kill me. But, were all possible. YES. My dad always says:
'There is always a solution to everything, you just might not like that solution'
But the solution IS NOT crash dieting. It is not starving yourself one minute and binging the next. It is not eating no more than 1200 calories, it is not deciding to only wear baggy clothes to hide your body. The solution was consistency. Its the one thing that has changed the thirteen years of bad habits. I consistently started being kind to my body. That meant, telling myself nice things when I looked in the mirror. That meant not stuffing junk down my throat because I would panic the food would run out. That meant getting my metabolic rate faster, my energy up, my routine in tact. It also meant eating Haagen Daz if I desired it. Having a starter if I felt like it. Being consistently kind to my body meant a mixture of things. Exercise being at the forefront. Exercising my thought patterns and my perceptions were the hardest challenge of them all. Squats, Pah... I got those down, but working out my food issues and working on changing those thoughts, that was the hardest and still is the hardest things I have had to do on this journey.
I got out of bed in January 2014 and thought, I am not going to do this yoyoing milarky anymore, I am going to make exercise a part of my life, the same way brushing my teeth is, and I am going to consistently eat well. Because as I approach the dirty thirties, I realise, life is too too short. To be unhealthy. In mind body and soul. So after a lot of trial and error of what works for me, I found a 30 minute exercise regime that fitted into my day, anywhere, any-time, and I started to eat more fresh whole foods, in a bid to cut the processed junk out. I made a promise to not cut out any food groups along the way. To know that anything was and is available for me to eat. And I promised to not starve or binge again.
I am not perfect, far from it. I still have days where I don't want to work out. Or days where I think I just want to eat pizza and Haribo all day. There are days I slip and days I think horrible thoughts about my body. I am human. I am a woman, which means once a month the whole world seems odd. But, each day I continue to try at least to not be so hard on myself about these days above.
Ten months later... here I am. Still on my journey and still practising the balance. That's what it is. It doesn't just become easy to have a balanced lifestyle if that isn't what you are used to. Its not something that just happened to me one day. It was one day at a time, it still is. I focus on the now. I don't beat myself up for the burger I had yesterday and I don't worry about the cake I might have later. In every moment I make a choice as it comes. But I have created a habit.
So as November rolls on... why not create habits for yourself. Go check out
where myself and two lovely ladies have put together a November challenge to try and help you get into a routine. Go have a read. I'm finding it really helpful too.
As Kayla Itsines says... (a Personal trainer I admire) "It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger"