Did you ever have a day when you just feel bleuch? You look in the mirror and you don’t like how your clothes fit, how your hair is sitting or basically anything about your appearance? I am willing to bet you have. Even people who have sky high confidence and positive body image can have these sorts of speed wobbles.
Last week, I experienced this very thing. It was the Tuesday after the Easter weekend. Between having a bit too much to each and drink over the bank holiday and having missed a couple of weeks of training due to illness, I just felt like a whale blob.
I looked in the mirror getting ready for work and struggled to find one thing I was happy with. Panic started to set in. It was a little over three weeks until I would be setting off on a sun holiday. You know what that means. Bikinis (or any swimwear,) shorts, little dresses etc. etc. How could I feel happy and confident baring all, when even my office attire wasn’t doing the job?
Realistically I knew that even the most extreme diet and training program wasn’t going to bring about any sort of “transformation” in such a short period of time. But this was no time for realism, I was spiraling. Instead of looking forward to the holiday that has been booked for almost a year, and that I have saved for, I began to dread it.
I started to berate myself. Why hadn’t I tried harder to lose weight? Why hadn’t I cut out alcohol, tracked calories and done all the myriad other things which I know would have helped me look slim and slinky on the beach? Why, why, why! By the time I was driving home from work that evening, I was that upset, I was ready to cancel the whole thing!
But then, some little things happened. I went to teach my Zumba class and I had a few minutes alone before the ladies got there. Time enough for me to practice some gymnastic movements I have been struggling with. Weirdly, they felt easier than usual. Then I did my 50 burpees that were part of my April challenge. By the time the girls arrived, I was glowing and energized. The class was awesome, and when I got home that night I felt a renewed sense of positivity about my body. Maybe my body didn’t look the way I wanted it to, but damn, it could do some pretty amazing things.
These little dominoes continued to fall as the week progressed. I got back into the gym and felt more and more like myself each day. I even tried, and loved indoor rock climbing. Truly terrifying for someone who isn’t a fan of heights! Towards the end of the week I was getting dressed in front of the same mirror. The girl reflected in the glass hadn’t changed, but how I felt about her had started to.
The thing is, how we see ourselves is never objective. It is coloured by every single thing going on in our world. When we are down because we have been sick, or haven’t slept well, we project that negativity on to the image before us. The opposite is also true. When we feel happy and confident, we find it easier to see something we like in the image before us. In short, we lie!
I have struggled with body image for as long as I can remember. It’s not as much of an issue as it once was for me, but the little gremlins are still there. Lying in wait. Sensing the perfect opportunity, when my defenses are down, to slink out of the shadows and undermine me. Theirs are the voices who say “you’re too fat for the beach,” or “you should have lost 20lbs by now.”
I may never be able to silence these monsters completely. However, each workout I do, healthy meal I eat, relationship I nurture helps keep them at bay. Every hour I spend in my therapist’s comfy armchair, puts another layer of sound proofing between them and me. My body is so much more than how it looks, and so is yours.
Any of you who regularly read this blog will know that the last 12 months have been tumultuous to say the least. When I take a step back and think about it, I feel should congratulate myself for doing as well as I have in the circumstances. Even though, I will admit it feels extremely uncomfortable to write that.
The first part of 2019 for me has been a season of preparation. I have been getting to grips with a new and challenging job. Getting used to commuting again, which I hadn’t been doing for 3 years. Perhaps most importantly I have been putting a lot of work into my mental health. If, as the song says, there is a time to reap and a time to sow, perhaps this has been a time of tilling the earth. Doing the heavy lifting so that what gets planted in the coming seasons has a chance to bloom.
Truthfully, I do wish I was a bit closer to my fighting weight heading away, but there’s no point in crying over it now. If I keep beating myself up over not reaching some arbitrary weight, it will only serve to make me miserable and ruin my holiday.
This holiday will come and go, but my overall health goals will remain. A week in the sunshine, relaxing and reflecting will serve to help me focus on my return. I think we sometimes look at holidays and events as finish lines. We can think to ourselves “I didn’t reach my goal by that deadline, so there’s no point to keep going.” More lies.
A good friend of mine talks a lot about peaks and valleys. Often it is only in hindsight that we gain the perspective to tell the difference between the two. With my training and nutrition this year it has been very much 1 step forward and 2 steps back. But imagine where I would be if I hadn’t kept at least trying to move forward.
I look forward seeing what the next season will bring. I hope that it will be a period of calm which will allow me to get dial things in. However, if it doesn’t pan out that way, I will roll with the punches. If the past while has taught me anything it is that I am more resilient than I once thought! Be well xxx