This week, my husband and I are heading off on a long overdue holiday. We will be married five years in November, and this is our first trip abroad since our honeymoon. We are heading to Portugal, and I genuinely can’t wait. Normally, in the days and weeks before going away, I would be frantically researching everything from the cultural hot spots to the cuisine. The past few months have been so hectic, however, that I really haven’t had an opportunity. What is even more peculiar is that I really don’t care. I am so looking forward to just taking some time out. I am excited about lying in the sun (hopefully,) sipping Super Boc and eating Piri Piri chicken. I may also indulge in my latest guilty pleasure, listening to true crime Pod Casts.
When we booked this trip, back in January, my plan was to lose about 3kgs before jetting off. That didn’t happen. Between weddings, celebrating my new job, and fretting over my sick doggy, I simply haven’t had the time, energy or inclination a serious cut requires. I was expecting to feel disappointed about this. I mean, nobody wants to be going on vacation with excess baggage after all, but to be honest, I don’t really mind. This has surprised me a lot. Looking back on pretty much every major occasion in my life to date, my weight was always a serious concern. Something has definitely changed, and it isn’t the number on the scale.
A couple of weeks ago, I did something I haven’t done in over 15 years. I bought, and fully intend to wear, a couple of bikinis. Yes, I will admit trying them on was approached with a degree of trepidation. I knew I probably wasn’t going to love what I saw in the dressing room mirror. However, it wasn’t as terrible as I had feared. I found a few that weren’t absolutely awful and managed to complete my purchases without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow! Yes, I am sure I will feel self conscious when I brave the bikini for the first time, but I think the extra vitamin D will be worth it. Plus it means I won’t have to wrangle myself out of a damp swimsuit every time I need to pee!
Maybe it’s because I am getting older, or perhaps I am gaining a little in confidence, but I don’t seem to be as bothered as I once was about how my body is perceived. As I said, for 15 years, I wouldn’t have dreamed of donning a bikini. This brings me to the realisation that for all of my 20’s and half of my 30’s I was body shaming myself! Because the truth is, nobody else gave a second thought about my choice of swimwear. I am not that important. For a decade and a half, I let my negative thoughts about my body hold me back. Not only did it stop me from participating in certain things, but it actually made me feel guilty for enjoying myself. Every bite of cake or fruity cocktail needed to be earned or absolved. I over analysed every situation so much that it took the fun out of everything. There were so many things which should have been celebrated and weren’t. I won’t get a do over for those, the opportunity has passed, but now I make it my business to celebrate every damn thing!
Last weekend I celebrated my best friends wedding. She and I have been through so much together during our 20 year friendship. I was incredibly proud and privileged to stand beside her on her big day. I have been looking at all the photos her guests have been posting on social media over the past couple of days. All I can see is how happy we all look and how beautiful a day it was. For once, I am not fixated on finding flaws with myself. I am not obsessing over how fat my arms are, or how many chins I have. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating is. I feel like I have set myself free to be happy and to enjoy my life, now, not in 3kgs time!
This isn’t to say I never intend to lose any more weight. I have just shifted the focus. It isn’t the most important thing to me anymore and it will not determine my happiness. While I wouldn’t say that 2018 has been a terrible year so far, I would admit that it has been very full on, and at times it has been challenging! With my new job starting in a couple of weeks, it doesn’t look set to ease off any time soon. With this is mind, I am determined to make the most of my week away. We have worked damn hard to make it happen and I am not going to let anyone, least of all myself, ruin it for us.
For many years, I was a deeply unhappy girl. I used to think it was because I didn’t look the way I wanted to. Lately, I have started to think that far from being the cause of my problems, the weight was merely a convenient scapegoat. Assuring myself that I would be happy if I just lost x more kilos, saved me from having to address what was really going on. I weigh exactly the same today as I did on my wedding day in 2013, but I am a totally different woman. I laugh more easily. I love more deeply. I see joy everywhere and none of that has the slightest thing to do with my weight.
I have made a vow to myself that I will not leave it so long between breaks ever again. This could prove easier said than done, as sadly these things are not always within our control, but we can try. We can learn to recognise when we need to pause. We can identify the feeling of needing to breathe. We can accept help when it is offered and ask for it when necessary. But, most importantly, we can celebrate!! Be well xx