It takes bravery to change. To admit that what you are doing isn’t working and to seek something better. In order to transform, something has to die. The old ways have to go.
The caterpillar cocoons itself into a chrysalis and dies in that form, shedding its skin to become a butterfly. For the emerging butterfly, blood is spilled as it cracks open the cocoon to spread its wings. The struggle is necessary for it to become what it is truly meant to be. Don’t be afraid of your struggle. Own it.
I have had a struggle with my weight spanning 30 years but this struggle has never taken the same form. Only in retrospect can I see the various ways I have battled with my weight. First I was in denial. Didn’t want to acknowledge that I was overweight. Like a child covering her ears and shouting “La la la” to drown out what she doesn’t want to hear. I was in denial for a long time. In my mind, if I admitted that I was bigger than my peers this would make me different. I didn’t want to be different, I wanted to belong. Later on when I was less afraid of standing out, I didn’t want to admit I was bigger than my peers as that would make me ‘wrong’, ‘substandard’, ‘less than’ everyone else. Of course this isn’t the case but it is what I thought. Who wants to be less than everyone else? So I remained in denial.
I was fat and happy. The bubbly one, the first on a dance floor. The one who would make the group laugh, so I could direct the laughter and ensure it wasn’t at me. So outwardly confident. Yet so inwardly lacking.
After denial came criticism. I realised I had a problem. Why did I let myself get overweight? Why had I got no control? Look at my tummy – I looked pregnant even though at this stage I had not been pregnant. I was down on myself.
Then I started bargaining. I recognised I had a problem but would try to make the reality seem better than it was. I told myself I’d ‘be good’ all week then have what I wanted at a weekend. Or I’d tell myself “I have too much going on at the moment to join a slimming group, maybe after my exams, my holidays, my pregnancy, next summer, after Christmas, when I’ve finished all the Easter eggs, later, later later.” I’d look for short term ways to get the long term results I wanted. Do an extreme diet plan to shift a stone before my holiday, or join a gym and go 7 times a week until I inevitably burn out 2 weeks later. These extremes never work – or at least they don’t for me. To get long term results you have to change your ways, nurture new habits, and keep doing them – even when things get tough.
But I wasn’t in it for the long term at that time – I wanted to be slim ‘now’. But I wasn’t and I slipped into depression. I had no energy, I felt worthless, I was unhappy in my career. This was at a time in my life when I was planning my wedding to my childhood sweetheart. Planning the happiest day of my life, but at the wedding fairs we went to in organising the wedding I didn’t want to speak to anyone, to have any stall holders try to ask me questions, I didn’t want to engage, I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to be married so much, but it was about me and him – not the wedding favours or the flowers. I couldn’t care less about all that. My wedding was lovely and I’m happy with my memories and my photos of the day, but if it could have come without all the fuss, that would have suited me just fine!
Happily married and re-located back to our home town, I was feeling content. I entered an acceptance stage of my weight struggles: reflective, positive, and non-judgemental. Beating myself up for being overweight wasn’t going to change anything, love and acceptance was. Self care became important, going to the gym or for a run because I liked the way it made me feel, rather than to punish myself for what I’d eaten. I had my beautiful babies and loved being pregnant. My first pregnancy empowered me. For the first time I felt like I had the best reason in the world for having a large tummy! I loved how firm it felt, whereas before there was just flab. Of course after the baby arrived it went back to the way it had been before, but this time I accepted it. My body had just done the most amazing thing – it had created and was nurturing a life. A whole person! I had a newfound love for my body and what miracles it was capable of. I became strong.
I am these days, loving my body. I am not yet at the size or weight that I want to eventually be, but I am enjoying myself whilst I get there. I do dance aerobics and drink lemon tea – because I want to! The fact that they are both good for me is a bonus! I have a repertoire of slimming recipes that I can make and enjoy eating. I do have the occasional blowout but when I do, I keep it firmly in the past and don’t berate myself for it.
It will take time to reach my goal weight but I will get there in the end. In life there is no ‘plan B’. I will keep plodding along this path, chipping away at my weight bit by bit until one day I have a masterpiece.
If you are struggling with your weight, know that it takes bravery to change. You have to dig deep and be strong but you do have those reserves in you. You just have to find them. Dare to dream and good luck. Let me know how you get on.