Because I’m super-cool (that’s a lie) and super-popular (another lie), I’ve had a very busy few weeks. I’ve been to Global Gathering, and I’ve been to leaving parties, birthday parties and just plain old regular parties.
And you know what all these things have in common?
Booze. Lots of it.
Now, I’m a lightweight at the best of times, and I’m not one for the “go hard or go home” mentality. Usually. I have horrific, world-and-soul-destroying hangovers, too – so I’m not usually a big drinker. I don’t exclude alcohol from my diet – but it’s usually just a glass of wine or two from time to time.
The last few weeks, though, have seen me puddled on more than one occasion. And when I say puddled – I spent half of Global Gathering dressed like this, which should demonstrate just how much alcohol was consumed to make that seem like a good idea:
Personally, I think I pulled it off. But, you know, it’s not something I’d wear every day. And yes, if you’re wondering, that is a drawn-on curly moustache. Whatever.
Anyway, that meant when it was time for my body composition test, I was a bit nervous. I’d mentally prepared myself for a bad result, because – even though I’d been doing everything else right – I know drinking excessively is bad. And when it first came up, I beat myself up. I even wrote a whole blog called ‘Why Drinking Too Much Ruins Everything’ beating myself up, because it’d been two weeks and I hadn’t achieved anything.
But I didn’t post it right away.
I thought about it, and then I emailed it to Matt to ask him if he could input anything about the evils of alcohol. And then I went off and stewed in a burning, fiery anger pit of hell fury for a bit. As you do.
He mulled it over, and then saved the day. I guess that’s how he rolls, what with being all about wellbeing and the like.
He pointed out that I keep saying, over and over again, that I’m not writing a weight loss blog. I’m writing a lifestyle blog. A happiness blog. You know the drill. And yet, on the occasion I don’t lose any weight, but I do have a damn good time living the party lifestyle – and, significantly, I don’t gain any weight – I beat myself up about it. Hard. This makes me a hypocrite of epic proportions.
I’d allowed myself to fall into the trap – the evil trap – that makes programmes like Weight Watchers, Slimming World, etc. suck. I’d equated not losing weight with failure, and I’d let my self-esteem take the hit. And so, I’d furiously pounded away on a treadmill, pouting and huffing, then come home and thrown my toys out of the pram by beating the living daylights out of myself on here.
When actually, I should know better than that. Because think about it – I spent two weeks drinking, dancing, and living life very much to the full… And I maintained my weight loss. I didn’t gain anything, despite partying in a way I haven’t done since I was living in undergrad halls. Part of the reason people don’t go on diets is because they’re afraid that they won’t be able to live their lives like they want to, because they’re constantly depriving themselves. And if I’d done that on another diet – a fad diet, for instance, which doesn’t allow room for living a real life – I’d have gained weight. And I’d probably have found it considerably harder to lose it again as a result.
What’s actually happened is I’ve reached a point where I can have a damn good time – a better time, in fact, because I’m healthy enough to really enjoy things like Global Gathering – and yet my lifestyle has become second nature. I’ve got a lid on it enough to be able to take a break for life to get in the way, for a bit, without destroying all my hard work. And now my social calendar’s looking a little less crazy, I can pick up where I left off, and continue to lose fat and gain muscle – and continue being happy. I’m not advocating binge drinking, or drinking to a ridiculous point – I don’t drink until I throw up, or pass out, or anything like that. But because I’m not denying myself anything, it feels like it’s my choice – and frankly, I’m quite looking forward to a few weeks without drinking, because I am not a girl that deals well with a hangover. But it’s a damn good feeling to have the option to have one from time to time, if I feel so inclined.
However, this ‘no weight loss = self-flagellation’ thing really is an insidious piece of work. I know a lot of people will have experienced it, and I understand why diets fail as a result – because, as you’ve no doubt figured out by now, I’m pretty positive on the body image front. And I’m used to this weight loss thing taking a long time. I’m also well aware that this is Not. Just. About. Weight. Loss. So if I can be so discouraged by a lack of movement on the scales – a lack of movement that really, I ought to be considering as a positive thing – then it must be really, really hard when you don’t have an over-inflated sense of self-confidence that makes you think you look something like a cross between Christina Hendricks and Beyonce when the lighting’s at the right angle.
To me, it really illustrates the point that, no matter where you are in your journey – be that to weight loss, to confidence, to happiness – you have to surround yourself with positive things, and you have to keep reinforcing them. You have to step away from the god damned number on those evil, sneaky little scales, and remind yourself that you are doing this for your long-term health – but also, that you’re human. You’re supposed to be living. Spend your whole life on a diet, and you’ll probably end up being a very boring pensioner. I’d rather go to my grave with some good stories, some great memories, and no regrets – and, as it turns out, these things and my health aren’t mutually exclusive. Half the joy of a healthy lifestyle is the fact that it makes you enjoy unhealthy treats for what they are – and if life isn’t about pleasure, it ain’t something I’m interested in living.
I raise my glass to your health, guys. Bottoms up!