When I was fat – or fatter, given the enormous chunk of birthday cake I unashamedly devoured at the weekend for my sister’s 21st that I’m pretty sure weighed at least 10lbs and may have single-handedly given me diabetes - I was still… Me. I was still a mind inhabiting a body – and so you’d think I’d be the same person now.
And to a point, that’s true. I’m still me, who still can’t watch The Little Mermaid without crying at the end; who categorically cannot read a map, even if it’s of the place I’ve lived for over a decade; who likes nothing better than to get a really, ridiculously early night but also rather likes to stay up all night dancing from time to time - all those things are still the case.
But I’d say the ways I’ve changed over the last few years have meant that, as much as I’d like to say I’m the same person, I’m not. I’m definitely different now. Physically, of course – and don’t worry, I’ve got my clothes on this time:
That’s March 2011 to October 2012 – woohoo! Anyway, along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself - both good and bad. I know I am very, very easily swayed when it comes to sacking off a trip to the gym, for instance. I have to stay on top of myself and keep reminding myself of the end goal, because at the drop of a hat (or a dark winter’s night – and there’s a few of those coming up) I can very easily find myself spending a little more time in my PJs than is appropriate.
I also know I have a severe, severe weakness for sweet things at a certain time of the month. Times like that, there are no amount of sickly sweet carbohydrates in the whole wide world that can satisfy my food lust. I know this. Oh, and I also know that when I have busy periods of social events where I’ll be drinking, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll not lose any weight. Booze calories cling to me like sticky toffee to a pudding. C’est la vie.
I could sit here and look at those things, and think “well, that makes me a failure. Might as well give up.” And I could get myself all squidgy again.
Or, I could look at things in a different way. I find it tricky to make myself hit the gym when it’s cold and rainy, yes – but the fact that I still do go despite that, 90% of the time shows that I’m strong, motivated, and I’ve got some kick ass will power reserves at my disposal.
And yes, once a month, I will eat chocolate, cake, or whatever it is I’m really craving to make myself feel better. But it’s just once a month, and because I know myself well enough to let that be as far as it goes, I don’t ever let myself regret it. Same with the drinking. Sometimes, you’ve just got to have a little bit of what you fancy, because let’s face it – a world without those small pleasures isn’t a world I want to live in. It’s about living, rather than just getting by.
Making a mental switcheroo to make the bad things good can make all the difference in helping you to achieve your goals – because if you can forgive yourself for your faults, and let go of your flaws, you can devote more time and energy to making yourself healthy and happy. That’s a much better way to spend your time than beating yourself up for the occasional slip-up.
Plus, a positive attitude to the things associated with a healthy lifestyle – working out, for instance, or eating your greens – will pay off in a big way, long-term. Not only will it make it easier to build up the motivation you need to get off your butt, or to make a healthy meal, but it’ll retrain your brain to associate these things with good feelings, and good times.
Positive thinking, I think, has been a really important factor in helping me lose this weight. When I was overweight, I was miserable – but when I started feeling better about myself, my life, my habits and my activities, my positive attitude started to snowball. Soon enough, it became second nature – and one day, I realised I was happy. Really happy.
Yes, the weight I’ve lost has been a massive, massive thrill, and I’m very pleased with how far I’ve come – but more than that, finding myself happy has been the real achievement. When you change your thinking, and make the decision that you want, deserve, and can have a happy, fulfilling life – as opposed to a diet mindset that says “I’m fat so I don’t deserve to be happy (or have chocolate)” - you create for yourself the opportunity to make that happen.
There is nothing in the world that can stop you making that decision for yourself. Nothing at all. And once you’ve made that decision, and changed your attitude, it’s completely achievable just as long as you keep reminding yourself that good health, and happiness, is something you absolutely deserve. This whole lifestyle business is about wellbeing, and it’s about making the most of your life – so change your thinking, and I absolutely guarantee that you’ll be able to change your life… And still eat cake.
Oh yeah. I’m that good.