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Where Do You Find Your Inspiration?

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I was so, ridiculously cheerful earlier this week that it was almost embarrassing. Honestly, even pre-coffee, I’m pretty sure I had Disney-style bluebirds flying around, singing happy songs about how beautiful the weather is. Even though it’s been raining.

Yes, that cheery.

I know. It’s gross. But I just can’t help it. I’m happy. And it’s all your fault.

I’ve also had a number of emails, tweets, messages and comments of late from people who’ve been reading the blog, and who’ve gone out and lost weight, or changed their attitudes, because of what they’ve read here. I cannot possibly explain how much that blows my mind. Seriously. I’m still amazed anyone’s reading this at all, so… Wow. Just. Wow.

So I just wanted to take a quick moment to give everyone here a high-five for massively, massively cheering me up and inspiring me a heck of a lot after a very busy month. You all rock.

Shout outs go to:

1) Everyone who commented on Matt’s guest post, in particular AG, who put what I think in clearer terms than I ever could:

This blog has been a welcome refuge. Thank you, both of you, for the work you do to demonstrate the importance of nutrition, wellness, and emotional growth. Thank you for confirming that “mistakes” don’t mean failure, and that “success” is little more than a day lived with joy and intention and self-possession.

Because that, for me, is what is missing most from weight-loss messages. It’s not just about measurements — it’s about taking ownership of our whole self. This includes an understanding of how food is transubstantiated into flesh (and, often, emotional memory). It necessitates learning how we move through the world. And most of all, it means accepting our bodies as an extension of our wellbeing, not a symptom of our failure or an opponent of reform.

Might have got a little bit emotional when I read that. No judging.

2) Some of my favourite tweeps in the world: @emotionalcynic – she is a source of boundless enthusiasm and downright awesomeness. She gets me motivated to go to circuits, which on a chilly night like lasts night is no mean feat. And @ladykalahost, who is a real sweetheart with fantastic advice in the event of a cold!

3) The very lovely Becky, who I met for the first time at the gym this week – she’s been following the programme and just lost 5lbs of fat in a fortnight. ‘Atta girl! Not only that, but on her treadmill at home she’s mastered the art of walking and playing computer games, which makes her – officially – my hero.

4) Ricky, who’s lost more than a stone in just over a month, and will soon be giving Daniel Craig (or Fred Flinstone, apparently) a run for his money.

5) The two amazing twitter people in this interchange (whose names I’ve taken out, just in case they don’t want me broadcasting it!)

BOOM. Mind blown.

These are just a few of the amazing people I’ve encountered since starting the blog. I can’t include them all because this would start being like an over-long Oscars speech – but honestly, I will never stop being amazed by how great you all are. Seriously. And keep sending me your successes and victories, because the thing is - you’re making it so much easier for me to stay inspired and on track.

Ironically, when you’re first starting on a weight loss journey – or indeed any self-improvement, of any kind – it can seem kind of… lonely. It takes a long time to find the things that’ll help you to keep on the straight and narrow, because inspiration is a very personal thing. What inspires you might seem cheesy, or boring, or hard to relate to, for the next person – so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ element to it.

Personally, I watched a lot of TV shows about weight loss, and read books, magazines and pretty much everything I could get my hands on in an attempt to track it down when I was first starting out. At that point, I was still trying to figure out what worked for me. Shows like The Biggest Loser and I Used to Be Fat kind of had me torn, because I was inspired by the results, but knew that I just couldn’t take such extreme measures to make that happen. You know, because I have a job and stuff. And diet books just seemed a little bit… Gimmicky.

It took me a long time to realise that, as much as these outside sources of inspiration can serve a certain purpose, sometimes you’ve just got to step back from them and turn your gaze the other way. I’m lucky now, in that you guys are constantly inspiring me to do more and be better – but before I had that, I had to look inwards and start generating my own little supply of inspirational juju to draw upon whenever I needed it.

I find it’s worth asking myself a few questions, and trying to be totally honest with my answers. Listening to yourself, and understanding what it is that you really want not just right this instant, but long-term, can be really useful in giving you the clarity and focus to get up and get moving. If you can visualise yourself this time next year as a healthy, successful person who is completely in control of your own life, it’s much easier to make the decisions today that will enable you to make that happen. Suddenly, that extra helping of ice cream doesn’t seem quite so essential, because you’re inspired by the potential of Future You.

And it’s important to let go of Past You, while you’re at it. When bad things happen in life, it’s easy to dwell on them as things that have hurt, or ‘broken’ you in some way – but you can, and should be inspired by the things in your past – even if they sucked. You’re a good person now, and you’ve got the potential to be a better person in the future, regardless of what’s come before. Time only moves forwards, so it’s worth keeping focused on your own ability to improve, and keep moving onwards and upwards.

What I guess I’m saying – in a roundabout way – is that you’ve already got all the inspiration you’ll ever need. All the people I’ve mentioned above (and all those I didn’t mention, too) have managed to look forwards at who they’d like to be, rather than just getting stuck in the ‘now and then’ and made a difference to their own lives. That’s nothing to do with me – and it’s more inspiring to me than any weight loss show, or diet book.

You’ve got such a lot of potential, and you don’t need anyone else to help you achieve it – it’s just a matter of being inspired by you. Because you rock.

So – how do you get yourself inspired?

Q&A: Diet or Exercise?
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Comments
  • comment avatar emotionalcynic 9 November, 2012

    You already know how I get inspired, as you’re a big part of it! Aww. mutual love, always a beautiful thing… But it’s true – you and my bloke (who is also doing some weight loss junk and doing well) are 2 key inspirers (is that even a word?!)

    I’m also inspired by nature and the endorphins these days. The time to myself when exercising, or the team fun when I’m exercising with my BMF-mates, how good I feel when I’ve eaten well and am sleeping like a baby. Life inpsires me? Perhaps a bit too cheese, that one!

    So thanks right back atcha. You’re awesome.

    • comment avatar emotionalcynic 9 November, 2012

      *inspires.

      (stupid me, I never proof read)

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 11 November, 2012

      I’m with you on the cheese front – loving life makes this whole process so much easier! Thanks for being awesome too ;-)

  • comment avatar ladyhalakost 9 November, 2012

    I agree with emotional cynic, a lot of inspiration comes from you. The way you put things makes reading your blog a lot of fun and makes me think at the same time.

    I get inspired by my kids , my husband, and by the opportunity to get out of the house without the kids (I know, I know completely opposite from my first thing). As an Army wife I’m trying to make it until my husband gets discharged in March. Once we get home I’ll have a lot of people to exercise and watch my intake with.

    Thanks for the shout out, love. *hugs* Glad I was able to help!

  • comment avatar AG 9 November, 2012

    So grateful for the shout-out, and very glad that my words found a home. You’re right, you know: weight loss can feel like a lonely journey, and it means the world to know that others are traveling parallel paths. In the past, I always dieted when I felt most isolated from my peers — because I attributed lonesomeness to my shape, rather than to my low self-esteem. Today, I’m fighting that negative thinking. It helps to have others fighting the same thing. I take immense comfort in the fact that these obstacles have happened to others; that it takes everyone a long time; that setbacks are not monstrous but painfully, wondrously human.

    So, indisputably, inspiration comes from community. And inspiration also comes from realism and resolve to change, as you emphasize in your post. But it also comes from being sort of stupidly willful: throwing yourself at the same problem, over and over again, until something “breaks” and the whole picture shifts and the world appears suddenly more colorful and more serene. That lasts for a couple of days, until the landscape dulls and shrivels. And then you wake up and try again.

    For me, at least, those brief moments of clarity are my guiding lights: Not quite nostalgia, nor hope, but a recognition of my ability to take my place in the world.

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 11 November, 2012

      It’s amazing to hear that you’re fighting the negative thoughts – and you’re right, those moments of clarity can be absolutely crucial. It’s just a matter of having them closer and closer together, until they’re a more ‘permanent’ state of mind than the dull times. Thanks again for your input though – much appreciated :)

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