I’ve struggled with my weight for many years, but I was not always big. When I was younger, I struggled to put weight on and people thought I was anorexic. Now I struggle not to gain!
I refused to accept it and I gained more and more. Then, I accepted it, tried diets, lost weight and regained it all again. Then I just accepted it. This was not good for me either. Just last week I had a breakdown as I came to terms with reality: I’m now severely obese and COVID-19 has made it evermore ‘dangerous’ for me to be so.
This realisation came down on me like a ton of bricks…. It was like I just realised I was fat for the first time (again). And being fat left me feeling flat.
I then had flashbacks of the past yo-yoing experiences. I thought about how embarrased I am to exercise outdoors now... because even walking up a hill is exhausting. And then there was the confusion about what to do and where to start. I'd tried so many things over the years, i was begining to think nothing was ever going to work for my body. This led to a feeling of hopelessness; and I was left thinking: I’m probably never going to lose weight.
This week I have recognised: “I’m never going to lose weight” is just a thought, and not necessarily reality. And so, once more, I am looking to embark on the journey to lose weight. Only this time, I’m accepting that this will take time….and more than just willpower to put down the Kinder Bueno!
I recognise for others, they might need to gain weight to feel better. For some, being bigger makes them happy. Or they might not be big, but they might feel big, and so, to them, loosing even one pound they gained might make them feel as good about themselves as i will when I lose the many that I have to.
Mental health is about how I think and feel (about the way I look), not necessarily about how you actually look.
So, I’ve decided accepting it won’t make me happier, but accepting it and moving forward will.
What’s involved with that? For me, this has included:
- Self compassion
For a start, I have decided: being big doesn't mean I am a bad person, or that i'm ugly, or that my partner won't love me for who I am. I am still me, and it's OK to be me, whether i'm big or small. I put this as the first step because I think beating myself up over being bad was, in the end, rather counter productive. I'm hoping that it is positivity that will be the key to my future success now.
- Getting past the ‘this is too hard barrier’
This is by far the hardest barrier because change is naturally hard. Only recently have I come to realise that my thoughts what’s are holding me back. Instead of staying:
- “this is too hard”
- “I wish I didn’t have to”
- …..or even “if I don’t I’m going to fail”
I now say something more empowering:
- “This person has done it, so can you”
- “you want to do it because it will help….lead to….you will reach your next goal of……”
- “You will be really proud of yourself”
- “This will be a big achievement”
And this can apply to everyday life! Sometimes, I need to say those things just to pat myself on the back for getting out of bed, doing the washing or cooking a meal.
- Identifying the triggers
Most of the time, I eat because I am bored. Or I am really struggling with a decision at work and need a break to de-stress. Out comes the bag of crisps, or three! Other times, i'm feeling ocntent and do it t connect with my partner - a cookie here, a biscuit there. I am only aware of those now, but I think there are more…and I intend to dig deeper (however painful) as to why I do this to myself. Because sabotaging my body and mental health for a sausage sandwich hardly seems worth it now.
- Identifying the real, powerful and emotive reasons I want to lose weight
I do not like being big. I am only 5ft, so every pound really shows. I now hide on Zoom calls, I avoid hills and I struggle to sleep and breathe properly. Worst of all, I have stopped doing what I enjoy – because I want to explore and capture all my adventures on camera, but I don’t like looking back on my travels and seeing what I looked like in photos. So I know losing the weight will have a big impact on my mental wellbeing as well as my physical wellbeing.
- Repeating these powerful reasons over and over – every single day and every time I want something I consider ‘naughty’.
I like to think I’ll do this for each chocolate I eat… but the truth is, I probably won’t. But, I will no longer beat myself up for crashing either.
And I think this is new way of using self-compassion to move forward will working too.
For example, I didn’t have any chocolate yesterday! I've ordered Ezeikil bread as an alterative ro normal bread and I asked my partner to fill my plate up with veg instead of having chips… and I didn’t even get food envy!
- Visualising, every day, how good it would feel, how amazing I would look and others reactions to my efforts
This is where lockdown actually helps me most. On one hand it's harder for me to loose weight because we can’t get out as much. But it’s also given me an opportunity. When we get back out there … I imagine others faces when they see how much I’ve gained. And then I imagine their faces when they see how much I have lost! With lockdown, it’s also easier to change your habits because there are no needs for excuses not to go to a birthday meal out. No judgements about what you're eating. And no feeling awkward because you want to bring your own healthy food option to the party! Weight loss is 80% about the food and 20% exercise….and there are plenty of ways for bringing the exercise in too!
My new tredmill to help me get moving inbetween siting at my desk whilst working at home, and to get running without feeling embarrased. Soon, I hope to be running outside as well.