If I think back to just over a year ago, I can hardly comprehend the changes that have taken place round my health and wellness. How my nutrition and fitness values have morphed and grown. And how much more of a priority I am making myself and my needs. I haven’t become selfish and arrogant, in fact I think it’s the opposite. As I have learned to eat better, exercise better and treat myself better, I have been humbled by just how much commitment and dedication is given by the people who are healthy and in shape. It’s a process of honest hard work and action (not luck!). It’s about consistency and structure (not chance!). It’s about wanting it more than we want to make excuses about how we’re different.
Early on in my coaching with Alex he introduced me to the idea of a “special snowflake”…that belief that my challenges are so different and unique to everyone else’s when it comes to weight- and fat-loss. That no matter how much work is required, the reason that I have been unsuccessful is because I am a special case. My genes, hormones, bone structure, metabolism, bad knees and injured shoulder limit me being able to achieve my nutrition and fitness goals! I need a team to diagnose and treat, advise and recommend, point me in the right direction and kick my butt when I stray. I was HORRIFIED by the concept…that was NOT ME!
And then as I started to move through the coaching process, I quickly started to realise that’s exactly what I was. I was so buried in my fixed mindset about nutrition and fitness, that I was making all those excuses and more. What it basically boiled down to at the end of the day was that I had a million excuses as to what I wasn’t able to achieve and maintain my goals, and very few as to what I needed to do and be in order to get what I wanted.
I envied other women who were “genetically blessed”, rolled my eyes at those who tirelessly committed to their training and eating plans as being “obsessed”, and judged people who chose to eat well as missing out on “life’s simple pleasures”. Because they could’t possibly understand or relate to how it was to be me with my busy life that just didn’t allow any time for the gym or healthy planning, shopping or eating, never mind a little self-love and recovery. So much blame, justification and validation of my poor eating and exercise behaviours. And always the harsh, critical voice in the mix telling me that I was lazy, useless and undeserving…when it wasn’t making excuses.
What I have learned over the last months is that there is NO MAGIC BULLET to weight loss, fitness and health. No one is that extraordinarily blessed that they simply walk past a gym and get into shape. That they can eat whatever they like and be toned, sexy and healthy. And that it is so much easier for them than me. So I have learned to have some real humility in this journey and take some proper personal responsibility and accountability around it all.
The toughest lessons have not been the nutrition/food lessons (I have learned loads about that over the years of dieting, cleansing, detoxing, starving, fasting, restricting foods and living in misery). The toughest lessons have been around my fixed mindset, lack of self-love, not listening to my body, under-valuing my body and my health, and denying that I do have certain limitations (though not nearly as many as I had led myself to believe). I also learned that when something is important enough I will make the time to ensure that it gets prioritised, and that I can’t think anything to completion – I have to actually do something about it.
Stocking the fridge with healthy food is not going to get me in shape…planning and cooking is what is needed. I cannot calculate how many times in the past I filled the fridge with healthy, nutritious food only to watch it rot and get tossed out. Scheduling gym into my diary is not the same as actually showing up at the gym. Writing goals and actions into my weekly planner, is not enough without the steps and the actions to actually achieve them. Buying the books, subscribing to the emails and courses, and visiting the dietitian or doctor, is not the same as doing the work.
I had myself fooled for so long that I was different and that’s why I wasn’t able to succeed in my health goals. I was not prepared to admit that is was not because I was not doing the work. And over the last months that has meant going to a place where I haven’t ever really wanted to go… Getting honest with myself about what food and being overweight were for me. An escape from personal, emotional and spiritual pain. If I stayed fat and unhealthy I could hide behind that mask. If I did the work it would be painful and raw, and mean that I had to look at what the food, detachment, the lack of self-love and the need for self-deprecation were all about…
And believe me it’s been bloody and messy and emotional and scary…
But inside me I have discovered a woman who is vulnerable and yet so strong. A woman who doesn’t need to be afraid of the world and the rejection and judgement it may (or may not) dish out. Using my body as a way to protect me from hurt is not as empowering as using my words and my authentic voice. Now I don’t have an excuse to hide behind myself…now I really need to show up. I don’t get to blame people for not loving me because of how I look, I need to accept that it’s about what’s I put into the world that makes me lovable or unlovable. I feel like I have stepped out of my armour for the very first time with the intention of leaving it behind me to rust.
In the past I kept it oiled and shiny, just in case I needed to slip back into it…and I went back time and again, believing that people just didn’t get me. I think that the truth is sometimes I just don’t get people. But hiding behind myself no longer serves me in any way, and I deserve to feel accomplished and proud of myself, my worth, my achievements and body. It’s okay to want to be fit and strong, and there is no shame in being confident and self-assured when I walk into a room. Not because I am “genetically” blessed, but because I have worked really hard to get through my limitations and challenges, and discover that I am worthy of love and acceptance.
I really couldn’t have done it alone, and Alex has been instrumental in his wisdom and support. But at the end of the day it has been me who’s moved myself into a growth mindset, explored my fears and insecurities, and me who has give myself permission to be fulfilled and at peace in my own life, in a body that I am learning to love more and more as I learn to accept and love myself.