Last month, Ben and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and as an inevitable (and slightly cheesy!) part of the anniversary celebrations, the wedding photo album came out and I hate to say it, but looking through them left me feeling a bit sad.
Let me give you a bit of background…….In typical “me” fashion, just 3 months before our wedding, I was a size 18/20. However, I was so unhappy with my size at the time (no surprises there then!) and I was so convinced I’d be able to lose a lot of weight very quickly (oh yes, that old gem!), that I went ahead and bought myself a size 14 dress (yup – mental!!!), and dived head first, all guns blazing into my second bout of Lighter Life.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the diet, it is a complete meal replacement programme, where you are limited to a strict 500 kcals a day in order for your body to enter a state of ketosis. If you stick to it, it really does work, in terms of the weight coming off quickly but I can tell you from bitter experience that it also makes life pretty bloody unbearable!
The sad fact is, when I think back to the run up to my wedding, the main thing I remember is hunger and an ever deepening obsession with the scales ! How tragic is that? I don’t really remember the excitement of planning, or the romance or the attachment to the finer details of the day…… I just remember the constant mental and physical torture of not being able to eat ANY food or drink anything other than water for 3 whole months!
Having said that, in the spirit of getting a job done and being the sort of person that doesn’t easily quit, I stuck at it and I made damn sure that I got down to the size 14 and fitted into my dress in time for the big day. But do you know what? I still wasn’t content with how I looked at all. I remained utterly convinced that I was huge and repulsive. I clearly remember sitting in my classroom after school one day, about a week before the wedding, crying to my friend about how disappointed I was because I was going to look so disgusting on my wedding day.
So when I revisited the photos last month, it broke my heart to my heart to remember how tortured I’d felt on an otherwise perfect day. It made me want to put an arm around the old me and sit her down for a cup of tea (sod the Lighterlife!) and a sisterly chat.
And what would I have told her? Well, first and foremost, I’d have told her that she needs to revel in the fact that she has found a man who really, truly loves her, no matter what dress size she is or what the number on the scales says; and I’d tell her that it breaks his heart to hear her ripping herself apart in the mirror every day. I’d tell her that her that despite all of the torture she has put her body through, it’s still doing her proud. That the body that she has scolded and hated and criticised incessantly for the last 20-odd years will soon carry and nurture the first of two beautiful, perfectly healthy, wonderful children. It will birth both children naturally with very little pain relief and no lasting after-effects.
I would tell her that while she frets and cries about her huge thighs, overhanging stomach and flapping bingo wings, she is missing out on some wonderful and life affirming opportunities. The holidays she doesn’t want to go on because she’s not thin enough? She’ll really regret that one day.
I’d tell her not to waste any more of her precious life on guilt, shame and embarrassment but instead to revel in love, laughter and family. To shift her focus away from her reflection and towards the important people who surround and love her. I’d tell her to realise that the biggest problem she has is not with her body but with her mind, and that she’ll need to put her time, effort and energy into changing that rather that her waist circumference.
I’d tell her to learn about nutrition, not points and syns. I’d tell her that eating what she wants, when she wants doesn’t not make her a bad or weak person, no matter what the diet rule book tells her! I’d tell her to make the most of her wonderful body, to appreciate it for all of the amazing things it would enable her to do, if only she’d give it a chance. And do you know what else I’d tell her? I’d tell her that she looks absolutely beautiful, and in years to come she’ll look back on those photos and wonder what the hell she was worried about.
If only eh? If only we could take the younger us to one side for a little pep talk. But I can’t do that, so what will I do instead? Well, I’m going to bust my ass on making sure that my own children don’t battle with their body image in the same way that I did. I want more than anything for them to grow up appreciating their bodies as amazing instruments of wonder that will enable them to enjoy and experience the world and all it has on offer. I don’t want them to miss out on a single opportunity just because they believe they don’t look “right”. I want them to understand that if they love, care for and nourish their body, it will reward them by making itself a vehicle for all of the wonderful opportunities life consists of. I want them to truly understand and believe that they are about so much more than just a reflection in a mirror. I want them to love their bodies the way that I love their bodies and the way that I’m finally learning to love mine!
So come on, now it’s over to you. What would you like to be able to say to the younger version of you? What lessons would you like to share with her? Drop me a line or head over to the Facebook group to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear them
Oh and a quick PS…….. As for the meal replacement plan. By the time I came back from our 4 day honeymoon in Venice, I was already struggling to fit into to most of the clothes I’d bought just before leaving! Yup, you think the weight comes off quickly? Just wait until you see how fast it goes back on again!!