Words of Wisdom to My Younger Self!

Words of Wisdom to My Younger Self!

 

 

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!!

 

 

The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positive Thinking

Step 3 of my 7 Days to Happilicious challenge talks about the importance of learning to ditch the inner bitch. We all have one don’t we?! She’s the horrible voice inside our head that pipes up at the most inopportune times. Whenever we’re feeling even remotely vulnerable, she senses the chink in our armour and nips in there as quick as a flash to make sure she tells us exactly how fat/ugly/useless we are. She’s a spiteful, calculating bully and we have to work really, REALLY hard to shut her up.

The first step in conquering her is to notice when she starts to rear her head, and then as soon as you’ve noticed her, the trick is to jump straight in and tell her to STFU! But then what next? What do you do to replace the gap that she leaves in your consciousness? Well, you need to turn it on its head and rather than allowing yourself to believe the heinous lies she feeds you, you have to affirm, with confidence, the qualities that a perfect future you would have.

Look, there is a certain element of fake it ‘til you make it about this idea, but just think about what happens when people start repeating the same lies over and over again….. that’s right, everyone starts to believe it. You keep telling yourself that you’re fat, ugly and useless and you’ll get nowhere fast, but change the record and repeat to yourself how confident and comfortable you are in your own skin and slowly but surely, you’ll start to feel the difference! Hell what have you got to lose? If you’re going to be telling yourself one of those stories anyway, then why not put the effort into making it the positive one?

 

Now, at first you might think this is mumbo jumbo BS, but I promise you there is proven method in the madness. Studies have shown that 80% of our thoughts are negative, and given that we have approximately 45,000 to 51,000 thoughts per day, that’s a whole lot of negative thinking we got going on!!! So how do we counteract that? By regularly using positive affirmations, that’s how.

While they work primarily on the subconscious mind, studies have also shown that positive affirmations can also have an amazing affect on muscle strength and energy levels (true story!) and more obviously, our emotional well-being. I am a huge fan of starting the day with a gratitude list to lift the spirits and shift your focus to all things positive, and likewise, reaffirming positive statements to yourself has a positive affect on your attitude, behaviour and actions.

Ever heard the statement, “the body achieves what the mind believes”? Well it’s not wrong! Our mind is a hugely powerful tool and we often underestimate the influence that it can have over our bodies. Scientific research has shown that positive self talk releases endorphins and serotonin in our brain which then flow throughout our body, making us feel fabulous! And I’m sure we’ve all heard how top Olympic athletes are encouraged to visualise themselves crossing the finishing line in a blaze of glory, right? Sports psychologists have found that this action actually triggers neural actions within the brain that can then be used to enhance future, “real life” performance. Pretty powerful stuff!

 

So back to our affirmations! To get the best results, your affirmations need to be in the present tense, so as if they are already true, right here, right now. For example: “I love and repsect my body” rather than “One day I will love and respect my body.”  You also need to repeat them often so that they get embedded in your brain and become second nature. I love using mine as soon as my inner bitch pipes up – almost like psychological armour, but it is also a great idea to find concrete ways of weaving them into your day so they become associated with certain daily habits. For example, repeating them every morning when you stand in the bathroom brushing your teeth; every time you switch the kettle on to make a cuppa; on the drive to school to pick up the kids. Say them in your head, say them out loud, say them while looking at yourself in the mirror, write them down, keep them on your phone as a screen saver and repeat them every time you pick your phone up…… Any which way that suits you is grand!

Experts suggest that the most powerful results come when you create your own very personal affirmation, but I think that when you are starting out, it can really help to read the affirmations that other people have used and adopt and adapt any that particularly resonate with you. So in that spirit, here are some that I have found particularly helpful! Please feel free to use them in whatever way suits you best:

I love my body as it is today

 

I am comfortable in my own skin

 

I am grateful for everything my body allows me to do

 

My flaws are unique and beautiful

 

I am enough

 

I make healthy choices. I have respect for my body

 

I am active and full of energy. I am healthy, vibrant and I look great!

 

 

So there you have it. A quick, free and easy way of boosting your self esteem that doesn’t take 12 weeks of food restriction or a daily hour of beasting yourself at the gym!!! I’d really love to hear from you if you have a go at using any of these affirmations  so feel free to leave a comment below. Or why not head over to Facebook and join the Happilicious living closed group where you can share your experiences with a group of like minded women?