As I lay in bed last night, mind racing, I knew why I’ve been finding it so hard to write this post: this is a step that is still in progress. I haven’t got this one completely figured out yet, but I need to talk about it. Because it might help you, and it will definitely help me…
I’ve put on a lot of weight.
The triple-whammy of giving up smoking, creating an online biz from home and my fast-approaching 40s has left me with a body I do not recognise. My daily commute requires me to simply walk into the next room; I’ve been working really hard – and loving it – but things like exercise have gone out the window. And I’ve never enjoyed exercise (despite those few months in 2008 when I flirted with my inner Jane Fonda) so it wasn’t a hardship to forget to join a gym or go for daily walks. That period of exercise charged me up for the move to Bath, but since I’ve been here my life has become more and more sedentary as I’ve become more and more busy. It’s a trade-off I thought I was okay making, until yesterday morning when I tried to put on the jeans I wore the day I moved to Bath… and I couldn’t get them on. My baggy loose-fitting need-to-wear-a-belt jeans are now too small. I’ve been steadily buying bigger-sized clothing, but these jeans brought it home to me.
I know all this extra me is down to lack of movement and an excess of food; I don’t eat unheathily, but I do recognise that I eat to comfort and quell the lonelies when they surface. I eat when I’m premenstrous. I eat because – to put it bluntly – I do not have a sex life and I miss it. I’ve also realised that I’ve replaced cigarettes with snacks – didn’t even know I did that until I really looked at how I spend my day at my desk; truly my appetite has gone through the roof.
I could share more about my relationship with food and movement, but it’s my relationship with my body – in its current state – that is the problem. I am ashamed of it. I don’t like looking like I am 6-months pregnant. I don’t like that I tire quickly when I go into town, or that the majority of my wardrobe is now tight and restricting. I don’t feel comfortable like this and feel trapped in a cycle of unhealthy habits as I race from one deadline to the next.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be model-thin. I don’t expect my body to look like it did when I was 23. But I would like it to be a little leaner and healthier, and for it to work more efficiently. For this to happen I know I need to implement some major changes in my lifestyle; it’s not a case of blindly loving my curves – I DO love my curves! I’d just rather they weren’t obscured by the wobbly fat I’ve accumulated over 19 months of working hard and eating hard.
And last night, as I lay in bed mulling all this over for the millionth time, I knew what I needed – before the gym membership, and the daily swims, and the time off to recharge and move my body (all planned for my ‘new’ London life) – I need to forgive myself.
Forgiveness. What a lovely concept that is. It’s a word that makes me think of flowing white robes and beatific smiles and benevolence. It’s something i’ve had to cultivate in my life, trying to feel it in my heart and my head as a way to move through past hurts and let go of difficult feelings. But there is one person I always find it so difficult to forgive: ME. I don’t know where this expectation that I have to be perfect came from, but it’s woven through my being like mould through cheese. And some heart-felt forgiveness of my flaws, of my very human fears and f*ck-ups, will help me move forward with a kinder perspective; beating myself up constantly achieves nothing – I know, I’ve tried.
I sense that this is an opportunity to practice gentleness once again, another chance to show myself love. Because at the moment I am showing myself contempt and disappointment, and that really isn’t helping. It’s time to look honestly at the reasons for my changing size and know that, when I am ready, I can make different choices. I can work towards making changes; I can take each day as it comes, and if it’s a day that needs a little extra sugar sprinkled on it then so be it. And I am moving towards these changes: the London relocation will be here soon and that will help me create new routines; the weather is improving which means I feel called to go out more. Being a workaholic has been fantastic for getting fledgling dreams off the ground, but looking after my body will help me maintain the energy I’m devoting to my work life.
Because there is so much more I want to do.