So now you know why I’m putting myself through this challenge, I think it’s time we focus on how I’m doing it. At the risk of losing support in the room, I’m not going to preach to you all about how easy it’s been to completely change my diet and fitness regime; it hasn’t. Not one bit. Not at all.
But I have managed, at the very least, to make some pretty big lifestyle changes, and more importantly, I’ve stuck to them for the most part. So I’ve put together a list of qualities that I think you develop when you set about a momentous task like shedding layers of fat in the pursuit of a body that better reflects the way you feel on the inside.
Determination: a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult
This one is very elusive; motivation isn’t a physical thing that you can see or perceive, and it tends to fluctuate from day to day. Try writing down a few set goals to stick to, and tick them off when you do. I like to leave notes in my diary for when I’d like to hit a certain weight, just so that I remain focused on my small goals, rather than the overall, intimidating one of losing a quarter of my body weight. Oh god. Focus, Rose.
And I have surprised myself with how determined I have been over the past few months, illustrated quite magnificently one morning when I woke up for my pre-work run at my boyfriend’s house without my sports bra. “GIVE UP”, my mind yelped, “this is the excuse we’ve been waiting for!” But instead, I got up, went to the kitchen and found a roll of clingfilm and instructed my bemused boyfriend to wrap my torso in it as tight as he could. “Revolutionary! Ingenius! Life-changing!” I hear you cry. Incorrect. It was a sweaty and very uncomfortable run, which involved me clutching my arms into my chest like a T-Rex while my torso made a weird squeaking noise as I ran past confused looking schoolchildren. I wouldn’t try that one again, but still, I managed my run! Part of being determined is being creative when your brain fires (even legit) excuses your way.
Confidence: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
Right, this is a hard one, because you need confidence to start something this colossal, but from whence does it appear? For me, a lack of confidence in my ability to lose weight was the single most potent force inhibiting me, which makes it all a bit of a catch 22.
But here’s the thing, as soon as you lose even 1 lb, you think, “wow, this is amazing, look what I can do”, and you can use that energy to boost your efforts. I think this is also tied in with the ability to recognise that weight-loss is and should be a slow process, as anything else carries the risk of being unsustainable. Set yourself some small targets and take confidence when you reach them, and remember that as long as the general trend is positive, you’re doing alright. And if you can’t take confidence from yourself, look to your friends and family, who are the best possible support. And if you can’t do that, well all I can say is that I spent my whole life believing that I would never lose weight and I have, so if I (as a total novice) can do it, then you can too, and that should give you heaps of confidence.
Humour: the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny
How do I laugh at myself? Let me count the ways.
I genuinely believe this is the key to success when it comes to anything really, but particularly dieting. There was that time that the diet-friendly food I ordered at a fancy work dinner was so overcooked that I broke my crown on it and had to try to style it out without anyone noticing. Or the multiple times I’ve been assumed to be carrying child since losing weight. Or the time that my running leggings were far too big for my newly slimmer body and I spent the whole of my run having to clutch each side lest they fall to my ankles. And how about the million and one times I’ve got so frustrated with the whole thing that I’ve actually ended up crying and then laughing at myself, and how seriously I’m taking everything. Basically, dieting, like anything else, can and should be funny, or else you risk getting a bit too obsessed and going to the bad place, and no one wants that.
Resilience: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
You know the one, right. The bounce-back-ability, the unfaltering capacity to see the good in any bad situation. Sounds easy right? Wrong. I, you, and just about everyone in the world has experienced disappointment at one point or another. “It’s what make the highs feel so good”, they say. Well that’s all very well, but what about me, down here, feeling shit, I hear you say.
Well, to you, I would say, try to focus on the small wins. Didn’t have a snack today? Well done you. Walked from the station instead of getting a bus? High five. The thing about being resilient, particularly with matters of weight, is that you’re already dealing with an incredibly sensitive and personal issue, and often that’s why the disappointment stings so intensely. But by rewarding yourself and appreciating the small efforts you’re making, you’ll find it easier to counterbalance the negative experiences that you’ll definitely have (sorry, but you will). And every time that you don’t give in when you’re disappointed, your resilience will grow.