It's that time of year.
Even if you're not paying attention (in which case: GO YOU!) you're going to be seeing a ton of before and after photos, body shaming propaganda and information that tells you, directly and indirectly that you need to change.
Here is my most recent before and after shot. And here is the disclaimer that goes with it:
The left is me. January 2014. Recently home from a European holiday of a lifetime.
That smile is fake. And that skirt is NOT my style.
I'm ready for a New Years Diet. A hard month (or two, or three) at the gym.
I thought that’s what I needed to do to make up for the time off while I was away. To repent for the food I’d eaten. To say sorry for the mulled wine and the cheese and croissants.
I had lost so much weight in the years before hand and everyone told me I was incredible.
I was so incredibly tired ALL the time. Always pushing to go harder. Lose more.
Bullying myself with threats if I gained any back.
I was scared.
Scared of taking a day off my rigorous workout schedule.
Scared of carbs. Of sugar.
Scared of going out to eat. Or of having food inside.
I was 'clean eating'. And any thought of a tiny 'slip up' left me tortured, frightened and venomous.
I was trapped and lost.
My hair was falling out. I had no menstrual cycle. I was cold all the time. I was angry.
Always running. Always injured.
I was obsessed with my body and waiting to be happy. Waiting before I would let myself relax and finally be happy.
Until I woke up and realised: waiting for what?
To be thinner? The thinnest? Better? Faster? Fitter?
I was waiting for perfection.
But it never came.
And on the right. My Now.
Last Sunday. New Years Day 2017.
Three Years After.
Sure: a little softer here, rounder there. A touch fuller in the face. Curvier hips. Thicker legs.
Does this mean I have failed? Am I less perfect? Should I consider a quick fix to lose a bit more?
In my after photo I’m relaxed. I’m real. I’m healthy. I’m present.
I approach eating with such a healthier frame of mind. I eat for pleasure, balance, sustainability and energy.
I give myself unconditional permission to eat what I like, when I like.
And before you freak out, and think “that sounds dangerous”
My body still craves and gravitates toward fresh, seasonal, nutritious produce. Intuitively, it goes for "the good stuff."
And yours will too.
The key is to trust it. Reclaim the trust you’ve lost from following someone else’s diet rules.
Trust your gut. There is a brain in your belly that knows how to give you feedback about what is good and what doesn’t work well for YOUR body. You just have to tune into it.
In my after photo I am whole. I am healing
I can concentrate and I can laugh, honestly.
I can taste and enjoy my food. I can feel when I am hungry. I can feel when I am full.
I can feel my fingers and toes!
My body is supporting itself now, and learning to thrive!
I am so much healthier.
I am so much more alive.
I’ve run three marathons. I have not had a significant running injury or a serious cold in 2 years
Before, I could not sit still and be alone. Now I can meditate and breathe through things like sadness, stress, worry and fear. Before, these things clung to my body like fog. They weighed me down.
I am lighter now.
And I’ve nearly got my heels on the ground in downward dog! (yippee)
This is one more chapter in my bodies journey.
A different kind of before and after.
My point is that the size and the shape of your shell is only part of your story, beautiful.
The key is to trust and feed yourself more:
And more compassion.
LOOK at your body. Don’t deny her that. Accept her and ask her to give you some insight into what’s truly going on. Listen for your cravings and lean in to them.
If you deny her, and bully her and do not work WITH her, eventually she will snap and the diet cycle - the huge swings in your weight, mood, energy and attitude will continue.
Give her what she truly needs and she will reward you.
She is the ship and you are the captain
Use the waves of your own intuition to be your guide .
Adjust her sails when you feel the wind change.
And confidently lead yourself home.