For many of us, a new year brings a ‘clean slate’ and a chance to shift the delicious Christmas pounds we’ve accumulated nomming too many pigs in blankets. Declarations of healthy eating and ‘dry Januarys’ are abundant and though it’s great to look after our body and consider when we need to nurture it with goodness, I’m here to remind you that even if perhaps your jeans are feeling a teeeeny bit too tight, your 2019 self is still worthy of love and absolutely not deserving of any negative mind-chatter you might be giving yourself.
My first 7 days of 2019 were spent consecutively on the sofa with a fluey, coughy, sore throaty type thing. My workouts went out the window, my energy was limited and all I wanted to eat was ice cream and rubbish. So I did. An overindulgent Christmas followed by a week of Netflix and ill, left me feeling sluggish, rubbish and considerably chubbier – not to mention gutted that my place on the Fitbit leaderboard had gone from top to rock bottom. (I’m obsessed with my Fitbit stats!!)
This week back at work, it seems everyone is in the same boat. There’s a lot of ‘being good’ about to combat the dreaded Christmas weight gain. The thing with ‘being good’ though, is that it often comes hand-in-hand with cutting out everything bad…It’s a road that leads to restriction, guilt and eventually, overindulgence. Sound familiar? Welcome to my world.
I’ve been really struggling coming to terms with the post-Christmas bloat I seem to have – permanently – now. It’s tough being a scale-watcher. Even the smallest increase can make your mood plummet and cause you to obsess all day (or all week!). ‘Being good’ for me just seems to make things a million times worse too – food rules just don’t work well with me. I love food! I don’t want to cut out the things I enjoy!
Last year I learnt that ‘everything in moderation’ truly is the way to go. In fact, I began to challenge everything I knew about dieting by giving in to all/any cravings that I had and I was COMPLETELY dumbfounded when I found that this formula actually made me lose weight. Because when I had a little of what I fancied every day, after a while, I began to crave ‘naughty foods’ less. By eating what made me happy, I felt happy. I didn’t feel restricted or left out when people bought treats in to the office. I didn’t have a mental battle with myself every time I went to a restaurant over whether to get what I actually wanted or whether to get the healthiest option. I just enjoyed my food.
It’s hard to switch off and embrace this kind of intuitive, carefree eating though after a particularly indulgent period. Trust me, writing this post is as much about convincing my own brain, as it is yours. The thing is, deep down, I know that our bodies are continually changing. I know, truly, that we shouldn’t fret about things like a few pounds on the scale. Life is so much bigger than that! Exercising this mindset though, takes some courage.
It’s like having a stand-off with the strongest, hardest, baldest bouncer in your mind – the mind bouncer says ‘You’re not allowed! You shouldn’t be eating that!’ And our mind, scared of putting on weight, scared of the outcome, follows suit. Cue suppressing our cravings and choosing food out of fear instead of hunger or intuition.
My colleague Alex responded brilliantly when someone asked if she was doing ‘Dry January’, she said ‘No…more of a damp January!!’, which I love! It’s the kind of attitude I’m trying to encourage more of in my life. Don’t cut out all of the things you love – just do things in moderation.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of things in percentages and I’m aiming for 80/20. 80% fill my body with things that I know are good for it and make me feel good, 20% delicious things that make my heart happy! Life’s too short not to.
So when I’m struggling, feeling guilty, fretting about whether I should eat this or that, I tell myself this:
We’re on this Earth once and we don’t know how long we’ll be lucky enough to be here – why oh why would we limit our own happiness, turn down dinners with friends and the opportunity to make memories for the sake of reaching a body ideal? I know why – because we think once we have this ideal body that things will be amazing and we’ll feel amazing and only THEN can we enjoy a spontaneous donut or glass of Wednesday wine. But the thing is, you’re already enough, you’re already worthy of that kind of freedom and the only person telling you you’re not… is you.
For anyone struggling at the moment, I’m with you! I’m here for you and my ears are open if you want to chat.
Love Siân x