To The Woman I Used To Be: An Open Letter To Myself; What I wish I knew before I started
I’m proud of you and I’m proud of the journey you’re about to undertake. You’re going to take many (many!) diversions and hit lots of obstacles along the way and that’s ok – lots of learning and growing opportunities to be had. But I want to take a moment to give you a couple of nuggets of advice...
1. You Were Always Beautiful
The number on the scale won’t change that. Rolls, bumps, lumps & cellulite won’t change it. You’re beautiful. Read it again. Don’t look at this picture, or any picture of yourself and vilify yourself. This picture symbolises a memory, a beautiful memory. Don’t ruin it with an overly self-critical eye. Don’t start this journey thinking changing a number will make you happier. It won’t. Your body image is stored in your brain cells, not your fat cells. Work on it.
2. Give Yourself A Break
Bad days happen! You’re not going to want to work out every day. You’re absolutely going to face plant into a pizza and pint of Ben & Jerry’s sometimes. It’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok – it’s human. Cut yourself some slack and don’t beat yourself up so much. You haven’t ‘failed’ when you have a bad day. Talk to your trainer when you’re lacking motivation, if life’s busier or you’re feeling sore. 10x out of 10, there’s a way around it. Whether they change the plan, meet you for a coffee or a walk to blow off some steam, plan a stretch session or just simply tell you to take the break - Communication is key.
3. Spend Time With & Listen To The Right People
Find a PT, a gym and a group of people who value you as a person. People who value your journey and listen to you. People and spaces where you feel safe and can trust that they can support you on this journey. Then, once you’re surrounded with all that love, the positive vibes and support – learn. Learn everything you can from these people; get to grips with nutrition science (the basics), exercise and what you, personally, need for lifelong success.
4. Scale Weight Isn’t Everything
You’re used to weighing in every week in front of a group of ladies, someone noting it down and commenting on it. You’re used to using this sense of shame to fuel another gruelling week of self-deprivation and self-hated. That’s not ok. Move away from that mentality as quickly as you can. There are so many ways to measure progress outside hopping on a scale. Noting your measurements, clothing size, changed habits, sleep and stress levels, the weights you’re lifting or exercise performance, how you feel in yourself & in movement are just some things you could note week by week. There are SO many things that can influence scale weight on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It’s silly to judge your progress by weight alone – it’s like not celebrating your birthday because it fell on a Monday!
5. Don’t Be So ‘All or Nothing’
One day or one month of ‘perfection’ isn’t perfect. Why? Because I know where you’re going to end up. Remember that pizza and Ben & Jerry’s I spoke about earlier? No. All or nothing isn’t going to work long term. Aim for an 80/20 approach. Eat mostly wholesome, nutritious and colourful foods but allow some space for the less nutritious stuff. Life without cake isn’t worth living. Go to the gym (or move in any way that makes you happy and gets your heart rate up) often. But don’t feel like you must everyday for the rest of your life to succeed.
6. Not Everyone Is Your Cheerleader
Not everyone is going to understand your goals. You’re going to come across plenty of people who won’t understand why you enjoy working out, why you want to go the gym, why you’re choosing not to drink on this occasion, eat a takeaway or snag a cake in the staffroom. Most of these people mean absolutely no harm. You’re going to have to work on your will power when these people crop up. Pre plan your days. If you’re going out for a meal, check out the menu beforehand and decide what you’re going to have. If you’re going out for a drink, plan a healthy lunch beforehand and make sure you have plenty of water the next day. You don’t have to cut these people out of your life. Just be aware of who they are and adapt.
7. Don’t Get Suckered In By Quick Fixes
For God’s sake, put the clingfilm away! You don’t need to wrap your tummy in cling film every night. You don’t need to worry about syns or points, or any other number of weird fads, quick fixes or silly magic, unicorn answers. More often then not, the simplest answer is the right one (and often hardest). Move more, eat well, regularly reflect, give yourself a break and when you don’t know the answer or feel lost – speak to a professional.
8. Accept That This Will Take Time
It’s a long journey. Own it. You’re not going to reach your goals in a day. In fact, you’re probably not going to reach them in (insert date of choice). It’s going to be that – plus some. Why? Because Life. Because Journey. Because Diversions. Because Mistakes. Because Other Goals. Because Family. Because Work. And that’s Ok! Try to see this as an amazing journey. It’s not about getting from A to B – it’s the infinity between the two. It’s the journey.
9. Think About How You Talk To Yourself & About Food
Food doesn’t have a moral value. It’s not ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘naughty,’ ‘guilt free,’ a ‘cheat,’ ‘treat’ or otherwise. The foods you choose to consume do not add or take away from how ‘virtuous’ you are. Sure, there are more nutritious options but vilifying food groups or yourself when you eat less nutritious or higher calorie ones is pointless and ultimately, damaging.
Lots of Love,
Your Future Self