A year ago, I set myself a challenge to find the time, space and self-respect to “Learn to Like and Love Myself”. It’s been a long, hard journey, but it’s been worth it.
Why did I set this challenge? I’d hit rock bottom. I had move forward. I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but to set the scene…
This time last year I was constantly ill, in and out of hospital with repeat infections, diagnosed with diabetes, had numerous chest infections and was relying on painkillers due to nerve damage, which in turn... you guessed it… was making me ill. I weighed 242 lbs. I didn’t particularly like or love myself and I relied on other people’s validation. I hit a wall when a close friend betrayed my trust. I promised myself I would never allow myself to be that vulnerable again, and to do that I needed to become a stronger person.
I asked myself what would make me, not others, happy.
I’d love to say it was enrichment of souls and becoming a nicer person, but the truth was at that time, what I wanted was “to look thinner” and to “be healthier”. I wanted to feel attractive in my own skin. I’ve spent years using my poor health as an excuse. I was sick of making myself a victim and I made a commitment to celebrate the positives in my life.
I took responsibility for my diabetes.
When the doctor first diagnosed me with diabetes I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. This changed. I started to focus on my diabetes and have spent the last 12 months trying to improve it with diet and exercise. I committed to a low sugar, low carb, high protein diet. I stopped drinking alcohol and sugary drinks. I had to stick with it for a few months before I saw any positive results. I’d tried this in the past and lasted a couple of weeks max before I gave up because I hadn’t gotten a quick fix.
For my entire adult life I have rewarded myself with food. Treating myself when I’d been good, down, angry, sad. You get it! I’m an emotional eater. This time I tried to say I loved myself too much to worsen my diabetes by eating the wrong food. Saying this to myself, that I was loving myself by staying healthy, made the process easier, and a year later I’m maintaining my new lifestyle. It’s been easy to not cheat on my new eating plan because I’ve changed my mindset. At I struggled at first, but once I started seeing the positive outcomes... it’s been a breeze and has given me the incentive to continue.
My results now show as pre/non-diabetic.
(I do want to acknowledge that not everyone can improve diabetes with diet no matter how hard they try, and that there is a chance my results will return to a ‘diabetic’ level with age and hormone changes, but a change in lifestyle has worked for me).
I learned to love exercise.
I started to exercise more. It wasn’t easy - I have nerve pain in my arms and hands pretty much constantly. But when I asked myself what would make me happier and help me to respect myself, I knew I wanted to be fitter.
I told my close friend Kellie how unhappy I was. Her life partner, Glenn, is a PT and runs a Gym called BTB (Better then Before) in Southam. Kellie kindly arranged for me to meet him. Glenn listened to what I wanted and told me what I needed to do to achieve my goal. He set me a balanced exercise plan including both cardio and weightlifting. The program was challenging and at times scary, as I’ve spent most of my adult life protecting myself and making excuses. I was scared about failing and I was scared about hurting myself. Glenn showed me how to lift weights correctly and then left me to my own devises. I would check in with him every few weeks to discuss how to tweak or add to my workout. Once a month I would document my weight and take my measurements.
Most importantly, Glenn made it clear I was accountable to myself and the only person who could get me to my goal was me. I put my faith in Glenn and did what he asked with 100% commitment. To my surprise I discovered I was capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit for!
I’ve continued to workout regularly for the last year. I don’t cheat on my workouts – I’m doing them because I care about myself and I’m worth the investment. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered I enjoy exercise! I love lifting weights. I enjoy challenging myself and I’m not that bothered if I fail if I know that I’ve given my all.
I learned the science behind diet and exercise.
I like to understand the theory of why things work, so another thing I did was to research into the science behind diet and exercise. I now understand how the human body burns and stores calories, how building more lean muscle improves and increases my metabolism. I make more informed decisions about my diet and exercise program.
I’m happier, healthier and I love myself.
A year on, and I’ve transformed myself both physically and mentally. My health has improved. I have less chest infections. My pain has reduced. I think this is because I’m stronger and my pain tolerance has improved. My diabetes is now at a pre-diabetic level. I have lost almost 80lbs in weight, I love how I look... but more importantly I like and respect the person I have become.
My relationship with my husband has improved as I feel better about myself. I don’t beat myself up anymore and I try to live life to the full. I enjoy my own company and have stronger relationships with my friends. I’ve removed toxic people from my life to create a strong, loving network of friends.
Six months ago, I set up a fitness group designed to celebrate the positives. It’s a safe environment where we can discuss how to improve fitness, no matter how small, and encourage each other to challenge ourselves. I’ve learned a lot and I want to pass some of it on, but success starts with learning to love yourself.
So, I ask you... do you love yourself?
If your answer is no, then I ask you are you ready to change your journey and commit the next year to discovering a happier you? If I can do it, so can you.