Firstly taking compliments. It sounds obvious and it seems a bit like telling my granny to suck eggs, but it's something that has taken me a while to learn to do, and that is to take the compiments when they are given with grace.
I know it does sound rather daft but how many of us (particularly us girls) just say 'thank you' when we receive a compliment and actually mean it? More often than not we'll say, 'It's hard work, I'm in the gym four days a week' or 'I bought it at such and such for such a bargin'. We never just say 'Thank you' and smile and accept the fact that someone out there has noticed the cut of the dress is flattering, or that the hard work in the gym is paying off or just that for that moment we are exuding an inner happiness that is shining through... I know that sounds all hippy and 'hug a tree' like but seriously. Have you ever noticed on those days where you feel REALLY good is usually the day when most people will say 'wow you look great!'? Take the compliment, smile, mean it when you say thank you, and absorb the good feeling. You can use that good feeling when tomorrow feels a bit of a struggle and the negative voice tries to beat you down from all the good work you're doing. You are worth the compliment.
The last time I was in the gym changing room, someone I have never seen before paid me a wonderful compliment. This lady, someone who was just starting her weightloss journey, commented that I have a lovely figure. Before I'd have said, 'Oh ummm thanks, I'm in the gym 6-10 hours a week and it's taking a lot of hard work but I'm getting there'. Not this time, this time I smiled and simply said 'Thank you' and I meant it. And what resulted was an interesting 20 minute conversation about how hard losing weight really is. Thinking back on the conversation last night, I empathised with the girl a lot. I recall saying to someone at my first gym (who is now a very close friend) that I thought they had an amazing figure. I remember thinking that I'll never be that person with the figure people comment on. And that can be quite disheartening because you suddenly realise how long it's going to take and how much work it really is.
Which leads me on nicely to the next thing today's blog is about: Change!
Taking the first steps into the gym, and taking the decision to change your life in such a profound way, because let's face it it's a HUGE decision, it's down right scary. It's not easy to get your head around how hard this change is. And you're not only changing your body, you're changing everything about you inside and out. That first step in to an area where you perceive everyone to be body beautiful, an area where you think everyone is going to be looking at you and judging you, is intimidating. BUT, and this is the big but, everyone in that gym (and in many cases this includes the instructors) has been in the same boat at some point. Even the most lithe and beautiful of those gym bunnies has thought 'oh god they're all going to judge me because I have no co-ordination' or an plethora of other inadequacies they feel they have that will be abundantly apparent. And guess what? No one notices, because everyone else is far to involved in their own insecurities to worry about the overweight girl who's just walked in to take part in Body Combat/ Fitball etc.
You are not just tackling your weight when you enter the fitness arena, you are tackling those things that normally would have you running scared. You're having to face up to you're shyness, or the amount of hiding you have done in the past that has got you to this point. You've probably shied away from crowds, or even exposing your body in fitness attire for a very long time. It's daunting but it's a step to a new and improved you and a step you HAVE to take. You can work out at home, granted, but at some point you have to realise that you're not hiding from the bigger world, you're hiding from you and from the potential you have to be the best you that you can be. It's not just that you're fighting the scales, you are fighting the scared you that doesn't want to admit that you're frustrated, unhappy or whatever emotion it is that you're clinging to because it justifies the outer you.
This all probably sounds like self help tosh, but it's something I'm slowly realising. For a long time I hid behind a wall of fake confidence because if I was louder than everyone else, and exuded this image of someone who could stick up for themselves, people wouldn't confront me about being a big girl. In reality I was scared in my own skin that I would be found out to be this fake and that I was in truth so desperately unhappy with myself, my bark was definitely bigger than my bite. It takes guts to suck up the feeling of 'they'll all be looking at me' and don training leggings and top to enter that fitness studio and work up a sweat. But trust me after that first class you'll wonder what all the fuss was about, be so full of endorphins that you'll want that feeling everyday and soon, as the pounds start to melt away, you'll find it all so much easier and a new found confidence that isn't false emerges. You'll also find a whole new social network that will help and support you.
I'm still working all this inner change stuff out myself and I don't have all the answers but I'm looking and I'm finding there are parts of me, mentally, I don't like. I take too much to heart, I over analyse everything and I'm hyper sensitive so when something is said about something I've done, I go immediately on the defensive and perceive what's being said (and in most cases quite wrongly) as an attack. I'm also terrible for being of the 'don't rock the boat' mindset even when it's something I believe strongly in. I also struggle in verbalising my opinion in such a way so that it doesn't offend - but sometimes I think honesty is offensive and you can't really get away from that. These are all things that will change as my weightloss journey goes on, because no matter how much people think they aren't related, they are. My emotional attachment to food is based on inner insecurities and hang ups I have about myself that for many years I didn't want to admit. So I'm changing them. I owe it to me.
I'm currently re-reading Jillian Michaels' Unlimited: How to Build and Exceptional Life. Again she's a lady who understands that it's not just the weight and losing weight that is important but that the whole mindset and inner demons have to be dealt with. It's a fascinating read and I heartily recommend it and take the time to do the tasks and quizzes, they throw up a lot of things you didn't really want to deal with but to be honest you're going to have to at some point so why not now? Remember, no excuses ;)
Something I thought of today - Past actions only dictate where you are at present, not where or who you will be in the future. Make changes for a positive, healthy you!
Thanks to David Bowie, for the lyric that makes up the header for the blog. It sums it all up nicely, there is strain so face it, deal with it, learn from it and move on. And accept those compliments. Be kind to yourself, always.
Jillian Michaels website and book
Change4Life initiative from the NHS