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I have a story, one that thousands of women, and possibly some men, can relate to. Over the past 11 years, I have developed a deep-seated love and passion for living a balanced and healthy life. Born out of my longtime struggle with dieting and finding my 'balance', my passion has not only become my motivator but it's finally lead me to a place of peace and acceptance for both my body, mind, and my relationship with food.
There's been no silver bullet though, no quick fix, it's taken time, patience, and a whole lot of learning along the way - some lessons I had to repeat over and over before truly trusting myself.Throughout my yo-yo journey to losing a fair amount of weight, I learned that having an ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude won’t get you anywhere, but that any place worth going is a process.
For years, I tried to lose weight. I had tried everything; taken every type of diet pill (even ones you need prescriptions for), tried every fad diet, and every miracle shake - each time I was left weighing more, feeling unhappier, and in general, just an unhealthy person inside and out.There was never space for compromise, I either failed hard or succeeded for a limited amount of time - living with such extreme restrictions proved totally unsustainable.
My 'all-or-nothing-attitude' often meant that if I had a chip or an ounce more sugar in my coffee than was ‘allowed’, I would have seen it as a failure. This would lead to a binge, since, ‘Well, … you know, … I’ll be starting again soon. I might as well take advantage of my time 'off' and eat everything I'm not 'allowed' before I start my new diet again on Monday - I'd pray that Monday would fall on the 1st day of a new month because that would surely be a sign that this time I was going to do it.
This time I would succeed. And the cycle continued. 70kg. 75kg. 80kg. 82kg.It was 42 degrees in December 2014. All my friends were cooling off in the pool but, feeling overweight and judging myself harshly, there was no way I was going to take off my dress and expose my body in a costume. Being the only one not swimming, hot and bothered, I slipped into the pool in my dress. Even though I was clothed and covered, I felt completely naked, almost transparent. That moment of vulnerability changed everything.
I remember feeling more self-conscious than I ever had in my whole life – defeated, depressed.I thought to myself, at that moment, ‘I never ever want to feel like this again.’ But I knew that if I really wanted to get it right this time, something had to change. I had to change. I had to stop dieting. I had to stop starting something. After ‘failing’ many times, I gently began to learn a new way of life, one where failure was never an option because I stopped the cycle of dieting.
I decided to take my health and wellbeing into my own hands and stopped implementing the often harsh extremes, demanded by these 'empty promises' of a flatter tummy or tighter tush if I could only eat X or do Y. That day in the pool I realised that that one chip, that extra sugar, those little things were not what was keeping me stuck in this vicious cycle. It was me and my ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude, it was the diet culture. It wasn’t so much about changing what I was eating (of course this is a huge part of it and I’ll share more in my blog), but I had to change my mind. I changed the way I thought, and it changed my life.I had to reprogramme myself and the way I thought about my relationship with food, and more importantly how that relationship affected both my body and my mental health.
Looking back now, losing the weight was just a bonus to everything else I've gained. I have learned that any place worth going, has a process in getting there; it’s not something that happens overnight, or in a week. And more importantly, your mental health and physical health have to coincide, this process is a mental one.