I’m Jo. I’m 42 years old, married with two children, Lucy who’s 17 and Ben who’s 15. I thought I’d start my blog with a bit about me and my life up until now. Hopefully I won’t bore you all too much!
I never thought I’d be a person to write a blog, but for some time now I’ve been wanting to share my journey with others in the hope that it might help them to realise that change is possible (even when it seems as possible as your kids tidying their room without being asked!). I’m definitely not a writer so bear with me as I probably go off on several tangents whilst sharing the ups and downs of my life and in the coming weeks, some tips and tricks on how you can start to make small changes in your life to start feeling great again.
Where do I start? Well, for most of my life, childhood included, I’ve battled with my weight and always used food as a reward or to console myself. If something went well in my life, great, I’ll reward myself with some pizza & chocolate (and some more chocolate, and a little bit more). If something went wrong in my life, I’d console myself with some pizza & chocolate (and some more chocolate, and a little bit more) - as you can see my weakness is most definitely pizza & chocolate! Whatever the emotion, I could always rely on food to make me feel better. Well, it made me feel better straight away until the guilt hit, when the hateful comments to myself would take over: “you’re so weak, you can’t even stick to a diet for a couple of weeks”, “you’re so fat and ugly, you don’t deserve to be happy”. Anyone had a similar conversation with themselves?
After I had my daughter, I was at my heaviest. I was still in denial though. I remember vividly a pair of black stretchy trousers that I had which were a size 12 (UK size) and so clearly I was a size 12 still, right? (I can’t emphasise enough how stretched these stretchy pants were, hahaha!). I would wear them every day and when they needed washing, I would wash them in the evening so I could get them dry for the next day. Anxiety had started to creep into my life too and would get worse over the years.
I distinctly remember being out for dinner with a friend and both of us talking about going to Weight Watchers as we knew we had to lose weight (I had far more to lose). Weight Watchers was successful for me and I did lose quite a bit of weight, but it was still based on deprivation, so it took lots of willpower and as you all know, willpower is most definitely a finite resource. Did I feel good? Yes, but only when I’d lost weight. If I had a week when I put on weight, the hateful voice would come out again and I would beat myself up again. My whole life was focused on trying not to eat the “nice food” and staring at myself in the mirror and critiquing myself (normally not in a loving way).
I never allowed myself to get as big again but I have been all different sizes during my life and that hateful voice was never far away. I’ve tried pretty much every ‘diet’ under the sun with varying success, but again all of them were based on deprivation and as such only lasted so long before I found the next ‘diet’ that was definitely going to be the one to fix all my problems.
I hated exercise as a child but managed to get my arse to the gym on the lead up to getting married. At first it was a love/hate relationship. I hated the thought of going, but loved how I felt afterwards. It’s probably only in the past 6 or 7 years that I’ve really loved my exercise. I’ve probably been a little bit addicted to it at some points but I like to think I have the balance just right now (my PT may disagree slightly!).
As I was approaching 40, I felt stuck, exhausted, unhappy, and generally and all round emotional wreck (sound like a fun person to hang out with hey!). My anxiety was also at an all time high. I questioned my ability to do anything and seemed to be convinced I'd fail at whatever I tried. I would drive to work feeling sick with dread. It never turned out to be as bad as I thought and I always knew it would be fine, but that didn't stop the awful anxiety feeling. I was exercising 5 or 6 times a week, eating fairly well but putting on weight when surely I should have been losing it. I wasn’t massively overweight but enough to mean I lacked confidence and was so unhappy when I looked in the mirror.
I went to the doctors as I was convinced something was wrong with me, but no, all the tests came back normal. That just made me feel even worse. “That’s just what happens as you get older” I was told. How fucking depressing! Is this really it, all I have to look forward to for the rest of my life is feeling like crap? I was only 38 for God’s sake.
I carried on like this for another year or so when I went to see a nutritionist who told me I had Adrenal Fatigue and made some recommendations for my diet and general lifestyle. It wasn’t easy but I started to notice how good I felt. My brain fog disappeared, I had energy (for the first time in a long time!), and I started to learn how to deal with my anxiety. At first I didn’t lose any weight which to start with really annoyed me, but I was feeling so good in myself, that the weight loss almost didn’t matter. And guess what? When I stopped being fixated on losing weight and just enjoyed feeling great, the weight started to come off. Yay!!
So what changed? I now eat real whole foods and stay away from processed stuff as much as possible. I listen to my body. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, we just don’t listen most of the time. I don’t deprive myself of anything. If I want it I have it (no more deprivation followed by bingeing). I’m nourishing my body, not poisoning it. I’ve created healthy habits that are now just my natural behaviours.
I’m not naive to say I’ve cracked it and I’m never going to put on weight again, but I feel in a better place than I ever have before. It feels so bloody easy now I’m doing it, and I wish so much it hadn’t taken 40 years of life to get to this point, but I’m just so grateful I got here. My anxiety does rear it’s head from time to time (normally work stress related), but I now know how to manage this so it doesn’t take over my life.
Anyway, that’s a bit about me and my life up until now. If any of this resonates with you and you’re feeling stuck, exhausted, stressed, despondent, or just in need of a chat with someone who understands, please give me a shout. Don’t spend any more of your life feeling like that.
Published 8 June 2019