mindful living

what if we recharged ourselves as often as we did our phones? 

violet-bakery-brownie

What if we recharged ourselves as often as we did our phones? 

I like to keep busy. I’m not great at sitting still. Given a choice I’d rather be doing something than nothing. Give me a week off and I’ll fill it with day trips and walks and visits to pubs and galleries. And I love it. I love stimulation. But that’s not always what you need, is it? 

An unexpected flare up of an old wound saw me track down my old osteopath at her new digs at Kuu London for an hour of muscle manipulation and massage yesterday. I cried on the table, and it was much needed. Maybe keeping busy had distracted me. Maybe it has always distracted me.

And while I keep myself occupied and always find things to do...I’m not always very kind to myself. I tell myself I don’t need a massage, or quiet time. I meditate every morning...and it’s only recently I’ve stopped doing the guided ones and started sitting there in silence with only my breath for company. It’s uncomfortable. Lying there, having sore parts prodded and touched, was uncomfortable. No wonder I cried. I’ve forgotten how to do uncomfortable. 

Shoulder loosened and no longer in pain, I took my time going home. It was a sunny day and east London is full of beauty, characters and things to see. I found a new journal at Erbert (and got great tips on how to unclog my old fountain pen! Cheers Paul!) and treated myself to a brownie and iced tea at the Violet bakery.

I picked a table by the kitchen window so I could breathe in the heavenly smell of baking. I had nowhere else to be and for a change I felt calm, unhurried, unpressured. As a result, I lingered.

I took an obligatory photo or two then put the phone away. I wrote. I savoured every sweet, nutty, salty bite of my halva tahini brownie. I looked around. There were more dogs than cars in this quiet street, trotting alongside their owners. It was sunny, and with the warm cake-infused air I might have almost believed it was still summer.

As I ate the last crumb of brownie and walked to the train, I felt lighter. Battery not quite full, but recharged nonetheless. 

We so often wait for a wake up call before we’ll prioritise looking after ourselves, before we listen to our aching bodies and souls. Saturday was a good reminder to me to not put off self care until the pain is unbearable. But also, I don’t have to be in pain to be worthy of kindness and small treats. Those are the things that make life sweeter.

So this week, I’m going to try and treat myself more like my phone - and hopefully get my battery sufficiently recharged.

before, after and now

I could have written a post about "this time 10 years ago" but I think you all know that story by now. 

I could have written a post featuring some old pictures of me, and pictures of me now, but while I'm proud that 10 years later I'm still a healthy size, what I've tried so hard to do with my book, and with my mindset in general, is resist getting stuck in 'before and after' thinking. Reaching goal is never the end of the story, and the 'after' photo is actually just a moment in time. Holding on to it is rarely straightforward. Weight loss success stories are certainly very motivating to read, but I think it would be far more interesting to check in with them 10 years after their 'after' picture is taken and see how they're doing then.

And I'm also not going to write a post about 10 years of maintenance, because when I consider the stretch of time between 25 April 2006 as I stood on my set of scales in my bathroom in Melbourne and saw a number I longed to see staring back at me, and 25 April 2016 as I type this in my study in London, "maintenance" is the last word I'd use to describe this period in my life.

All the losses and gains in my life since that day in 2006 have had nothing to do with weight. Everything in my life has changed so how could I possibly expect to maintain anything? It was an effort to get out of bed some days (occasionally it still is!)

Merely a few weeks after that scale victory, my life as I knew it fell apart. But thanks to having reached that goal, I had the courage to walk away from the wreckage and I knew that I could survive. Thanks to the highs, lows and plateaus of the previous year of point counting and weigh-ins, I knew I had the strength to persevere when I hit rock bottom, crawled back up, and got smacked down again. It was almost as though that year had been preparing me for what came next.  

The greatest thing weight loss taught me was learning to believe in myself. I hadn't learned it when I was younger. Back then it was all about creating a life that looked good to the outside world rather than anything that felt true and aligned with who I really was. I designed my life with fear, anxiety and self-loathing as my architects.

Weight loss helped me kick those bastards off the job, and compassion, courage and self-respect took over the blueprints instead.

But while they're fabulous architects, they're not perfect employees either. Those three occasionally take leave when I least expect it - I wouldn't have you think for a minute that fear, anxiety and self-loathing have disappeared for good. They never did, and they never will. I've had to learn to deal with them when they show up in productive and conscious ways instead of going backwards, to the days when I let them run the show. I don't always succeed, but I can always turn the car around in time. If I've maintained anything over the past 10 years, I guess it's that. 

Weight loss happened to be a tool I used to wake myself up, to get off my arse (literally) and start taking control of my life. But I outgrew it long ago. I don't need to get on scales to see how in or out of control my life is. I just pay attention. Life being in balance is something I feel now, rather than measure. It's not a number. It's not a dress size. It's a feeling. If that feeling is off, I try to do something about it. If I'm feeling good, I keep doing what I'm doing, until that doesn't work anymore. What works right now might not work this time next year. That's cool. Despite being a bit of a control freak, I try to roll with things. I try to have high standards but low expectations.   

I have no idea whether 10 years later I am still at goal weight. But you know what? I don't care enough to find out. Because I'm healthy - physically and mentally - and I'm pretty happy with who I am. That's what matters to me.  That's what I'm proud of. I have fought for the life I have now, over and over, every step of the way. I've used every brick thrown at me to build the strongest foundation I possibly could.

So what I'm thinking about, and what I want to celebrate today, is that 10 years after reaching 'goal' not only am I still healthy, but I've kept moving forward. It was not weight loss I had to maintain, it was all the other changes. And naively I thought that would be easy. But everything keeps changing, all the time. Nothing ever stays the same. You can't hit the 'pause' button once you've reached a moment where you think you've got it all. You have to keep working hard, even though you already have.

10 years ago, I chose the road less travelled by. And I keep choosing it. No matter what. I could give practical weight loss tips about eating more greens and exercising more, but it's all ultimately useless if nothing changes inside of you, in your head and in your heart. You don't have to be motivated. You don't have to live by a set of rules. You just have to start caring about yourself and paying attention to your life.

Keep choosing to be your best self and live your best life, every day. That's the secret.  Stick to your path, even when the going gets tough. Don't retreat back to the smooth, safe highway. Stay the course. Keep choosing. Keep going. 

Here's to another 10 years of that.

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To celebrate this little milestone of mine, I'm giving away a signed, personalised physical copy of The Latte Years which I will post to you, anywhere in the world. Just read the T&Cs and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! 

T&Cs:

  • One winner, one prize

  • No cash alternative

  • Open internationally

  • You can enter once a day until 12:00am (UK time) on 1 May 2016

  • The winner will be chosen completely at random by Rafflecopter on 1 May 2016

  • Once the winner is announced and notified via email, you have 24 hours to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen

  • PM will retain proof of postage but can't be held responsible for the vagaries of the postal system or the customs regulations/duties in your country.

 

Good luck and THANK YOU for all your love and support, particularly if you've been following along for the whole of these past 10 years. I am so incredibly grateful xx

PS: The digital versions of The Latte Years are still discounted until midnight Australian time today!