For the last lifetime (it feels) I have been in a perpetual cycle of ‘starting on Monday’ in order to eat right and lose those last few pounds. I’ve done Weight Watchers twice, I’ve tried low calorie, low carb, low fat and high fibre (hmm) juices and smoothies. I’ve tried shred work outs, HIIT, LISS, Kayla Itsines (soooo hard) and running a whole friggin marathon (even harder) and yet I still fail to see the body that I want to attain in my minds eye.
The truth of the matter is that I just LOVE my food. I’m the first in line at any buffet, I will try anything at least once, and I admit that I am often just plain greedy! I’m the sort of person that feels an actual pang of anxiety that I won’t get my fill if various dishes are being passed around the table. The pure disappointment I feel (and rage) when I get short-changed because someone else as greedy as I am took the last bit of crackling without at least asking if anyone else wants it, can actually ruin my evening! Heck, the other night a friend served up a big bowl of curry and I just kept delving in for more and it was only when I asked if the leftovers were for their lunch the next day did I feel a bit bad about my gluttony. I love food and my husband also loves his food. He quite literally hoovers up his food in one breath – 2 hours to cook a roast and 5 minutes to consume the lot. This is a stark contrast to my mum who got the nickname Mrs Slow Eater at our local pub back in the day, as she regularly spent 40 minutes cutting up her steak and sauteed potatoes.
I would love to be the person who passes by the cakes in the staff room but instead I’m the person making cakes in order to eat them in the staff room. I do so under the guise of trying new recipes or wanting to perk up everyone’s day, but I basically made that big fat cake so that I could have an excuse to eat a big fat slice of it.
So how does one balance this insatiable desire to eat food and yet not look like a beached whale? Well, I’ve come to realise that regardless of the approach to losing those pounds, ultimately I have to learn to love myself.
Yup – Self Love. Something that we generally don’t do very well at all.
Now if you’re not already on the Self-Love band wagon, there’s a tonne of inspiration that Instagram and bloggers offer on this subject. From plus size models to vegans and body builders – there are a heck of a lot of us who are on a daily mission learning to just love ourselves. It seems that people are not content to be told what size or shape they should be anymore. We are celebrating our diversity and recognising that the majority of us don’t have an inner Kate Moss or Cara Delevingne. We should have given up the ghost long ago on this one because quite frankly it’s liberating! When you stop trying to be like/look like/achieve like the next person, you can finally start being you – love handles and all.
This subject is vast and I’ll reflect more on how I’ve implemented the process of Self-Love in another post. But it feels like I wrote a massive introduction only to give a half climatic conclusion so I think I need to expand just a little bit more…
At the end of September the BBC hosts the Last Night of the Proms at the incredible Royal Albert Hall. I’ve been to the Prom’s in the Park (Hyde Park) a few times a long while ago and it makes for a fabulous middle class night out (complete with Union Jacks, water ponchos and Prosecco). This year Simon and I caught the last 30 minutes from the comfort of our sofa. No amount of cajoling would get him standing up with me to bob in accelerando to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance – although I did hear some melodic vocals once we hit the singing bit. However, as the night drew to a close I felt that familiar lump in the back of my throat rising. It is an emotive moment after all… but that wasn’t it. As the lump turned into a few silent tears, (it’s not unusual for me to get emotional watching TV) I then began to wail “if only I had actually practised my clarinet properly, I could have been part of that orchestra!! If only I had actually taken my music education seriously I could be singing in that choir!” and out poured a deep wound of regret that I hadn’t even realised was bothering me.
Now, I am a good musician. That’s not me being obnoxious or pretentious – it’s true. But whilst I am gifted in this area, I am not at all (by a long stretch) as good a musician as many of my colleagues in the music service, nor the guys that I sing in the bands with at church. I know I’m good but I know I’m not at the same level of skill as many of them. But, I do know my skill with music is more than enough for me to live out my calling as a Music Therapist. I will never play with the BBC Symphony, and I often have no clue about what my colleagues are talking about But, I know that I have a unique gift with music which enables others to communicate and find freedom in using their voice. I’m quite happy with that gift – it’s a privilege.
I’m learning to know what I am and I know what I am not. Or. Who I am and who I am not.
That doesn’t mean I can negate responsibility to nurture and develop my gift in music but it does mean I can cut myself some slack when Dave (the super awesome bass player in my band) has to count me out a 4 beat lick because I came in early again.
Self-Love is a bit like that. It’s embracing all that you are and giving grace to yourself for all you’re not.
So I don’t beat myself up when on Tuesday I put my PJs on at 6pm and crack open the Ben and Jerry’s before dinner and I give my self a small high five when I have the control to put the tub back in the freezer with some ice cream still left in it. I congratulate myself when I push it hard at the gym, but I also listen to my body when it just feels too tired to get up early for another work out. I set out to eat food that I know will do me good and then I savour my guilty pleasure of pizza dipped in Ketchup every now and then. I love to see the number on the scale go down, but I celebrate all my body has done that day when the number goes up instead.
I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m OK with that. I know I have awesome legs and great hair – maybe I’ll audition for Herbal Essence instead.
To conclude this babble: The more I have learned to love Amy for all Amy is, the more peace and contentment I have grown to know. I could be a stone lighter or a stone heavier and I would still be Amy. And the more I’ve learned to love Amy, the more I like her!
Cheers to that!