Friday, 16 September 2016

Changing priorities

This afternoon I went with my friend Elspeth to see the latest in the Bridget Jones' Diary franchise and I had a bit of an epiphany. Yes friends, Bridget Jones brought around a real psychological evaluation that I'd like to share with you all.

Let's begin by briefly discussing my state of mind for the last...year. It has not been pretty. If I am honest with myself I started beating myself up on the 14th September last year when I attempted the New Forest Marathon. Having come in to this with an incredibly positive mental attitude (despite having lost weeks of training to illness) I was certain that there was no way I wouldn't be able to achieve this and so, when I couldn't, I don't think I ever really forgave myself. Gone was the celebratory marathon and Tough Mudder themed tattoos (unfair on the latter as I did actually complete that and still consider that to have been the greatest fitness success of my life), I stopped running and slowly but surely I stopped caring. My nutrition went down south, my love for activity decreased and I just became overall complacent. Flash forward a year and two days and this has changed very little.

Bridget Jones is remembered for a number of things: big pants, sliding down a fireman's pole and singing 'Like a Virgin' in a Thai prison (to name but a few) but my single most pervading memory from the books is her obsession with weight and caloric intake. Bridget can proudly tell you the number of calories in a small banana and complain about being 9 stone 10 (b***h). First thing I thought of here is, God I hope I never get so obsessed with the number on the scale that I am at that level. Followed by 'F**k, I already am'. You see, I started September with every intention of rejigging my life. I've been doing the yoga 30 day challenge at Sweat Studios and I was meant to be eating well, hydrating well and therefore feeling ALL of the benefits. What has actually happened is I have done the yoga but I have forgotten to hydrate adequately, meaning that I've spent much of the last week either missing classes or feeling like death warmed up because I have such a headache; I have apparently thrown the nutrition handbook out of the window meaning I feel sluggish and overfull ALL THE TIME, and have gained weight. Last time I did the challenge I was dropping pounds on a daily basis. Anyway, that bit is really unimportant. The important bit is the obsession. See, the thing is I really shouldn't KNOW that I've gained weight. I should NOT be weighing on a near hourly basis seeing if I've shifted the pound I gained at breakfast or hoping that a good bowel movement will get me closer to my weight this time last year. I have lost the plot.

I am missing the opportunity to see my body work at its peak because I am completely overtaken by a number on a scale. I go to the gym to lose weight. I go to yoga and operate in blistering heat to lose weight. All I have thought about for months is weight. And as, obviously, that has not been moving in as expedient or consistent a manner as I would like, the way I have been thinking about my weight has become increasingly negative.

And then today, Mark Darcy stepped in. As many of you know, I am studying to become a lawyer and human rights is absolutely where my interest lies. And I'd kind of forgotten that. I'd become swept up with all of my obsession with weight and with the negativity that has been following me around like a bad smell and, quite frankly, I've been fucking things up. Not badly. Not enough to hold me back, but enough for me to notice. And then I remembered the way I was when I was younger and all I wanted in the whole world was to stand on a stage in the West End and play the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl or Eponine in Les Miserables. Every thing I did then was in service of my ultimate aim. Which is why, on the drive home, I gave some thoughts to my goals now. Career aspirations obviously include completing my legal degree with as high a degree classification as I can achieve, get a place studying for the BPTC, get pupillage, change world. But health wise, I just don't think that my 'weight' can be the priority. Right now my 'weight' is not serving me. It is holding me back. My aim is to be healthy. To go to bed feeling well and waking up feeling well and able to start the next day. Not feeling like I've put poison in my body that wracks my stomach with cramps at night and waking up feeling like I've been hit by a bus. To be fit. To give my body challenges that it has not achieved (or even tried) before and feel like I can do it. To not feel so lethargic. To not go up the three flights of stairs to my bedroom and feel exhausted at the end. To condition my body so that it is in excellent condition for as long as possible. Not my weight. My weight does not determine any of those things.

So kids, for now at least, I am banishing the scales. I will still record what I eat as a method of accountability but my focus has to be on getting the most from my activity, eating healthily and regaining my balance. But most important of all, finding the positivity that drove me on all that time ago when I first started this. And until then (and perhaps even then) my 'weight' can only hold me down.