I don’t think I have ever met a single woman who isn’t worried about her size, shape, weight or fitness levels. As Rupal mentioned in her last post on health we should all be concentrating on fitness, and being healthy is certainly more important than being slim but more often than not the two generally go hand in hand.
I am slightly ashamed to admit it but when I was pregnant I ate A LOT! And I didn’t care, well, I did a bit, but in the back of my mind I had the excuse that I looked huge anyway so it didn’t matter. I actually used to buy packets of biscuits (triple choc chip, choc dipped, calorific, Choccy Mc Chocolate Face yummyness) and more often than not I would eat them all in the car on the journey home, mindlessly shovelling them in. Seriously, a whole packet was more often than not consumed within a short ten minute drive. It always happened when I was on my own, a little self sabotage when there was no one there to keep up appearances for, no one to question my actions and keep me in check.
As with so many of our blog posts there is some cross over, this one could also quite easily sit in the happiness section. As soon as I walked out of the shop, biscuits in hand and started eating them I felt happy, sometimes even a little devious (clearly I wasn’t going to tell my husband I had been scoffing goodies without him) but more often than not by the end of the packet I would feel a little disgusted with myself but mostly disappointed they had all gone already, the pleasure factor seemed to have disappeared in a flash, clearly I would have to buy some more.
Now that I look back I am pretty sure it was nothing to do with pregnancy cravings. There have been times in my past where I have overeaten and gained loads of weight before. Thinking about it, it was probably more to do with my mental health at the time. I was heavily pregnant, I’d just moved house to somewhere I wasn’t terribly familiar with, far from friends and family to be with my husband and yet as soon as we moved in he got sent away for a couple of months on a course. In the absence of my real physical friends I allowed food to fill that gap.
For Christmas I was given a fantastic book called ‘First bite’ by Bee Wilson. Admittedly I haven’t finished reading it yet but so far it is fascinating. Our relationship with food is quite complex and I am so glad to be in a position to be reading this book while my son is weaning. I really hope I can establish a healthy relationship with food for him. The thing that really stuck out for me was when Bee explains that we crave certain foods because there is an emotion attached to them.
Have you ever noticed that you really really crave some type of food and then when you eat it, it’s not as good as you had hoped it would be? This tends to be because there is a background story in your life that relates to that food. Maybe you and your first true love ate a tasty chilli con carne one weekend while gazing into each other’s eyes, a warm fuzzy glow surrounding you in a perfect fluffy heart shaped cloud. Fast forward ten years, it’s raining, everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong and for some reason which you haven’t even registered, all you want to do is eat chilli con carne. You stop by the co-op and buy yourself a chilli con carne ready meal before heading back to your flat to enjoy it. Funnily enough, you don’t enjoy it, and not only because it’s a microwave meal. The food on its own simply can’t recreate that lovely cosy happy time for you. A personal example of my own, when Aunty Helen sends over a plate of Sunday roast left overs along with a slice of her legendary lemon meringue pie, it is essentially the same food, it’s good but it can only fill my belly, it can’t fully fill my heart. Eating it warmed up on a plate by myself is not the same as being able to sit round the table with my cousins and any other relatives that might be about that Sunday, sharing hugs, stories and teasing each other in the only way we all know how. Reconnecting with a deeper more satisfying… well, connection. Being a social person this is really important for me, being with my family I can still be that little girl I have always been inside.
Anyway! Back to my main point. Healthy accountability. Three months after giving birth I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I hated my shape and all my clothes, teamed with the fact I had two christenings and five weddings to look forward to this year, the first being in February. I knew I was kidding myself if I tried to go it alone so I did something I have never done before. I joined Slimming World (other reputable slimming clubs are available). I knew that even though I would not be judged and only the weighing lady would know my weight, I needed that accountability of weighing in each week. There was no one to dupe apart from myself and hey, those scales were not going to lie, they were going to dob me in to myself every time. The eating plan is really simple to follow and essentially it’s what we all already know anyway. Eat plenty of lean meat and veg as well as fruit and keep everything else in check by only having small quantities each day. It’s obvious, I haven’t learnt anything new about nutrition. But what I have learnt is how much longer my happiness lasts when I am feeling pretty in a posh frock at a do. Much longer than those biscuits used to last on the way home. I have lost two stone already.
Each week we don’t only weigh in, if you have time then there is a session afterwards called ‘image therapy.’ Essentially we all take it in turns to talk about what went well for us and what held us back that week. It’s a great way to feel that you are not alone, many of the other members also struggle with similar issues and therefore each of them come up with their own unique ways of combating those issues. By sharing our stories and our solutions everyone can reap the reward – a very similar concept to Professional Spring but with food rather than business!
And for those of you who have engaged a coach or a mentor, as you will know, they are not going to do the work for you, that is up to you, but the regular contact and the fact that you have said you are going to do something out loud to a real person will go a long way towards you ACTUALLY doing it. It’s a pull on your own deep seated integrity. No one wants to be a miss match with what they say they will do and what they actually do.
I’d be really interested to hear if you have any examples of when you’ve managed to pull something out of the bag simply because you couldn’t face telling a key person that you hadn’t managed to do it?
Based on her own research, knowledge, personal and business experiences to date Polly writes regular blogs based on the themes of Health, Wealth and Happiness for Professional Spring. A support and networking community of like minded business women set up by Polly and her two friends Jacquie and Rupal.