I just wanted to take a moment and thank you very much for reading. Yes, YOU, you who is reading right now!
I'm feeling very grateful for all you lovely Skinny Latte readers out there. I've been so delighted, not to mention very humbled, by the lovely welcome back I've had since I started blogging again at the beginning of the year. I will admit that there have been a few times where I've questioned whether coming back was the right thing to do. But then I log in to my email of a morning and find, most unexpectedly, the most sincere and unbelievably sweet messages from readers of this blog, from all over the world (a special hi to Kate, Jason, Jade and Jessica today!) and I just can't tell you how much this means to me.
All I ever really wanted to do with this blog was to find and provide some inspiration - for people to know that if I could do it, then so could anyone else! I hope that me sharing my story has helped you in some way - whether you want to get fit and healthy, or whether you are just tired of living life with the glass half empty and need to get out of your comfort zone, in every sense of the word. I hope that my various ramblings give you some hope that it's never impossible, nor is it ever too late, to find the you you want to be and live the life you know you were meant to live.
My journey was about getting healthy and getting happy - and it still is. Losing weight was, in retrospect, possibly the easiest part. It was learning to love and accept myself that was, and continues to be, the hardest part. There are still days when I am a bit hard on myself, but slowly I am coming to appreciate everything good about this journey, learning from the not-so-good bits, and taking time out to smell the roses, to reevaluate and set new goals, and look back over the last four years and how far I've come over them.
It didn't happen overnight, as you all know. But it happened. Because I started, and I didn't stop. I made what I wanted in my life a priority. And eventually I became the woman I always wanted to be - someone who believed in herself, who had the courage to go for her dreams and steamrolled over every obstacle in her way, who was confident and outgoing and didn't doubt for a second that she deserved good people in her life, who had self respect and truly believed she was worthwhile.
That girl took an unexpected holiday for a while last year. Her stand-in was a bit of Dismal Dora, if I do say so myself! She would look at everything with a very critical eye, and nothing I did was good enough for her. "Tsk, tsk, only five runs this week, that's really quite a lazy effort." "Tsk, tsk, I think those size 10 jeans are a bit tighter than they were last time you put them on, aren't they?" "No, I don't think you should go to Topshop today, you probably won't fit into anything there anyway. Size 12 indeed!" "Who cares if it's snowing?! You should be out there running! Excuses are for losers! So you must be a loser." "Put that chocolate back, you don't need it. Yes, I know you haven't had any for a month, keep it that way." What a bitch! I wouldn't let a friend talk to me that way, so why on earth I was putting up with such rubbish coming from my own head is anyone's guess!
Life wasn't exactly a bed of roses last year, and I feel very ashamed that I was so nasty to myself when all I needed was a bit of comforting and tenderness, and reassurance that I was still ok, and it was fine to feel a bit lost while I worked through a few things and accepted this new version of my old life. Life at goal really is no different to life in general - you've just got to muddle through it as best you can!
So you can imagine that some of the letters and messages I got from you lovely readers made me raise my eyebrows at times! I would think "What? Positive? Confident? Is she/he talking about me? I must be a better writer than I thought!" LOL.
It took a while to feel confident and happy and proud of myself again, and also to realise that there is no "Old Phil" and "New Phil", there is just one Phil. And whoever she is or wants to be is ok. My dear friend M wrote recently about how sometimes we have a tendency to look at the past with rose-coloured glasses, believing it was better than the life we have now, which can only hurt us because the past can never be brought back, or changed. I found myself longing for the 2006-2007 Phil, conveniently forgetting that while those years were filled with the most amazing times of my life, there was also a great deal of pain and heartbreak.
As well as making peace with the past, I realised that I also needed to stop looking for universal acceptance and approval, and stop worrying about what other people think. You will never be able to please everyone. And more importantly, what about you?! You matter. Your wellbeing and opinions are just as important and valid as everyone elses. When you constantly sacrifice yourself to make others happy, you don't feel happiness, you only feel resentment, which is no way to live!
I'm certainly not confident and positive all the time. Like everyone else, I have my days where I feel a bit low and disatisfied with things. But it all comes good. One of my favourite songs is "All Things Must Pass" by George Harrison, and one of the lines is "Sunset doesn't last all evening, a mind can blow those clouds away...." - so true. I have goals, both fitness ones and others. I have things to look forward to, whether it's dinner with friends on a Friday night, a book by my favourite author coming out, or a weekend in Paris with my boyfriend. I try to keep my life filled with things that make me happy, and minimise or try to change the things that don't.
While I was losing weight, I had my goal weight to focus and work on. Now, I work on loving and appreciating myself, because I've learned that that is where real and lasting happiness, positivity and confidence grows from. Believing you are worthwhile, and to feel proud of who you are and what you've achieved, whatever that might be - it feels so incredibly wonderful. It's hard work but you can get there, and it's so worth it!
It's just as easy to get complacent about your mental health as it is about your physical fitness. Just like if you don't go for a run for two months you'll struggle to do the distances you were doing at your peak, if you stop cultivating a positive attitude and allow the inevitable hurts and disappointments of life get to you, then you'll lose the confident and positive mental state you had. Once you've got your mind in a healthy state, for God's sake don't let go of it. Trust me!
Anyway, this has been a longer thank you than I thought!
I hope that through sharing my story and my experiences, you can see that no matter how far you might have to travel, the important thing is to just get started. You'll never know where you'll end up, but that's part of the fun! No situation is ever hopeless, for anyone, and things can change, if you really want them to. And no one, despite appearances, ever truly has it all together.
Keeping this blog and communicating with and helping others in the same boat really keeps me grounded on my issues with health and fitness. It reminds me to be grateful for what I've got, to focus on the bigger picture, to be accountable for what I do and what I want, and to just live my life as best as I can. The fact that you all are along for the ride and seem to enjoy it is just wonderful.
So, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
PS: Could you all please do three things for me today?
- Write down a list of some things you are proud of yourself for doing (or even not doing, as the case may be). Read it, give yourself a pat on the back, and put it somewhere where you'll be reminded to read it again.
- Call or email someone who is important to you, and just tell them that you think they're great. You'll both feel wonderful!
- Think of something you'd really like to do this weekend. Maybe it's going to a music festival, or to the movies, or trying a new bottle of wine in your local Oddbins, or going to the library and borrowing heaps of books, or buying some new workout clothes. For God's sake, go and do it! You deserve it!
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
- Anais Nin