A lot of people I know refer to me as optimistic, positive, even annoyingly cheerful at times. This isn’t entirely true, I am not always optimistic and definitely not always cheerful, but I try to look for the positive in most things. In 2018 I was off work, for several months. My job involved driving, lifting boxes, moving furniture and then standing around and working on devices such as tablets. While not technically a physical job, it’s definitely not sedentary either. Part of my job was to motivate people, or more usefully, teach people to motivate themselves, after all, what good am I as any form of coach if you need me there to get things done? This means I have developed a different outlook on life and that comes across as incredibly optimistic. This is not because I don’t expect things to go wrong, or that I don’t get anxious or stressed but rather was developed as a coping mechanism for when I do have bad days.
After the birth of my first child, I felt like I had lost a huge chunk of who I was, I didn’t know what to do with myself, I was home all day with a baby and was basically either her mum or my partner’s wife. That seemed to be it, I lost and gained weight all the time, I had little interest in taking care of myself and I frequently failed to keep on top of the housework. I shopped or ate to keep myself feeling better, and made excuses to go out with what few friends I had around me as much as possible. This continued long past the birth of my second child, and at one point it was suggested to me by my GP that I had postnatal depression, however, the only solution that was offered to me was pills and counselling if I could pay for it. Not in the slightest bit helpful, I became angry and bitter. I was angry at myself for letting it happen, angry at loved ones for what I considered as abandoning me and indulging in some less than healthy habits. As always seems to be the case, things had to basically fall apart with several friends choosing to condemn my actions and to walk away. Do I blame them? Sometimes, other times I understand that I wasn’t an easy friend to have and did not make my life any easier with my responses to the situations at hand. Knowing that having experienced that and knowing what it felt like to slip into those old habits and behaviours has taught me to handle things differently.
Before, when I failed to lose weight or failed to maintain or even just didn’t bother to track I would get cross with myself, or I would decide I’d failed anyway so why was I even bothering. I even recall one little tantrum where I argued that I’d “rather be overweight than have to count points for the rest of my life”, in hindsight that was neither true nor an overly rational outlook. I decided somewhere along the line that if I wanted things to get better I was going to have to do it myself, and so I started reading about mental health, I had already studied sociology and was doing psychology at Uni so I was very aware of the implications. It simply gave me the opportunity to really understand myself, my behaviours and what triggered me. I thought, as an interesting subject but also, because it may help others, I would share with you the way I would respond before, compared with how I choose to respond now. And please, don’t think that I don’t still worry, have little meltdowns or cry over silly things when I’m stressed, I’m human just like you (honest!) and I am still learning, I’m just inviting you to learn with me.
My coursework is due in and I haven’t finished, I’m not even sure I understand the question.
Then – Panic, avoid it, hand it in late, or even just make it up as I go because then at least I’ve handed something in.
Now – Plan, even if things have meant it’s last-minute I still write up an essay plan. They are the most basic you’ve ever seen, but I understand them. We’re talking “intro – what I’m going to do, part one describe and discuss this, part two describe and discuss a second thing, part 3 compare and contrast the two, part 4 – conclude, what I did, what I found, where could it go in future. That is it.
My grade wasn’t as high as I wanted/thought I deserved.
Then – Sulk, be annoyed, read the comments immediately then be cross that the tutor didn’t understand what I meant, or be annoyed that I didn’t do it correctly.
Now – Give yourself a little time to be disappointed, you can’t just push that aside, so you have to let it have its moment. Then I have to get over it because sulking doesn’t push my grade up. Once I’m calm – tea helps, I will read through the notes and write down in a notepad anything they’ve said that I know I can definitely put into practice next time, I like to keep those notes in the same book I use to write notes for a paper – so it’s where I can see it. Once that is done, move on, if you’ve passed, happy days – you can forget about it. If you can retake, remember those important bits that will help push up your marks – it could make all the difference in the future.
I didn’t manage to track at all this week, and I know I’ve gone into my weeklies.
Then – eat everything and anything, I’ve ruined it anyway. Oh and I won’t go to the meeting this week, I’ll skip a week and get myself back on track first. Usually, this rapidly spirals into not turning up to meetings, not eating right and putting the weight back on because “I’ll start after [insert event or day here]” doesn’t get you where you want to be and so I would usually just quit.
Now – I still slip, I’m a human, I ate a whole share pack of Maltesers to myself this weekend, and no, I didn’t share them. Is it worth quitting over? Nope. Is it worth ruining the work I’ve already put in? Definitely not. Yesterday I went for the walk, I got in my steps, I ate mostly 0sp foods (WW) and because it’s a new week and I’m back on track, if I have the SP left at the end of the day I’ll have something nice because I have the points and I fancy something sweet. Yesterday was a WW mango and passion fruit cheesecake and it was well worth the 7sp! I had an omelette with beans for tea so had plenty of sp left to have it.
I had a gain/loss! And today is reset day.
I put these together for a good reason and you’ll understand why when you see my reaction.
Then – Yay! Cheat day! I had a loss/gain so I’ll enjoy tonight and get back on track in the morning. Ironically cheat days turned out to be just the thing to make sure my goal weight stayed out of reach for several months.
Now – Yes occasionally on weigh day I have a treat, if I have a high SP lunch then I try to make sure my dinner is much lower, I don’t worry to much if I go over, but I do try to track it, even if I go a little mental. Because even if I don’t write it down I still ate it, the calories don’t go away just because you ignore them and I learnt very late into my journey that even if you don’t write it down, that cheat day can influence the rest of your week both mentally and physically. In fact, now I don’t even think it’s the right mind set to refer to it as a cheat day. I remember totalling up my cheat day SP once, I get 23 in a day, but at the time it was 30, and I had already eaten most of my dailies before lunch, by the evening I had eaten over 75sp in one day. That wasn’t normally tracked, I had eaten an entire days worth of points, plus all of my weekly points on the first day of the week and then spent the rest of the week acting like I still had weekly points. That day made me realise that cheat day only really cheated me, as cliché as that sounds.
I know these don’t solve problems for those with serious depression/anxiety, but if you’re like me and you are for the most part okay, but you know your all or nothing attitude can cause some major sabotage then I hope this helps. I hope it also helps to remember that making a mistake doesn’t make you a failure and that while things with others don’t always work out, acknowledging your own mistakes make it easier to heal after. I let people down, I regret that. I miss people too, and while I can’t take it back I hope they know I still care.