We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. – Maya Angelou
As I stepped on the scale, a few months ago, I felt complete disassociation with the number staring back at me. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t believe it. How could I let myself get to the point I was at? I was officially 50+ pounds heavier than my normal weight. Looking in the mirror terrified me. This body was a foreign land; I wasn’t familiar with it at all.
I began to look for quick fixes Googling multiple versions of “how to lose xx pounds in xx days” and “the fastest way to lose weight”. I was determined to do any and everything to ‘snap back’. If I could have done a ‘return to sender’ on this extra ‘package’, I’m carrying I would have.
After my frantic search turned up fruitless, I began to reflect on how I got to where I was and why I was in such a hurry to ‘undo’ it. The truth is, I was trying to gain control of my mental health battle, so my physical health fell by the wayside. And my rush to get back to my prime physical appearance was all about preserving an image that didn’t show how bruised I was.
Anyone who suffers from depression can tell you, when you’re knee-deep in an ‘episode’, operating like a normal human being doesn’t feel like an option. Routines come undone, to-do lists remain full, and don’t even think about trying to get me to be social. Days, weeks, and months can feel like you’re wandering around aimlessly with no purpose. You don’t concern yourself with healthy eating, let alone getting up and going to the grocery store. And similar to my case, you may even self-medicate with wine.
You rarely see the damage you’re doing to yourself when you’re in the storm, but when you come out on the other side, seeing the havoc that was wrecked can be devastating. And nothing could be truer for how I felt looking at myself in the mirror and stepping on that scale.
So, I took a step back and made a promise to myself. I would dedicate the next 365 days to improving my entire wellness – mental, physical, and spiritual health. And over the last two months, I’ve learned some things that have helped me stay consistent and committed to being a better me.
Create Goals and Set Intentions
The first thing I did when I started my wellness journey was determined precisely what I wanted to accomplish and why. The why is important because often we set goals that don’t really serve us in a realistic or conducive manner. When I determined what my goals were, I made sure they were things that would truly elevate me to the next level in life and were not just fleeting desires of the moment. I also gave myself smaller goals that would aide in me making sure I could accomplish my larger goals.
Challenge Yourself But Don’t Be Unrealistic
When I decided it was time to get myself back in physical shape, I tried to look for shortcuts and fast solutions. I immediately thought of all the women, especially celebrities, who gained a ton of weight after having a kid and snapped back into shape what seemed almost in a mere few months. Foolishly, I wanted it to be that simple for me. I joined a six-week fitness program, which they advertised would help me lose a ton of weight. And guess what? I didn’t.
When the program ended, I realized I didn’t need to measure my progress by someone’s insane standards and instead of looking at it as a failure, I looked at it as the jumpstart of my wellness journey. My expectations and perspective shifted, and I feel less pressure to meet an impractical goal.
Keep Track Of Where You Are In Your Wellness Journey
As part of my process, I’ve been regimented in journaling, and I use an app called Habit Share to mark my progress. The app keeps me accountable by sending reminders and allowing me to mark the days I’ve made progress towards my goals. Something about seeing the days I've made great strides motivates me to keep going and reach that one-year finish line.
Be Kind To Yourself
We often give so many other people grace and forget to give it to ourselves. There have been times where my friends have commented on their appearance and insecurities, and I’ve had to remind them to give themselves some leeway. But for some reason, I wasn’t doing this for myself. I’ve had to get real and develop self-compassion. I went through severe depression and survived. The reality is some people don’t. Instead of beating myself up for the flaws I don’t like about myself, I’ve learned to see them as signs of surviving my battle.
Don’t Rush The Process. Revel In It.
In the spirit of complete transparency, this journey has often left me frustrated. Often, I really want to get to the end of this 365 days. Hell, sometimes I wish it was tomorrow. But the deeper I get into this process, the more I learn, the more I accept, and the greater I love myself. My patience has grown, and with that wisdom and strength. I can genuinely say a better me is emerging.