I’m unsure exactly what I’ve spent the greater part of the last 7 years chasing. Other than a certain number – a specific weight, a label, or waist measurement. What exactly did I think was going to happen once I reached ‘perfection’? Would I wake up one morning and suddenly be happy? Would my financial woes, flat chest and the stress of chairing meetings and impending project deadlines just melt into the ether and no longer matter? Would I be more successful and more loved? Would my incredibly short span of patience transform, and turn me into a vision of grace and loveliness? Would I have it ‘all’?
Surely the only way to attain this perfection; to have that soft lightroom-preset, overlay not only on my instagram, but also my life. Surely in order to rid myself from the cause of all of my day to day detriment… my body fat, I had to behave in a certain way. I had to be perfect. Every time I entered the gym, I had to give it my absolute all. I had to sweat, I had to shake, I had to hurt. I had to push and pull until my body failed beneath me and then I had to push a little more because ‘it’s your mind you have to convince’. I had to cut out alcohol, dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar, carbs, salt, oil and most importantly cut out the enjoyment of food. Food is fuel, didn’t you hear? Taking pleasure in food is an indulgence, sharing a glass of wine with friends or a pizza eaten with a partner is ** big flashing neon sign** showing your weakness and lack of dedication to the cause…. perfection!
One year ago, I pledged (once again) to shed the weight that (once again) had piled on due to taking the well travelled route of ‘nothing’, in stark comparison to yet another stint of ‘all’ that preceded it. However this time my goal wasn’t perfection. It wasn’t shredded abs, or the enormous glutes my social media feeds assures me are essential. It was my ‘comfortable’ weight.
My ‘comfortable’ weight was the one I once sat at, but looked in the mirror and told myself I was still too fat. However, looking back, now 8kgs heavier, I longed to look like that. I had doubts that I would ever reach that weight, let alone spend months maintaining 5kgs less than this initial goal. My goal was no longer perfection, my goal was just to be better.
This goal translated right across the path I took to reach it. Gone were the days of ordering a pizza simply because I felt like I hadn’t put enough effort into my gym session, due to stress, tiredness, low energy or simply not feeling like I had 150% effort to spare that day. Once upon a time, I told myself ‘why bother eating properly? Surely it’s just a waste of effort if I didn’t perform like an athlete in the gym.’ I banished the mindset that once allowed me to apply the ‘logic‘, that if I had eaten chocolate for breakfast, and had lunch at a cafe, that it then meant the entire day was now a write off. I once would’ve told myself, it would be futile to go to the gym now, what would it achieve? You can’t out exercise a ‘bad’ diet right?
Instead of falling into this pit, a cycle of ‘saving myself’ for perfect days, I went to the gym anyway. Even if I could only manage 4 sets of shoulder presses with 5 minutes break between each, I still went. Even if I got home and hoovered down 2 huge cookies, an action that in the past would have resulted in an all out ‘well fuck it’ type binge, I was now able to put the rest of the packet back.
‘Perfection’ for me was no longer about not ever eating another cookie, it was now the act of putting the rest of the packet back in the cupboard. Through the routine of doing ‘some’ rather than ‘absolutely everything’; I half assed just as many workouts as I put real effort into, I ate the same few meals rotated through the week (broken up by cookies and crumpets) and I actually surpassed my goal.
I unearthed something new, something that I never thought I would possess. Pride in my appearance. Pride in my efforts, both small and large. All of those nights that I stood at the stove cooking chicken mince in a baggy jumper, the extra walks I started taking at work in my lunch time when the weather was good enough, actually started to become apparent when I removed that giant baggy jumper. The part of me that still believed I could only achieve change through strict militant precision questioned how I could reach this level of fitness, attaining and then maintaining the best shape I have ever been in… through following a “less than optimal” regime?
It sounds obvious right, when read as words on a screen, “don’t do too much all at once” or in a nutshell the key to change really is just“small efforts repeated consistently”, however, in a world that is seemingly baying for the absence of flaws, the very things that make us unique and give us our humanity, learning to please only myself has been my greatest accomplishment of 2019.
2019 was set to be MY year. You know, the year I would hit all of those magical numbers (as was every year prior), and reach that holy grail that is perfection.
Instead 2019 is the year I discovered my own magnum opus, my own masterpiece, the result of seemingly insignificant efforts combined self acceptance, confidence and peace, served with a generous helping of Cadbury’s.