I’ve been a yoyo dieter my whole life. Any time I start a new “diet” or “healthy lifestyle plan” (another word for diet) I spend most of my waking thoughts thinking about what I am going to eat next, working out what I need to do so I can have some chocolate or “treats”, berating myself for no doubt “falling of the wagon”, then completely falling off the rails and eating the entire contents of my house, ordering takeout, then wallowing for weeks on end and not doing any exercise until I try again.
This time things feel different.
In 2016 the guy I was living with in a pretty unhealthy flatmate situation, moved in with his girlfriend. We had been living together for about 6 months (this time, we were in a relationship a year prior to that, and he moved to Australia 5 months after I did it just worked out that we live together) and with his influence we had a really great lifestyle health wise (apart from the obvious mental health mindfuck of living with someone you are in love with who doesn’t love you back!). We trained together 6 days a week and ate really cleanly. As a result I had the best body I’ve had in my life. I was 57kg, toned and fit size 8 jeans! Unfortunately looking back I can see I was only in those good habits in a bid to impress him and make us seem so compatible he would see we should be together. Ironically he is now married to that girlfriend and his life has had to change drastically as she can’t eat most of the food he is used to and their lifestyle doesn’t allow him as much time for training. But you change for love obviously.
The last couple of months of us living together was terrible. I didn’t want to be home when he and his girlfriend where there and I felt so desperately alone and unwanted I would go out and drink far too much and end up sleeping with someone I shouldn’t have, just to feel wanted. I had only been working for a few months and didn’t have a very good social circle or support network yet and I hated my job, so all round life wasn’t amazing. He and I would fight constantly, and I’m sure he was very happy to move out as it was a terrible toxic environment for both of us. It took a lot of time and healing but we are still friends now.
After he moved out I didn’t replace him. I got a new job (the one I’m in now) which paid me a lot more so I could afford to live on my own again. The job I got was possibly the best opportunity I could imagine for my career, but that came with a huge amount of stress and pressure I put on myself. My work/life balance went out the window, and back came a lot of caffine, booze and emotional eating to get through. I was working very long hours so exercise also went out the window. I achieved fantastic things at work, but every other area of my life suffered as a result. I put on over 10kg, I was going on dates from dating apps when I had very low self-esteem, the guys were never right but I drank enough that they became attractive, and half the time went home with them when I shouldn’t have. This is a similar pattern to when I was a teenager where I slept with guys in the hope they would like me – it never works out!
2016 was the first time I realised I needed help and I went to a therapist. In hindsight he wasn’t the right fit for me, but I didn’t have the self confidence to leave him. I got some good things out of our sessions and the Australian mental health plan paid for a lot of it, so when my 10 sessions were up I didn’t go back. I fought my way to the end of the year and successfully launched my project.
In 2017 career wise I was smashing it. But I had little to no support so continued to work very hard at the expense of everything else. I put on more weight and started suffering a lot of anxiety and depression as a result of how self conscious my weight gain had made me. I didn’t go on dates and still spent a lot of time binge drinking in an effort to escape the pressure of work and meet new people as I didn’t have the confidence in myself to meet people outside of a work environment. I decided to give therapy another try and went to one recommended by a friend. She was fantastic, and it was through her that I realised so many of my limiting beliefs and self destructive behaviour are because of my relationship with my mother, which I had never realised. Through her I became a lot more confident myself, a lot happier in general and put to bed a lot of the issues I had from a very traumatic breakup with my ex-husband (a story for another day). I was all round a better person, but that still wasn’t helping with my weight situation.
Later in 2017 I decided to try hypnotherapy as I hoped that could stop my overeating and self destructive habits. It wasn’t the instant fix I’d hoped it would be like when people quit smoking, but the therapist did some amazing work that built on the themes I had identified with my previous therapist. In one session we did some hypnosis visualisation type work where I said to my mother everything I’d always wanted to say. I’m not sure what it is about being under hypnosis that pulls out thoughts and ideas you didn’t know you had, but some incredibly powerful things came out of that session including the fact because of her I believed I didn’t deserve to be happy or have someone love me and have the life I dream of, I will just need to settle for what I can get. Wow! How long had that been in my subconscious!
We also did another session on my self destructive drinking and trying to get to the bottom of why I do that. Ultimately it comes down to wanting to be liked and fit in. Again some of the mother conversations and issues came into that. My whole life Mum would tell me she didn’t have any friends and no one liked her, I was so desperate to be liked and have friends so I wouldn’t be like her, as a result I was drinking too much to fit in since I don’t have the confidence to fit in when I’m sober! In this session Athena joined me, which I really love as she is the goddess of strength, wisdom and crafts, and she gave me the gift of a compass so I can always remember to take my own path and follow my direction, not that of others. My whole life I’ve been so desperate to fit in and gauge my self worth on what other people think of me, and I truly believe this session was the start of breaking that for me.
During this I was also doing Dr Libby’s 9 week weight loss course. I cut out gluten, caffeine, dairy and was meant to cut out alcohol, but “couldn’t”. I only lost a couple of kg during this course, and put that straight back on afterwards with too much overindulgence at Xmas parties, but I learned so much and had so much better energy and sleep and that is the basis of the changes I am making now.
I think the other thing that has really clicked everything into place where I feel a fundamental shift in myself is as a result of my parents visit. At the time my mother’s attitude to me really upset me and put me in quite a funk. But now that I have had time to digest everything, all of the therapy etc is making so much more sense. I can see how so much of my behaviour up until this point was because of the stories I have in my head about whether she did or didn’t want me, whether or not she loves me, whether I deserve happiness or not, and seeing her this Christmas and seeing what she is like with a clear perspective, it’s no wonder I felt the way I did. I actually feel sorry for her as she can’t see the effect she has on other people with her ideas and language and she believes these ideas herself, which is so limiting.
It’s definitely a work in progress, but I feel like I can step back and see things through a much clearer lens now and can see the difference between reality and perception a lot better. I am taking more curiosity to my thoughts and decisions and using lot more “not helpful’s” to stop my negative thought patterns. I’m also currently spending a lot more time by myself, I’m not as desperate to fit in and be liked, I’m spending time getting to know me so I like me first. I’m not drinking in Jan except for two functions, and even then will be trying to be a lot more sensible with my consumption and find the confidence to be me without having to drink to shine. At the end of the day if someone doesn’t like me, that’s ok. I’ll attract the people who do like the real me, and that’s the only sort of people I would want in my life anyway.
Thanks for reading my novel and giving me the opportunity to get all of this out of my head xx