You hear the term ‘mindful’ thrown about a lot, particularly within the health and wellness industry. Mindful eating, mindful living, mindful thinking – you get the gist – but what does it actually mean? I incorrectly assumed that to be mindful you had to meditate, or be into yoga, but actually mindfulness is just to become “conscious or aware of something”. I underestimated the power that this word can have over certain situations in your life. We often rely on others to help us when we’re struggling, but sometimes we just need to help ourselves, and that’s something I can really resonate with at the moment.

A few weeks’ ago I wrote a post about the struggles I had when it came to my relationship with food, fitness and my body. If you read the post then you’ll know that a doctor recommended therapy/counselling, which was a huge smack in the face. I investigated it because I assumed that the doctor must be right, but after undergoing an assessment with a therapist, I started to question whether or not this was the right thing to do. I told them about my obsession with what I ate, my addiction to ‘feeling healthy’ and my attitude towards what fat and skinny were. It was a bit mortifying if I’m honest. I felt so insecure during that time and actually, talking to them made things worse. Talking helps a lot of people, but for someone who wasn’t sure what they were even experiencing at that stage, telling people about my so called ‘problems’ made me feel like I was in a worse place, mentally, than what I actually was. This is where being mindful comes in.

I was mindful of these issues, and I realised that I could only really help myself. Nobody understood it like I did. Ok, so if I’d been beyond the point of self-help then I would have booked myself a therapy appointment, but I knew I wasn’t suffering that extent at this point. I sat and identified what the root of the issues were, and figured out how to get on top of it all. Calorie counting was a big one, so I stopped that immediately, I also stopped telling people about what I was eating to justify the bad things and feel proud of the good things, and I kept reminding myself of how far I’d come. No I didn’t have the body I wanted, I still don’t, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made progress – and that needed to be recognised. I didn’t know whether I could help myself, but you don’t know until you try, right?

How things have changed! Since I started eating and just generally living more mindfully, my life has been completely overturned. I still eat healthy 90% of the time, but when I want a treat, I have one. I don’t feel bad about it. Ok, so Easter is a bit of an exception, but that’s in the past and I’ve been back on track for a week now and I’ve never felt better. It turns out people know what they’re talking about when they say “moderation, not deprivation”. Not that I needed help when it came to exercise, but my new outlook on food means I’m now in an even better place point when it comes to fitness, too. I always look forward to the gym and it rarely takes much to convince myself to get a workout in, which I talked a lot about in a recent post surrounding motivation. Exercise for me is almost like a reset button. Nine times out of ten, if I’m struggling with my body image or my diet, I’ll workout, refuel with a good, balanced meal, and I’m back to my usual self. The key is finding the exercise you like, and I’ve definitely done that at long last.

It feels so good to feel this good! I can’t explain it. Since I relaxed my views on health, fitness and food, I’m far less stressed, my relationships with people are much better and I feel as though I’m living more. It sounds weird to say, but until you spend months on end glued to a calorie counter app, judging yourself and your own choices, this sense of freedom is liberating. I’m no longer looking for an answer, because I finally realised there isn’t one – not one that serves as a quick fix, at least. Good things take time, and getting the body I want isn’t going to be an easy challenge. In fact, it’ll probably take me years. Lowering my expectations has actually allowed me to get better results. I still have fat, cellulite and days where I’m so bloated that I can barely walk, but on the good days, I’ve never felt so happy with my body. Not just for how it looks, but knowing how strong it is, and how healthy it is on the inside. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture is all I needed.

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