When I was younger, my motivation around staying fit was purely physical. I was exercising and eating in a way to determine how I looked. Now, I realise that was an unsustainable and unhealthy attitude and I'm happy to have completely changed my mindset, but that journey has been a real process.
Chasing the impossible
When I first started on social media, I didn't have a public account. I found myself trying to emulate the diets of the people I was following because of how they looked. I was putting pressure on myself to achieve this perfect body type, which – knowing what I know now about how many images are edited – isn’t even real.
I had this goal weight in my head, and I thought that when I got there I would find happiness – that when I stood on the scale, I would suddenly feel fulfilled. But when I hit that number, I still wasn’t happy. I just thought I could lose more. I needed to reset that part of my mind and realise that my weight and my happiness weren’t related – and that it was controlling me.
Once I acknowledged that, I could start exercising and eating well because of how it made me feel. I realised that I loved healthy food, and I could embrace new, creative ways of cooking that tasted great and made me feel great, too. It wasn’t that I was forcing myself to eat steamed fish with vegetables as some sort of punishment. These days, I exercise, sleep well, and give myself time off – and it’s motivated by self-respect, not self-image.
Since then, I’ve thrown out the scales. I don't really care about physical things anymore. I think that's where a lot of people (including myself) can go wrong with health and wellness. They are focusing on doing an eight-week challenge, or one-week detox cleanse. Those things are short-term bursts that can be impossible to maintain. Fitting into a certain size might make us feel good for a minute, but it’s not enough motivation for a healthy lifestyle that will last forever. That’s why you’ve got to find a deeper purpose.
I realised my true motivation was wanting to have energy. I know that when I eat well and exercise enough, I get through my day being the best person I can be. That extends through my relationship, my family and my colleagues. One day, hopefully, I’ll have a family of my own and be able to live a long and happy life with them because I’ve sustained these choices. I want to be a good person to be around, and that comes easy when I’m at my healthiest.
Make your #OneChange
Do a social media audit and delete the people who don’t make you feel good.
Be your own ‘why’
We take the fact that we only have one body for granted, but it’s something you have for your whole life. You might change jobs, you might change relationships, but your body is yours forever. It’s so important to respect it – because you can’t replace it.
So, how can you take the steps to respect yourself?
If you’re on social media, I find it helps to unfollow people that don't make you feel good about yourself. There's the saying that you’re the combination of the five people that you spend the most time with. What does that mean when the people that you follow on social media are the ones that you’re spending the most time looking at? That’s definitely going to have an impact on you. So, choose wisely.
It’s okay to follow a fitness or health account, as long as it’s influencing you positively. Those accounts might motivate you to get up and go to the gym, but once you’re there your motivation has to be for yourself. At the end of the day, it’s important to think deeply about your life and find what matters to you.