2015 was the year I signed up for Precision Nutrition. And started to appreciate my own body.
I had planned for that to happen. I just didn’t expect it to come from failure.
I had signed up to a 12 month coaching programme with Precision Nutrition with the express intention of coming out the end smoking hot and ripped. Hell, I even had fantasies of winning their $25k body transformation prize.
It’s now the beginning of 2016 and I’m here… not a body transformation winner. Only a few meagre kilos lighter than I was this time last year. And still in the overweight section when it comes to BMI. I have stretch marks, belly rolls and my bum jiggles when I run.
By my own standards I am a failure.
The thing is, I don’t feel like one.
Because although I didn’t get what I thought I wanted out of my first year of PN, I got something that I really needed.
A touch of self compassion.
Don’t get me wrong…. I still have high standards.
A few weeks ago I ran 118 miles from my home in East London to my friend’s house in Holland.
In a weeks time I am going to Costa Rica to participate in another 100 mile running adventure.
I run. I do yoga. I rock climb. I walk. And I dance around my house like a crazy woman.
My standard is that I move my body regularly.
But whilst in the past I did these things to change my body (to get stronger, fitter, slimmer, more attractive) I now do it to celebrate my body.
Yes. Celebrate my body. Those words sound as wanky to me as they do to you. And when I read them back I briefly fear that you will think me ‘stuck up’ and ’self obsessed’.
But I’m not asking you to appreciate or love my body. I’m just relating how I came to appreciate (and maybe even love?) my own body.
It was a freaking long journey!
For nearly my whole life I have been the self conscious shy girl. Hiding my body away under baggy boys clothing. Pretending I didn’t like to swim because I didn’t want anyone to see me in a swimsuit. Racing to the changing rooms straight after my hockey games, so none of my team mates would catch a glimpse of my bare (and I thought hideous!) body.
That shame and embarrassment was such a core part of my identity, that it affected every part of my life.
I let body shame damage my relationships
As a young adult I imagined that no man could ever be attracted to my lumpy, stretch marked body. And even when I found a man who declared over and over how attractive he found me, I would let my own body shame keep him at arms length.
Without going into too much depth (because my Mum is probably the only one reading this!) lets just say…
It doesn’t matter what size or shape a woman is, if she doesn’t feel attractive, she isn’t going to feel much like getting jiggy. If you know what I mean!
I let body shame hold me back in my career
Nobody ever said to me outright “Geez Cat, you are getting a bit fat”. But I heard their voices saying it in my head over and over again in my work day.
I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed in the clothes I showed up to interviews and meetings in. And when I eventually launched my own business, I pushed it to the brink of failure by being afraid to reach out and put myself in front of clients.
It became a vicious cycle whereby I would feel ashamed about my body which would rub off on my business. Which in turn would make me stress eat and binge. Which of course only made me feel worse. And so on and so on.
After a few years of this I was nearly obese, and had completely withdrawn from all my social activities. Not even admitting to my best friend or husband the extent of the problem.
Close to obesity (and bankruptcy) I decided things had to change
I could see how ridiculous and limiting this cycle was. The solution as I saw it was to change my body.
And so I set out on a series of great challenges – elimination diets, marathons, personal training, new exercise programmes. All with the intention to change things once and for all.
But every time I set out to address my physical reality, when what I really needed to change was my mental reality.
And when I failed – and I always did! – the failures would compound to make my mental reality even worse.
Joining Precision Nutrition was a last ditch effort
Signed up to Precision Nutrition – and with real and serious money on the table! – I was desperate to believe that this would be the cure. And the programme proved to be all they said it was. Daily lessons and workouts. Fortnightly habits. A dedicated coach reaching out to you every time you strayed from the path.
Only I had trouble staying the path. I would go great guns for a couple of weeks, counting the green check marks in my PN dashboard. Only to blow my streak and throw in the towel completely.
As my consistency ratings plummeted, and the red crosses started to outweigh the green check marks, I threw in the towel over and over again.
But over and over again my coach cajoled me back into giving it another go. Just focus on today. Habit. Lesson. Workout.
My coach helped me realise that those red crosses on my dashboard didn’t make me a ‘failure’. They made me ‘resilient’ because time and time again I kept on getting back up and dusting myself off.
By the end of the year I realised that I was less focused on how I looked, and more focused on how I felt.
Does this food / activity / thought make me feelgood? If not what would make me feelgood?
And most of the the time (though not all of the time!) the answer would lead me to:
- food that nourished my body rather than giving me a quick fix
- an activity that energised my body rather than punished it
- a thought or feeling of gratitude rather than one of hatred or shame
And with that, the scales – which had stayed almost stationary all year – finally started to shift.
Which is why I’m signing up for another year
I feel like I might have broken the back of my ‘perfectionist’ self-sabotaging ways. And so I am keen to spend another year, cementing my learnings and killing it once and for all.
I’m also excited to see what might happen to my body when I’m not throwing in the towel every other week.
I now know that it is possible to feelgood about my body at any size or shape. But I still would love to see what it feels like to be fitter, stronger, healthier, more energetic.
So why am I telling you about this?
Well, I wrote this mostly to process my own thoughts, and in doing so realise the extent of my progress. But I have also been shocked to meet so many people (and in particular women!) who have had similar thoughts or experiences around their own body.
Which is why I wanted to share this, on the off chance you resonate with any of my thoughts or feelings, and maybe don’t know where to start.
If you do, then please reach out – to me or to Precision Nutrition. I honestly can’t recommend their programme highly enough.
Either way, I am going to be sharing many more of my thoughts and experiences as I progress through the programme. So if you’d like to hear more about it, then do keep in touch by leaving your details in the footer below.