27 October 2021

New Years Day is in sixty six days, including today. I counted. Sixty six days before we enter 2022. Sixty six days for me to decide, and act on, who I would like to be when I bring in the new year. 

Every year, I sit down on the 31st of December and write a reflection of the year that’s passed. This was a tradition I started back in 2015, when I had reached one of the lowest points in my life and I remember, so clearly, the brutal honesty with which I took stock of my situation that year. 

It was painful, to say the least, but it was also cathartic and while life has not been easy since, it has been better. I’ve stretched myself and grown in so many ways. I’ve moved house and home, I’ve stopped smoking, healed my marriage, learned to set better boundaries, had another baby, moved up in my career and lost a bit of weight. 

However, I have recently felt as if I have hit another low in my life, a point of diminishing returns. It is not an all-time low – of course not, especially in light of where I’m coming from. But I do feel as if there is something amiss in my life, signs that I am ignoring, things I should be addressing. I feel as if I am becoming complacent as time passes me by and that I’m actively sabotaging myself, especially with regards to my health.

I am not healthy. I do not live a healthy lifestyle and I very many limiting beliefs around my physical well-being. And because of this, I feel as if I am killing myself, consciously taking my own life, and yet not doing anything to prevent my demise.

The biggest thing is that I am overweight. I’ve always been overweight. Not just overweight, but obese. And I know that I have an eating disorder. I binge eat and I eat to fill an emotional need. I don’t have a healthy relationship with food. I crave it and I fear it at the same time. I eat for the sake of eating and I am not a ‘happy eater’. I have mental and emotional blocks around food that I can’t seem to surmount and the overarching negative effects of being obese are becoming more and more apparent – and more and more scary.

It does bear mentioning though that I have, over the last year or so, managed to lose around 10kg through intermittent fasting. But again, this was a yo-yo routine with some days better than others and some days being far worse than others. For about a month in February I did alternate day fasting, and I lost the bulk of the weight, maybe around five kilograms or so and then another five over the next 8 months. So at the moment, I am weighed in at 103.7 kg, which is a far cry from 113kg, but which is still severely overweight.

And I’m still trying with the intermittent fasting, but I have good days and I have bad days and I have ups-and-downs and this can’t carry on. I need to get into a routine, a habit, that will allow me to gain a better relationship with my food. And I don’t think I should start with the abstract notion of trying to heal my relationship with food but, rather, with the intention of taking action that will allow me to eventually become a more mindful and intuitive eater. 

So, things like noting hunger and eating only when hungry. Savouring my food. Knowing when to stop. Eating only at the table. Not standing up or in front of the telly. Paying attention to my food. Only eat whole meals, rather than snacking before a meal and still eating the full meal even though I’m full from snacking. It’s gonna be a process, but I’d rather focus not the actionable steps, the actual process, instead of the hoped-for end result of “being cured from an eating disorder”. Somehow, this distinction makes it more doable in my head. 

The other thing that’s been worrying me, a lot, is the condition of my knees. A few years back, on another mission to lose weight, I was got in the groove of doing squats every morning. And I was losing weight and toning up and was so happy with my progress. And then, one day, I popped my knee the wrong way and instead of giving my body time to heal, I continued to squat despite the pain because I did not want to lose my momentum. And I ended up damaging not one but both my knees.

The condition that I suffer from is called chondromalacia patella and recently it has gotten so bad that I’m in constant pain, so much so that my mobility is now affected. I am only 36 years old (turning 37 in about two weeks) and am in so much pain that I find it difficult to sit, let alone walk, easily. 

I am really, really worried about my physical health. I also suffer from depression and anxiety and, thankfully, the last few months have been really good. I’m on the correct medication and I am feeling so much better. I also think that my postpartum depression has finally, finally settled down. 

Quite frankly, this last year has been the most gruelling of my life emotionally. I was so close to suicide so many times that I can’t believe that I am now at a point where I feel not just an alleviation of struggle, but a sense of peace as well. And for that, I am truly grateful.

The thing is, nothing will ever be perfect. We can’t expect it to, for life is not perfect. Life is meant to be meaningful and meaning comes from growing and growth itself is uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. 

But if we don’t grow, we get strangled in the noose of sameness, suffocated by our comfort zone. And I feel a double whammy right now. I can hear the Universe whispering to me, quite loudly right now, that I need to heal my body. I need to take better care of my health. I need to lose weight and I need to save my knees. I need to save my life.

And I know that if I disregard the warnings of the Universe, they will only get louder and louder until I finally crash and burn. So I have to take action and I have to take action now, today. 

SIXTY SIX DAYS TO CHANGING MY LIFE AROUND

So, what’s my game plan? 

1. Intermittent Fasting 

Well, I’m starting off this exercise with a 72 hour prolonged fast. I know the benefits of fasting. I know the benefits of prolonged fasting and by kicking off this endeavour with a 72 hour fast, I will not just prove to myself that I am committed for the long haul, I will also be able to reset my metabolism, reduce the inflammation on my joints, start the process of autophagy and cellular renewal and increase my ketones and my mood for this journey. 

Then, I want to begin Alternate Day Fasting. This is what I did in February, when I lost those first five kilograms and I saw the benefits, not just in terms of my weight loss, but also in terms of my mental and emotional health. I was more focussed and more emotionally stable and I was also prouder of myself than I have been at any other point in my life. So that’s the next thing step in my journey. 

2. Healing my Chondromalacia Patella with Yoga

I also want to focus on improving my mobility and easing the pain in my knees. One of the effects of favouring my knees has been that I’ve been damaging other parts of my body. My muscles are bunching, they are not pulling as they should. My Achilles Heel is painful and my shin hurts when I walk. I truly am afraid that I am in the process of losing my mobility. 

So, the next thing that I am going to do is focus on my knee health. A lot of the problems that I am facing stems from my muscles not working properly, not being stretched and strengthened enough. So the next objective over the following weeks is to do at least five minutes of Yoga a day, focussing on my legs. 

Now, ideally, I want to do more than just five minutes, but if I can’t find even five minutes to stretch out my knees doing Yoga, then I don’t really have any reason to curse my fate or to complain if I do end up not being able to walk or living in pain. 

So that’s the focus for my physical health. Consistent intermittent fasting and daily yoga. That’s it.

However, I do want to look at my life holistically and there are two other things that I feel an urgency to address right now, two things that I need to bring to the forefront of my life. 

3. Gratitude

The first is the daily practice of gratitude. I initially started actively practicing gratitude in 2016. I used to do it daily, at night, and I used to find three things every day that I would be grateful for even if I felt like my life was falling apart – which in many ways it was. However, despite this, I would still find three things to be grateful for and this practice not only changed my perspective, it changed my life.

If I had to pinpoint just ONE thing that got me from where I was to where I am today, I would credit the daily practice of gratitude. I believe, with all my heart, that gratitude saved my life and opened me to a world of opportunity I would never otherwise have been blessed to experience.

However, over the years, I have been inconsistent with the practice. I used to do it every night at the same time in the same way. I used to write it out on a piece of paper and then put the papers in a gratitude jar on my bedside table. But now, that practice has been modified to one where we “pray” out loud as a family with our primary prayer being a prayer of gratitude. 

The thing is, we are erratic and some nights we don’t pray. We just go to bed, without taking stock of our day and without remembering all we have to be grateful for. And this is something that I want to improve upon in these sixty six days and it’s something I’ve already spoken with my husband about. 

One way or the other, I intend to practice gratitude every day, either verbally in prayer with my family or in writing, in prayer with myself. But every day, for the next sixty six days, without fail, I aim to practice gratitude and use it as a cloak to comfort, shield and protect myself as I undertake this change I am striving to make. 

4. Writing For The Love Of Writing

The next thing that I want to do is to focus on my writing. I want to write every day. I am happiest when I am writing. I am most at peace when I am writing., be it fiction, non-fiction, daily journalling, morning pages, blog posts, anything really, so long as I am writing on a daily basis, every day for the next sixty six days.

And the intention is to start every day off with Morning Pages, an exercise described by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way”. I have found that when I do Morning Pages, my mind is clearer, I am more honest with myself, I shine a light on my demons and I take action. So, sixty six days of morning pages, which of course means that I have to get up at 5am in order to comfortably fit in my morning pages and my Yoga and start my day off on the right foot.

Anyway, all that being said, today is DAY 1, and I am happy with this decision I’ve made. No, more than happy, I am at peace with this decision I’ve made. I choosing to invest in the process of healing my body, mind and soul over the next sixty six days and I’m deeply grateful for the courage and foresight that I am showing by choosing to listen to the whispers of the universe – although I must admit, they’ve gotten much louder recently and I know in my heart that I need to heed its advice. Now, today. And all will be well. 

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