‘Don’t forget the progress you’ve made’ – Being body positive is hard at the best of times. There are constant pressures in our lives and at every turn, we are being shown that we are not good enough. The moment we wake up we turn to our screens. A phone, laptop, tablet, whatever. We turn to the news feed we have created which, more often than not, starts our day off on the wrong foot. We feel inadequate and the instant comparisons start.
But the challenge I faced two years ago, was what do you do when you can’t physically do the things the people on your feed are. I mean we all go out for drinks with friends, or clubbing, or to gigs, or to the gym, or a yoga class so we feel like we at least live a little like the people on our feeds. But I was bed bound. The added layer of inadequacy faced by those with a long-term physical illness makes body positivity feel like an absolutely impossible task.
When Rob first asked me to write something about body positivity I immediately said yes. Then as soon as I got off the phone I just laughed. I didn’t feel like I was in a position to give advice to anyone or to share anything because I feel like I’m still in the depths of not really liking my body that much. Then, after much thought (and an inspirational Instagram quote…) I realised that sometimes it’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Two years ago, as I’ve already said, I was bed bound. Something was physically wrong with me but doctors were telling me it was all in my head. Fast forward a few months and a lot of perseverance from my family, and I managed to get a diagnosis – Lyme disease. It took travelling to the US and 5 GPs for this to happen. At this point, I hated my body. I struggled to walk up the stairs, anything requiring concentration needed planning and I basically didn’t leave my room. It was really hard to be positive about a body that refused to work. I remember when I first started on medication, and very slowly over 6 months, things began to change. When my energy started to come back I would set myself mini challenges – walking to the end of the drive, being able to read for more than 5 minutes, and my ultimate goal – yoga. I’m not sure why but suddenly I had this desire to do yoga. If you had told me at school that I would be yearning to do yoga I would have just laughed in your face. You’re talking to the girl who probably did about 2 hours of exercise a day for 7 years, and never really had a rest day unless she was injured. I loved that life, and now you’re telling me I want to do 10 minutes of yoga? It was definitely a lifestyle change! When I was sick I would lie in bed watching yoga classes on YouTube (Yoga with Adriene is THE BEST) and dream of the time I could join in. And it didn’t happen suddenly – it took a lot of perseverance and building up my stamina ridiculously slowly. At the start, I would do 10 minutes and feel achy and exhausted for the next week. It was a mammoth process.
But it was so worth it.
I once took my mat outside in the summer and practised for 20 minutes as the sunset. I found myself crying with absolute joy. I never thought it would be possible. In the weeks before my diagnosis I had all but given up – I never thought I would be able to move again and I honestly thought I would die. But here I was; moving and smiling.
So maybe I don’t have loads of pearls of wisdom on loving yourself as you are, because I am still very much on that journey, but I guess my hope is that you can look back on the progress you’ve made and step out of life for a minute and be thankful for the journey you have come on. I don’t run at the moment because my body still isn’t able to cope with it, but walking fills me with the deepest sense of gratitude, hope and thankfulness because I know what it’s like to have that incredibly simple thing taken away from you. So, every time you step onto the mat, or into the gym, or even out of your front door, remember what you once couldn’t do and how far you have come. And if you’re able to run, and you want some crazy underpants, go and put those two together and take part in a Runderpants event – You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!
Till next time,