2019 will always be known as the year I finally joined the Lizzo party and, with her for inspiration, began the long, slow slog towards not hating myself quite so much quite so frequently.
Maybe that sounds mental for someone with such a vast array of selfies on social media. And a blog where I almost exclusively talk about me (Hello, Narcissism) but all of that masks a deeply forged dislike of myself. Emotionally and physically.
With Lizzo’s powerful, feminist, self loving voice in my head, this year has been about trying to come to terms with how I see myself. And working on practising what I damn well preach.
This is all especially poignant as I now have a tiny niece, who, I am determined will grow up with her crazy ol’ Auntie Bean doing these weird endurance things for fun because I bloody well can and Rosie Jess will know that she can do anything. And that it doesn’t matter what people tell you you should do, think or be, you can create your own damn path in this world. And do whatever the hell you want with it.
SO. My list of things what I’ve sort of learnt but kind of haven’t but really should make more of a concerted effort to implement in my day to day life aaaaaaaaare:
Listen 👏🏻 to 👏🏻 your 👏🏻body 👏🏻
I’m sure I write those words every year. And yet, every year, something feels fucked and I say “shut up, hip flexor, we have a 5k PB to beat” and then I have to spend 18 billion pounds on physio and spend 8 years rehabbing something THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE IF I RESTED AHAHAHAHA FML.
Honestly. WTF, Bean.
Our bodies tell us when they need rest. I am militant with my HR monitoring. As soon as my RHR is up 10% I’m resting because I know I’m ill before I’m actually ill. I am that in tune. But when it comes to physical aches and pains, I guess I am still learning the difference between “good” pain and bad pain. (Not really. I’m just stubborn as shit)
Don’t, whatever you do, panic and overdose on birth control pills.
I mean, that’s kind of obvious, right? You would think.
Having spent over 15 years on birth control, and never missed a single pill, imagine my abject horror to realise while brushing my teeth on a Thursday evening, that not only had I failed to start my new packet of pills, but I’d forgotten to start it on the Tuesday.
I read the leaflet, I googled and I decided “fuck it” and took Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s AND Thursday’s pill. And then Friday’s when I woke up 8 hours later.
Good lord I was ill. I managed not to spew at my desk somehow. Or shit myself.
Nowhere did anything say “take every damn pill you’ve missed and then spend the following day hallucinating with stomach cramps, you absolute riot”
You live and learn….
Treat your mental health the same as your physical health. (Listen 👏🏻 to 👏🏻 your 👏🏻mind…..?)
I’m getting better at this one every year. I’m a total germophobe. If you cough or sniff near me I will maintain eye contact as I use hand sanitiser and a dettol surface wipe to disinfect surfaces around you as you speak to me. I’m a pro at recognising the physical signs that I’m not well (but clearly not that I’m injured) so why is it so hard to recognise when my head needs a rest too?
Recently, I’ve been checking in with myself more frequently and staying away from things/people/situations that cause me stress. This doesn’t mean I’ve turned into a hermit, but it does mean that I’m not afraid to say no, to cancel plans if I don’t feel up to them, or to switch off whatsapp and go to bed at 8pm. My friends and family know it’s nothing personal, and that’s why they’re the best.
Life is busy, and for those of us who experience depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges, taking some time for yourself to be quiet, or to do something that makes you happy (for me that can be a long, solo bike or binge watching queer eye in my pjs with jam sandwiches and cups of tea on a Saturday afternoon or belting out music in my car on my way home from work) can be of huge benefit.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Teddy Roosevelt nailed it. I’ve got the job I’ve wanted for 8 years. I’m an ironman. I have achieved the very thing I set out to athletically, academically and my career has been rewarding and varied and I’m only 33. And yet…… when it comes to training, I frequently find myself feeling disheartened or frustrated that I’ve “only” cycled 40km when someone else has done 75. I can’t seem to stay sub 30 on 5k for very long before bits start falling off (or at the very least, wildly protesting). I look at others who say they’re injured and curse their speedy legs. How can you really have torn your quad if that’s your pace?
We all do it.
More than just a basic comparison of my ability as an “athlete” (nope. still think that’s weird), as a woman, I’ve spent a good 27 years out of my 33 on earth, scrutinising myself against other women. And it’s awful.
I’ll go from feeling fit and strong and smokin’ to feeling fat and slow and howlin’ in 5s flat. (The one thing I can do very quickly, apparently)
This year I stopped using Strava so religiously. I muted and unfollowed a heap of accounts across social media and so far I feel like a weight has been lifted.
I also started trying to correct myself when I am self critical. I’ve a way to go before I actually succeed properly here, however progress is occurring.
Growing up, I was always under the impression that if you had a high opinion of yourself, that was cocky and arrogant and unattractive. Apparently people only like women who hate themselves and talk themselves down….. There is, however, a balance that involves knowing your goddamn worth, gurl. While still being open and accepting of (fair) criticism.
As humans, we often have a tendency to anthropomorphise animals and objects. I know I do it with bloody everything. My car included. So if I can feel emotionally attached to my childhood teddy bear (holla at me, Rupert) then why the fuck can’t I feel that attachment to my body? Like…. it’s actually human. And it defo has feelings.
To combat this, I’ve started trying to imagine someone saying the stuff I say about my body to my face. And it makes me feel sad. And every time I do that, I get one tiny step closer to acceptance that this is just how I look and I gotta start appreciating it.
Learn to love yourself. You’re the only you that you’ve got. Or something.
To Quote Lizzo’s Soulmate (which is a fucking tune):
‘Cause I’m my own soulmate
I know how to love me
I know that I’m always gonna hold me down
Yeah, I’m my own soulmate
No, I’m never lonely
I know I’m a queen, but I don’t need no crown
Recently, I ended up scrolling back through 6 years of my own instagram posts looking for a picture I knew I’d taken and shared.
I discovered a few things:
– I post a *lot* of shite on Instagram
– I miss my dark hair/fringe combo
– Why did I spend so much time thinking I was fat when I really fecking wasn’t?!
And you know what it did? It made me sad. I looked back on the last 6 years and I felt SAD!?
But I have achieved SO fucking much. And I have changed beyond measure. Why the fuck was I sad?!
Because. Because I felt old. And fat. And I don’t feel like I’m the person I was back then. I can’t believe I didn’t appreciate that body. Or my age.
Isn’t that fucking mental?!
6 years later, I’ve come through some of the toughest challenges I’ve faced emotionally, and in my career. And I’ve ended up in the job I believe I was destined for, in the place I was always supposed to be.
I’m an endurance athlete. An ironman. And, although I feel fat compared to what I was back then, in reality it’s like 4kgs and I can do a shit tonne more than I could back then.
My inner Lizzo playlist cursed me for being so negative about myself. About my body which always ALWAYS does what I tell it to (eventually and not without an argument).
I have GOT to learn to be more body positive. And to appreciate my health and fitness.
2020 is going to be a big year: I’m going long again. Imma keep being the best role model I can be for my niece. I’m going to keep bossing it at work. (Or trying to). And I’m going to FINALLY decorate my kitchen.
I’m officially strapping myself in for the ride and hoping beyond all hope that my hip flexor holds out until the end of August next year…
I’ll leave you with this. Because I fucking LOVE it.