Now that I've well and truly hit the naughty forties, I've come to realise that my looks (and body) are fading fast. And I'm not in a good place. It's time to get my mojo back.
If I'm being totally honest, the body faded long ago. If, like me, you're vertically challenged then you'll know that every single pound shows. I only have to look at a piece of cake and it goes on my belly – and my hips, bum, arms…
And since complacency set in over 10 years ago, my waistline has continued to grow as fast as the weeds in my garden. And I've appeared to lose control – for waaaaaayyyy too long.
So it's time to get my mojo back. And yes, at 43 I might have left it a little late in the day, but late is better than never – and I know I'll be able to look back at myself a year from now and be in a better place because of the decisions I have chosen to make.
The problem with me
Frustratingly, I have an addictive personality. I'm very much an “all or nothing” person. Unfortunately this applies to most areas of my life.
When I used to drink, I couldn't just have a few – I'd get totally wasted on vodka. And when I smoked, I could get through at least 15 a day.
The problem being, when I'd enjoy a few tipples (mainly binge drinking at the weekends), I'd crave the smoking even more.
I never let the kids see me smoke when they were young. I'd hide in the garden and when they'd call looking for me, I'd tell them “I'll be in soon – I'm just weeding!”
And I got away with it – for years. Why they didn't question the sorry state of the garden when they played outside after all that ‘weeding' I'd been doing, I'll never know. But they'd sometimes spot the fag butts I'd failed to hide – and I'd blame it on the workmen or the previous home owners.
But when my daughter was about five years old she said something to me that prompted me to change my bad habits for good.
The motivation I needed
As a smoker I had all the tricks of the trade to disguise the smell – chewing gum, washing the hands, changing my top, dry shampoo in my hair, a quick squirt of perfume etc..
But one day, after having a sneaky fag in the garden, I came indoors to start my freshening up ritual. After I'd scrubbed my hands I went upstairs to change my top, walking past my five year old daughter on the way.
“Mummy?” she said.
“Yes my love?”
“What's that smell?”
“What smell. Where's it from?”
“Nadja, what smell?”
“Mummy, have you been smoking?”
I froze to the spot.
How on earth did (a) this little girl know what smoking smells like and (b) even know what ‘smoking' was?
And from that one small question I felt a bit of my heart break.
She was growing up quickly, learning new things and I didn't ever want my kids to know that I smoked. I'd read reports that children whose parents had smoked were twice as likely to take up the bad habit themselves.
I couldn't do that to my kids. And I didn't want to be their bad excuse for when they'd hit their teens and started experimenting with cigarettes.
And there sat my gorgeous little five year old, who shouldn't even know what ‘smoking' was, innocently asking me if I smoked.
And as the lies tumbled out of my mouth, I knew then that it was time to quit for good.
And I did.
The next new problem
That was six years ago. However, when I quit smoking I discovered that after a few drinks I REALLY wanted a fag. I succumbed a few times but found the experience awful; it tasted vile, I'd cough on inhaling and more to the point, I felt disgusted with myself for giving in.
Acknowledging that I have an ‘all or nothing' personality, I decided that I'd have to stop drinking for good too. It annoyed me because VIP and I used to enjoy drinking at the end of the week and over the weekend. We'd sit there getting tipsy together, putting the world to rights.
But there was another good reason I needed to do this. Years ago, whenever I asked VIP what he wanted for Christmas or his birthday, he'd reply “You know what I want.”
He meant for me to stop smoking. But I knew that in order to be successful, the drink would have to stop too.
And would you Adam and Eve it, now he complains that I don't drink with him and tells me he misses us getting tipsy together.
If I'm honest, I miss it too sometimes, BUT (a) I don't ever want to smoke again (b) the older I get, the worse the hangovers are and (c) I've realised that I don't need alcohol to have a bloody good time.
In retrospect, giving up drinking was an easy decision.
Although I'd managed to give up two unhealthy habits, I more than compensated for them with food. Crisps and sweets were my weakness, and I'd guzzle fizzy pop like it was going out of fashion. I was worse at the weekend, when bags of chocolate and cake came out and I'd polish them off in one sitting.
The trouble was, the more I was repulsed by myself, the more I ate to ‘cheer myself up'. It's a vicious circle isn't it? And like I said, it didn't help that I'm a tiny 5ft 1 because EVERY. SINGLE. BLOODY. POUND. SHOWS.
Getting my mojo back
At my 40-plus MOT at the doctors, they told me I was overweight. I mean, talk about stating the obvious. I was unfit, I had developed two chins, along with plantar fasciitis, and I was buying baggy clothes from charity shops to try and hide my ever expanding waistline.
I loathed having my picture taken – I was always the person with the fattest face. And now my kids had now started to comment on my weight.
So this year I decided that enough was enough. And thinking about it, the kids were the biggest catalyst for yet another big lifestyle change.
In terms of eating, I've changed my habits slightly. I'm sticking to smaller amounts of food, with ‘little and often' being my mantra to speed up my metabolism.
And, as much as possible, I'm follow a ketogenic food plan with fewer amounts of things like bread and pasta. At the weekend, I relax a little but control the amount of ‘unhealthy' snacks I consume.
Finally, I always stop eating when I THINK I'm full. Not when I am full – when I think I'm full.
But for me, the biggest thing that has made a difference to my weight loss and wellbeing has been exercise and mindfulness. I have…
- Joined a netball group for mums and we play every week.
- Go swimming once a week.
- Have started to run again (I gave up after I got attacked by a dog in the woods which put me off), and I'm now following the 0-5K app.
- Downloaded the Headspace app in a bid to start my day off with clarity and purpose.
This year I've lost over two stone and I'm starting to get my mojo back. People have started to compliment me and I feel my confidence starting to grow.
The new me
I've still got a long way to go, but I try not to think about that. Instead, I'm focusing on the here and now – the daily achievements (such as taking vitamins, using Headspace and drinking enough water) and sometimes even the weekly achievements (like 3 hours of exercise across the week), but I find that I can't plan for longer than that.
The other thing I've found has worked for me is to treat exercise like a really important meeting. i.e one you cannot possibly miss. I write it in my diary and I don't sacrifice this time for anything else.
As I get older, it has become increasingly evident that I need to start putting my own needs first. Most of the time, women put the needs of their partner or children (or both) first, with our own needs heading straight for the back of the queue.
This year I'm not going to be that person anymore; I'm putting myself first and I'm not even going to entertain feeling guilty about it for one second.
So what did I do just recently? I gave up my stressful job to concentrate on what I REALLY love to do. And I swear that this one action alone has already added 10 years onto my lifespan. No, really.
I was getting more migraines, feeling frustrated every day and constantly felt under immense pressure to keep life running smoothly. And when it didn't I became tearful or angry.
When I went for a routine appointment at the doctors, they told me that my blood pressure was too high. I didn't tell the family as I didn't want them to worry (although they'll know now having published this).
And now, although financially a lot poorer, I'm as rich as anything when it comes to getting my mojo back. I have more time for the kids and VIP, more time for me AND more time to work on what's important to me.
And although, ultimately, I want to be earning more from this blog than what I did in my old job, I realise that health and happiness are so much more important than a great bank balance, poor health and daily frustrations.
So what's next?
Getting my mojo back isn't quite over though. And I also think that it's something that you can continuously work on. Longer term plans for me include learning new skills and reading more self-help books.
In the shorter term, and with a renewed confidence, I've started taking an interest in clothes again. Being short, I'm focusing on what suits my height and my colouring.
I know that I'll always favour comfort over fashion. But who says you can't have both? I've always maintained that I'm a “jeans and t-shirt” girl – and I stick by that.
But now that I'm feeling fitter and healthier, I've started lusting after trendy sportswear. The plus point being that it's comfy of course.
I've also started to think about my daily beauty regime and where I'm going wrong. There is plenty that I'd like to change about myself still, but I think it all starts with great basics (such as getting the right moisturiser) and putting little systems in place on a daily basis.
I'm definitely up for some experimentation with lotions and potions. A beauty blogger I am not, but that doesn't mean that I can't figure out what's good for me and what isn't, and share it with my readers – so watch this space!
And finally, knowing that I'm someone who feels less anxious when her home is in order I'm aiming to develop a cleaning/tidying regime that is realistic and I can stick to – and getting VIP and the kids in on this plan. Many hands make light work.
As much as I'd like to think that I'm Wonder Woman and that I can conquer the world, I'm just a 5'1″ mother, wife and daughter who's aiming to live her life in the best way she can while trying to remain optimistic, happy and hopeful.
Because as Helen Keller once said:
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence”
I couldn't have put it better myself.
As I'm on the journey of change, please feel free to comment on any life hacks that have worked for you! And I'd love to know what changes you've made in your lifestyle to better yourself?
How to get your mojo back
- Decide which area of your life or lifestyle needs to change.
- Break the ‘change' down into weekly and then daily goals for one month.
- Write these in your diary and treat them like appointments.
- Review them after one week, two weeks and then a month.
- Repeat the steps above, recording (and reminding yourself) of what you've achieved so far.
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