I hate the wind. When I'm on my bike and it's windy I want to kill myself. My wonderful old triathlon coach in Edinburgh used to say to me "Don't fight the wind". It made me want to kill him too. But I know he's right. If I'm out on the bike there is nothing I can do (except get off and go to the pub: NOT AN OPTION!). Joel is right - you just have to get on with it, and if you can, embrace it. You can't win a fight with the wind when you're cycling, you just have to dig deep and hope it goes the other way soon (anyone noticed that in Scotland you're ALWAYS cycling into a headwind, no matter what direction you're going in?!).
I have also become Joel! I tell my circuits class not to fight the burpees, but to embrace them. (I think they hate me, to be fair.) Because the point is that not fighting it makes it easier to live with and deal with, and that makes us more powerful in the long run.
I have been pondering this for week sbecause we all fight with ourselves every day don't we? "Go to the gym! Don't eat that cookie! Eat that bloody cookie!" We fight with our identities all the time! But should we?
We don't always know who we are fighting because do we ever really know ourselves? We're always changing and it's hard to keep up with ourselves sometimes! I'm not sure who I am anymore, since moving, having a child, quitting my stable well-paid job and injuring myself, yet I seem to keep fighting myself anyway! Sometimes we make decisions based on who we think we are, when really we're someone different.
For example, in the past when I was overweight but not morbidly obese I'd say to myself "we'll I'm eating a Dairy Milk because I'm morbidly obese so I may as well". Whilst when I was an average triathlete thinking I was an Olympian I'd think "I'm a top athlete! I really really really want that Dairy Milk but I can't because it doesn't fit my nutrition plan". And yes I was training hard but I also really just have a sweet tooth. I'd remember back to when I was overweight and I'd fight that chubby girl that I still think lives inside me, willing me to make a chocolate cake then eat it all.
But I'm not that chubby depressed girl and I'm not a top athlete. I'm just Kate.
These internal battles often lead us to keep making the same choices over and over again that might not be doing us any favours. It can lead to tension, stress and feeling down, and often those feelings lead us to making the same choices that don't work for us, and we get stuck going round in circles, unable to stop.
Gaining and losing weight is a classic example: on Mondays we diet and go to our favourite class at the gym because we are strong, sexy and confident, but by Tuesday we're off our diet and watching re-runs of Bake-off because we are sad and old and can't be arsed anymore. Both are stories we have told ourselves about ourselves, but what should we believe?
Well of course there is no one singular answer but there are a tonne of ways we can limit our internal battles to the ones that really matter for our physical and mental health, and in the process be kinder to ourselves.
If we are really looking to make changes there are 5 steps that experts talk about. Let's say you want to give up chocolate:
You’re happy with your Dairy Milk and don’t really care about your weight. You are not thinking about doing anything to change because why would you? Dairy Milk!
You start thinking that maybe you are eating too much chocolate and it might be contributing to you gaining weight. Maybe each day you fight with yourself about whether or not you should have some chocolate, but generally the chocolate wins.
When you have managed to cut down on your chocolate habit and maybe started exercising.
This is when you maintain your momentum and repeatedly say no to Cadburys and yes to exercise, and you begin to notice positive changes to your health and happiness.
The stage where you have found yourself eating more chocolate again, exercising less, and your internal battles are raging again.
All of the above steps are totally normal.
Relapse is not a bad word, it's just something that happens to most of us and means we have to reset and go back a step or two.
These stages are inevitable on our journey to a healthy lifestyle and it's natural to have internal battles every day. Sometimes the chubby chocolate addict wins. Sometimes the Olympic athlete wins. I guess the challenge is to try to win the fights that really matter, forgive yourself if you fall off the wagon and try to make peace with all the conflicting sides of your personality. Easier said than done eh?
My top three tips are:
Any other ideas? I certainly don't have the answers. There is a balance to be found between acceptance and fighting for change. Somewhere that middle ground is a happy, relaxed place I hope to find!