See that pile of clothes sitting on the bedroom chair you’re too lazy to tidy up? If you ignore it, they continue to pile up. Another jumper, jeans, countless tops… and suddenly you’re running out of clean clothes.
Oops, drawers are empty! You grit your teeth and fight to pull out a reasonably clean tee stuck at the bottom of the pile. Next thing you know, you’re buried semi-naked under two weeks’ worth of smelly socks.
That was me after baby #3 was born. Less yummy mummy and more Jabba the Hutt on a breastfeeding schedule.
I was a weak, overweight, energy depleted, sleep deprived pile of mush.
A decade of the hectic city rat race followed by three pregnancies had taken its toll on my body. Zero time to hit the gym – busy networking at the pub. I grab a ‘healthy’ meal in the way home: Weight Watchers low fat mac & cheese.
Sure, hormones didn’t help, but scratch the surface and you’d find things running deeper. Low self-esteem and identity crisis were the real issues – the high flyer management consultant turned fat full-time mum? What would become of ME?
Fast forward three years. At 38 years-old, I’ve never been stronger or healthier. I ditched the fad diets and understood the power of eating the right foods. I can lift, jab and sprint.
I did lose weight, about 18 pounds of it. But this story is mostly about what I have gained instead.
This a three chapter story on how hitting rock bottom can lift you up.
Spoiler: it involves sweat, greens and a happy ending.
Chapter one: Reality Check
There comes a point when you realise it’s time you get your sh*t together. I remember it clearly. When I couldn’t get out of bed one morning to feed my three month old child because one side of my body was in so much pain that I couldn’t move.
That’s when I knew.
I couldn’t push through anymore and pretend like everything was fine. If I was going to be able to perform at least my basic duties as a mum (ie. nurse newborn whilst not acting as a total bitch to everyone else), something fundamental had to change.
I made a decision. I was going to try exercise to strengthen my body. And I was going to make an effort to swap the late night toastie for what they called “real food”.
Chapter two: The Road to Recovery
“Now hold a forearm plank”. “What do you mean?”.
I didn’t even know what a plank was. My fitness journey was not an easy ride. It involved sweat, time and copious amounts of self-doubt.
I was too embarrassed to join a gym or go to group classes, so I started to workout out at home with a personal trainer. Ask me how often the night before I reached for the phone, ready to cancel my 9am session? Too often. Still, I pushed through the lack of sleep and did it.
Small victories started to add up: oh-my-glutes-are-alive kind of moments. I started to feel confident enough to leave the house in tight leggings. I started going to barre classes, my first fitness love. I gradually upped the intensity and frequency of my workouts. I became stronger, bolder and THEN: Lo and behold, I’m doing jump squats not falling flat on my face!
Let’s talk food. I will not lie. Changing my habits was really, really hard. Serious withdraw issues. I started eating more greens, vegetables, nuts and all that healthy malarkey. I cut down gluten and refined sugar. It was the time when all the healthy eating bloggers like Deliciously Ella and Madeleine Shaw were starting to make the headlines and I jumped on the bandwagon.
I endured the pain. And I was shocked with the results.
It took only a few weeks to feel the difference. I felt a lot more energetic. I wasn’t bloated or feeling tummy cramps all the time. My skin cleared. I lost weight. As it turned out, it was possible to find creative ways to cook so that I’d actually enjoy my new foods. I started making smoothies for breakfast, raw energy balls for snacks and roasted beetroot bowls for dinner. ‘Weird’ foods – quinoa, buckwheat, turmeric – took over my kitchen!
A brave new world was in front of me, people! And ladies, I was starting to like what I saw.
Chapter three: ME. Only Better.
Ah, the birth of Venus, emerging from the sea, perfectly formed and covered in out-of-this-world silk robes.
There was no overnight #Transformation. There certainly wasn’t a master plan to become a green, fit goddess.
(Not that I’ve become one, but you get the point).
Looking back I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me. From proud couch potato, now I can’t live without my workouts. Real, whole-foods are the rule. I swapped burgers and chips for avo toast. I got the kids into chia seeds and pretend they’re chocolate chips (do what you must, darling).
I created my health and fitness blog and rediscovered my passion for writing. Someone seems to be reading it, as I’ve even won a best fitness blogger award (*blushing*).
Then there was a day when my friend said: Oh, and look at how you’ve reinvented yourself – and it dawned on me.
I had carved a whole new life for myself and it feels AWESOME. I gained health, confidence and purpose. Nice abs too. And all it took was, well… hitting rock bottom.
Love your body right. In the age of live streaming and Prime delivery, slow and steady still wins the race. If you’re going through your own journey, I hear you. Hang in there – it’s so WORTH IT!