When we set a goal to weigh a certain number, or to look a certain way, we have no idea what we are actually signing up for. We can imagine how we will look, and guess at how we might feel but the reality is way beyond what you expect.
I know I have said in the past that I wondered if all the pain, work and mental confusion were too much to pay for the end result. I am here to tell you that the benefit outstrips the cost more than ten times over.
If you are working hard on losing fat, building muscle and getting fit, let me let you in on what it is you will actually achieve when you get where you want to be.
★ You will look fantastic in anything you decide to wear. You can wear tight clothes or baggy clothes and you will still look lean. You can dress up or throw on tracksuit pants and a sweatshirt, and there will be no reason to change because you feel 'fat'. When you dress, instead of pulling down your clothes to cover parts of your body you don't want to see, you will get a pleasant surprise when you catch glimpses of skin.
★ You will not have nothing left to challenge you or to work on. I always felt secretly frightened that once I achieved my goal, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. When you are lean, you continue with the same behaviour it took to lose weight (planning, logging your food, training, monitoring your beliefs) but you now do it with delight. No longer do you have to have faith that your efforts will result in weight loss and body reshaping, the outcome of your efforts is plainly visible in the mirror. You don't have to hope it will work, or worry that you are doing something wrong, you know what to do and you just keep on doing it.
★ Your motivation is now incredibly strong and reinforced every time you look at yourself. You are less tempted to skip a training session or eat outside of your nutrition plan because you will lose what you have right now - you can see it, touch it and feel it. It is far easier to work to keep something you have, than to work for something that you have no guarantee of having far off in the future.
★ Every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window, pull on a pair of fitted jeans, or strip off to have a shower, you are reminded that you actually did it. The feelings of accomplishment, pride and self confidence flood through you afresh. When you have been conditioned to negative self talk, shame and even disgust, experiencing these new emotions almost overwhelms you. You feel like some kind a miracle has happened. Although you 'know' that you got to this place through hard work and commitment, it still feels like a fairy has waved her magic wand.
★ Being in the best shape of your life isn't the key to happiness. What it does give you is a constant low level hum of contentment that spills over into all other aspects of your life.
The way you feel when you finally achieve what you set out to, is better than you could ever imagine. If you don't take this new experience for granted, and are prepared to do what it takes to keep what you've earned, then it is not a white-knuckled precarious place that threatens to slip away from you at any moment.
It is a glorious, wonderful world of self acceptance. Your perfect body can be anything you want, but once you have it, you find that you will want to honour it, treasure it and care for it like a rare and precious gem.
Don't give up the fight. If you've fallen down, then get back up. It is not about being skinny (no-one cares whether you are skinny or not), it is not about fitting a stereotype of beauty, it is about reaching the place where you love yourself.
Please believe me when I tell you that being in calorie deficit, dragging your exhausted butt to the gym when it's raining and having to ignore the loud and persistent negative voices in your head are a small price to pay. If I had really known where this path would lead me, I would have made sure I got here as soon as I could.
Doing whatever you need to do to look the way you want is a noble and valuable pursuit. The reward is beyond wonderful. I am truly grateful, happy and at peace.