How many times have we heard people utter the words, ‘in hindsight, I wish I had…..’ We beat ourselves up, wondering how we got it so wrong. Why couldn’t we have thought of the right response in the heat of the moment? Why couldn’t we have taken the advice of someone more experienced? Why did we not just trust our instincts? But, this is totally pointless exercise. We need to learn to leave the past in the past and move forward with the new found knowledge we gained from getting it wrong. I’m sure we could all write and extensive list!! So, here a few of mine, lessons I have learnt as an adult and not the 18 year old me playing at being an adult. These are things I could look back at in hindsight, but I refuse to. Move forwards, don’t get trapped in the past!
1: You can’t make everyone happy. If you are feeling insecure, don’t go falling over yourself to make others happy in the hope that having these people around you will make you feel more secure. This is a temporary fix, and I’m not saying not to help anyone else, but what I am saying is that by trying to please everyone (which is impossible, trust me!) you gradually chip away at who you are. Your character, your choices for you which make you happy, your spontaneity, your ability to express your own opinion…It’s blooming miserable. Be who YOU are and the right people will love you for it. If those around you can’t accept this, then change who you are around, these are not your people.
2: Fitness is so much more than running around and jumping up and down. It’s more than a big sweaty, red face, it’s waaaaay more than just about how you look and it’s more than counting every single calorie, avoiding all the ‘bad food.’ I used to be in the camp of, thin is good. Thin by counting calories and staying away from ‘bad foods.’ The result? No energy, diminished quality of life, always cold, low self esteem and never being happy with the results. It affects your body massively, but also your mental state in equal measures! What I have learnt is that exercise and treating your body right has so many benefits, it’s hard to list them all! It teaches you about yourself. You learn to listen to your body, learn how to fuel it, notice what makes you feel great and what doesn’t, you learn how to push beyond your comfort zone which is so empowering and it helps you to connect to your surroundings. Nothing makes me feel more alive than riding to the top of a mountain on my bike, feeling the icy air and being filled with such a sense of achievement, or running along the shore beside a stormy sea feeling the sea spray on my face! As with all walks of life, there are people in the fitness industry who will make you feel inadequate, there are people who will put you down, but if you learn to use this as fuel for your fire, you will push yourself more than you knew you could!
3: There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Even if you thought you had the perfect mum growing up, I bet there are things you will still change with your own kids while giving ourselves such a hard time along the way. Babies and children are all so different, there is no magic formula and no quick fixes for the curve balls they throw you. The solution? Something I wish I had done, is to connect with as many other mums as you can. Those strange conversations you hear yourself having, “please don’t put your foot in your brother’s mouth,” or “don’t scratch your butt with the dog’s brush,” you know, those type of statements you never imagined would come out of your mouth? As bizarre as they sound, someone else will have had the same conversation at some point with their wee one and you can pretty much guarantee a chorus of “oh my goodness! Me too!” I’m not going to say it will make your feel more normal, as I don’t think there’s any such thing, but you won’t feel so alone. It’s soooo good to talk!
4: Patience really is a virtue…..but it can be pretty damn hard!! Like the delayed gratification of an advent calendar! It’s hard not to peek at the last day, you have all sorts of expectations of how good that last one is going to be and you get so focussed on getting to that last one that you forget to enjoy all the other chocolates before it. The same can be said when it comes to fitness. We torture ourselves with all sorts of images of what we want to look like that we forget to enjoy the process. We ban ourselves from having the treats that make us happy, just to reach that unrealistic ideal, making the cravings for them so unbearable that we either give in and feel like a failure or deny ourselves and feel miserable anyway. It’s good to have goals, it’s really good to have a plan, but it’s also just as good to keep our eyes open, stay awake appreciate and enjoy every day we are blessed with on this planet.
5: Not every relationship is meant to be, whether it is with a partner or with a friend. You might start off on the same path but as the road starts to get bumpy, potholes appear and you’re hit with a head wind, it gets hard. You have three choices: you can continue along the same road, enjoying the brief flashes of light along the way, eyes focussing on the end goal and not stopping to look around; find a common ground you both like the look of and slowly but surely, head in that direction, picking your way through together; if you can’t find that common ground, take a deep breath, pull up your big girl panties and step out onto a brand new road of your own. No choice is easy but you need to think about you, you need to think long term and you need to be true to you.
6: Support is worth its weight, not in gold, but in platinum!! When you give support, support should be returned when you need it. If it’s not, this is not a relationship, it’s a one sided affair! When you are in the right environment, (like with my wonderful tribe) support of like minded, understanding souls will literally help you move mountains! You will achieve more and you will take more chances, as you know you will be caught if you do fall. If you don’t have a support network you NEED to reach out and ask for help. It’s not a sign of failure as I once thought, it actually shows how strong you can be to admit that you’re feeling vulnerable. I have pretended so many times in my early adult life that I was strong, I never needed help, I could juggle so many balls at one time and do it with a smile on my face and skip in my step. Guess what, I lied and it was exhausting. Don’t be a martyr, you’re only human, use whatever support you can get!
Do me a favour, find a quiet space to have a think about three things: what is working in your life; what can you offload to give you breathing space; have you got the right people in your life? Make a plan, be ready to adapt and make your aim be your happiness.