Feeling Like Me Again

Over the past six months or so, I’ve been battling with the worst self-image issues I’ve encountered in my life. I’ve felt out of shape, unattractive and just generally really crap about myself.

There was a time when I was one of those really annoying girls who could eat whatever she wanted, do no exercise whatsoever and remain a perfect size 8 (I think the fact that I didn’t really hit puberty until I was 17 may have helped with this somewhat). Well, not any more! I have a shape. A shape that has become increasingly hard to maintain and be happy with.

I’ll be the first to admit that my diet could be better. I’m lactose intolerant but often completely ignore it, and then I’m surprised when I feel bloated and lumpy. I know bread is my nemesis, but sometimes I just cant help eating eleven slices of it as a snack. It got to the point in August when I would look in the mirror and feel disgusted. And I laugh and joke about it, but to look in the mirror and actually feel repulsed by your own body is truly devastating.

Around the same time, something wonderful happened. My sister’s fiancé started a personal training course, and I volunteered to be his guinea pig. So in September 2016, I finally started to take ownership of the state I had let my body get into, and do something about it. I train with him twice a week, and try to fit in an extra cardio session or two on my own. We’ve discovered that I’ll do anything to get out of doing a plank, but that I have freakishly strong hamstrings.

When you start training, you always have a ‘problem area’ or two that you really want to focus on. Mine were my upper arms and the old love handles/back fat. My housemate commented to me a couple of weeks ago that my arms had halved in size, and I genuinely could not stop smiling. I dug out a pair of jeans over Christmas that I haven’t been able to wear in over a year, and found that they actually fit again. Plus, there’s the added bonus of my butt. I have a butt. An actual, nicely-shaped, kind of peachy butt. I never had one before!

Now annoyingly, I didn’t take a photo of myself right at the beginning of the process. But here’s a photo of me taken at the end of October next to one taken three weeks later (and half a stone lighter):

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Seriously. My trainer is an actual magician.

I’m still working at it, but this morning after months of telling my sister that I don’t want to shop for Maid of Honour dresses for her wedding until I’m happy with my body, I told her that I wanted to start looking. It might seem small, but that’s a huge fucking deal for me.

I’ll be taking another progress photo and updating you all in a couple of weeks when my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s exam is, to see exactly how far I’ve come while he’s been training to qualify as a PT. But for now, I’m off to stare at my butt in workout pants.

If any of you are interested in a training plan tailored to your lifestyle, or you’re Devon-based and want some one-on-one training sessions with an incredibly patient man, then you can get in touch with Ben Gilbert on Instagram @realbengilbert If he can train me, he can train anyone.

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Courage, Dear Heart

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I recently posted the above picture on Instagram, with the caption: “My anixety and depression is pretty bad at the moment. Everyone around me seems to have their shit together and I feel like I’m stuck. Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning and I’m constantly beating myself up about it. I need to remind myself to be gentle. Guys, your mental health and wellbeing should always come first. Hopefully I’ll have a new blog about it all soon.

As many of you know, I struggle with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and the depression that often comes along with it. It’s hard, and every morning I wake up wondering if it’s going to be a good day, or a bad day. Recently, I’ve had a lot of bad days. I’ve had what seems like a string of bad luck in my personal and professional life, and I’ve felt incredibly low. I worry about things that are seemingly insignificant, but that build up and up in my head into something enormous and out of my control. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, and I feel like giving up.

I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to comparing my life to other people’s. I see my friends getting engaged, buying houses, thriving in their dream careers, and it feels like I’m treading water. I have a full time job but I still struggle to make ends meet, I go to auditions where I ‘almost get it’ but never actually do, and I’ve let my diet and exercise plan go out of the window. In all honesty, I feel like I’ve failed a lot of the time. I focus on the things I haven’t got, rather than the things I have got. Even though I constantly encourage people to talk about their feelings when things get tough, I’m the worst for keeping things inside and bottling things up until I can’t stand any more and I break down completely. It’s often really difficult to remind myself that what I’m feeling is temporary, and it will pass.

People are always surprised when I tell them I suffer from a Mental Health Disorder. In public, I’m the clown, the one who’s always joking and trying to make other people happy, so it’s hard to believe that a lot of the time I’m feeling really shitty.

One of my ‘New Year’s Resolutions‘ was to find ways to cope with and ease my anxiety, and I’ll hold my hands up and say that I haven’t been trying as hard as I should. I’ve been making excuses to myself about why I haven’t tried out coping mechanisms, but there’s really no excuse.

So I’m going to breathe, be brave, and be strong. I’m going to invest more time in finding ways to deal with my anxiety. I’m going to take the time to do things that make me happy, and spend time with the people that make me happy. To anyone else feeling low right now, whether you struggle with a mental health disorder or not, please talk to someone about it. Even if they can’t to anything about it, simply saying “I’m not okay” helps. Grab your mental health by the balls and take it seriously. You don’t have to be strong alone.

I’m so lucky to have an incredible support unit, and I want to give a special thank you to the people who have supported and encouraged me this past week. I don’t think those friends realise how much a simple text has meant to me. You know who you are, and I love you.

I didn’t want to write a blog this week. I wasn’t feeling inspired, and I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. But I did, and although it’s a slightly more serious tone this week, it’s something that needed saying and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Starting this blog has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined, so thank you to everyone for your continued kind words and support with it. When I’m feeling down, I need to remember the real Lovely Little Lighthouse that’s the namesake behind this blog, and the hope it gives me.

Jessica xXx