I'm surprised by the number of friends and peers I know who look back wistfully at university or (heaven forbid!) school as the best days of their lives and now bemoan that instead of going out and getting drunk every night they now stay in and have people round for dinner. It's a sign we're getting old apparently - on the slippery slope to 30.
I have to say I have none of these feelings. For me, I feel like my life is at its best. There are many reasons for this, but I have to say that the main one is the new sense of confidence that I have. Even before I lost weight, I felt I'd gained in confidence considerably compared to how I was at school and uni. However, I don't think I realised how much the sense of self-consciousness of my own body held me back and essentially ruled my life.
I look back to two years ago, before I'd lost much weight at all and remember the constant battle I had with the mirror and trying to convince myself that I looked ok. The ridiculous amount of time I would spend getting ready and the number of times I would change an outfit before I could think about leaving the house. It's funny, because I know that people did think I looked ok then - I met The Boy before I lost any weight and he liked me as I was - but I just couldn't shake my discomfort in my own body. I genuinely felt like I was trapped in something I hated. I wanted to escape it and get a new one most of the time.
The miraculous thing to me is that, in a sense, that's exactly what I've done. I've lost weight, yes, and my god that has made an enormous difference to how I feel. More than that though, I feel like I've discovered that I am capable of things that for a long time I honestly believed couldn't actually be possible.
Walking was the start of this of course, and I'm sure will continue to be the foundation of this huge shift in how I view myself, but it was also just the start. Losing the weight (over 4 stone now) through walking has meant that my body hasn't just been getting smaller, but fitter. It took me a while to realise this, but I slowly have, and now I feel like I can take on other challenges (to me at least).
Before I lost weight I went through phases of trying to regularly go to a gym, which invariably left me feeling very disheartened. The treadmill was a particular nightmare - I was terrible at running, and essentially convinced myself that it wasn't something that I would ever be able to do for any sustained period of time.
Fast forward to September last year, and you find a newly thin version of me thinking that walking 12 miles a day wasn't feeling challenging enough and I wanted to do something more. So one day, I dug out my old gym kit and went for a run. How did it go? Well, all right actually - in fact I ran, albeit slowly, for about 20 minutes without stopping and then ran and walked for a further 20. This may sound pretty rubbish to someone who's a seasoned runner, but to me this was like a miracle. I suddenly realised that it was something I could now do.
Slowly, I started running more and more, as well as keeping up my daily walking, and it's been quite a revelation. Yes, there were some runs, particularly early on, that I absolutely loathed. No one will ever convince me it's as good as walking for exercise that is also enjoyable. However, especially recently, I've really started to find my rhythm and haven't needed to stop during my runs.
Finally, I took the plunge and bought myself some better running gear, including a small rucksack, and have turned two of my walks home per week into runs. That's 6 miles I'm running at a time now, with barely any stops (just at crossings, etc). I never, ever thought I would be able to say that.
Where am I going with this? Well, coming back to my friends bemoaning the fact that they are nearly 30, all I can say in return is that I'm loving being in my late twenties. I think I look and feel better about myself now than I ever have before.
Sometimes I have to remind myself how things have changed. I often still find myself thinking that things won't fit me, or that I shouldn't eat something because it's too fattening. People who are the size I am now and always have been will have no idea just what a revelation it is to someone who used to be bigger.
So why did I mention a new way of thinking in the title of this post? Well, I'm having to become accustomed to my new active life. I'm struggling a lot with changing the mentality that I ought to not be eating too much and that I must still stick to my previous stricter dietary regime. Looking at myself in the mirror today, I suddenly realised that if I keep doing that, then I might end up looking too thin, gaunt even. I genuinely still find it amazing when I walk into shops and the size I need is a size 10, or even an 8 a couple of times. I can't quite believe it's me and that I'm really this size. It's weird to be in this situation, after having been so desperate to lose weight for basically my entire adult life.
The other great thing is, I feel more connected with my body now. It's something I can use for physical exertion rather than something that I pick at and stare at and hate, which is how I used to feel. It's great to feel that my body is actually something good, something that I have control over. Being the fittest and healthiest I've ever been is a pretty good way to be heading towards 30 I think.
I know that in the future I'll undoubtedly go through more changes and will be bigger again at some points, but I feel like now I'm in control and I know what I'm capable of. I'm not going to sit back and say that I'm just never going to be the size I want to be because I know that I can be, and that is a very powerful thing to know.
And to think, all this started with a walk to work....if you're still not sure about doing more walking, this surely must convince you!