I feel like we hear a lot ‘never look back’. There’s all kinds of quotes about ‘that’s not the way you’re going’ and ‘the past can’t be changed’. I get that and I think it’s important to realize that you can’t change the past, but should we really ignore it completely? People who know how to relax are those who can sit and enjoy the moments happening right now. So we can be mindful of the present, and look to the future, the past is to be forgotten? I agree that dwelling on the past is sort of useless, but I believe that we have to look at the past when the stress of today becomes overwhelming. Especially if we’ve been trying to achieve goals!
A few things have happened over the last month that have made me realize that I have no idea how far I’ve come. These things that came up were all from my past that I’d forgotten, ignored or just pushed away. First, I was going through Facebook and found a few pictures of myself from two years ago. I can honestly say that I was totally delusional about how big I was. I mean wow, I don’t remember getting that bad!! The black coat I was wearing was stretched at the buttons, almost bursting. My face was very plump and I was fully uncomfortable. I even felt uncomfortable looking at them. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly looked in the mirror and realized, damn, I’ve come a long way!!
Yesterday was a little chilly, so I pulled a coat out of my closet. I bought it at a consignment store last year in the fall, traveling with my family. I loved it, but it was too small and wouldn’t button. I bought it anyway because it looked good if I left it open. I haven’t worn it in months, maybe a year, and hadn’t really thought about wearing it. I pulled it out, put it on, and easily did up all the buttons. I stood there for a solid few minutes looking at myself in the mirror. The buttons weren’t even straining. This coat now fits me perfectly!!
Another look into a past moment that surprised me was when I pulled out a shirt I used to wear as my ‘fat shirt’. We all have one. No matter how big we get, this shirt always looks good. It was my go-to slimming shirt for years. It’s also a nice, light colourful shirt that I really like. I pulled it out, ironed it, and slipped it on… It’s so big on me now that it is no longer slimming. It so obviously didn’t fit I probably won’t be able to wear it at all again.
We are all blind to progress. I look in the mirror and see the little rolls on my sides and lower back (you know the tire) that I want to get rid of. I find myself staring, feeling down on myself, that I haven’t managed to get rid of them. I think about it as I dress, feeling down because I have to work so hard at hiding those areas I’m not happy with. But then something happens, like trying on a shirt or jacket that never fit and is now too large on you, and you realize ‘wait! I’ve done so well!’. And I have. I printed the pictures off my Facebook page and put them on my fridge. I hung up that colourful shirt that’s way too big on me and put it front and centre in the closet, so I see it every time. I wore my jacket buttoned up all day. We have to look back to see the progress.
Today I feel great about my body. It’s not perfect, and those stubborn rolls will continue to be stubborn, but I realize how far I’ve come, and I feel amazing about it. I’ve achieved a huge feat, and those rolls will be the next huge feat. This past weekend I went to a consignment store and bought a beautiful Hugo Boss high waisted skirt for the fall that is in a size I never thought I’ve fit into. It’s a teensy bit snug right now, but it totally fit!! When fall comes around, it will be the perfect size. I can do that now. I can walk into a store and try a few things that are ‘fashionable’ and sometimes walk away with something I never would have bought a year before. A high waisted skirt that’s tight around the waist. A cute blouse. That sleek vest for the office. It’s opened up a whole world of clothes to me. I’m not looking only at the ‘this will hide my middle’ section of the store. Or reaching for the very back of the wrack where the larger sizes always are. But I never would have tried on that skirt if I hadn’t seen that picture of me proving I’d lost a ton of weight, or that ‘fat shirt’ that is massive on me now.
So ignore all those ‘don’t look back’ comments people make. Instead, take a look at where you started a year ago. Find a picture someone took of you that you hated. Go through your wardrobe and try on everything. The past can give you so much excitement for your present. Yes, you may be looking back on a time in your life things really sucked. I’ve heard that you should only remember the past as it brings you happiness. I look at that time when I was my heaviest and unhappiness, and it still makes me sad. What a horrible time it was. But I like that it’s there because now when I look back at it, and then look in my mirror today, I see two totally different people. They’re not even the same person. It’s almost crazy!
Weight is sort of a big one, because it’s physical and you can’t really escape it. But I look back on my mental health of two years ago as well and the change is insane. Two years ago I was a hollow, depressed shell of a human being. My life consisted of one awful moment after another. I was having panic attacks, was on medication for anxiety, I hated my job, I was unhappy in my relationship and I absolutely beat the crap out of myself emotionally. I need to remember that time when I get down on myself today. I need to remember how awful I felt and how lost it made me. I never thought I’d find a way out. I felt trapped, alone, pitiful and beyond miserable. Today I’m a positive person who really loves herself and finds happiness every day in all kinds of things. Sure there are things I still want to work on, like those love handles, but it’s a few things I’d like to fix, not an entire work-up. It used to be so daunting, thinking of getting healthy. Now it’s little adjustments that make me feel so much better!
Look back. Please, take a look back. Go onto your Facebook page and see what you were like a year ago. Remember how you felt a year ago. Remember what your goals were. Don’t be depressed if you haven’t reached one or two, instead focus on the ones you did achieve and make notes of them so you always remember.
1.) I got out of a toxic relationship
2.) I found an apartment and now live on my own in a place I love. After a year living there, I’ve decorated it so that it’s absolutely adorable! It took a long time because I found it piece by piece.
3.) I have a new job that I’m excited about every day!
4.) I am down several sizes 🙂 No more double digits for me!
5.) My health has improved to the point that I rarely, if ever, worry about it.
6.) I am on zero medications!! (Unless you count birth control 😉
7.) I’ve reconnected with a bunch of friends, and have people around me I talk to all the time and have so much fun with. (In my unhappiness, I’d lost touch with so many people.)
8.) I’ve dated. Mostly casual dates, but I’ve found confidence in putting myself out there again. And I’ve met amazing people along the way.
9.) I’ve finished my book and it’s all ready to send to publishers!! Anxiety is setting in, but I can do this!!
10.) I feel happy every day. I enjoy life. This is a huge thing for me. I never want to hate every second of the day ever again. It was awful!!
All this I’ve accomplished in under two years. So those love handles may stick out as a flaw, but I’m still happy with myself in so many other ways that I’m almost willing to accept them. A few little flaws is much better then being unhappy with your entire self. If you can fit your flaws on a little list, you’re doing well. If it’s more like a novel, you have a long way to go, but it’s completely possible!!!