As mentioned last Friday, this is the first in a new series on The Guilty Girl running for the month of June, called The 'Body Issue'. I realized around three weeks ago that it was time to give myself a kick up the backside and get moving again - not just because it's swimsuit season, but because I was getting really unhappy. I spend most of my time indoors, I don't get to socialize too much and my work day is mostly spent on a computer - meaning exercise is kind of bottom of the list. But after a particularly down day, I decided I had to make some serious changes if I was ever going to look in the mirror and be happy with what I saw.

The problem was this - I'd lost weight before. Around about four or five summers and 'beach bodies' ago, I lost three stone. It was massive for me. After spending most of my life being 'the fat girl', I was slimmer and healthier physically than I had ever been before. I say healthier physically because unfortunately this transformation didn't do much for me mentally. I was obsessed with calorie counting, I valued myself purely on aesthetics and couldn't understand why I didn't have a boyfriend (sidenote: why is that such a problem when you're younger?!). I was judging my self worth based purely on superficial things. I can remember standing looking at a packet of microwave vegetables checking the calorie count and fat content. If I could go back now, I'd throw that steam bag across the room and tell myself that those foods were doing little for my nutrition other than upping my water intake. Floppy veggies are no one's friend.

The point I'm trying to make is that, no matter what you do, how you approach losing weight, getting fit, eating healthier - if you don't come to the decision from a healthy place, you're never going to get anywhere that you're staying for too long. Of the three stone I lost then, I've put about one and a half of it back on through getting busy, getting depressed, getting comfortable in a relationship and just generally being lazy about taking care of myself. And I got that way through bad choices. I never, not even at my tiniest clothing size, chose myself.

Think about your body. Not a clothes size - think about your actual body. Uniquely. Take stock. For instance - I noticed my posture and flexibility had really suffered since I stopped being active. My back would hurt if I stood up for long periods of time. A nature trail that I used to be able to complete with ease absolutely destroyed me back in April. I hated feeling like I was old at 24! 

Think about what problems you have and what you could do to improve - my flexibility and posture were a key point, so I started doing yoga and Pilates regularly again. Poor fitness made me want to get into running, and as I couldn't afford gym membership, I downloaded the Couch to 5K app and got working on it. Granted, this is still a work in progress, but my intentions are in place.

Start with the attainable. Don't tie your hopes and goals to a clothes size or a goal weight. Start with something simpler. Why not try 'I will do something towards being active three times a week' at first. Even if that's just YouTubing a Blogilates or Tone It Up workout and doing it through. Start small and don't punish yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself, go at your own pace, and measure how well you've done by how good you feel, not by numbers.

Make an empowering statement of intent. This sounds fancy, but it really just boils down to this: Write down something for yourself to remind you why you started. I wrote: 'I will walk the Lakes with J this summer at a good fitness level'.  I also wrote: 'I will do the handstand I've always wanted to do.' I also made a point of sharing my intentions with a few close friends and my mum. Holding yourself accountable with supportive and loving people is a gentle reminder that you do have a goal, and you have people around you who can be as invested as you are, if you let them.

Revel in your achievements. It sounds self-indulgent but, yes, you do get to celebrate a workout. Even if it's just a tick off on your calendar, or a little post-workout smoothie, maybe even booking yourself in for a massage treatment or running a bubble bath when your muscles ache. Find ways to reward yourself that aren't food-based, but when you do want a treat...

Eat mindfully. Sitting down to eat? Ravenous? Stop. Take a breather. Food is meant to be a refuel - giving your body the things it needs to work at its optimum. If you scarf down that chocolate bar, you might feel the sugar rush for all of half an hour, and afterwards? ... Thought so.

Being good to yourself is about giving your body what it needs - and yes! Every so often, it needs a Ben and Jerry's. But every so often. And when you do get that double scoop of ice cream - really enjoy it. Eat slowly. Don't guilt-eat and try to rid yourself of the evidence as quickly as possible - we've all been there. Enjoy your treat and move on with your day. 80-20% is a good ratio. Eat good, wholesome, home-cooked food that is as simple as you can get it (i.e. not processed, natural) 80% of the time, and the other 20%? Well. You know...

Do you have any fitness/health-related goals you're working towards? Are you interested in living a healthier life? Leave a comment below and let's try and help each other!

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