If you’re reading this then I’m guessing that you’re at least somewhat interested in healthy living. Really, who wouldn’t be ‘interested in healthy living’ – I mean most of us want to feel good and make old bones, right? But taking an active interest in it as a lifestyle is a different thing – I certainly wasn’t interested in my 20s, when my health, despite what I put my body through, was a given and I was going to live forever anyway. Cigarettes, excessive booze, cocaine and food that I now wouldn’t touch with a bargepole were more my style back then – not that much of the food was actually digested, thanks to my rampant bulimia in those years, having overcome the anorexia of my early adolescence.
Those years are not something I’ve talked much about publicly, not through any wish to keep secrets, but – well, I don’t know why really. There’s certainly a level of discomfort in exposing myself, and I suppose I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be to share it; but actually, if you’re going through any of that stuff, then it might be of service to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s 15 years since I last had a cigarette or induced vomiting, 11 since I touched drugs, and whilst I do still drink alcohol, I do so in moderation and love the energy that a hangover-free life brings with it.
All of which either makes me human; someone who’s seen the darkness and come out the other side (oh there’s more, but I’ll go into all of that in my forthcoming e-book called ‘Let It Go’); or a terrible person to be taking any sort of inspiration from and you can stop reading now. You choose.
Still with me? Cool.
It was getting horribly ill on the road that inspired me to make the first changes, back in 2002. My body went into a kind of protest shutdown one day, and it was all I could do to crawl to the bathroom. I recovered over the space of a few days of intense weakness and (involuntary) vomiting, and I knew that the time had come. Having been unable to smoke during the sickness, the first few days of cigarette-free life were already done, and so I carried on and never smoked again. I’d also been sufficiently shocked into recognising my body’s vulnerabilty, and never again hated myself enough to stick my fingers down my throat. I guess you could say I had a mini-awakening and developed a bit of compassion for the old girl.
I mean, I still drank the boys under the table, took recreational drugs, and any interest in actual healthy living was still a long way off… but it was a start. It took another couple of dramatic incidents for me to finally ditch the bad habits, and my interest in eating well developed as my respect for my body grew. When yoga entered my life a few years later and I finally sought professional help in confronting the demons that were behind all of the self-loathing that informed my previous lifestyle, the last pieces of the puzzle were on the table.
You probably don’t need me to say that it hasn’t all been plain sailing. But there’s one guiding principle that has really helped me through my shift into the joyfully healthy lifestyle that I now lead in my 40s, and it’s this question:
WHAT’S MY WHY?
When I want to eat crap instead of a dazzling rainbow of nutritious vegetables and fruits; when I can’t be arsed exercising; when I’m tempted by one more for the road; WHY am I going to make the better choice? The answers come back something like this:
– Eat crap? No. Why? Because my amazing body, with all her systems and organs, who gives me the means to live my life to the full, deserves the best nourishment I can give her. If, after I’ve eaten the stuff she needs, I still want crap, then I can make the conscious choice to have a reasonable quantity of good-crap; posh ice-cream, high quality chocolate, organic stinky cheese. But hoovering up piles of slag-crap isn’t happening in this body. She may not quite be a pristine temple, but she’s damn well not a mosh-pit any more.
– Can’t be arsed exercising? Yes actually, I can be arsed. Why? Because I love feeling strong and lithe and energetic and capable. Does Wonder Woman do ‘can’t be arsed’? I think we know the answer to that one, lady.
– One for the road? No. Why? Because I want to feel good when I wake up tomorrow, instead of wasting a precious day feeling sluggish and annoyed with myself and demolishing anything involving carbs and cheese and salt. And because I’m going to feel really proud of myself in about half an hour when I’m in bed with a cup of decaff tea. Tucked-up not fucked-up!
You see, ‘what’s my why?’ does away with the negativity of should-ing all over yourself. It gets you to the purpose of what you’re doing, and puts you in the driving seat of your life choices. It eliminates the need to rebel against your own good judgement and sabotage yourself. It opens the door to you becoming your own best friend.
And I reckon that’s got to be the best ‘why’ of all.