We are surrounded by messages about weight loss. These messages push us to shed physical weight off our bodies, but I haven’t seen many ads that focus on losing other types of weight. These losses can be even more important. Shedding unwanted ideas and thoughts can change the rest of your life. Shedding self doubt or self hatred can propel you forward to places you never dreamed of going. Shedding unwanted people in your life can be uplifting and freeing. Shedding a negative environment gives a freedom that doesn’t seem to come by losing five pounds of fat from your body, yet the ads we see and the message we receive seems to be that as long as you have lost enough of yourself you will feel better.
In September I will be 40 years old. I spent many years with a fear of numbers. I was scared of my age, scared of my measurements, scared of how little money I made. As I creep closer to 40 I find I am shedding that fear. When I stopped to think about my life I realised that I was often the happiest when I was making the least amount of money and when I weighed more physically. I also realised that my teens were unbearable, my 20s were mediocre, and my 30s were the best decade so far. Following on this path means that my 40s should be amazing. There’s no reason that this larger number should scare me. The media has told me that going into my 40s means I will start to creak when I get up on the morning, that everything will sag a bit and get a bit squishy, that I’ll be tired, and that my fun youthful times are over.
I say bollocks to that! I had my first hip replacement when I was 2 years old. I have always creaked. I had my first child at 21 years old. I have been sagging and tired for nearly half my life! Now that I’m coming into my 40s I have gained so much knowledge about myself and the world around me. I’m comfortable in my own skin, my kids can pretty much take care of themselves, and Mr Westwood and I earn enough to live comfortably and travel. My life is heading in the right direction even if society tells me my numbers are wrong, so I’m going to party in September like it’s 1999, except this time I’ll wear what I want, eat what I want, say what I want, and dance like the whole bloody room is paying to watch me. I’ve mostly shed my fear of numbers and it feels better than losing any amount of physical weight could have.
Being stuck in a negative environment can be claustrophobic. I’ve seen weight loss ads that talk about being stuck in your own body. I’ve never really felt stuck in my body but I have felt stuck in an environment that made me feel so small and unappreciated that I struggled to breathe some days. A negative environment such as a job or a team or even a class can be draining. For me it combines my fear of numbers and toxic people. Staying positive in a negative environment can be downright impossible. In an effort to protect ourselves we often start using negative behaviors like eating our feelings and sleeping to avoid reality. Getting up to go to a job you hate is like putting 100 pounds on your back to go for a run. It feels heavy and weighs us down and can often make us sick. I know a lot of us have felt that Sunday dread knowing that we have to go somewhere that is sucking the life force out of us and turning us into something we’re not. Deciding to walk away can be liberating. I know that not all of us can walk out and I will talk about coping strategies in a few weeks but as we’re talking about shedding weight I want to say that walking out of a toxic environment can change your perspective on everything. Removing that weight from a Sunday and instead taking that time to go for a walk, see friends, or just watch a good movie without the dread hanging over can be joyous. It feels uplifting to know you have removed the weight of that environment and are able to go back to being yourself.
It amazes me how much society focuses on losing the physical weight but doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on losing emotional and mental weights that hold us back from living our lives. What’s one weight you could shed this week to start moving forward with your life? Please let me know in the comments below, through email, facebook, or instagram. I love hearing your stories and hearing about your journeys to self acceptance.