Exam stress -to give up or not?

I’m currently trying to fight the urge to stuff my face with chocolate and/or to runaway from it all….

Am in uni with a vast amount of work still left to study and memorise for the EU law exam on Friday. It doesn’t help that there are full-time students crying about how hard it was and a teacher saying that a lot of people fail this one.   I was trying to forget that.

Aaaaaah.

And then Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ came on the radio and I just burst into tears at the computer.  I can’t believe my lovely Prince has gone.  I can’t believe I’m crying in this room.  Oh my goodness, the chocolate is crying out to me so loudly right now.

Do I need to get out of this frame of mind?

No I need to FEEL this and use it to motivate me. Why am I trying to change my life?  Study to be a lawyer at my age?  Really?  Get fit? Really?  Lose 50lbs?  Really?  Why? Why? Why?

So I look up ‘Don’t give up’ images on the computer… here’s a few that stood out to me.

OK, yes there is truth in these, I can see that.  I also recall my bestie saying:

“you’ll be a shit hot, super-fit, fighter of a lawyer”. 

Wow, OK, but what am I fighting for?  I need to remember.  No I need to ask God why he has put me here.  What does he have for me to do?  What fills my heart with passion and fight? Then, on the radio comes ‘You Got The Love’ – the Candi Staton version of the old gospel song (you can watch a video of it here):

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, “Lord, I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then I feel like life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

And I sit with my head in my hands and I pray.  I ask God to show me why? what?  WHO?

And instantly thoughts and images flooded my mind.  Not all of which I was expecting.   I can feel a fire has been ignited in me- I can literally feel a hot, burning sensation rising up from my belly into my chest, and tears are stinging my cheeks.  I no longer care that I have people around me – I am a hot mess.  They don’t care either, they will be too busy preoccupied with their own stuff to notice me.  But God has noticed, and he is speaking, and it’s getting so painful that I can hardly stand it.

And then I hear a small still voice –

‘my daughter, think of Esther; are you not also called for such a time as this?’ 

Whoa. Who me? Me God? Me?

I’m totally ablaze now. Think I’ve become invisible to everyone except God.

But Lord surely it is easier to bury my head in the sand, or rather in the chocolate, than it is to look around at the world and want to change it?   It is easier to walk away, to do nothing, to stay quiet. The problems are too much, anything I can do will be like a drop in the ocean.  In fact I can’t do anything anyway. I can’t even memorise this stuff for the exam let alone make a difference in the world.  I’m not good enough.  I’m not big enough.  I’m not strong enough. 

I AM’

I had to take myself to the bathroom.  Literally shaking, taking deep breaths.  A mixture of fear, euphoria and awe.  Am I really hearing from you God?  Or is this just in my imagination?  Have I lost the plot?

‘Read Isaiah 42’  

I come back to the computer and read it (here).  It tells me who Jesus is.  Wow. And that is who the Father sees when He looks at me?!  For I died to this life, and my real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

So EU law exam?  Bring it on!  Another 3 years of law training?  Bring it on!  Another 40lbs of weight loss?  Yup!  A lifetime of exercise so I’m fighting fit?  Let’s have it large!  Major heart surgery?  Go on!  Even if I’m single forever? Yes because I am HIS!

It’s amazing how knowing why you are doing something that you are not enjoying or feel afraid of is just the motivation you need to not give up.

So I am not giving up.

And I am not stuffing my face with chocolate either.

You want to know what God showed me?  I wish I could share what  I saw in my mind but I can’t, so here are some related images.  They are really tame compared to what I saw, but still may be upsetting.

Thank you for reading.

L x.

 

Advertisements

Introducing my first 10 week challenge

20160620_084934It’s the start of another new week hurrah!

And despite having a hideous amount of work to do for my EU law exam on Friday, I thought I would set myself a new challenge.  I’ve got one of those pull off calendar countdown things just screaming out for one, so here goes…

 

Each week for the next 10 weeks I will:

Make a new vegetarian or vegan recipe.

14a6ebbea74eeefa156dfaea1771b5efIt will be something that I’ve never made before, and it could be anything that tickles my fancy.  This is a huge positive step for me – to make the effort to cook from scratch for myself.  I’ve been enjoying doing it for the last few months but need some extra motivation so am hoping this challenge will help. Each week I’ll review how easy the recipe was to follow, how the dish turned out, how it tasted, and anything else that I can think of.

 

Try out a new exercise, activity or sport. 

Exercise-clip-art-free-free-clipart-images-4The idea behind this is obvious – to keep improving my fitness levels and have fun. Again, each week I will review what it was like, how much I enjoyed it, how easy or difficult it was, all sorts of stuff.

 

So if you’ve got any ideas for either recipes or activities I can try please let me know.  I am open to suggestions!

Thank you.

Love L x

 

Little update – cutting off.

Ah the power of non food treats. Today? Hairspray. And no I haven’t resorted to solvent abuse. If things get that bad i promise I will seek help….

I had my hair cut short on Friday!

Now it wasn’t really long (just to my shoulders) but this still feels like a big deal.

Symbolic.

Getting rid of old dead stuff that’s been hanging around for ages getting frizzier,  rougher, despite relentless pressing and pulling with torturous heat. Old dead stuff can’t be got rid of by  scraping it back or trying to hide it under things.  Of course there’s  treatments – self-help over the counter remedies and experts purporting solutions. Then there’s the people telling you  ‘its not that bad’ or ‘doesn’t matter’ when inside you know that truly it is and does.

No, the only way to get rid of old dead stuff is to cut it off.   Go for the chop.  Get rid.  No longer attached to you it can simply be swept off the floor and thrown away.

And this is what changing my life and fixing my heart is all about. Being courageous, taking risks, getting rid of stuff that just doesn’t make the most of my features, that restricts me, hinders me and that I hide behind.  Cutting off the old that is no longer good for me, whatever it may be.

It feels good.
It feels liberating.
It feels exciting.

Hello world I’m coming out of hiding! And I’m going to laugh and scream and cry and give woops of joy as I do it!

snoopy-joy

As I sit in a coffee shop in the city centre writing this (because I missed the bus home and wanted to get out of the rain) I am amazed at how comfortable I feel in myself.

Amazed because I’ve spent so much of my life in excruciating shame.  Ashamed of things that I’ve done or haven’t done, ways that I feel or don’t feel, things that have or haven’t happened to me.  Ashamed of my body, my face, my sexuality, my personality.  Too much of my life, my precious time, spent feeling this way. Awkward, contorted, restricted.

But in this moment I am not ashamed of who I am.  I can be seen and it is OK.

I am OK.

There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23.15) 

 

Love L x

HelloWorld.jpg

Moving on – lessons learned from last week

What a difference a day makes.  Truly.  As I sit here this morning at the start of a new week I feel so much better than I did on Saturday.  Unlike the Boomtown Rats (for those of us old enough to remember), I really do like Mondays.   I like that there is not just a new day stretched out ahead of me, but also a new week.  Full of possibilities and opportunities to make good choices for myself, to make positive steps towards my goals.

And today I get to make thousands of steps towards one of my goals,  I’m doing a 10k this eve! Don’t be too shocked – I’m not running it!  It’s actually the Leeds Legal Walk, to raise money for the PSU, a charity I volunteer with helping litigants in person in court.

I’m excited to be doing it, it feels like an important stage in my journey, not only as a marker to show how much my fitness has improved but also it marks being half way through the first stage of training to be a lawyer, 6 months left until my heart surgery, a quarter of the way to my weight loss target.  I’m so grateful to my personal trainer, Jennie, who is walking it with me and has signed up 5 others in the Set U Free crew to do it too. I’m really looking forward to meeting them and feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing support in my life.

So what have I learned from the last week?

1. I am stronger than the fat inside my head.

Despite feeling so anxious on Saturday, too fat to leave my house, I did eventually go out.  I got the bus into uni and did 3 hours of revision.  I may have felt sick while I was on the bus.  I may have felt like everyone was staring at me as  I walked through the city centre.  I may have felt completely paranoid. But with every step I took I could feel my strength on the inside growing and my body on the outside shrinking.

3515952545664d70a5485eda18f0f30d

2.  Good nutrition and exercise really do positively affect mental health. 

I know that this is not new news.  But because of last week I can honestly say that I now 100% know for a fact that it is true.  Well for me at least.  Last week I panicked when people started noticing I have lost weight, and old, unhelpful thought patterns started to rear their ugly heads.  This led to me skipping meals, and picking on sugary, fatty stuff, which meant I had less energy so less active, and so it went on.  The incredible thing is that I couldn’t concentrate as much either. I not only felt lethargic physically, but I also felt sluggish mentally.  And I very quickly started to go to a dark place.  But as soon as I have started eating proper meals again,  including good vegetarian proteins, complex carbs and fresh veg and fruit, I feel loads better emotionally, mentally and physically.

brain-food

3. I need to reorder my time to prioritise my health and fitness.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that last week I didn’t plan my meals, so struggled  to eat proper meals.  I also didn’t plan my exercise either.  My excuse?  Too busy with exam revision and work.  Real reason?  I hadn’t cared about myself enough to prioritise it.  I mean, I found time to watch tv, but surely I am more important than the tv?

The truth is that I can’t expect my health and fitness to improve by itself, it will take time and effort, but it will be worth it.  And so I have to choose to love myself enough to prioritise it even when I don’t actually feel that love for myself. Or I never will.

This morning I have planned meals and workout sessions for the week, done an online grocery shop, and booked a very indulgent non-food treat for Friday, a hair makeover. Eek.

images (4).jpg

 

4. I need more time with friends.

I’ve realised that I’ve been hiding away a bit recently, pulled myself back from my social life, and not going to church as much.  I’ve been worried that I won’t be good company, and I don’t want to burden people with my feelings if they ask me how I am.  It’s sort of crept up on me.

So yesterday, I went to church.  I didn’t really feel like going, because I still felt fragile, but I forced myself.  I’m really glad I did.  I walked the 2 miles there (and back), which instantly made me feel better physically and mentally, and I caught up with some wonderful people.  I thoroughly enjoyed the time of sung worship and the teaching.  My friend (who had read my last blog) prayed for freedom for me.  I chatted to some new people.  Then afterwards I went with a couple of others to a friend’s house for lunch and ended up hanging out there until 7pm.  We had lots of laughs together.  I didn’t get any exam revision done yesterday but  the day really did do me the world of good.  So watch out friends – I’m coming back out of hiding!

friendship-quotes.jpg

Love L x

 

Too fat to leave the house?

Today I am wearing grey.  And black.  Today is a grey and black day.

Today I am too fat to leave my house. 

To be honest it’s not the best day for it, I really wanted to go out to study today – perhaps go to a nice coffee shop and into uni.  And I’d quite like to go for a walk, get some fresh air and exercise. But I can’t.  Because I can’t fit out of my front door.

And even if I could get out of the front door there wouldn’t be enough room for me on the bus.  And even if I could get on the bus I wouldn’t fit in the coffee shop.  And even if I did fit in the coffee shop I wouldn’t fit in a chair.  And even if I did fit in the chair I would break it.  And even if I didn’t break it I would disgust people, put them off their lovely food and drink, ruin their Saturday.

You see today I really am too fat to leave my house.

20160611_080745

But so I’m not stuck here forever, I need to work out how I got here.  What has happened this week to make me this fat?

This week I haven’t planned meals or cooked properly.  I have struggled with wanting to starve myself, and wanting to stuff myself.  I have fantasised about flushing out my stomach by drinking water and vomiting.  Unwanted thoughts have started to flood my mind again.  And yesterday I over ate.  Yesterday I used a room at work for studying exam revision notes, and I picked on biscuits and sweets.  Not loads at once but a grazed binge over the morning.  Each time I felt disgusted with myself.  I forced down a jacket potato for lunch, and a healthier dinner of quorn chilli with spiralised butternut squash, but it wasn’t easy at all.  Food dominated my mind yesterday.  But why? What triggered this?

3475820366_96ab69304b

Let’s go back to last Saturday.  Last Saturday I took myself off to Scarborough for the day.   I got to the beach early before the masses arrived and enjoyed the wind on my face as I walked.  I went up to the castle too.  In fact I walked around 7.5 miles, which I was pretty pleased with.  I found a quiet spot high up on the hill to sit with my sketch book, watching the world go by.  Last Saturday I wasn’t anywhere near as fat as I am today.

20160604_121642.jpg

I think I started getting fatter on Tuesday.

Firstly,  someone commented that I looked like I had lost weight.  Which I have – about 15lbs.  But I don’t want people to notice.  I don’t want to think about losing my protective layer.   I reminded myself (and them) that I still have 40-50 lbs to lose.  ‘No, have you really?  It can’t be that much surely?’.  Yes, yes it is.  Of course they probably aren’t realising that in reminding myself of that fact I’m actually making myself feel safer.  But of course, at the same time I am also making myself fatter.

It astounds me that even this far on in recovery from my eating disorder I still have difficult times.  

Later that morning, I facilitated a meeting at work with very lovely people. Someone brought in cookies, big cookies.  But they also very kindly brought lovely peaches.  I chose to eat peaches instead of cookies. I knew this was a good choice and I was happy about it. They were yummy! I still felt uncomfortable watching others eat the cookies but the meeting distracted me enough to be OK.

But after the meeting there were cookies leftover and noone wanted to take them home.  I started to feel anxious.  I began thinking about the sugar and fat in the cookies, and then became aware of the fat on my body.  I became more anxious.  I had to cover this up.  I was at work for goodness sake, I had to keep myself together.  I started to feel the fat in my blood stream, and I became nauseated.  I picked up the bags of cookies and handed to them to someone, asking if they could take them away from me as I was struggling.

But they didn’t understand me.  They didn’t realise what I meant. And why on earth should they? It isn’t their responsibility.  I watched as my remaining colleagues ate the rest of the cookies in front of me.  And the fat in my bloodstream felt thicker.  And  I started to get fatter.

JS47622759

Eating my lunch that day was difficult.  I didn’t want to feel food in my mouth.  I had to force myself to swallow it.  It’s incredibly difficult to eat when I am aware of the fat in my blood and on my body, but I know that one of the most important things in my recovery is eating regularly.  I lived with a starve/binge/purge cycle for a very long time, and I don’t want to go back to that.  I’m NOT going to go back to that.  So I forced myself to eat lunch with everyone at work.  An achievement indeed.

On Thursday evening I went to a counselling assessment.  I thought that it might be useful to have some sessions over the next 6 months leading up to heart surgery – to give me a space where I can talk about things that I don’t want to burden my friends and family with.  But on reflection it has been another trigger for me being so fat today.

The counsellor seemed shocked when I told him about the upcoming heart surgery.  In fact he told me he was shocked.  But I didn’t actually want to talk about the medical stuff.  I found myself saying the usual old spin that I tell people, not actually talking about my feelings, getting under the surface.  He asked me lots of questions about it and had made some assumptions.  He even asked if I didn’t have the surgery was my death imminent? I found myself reassuring him that the surgery was hopefully going to fix me.  He asked if I’d had therapy before and why.  He asked me about my sexuality and relationships. I wasn’t prepared for those questions and didn’t want to answer.  I didn’t feel safe to.  I was in a small room, with a man I didn’t know, asking me questions about things that make me feel vulnerable.  He was nice enough, it wasn’t his fault.  I had intentionally put myself into that situation because I thought it would be helpful, but it wasn’t.

So where did that leave me?  Fatter of course.  I needed to be fatter.  To protect me again.

That explains the overeating yesterday then!

So I have reflected, and right now I am aware of being in that isolated place between wanting to lose weight to be healthy, in fact needing to lose weight for the heart surgery, and yet wanting to hang onto my fat to keep me safe.  Fear of not losing fat, fear of losing fat.  Fear of staying hidden, fear of being exposed.

The frightening thing is that even though I use my fat as protection, it is also the very thing that exposes me.  

My fat cannot itself be hidden, not even under these black and grey baggy clothes, and it says a lot about me.  It shows that I haven’t always made good choices with food, that I have eaten too much.  Perhaps it says that I am greedy, or lack self-control.  Maybe it screams out all my secrets, all my darkest thoughts and fears.  Or maybe it says nothing at all – it is just fat, does it really have a voice of its own?

 

I definitely do need a space where I can go to regularly to talk about things, to help me process the choices I need to make, work out the consequences.  But I need it to be with someone else who loves Jesus, because I know that He is the only one who can help me navigate all of this stuff and heal me.  He is the only one who can set me free from my fears.

20160604_122135

I learned during the therapy for my ED that I need to keep reminding myself that I am constantly making choices, I am not trapped.  Which means that I can choose to eat or not eat.  I can choose to have the heart surgery or not. I can chose how I look at things, and how I feel about things.  And my mum taught me that I can make any choice I want to, I just have to be prepared to accept the consequences of those choices.  Lord, I miss her so much.

Perhaps I am so much fatter than I was last Saturday because this week, prompted by all the triggers, I have chosen to look at my fat?  Perhaps last Saturday I wasn’t looking at my fat because I was focused on other things?

Perhaps this means that even today, I don’t have to be this fat.  I don’t have to be stuck in my house.  I CAN choose to push through all this, to look away from the fat and squeeze myself out of my front door. It might be uncomfortable, even painful, to get out but the choice is mine to make.  And the consequences of at least trying are surely better than the consequences of keeping myself stuck?

Love L x

From self-doubt to justice – a Sunday rant

Sunday morning, sat at a desk in uni in my favourite revision room at the front of the building – 4 floors up and a wall of windows on both sides of me so I can see out onto the street and also into the corridor.  It’s great not to be hemmed in.

20160605_172117

How do I feel?  When I see other students walking past the room, I feel inferior.  I look at them, all young and hopeful and I feel old, regretful of not making the decision to study sooner.  Even with all my life and work experiences, although rich in depth, I still don’t feel confident to be able to take on any of these bright young things.  Their enthusiasm is wonderful, refreshing.   The ones in today are much further down the training path than I am – they will be leaving uni this summer and starting training contracts or pupillages.  By the time I get to that point, they will have been working as fully qualified lawyers for a year or more.

So I am at the beginning of this training.  But it is definitely not the beginning of my journey.

I think I need to work on my own self-esteem.  If I’m not confident then how will I ever get a job?  How will I ever be able to inspire anyone else to be confident in me?

The only relevant strength that I possess is I believe I am able to stick up for someone who can’t stick up for themselves – whether they are a defendant or a victim.  I was shying away from criminal law – but more recently I’ve been hearing little niggles inside me for it.  And what could be God’s still small voice whispering to me.  I’m finding myself drawn to reading books called ‘Evidence’ and ‘Defending vulnerable adults’.  I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me fairly well will not be surprised at this.  Probably less surprised than me!

So what is the problem?  What’s holding me back?  I don’t know if I am good enough.  I have so much to get through.  The law I’m studying now (EU) I’m finding very difficult.  Perhaps because I am not interested in it?  Well I do like it, but it is such a steep learning curve.  I said the same about contract law, and did OK in the exam – 62, a commendation.   I felt slightly more at ease in public law and gained 68.  But this EU stuff? Pah.

I love criminology (hence my degree) and feel passionately that the law in itself discriminates against those with low incomes, ethnic minorities, women, and the less educated. If you are all of these then you often don’t stand a chance – unless of course you can access a good lawyer.  Perhaps someone like me?  Maybe?  When I think of that, I get a passion, a drive.  I can feel it well up inside of me.  I want to defend the poor and needy!  I want to help people seek justice!

To be honest, I don’t know if that is best done as a prosecutor or a defender- but I need to work that out.  I need to know what God wants me to do, because it affects which training route I take after this Graduate Diploma in Law.  I sometimes wonder if all of this is God’s plan just because He wants me to help one specific person in one particular case.   I wish I knew.  But I don’t. It is an exciting thought though.  If only I believed I was good enough.

I know I’m not.  But HE is!

battle

The best I can do is put my hope in Him and keep plodding through the work that is in front of me.  Right now its the Free Movement of Goods. Sigh.

And as for feeling frumpy and old.  Well the truth is I am older than the students that are here today, by at least 15/20 years.  And I do look frumpy.  I am still 40-50lbs overweight and I’ve not made any effort with my appearance today at all to be honest.

Today I let it get me down.

And I have compared myself, my life, not just with the younger students but also with the people I can see out on the streets of Leeds below me.  People in couples, in groups of friends, sat outside restaurants and bars in the sun, laughing and chatting, enjoying time together.  Parents and children out shopping, or just having a wander. While I’m sat up here by myself.  And I’ll go home by myself to a nearly empty house (thank the Lord for my 2 little cats).    I know I’ll never have children, I reluctantly accepted that when I had the hysterectomy, and I doubt if I’ll ever have a romantic relationship again – especially when I feel so down on myself, not the most attractive of quality is it?  I genuinely can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to be in a relationship with me.

But enough of that.

You know who else I can also see out of the window?  I can see a couple of people sat in shop doorways begging.  Sat amongst the empty bottles, cigarette ends and kebab wrappers – other peoples’ rubbish, the remnants of last night’s revelers on a night out in town.  They’re trying to get shade from the sun, and money – for what, maybe food, maybe drugs or alcohol.  See how quickly I judge from up here in my glass tower?People are walking past them, some stop to give or smile, but not many.

I am so ungrateful sometimes.   How ugly my selfishness can be!   I look to Jesus and remember how much He has given me.  Not only do I have His love, and some wonderful family and friends, and all my basic needs met, I have opportunity and choice.  It might have taken me a long time to get to this position, but I am here.  And I want to get through this, all of it –  the ugly sin, the self-pity, this law training, the weight-loss, the lack of confidence and low self-esteem, the past hurts, the heart surgery, the fears.  I want to get through all of it so I can get back out into the world and fight for others, to protect those who need it, to come alongside people when they are at their most vulnerable, listen to them and stand up for them.  Not just with the law but with the Gospel, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I am open to Him leading me to who needs Him, and I pray I can be of use in the fight for justice.

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.”

(Isaiah 1:17)

Love L x

Tackling my fear of swimming

A few weeks ago I asked my personal trainer Jennie  if we could have a training session in the swimming pool.  As soon as I started saying the words, little terrified L (who lives in my head) started screaming at me;

Why are you asking her, you know she’ll say yes! and you can’t do it, you’ll make a complete idiot of yourself, your body will disgust everyone in the pool, they’ll all laugh at you and then you’ll DROWN…. so shut up,  just STOP TALKING!

But it was too late, Jennie had already said what a great idea it was, and I was committed to going.  

Now, me and swimming pools don’t have a good relationship history.  Oh no.  The first time I went in one, I was 6 years old.  The PE teacher had us all sit on the edge of the pool with our feet dangling in.  I quite liked the coolness of the water on my skin and the smell of chlorine. But then one by one she and her trusted assistants pushed each of us in….  

So you’ve heard the saying sink or swim?  Well I didn’t do either, I just kind of thrashed around and kept going down into the water and back up again.  The water hit my eyes and went up my nose with quite some force, and I took a big breath in.  The next thing I remember is being sat in a grey plastic chair with a dirty white towel wrapped around me, coughing and crying, the sound of laughter echoing through my ears and the teacher telling me I was stupid for not holding my breath like she had told us to.  

That’s when terrified little L (who lives in my head) decided that I wasn’t to put my face in the water again, and to be honest that seemed pretty sensible to me.  We didn’t have many more swimming classes at primary school, and I refused to join in at secondary school (I was a bit of a rebel anyway).  So I’ve not been in swimming pools much over the years.  I did jump off the side of a boat in Thailand a bit worse for wear (it’s OK I had a life jacket on) but that’s another story.    

Anyway, this is a fear I would like to conquer, so that brings us back to now.  Well last Wednesday to be precise.

Challenge #1 – The swimming costume:  Not the most comfortable piece of kit for most people I imagine, but for those of us with extra fat in certain places they can be a real pain in the butt – literally.  I was convinced that my black costume was completely see through and that my boobs were going to bob up out of it in the water, so I wore a sports swim bra underneath. I could feel my back fat spilling over the sides of it.  I don’t like my back fat, can’t wait to get rid of it.  Jennie said I looked fab and didn’t pander to my self-loathing. That’s exactly what  I needed – I think I looked awful, but I’ll never get to looking fab and (more importantly) feeling fab if I don’t get over my fears of what other people think of me.  To be honest I’m sick and tired of letting what I think other people think about me hold me back from doing stuff I want to, aren’t you?

Challenge #2 – Breathing under water:  No not breathing IN, I learnt my lesson about that a long time ago, breathing OUT.  Jennie showed me how to breathe in through my nose, then bend my knees until my face was in the water and breathe out through my mouth.  Little L was not happy about this I can tell you, but I did it anyway!  I didn’t like it, it felt horrible, and I was terrified I was going to breathe in by mistake.  It got slightly easier the more I did it but I know this is something I will need to practice, and I am determined to do it.

All the while, we walked lengths of the pool, which is 25m long and 1.2m deep, chatting about all sorts of things to take my mind off it and help me get comfortable being in the water.  Did you know that even just walking in the water is a really effective workout?  It’s really low impact for your joints, as the water holds a whopping 70% of your body weight, and it gives great resistance to strengthen your muscles as well as get your heart rate up.  I can vouch for that – we worked out that we walked over a mile in the water. 

Challenge #3 – swimming with a float:  Yup I swam with a float.   It was pretty scary having my face so close to the water, seeing it all around me, but I kept looking straight ahead and paddled my legs as fast as I could.  ‘Am I moving?’ I kept asking Jennie.  It honestly felt like I was staying on the spot I was moving so slowly.  Sure enough though I made it from one end of the pool to the other! I realise that I must have looked like a right numpty, but I was so flippin chuffed with myself that I didn’t care!  I think that’s what happens when you take steps to do something you’re scared of – no matter how small those steps are they chip away your fear and lift you above it.  Courage breeds confidence. 

Challenge #4 – getting out of the pool:  Deep breath.  Boobs inside costume – check, retrieve costume from bottom cheeks – check, suck tummy in and climb up the steps out of the water.  This is when I realised that I had really worked out, my legs were like jelly. To be honest, it was a bit tricky getting out of the pool, I suddenly felt really heavy and very aware of being nearly naked, but hopefully this will get easier too.

Challenge #5 – the changing rooms:  I don’t know about you, but I’m not good being around naked strangers (kudos to all of you naturalists out there), especially super fit toned women.  And there were many of them, looking comfortable and confident in their own skin.  I’m not going to lie, I did find the changing rooms intimidating.  Thankfully the facilities were good; with individual shower cubicles and a few private changing cubicles too.  Of course I grabbed one of those!  But you know what I noticed?  Despite feeling that everyone would be staring at my fat body with disgust, no one was actually looking at me, they were too busy looking at themselves, and  I don’t blame them they were gorgeous!  If, no when, I’m fit and toned body confident I shall look at myself in changing room mirrors too, no matter what size I am.    

So that was my first time truly tackling my fear of swimming, and in spite of everything that I was worried about and scared of, I’d actually had fun.  Having Jennie by my side helping and encouraging me made all the difference.  I did much more than I thought I would be able to do.  

What are you scared of doing that you’d like to do?  I challenge you to take a step towards it, you might just discover that, like me, you are stronger than you think!

L x