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Burn 800 calories; lose five pounds; drop a dress size. These are the goals I have set myself in the past. But what do these numbers mean? What does five pounds look like? What does 800 calories feel like? How do we know when we’ve reached our goal; apart from checking the scales – which have the power to bring both happiness and pain in the same day?
During my journey to obtain a healthier, freer, more confident mindset and body, I realised that it’s not about a number, but a feeling. Not just in my own skin, or my clothes, but in my head, gut and heart. I looked back at almost every holiday I had ever had – self-consciously covering up on the beach, my inner gremlin picking at my imperfections.
This year, I decided that, instead of chasing a number, I would make it my goal to identify the feeling I wanted instead. That emotion would be my goal, and the focus that kept me on track. I imagined how it would feel when I got there. What would it look like? Healthy. How would it feel physically? Comfortable. How would it sound? Like laughter. I wanted to feel content; serene and free of my inner gremlin. Whether it’s a project, charity or friendship, I know that, when I’m emotionally attached to something, I’m more invested in it. Why should it be any different when I’m working towards my health, fitness and body-image goals?
A random number doesn’t mean much, but the feeling of confidence, walking to the pool, carefree in my swimsuit, was incredibly motivating. Now, my goals run deeper than weighing a certain amount or being a particular dress size. There was a moment on holiday this year when I found myself in the kitchen of our villa, putting together a beautiful Greek salad, in my bikini. I hadn’t even noticed what I was wearing. I hadn’t covered up. For the first time, I hadn’t brought my gremlin on holiday, and it was all because I had focused on the feeling, instead of the figures.
Image: Laura Doherty