My best friend (Hey Tor) sent me this picture this morning. It’s from New Year’s Eve two years ago. I opened it and instantly started crying.
That’s me, on the left. Don’t recognize me? Yeah, me either. I started crying when I saw it because I was so sad for that girl. I was SO unhappy at the time this picture was taken. Not just with the way I looked or with my body, but with a lot of different things in my life. I cried for that girl who looks nothing like me.
Tori’s message was “LOOK HOW FAR U HAVE CAME I AM CRYING” and “YOU ARE KILLING IT JESS.” Which of course, made me cry harder. Because I have come so far since that picture. That picture was December 31st, 2015. I had 2016 New Years Resolutions to lose weight and get back into shape and start making healthier choices for myself, just like I had in probably the previous 5 years. Did it happen? Nope. Sure I made some healthier choices, sure the scale might have gone up and down throughout the year, but did I really achieve happiness like I really wanted to? Nope.
Flash forward to 2016 NYE. Was I really any happier with myself than I was a year previous? I was probably worse if we’re being honest. 2016 was a hard year for me. And 2017 started the same way. When I was looking through pictures for this post, I came across this transformation picture in my camera roll:
I thought I was done with the tears, but this picture made me cry even harder. The left picture is from February 2017. Just 10 months ago. The difference between the two pictures to me is staggering. Yes there’s an obvious weight difference, but that’s not what stands out to me. Still, the girl on the left looks so sad. Over a year after the NYE picture (above) and she still looks so sad. When I think about my mental state, the choices I was making, and my life at the time that picture was taken, I just cry. I think of the nights I spent crying myself to sleep. I think of making unhealthy choices regarding food that made me feel terrible day after day. I think of the nights I spent using bad food and wine to cope with the unhappiness and loneliness I felt. I think of all of the times I went shopping for new clothes and left the dressing room thinking horrible thoughts about myself and feeling worthless. I think of where my mindset was at and how hard I was on myself and how much I just did not love myself at this time. I think of these things and I cry.
In 2017, I tried not to make weight related New Years Resolutions. I knew they just didn’t work for me. But in the back of my mind, without saying it out loud, I knew my goal was to lose 30 pounds this year. But still, I didn’t start on January 1st 2017. That left picture is from February. I started lifting and getting serious about the gym in April. But I didn’t start really losing weight and making healthier choices for myself – mentally and physically – until I was fully ready and I had a plan in place, in June. So have I lost 30 pounds this year? Nope. Close but not quite. But I don’t care. Because I am ending this year in a completely different mindset than the way I started. The girl on the right in that picture is clearly happier. And that’s the picture I feel represents me now. It’s not about the weight loss, it’s about the mental change and the lifestyle change.
Am I happier because I’ve lost weight? Sure. But that’s not the whole part of it. I’m happier because I finally started making healthy decisions for myself in ALL aspects, not just fitness and nutrition wise. I left an unhappy relationship. I chose not to pursue a job I knew I wouldn’t love. I’ve developed new healthy habits instead of sitting around watching Netflix all the time. I’ve made more time for family and friends and truly appreciated the amazing people in my life. I worked so hard on my relationship with myself and I’m finally in a place where I actually love myself, every single day. Happy by myself, for myself. I’ve realized that the relationship with myself is the most important one in my life and that you have to love yourself to be able to truly accept love from others.
None of this started on January 1st, 2017. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t even close to ready. I had been making plans and resolutions for years, but change didn’t truly come until I made up my mind that I was ready to change, and I got the plan in place, I set goals, I trusted the process, and I got back up every time I failed. I can look at those pictures, and so many other old pictures from the last 5 years, and wish that I had started earlier or wish that it hadn’t taken so long, but I can’t change the past. All I can do is be thankful that I finally made it happen. And I know that there’s a lot more work to be done, but I know how to do it now.
Moral of the story: January 1st is just a day. It’s just another box on the calendar. You don’t have to change just because the date changes, and you probably won’t. If you make New Year’s Resolutions and in a couple of days, or weeks, you start to lose sight of them, don’t wait a whole year to get back on track. This isn’t just related to fitness or weight loss, it can be anything you want to change in your life. Want to read more? Write more? Stop spending so much time on your phone? Find a new job? Fall in love with a new hobby? Learn an instrument? Make more time for your family? Whatever your ‘resolutions’ are: Write down your goals, make a plan to achieve them, and don’t stop until you do. No matter how many times you quit. No matter how many times you fail.
My friend Dustin has an awesome post about New Year’s Resolutions and how to actually make a change in your life. Read it here if you’re interested in techniques that can help you successfully reach your goals.
So my thoughts about resolutions? Sure, they can work. If you focus on your goals, make a plan, be kind to yourself, and are truly, honestly, in the mental place where you are ready to make a change. But they don’t have to be New Year’s Resolutions. January 1st is just a date. If you don’t start tomorrow, that’s fine. Just don’t wait until next year if you really want to make a change. You can make February resolutions. Or June. Or whenever you’re ready. Just don’t wait for a date on the calendar if you really want to change your life.