The Ever After
Introspection is the hardest part of this journey as I know I have always been my own worst critic. On the last day of the Life Challenge I know it is time to take stock of how this whole experience has been for me.
I applied for the Life Challenge not really knowing what I wanted to achieve from it, only knowing that it was something that I needed to do. I was in my early 30s, newly single, with a recent post-grad degree and a steady job. On paper everything was fine. And to a certain extent, everything really was fine, except for the niggling feeling that I wasn’t being completely honest with myself when someone would ask me how I was and I would smile and say: ‘Everything is fine!’ Looking back I can see that I was very much living in a self-imposed rut. I had spun a web of control that stopped me from doing anything that would possibly derail the world I had created around me.
As I come out the other end of the Life Challenge, I have come to realise what it was I was afraid of and where the need for control came from. It is simple; I was afraid of change. A common enough fear, I know, but the ‘me’ that everyone knew and loved would never have been afraid of change. On face value I was very sociable - always going at 100 miles an hour – but all the self- controlling was going on in my head. I know it makes me sound like a fruit loop, but I really did think the Almighty had given me two personalities for a bit of a laugh. The fun, carefree, party-animal Inga vs. the Inga that freaks out if she is two minutes late for work. OK, so now I am talking about myself in the third person so I really do sound mad but I can hear my friends chuckling in agreement right now.
Believe it or not, back before the Life Challenge I didn’t even want to join a gym as exercise meant that I would change physically. Even that seemed like too much at the time. If I kept everything around me the same, then nothing could hurt me, right? We’ve all been there. I just didn’t realise I was there at the time.
The Life Challenge came along at the perfect time, as it did for many of my fellow Challengers. I think I had finally started to open my eyes to my self-sabotage. I had made the conscious (and unconscious) decision that, if things around me were going to change regardless, I would make sure that the changes would work in my favour. I knew I wanted to become a member of the ‘cause’ team, as Patricia would say.
The most surprising part of this journey has been how supportive everyone has been. I know that Paola sometimes felt that people couldn’t bring themselves to be happy for her but I have found the complete opposite. It was exactly the support of my friends, family and colleagues that kept me going back to the gym, kept me from straying from the meal plan and kept me grounded when I got over-excited about the changes I have been making in my life, reminding me that this is only the beginning and there is a long road ahead.
In a funny way, I am almost pleased that the Life Challenge has ended so that I can prove to myself that I can continue on this positive journey without that extra pat on the back or that Facebook ‘like’ for my blog.
I was lucky enough to have an amazing team of people working with me to get where I am now and the learning’s I can take away from the time spent with them are invaluable.
I am so excited to finally have started writing my book as I am sure this will bring me the sense of personal and professional fulfillment I was so badly craving. I now realise that in order to incorporate something positive into my life, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of other things. If I want to write a book I don’t have to quit my job; I just need to juggle things around so that I can write in my spare time then see where it takes me.
Bringing music back into my life has also been a big step for me. The years I spent playing music were giddy with happiness so I can’t wait to see how much joy it will bring me this time round. Getting involved with ‘giving back’ has also got excitement cursing through my veins again and I can’t wait to get cracking on the various project ideas I have had! Not only will this hopefully be something positive for others but it gives me a rare opportunity to spend more time with my sibling which I realise is a powerful source of good vibes in my life.
Whatever the scales said on my final BCA, I know that I have physically pushed myself harder than I have in years, and it feels great. I still might not be the skinniest, or the fittest, or the prettiest, but the important thing is that I now know that failure to be healthy is not an option for me. I am immensely proud of running the 10K twice during the Challenge and, although I will never be a super-human marathon runner, I am crossing my fingers and toes in hope that there will be many more runs in the future. I was devastated when I realised I would have to get through the majority of the Life Challenge without a personal trainer – my old self-doubt creeping in - but as it turns out, I think it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t risk falling back into my old sedentary habits once the Life Challenge comes to an end as I have proved to myself that I don’t actually need the encouragement of a personal trainer to get myself healthy and active.
My food journey has been pretty epic. I have completely managed to cut out caffeine, foods with ‘empty calories’ such as bread, pasta and potatoes, fizzy drinks, saturated fats and processed food in the last few months; something I wouldn’t have believed I was capable of in a million years. The first month was the toughest – the discipline, the withdrawal – but as I go into week nine of the Life Challenge it is starting to feel like to most natural thing in the world. I have to apologise to my friends for going on and on about how amazing these nutritional changes have made me feel, but if there is one thing I’d like to emphasise it is that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Grab a copy of the ‘Viva Mayr Diet’ book by Dr. Harald Stossier and Helena Powell if it is the only and last thing you do. It will change the way you treat your stomach forever.
I keep mistakenly telling people I have been part of the Aquarius Life Change, rather than the Life Challenge because, as much as it was challenging, it was even more life changing. If you ask any of my fellow challengers if they have changed during this process, the answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. I always underestimated the ‘power of change’ when it truly comes from within, and I am so happy that it took me going through this process to finally get the message. I have also come to terms with why I feel the need to ‘control’ my actions and emotions and, to my surprise, I have actually realised that not all self-control is bad. As long as you focus on the positive things in your life, a little bit of self-control is actually not that bad at all!