Have I mentioned my love of penguins? Well, ever since I was a child I have adored these comical black and white waddling birds so when Mr O suggested a trip to Artis Zoo in Amsterdam on Saturday I was very excited. I’m always thrilled to see penguins and I thought they would be the highlight of the afternoon but I have to admit that at 30 years old I loved every minute of our visit! I don’t think I’ve been to such a beautiful looking zoo! There were flower beds in bloom everywhere and you are so close to the animals. We saw lions, jaguars, tapirs, llamas, flamingos, gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, sea lions, snakes, lizards, an array of tropical fish and butterflies. I will write a blog to tell you more about my penguin obsession but today I want to tell you about how wondering in the tropical gardens in the hot house and watching the butterflies fluttering got me thinking. They got me thinking about making changes.
The saying goes that if nothing changed there wouldn’t be any butterflies and we would stay a caterpillar wiggling through life. Change no matter what form it takes can be very daunting and can be mixed with emotions but I want to focus with you now on making changes with a view to improving wellness, fitness and health. Over the past three years I have made a huge change. I’ve lost 15 stone which is a whole person. To put it into perspective that’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger! Loosing that weight didn’t just happen by accident. I knew that I had to make some changes in order to turn my wiggling into wings.
Looking at my lifestyle now which includes daily visits to the gym and cooking from scratch you would think that the change was radical but it wasn’t. When I decided that I wanted to lose some weight I didn’t set out to lose 15 stone. I paved a way of stepping stones and hopped to the next level once I was ready. I think setting goals is great, it gives us something to aim for but I think that when I was just starting out, saying that I was aiming to lose 15 stone would have been overwhelming and I don’t think it would have helped me on my journey. Instead I focused on making small steps to bring about positive change. Small changes are just that. Small steps in the right direction such as parking the car in the furthest spot in the car park to get to where you need to get to, making your own lunch to take into work, avoiding the chocolate temptation by the check out and treating yourself to a relaxing bath or facial instead of treating yourself with chocolate!
I think this is how a lot of people fall down and struggle to get up again because we are putting too much focus on the end goal rather than putting the steps in place to make it happen. If you want to live in the penthouse you have to build the foundations first otherwise your swanky pad will end up in a pile of rubble! We are bombarded with messages from magazines, newspapers and social media about the latest fad or quick fix suggesting we should buy some kind of “slimming” tea which is basically some murky, dirty water in a mug that you struggle to swallow in order to get your body “beach” ready. Guess what folks?! You have a body! If you have a body, you are ready for the beach if that’s where you want to be! You do NOT have to look like one of the models on the Victoria Secret catwalk or on the front cover of a magazine to be beach ready – they look like that because they’ve been photographed at the right angle with the most flattering lighting, they’ve been photo shopped to remove any flaw or area of cellulite, had their hair coiffured and back combed within an inch of its life and the makeup artist has contoured their cheeks as if their Kim and Kayne’s life depended on it. What is more positive is getting your beach ready body to the beach, allowing the sun to make your skin glow and drink up the vitamin D, gently exercising in the form of a stroll taking in the sea breeze and the sand between your toes and then immersing yourself in the warm waters and having a swim.
I’m not preaching to the choir here as I still have insecurities over my body after all of the positive changes I’ve made. By making the positive changes in the form of healthy eating and exercise leading to the weight loss I have been left with a lot of loose skin which just hangs and can be a little problematic to contain. I chose to have the apron of skin that draped from my tummy removed just over a year ago and I’m considering some further skin removal and reconstruction. The loose skin on my arms and breasts are so proud of my weight loss that when I’m jumping around in the gym they give me a little clap, like a round of applause….or like Miranda Hart says, a bit like the breast clap when rolling over in bed! I do laugh at it but it really does affect me particularly when I’m with the lovely ladies in Bravisimo who have the patience of saints trying to find a bra to fit my small back size whilst containing my saggy boob skin. Therefore soon I’m off again for a consultation with Mr Ng, my surgeon from last time to talk about another operation. For me that is a daunting step but a change to be made which ultimately will make me feel better and more confident.
I think we can learn a lot from those fluttering butterflies. In order to get our wings we need to make small steps from being that caterpillar wiggling away. We need to realise that the quick fixes that promise instant results are not practical or sustainable. Metamorphosis does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience, cocooning and taking small positive steps will make a great difference. Just like us humans, those fluttering butterflies are all unique, have different colourings and patterns, no two being the same. I am me and you are you. I took a photograph of a butterfly in the hot house which had just landed on a palm leaf. Its outer wings had an eye catching pattern but then a few moments later it opened its wings to reveal the most gorgeous blue. This reminded me that no matter what we show the world on the outside, its what’s on the inside that counts. Let’s focus on us being healthy, happy, fit and well and let our true colours shine through.
My outer shell is not the most beautiful and it’s certainly not perfect but it’s been through one hell of a journey. I was a wiggly caterpillar and I’m glad to say that I’ve found my wings. Sometimes our wings have a bit of a wobble but every butterfly has to have a rest on a palm leaf. If anyone has an issue with my outer wings then I can tell them this. I may float like a butterfly but I can sting like a bee!