"Our bodies are our gardens, for which our wills are gardeners."
(William Shakespeare 1564-1616)
On March 1st I embarked on a 43 day challenge to try and get myself in shape both physically and mentally in time for my 38th birthday. But instead of simply putting myself on a strict diet and expecting to magically morph into Audrey Hepburn by said date, I decided to set the bar a little higher and make an attempt to love and accept myself a little bit more, a little bit better, despite my obvious lack of any Hepburnesque features.
So apart from daily yoga and a minimum of 10,000 steps, along with a focused low-GL diet (with the help of my trusty kitchen companion Patrick Holdford), I've also introduced a daily five minute session of really looking at my face in a mirror. This is far, far harder than dieting and exercising. As I get closer to 40 it has been getting almost impossible to feel much enthusiasm when looking in the mirror. My face seemed incredibly old and haggard to me, and after the first few days I was wondering whether this new scheme was indeed a sign of my being a complete masochist. But gradually it's becoming easier. Growing old still sucks, but I'm done with putting my head in the sand about it.
I've also started keeping a notebook of daily moments of happiness, with the intention of doing a collage based on these at the end of the challenge. And just the act of keeping an eye out for these moments helps me live more in the moment.
I admit that I would still like to wake up one morning and see an image of Audrey looking back at me in the mirror, but I feel that little bit closer to being happy with the way I am and the way I look. And since I still have 22 days to go, I'm feeling optimistic that things will continue to improve. In the meantime, Audrey guards my fridge so whenever I feel like having a big piece of chocolate cake I first have to get past her sylph-like incarnation, which puts me right off any ideas of pigging out.