How My Mental Health is Inextricably Linked to My Physical Health and Fitness (and Other Things)

Why My Mental Health is Inextricably Linked to my Physical Health and Fitness | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 fashion and lifestyle blog

I could have called this post “I wasn’t okay but then I was but now I’m not again”, but it’s not particularly catchy or focused, is it?

This was not an easy post to start writing (those about your own mental health never are) and, talking of focused, that’s exactly what I’m NOT right now. I’m so far from focused you could say I’m as blurry as a blurred blurry thing seen through blurry eyes without their glasses on.

Enough about blurriness.

Regular readers may know that I wrote about the state of my mental health and how I admitted to myself I was struggling with my mental health back in March. Within a couple of months I’d got myself sorted by picking myself up, dusting myself down (otherwise known as a lot of self-care) and dishing out a whole load of tough [self] love. Things were good better.

But then, of course, LIFE happens. Some good sh*t happened, but a lot of bad sh*t did as well.

 

Photography by Giles Caldicott

[Reading time: 8 mins]

 

I’m not sure what else to call it, but let’s call it a “blip” for now. A blip that is – was – mostly of my own doing. And when I say my own doing, I mean the blip was caused by my reaction to events around me. It’s taken me a long time to realise it (and it crushes me that it takes a philosophical meme or two on social media to help me understand my own failings), but I’ve realised that you can’t control the things that happen to you, but you can control YOUR REACTION to them.

My reaction? To eat constantly, and to stop moving.

And so the cycle of self-destruction began.

 

Realising my mental health and physical health are linked

Before I go on, I’m setting a timer for writing this. I usually write for hours and hours when writing any of my wordy (rather than straightforward outfit) posts. So, I’m going to say what I have to say by writing for one hour, and that’s it. I’ll proofread after, but I don’t want this to go on and on. Short and sweet. (Famous last words?!)

So as I was saying… what happened? In a nutshell, I ballooned in a very short space of time.

I basically self-sabotaged the one thing that I have a certain amount of power over, and that’s my physical health and fitness. In another nutshell (let’s say the first one I mentioned was a walnut shell, and while I’m on an analogy roll let’s describe this one as a mofo COCONUT shell), I realised that when I’m unfit and piling on the weight, my mental health inevitably takes an absolute DIVE.

Ting! Lightbulb moment.

The next thing was to recognise how I get to that stage, and what I can do to break the cycle.

But before I talk about that, here’s the cycle in all its gratuitous viciousness:

 

How the vicious cycle of my mental health crash goes around

 

  1. Something sh*t happens. I’m not going into any specifics here (some very personal things I do keep to myself), but there’s often an initial trigger. It can be a sudden occurrence, or it can be something that’s been building up. But something sh*t happens – sometimes (often) it’s more than one thing.
  2. I lie awake worrying about it at night. Or I don’t go to bed till stupidly late, usually as a result of knowing I’ll lie awake unable to sleep. Either way, I’m exhausted the next day due to lack of sleep.
  3. I’m so tired I forgo my morning walk to try and get an extra hour in bed to catch up on sleep. And I’m definitely too tired to do any sort of strength training workout or run in the evening.
  4. Due to missing out on my morning walk my routine is buggered. I just flounder about without any structure to the day.
  5. My fatigue causes me to crave sugary foods, and lots of it. I’ll buy everything naughty at the supermarket, I’ll raid the cupboards and fridge all day.
  6. I forget to drink enough water, again, because my routine is out of whack (amazing how a routine can help you with things like structuring healthy snacks intake and water consumption).
  7. I get headaches due to being dehydrated and experience sugar crashes so my energy levels divebomb.
  8. Over the course of time all that poor diet, lack of sleep and no exercise results in weight gain.
  9. Weight gain leads me to not being able to fit in my clothes, low fitness levels give me regular headaches and extreme lethargy.
  10. I stop washing my hair regularly. I start skipping stages in my nightly skincare routine. I wear nothing but sweatpants and hoodies because that’s all that fits me.
  11. I start to lose interest in everything because I feel so utterly, utterly exhausted and rubbish-looking.
  12. All the health issues I can normally cope with (the general aches and pains of getting older as well as recurring pain that may suggest my cyst is back) are now exacerbated.
  13. All of those things cause me to lie awake at night worrying about them, or I go to bed stupidly late. My mental health is back down the pan again.
  14. I’m so tired I forgo my morning walk…
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And thus, we have the vicious cycle of my mental health being inextricably linked to my physical health (and fitness).

And if you’re wondering how all of this could have happened in such a short space of time (I wrote about being in such a bad place in March this year, then wrote again in May about how I’m really, honestly doing okay – which I was), then this is the timeframe:

As someone of (a little over) average height and slight build, who was always a skinny child and slim adult but who’s had to be more careful about weight gain as she’s got older, I managed to put on 1½ stone (21lbs/9.5kg) in just THREE MONTHS. In fact, it could be half a stone more (7lbs/3kg) more than that, judging by how my clothes [don’t] fit me. That’s a worryingly large number of excess pounds in a very short space of time.

But there is something I want to say about weight gain in general (before anyone accuses me of my life revolving around my weight or letting myself be defined by my size).

This is about ME, and no one else. I know myself well enough to know when extra pounds are for a “bad” reason.

 

This is MY personal journey – and my physical health is suffering

Weight gain is natural as we get older. There are, I’m sure, some women whose metabolism isn’t affected by age.

I’m not one of them.

I’m also not obsessed with my weight in such a way that makes me feel like I’m worthless unless I’m “skinny” (I purposely used the word “skinny”). I have more than accepted that I won’t naturally be the beanpole [with boobs] I used to be, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I know that my current, healthy shape and size is what it naturally is when I’m treating my body with care.

At the moment I am NOT treating my body with care – I am, in fact, being completely careLESS.

So if there are any keyboard warriors out there who feel the need to berate me for my self-condemnation of my own weight gain, this is my response: I am extremely worried about my physical health. I am not obsessed with or fearful of weight gain, I am extremely fearful of the effect weight gain has on my body and, therefore, my mental health and well-being.

I can’t help disliking all the things that happen TO ME as a result of ME mistreating MY body. If my body is suffering, so will my brain. That’s just the way it goes for ME.

For example: not being able to do my trousers up comfortably. Feeling like my pants are digging into my thighs (you know it’s bad news when even your UNDERWEAR is too small). Finding that slimmer sleeves dig into your armpits. Looking down and not being able to see your =ahem= ladybits when you’ve always had a very flat tummy. Ditching your knee-high boots because the zip just won’t do up… it all gets to me. Every time one of those things happens, my brain is screaming at me, WHY ARE YOU ABUSING YOUR BODY IN THIS WAY?

I’m not gaining weight due to a “happy” reason. You know how you can gain weight at the beginning of a new relationship or in the first few months of marriage, or because you’re now working from home and you suddenly have access to your chocolate and treats drawer at any time of the day? Or if you’re taking a new medication where weight gain can be a side effect?

I call that honest weight, and it’s perfectly okay. There’s no self-sabotage going on. You simply need to address your routine and slightly naughty habits and make sure you’re treating your body right, or in the case of taking medication you know that you’re doing what’s best for your body and a few extra pounds can be addressed later.

For me, extreme weight gain (not due to any of those factors I mentioned) is a sign that my physical health and fitness levels are shot to pieces. And if the reason for that is anxiety, poor mental health and extreme sadness, then deep down I know I’ve got to do something about it. Because one won’t get better without the other.

If my physical health is poor, my mental health will only get worse. And if my mental health is poor, my physical health will get worse. And on and on, and so on and so forth.

There we have it: the lightbulb moment described in superfluous detail. Plus, my phone has pinged to say my hour of writing is up.

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What happens now

I KNOW how to get myself out of this, I’ve done it before.

Firstly, self-care, self-care, self-care.

Secondly, talking about it with someone – like me having a one-hour conversation with the interwebs [you] where you’ve listened really, really well without interruption (and if you’ve made it this far down the post, I thank you for that!) – is a big step. Getting it off your chest, and recognising you have a problem.

Although I’m supremely worried about my physical health and want the headaches/the insomnia/the fatigue/the leg pain to all go away as soon as possible, I’m starting with the basics.

Also, I’ll wash my damn hair. You will not BELIEVE the difference that makes to your brain.

Then I’ll tackle the house. Whenever I get the mean reds on any kind of long-term basis, the housework suffers. It’s actually an ongoing process, but I’ve started. I’m one of those people that either has an impeccably clean, tidy house where every speck of dirt or dirty mug is whisked away before it’s barely had time to get comfy, OR I live with a messy kitchen, floordrobes and piles of not-yet-put-away clean laundry in every room. There’s literally no stage in between. So I’ve finally got my housework mojo back, and there’s only one floordrobe left to tackle now. But I’m on it.

Once I have the house sorted, it makes me breathe a sigh of relief, and it’s amazing how much calmer I am. It also has a HUGE knock-on effect with everything else in my life; they don’t say, Tidy house, tidy mind for nothing. I LIKE the person I am when I put my mug straight into the dishwasher: it doesn’t get left on the side by the sink because the dishwasher’s already been emptied. That, in turn, makes my evening more relaxed… tidying up is quick and easy.

Ergo, I get to bed quicker.

(You can see where this is going, can’t you…)

Earlier to bed, easier to rise – and the likelihood of going for my morning walk is far, far greater.

I’m then more likely to do my strength training and/or run in the evening. All the time I keep up the early nights, I’m back in The Routine and everything else falls into place.

I’ll work my way through this blip – it’s just that sometimes I guess you have to hit rock bottom before you can pick yourself up again and get back on the wagon.

So if you’re starting to struggle, I get it. Just make sure you talk to someone. Don’t sabotage your health – mental OR physical – because you’ll only ever have one brain and one body, and both need to be looked after properly.

Now that I’ve recognised just how intrinsically my mental health and physical health are linked, it’s a whole lot easier to cope and shift my thinking. I’ll be 100% focused on eating less and moving more the very SECOND that last floordrobe is whisked neatly away. Any last words, blip? Because I’M now in control of my reactions to your sh*t, and I’m gonna kick yo ass.

 

If any of this resonates with you, please do share your experiences below… talking about this stuff ALWAYS helps others. You only have to read all the comments on my first and second posts about my mental health to know that you are most definitely not alone x

 

Stay safe XOXO

Catherine signature

 

I always add this: a final note on getting help…

If you’re having the sh*ttiest time in life then please, please, please reach out to someone. Whether it be a friend, a relative or a professional, just reach out and ask for help. Things can get better… just don’t try and get through it alone. There will always be someone who can help you.

If you or someone you know is affected by any of these issues, please seek help or simply talk to someone. If you are in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123 or go to their website https://www.samaritans.org. As their website says, Talk to us any time you like, in your own way, and off the record – about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal.

If you’re in the US, call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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73 Comments

  1. 2 November 2021 / 8:55 pm

    Sorry to hear you’ve been having a shitty time Catherine. I can definitely relate to what you’ve said – sleep, exercise and a healthy diet is crucial for me to feel happy and content. I too am guilty of going through stages of self-sabotaging by eating the wrong foods and staying up too late. It all gets overwhelming when the housework piles up and you feel knackered. And washing my hair makes a massive difference to how I feel! Sending lots of love and hugs.

    Emma xxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      11 November 2021 / 10:42 pm

      Shitty is right, Emma… and yes, yes, yes to everything you said. Washing your hair makes ALL the difference, as does a tidy house, but it’s so easy to let those things slide. I’ve learnt that I can’t tackle everything at once, and I’m taking it one thing at a time. Thankfully it’s working 🙂

  2. Jo
    1 November 2021 / 8:49 pm

    The self destruct button!! What a shitty button I wish I didn’t have….. I’m currently in step away from the shitty button mode and trying first with drinking more water and eating more healthily/sensibly. Then the walks will start again and the regular bedtime routine. After I have remastered these routines I will then start on my skincare and getting a better body image of myself. Your blog post reads like my own “diary” of events. Thank you for making me feel less alone in my world x

    • Catherine
      Author
      11 November 2021 / 10:44 pm

      Thanks Jo, amazing how it always sounds like a cliche but the phrase “you are not alone” really does apply, doesn’t it. Your comment sounds like it could have been written by me, and I hope you get to work your way through the shittiness like I’m doing xx

  3. Elizabeth
    1 November 2021 / 3:56 pm

    Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing. I am in tears but everything you said sums up my life at the mo. Only thing is I can’t bring myself to eat much and live off coffee. Nighttime’s are the worst, mind is like a malfunctioning computer hell bent on making me think about how crap everything is and stopping me sleeping. I have been supported by my Gp and been able to access support, starting first therapy session tomorrow but I know it’s going to be a really rocky journey . I am not able or ready to drop the I am ok mask at the mo but am finding it is dropping regardless. If I think too much the tears roll and the stomach starts to internally panic yet to everyone I look fine. Thank you again for sharing , I wish you so much for the road ahead and thank you for making me realise I am not alone and others feel crap like this too. Take care ( as best as you can) x

    • Catherine
      Author
      11 November 2021 / 10:47 pm

      Oh Elizabeth I’m so sorry you’re feeling low too, I hope you DO get to drop the I Am Ok mask, it really does take a weight off your shoulders when you share those feelings with someone. I PROMISE you it does, and it helps you make those first steps towards looking after yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much people care and will want to help (you’ve only got to read the comments here to know that)! Thank you, sending you lots of love and strength – and the will to self-care asap! xxxx

  4. Minda
    1 November 2021 / 3:53 pm

    I identify wholly with what you wrote. My cycles are so similar. And, my goodness, sometimes the only first step I can take is get into the shower and literally start fresh. I’ve had a particularly long and nasty cycle of weight gain and injuries and fighting back, only to go through it all again. The hardest part of it is feeling so alone and like I’m the only person who can’t “just get it together.” I’m finally beginning to see (accept) that compassion towards myself is a necessary component. It helps so much to know I’m not alone. To see it in these comments, but most especially from you- a person of whom I’ve always had fondness and a high regard. Thank you, once again, for your vulnerability and honesty. ❤️

    • Catherine
      Author
      11 November 2021 / 10:50 pm

      You hit the nail on the head Minda when you said “compassion towards myself is a necessary component” – that couldn’t be ANY truer. At some point you have to be just a little bit selfish – but in a good way – to get yourself sorted so that you can help yourself in the next stage, and the next, and the next. And by giving yourself some self-care it’ll definitely help you to care for others. And thank you SO much for those very, very kind words… I’m just so glad that a bit of sharing [feelings] is helping others ❤ xx

  5. Kareema
    1 November 2021 / 12:10 pm

    Oh Catherine…I was bidding yes, yes, yes as I went along. I’ve been in that vicious cycle fir about 4 years…and am 4 stone heavier…not healthy when you’re 50 and 4ft 1″. It’s so good to know we’re not alone in this and I thank you fir sharing something so personal. It all seems a little clearer seeing it written down as you have here. Looking back I know the trigger….the trigger set off lots of other triggers and I’ve been stuck in a fog, giving in and procrastinating since then. One thing that really struck a chord is when you mentioned that we can’t control the situation but we can control how we react…that is soooo true and makes so much sense….such good advice! Thankyou Catherine xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      11 November 2021 / 11:00 pm

      Triggers can go jump off a cliff, can’t they Kareema…?!! #eyeroll But seriously, I’m so glad this has helped you see things perhaps a little clearer, it certainly helped me by writing my feelings down. And yes to that reaction thing, it makes perfect sense!! I’m not saying it’ll be easy to do, but in certain situations it’s something that can help you to control your reactions and not be so quick to be judgmental/angry/irritated etc.

      One other thing that might help you: as with me and my weight gain, you might find it easier to get yourself back on track with a healthy lifestyle by initially just accepting the fact that you’ve gained a few stone (as I have) – there we go with the reaction thing again! Now, I don’t mean that that’s a green light to continue to self-sabotage, not at all. And excuse the crude way I’m saying this, but I mean that by basically by chilling the f*ck out you should find a feeling of inner peace rather than constantly stressing about the weight gain. And by not stressing, you’ll become more positive. Becoming more positive leads to more of a desire to self-care, and that SURELY will lead to a healthier body and a healthier mind – does that make sense? It’s how I’ve decided to break my cycle, and I’ll report back about how it goes, fingers crossed it has an effect…! Sending love xx

  6. michelle
    29 October 2021 / 3:55 pm

    First time ever coming across your blog… and this is the article I read….. you are reading my mind. I have this same damn struggle in my head every day! I KNOW if I just would get up and go on my walk the rest will fall into place. Yet I make excuses and bargain with myself. Sometimes, I think the sh*t that has caused the interruption has to be processed, felt, dealt with ….. before I am ready to “fight” it. For me, it seems I need a good long moment to wallow. And it is ugly. My advice to myself is to be kind to myself. At least until I can get through the cause of my detour and carry on. Thank you for sharing. I am the person who needed this today.

    • Catherine
      Author
      29 October 2021 / 5:17 pm

      Oh my goodness Michelle I’m so glad this has resonated with you! I get you, everything you said rings true with me. For me, I find that tackling one thing at a time without worrying about the others is what works for me. So, I’ve stopped worrying about the rapid weight gain and not walking and instead concentrated on tidying the house because this ALWAYS makes me feel good and super positive. I can’t exercise or eat super crazy healthily when the house is a tip, so now that the house is almost zen-like I’ll be moving onto diet (not “a” diet, just cutting out crap) and exercise. I’ve already stopped the booze for a few weeks now, and I’m doing a fundraiser in November to have no alcohol or sugar for the whole month. It’ll make me accountable as well as raise money I hope.

      I hope those things help, if you feel overwhelmed (like I often do) maybe try my method of just one thing at a time. It’s so much less stressful and makes me feel far more in control. I feel really good about one thing as it’s the best it can be, then I have the mojo to tackle the next. Snowball effect! Good luck and much love and strength to you xx

  7. sabrina
    29 October 2021 / 8:19 am

    Hi ! I’m one of your follower from France.Thx a lot for your honesty.You have to be strong to put this out in the open.You’re not alone, I feel the same way all the time.

    • Catherine
      Author
      29 October 2021 / 1:27 pm

      Sabrina thank you – getting it down on “paper” always helps me see what I’m doing to myself and what I need to do about it! Hope you’re getting the help you need, however that may look for you… much love to you x

  8. 27 October 2021 / 2:01 am

    It certainly helps a lot to share your state of mind with your fellow bloggers, Catherine but I hope you don’t mind my saying, they way I see it, you might consider getting help from a qualified psychologist on a regular basis. My daughter has a few mental issues of her own and it took me years to get her into psychologist’s office. These people are trained to listen and provide support based on your specifics and needs. Either way, it’s not easy to leave with mental problems and looking well after yourself is one of the important keys to feeling better.

    • Catherine
      Author
      28 October 2021 / 12:04 pm

      Thank you Anna, I really do appreciate the suggestion but I know myself well enough to know that I’m not the sort of person who would need it when they’ve got their life together in terms of things they can control, and it’s those things that I’m getting back on track. I was absolutely fine and full of the joys of spring just a few months back, but all it takes is crappy eating, loss of sleep and a messy house for me to get stuck in the cycle. And unfortunately not having any work coming in (being self-employed) has been one of my woes, so there’s no way I could even vaguely consider paying for therapy. We’re on a tighter budget than we’ve ever had to be on and if I wanted to get it on the NHS there’s an 18 week+ waiting time… I’m aiming to be well sorted by then!

      So thank you ever so much, I’m not trying to avoid things but I know myself better than anybody and I know that making myself accountable by writing things down, looking at the problem(s) objectively and making a start on tackling them is what I need to do. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again… I came to the realisation that my mental health is linked to my physical health by myself (therefore making it easier to resolve), I did it without therapy and know I can be strong enough to sort myself out! 😀 x

  9. Sue Dunlop
    27 October 2021 / 1:56 am

    Hi Catherine – commenting a little late but sending huge hugs from Canada. Interrupting unhelpful habits and getting back to helpful ones is a great step to more happiness. Of course, easy to write and harder to do. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey with all its ups and downs and hope to “see” you back on your walks. Where are the piggies?!

    • Catherine
      Author
      28 October 2021 / 11:56 am

      Awww thank you so much Sue – I’m missing the piggies myself! At the moment I’m prioritising sleep over my morning walks… it might seem counterintuitive but I still do two walks a day anyway with the dog so I easily get my 10K in even without the morning walk up the hill. I also find the stress of getting the walk documented on IG stories yet another pressure, so I’m cutting out all those sorts of things till I’m back on track. But don’t worry, they’ll be back in time!! xx

  10. Kelly Novak Montano
    25 October 2021 / 6:07 pm

    Life is so challenging and as we get older it’s still challenging. Do we ever get a break? No. So, I guess when it’s good, live life to the fullest, and when the tide turns which we all know it will. Accept it and do what you need to do to survive it. 63 and counting…..happy most the time. Have struggled my whole life. I’ve learned how to deal with the ups and downs. Yes exercise and nutrition, and giving yourself a break when you need to. Books, travel if you can, good friends all help. If it gets bad enough talk to a professional. Good luck in your journey, once you recognize the triggers it helps so much. It’s a life long job that is uniquely you.

    • Catherine
      Author
      26 October 2021 / 3:48 pm

      Kelly I love all those things you’ve suggested, they’re the best things to stay sane and nourished in life (I’ve missed travel though)! You’re right, recognising the triggers was very helpful to me… thank you so much 😀 xx

  11. 25 October 2021 / 11:45 am

    I think it helps to get whatever is in your brain out—either on to paper (blog) or via another person, like you said. I’m sorry that you’re going all this again though, Catherine. I hope you’re feeling much better this week.
    Big hugs,
    Suzy x

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:04 pm

      Suzy thank you so much… yes I got a LOT done at the weekend so I’m gradually getting there, had an early night too and got more than 7 hours sleep which was the first time since I can’t remember! It definitely helped to write it all down – helps you see what you’re doing wrong and where you can help yourself so much more easily. I’ll get there slowly but surely, much love xx

  12. 24 October 2021 / 4:59 pm

    Such a brilliant post, dearest C. I think this weird time we’re living in affects us all in so many different ways. I’m on a similar roller coaster, either I’m obsessed with eating really healthy nourishing organic food and getting my 10K steps in every day, or I’m like IDGAF, where is the takeaway menu because I am not cooking and I need some food with this wine while I destress from my day, lol.

    Hugs and love to you, I know you, and I know you’ll be right on top of this in no time. xxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 7:40 pm

      It HAS been weird, Lisa, and it’s hardly surprising that we’re all reacting to everything we have going on in our lives in weird ways and maybe less well than we would normally have reacted to everything. I get the swinging between clean eating and the takeaway cravings, I’m totally with you on that score!

      Thank you, I’m sure things will change as I’m pretty good at turning things around… it’s all about controlling the things you CAN control again, and for me that’s my self-care habits. They’ll be beaten into submission very soon, lol xx

  13. Anna D.
    24 October 2021 / 2:22 pm

    I just have a question: what if you get back to moving regularly and eating the way you prefer, and don’t lose the weight? What would you do then?

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 7:30 pm

      Hi Anna! As this is always the way I’ve got myself back to a high level of fitness – eating well, sleeping more and exercising – I’m confident it’ll happen again as that’s what my body has always done whenever I’ve put my mind to getting back into shape. However, if it didn’t happen this time I think I’d be straight onto my doctor as I’d probably think there was a medical issue preventing me from losing weight… that’s just the way it goes for me, were you saying perhaps that that doesn’t work for you? x

      • Anna D.
        28 October 2021 / 6:05 pm

        Yes, mostly I’m thinking of the research that suggests that 1) diets don’t work long term and 2) exercise is much better for mental health/fitness than weight loss, as well as the fact that sometimes bodies do just change over time. Also, I completely understand that eating a certain way and not exercising can have huge impacts on mental health, but I’m not certain why that has to be tied so strongly to weight. If you ate the way you prefer and exercised regularly and this made you feel mentally better but didn’t make you lose weight, and assuming your doctor gave you a clean bill of health, would that be some kind of failure?

        • Catherine
          Author
          29 October 2021 / 1:14 pm

          As mentioned in my post this is about my journey, no one else’s, and everyone is different. I don’t compare my weight/size/shape to anyone else’s, I compare my own weight/size/shape to what I am when I’m fit and strong (and that was only a few months’ ago). I also mentioned that I’ve completely fine with the fact that I’ll never have the same body that I had 10, 15, 20 years ago, but I know my body well enough *right now* to know that when I eat well, get sleep and exercise, I always feel better and become trimmer. I’m not going to go into the thought process of “what if” or try to work out whether I’d see it as a failure, because I know that there’d be something seriously wrong with my health if I didn’t lose the weight after doing those three things.

          I put on all that weight in a few months BECAUSE I ATE CRAP AND DRANK BOOZE. And BECAUSE I DIDN’T EXERCISE. (Btw I’m not shouting at you Anna, I’m shouting at ME to drive home the message to my brain that I was self-sabotaging these last few months!)

          Also, I don’t diet. Never have. I eat vegan for a week when I go to the detox retreat, but I’ve never done Atkins/Keto/5:2 or any other ‘diet’. I just eat healthy, wholesome food, and when I do I actually eat FAR more volume-wise than I do when I’m self-sabotaging.

          I have a naturally small frame (my wrists are so small they’re bird-like and I have a small waist and tiny back), and was a ridiculously skinny child… I am not naturally heavy, so when I DO become heavy it’s all down to me and my poor lifestyle choices. This is why I don’t compare myself to anyone else and no one should compare themselves to me and how MY body works.

          Me gaining pounds (i.e. weight) is merely the warning flag that I’m not treating my body kindly. It is not about the number on the scales for me. Sure, when the pounds come off I know I’m getting somewhere and that makes me happier, but for me that’s always combined with inches lost, less fatigue, no headaches and better sleep. And the knowledge that my fitness levels going up means I’m giving myself the best chance to live a long, happy, ACTIVE, healthy life… that’s what’s most important – thinking “what if” won’t get me anywhere 🙂

        • Catherine
          Author
          29 October 2021 / 1:25 pm

          Forgot to say: I have done that in the past, where I’ve tried to lose weight by eating healthily and doing lots of exercise, but nothing came off. Basically I had to get honest with myself – I KNEW I was still doing things that prevented weight loss, but you kid yourself that you’re being good. For example: let’s have a big fruit salad for breakfast – that’s healthy, right? No, it’s full of sugar, especially if you add lots of sugar-laden tropical fruit. Or I’d just run twice a week and think that’s enough to lose wight. No, that’s just cardio and at this age strength training does far more to boost your metabolism than two half-hour bursts of cardio ever will. Or, let’s have a healthy snack because I’m hungry – nuts are good for you. Well yes, but not a huge handful of fat-laden cashews with a lot of sultanas and dried apricots.

          Hopefully you can see that for me, if weight doesn’t come off and I’m not fitting in my favourite jeans, I have to really be honest with myself about what I’m consuming and how I’m moving. I’m kidding myself into thinking I’m being healthy when I’m actually not…!

          • Anna D.
            31 October 2021 / 3:46 pm

            Best wishes to you for you to be and do what makes you happy! I am a little disappointed to see some of this response because, for instance, fruit salad and nuts and dried fruit *are* healthy. There’s no reason to equate the number of calories a food has with its healthiness. Similarly it’s entirely possible to be fit and active and healthy and long-lived in a larger body (even if that were your body) – fitness isn’t a function of size. I’m commenting on this only because your blog is overall so positive, and I won’t belabor it further because I enjoy your posts and this isn’t meant as an attack, at all. Just something to consider. Thanks for your polite responses!

          • Catherine
            Author
            31 October 2021 / 4:13 pm

            Anna I’m trying to make the point that for me, eating dried fruit and nuts is NOT healthy and will only lead to weight gain because of the high-fat content. You can’t see the quantity that I eat, and when I eat them I find it hard to not eat a WHOLE PACKET when the packet probably has about 20 servings in it. So I’m trying to explain to you that I am talking about myself and gave an example of how I’m kidding myself that I’m eating healthily, when what I’m actually doing is eating an inordinate number of calories with foods that in small quantities are very healthy, but in the quantities that I eat them in, they are MASSIVELY calorie-laden. It’s not about counting calories, it’s about knowing what foods to eat in moderation, and for me that’s something that I have to be careful of so I avoid them. Eating all foods in moderation is the healthiest way to be, and that’s pretty much agreed on by most doctors and scientists. I do not have the willpower to eat those “healthy” foods in moderation so therefore I’m packing my body with too much fat and sugar when I do eat them.

            By stating that larger bodies are not/cannot be healthy you are, in effect, insinuating that I said otherwise. I did not. I made it very clear that I’m not talking about all bodies, I’m talking about MY body. My frame, my body, my eating habits. And I know myself better than anyone. So you say it’s not an attack, but you ARE inadvertently telling me I’m saying something I made very clear that I wasn’t suggesting…!

  14. Sanja Van Huet
    23 October 2021 / 8:30 am

    So brave to share … I cant even share similar with my best friends … now coming out of Melbourne, Australia lockdown after 15 weeks is my worst nightmare. I can filter on zoom, I cant in real life. Thank you Catherine, it really helps to know I am not alone in this. I wish you all best in the next stage of your wellness journey – and I am right there with you on the walking – it is cathartic and soothing. Routine routine routine …. x Go well

    • Catherine
      Author
      23 October 2021 / 9:15 pm

      Gosh Sanja that is a LONG time for a lockdown… it’s almost as if it’s never ended in Australia?!

      I’m so glad you feel like you’re not alone, it goes to show how important it is to share these feelings and thoughts. It sure helped me to write them – thank you so much and very best wishes to you xx

  15. 22 October 2021 / 9:42 pm

    This is so important to talk about sweetie!

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

    • Catherine
      Author
      23 October 2021 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you Danielle 🙂 x

  16. 22 October 2021 / 1:24 pm

    Dear Catherine, I’m really sorry you were going through a rough time. Thank you very much for this helpful post. I have to tell you that your fabulous photos on Insta always inspire me to take care of my appearance on bad days, too. Big hugs and love, Beata

    • Catherine
      Author
      23 October 2021 / 9:16 pm

      Thank you Beata, and I’m so glad to hear you love the IG photos… they’ll resume soon, I promise x

  17. Lynn Jones
    22 October 2021 / 9:06 am

    “This is about ME, and no one else….”

    Firstly, the offer of a hug from some rando from the Interwebs. 🙂 I hope your plans to bring all the right feelings about yourself work out. I think it’s awful when things slip away from us and seem to build up.

    Health and mood….? Sigh… Yes, there is comfort in food, drink, and other not so safe substances that some folk use to self medicate. FWIW, mine was drink as a late teen as I felt my body didn’t fit me (if that makes sense) and it took time plus help to come to terms with the cards I’d been dealt. When you talk about weight, I’d like to think I’m with you on where that comes from: that your body feels right for you, that it fits the idea you have of yourself. For some that might be curvier, others athletic, and some thinner. They’re all valid.

    Wishing you lots of luck for things to pick up and that you find your way. L x

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 12:21 pm

      Lynn thank you so much for those kind words… thankfully this time (compared to early this year) I’ve avoided the drink, so at least that’s one fewer vices I’ve turned to. Glad you see eye to eye with me on the “body feels right for you” thing, I know for sure this is not how my body should feel, look or generally “be” to be healthy. No comparisons at all with others, the only comparison is with my own body at its fittest. Thank you xx

  18. Wendy
    21 October 2021 / 12:37 pm

    Catherine, you could be talking about me. I am 75 and retired from a very high pressure job at the end of April. I am finding it very difficult to carry out day to day things and hate myself for this. I think I may try meditation to see if it helps.
    Thank you for sharing things with us all. Look after yourself.

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 12:24 pm

      Wendy don’t beat yourself up, you’ve had a major lifestyle change so it’ll take some adjustment. All the time you recognise there’s a problem that’s the main thing: meditation may well work so look into that for sure if you think that’s right for you. Thankfully you’ve left the high pressure behind (rather than heading INTO it), so that’s a positive to take away… do all the self-care you can and you will get there I promise. Thank you and sending best wishes to you xx

  19. 21 October 2021 / 11:11 am

    Sending you so much love and strength Catherine. You will get through this. You’ll pull yourself back up and you will rediscover your lovely self. Small steps and take one day at a time. You’re worth it xxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 12:26 pm

      Thank you Liz, yes small steps are right – I’m trying to set at least one main goal each week (this weekend is the final floordobe to clear up)! I’m sitting at a lovely clean desk in my lovely clean, organised office and already that has lifted my spirits. Thank you so much my lovely, love you x

  20. Michelle
    21 October 2021 / 12:27 am

    Hi beautiful Catherine- have you done any mindfulness work? I am a very “inside my own head” type of person. Practicing mindfulness has helped with anxiety, sleep, motivated me to “do the thing”. My company is currently in the midst of our annual mindfulness summit. Lots of great resources presented to us including The Oxford Mindfulness Centre: https://www.oxfordmindfulness.org/
    all good juju sent your way. ❤

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 12:29 pm

      Thanks Michelle, not something I’ve looked into but if the funk continues I’ll have a look… right now I know the best thing for me is to concentrate on getting sleep and getting fit. Once those things are in place I’m better equipped to know how much everything else is affecting me xx

  21. MIchelle Springer
    20 October 2021 / 11:00 pm

    You know that my mental health is still not the greatest- you have been so kind and patient with me during the past year and a half. I’m going to try and start tackling my biggest problem (sugar) by trying to go without the fizzy stuff for the month of November and (hopefully) stop eating so much fast food.
    I’m also finding that meditation is helping me out so much- I started doing it again over the summer and I have found that those ten minutes each morning that I set aside for my practice are super important to me.
    I’m wishing you the best of luck on your journey and know that you are still not alone!

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 12:33 pm

      Awww Michelle you’ve had such a hard time lately (and of course we have a parental situation in common) so it’s been great to talk to you and discuss our situations and troubles. But I’m sure your new situation will improve things for all of you and then you’ll (I’m sure) be able to concentrate on your own self-care much, much more. Glad to hear the meditation is helping – and guess what? I’ve signed up to cut out sugar and alcohol in November to raise money for dementia so I’ll be held accountable for cutting out the crap… maybe have a look to see if there’s something similar in the US? Best of luck to you and OF COURSE keep me updated my lovely xx

  22. Julia Rodman
    20 October 2021 / 10:55 pm

    Your words are alike a mirror of the cycle I’ve felt over the past couple of years. For me it was a combination of HRT (after a bit of a fight to get it) and following a wellbeing programme from a Scottish lass called Shelley Booth that got me sorted and feeling joy again. She doesn’t take prisoners, says it as it is, but totally gets it for us middle aged woman struggling with motivation, mindset and food choices. https://www.shelleybooth.co.uk/a/36347/ZL7FiZDo I didn’t have a lot to lose, but was fed up trying on all my clothes and feeling like I looked like my Aunty Mary (please do not contact my Aunty Mary!!!) I was super strict and lost the weight and gained a really positive mind-set, but covid and an overseas trip has set me back. Your post has reminded me to get up in the morning, kick myself up the bum and get back on it.

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 7:44 pm

      Julia I’m so glad that you found your own way to getting back to fitness (your poor Aunty Mary LOL, though I won’t say anything!! 😉 ) – like it is for me, it’s good to know that if you’ve done it before then you can do it again. Our bodies are ALWAYS worth taking care of, it should never be a “giving up completely” scenario where our health is concerned… I always think you never know what’s around the corner where life is concerned so the fitter you are, the more able you’ll be to fight whatever life throws at you. I’m glad this post has resonated with you… you can do it!! x

  23. 20 October 2021 / 10:38 pm

    Catherine – you are so amazing. How brave to be so honest. I feel that you could have been talking about me when there is a long time stress overload, so maybe you’ve actually hit and described the stages correctly. for most people. I too am unable to do self care when my home is messy (love the floordrobe xx) and when its messy it’s because I’m messy inside from external events and people. Best wishes xxxxxxxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 8:46 pm

      Ratnamurti my lovely thank you so much, writing down the stages was actually quite cathartic for me… it really hits home how much self-sabotage is going on and shows you where you can break it! The floordrobe is being sorted today 😉 , I’m so with you on the messy house thing, I feel soooooo much better and have more mojo when I’#m all clean and organised!

  24. Tracy Patil
    20 October 2021 / 10:06 pm

    Sending you love and healing hugs. I’m here for you and I appreciate the fact that you have shared this. I hope you can find strength from your followers like you did in March. I’m sure you will have so many supportive and helpful comments from the people that follow you but also care about you. You are a wonderfully kind person, you are beautiful inside and out and I for one enjoy your thoughtful posts. Xxxxxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 8:47 pm

      Tracy thank you for such lovely thoughtful comments… can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve just said!! Much love xx

  25. Christine
    20 October 2021 / 8:39 pm

    I’m sorry you’ve been struggling. As mentioned it truly is a slippery slope. I’m 54 years old and it’s frightening how quickly the weight can come on. Which just exacerbates the bad mood and unhealthy habits. Vicious Vicious Circle. You know what to do to break the cycle and you’ve got this. I love your blog/insta and wish you the very very best.

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 8:49 pm

      Aww Christine that’s really so kind of you, thank you – yes, the weight going on easily thing really does happen when you get to this age, doesn’t it… all the more reason to keep on top of the self-care (good food, plenty of sleep and exercise really is where it’s at)! x

  26. Sue
    20 October 2021 / 5:00 pm

    Well done for saying this. Not easy. I completely understand about the mental/physical effects being co-joined. I seem to have spent the last few months just sitting. I do the everyday stuff and no one would know that there is a problem, but I have a list of jobs that need to be done and I just sit. Consequently I’ve gained a stone back this summer (I lost 2.5 last year) and now nothing fits. Again. I need to take a leaf out of your book and make myself do something to break this cycle. You are not alone. xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      24 October 2021 / 8:51 pm

      I hear you on the having a list of jobs and just sitting, Sue – it’s SO hard to break that cycle though, isn’t it? That’s why I do the self-care/house tidying thing and sleep thing first… no point trying to exercise when the rest of my self-care and routine is in chaos. I’m putting lots of things in place to get my head in the right place, so let’s do this together xxx

  27. Bethanne Bruninga-Socolar
    20 October 2021 / 3:04 pm

    I love your honesty and candidness here, Catherine! Best wishes for getting your mojo back and settling into the routines that work for you. <3 Isn't it funny how much of a slippery slope the delicate balance of mental and physical health can be? For what it's worth, I feel like you'd do an excellent job creating or maintaining some sort of mutual support and encouragement community to keep folks on track with whatever their personal routines are…. just an idea for whenever you want yet another entrepreneurial endeavor in your life. 🙂

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks so much Bethanne, the routine and mojo are coming back slowly but surely. I do like the idea of doing what you suggested, but I’d be too worried I couldn’t commit to it as I have found so often with similar things I’ve tried and failed to keep up! But it’s definitely a great idea that’s worth thinking about 😀

  28. Katherine Terry
    20 October 2021 / 2:10 pm

    Hi Catherine, Your post today really resonates for me. You described my experience, and me, perfectly. It helps to know that one is not alone in their experiences and thought processes. It appears you’ve got your strategy and I will be rooting for you from over here in California. I have been on a similar journey and am, too, appearing to be coming out the other side.

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:10 pm

      Katherine thank you, it seems it’s resonated with quite a few people so it’s good to know that we’re not the only ones doing everything we can to self-sabotage (she says with tongue firmly in cheek)! Glad to know you’re also coming out the other side, I had a very productive weekend and the house is starting to look crisp again so I’m getting there x

  29. 20 October 2021 / 1:07 pm

    My heart hurts reading this Catherine. I hate to hear that my friend has been hurting without my knowledge. Although, I’m so glad you’re feeling better now.
    I have to wonder if menopause is playing a role in both your mental and physical health? These symptoms are not only exacerbated by life events but the other way around too. Meaning things that you’d normally cope with become overwhelming when meno is in the house too.
    Take care my love and remember I’m only a phonecall away xxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:16 pm

      Thank you ever so much MT my lovely… who knows, I really don’t want to “blame” meno when I know I’m the one doing most things to make me gain weight: a few months ago I really was on a happy roll so I want to sort myself out health/fitness-wise first before I can tell for sure if meno is in the house ( love that expression 😉 ). When my physical health takes a dive I’m never in a good place, and it’s been that way with me for years hence me being hesitant to say it’s menopause… the way my brain works (and I say this because I know myself so well) dictates that I mustn’t let it be an excuse or I’ll NEVER get up off the sofa. I had a good weekend – the house is looking crispy clean and I got more than 7 hours last night for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long. And no headache today so I’m getting somewhere! Thank you so much for your love and support, I’ll get there xx

  30. Catherine
    20 October 2021 / 1:06 pm

    I’m sorry that you’ve been struggling, and it means a lot that you’ve shared it with us. I also thought about how hormones might be playing a role here–I’m 48 and was struggling with a whole range of issues (mental and physical health), but getting on HRT has been part of my solution.
    Please keep writing and keep looking after yourself the best you can, and cut yourself some slack on the days when it’s tough. Big hugs!

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:20 pm

      Thank you Catherine for those kind words! Hormones probably are exacerbating the issues a bit but as I mentioned to MT (above) I don’t want to use it as an excuse or I’ll never get back to good health. I’ve always, always had sad episodes when I get out of shape so that’s why I’m hesitant to put it all down to that… I already feel so much better after one night of 7+ hours sleep and an (almost) spotless house! Don’t worry, HRT is something I’ll definitely explore if/when I think I need it… so far I’m not yet a total ogre (so the husband tells me, LOL 😉 ) but we shall see! Thanks again, much love x

  31. Dianne Reeks
    20 October 2021 / 12:50 pm

    ❤️

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:20 pm

      Dianne thank youuuuuuuuuuuu xxx

  32. Caroline Roberts
    20 October 2021 / 12:47 pm

    Oh goodness, I could have written this (though not as eloquently). My surroundings and physical health are inextricably linked. Gaining weight affected my health as well as self esteem. They were not joyful pounds but from eating to numb my situation – unable to cope as a single parent to a challenging adhd teen.

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:23 pm

      “Eating to numb my situation” – I couldn’t have described it better myself Caroline, I totally get you! Funny how it took me so long to realise that they’re linked, but I’d like to think that now I know I’ll be better equipped to break the cycle before it gets a hold next time. So sorry to hear you’ve experienced similar… I hope you’re getting the support you need and are doing as much as you can (self care! self care!) to turn things around and break the vicious cycle. Sending much love and strength xx

  33. Arlene
    20 October 2021 / 12:26 pm

    Hey sounds like your doing alot of getting to know yourself! I’ve often wondered if some of this is what menopause would look like. Just turning 40 last year has it on my mind. Looks like your well on your way to breaking the self sabotage cycle but hormones might have a part to play too. Wishing you all the best.

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:28 pm

      Thank you Arlene – I think hormones may be contributing to me gaining weight under stress rather than losing it. The last time I was very unhappy due to so many external factors I was your age, and I lost a ton of weight instead. So (peri)menopause is probably affecting the way my body reacts to the stress, and I will admit that this time I’m overeating when last time I wasn’t. So many factors are in play! But once I’ve sorted the sleep and the general health/fitness I’ll be better equipped to know how much menopause is affecting me; a few months ago it didn’t affect me at all because I was in a much happier place. I had a good weekend and feeling brighter… lots of sunshine today helps, last week when I wrote this it was raining so maybe I’m just affected by the weather!! 😉

  34. Christina
    20 October 2021 / 12:16 pm

    I think this was one of the most uplifting (YES!) posts on your blog ever and I love you for it! It must have taken a lot of strength and courage to write it and it resounded in me and my mental health difficulties. Thank you dearest Catherine, I’ll book mark this post and read it again when I fell ‘giddy’ again ❤️❤️❤️

    • Catherine
      Author
      25 October 2021 / 3:30 pm

      Oh Christina thank you – it was definitely cathartic to get it off my chest, it helps me see where I’m going wrong and how I’m not helping myself far more objectively than just thinking about it. So glad it resonated with you, I hope the giddiness returns to you soon… I feel it coming my way after a better night’s sleep and an almost spotless house that I managed to tackle this weekend! Much love x

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