Anniversaries often give you a time to reflect on the time that has passed between the life event, and where you are now.
On November 1st I “Celebrated” the anniversary of my rock bottom. The life altering event that kick started my journey towards a healthy lifestyle.
Eight years ago I took a little tumble with a set of stairs. I had to be escorted out of the basement by the Fire Department while I was strapped to a spine board. At the time I weighed over 400lbs, so this was no easy feat. That incident is described in more detail in my Small Changes, Big Results presentation around the 4:40 mark, for those who are unfamiliar with my tumultuous relationship with gravity.
This was me in 2009. It’s a really weird feeling to see a picture of yourself and not recognize that person anymore, but at the same time have days where in my head, I feel like I still look the same. Thanks, brain.
The past eight years have flown by and my journey towards a healthy lifestyle is far from over. I have had several bumps, twists, turns and setbacks over the past 8 years, but I have never lost sight of my ultimate goal. It has just taken me a lot longer to get there than I had anticipated. I was never fast at anything. Forever the tortoise, never the hare.
There have been days when I have celebrated victories, whether it be a new personal best in CrossFit, or fitting into clothes that I thought would never see the light of day again. But there have also been days when I have wanted to throw in the towel and drown my sorrows in alcohol and junk food. The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. I’ve had them all!
Life really is like a roller-coaster. Ups and downs, loop de loops, racing heart, queasy stomach and sprinkled with a bit of vomit. Ah yes, Life is a beautiful, disgusting thing.
So in celebration of the 8th Anniversary of Jill’s Rock Bottom, I present to you…
Jill’s Not-So-Crazy 8 Life Tips
1. Celebrate the Victories.
One thing you’ll notice if you are a friend of mine on social media is that I celebrate my victories. A lot. And it may be annoying, but I enjoy celebrating these milestones because they are just one more stepping stone towards bettering myself as a person. It is a weird feeling to go from struggling to bend over and tie my shoes to moving heavy weights on a barbell, or getting faster at swimming, making peace with burpees, not feeling like dying after walking a flight of stairs, or fitting into a restaurant booth or carnival ride. These things may seem little, but to me they are huge. And I will celebrate them. Because life is meant to be celebrated. So brag yourselves up. Celebrate you and everything that you accomplish, even the little things, because you are awesome!
2. Take it One Day at a Time.
I know for myself the big picture can be overwhelming. It is much more manageable to break tasks down into little bite sized pieces. Chip away at things, day by day. Whether it is a looming deadline, weight loss goal, renovation, or a diabolical plan to take over the world. Just take things one day at a time. And if you happen to horribly screw up, tomorrow is a new day to start over and try again. Because world domination rarely goes off without a hitch.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Over the years I have had the opportunity to participate in several public speaking engagements where I have shared my story. One of my biggest fears has always been public speaking. I am uncomfortable in crowds, don’t like being the center of attention or have anyone look at me. I share a lot of qualities with a troll that lives under a bridge…so when I received an invitation to present at a wellness conference in 2003, I took a flying leap out of my comfort zone. It was a great opportunity to share my journey towards a healthy lifestyle and self acceptance. How many opportunities have you missed because you were too scared to just say yes? Don’t settle for where you are when there is a world of opportunities out there. Take a leap. It may be scary, but fear is often a great motivator. Just ask someone being chased by a bear.
4. Make Friends With Yourself/Get Comfortable Being Alone.
I have wasted a lot of time hating myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed of what years of neglect had done to my body and spirit. I was broken, and in some ways still am, but I have learned to love myself for who I am. This was the hardest lesson of all, because I had it drilled into my brain that I was less-than, unworthy of love from anyone, including myself. I have said some shitty things to myself over the years, and when you realize you would never say some of these things to another person, it is no longer appropriate to say them about yourself. Fast forward several years later – I love my body for what it can do. I am much stronger than I was before, both physically, and mentally. I have discovered that life is a lot happier once I started being a friend to myself.
I used to think the worst thing in life was being alone, but some of my favorite memories are spending time with myself, out on the open road, singing along to music, going on solo adventures and just being in the moment. Being alone does not always equal feeling lonely. I have felt lonely spending time with other people. So loneliness doesn’t always have much to do with quantity. Don’t be afraid to spend time with yourself. Take yourself out for dinner, go to a movie, go for a drive, or just sit and enjoy your own company. Because at the end of the day the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.
5. Be Kind
If you only retain one piece of information from my sage advice, let it be this. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Life is too short to be an asshole. I have spent a lot of my life not receiving kindness from other people. Growing up I was physically and emotionally abused, bullied, and overall treated like crap. I could have let that turn me in to a bitter asshole, and that would have been the easy choice because I carried a lot of hate and anger for a very long time. But in the end, kindness won. I try to live each day with kindness in mind. Everyone out there has a past that we know nothing about that has shaped them into who they are today. A little bit of kindness and understanding towards others and their journeys goes a long way.
6. Be Adventurous
Don’t be afraid to go on an adventure. This goes along with stepping outside of your comfort zone. For years I could rarely travel by myself an hour out of town without wanting to fall asleep. I had no energy, and was a constant sufferer of road trip narcolepsy. There are several photos of me sleeping to prove it, and my husband jokes that one day he’ll make a calendar from his collection. My ability to stay awake has increased dramatically and I can now to 10 hour trips alone and not fall asleep. Or maybe I did…and this is all just a dream? My new found lust for adventure has taken me all over Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. Adventure is out there, you just need to be willing to say yes, and go explore!
7. Find Balance
This is a tough one for me, because I am notorious for burning myself out. If there was an award for Burn Out, I would win it, hands down. I juggle and juggle and juggle and eventually all of the balls end up crashing to the ground. So this will be a “do as I say, not as I do” piece of advice. Find balance in your life. Don’t take on the weight of the world, because no matter how strong you think you are, nobody can handle it. Make time for yourself to practice self care, because it is impossible to pour from an empty cup. And I know you’ll try to squeeze out every last drop, and lick the cup for any remnants of fucks left to give, believe me…I’ve tried. But once it’s empty, it’s empty. There is no such thing as emptier than empty. So try to catch yourself before you get to that point, because there have been a lot of times that I haven’t. So again…do as I say, not as I do.
8. Don’t Quit
I’m not going to lie, some days will be fucking hard. It will seem like everything is going wrong and the easiest option will be to throw in the towel and quit. But don’t. Nothing in life worth having is ever easy. Hard work, blood, sweat and tears are what worthwhile endeavors are made of. So when you feel like quitting, just keep going. Scream, cry, have a pity party, but don’t you ever ever ever ever quit…Or else.
Here’s to 8 years on the other side of Rock Bottom!