Let us just awkwardly brush past the fact that I’ve been missing for the best part of two months, shall we? I don’t really know where the time has gone, I was only meant to take two weeks off to gather myself, have a bit of annual leave and return with some grand plans and new ventures. Instead, I have been sat staring at the wall hoping that the next knock on the door will be creativity. But alas, no creativity came knocking.
I did however, turn vegan, temporarily. Whilst I may not have made it past the final hurdle in my masters degree (for now..), my best friend, Laura, has. To actually grab that gradation gown though, she needed to create a documentary. She has created a cracking one. About vegan lifestyles. About me. About me turning myself vegan.
Over the last two or so months I have been on a temporary vegan diet and following a vegan lifestyle. It has been absolutely incredible to open my eyes to a different side of the world and to ‘walk a mile in the shoes of someone else’. Hats off to you vegans, by the way, because everything contains eggs. Everything. I don’t miss milk anymore, but I do sometimes crave a roast dinner on a Sunday.
Over the course of 2019, I have lost three stone. 42 pounds, give or take a few depending on what day it is, have disappeared and most of it has happened very quickly because of my willingness to take part in the documentary project for Laura.
At first, I felt amazing. I have always been an advocate of the potato. I have always championed myself as a bit curvy, a bit chunky and definitely a first class frump. But, there has always been a part of me who followed the ideology that by losing weight, I would be happy. And I was. A happy feeling and some confidence strolled into my life and completely changed who I was as a person. I went on dates. Would you believe it? I walked around in a t-shirt and shorts. I even took up running to help tone my body that little bit better.
Do you remember when as a child, you would awkwardly toss and turn through the night of Christmas Eve? You would wake up before 5:00am and beg to go downstairs to see if he had been. You’d open all your presents and you’d have the best day. Christmas would turn into Boxing Day and slowly into New Year and you would still be struggling to decide which new toy to play with. And then, as January rolled into February, one by one, your toys would find their way into various piles and begin to gather dust as the novelty slowly wore off.
Well, losing weight was exactly like that. The first month of seeing my shape change was incredible. Then the compliments from people around me put a huge spring in my step as I bounced around with a new-found confidence. I was pulling clothes out of the back of my wardrobe with some new smile on my face and not a question of something being too tight. I was physically lighter, but I was also mentally lighter, you know?
And then, as I ended month two of my vegan challenge, the dates ghosted me. The clothes were starting to pile up in the corner of my room and my four runs a week became one jog every now and then. I had started to slow down because like the toys from Christmas past, the fun and excitement had slowly worn off.
It took a while for me to realise that losing weight and exploring a new, healthier way of life was never going to fix my problems. Sure, they have made me happy, and they have given me (for the most part) a new confidence I used to only dream of. But it was never going to be a cure. It was never going to be anything more than the classic tale that the grass isn’t always greener.
Happy and happiness are like non-identical twins. Very, very similar, yet if we look close enough, we see that the tiny things that make them completely different. Happy things bring us fun, they temporarily top up our emotional tanks and bring a smile to our faces. But happiness gives meaning, it brings us a purpose. Let’s bring back the festive reference for a second. The toys and the gifts make us happy, but the time spent surrounded by loved ones, the laughter and love we produce, that is happiness.
To put that into the context of my life; the tinder dates, the pounds lost and the extra energy from too many bananas made me happy, but to find a new, calmer way of life where things are not so chaotic and stressful, that brought me happiness. Turning vegan, albeit temporarily, made me reassess so many other aspects of my life. In turn, I fixed my sleep, opened up more in therapy and learned to accept myself. I look at myself differently in the mirror these days, and it’s not because I look slimmer, but because I have fallen in love with who I see in the reflection.
Find the difference between what makes you happy and what brings you happiness. Explore what happiness it is to you, what purpose and what sense it brings to your life.
Exploring it is not the hard part, keeping it is.
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