My mindful bootcamp: if you treat yourself like garbage, you'll feel like garbage

Just like puppies aren't just for Christmas, mindful treatment isn't just for everyone else around you.

If you're anything like me, taking care of yourself hasn't ever been much of a priority.

Sure, you probably "reward" yourself with the odd treat, often food (we'll get back to that subject later), sometimes new clothes, books, games (whatever brings you instant joy, you know what it is), but you're not actually taking care of yourself.

Eight weeks ago, amongst other things, I was constantly dehydrated from not drinking enough water. It made my headaches worse, I was cranky and tired, and my skin did not look great. Yet I was aware that I should be drinking a couple litres of water a day, it wasn't something I discovered for the first time at age 31 and felt absolute horror that no one had told me about before. I knew I should be drinking more water, but why didn't I? If you're a pet owner or parent would you leave them without enough food or water? I'm guessing not, in fact I prioritise my cat having food and water before I get anything for myself in a morning. Why? Because I love my cat, but didn't necessarily always feel the same way about myself.

It's astonishing how I've managed to get to 31 and only now finally feel like I know how to love and take care of myself. It's drilled into you from when you're young that it's nice and good to take care of others. It somehow even feels easier to be kind to others, help them with their issues and give them advice to be happier or healthier. And yet a simple matter such as drinking enough water and eating the right foods seems like such a struggle. When a plane is going down you need to put your mask on first before helping others, it shouldn't take something so drastically life endangering for you to start putting your own basic human needs first.

The well cared for cactus 
Yesterday I finished my second bootcamp of the year, and this is what I learned: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST. Yup, I'm shouting it, because it's such a simple concept but I know so many people that don't practice it, just like I didn't. I'd never feed someone a whole pack of biscuits for their dinner, but I've done that to myself. I'd never expect someone to function on a couple cups of coffee and no other liquid all day, yet I've done that to myself. And I do mean that "I did that to myself", because it's not kind treatment, it's not a rewarding way of life. It's also not a great example to give others. There's no way that having a terrible diet and being dehydrated is going to make you feel great. Simply put, I was getting up and treating myself like garbage and wondering why I was feeling like garbage. I mean, even a cactus needs water and plant food every now and then! I'm pretty sure I took better care of my cactus than I did of myself...

So, is it true if you drink two litres of water a day you feel better? Well, yes. That's not a surprise though, surely? Doctors advise it, and they study the human body, if anyone should know how one works I'd expect it to be a doctor. Actually, not only do I feel better I also sleep more soundly, my skin looks younger (honestly like three people told me I was glowing last week), and my body doesn't struggle with day to day tasks. Drink more water, you'll see.

Back to the food as a reward topic... One of the most effective and horrible food statements I ever heard was "you're not a dog, don't reward yourself with treats". For a long time it cured me of all my snacking habits. But as with anything, there's no cure all. Even knowing something is bad for you won't stop you from wanting it. Also, my food struggles date back a long time, and though I'm through the worst of it now, some habits are hard to kick. For example, I'm obsessed with the number on the scales, like so many other people. I was diagnosed with anorexia at age 7, so it's something I've carried with me for a long time, long before I even understood that what I considered normal eating habits were very unhealthy and dangerous.

Eating the right type of food and normal portion sizes that aren't one extreme or the other has been a learning process. Without my current nutrition plan I'd likely still be flailing around wondering what's too much and what's not enough. Much like we are not born knowing how to read, we are also not born knowing how to take care of our bodies and minds, we have to learn it! I wouldn't try to learn French by guessing what sounds right, yet I was using this approach to taking care of my body. "Yep, there's food on the plate, that looks about right." Asking for help is the best thing I've ever done and I'm almost embarrassed it's taken me this long to ask someone what food and how much I should eat.

Eating the right food hasn't just made my body work more efficiently and helped me lose fat... I've also noticed that my mood is better, I'm happier and don't get cravings anywhere near as often. You would think that I would've learned that starvation is not the best way to be healthy and to maintain a healthy weight... but then fad diets are still all over the internet and on tv, so maybe I'm not the only one struggling to understand that taking care of our bodies is complicated and that there is a manual.

Shortcuts are great, we all love them. As a society we love to go from A to C without stopping by B if it can be avoided. SO MANY people have asked me what my secret is, like their bodies are also a mystery to them and I've got some magic wand that is making my muscles develop and my smile widen. I do have a magic trick up my sleeve, I work out at home 30 minutes every day with what is basically Netflix for workouts.

@karina_lawrence on insta
Nobody, like literally nobody, wants to hear that answer though. Why would I spend six months getting into shape and then spend every day maintaining it when this advert tells me I can just take these pills and lose the same amount of weight in two weeks? I'll just skip this meal. I just really want to watch this show on tv, I'll do it later. I'm not well enough. These are some of the lies I've also told myself over the years. As a chronic illness sufferer I have every excuse in the book and it's medically backed up... I very much cannot do as much as someone who is 100% healthy. But sitting watching tv wasn't really living. And every day I impress myself with how much more I can do than I thought was possible!

Getting up at 5.30 in the morning to workout is the best decision I ever made. It's a bold statement. Would I have said that 8 weeks ago before starting my first bootcamp? Hell no, I would have laughed and said my body would not function that early in the day. There was only one 5.30 I would ever be seeing and it had a PM next to it. And it wasn't easy. It was a terrifying concept, I thought I couldn't, I wasn't a morning person.... and yet for the last three weeks I have set an alarm for 5.20, got up, worked out and then gone to work knowing I've got the toughest part of the day done. No meeting in the office is going to be as challenging as weighted jumping sumo squats (those are what gave me that bright red face and big smile though). I'm in a great mood by the time I get to work, as endorphins are running through my veins before I've even put any coffee into my system.

Your goals really don't have an expiration date. While you're still breathing at least. Did I reach my end goal this month? Nope. Was I disappointed I wasn't already there after 8 weeks? Yes, for a couple hours. Because I wanted to be at the finish line, even though what I'm going through is a lifestyle change, I still wanted the scales to reflect how amazing I feel inside. Yet, when I took my "after" photos and measurements I can see that I still made progress on the outside too. And nothing in this world can take away the happiness that taking care of myself has brought me. Be mindful with how you treat yourself, because this is the only body you're going to get and hopefully it'll last you a long time!


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