We all have regrets and we all look back on our life wondering what we would have done differently. For that reason, I thought I would write to my younger self with the advice I needed. I am sure some of you will relate to some of it. Thinking about this has made me think about how I parent my son too in some ways.
Please forgive the poor photo quality throughout, they are old photos of me – long before digital cameras!
As I write this I know you are unlikely to read it because hey, what do adults know? At 12 you feel you are growing up, you are finding your own identity. You have decided to spell your name with i is definitely much more mature than anything else, it is just a name stop stressing about it!
Why do you think you are fat? You are not fat, you are the heaviest in the class because the others are all either shorter or slimmer. The fact you are heavier does not mean you are fat. That science lesson was humiliating, you felt ashamed and embarrassed because you weighed more than the others.
You went off and cried afterwards in the toilets, you didn’t want to have to go back to school the next day but weight is just a number. The way your teacher handled it was not great. Yes, you have a bigger gravitational pull but it is just a science lesson. Don’t let it shape the rest of your life.
Thinking about yourself is the advice I needed
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Look at yourself as a whole, look at how clever you are, look at how much of a good friend you can be and how great a big sister you are.
Your weight doesn’t change any of that. You are not fat, stop thinking that, your confidence is low and you need to think more positively about yourself. Try harder to make friends, if you are feeling down people can help you do not need to feel more and more useless.
You are not useless Jenni, you can be so much in your life and one day you will see that. Stop blaming yourself for things that are out of your control.
Yes you don’t see your dad but that is not your fault, no one has told you it is your fault so stop telling yourself that. Stop looking in the mirror and seeing the worst of you. Look and see the best because you are a lovely girl with such a lot to give the world you just have to get through the bad days.
Stop stressing you do not have the latest fashion because one day you will be glad no one has the photo evidence of you looking awful!
When you are 13 and you get a paper round don’t buy sweets and crisps to eat on the way around with your money. Food is not a reward it is a fuel like petrol in a car!
Don’t spend money on those magazines that then make you think you are not good enough. You are. Work hard at school like I know you will. Do what you want to do and what you enjoy for your education. It’s your life, not anyone else’s.
You will struggle and you will get depressed, this doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to live, you are human and this means you need help so you need to talk to the right people. When you get help, be honest and open, depression is an illness you don’t need to be ashamed of. This advice I needed and I think everyone does too.
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Get the help you need – the advice I needed
You will soon be an adult and you will face hard times, there are going to be times when you feel like life isn’t worth living and times when you feel desperate and lonely but you don’t have to there is hope. Depression is an illness you do not have to be ashamed to talk to someone, anyone, just do not feel alone.
Don’t be afraid to phone the Samaritans and don’t be afraid to ask for help it is going to get better. When you get into relationships make sure you retain your self-respect, make sure you never let anyone put you down and make sure that you always do what is right for you, not anyone else.
Never settle for being put down by anyone and only have people in your life who you want there. As you are 12 now you think you would never let anyone put you down and you think that you will find your perfect prince charming but it doesn’t always work like that.
Relationships – advice I needed
You need to be strong and never accept less than you are worth. You deserve to wake up every day happy, you deserve to be treated with love, and respect and your partner should be your best friend.
Food is fuel, you need to eat food to live, so if you want to lose a bit of weight starving yourself will not work! Eat when you need to, if you are bored go and find something to do. If you are feeling depressed then talk to someone or get some help.
Stop looking at yourself thinking that you are fat anyway so what difference will more chocolate or crisps make? It does make a difference, you are not fat now but if you eat bad things then you will become fat. You will become everything that right now you desperately don’t want to be. (This is advice I needed and didn’t accept.)
Put yourself first
As an adult you will eat things you know you shouldn’t but remember Jenni, it doesn’t matter where you put the wrapper you still ate them. Going to the shop and coming back with a normal week’s food shop of quite healthy food.
Well done but it doesn’t count if you sat and ate a bag of cookies and a doughnut in the car in the supermarket car park. Putting the rubbish in the bin in the car park before driving home doesn’t mean you didn’t eat it.
Be honest with yourself, secret eating will not help you, don’t eat your emotions talk about them. You will never find happiness at the bottom of a family-size tub of ice cream. A multipack of chocolate bars that were on offer will not solve your problems.
Be strong Jenni, Don’t let the weight creep on. If you do one day you will be my age and a few months off 40. You will be looking at photos of you now wondering how you ever believed you were fat.
Listen to me, Jenni
If you remember just a bit of advice from me please remember to be yourself and never let anyone change you because you are just wonderful as you are.
Be honest with yourself and eat for fuel, not for comfort. Try to be open-minded because you might think now that you will never want children but one day you will change your mind!
Be strong, parenting won’t be easy and you will face more challenges than you imagine possible but you are amazing and don’t ever give up because you are just perfect as you are!
Love Jen (Age 39 and a bit!)
I found writing this really helped me think about my past and my weight gain along with my depression. Thinking back to my abusive relationships and other issues was kind of therapeutic actually. I know I can’t change my past but I feel I have learnt a lot from it.
What would you tell your younger self? This is the advice I needed but is it what you needed too?
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