It’s 409 days until I turn 50!

Somewhere in the last 6 years I have lost me. That person who was in charge of her life no longer seems to be headed in the right direction. The healthy things I did to regulate myself have slowly eroded while the unhealthy, temporary fixes have multiplied.

There was a point before motherhood when I exercised regularly most mornings. I cycled to nearby towns with a friend at the weekend. Triathlons and even a half marathon were among my accomplishments. I’d cook all my meals from scratch with only the odd takeaway or microwave meal. Lunch dates were common, weekends away were delightful and I’d chat on the phone to family and friends regularly.

I worked hard. I packed a lot into my days, but I wasn’t exhausted. I managed. I kept on top of house work and met work deadlines. I made time for my parents and sister when they needed help with something. I was fit – in the sense I could run, cycle and swim without being too much out of breath, I mean.

I had energy.

…I don’t know where that energy has gone! It’s literally seeped away.

Tiny bit, by tiny bit I feel like I’ve lost me. That person I was before Olivia came along. Now, when I say lost, that’s pretty ironic given how much I have actually grown. Quite literally grown. 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 the numbers keep getting bigger. My head is like a small bowling ball perched on a huge hulking rock! The bigger the numbers get - the more I feel my confidence shrinking.

I look at the clothes on the ironing board and wonder who they belong to? I look at the photos of me trying to hide behind something and cringe. Who is that person?

How on earth did this happen?!

Bit by bit things have gotten away from me. First there was the early morning gym visits – no can do, when you are a single mum to a small child. Then there was the replacement of gym with the extra chocolate and maybe a glass of wine. The house jobs multiplied and, if I had any free time, I’d flump on the sofa with TV, book or phone too tired to contemplate any exercise. Finally, there was the introduction of fast food – pizzas and microwave meals.

6 years on and none of the healthy habits remain. It’s carbs, chocolate and couch. Please note – the wine has gone, but sadly it’s been replaced with even more chocolate.

I’ve had enough. I want change.

Well, technically what I want is the past me in my present life.

I have 409 days to get my life back on track. I want to enter my 5th decade in better health. To be able to cycle to nearby towns with my daughter. To be able to complete a triathlon with my daughter. To teach my daughter to cook healthy meals. To show my daughter how to take care of herself. To model a better work / life balance. I want to have energy again.

I tell people how important self-care is. Put on your oxygen mask first! Look after yourself, or you can’t look after others. But, it’s so easy to let it slip. To put your daughter’s needs first; to cram in more work; to skip a run; to miss a lunch date.

For anyone starting on their adoption journey, take heed: I am your early self-care warning – you do not want to end up like me.

I wanted to write this piece to harness my desire for change. Periodically over the last 6 years, I’ve tried to lose weight and exercise more, and maybe succeeded for a couple of weeks before, ironically, ending up heavier and more unfit than I was when I started. This time I need a different ending.

In a way I feel I am already beginning to resurrect the old me: I have taken charge. Right now, I am declaring my desire for change to everyone in our adoption community. My chance of success has increased because I have articulated my goal. Other people will be looking at me over the next 400 days wondering how I am doing in my self-care quest. They might speak to me about it. Challenge me. Encourage me. Share tips. Hold me accountable for my actions.

…and that’s what I want!

My self-care overhaul starts now.