Friday, 6 February 2015

Introduction Hannah Lilly Experiment

January 2015

On the 4th of August 2014 a little red book came into my life and a nugget of information it gave me would begin to transform it.
I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of a girl the sort who takes up running and has to run a marathon, the type who eats the whole cake not just a slice. So discovering weight training whilst studying to be a Personal Trainer soon led to the decision to step on stage in a bikini for a body building competition in October. Not perhaps the most sensible idea for someone with an already distorted body image a touch of self-sabotage may have been involved but my mind was set.

I’ve always been hard on myself feeling a failure after running the Dublin marathon twice finishing but not in my goal time and threw my medals away.

My goal for this was mental as well as physical, to be happy with my achievement regardless of the competition result.

I would drive an 80 mile round trip each week to train in Dublin on top of my own gym sessions plus a hectic schedule of teaching spin and insanity classes.

By August I hadn’t eaten sugar or processed foods for a year and lived on fish, turkey, green beans and oats. This is not a ploy for sympathy it was my choice and I enjoyed the structure of it but the strain was beginning to show.

In work I always felt fantastic.

At home I was stressed out and cross. Probably 80% of the time. I had serious doubts about my ability to get myself in the shape required to compete and was extremely critical of my appearance. My phone was full to the brim of comparison photos that I would analyse seeing only flaws.
Over exercising and my restrictive diet meant it all became overwhelming and after an evening alone crying in my bedroom, my family watching a film downstairs it seemed like maybe the only option was to quit.

The next day in conversation I will never forget and will always be grateful for I told a friend how I felt.

That I had clear visions of my future how I desperately wanted to be a motivational speaker and inspire people to live the lives they deserved, to be kind to themselves. Not practicing what I preached made me feel like a fraud.

She asked had I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

I had in fact heard of it a few years before flicked through it in a book shop, it hadn’t appealed to me and I left it there- honestly I thought it appeared little value for money.

This time though I took €20 out of my rent money (apologies to my landlord for the late payment that month!) bought it and read it in one sitting. From the moment I first started turning the pages I could feel something amazing beginning to happen. It might sound crazy but it was as if I became a magnet to positive opportunities.

One month later to the day 4th September I gave my first motivational talk to 150 people about the power of our minds -one of the most exceptional moments of my life so far just thinking of it now gives me goose bumps. On the 4th October I stepped up on stage in my sparkly bikini placing nowhere but I still felt so happy and it seemed like I’d achieved my goal of finally being proud of myself no matter what and was really excited about beginning a more balanced life with my family and focusing on plans for the future.

Some of the hardest most painful & frightening times I have ever experienced were to follow. Times when I simply didn’t want to be. In taking the rigidness and control out of my strict lifestyle it was as if the ground caved in beneath me.

Introducing balance to my life wasn’t going to be so easy and it became apparent that the Eating Disorder I had struggled with during my teens (though somehow managed to ignore since a diagnosis aged 17)was very much present in my life. I couldn’t bear to see my reflection, my anxiety levels rocketed and it took all the strength I had to get out of the door to work commitments.
Feeling an absolute failure in all areas of my life, perhaps more so because I knew how good I had felt such a short time before. Needless to say I didn’t feel like following any of the positive mind set practices and all I had visualized and dreamed of seemed almost laughable. My house was and is still covered in posters from my first talk and one night feeling desperate I sat beneath one that read
Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.” A tiny part of me believed that perhaps that feeling could return but I couldn’t see a way. It can. It would and it did.

All of these experiences  have lead me to this very moment now  on the 4th February 2015 sitting at my laptop with butterflies of nerves, excitement & anticipation at the journey that lies ahead.

I’ve decided to become a guinea pig in my own experiment. Knowing the things I can do that will have a positive effect on my life but also aware that it’s not easy to put these things into practice when feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.

So I've created a list of 10 daily rules to follow for the next 6 months, bringing me to the 4th of August exactly one year since the Secret came into my life. My aim, that they will become such a part of my routine that they will be like breathing.

When I feel good, good things happen and these rules are tools that I hope will help me feel good.

It is for me an experiment, a therapy an experience and if I can let anyone else feel a tenth of how amazing I know life can be, a success.

My Daily Rules
Spend 5 minutes each night before I sleep visualizing my future and all I want to achieve until it is so clear that it feels as if it has already happened.

Begin my gratitude list on the 4th Feb and add
to it each day.
Be kind to my reflection. Pay myself a compliment when I look in the mirror.

Start the day HAPPY by playing 2 of my favorite tunes- at the moment this is " Sigma feat Paloma Faith-Changing & You've got the love- Florence Welch" though I will allow myself the option of flexibility here as 6 months is quite a long time.

Think POSITIVE. Do my very best each day to find the positive in all things. Be aware of negativity in my thoughts and conversations.

Fresh air. Spend at least 15 minutes outside every day.

Love. Start a list of things I love on 4th Feb and add to it each day.

Be Kind. Each day take as many opportunities to show kindness to others as I can. This can be as simple as letting a car out in the traffic or opening a door.

Giving. Rather than waiting until I have enough to give I will start now. Each week I will donate 10% of my earnings to charity.

Do my best to follow these rules for the next 6 months, not pressure myself to be perfect at it & blog honestly every day about the experience. 

You can follow me also on Instagram @hannahlillybella