It has been 12 weeks, and it’s (almost) all over.
In January when I initially decided to take on this challenge, I didn’t imagine the positive impact it would have on my life.
I’ve loved the positive effects of exercise for a long time now, but the change in my mindset, mentality and confidence over the past 12 weeks has been huge.
By increasing my daily step target in the last six weeks, I’ve moved more, got outside at lunchtime, and even got to do some dolphin spotting in the Foyle.
But of course, as is with everything, even though it has been such a positive experience for me, there will be certain negative aspects.
By putting myself out there I never thought I’d be everyones cup of tea, but there has been a lot of positive feedback, and many, many words of encouragement.
That was, until last week.
I hit my target of losing one stone well ahead of schedule, and have been trying to keep my head down and not let anything throw me off course.
Very simple you may think. Well, in theory, yes. But in practice, when you experience body shaming for the first time in your life - not so much.
I honestly feel great in my own skin at the minute, but some online comments last week made me feel totally inadequate. That I hadn’t done enough, that I wasn’t good enough, and God forbid I might want to stand and have my photograph taken.
I put my heart and soul into this transformation, and showed that you can still live a normal life (to a certain extent) and get great results.
But a few simple words made me feel like I hadn’t worked hard, that I had made no progress, that I’d be a fool for even thinking of carrying on.
I was left feeling so downtrodden that I almost threw in the towel. I was anxious, I felt guilty for taking rest days, for maybe going over my calories one or two days out of 84.
Even when I was almost 17 stone I had never been bullied or shamed in that manner.
After some reflection and talking to some good friends I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and went for a walk. Fresh air did wonders, and a few long discussions with good friends helped push me back in the direction of the gym.
The comments directed towards me do not reflect the 99.5% of the other positive comments and messages I’ve received throughout this process, but they are the ones that stuck in my mind.
I’m lucky to have a good support network around me to help me back up from it, but other people wouldn’t be so lucky, and comments such as these could send them into a tail spin.
We have to look after each other and encourage each other, especially when you’re trying to make major life changes.
If someone is trying to build themselves up, definitely don’t try to knock them down.
I’m now looking forward to the next few days, I have worked hard, and I intend to enjoy every moment of it.
I’ll be back next week for one last column for my final results and photographs, but I think the only thing I can say this week is -be nice!
Keep an eye on Instagram this week for a sneak peek of my photoshoot! Instagram.com/aine_od