Brace yourselves for an honest, personal post based around the wonderful topic of body image. Love it or hate it, it affects a lot of people, and I am certainly no exception. It’s not the sort of thing I’d usually blog about, and I apologise in advance that this isn’t a happy, positive post full of rainbows and unicorns, but I figured there was no point in shying away from a subject which is my biggest nemesis, so here’s my story. Grab yourself a coffee, there’s a lot of ground to cover with this one.
Let’s go back to late 2012.
After getting together with Darryl in mid 2011 I began to eat more and more of the wrong things, to the point where I was demolishing share bags of chocolate, tubs of ice cream, and large portions of Nandos chips on a daily basis, with zilch going on in the way of exercise. Hello weight gain. It didn’t bother me at first but as time went on the likes of the media soon lead me to believe I was fat. God I hate that word. To some, I may well have been seen as ‘fat’. To others, I probably wasn’t. All I knew was that despite my healthy BMI and perfectly acceptable weight, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.
I now laugh at the ‘here’s to a fitter 2013’ quote that I posted on my old Instagram account 189 weeks ago when I first kicked myself into gear (yes, I scrolled back that far to see where it all began). I thought the determination was there, but it clearly wasn’t. The caption alone screamed failure, stating “yeah, when the munch has gone”, which I can only assume was a pile of Christmas chocolate I was about to dive into. Guilty. I did try, and at one point I got down to 116lbs from 134lbs, which for me at the time was a huge achievement. This happened through basic, irregular workouts and an on/off attempt at healthy eating, but from various crash diets to becoming utterly obsessed with My Fitness Pal, to the point where going over my limit by two single calories sent me into a breakdown, I soon realised what I was doing was not remotely sustainable.
Let me break it down for you.
2012 – This year was spent eating what I wanted, when I wanted, and going on my very first holiday with Darryl to Portugal. I was at my heaviest weight, but surprisingly, despite not being slim, I looked ok.
2013 – Enter, inspirational Instagram posts. It was this year that I began to obsess over my body. I attempted approximately six months of minimal exercise and ate what I thought was a more balanced diet, but nothing changed, and I spent our week away in Turkey lacking the bikini confidence I’d had the previous year. Looking back, at this point, I still looked ok.
2014 – Post Turkey I made almost no effort, up until January of 2014, at which point I panicked because I was going to Dubai in April. I worked relatively hard and managed to get down to my lowest weight, weighing myself daily in the run up to the trip (urgh, why). I put it all straight back on again in Dubai, and made further damage when we got back due to one too many Easter treats. A month later I started again in preparation for Ibiza in September, and once again I’d managed to lose some weight, but day two into the all inclusive buffet and I felt worse than ever, which you could see in my expression in the photos. I gained 10lbs in one week that holiday. This was the first holiday that I began to look bigger.
2015 – True to form, after Ibiza I gave up, and then in January of 2015 Darryl and I booked a four week trip to Dubai, Australia and Bali. This was the ultimate motivation for me to get my ass in gear, but I faffed around for nine months, dipping in and out of crappy diets and MFP. Two months before we went I started to put in maximum effort, but it was too late. Needless to say, I didn’t feel I’d achieved anything. Again, whilst I still wasn’t considered obese, I’d semi-ruined the figure I had, all by trying to ‘improve it’. Ironic, right?
Moral of the story: realise what you’ve got before you end up destroying it.
Forward to early 2016.
2016 is the year that I ditched My Fitness Pal, the weighing scales, the crash diets and the minimal calories. Intuitive eating and HIIT workouts replaced them. There are a number of influential people who helped me make these positive changes, but The Body Coach is one who particularly stands out. His outlook on a healthy, sustainable transformation is incredible. Eating more food, however the right things as opposed to what I thought were the right things, and working out less, but more intensely, are the game changing tactics that I’ve been putting to the test over the past few months. Put it this way, if it wasn’t for my sugary slip-ups I might be a little more lean right now. Something was changing in my mind, but still, I managed to screw it up.
Jan/Aug 2016 – I worked hard between January and April, and then took a break for a couple of personal reasons. In June, I picked it back up and began to make real progress, but what did I do? I spent our entire trip to Switzerland in August demolishing obscene amounts of Swiss chocolate, unravelling the majority of the progress I’d made in those two months. We all deserve a treat, I know, but I overstepped the mark by a long shot.
Aug/Sept 2016 – Needless to say Switzerland put me two steps backwards, so I spent three weeks prior to Zante killing it five days a week at the gym doing crazy high intensity interval training (HIIT) and eating well, until Darryl’s Birthday. Cake, alcohol, pizza, you name it, I ate it, right before I was about to spend a week in a bikini beside a pool. I’m still kicking myself for this.
Forward to now, almost one week post holiday.
So, here I am forty-five months from where it all began, looking back at all of the above, and it’s all so hilariously obvious. How naive was I to think dieting my teenage years away on 1,200 calories and then bingeing until I felt sick would work? How silly of me to be weeks away from reaching my goals, and then throw it all away on a few too many poor food choices.
At this point you’re probably thinking “so if you dislike your body then why have you posted pictures of yourself in bikini?”. The truth is that during the moment captured in those photos, I was sat there wishing Darryl would hurry up and take the damn shots because I felt awkward as hell with a restaurant full of people staring as they munched away on their breakfasts and sipped their cappuccinos. No, I don’t love my body in these photos, but I don’t hate it either. For starters, my most insecure area (my backside and legs) aren’t in shot, and secondly, I have become slimmer over the past couple of years, whether I choose to believe it or not. For me, having photos to refer to and to remind me of how far I’ve come is the key. In addition to this it’s good to see myself in a different light, because I look in the mirror and see something different to what I am, which I’ve been told is something commonly referred to as body dysmorphia. Yes, I might be a size eight and be considered perfectly healthy, but the majority of the time I look in the mirror and see someone who is two, three dress sizes bigger than I actually am. The way the mind works can be extremely tough to handle at times.
And do you know what makes it harder? People judging you for being unhappy with your body. I eat a healthy lunch and someone says “why the rabbit food?”, I tell someone about wanting to slim down a little and they say “oh please, it’s not like you need to”. I know I don’t, but I want to, why is that not ok? I appreciate that people are being nice, but it’s hard to hear time and time again when it’s something that makes you feel so uncomfortable. To put it into perspective for you, I bought bathroom scales yesterday and the woman behind the counter said “well I seriously hope those aren’t for you, there’s nothing of you”. Instead of telling her my life story, I decided to say “oh no, they’re for weighing my suitcase before holidays”. Issue averted.
So, what next?
Zante was a week of pure relaxation, which ultimately gave me a lot of time to think. Usually, at this point, I’d give up and think “sod it, I’ll try again in the new year”. Not this time. For once, I’m starting again now, because there is simply no time like the present. Now I’ve expressed my love of what The Body Coach promotes, and because of this I’ve decided to take on his 90 Day Shift Shape Sustain Plan. Spending money on something that may or may not work terrifies me, but quite frankly I feel as though I’m out of options, and I need something to force me to commit.
Yes, I will crack more than once and run for the sweetie isle in Tesco, yes I’ll cry about it afterwards and yes I’ll repeatedly ask Darryl why the bloody hell I started this and why on earth he let me, because despite my new approach to a healthy lifestyle, no-one on this earth has the power to cure my slightly erratic sugar-deprived emotions. For me, this is not just about losing that bit of excess fat. I want to know more about nutrition, I want to feel stronger, I want to prove myself wrong and I want to tell the people who say “oh come on you don’t need to lose weight” that I know I didn’t, but I wanted to earn myself a body to be proud of, because why shouldn’t I? At the end of the day, everyone has a different mindset and if you’re happy in your own skin, I salute you. I am not, and it’s time I did something about it.
Whether I fail or succeed, I’ll share the highs and lows of the entire process, because if you’ve read on long enough to end up here at the end of this massively lengthy post, then you deserve a good laugh (and a medal). My extensive health questionnaire, my measurements (hence the need to purchase scales) and my ‘before’ photos have been submitted, so now all that’s left to do is await the arrival of the document that I pray to god will change my life. Let the challenge commence…