Its probably taken me as long to get around to writing this blog post as it has to actually start my `fitness journey’! But its better late than never!
I feel a little strange talking about my fitness and weight loss journey as I’m far from perfect (not that such a thing actually exists) and I am definitely not qualified to give any diet or exercise advice. Still, I thought it would be nice to share with you how I got to the point (and weight) that I’m at today, which, incase you’re interested is 8 1/2 stone.
I was never an overweight kid and never had any sort of mental health issues surrounding what I ate or they way I looked. I didn’t associate chocolate or cake with being ‘bad’ and I didn’t associate fruit or vegetables with being ‘good’. Life was pretty simple, if I liked it, I ate it. Thus, I maintained a pretty well-balanced diet growing up and as a result I was the right weight for my height and age.
However, like most young women in todays, sadly over-expectant and aesthetically-obsessed society, once I hit puberty, my views on my body and the way it should look-including the food I should eat- changed drastically.
At around 13 years old, I vividly remember my friends talking about `dieting’ and `losing weight’ and, being the slow and perhaps naive learner that I was, suddenly feeling bewildered when they started switching up their macaroni cheese hot dinners for Greek salads and fat free yogurt. For me, I just couldn’t understand this whole concept of replacing the foods you love with tasteless, fat-free alternatives. Unfortunately, my unwillingness to even attempt to understand this whole concept quickly resulted in me dropping down in the hierarchy of ‘cool’ girls at school. (at 13 years old this roughly translated to: life is over)
Although initially maintaining my ground and continuing to spend lunch times nomming on Jaffa cakes and cheese sandwiches (minus the crust cuz no-one wants curly hair) things soon began to change.
When my brain finally registered the strange correlation between my skinny, dieting friends and their popularity ratings, I suddenly became obsessed with this idea that in order to become more popular and, in the process more appealing to others, I too would have to lose weight.
Obviously now, at the age of 26, it seems so sad that I would even consider this to be true. Today I`m a wiser woman, uneasily convinced or swayed by other peoples point of view, plus if you asked me stop eating Jaffa cakes I would simply tell you to go f**k yourself. However, at 13-years-old, I knew nothing better.
And so I caved in and began the long and treacherous journey of dieting, starving, binging, and self-loathing. I tried every diet under the sun, literally everything. I went carb-free, sugar-free, fat-free, there was the liquid-only diet, the no eating after 3pm diet, the only drinking tea diet and the cabbage soup diet. I would lose 10 pounds, rejoice in my new-found skinniness and then pig out on about 15 pounds’ worth of chocolate as a way of thanking myself for all my hard work. 2 weeks later and I was back at square one, only this time with a severe and sickly dislike of anything cabbage-related and with a lot of excess wind… And so the process would start all over again.
This vicious cycle continued well into my early 20’s and it wasn’t an easy one either. In fact things got so bad at one point that I was diagnosed with anorexia and body dysmorphia, a title I was in no way proud to hold.
Over the past 12 years, I have gone from a size 16 to a size 8. I have weighed almost 13 stone and I have weighed less than 7 stone.
Was I happy throughout? No. Being completely honest, I was miserable regardless of whether I was shoving my face with cake or slipping into a size 6 pair of jeans.
If you’re still reading this far down then here is a virtual high five (POW) and here is also how I broke the vicious cycle of dieting…
It was during my time working as a volunteer in South Africa that my view of my body and the whole concept of dieting, completely changed for the better. Blessed as I am, I managed to catch myself the worst stomach infection humanly possible and was consequently hospitalised. Unable to eat or drink properly for a week, I lose a huge amount of weight, so much so that I literally couldn’t even stand up properly without feeling dizzy. I had headaches, I went temporarily blind, everything smelt different and I was so unbearably weak. After a few days hooked up to a drip, I had a long chat with my (slightly scary) South African doctor who practically demanded I go back to my hotel and eat a proper meal. After going so long starving myself on a regular basis, I finally realised that I needed to take better care of myself and my body.
For 1 year after being hospitalised, on the recommendation of the doctor, I wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol or consume wheat as my stomach had become too weak to handle it. For someone who used to party every weekend and finish the night off with a donor kebab complete with face-sized pitta bread, I think its fair to say I didn’t really take to this like a fish in water.
But, despite my attempts to sabotage my future health, I eventually realised that my stomach really couldn’t cope with it and so I began to cut out all of the bad stuff. Although initially I could only minimise my wheat intake (I literally LOVE carbs) I did eventually eliminate it from my diet all together. Strangely, cutting out alcohol was much, much easier that Id imagined and even to this day I will drink once in a blue moon.
Overtime I began testing out a range of fitness routines to see what worked for me and after much sweating, swearing and vowing never to lift weight again, I decided upon a mixture of Hiit Training and long runs in the park as my chosen workout.
For me, Hiit training keeps things short and simple and can be incorporated into your daily routine. I now do Hiit routines at home around 3 times a week and will go for a run once or twice a week, although if i decide I’m not up to it, thats fine too. The point is that I am not hard on myself anymore. I will not crucify myself for eating chocolate (even if it is a family-sized galaxy bar) and I will not judge or belittle myself if I skip a workout. There is more to life than that and just remembering this has helped me to lose and maintain a decent amount of weight.
4 years on and I`m a size 8-10, a size that I`m pretty comfortable with although I still have plenty of days full of self-loathing. But, I am taking better care of my body and that’s the most important thing.
On a daily basis, I am mindful but not obsessed with what I eat. If I want something, I eat it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt though my years of dieting, its that deprivation is detrimental to both your physical and mental health.
Another thing I regularly do is walk EVERYWHERE and by everywhere, I mean literally EVERYWHERE.
And its not because I have to but because I want to, I enjoy it and I know its beneficial to my body and my health. Finally, if there is one resounding lesson I have learnt throughout this whole journey it is this: do not attach emotions to your body or what you consume. Your weight is just a number and if you obsess about it regularly it will eventually consume you. The same goes to calories and fat- they are just numbers and instead of obsessing over how much you consume it’s much better for your physical (and mental) health to just be mindful.
Below Is the Hiit training fitness workout I follow, in case you’re interested, there are plenty of different varieties available on youtube but this one serves as my go-to.
P.s- the photos were taken at the Atlas mountains in Marrakesh, if you haven’t read my blog post in Marrakesh yet, click here.