I have battled with my weight since I was 8 years old. Being a fat teenager wasn’t easy and at the age of 18 I was about 86kg. I hated myself. And I mean myself not just my body. But I hated that too.
Forced into weight loss
After trying dozens of diets from the age of 8 -which by the way, I would never recommend anyone to do- I developed a horrible relationship with food. There was bad food that I supposedly craved but I couldn’t have -so I hid to eat it- and “good” food which I had to eat even if I didn’t like it as much.And even if I liked it, I would end up hating it because of the forcefulness of eating it. This meant that I felt guilty when eating the food labelled as “bad” and I felt annoyed when I had to eat the “good” food.
I was never a massive eater, but I became one at times as a result of so many diets and restrictions. So if anything, all these diets made me eat more and more anxiously. The restriction and the lack of choice made me hate food but also myself since I perceived myself as disempowered passive being.
For years I went up and down in weight. Dropping 10 kg putting on 15 kg. Until I got to my maximum of 86 kg at the age of 18 -I am 153 cm tall-. At that point my doctor and my parents thought it was a good idea to have a liposuction and so I agreed. And it was pointless. I dropped 20 kg and put on 12 kg shortly afterwards. Why? One would ask. Because I wasn’t choosing to make any lifestyle changes. I was persuaded by society to follow diets that perhaps didn’t even work for me. I was told I was fat and I had to lose weight. That had been the focus for the past 10 years of my life. So to me, weight loss was an obligation, not a choice. And as most humans, I rebelled against what I was told to do.
I moved to London in 2011 and I found home and acceptance. I started living the life I wanted. For the first time in my life I felt I was more than my weight. I felt valued and respected as a human being beyond what the scales said.
A few years later, in 2014 a couple of friends moved to London . They were friends from school who had witnessed my battle with weight for years.One night, around February 2015 we met for a beer. As usual, I complained about being fat and battling with it. They suggested that maybe I should stop battling, accept myself as I was and just enjoy my life -and food-. Something lighted up. I had spent the previous 15 years hating my body and hating food too. I was neither enjoying food, nor having the body I wanted. I was neither putting that much effort into losing weight as to achieve it, nor I was accepting the fact that I was fat and enjoying food without guilt. At that point I realised I had to make a choice. I could either choose to make lifestyle changes to become the person in the body that I wanted, or I had to accept myself as I was, and start enjoying food without guilt or shame.
This conversation stayed there. I held these powerful words in my head waiting for the right moment to arrive that will push me to make the final decision. And both decisions were valid, I was healthy and active even if fat. That moment arrived in June 2015. I had been training with a Personal Trainer for about 8 months, and I followed some trainers on social media. One day, I saw a picture of one of those famous instagram trainers. In an instant, I made the decision: my new life starts on Monday the 15th of June. No diets, no role models, no forbidden foods, I will continue training with my personal trainer and I will design my own food program with what I know -after 17 years dieting…- and adapted to my lifestyle.
So the 15 of June 2015 I started my new life.
Diets don’t work
I was always anxious around food, obsessing about calories, fat and sugar and never enjoying what I was eating just hoping to finish soon and feel full. To then of course feel guilty. So the day after eating the burger I will punish myself with salad and chicken for two days. Although sometimes, I would hate myself so much and feel so guilty I would just think since I am a fat bitch regardless I may as well eat more crap – go to the supermarket and get all the crisps, sweets and chocolates I could find. And then back to guilt and punishment. Always anxious, never enjoying food.
I still struggle with my relationship with food and alcohol now. I struggle to know when to stop and I have lots of prejudices against some foods. But I am learning, growing and adapting and I hope I always will as my body and my needs change. There are however, a few things I am convinced by at this stage:
- Diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes do. One small change is already better than none, as small as it may be. The changes have to be sustainable and kept forever. It is resilience and consistency which brings sustainable long term results.
- The same routine doesn’t apply to everybody. We all have different bodies, different lifestyles, different goals and different responsibilities. So the only way to make a meaningful change is to find the way that works for you.
- And the most important of all. Food isn’t the solution, and neither it is the problem. Food isn’t good or bad. In my experience, the problem is usually mental health; either anxiety stress or depression that makes us look for an escape mechanism, and in many cases that is food or/and the lack of it. I used food as a punishment or a prize. Now I know that food is nurture, culture and love.
The real transformation is within
I have been tracking my progress in different ways, one of which is through photos however, I have never shared them on social media. The reason is simple. The real transformation cannot be seen in a photo. The real transformation is within. It is my lifestyle, my habits, my thought processes, my actions and words towards myself and others. And a photo can’t show that. I didn’t just isolate my body and took care of it. I took care of myself; of the whole of me, and that includes my body. That is the obvious change, but not the real change.
There is another reason why I didn’t share this photo before. It’s because the photo doesn’t show the effort put into getting to this stage. It doesn’t show the mornings waking up at 5 am to squeeze in a work out so I could go to an after work event. It doesn’t show the tears calling my friends or my mum when one week I went up rather than down in weight. It doesn’t show the endless conversations with my PT about why I wasn’t losing as fast as I wanted. It doesn’t show the times I ordered salad at pizza bars. It doesn’t show the times I said no to cupcakes or biscuits at work. It doesn’t show the Sundays cooking for the week. It doesn’t show the fear still have to put on weight again.
And there is something else this photo does not show. It doesn’t show the happiness sport has brought to my life. It doesn’t show the highs I get from achieving better and higher goals every time. It doesn’t show how forgiving and loving I have become towards myself. It doesn’t show how much I now enjoy ALL the food. It doesn’t show the sense of happiness and achievement the first time I ate ice cream in public and not hiding. It doesn’t show how proud I feel to finally having done something for me. Because I wanted to. Because I chose to. Not because anyone told me to.
The journey continues
Weight loss wasn’t -isn’t- easy for me, and I still struggle to lose 2 more kg. I have a hormonal condition (POS) which makes it much harder than for a standard woman my age. However, taking care of myself -including my body- is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is not because of the physical result -which of course I am pleased with- but because of how the changes in my lifestyle have made me happier, calmer, more confident, stronger, more forgiving and more loving towards myself and others.
But this is a lifetime commitment. I did not follow a diet for x or y years to get to a point and forget about it. I am committed to loving, respecting, nurturing and honoring myself forever, and that includes my body. This is only the beginning of a lifetime journey of acceptance and love.
So why on Earth are you showing and telling this now you would think? Today, 15th of June 2019, exactly 4 years after the day my journey of self love and self care started -funny how life works out sometimes-, I am taking a step further. I am starting a course to qualify as a Personal Trainer myself, with the only goal of supporting those who want to embark themselves in the same journey I started on that 15 of June 2015.
So if this picture can motivate one person, as the picture I saw motivated me, then why not sharing it?