Battling with body confidence and telling diets to sod off
I feel like this post has been bubbling away in me for a little while, but I’ve felt a little bit too nervous to write and publish it. Deep, personal posts aren’t really my thing y’see. I write about what's been making me smile and places I want to travel to and clothes I want to buy.
But I thought, hey, if I’m feeling this way, then I’m sure a load of other ladies are too. And then I read these two fab posts by Hannah and Lydia and they made so much sense and made me feel a bit better knowing that other people had the same mad thoughts. So here I am, sharing my own musings, and hoping that it might help someone else have the “ta da!” moment I had yesterday.
I spent most of yesterday morning in a complete and utter grump, even though I had had such a lovely weekend. We moved house on Friday and we had a celebratory takeaway complete with bubbles. I also had a very lovely afternoon tea with my friends, and my Mum and Dad treated us to an amazing lunch at our favourite Turkish restaurant. We spent an hour sat in our new garden with beers, soaking in the sunshine. I was so excited about our new home and I went to bed on Sunday with a huge smile on my face, feeling pretty damn lucky and content.
But yesterday morning I made the very daft decision to stand on the scales. I don’t know why I did it - the weekend had practically been sponsored by carbs and cake, so I knew the number staring back at me wouldn’t be pretty, but it's just a habit I have. My weight fluctuates so rapidly so I was prepared to see a bigger number, but seeing it still made me feel SO crap about myself. Seeing that I had gained a few pounds made me feel embarrassed and guilty for indulging, even though I’d enjoyed every second of celebrating and spending time with my friends and family.
I know how daft that sounds. My rational brain is fully aware that most of it is water weight and that a few days of healthier eating will see me back to my normal weight. But I still spent my commute to work devising quick weight loss plans in my head, thinking up a torturous exercise routine to punish myself for being such a greedy little piglet. I still spent ages looking at skinny girls on Instagram, wondering if they had ever eaten a large Dominos pizza to themselves. I had given so much power over to that little number on the scales and I had let it affect my whole attitude, and not for the first time either.
But then, as if by magic, Hannah and Lydia’s posts were waiting for me in my Bloglovin’ feed, providing exactly what I needed to read to shake me out of it. And I thought, hang on, this is BULLSHIT. Here are two kickass ladies who I think are bloody GORGEOUS who have been plagued with the same dreary internal monologues as me. How sad is that – that so many of us who have tonnes of great stuff going on in our lives give so much of our focus to a number on the scale?
It made me realise that how much I weigh is such a small part of my life. I’ve got a great job that I love, one that means I don’t dread Mondays anymore. I’ve got a bloody lovely boyfriend who for some reason thinks I’m great (when I'm not nagging him to do the dishes). My family are the strongest support system I could ever wish for, and I have friends that make me feel like the very best version of myself when I spend time with them. I somehow find time to keep this little blog going and I'm always looking to try my hand at new things, from jewellery making to hiking. Not one single thing on this list is determined by how much I weigh. My friends won't like me better if I'm a few pounds lighter and it won't make me more successful in my career.
And actually, I should be giving this ol’ body of mine way more respect than it is currently getting. It has carried me through two marathons, a couple of halfs and a plain evil Tough Mudder, plus years and years of dancing and cheerleading when I was growing up. Not to mention helping me recover from swine flu, laryngitis and about 12 horrible chest infections. It keeps ticking over and looking after me even when I don't give it enough sleep or when I feed it a lethal mix of Prosecco and gin. It doesn't deserve to be treated with cycles of starvation diets, bouts of intense exercise and junk food binges.
My body might never look good in denim hotpants or fancy bralets, but do you know what? I'm coming to realise that that's okay. There are tonnes of other clothes in the world, some that look way nicer on my figure than they would on someone who weighs two stone less than me. And if we're honest, I live in the north of England - bikinis are something I only realistically have to tackle once a year if I'm lucky enough to spend a week in the sunshine.
I'm 25 and have been spent the last decade of my life on some sort of diet. Slimfast, low carb, Slimming World, Weight Watchers - you name it, I've tried it. I look back at 18 year old me, who weighed 9 stone but was still trying to lose a few pounds and just wonder why I wasn't flaunting my toned tum at all times. And I have a fear that in another ten years time I will look back at photos of myself now and wonder why I wasn't embracing my youthful body before gravity and age started to take their toll.
So from now on, I'm making a conscious decision to tell diets to sod off. I'm going to stop seeing pictures of other girls in bikinis and instantly berating myself for not looking the same way. And I am binning my sodding scales, because I don't want them contributing to my self worth anymore.
That's not to say it's all going to be brownies and cheesy chips from here on out (although they will definitely make a cameo from time to time) but it does mean that I'll be embracing moments like this weekend, turning them into happy memories, rather than remembering that I gained a couple of kilos.
I remember talking to my Nan a few years ago, she must have been around 77 or 78 at the time - my cousins wedding was coming up and she told me she was on a diet in order to drop a few pounds for it. I remember feeling absolutely mortified - surely I won't still care how much I weigh when I'm in my seventies?! Surely being a grandmother comes with the right to be a bit softer round the middle???
Well I'm putting my foot down a little bit earlier. I don't want to spend what are supposed to be the best years of my life working out how many calories there are in a courgette, thank you very much. I'm choosing to make the most of these precious moments rather than worrying if my hips look too big, and I hope you do too.