Finding My Natural Weight
I've written here before about being a serial dieter. 5:2, Slimming World, Paleo, even the dreaded Slimfast (yack!) - you name it, I've tried it. I've also tried pretty much every type of exercise too - from BMF bootcamps to pilates to running marathons. Whether it was new year resolution time or slimming down for a holiday or event, I've spent a lot of energy in the last decade trying to reach an elusive number on the scales.
Of course, being a serial dieter comes with the perils of fluctuating weight. Over the years I've tended to swing from a super strict diet and exercise routine to quite literally not having a care in the world, and as a result I've been a variety of weights and sizes. In the past 3 or 4 years alone my weight has ranged from eight and a half stone to over eleven, a fluctuation which is pretty huge for my 5 foot 4 frame. I had definitely become resigned to the fact that my size and weight would be directly correlated to the strength of my willpower, and I was pretty used to seeing a 7 pound gain on the scales after a particularly foodie weekend.
Looking back now I can see how unhealthy the constant cycle of dieting and overindulging must have been for my body, but it was just a pattern that mentally I had become accustomed to. It was totally second nature for me to diet and exercise furiously in preparation for a holiday, and then spend said holiday eating and drinking literally everything in sight, always choosing the naughtiest option because "I'm on my 'olidays!". I've also weirdly always felt guilty whenever I put weight on, as if I was letting myself down - ironic really, considering that at my lightest weight I had never felt more miserable and lonely and that I was at my heaviest after getting engaged and spending the subsequent few months celebrating with friends, family and a hefty amount of cheese. Isn't it silly to beat ourselves up for being happy and focussed on something other than calories?
As a lot of you will know, I had to overhaul my diet at the beginning of the year to help with some health issues I'd been having (you can read more about that here) and it was the first time that I could remember judging food by it's ability to make me feel better rather than whether or not it would make me fat. I had to cut out a lot of things from my diet, and as a result lost a bit of weight quite quickly - and then, after a few weeks, it just stopped. The number wasn't increasing or decreasing at all. I've been the same weight, give or take a pound or two, since February, despite reintroducing most foods back in to my diet.
It's taken me by surprise - I really expected that once I started adding wine and carbs and natural sugars in again that the scales would shoot back up again, but I've had takeaways and eaten out and drank LOTS of Prosecco without the scales so much as budging. I even changed the batteries in my scales because I'm so used to the fluctuating weight that I had just assumed something must be wrong with them.
But it seems that I have found my natural weight, the one that my body seems happiest with. It's heavier than I would have targeted myself with had this whole overhaul been about weight loss, rather than health, but for the first time in my life it seems sustainable. It feels healthy. It feels like the weight and size that I'm supposed to be.
I'm eating amazing, nutritious food every day (without any limit!) and I'm not beating myself up when I choose to eat chips or tapas or fried things. I'm exercising because it helps make my mind feel a little bit clearer, rather than torturing myself on the treadmill because I need to drop three more pounds before a wedding or trip. If I drink a bit too much red wine on a Friday night, I balance it out with a green juice on Saturday morning. It feels like I'm eating normally for the first time in my adult life.
When I tried wedding dresses on last weekend, I wasn't focussing on the fact that my arms could look more toned or that a pair of Spanx might help my tummy look a bit flatter - I was looking in the mirror and thinking "Yay! Wedding! This is what you're going to wear when you marry Sam! You look really nice!". I was focussed on how happy I felt, how content I am with my body and the role that I will allow my weight to play in my life. And I can't tell you how amazing that feels.
After spending so much time on diets and following calorie restrictions or avoiding certain foods, I can't quite believe how simple it has been to find my natural weight, and how healthy and normal it feels. There's no magic secret - it's just prioritising decent, whole, nutritious food, enjoying meals out and a glass of wine without guilt and moving your body when you feel included to. Who'd have thought it?!