I have not always had what can be described as a healthy relationship with food. As a girl I was naturally slim, so never really gave much thought to what I ate. Of course, like every other teenage girl, I lamented to my friends about how “fat” I was and about how I should go on a diet, but it was really all just idle chatter.
I spent the summer before my final year in University on a J1 visa in America. I loved every minute of it. Waiting tables by day and partying by night. When I came home, I had trouble getting back into the swing of things. College wasn’t for me. I studied English Literature, which was and still is a great passion of mine, but the whole student life thing just didn’t appeal. I didn’t fit in, I struggled to make friends and I was generally miserable. By the time my finals were approaching, I was in a deep depression.
I rarely made my classes, I didn’t have a job. I was sleeping around the clock and I had no money. I would eat one meal a day, which was always two slices of toast, a fried egg and a grilled tomato. The rest of my waking hours, which were few, were fueled by coffee and cigarettes. Naturally enough, I lost weight. A lot of weight. I plummeted to 7 stone (less than 45kg.) My family and friends began to pass comments about it. I took their concerned remarks as compliments and they were the one thing at that time, which made me feel good. I guess you could say, I had developed an accidental eating disorder.
Thankfully, not too long after finals, my roommate recommended me for a job where he worked. I got the job, and slowly began to emerge from the pit I had been living in. It was a long process, and definitely a story for another day. Slowly, as I started to feel “better” I began to put on some weight. Initially this was a good thing, and everyone was relieved. I figured I would just regain the weight I had lost during that year, and get back to normal. Unfortunately, “normal” came and went and I was still putting on weight. Over the next few years my weight steadily increased until I hit the 79kg mark. I had almost doubled in size.
I hated myself. I lived in over-sized clothes. I hid myself away. Dreading to go out and having to show everyone what I looked like. I remember buying a dress for my 30th birthday, (something which should have been enjoyable) I just pulled something which I thought might fit off the rail in Tesco and decided that would do. It was green and satinesque! Even the thoughts of trying something on was too much for me.
It wasn’t long after that awful green dress when I decided something had to be done. First to be tried was Weight Watchers and Aerobics, which before long gave way to Crossfit and Paleo! Initially, I had some success and the pounds came off. But it wasn’t long before the wheels came off the wagon and the weight would start creeping back on.
On and on it went, losing a little, gaining a little. Each time I tried again, it was with renewed energy and more extreme measures. At one time I was eating a 100% Paleo diet and training 8-10 hours a week. My body was so over trained and under nourished that my hair fell out. My skin was a mess and my hormones were all over the place. I was once again giving my family cause for concern. It was a decade later, and it seemed I had learned nothing. I was right back in a place of disordered eating behaviour. It didn’t matter how much weight I lost, I just couldn’t shake the fear that one day I would wake up back in my old body.
Then something amazing happened. It all fell apart. I changed jobs and I got really busy in work, so training had to take a back seat. Following a strict Paleo protocol was simply impossible with the hours I was working and with the other commitments I had. I had a series of injuries which kept me from training from a broken finger to a strained hip flexor. If I had tried to write a story of disaster, I probably couldn’t have made it worse.
While all this was going on, I was trying to do my best to mitigate the damage. I enlisted the help of two of the best nutrition coaches in the business and put myself entirely in their hands. I didn’t have the bandwidth to argue with them, so I just did what they said. I trained when I could and tried not to panic too much about it. About a month ago, and 5 years after the hideous green ensemble, I weighed in at 59kg. Exactly 20kg less than at my heaviest and about 25% loss in overall body weight.
I had eventually reached my “goal weight.” Okay, so what now? It is very peculiar reaching a goal like this. It never feels like you imagine it’s going to. I still don’t look in the mirror as see the body I want. I don’t yet feel satisfied and I certainly don’t feel finished. I have learned a lot on this journey, and made more mistakes than I can count. I think the greatest lesson I have learned, is that I don’t do well in extremes. I am very lucky to have great people around me, and I have become able to trust them, even when I don’t trust myself.
I really believe that although I may not be exactly where I want to be, that I am ready to close the chapter of my life that has been the last 5 years. I am ready for losing weight to not be the primary focus of my life anymore. I want to concentrate on what I can be more of and better at. The irony of my situation is not lost on me. I can only smile when I think about how far I had to veer off course in order to arrive where I am now.
For anyone else who might find themselves battling to stay on track, I have this to say. Just trust. Trust the process, trust your coaches and your loved ones, but above all, trust yourself! Be well xxx