So I joined a new gym almost a month ago. The workouts are gruelling. Having been a gym goer for a long time, trying diet after diet, workouts, the latest miracle cure for my mummy tummy I’ve visualised my flat tummy and always fallen just that little bit short of my image of perfect.
This one is different in that it’s incredibly simple. You hardly do weights, most of what you’re doing is using your body weight. It’s similar to Cross Fit I guess but don’t worry, I won’t be becoming one of those Crossfit bores.
You spend about half of the time being harnessed up in this parachute style harness but with bungee chords attached to the wall behind you and then you carry out a gruelling session of interval style training with your trainer shouting (that’s the important part) to go faster, push yourself etc. I used to do Insanity, T25 and had tried P90x in my house but you can slack when the guy training you is on a video and can’t react to your exhausted looks and make you do just one more of the whatever horrible thing you’re doing today.
I’m almost at the end of my first four weeks and I feel fitter not only physically, but also mentally. I’m noticing changes in my clothes fitting better, my mummy tummy is definitely getting flatter and there’s finally definition in my chunky calfs that no amount of horseriding can change.
Having come though some minor eating disorders over the years all brought on by not feeling good enough, laxatives being my go to terrible choice, this is making me stop and thing about what I do to fuel my body and what I do to stay slim. The idea of weight loss formed at an early age. My mother would often carry out fad after hopeless fad and I would observe and copy. Skipping breakfast, only eating cereal the usual stuff from the time I grew up, slim fast, the true miracle cure that is purely starvation.
My use of laxatives over the years has probably caused some damage, as I think about the imbalances of flora in my digestive system and things that I find I have struggled to digest. Lately with a healthier approach to food and plenty of probiotics I’m starting to regain the health I should have had.
Weight loss for me was a huge obsession over the years as my body grew from that of a slightly curvy but slim teen to a woman and then a mother. I’ve never been bigger than a size 12 but still I’ve always had a problem with “feeling Fat”. The silly thing is when I look back, I really wasn’t, but the jeers of “Fat bum” when I was in my teens from my peers after my dad had called me that across from his car unwittingly (because men are dumb) caused the feeling of being fat to spiral out of control. Being told by my mother aged only 17 that she hated my skirt because it made me look pregnant still sticks today although hypnotherapy to help me replay those moments has helped me to come to terms with the feelings those thoughtless words have caused.
I used to hate PE, I just wasn’t sporty in spite of the fact I had been on the swimming team till puberty fully hit.
I used to go all day without eating, it became an easy habit, especially when I was really poor eating only a small helping of food sometimes only once a day. I went through the typical bingeing then purging during my years at uni, eating an entire cake and then throwing it back up whenever I felt unworthy. I’m not 100% sure why I did this, I hate being sick, but the comfort of the huge amount of sugar followed by the guilt and the fear of getting bigger would make me feel that I really had to do it.
Joining the gym was a good distraction from the need to starve at first but dangerously a few years back I realised the weightloss could be even better if I starved as well. I would feel like death but the compulsion to keep it up living sometimes off only diet drinks and bananas and the feeling of “you have to keep this up” would help me push through.
I tried weight loss tablets, dangerously messing with Thyroxine purchased from the internet, it worked but made me jittery and unable to concentrate. This is the first time I have ever admitted that I have done such stupid things just to be skinny.
When I split with my ex initially I dropped weight from not eating. But with therapy and time and exercise I got better, trained harder and now eat the best I ever have. I’m finally at a point where I can do a decent press-up, I’m not far from doing pull-ups, with all the hard work I’ve been doing and the strength I’m actually building from eating a decent amount of protein and using my own body weight as resistance.
I probably eat more now than I ever have, yet my clothes fit better, my arms are starting to look defined and I can see the muscle forming under the layer of fat on my mummy tummy. Perhaps it’s now that I live by my own rules for the first time ever in my life that I have no need to starve to be skinny. I’ve never been sure if being skinny was everything that it was about. I know that some of it was about being able to control something when I had no control over anything else, not even my thoughts.
For the first time ever I’ve begun to feel confident in myself having finally realised that actually there is no such thing as the perfect figure. It pains me to think of the time I’ve wasted on trying to match up to airbrushed pictures, images in my head of how I should look and spent my time hating the image I saw in the mirror.
Today I can live with the slight wobble of my tummy, the lack of thigh gap, the imperfect pins. I realise that there’s stuff we all hate about ourselves that actually makes us unique. Instead I’m building on what I’ve got. My transformation this time will be slow and less dramatic but I’ll be happier for it. I’ll be healthier too. I’m already feeling the benefits of eating relatively clean… and the three times a week of gruelling training with my new gym comrades who feel the pain with me.
Perhaps that was what I needed all along. Life is too short to worry about being the next Victoria Secrets Angel, or as pretty as the airbrushed model on the ad for the latest brand of makeup. I’m glad I’ve finally realised it’s absolutely fine to not be perfect. The scars on my arms are no longer shameful, the stretch marks show the signs of my life as I’ve become a mummy, the freckles the time I’ve been outside enjoying the sun, the smile lines are bigger than the frown lines because I’m always smiling and that’s something to be proud of.
Ignore the scales, they mean absolutely nothing, ignore that dress size it just doesn’t matter. When you are comfortable with who you are and learn to love the bits you hate, you start to feel better and then if you want you can build on the foundations. Because we were all born beautiful, we were all born to be the best that we can. Your dress size means nothing. And let’s face it nobody wants to be on standby for the loo just because we want to loose that extra few pounds! It’s not worth the jittery feelings from the untested drugs or the raspberry ketones, or the lack of sugar because you’ve staved all day! It makes me sad that we have to see the body positive initiatives from brands like Dove when every brand should be marketing to the people who buy their products rather than giving us false ideals we can never attain. The day I stopped weighing myself or worrying about my dress size was the step in the right direction I should have taken years ago. I will probably read this back to myself when ever I feel tempted to starve to be skinny. It’s not worth the pain, and it doesn’t make you pretty, and it’s so very true, I have not yet met a man who wants me to get ultra skinny, my curves make me a woman, and men want women and women have curves.