I want to share with you all another part of my story, and my journey to towards trying to be the best possible version of myself. This part is physical. You can see the journey clearly here in pictures. But I feel it is important to explain some of those steps in detail, and this was a big one.
In 2008 I was living in deep unhappiness. I am 5 foot 1 (and a half) and I weighed 10 and a half stone. That’s a lot for a little person. My vision of myself was so skewed, that I carried this extra weight with me, resigned to the fact this was what happened to people when they got older. I was 28.
The first inspiration for this journey came in the form of my dear friend Emily in 2007. She oozed beauty and confidence in the most inoffensive way, though of course at first this was a completely alien concept to me. She encouraged me to start to taking care of myself in simple ways – whether that be starting to wear a little make up, starting to moisturise my skin and generally starting to show myself a little bit of love. This might sound pretty basic, but when we have lost all love for ourselves, these little acts become incredibly significant.
She also encouraged me to start to spend a little bit of money on myself. This in itself was pretty revolutionary, up until that point I spent everything I earned on my life with my ex husband, and trying to provide whatever he wanted, crazy huh? Let me also be clear here – I don’t blame him for this – we are both responsible for creating the relationship that grew between us, both as giver and as taker.
Meeting Emily was incredibly significant to me, because up until that time, I had been strong enough to keep everyone else out. But she was relentless, and kept gently pushing me out of my comfort zone, gently opening my eyes a little further with each push. I resisted at first, fighting to stay inside the prison I had created for myself. One of those pushes made me leave a job in 2008.
I had tried yoyo diets, fads and fixes throughout my 20’s, and by this time had resigned myself to just being a ‘curvier person’, other people could feel confident and happy with their bodies, I just wasn’t to be one of them. At my new job I met someone who was doing Weight Watchers. After 6 months of being inspired by her strength, in 2009 I decided to give it a go.
Weight Watchers has it’s critics, but for me it was revolutionary. By learning what was in the food I was consuming and the impact it was having on my body, I completely re-programmed my relationship with food. I’d spent my 20’s consumed by guilt at every meal. Now I make great food choices, and that means I exist (almost) guilt free in that sense.
It worked for me because I liked the structure and keeping track of what I was consuming made it real. I had been mainly cooking ‘healthy’ home cooked meals for my ex husband and I, but I would give us both an equal amount of food. He was 6 foot 3 and 17 stone – you get the picture! I also simply hadn’t realised what a person of my size was meant to consume in a day, and how much of that allowance something like the occasional muffin here and there would consume.
I thought that I was eating things in moderation – it was a stark learning for me to realise I was actually over eating. It was hard for the first few weeks of the programme, and you learn quickly how to make good food choices that will make you feel fuller longer, and not to let yourself feel hungry at all, as that can lead to temptation.
Once I got going, the programme was great. I never had a cheat day and followed the programme to the letter. Starving yourself doesn’t work, you have to give your body enough fuel to keep it running properly. This programme made me realise that.
After 6 months I had lost 2.5 stone and reached my goal. I went from a big size 12, to a size 6-8. I stuck to the programme for a further 18 months though and maintained my weight at 8 stone. Looking back, I honestly believe that is because I welcomed the structure it gave me. I had no control of the behaviour of my ex husband as it spiralled out of control, and I think having this kind of control provided me with some form of salvation from that. This level of control is not healthy or sustainable long term, and I have now found a better balance.
During this time I also didn’t go exercise mad by the way (that’s come later haha, and I will make that a separate post at some stage) I just walked as often as I was able and gradually re-discovered my love for moving my body around. Through my friendship with Emily, I also began to re-discover my love of dancing – something else I had completely forgotten in my 20’s.
I stopped counting my ‘points’ when I left my ex husband, and lost the need to be in such tight control of that part of my existence. I have re-visited the programme at times when I have felt my weight creeping up. But have happily fluctuated from 8 to 8 and a half stone for the last 6 years. I am still ‘curvy’ but in a way that compliments my petite frame. I am healthy and happy, and am completely comfortable with my consumption, on every level.
My weight loss though was an extremely important part of my journey towards really loving me. When I lost the weight, my self esteem sky rocketed. I still didn’t see myself as beautiful yet, but I did at least start to take more pride in my appearance, and bought some new clothes, and started to see myself as a girl I didn’t recognise and one that people noticed.
That part was hard for me to handle at first. My ex husband was very jealous and controlling, so I didn’t welcome this new attention on a conscious level, it freaked me out. I also felt sad that people hadn’t look at me in this way in my previous form, and grieved for her almost. Subconsciously though, my self esteem was rising. I was walking taller, and conducting myself in a more confident way. That was what people were seeing, and that’s why they were noticing me. I was starting to walk with myself again, I just didn’t know it yet.
If I hadn’t lost the weight, and experienced this lift in self esteem, and the change in the way I saw myself, I might never have left my ex husband at all. If I hadn’t, my life (and eyes) most definitely wouldn’t sparkle in the way that it does (and they do). All of this stems from pockets of inspiration from other people (and pushes in some cases haha). Taking inspiration from one another is so so important, and I continue to do so every single day.
Remember also that we are all different, and that different things work for different people. But please remember that, we can all be whatever we want to be. Don’t write things off thinking that they are just things that other people can/do/be. Anything is possible, with the right mindset.