Today, I watched this video from TED talks and it started to make me seriously think. Iris touches on a variety of different things that I’d also like to discuss in my next blog.
Today, I want to talk about where I’m at with my weight and body image right now and my past issues. As some of you know, I lost a lot of weight a few years back. I was quite big before I started to lose weight and definitely felt the need to slim down. Over a timespan of a year and a half, I went from 150lbs (10st7), my starting weight, and surpassed my goal weight of 129lbs (9st2) down to around 123lbs (8st7). Despite the fact that I was 5’2, 123lbs is way too low for my body to be at, but I was addicted to exercising and losing weight.
I developed a bunch of issues surrounding my body and eating – like Iris also says she experienced in the video – and although I didn’t have any issues that are talked about on a daily basis, and that everyone knows about, that doesn’t mean there weren’t issues. I was obsessed with everything that I put in my mouth; I started to freak out if someone offered me a bite of something and I took it; nearing my skinniest, I started restricting fruit so much that if I ate two apples in a day I’d be disappointed in myself (also known as a disorder called orthorexia); if I missed a workout I would beat myself up about it for days, and work out extra hard for days after (also known as a compulsive exercise disorder); and the saddest thing of all, I would look at myself naked in the mirror and grab the pieces of fat I could find on my body and be so angry at them for being there (also known as body dysmorphia).
The hardest part about that time was looking at my body and hating it. All I could see were the flaws. People would tell me how great I looked and, although I don’t blame my family for any of it, the comments from my direct family made the obsession so much worse. I remember my mum telling me I was going too far at the end and that I needed to stop, yet when I did stop, I stopped getting compliments from people. People could see the weight creeping back on, and that’s all they could see. They couldn’t see the fact that I was no longer obsessing, that I had friends to go out with and I was actually having fun for the first time in a long time. Not one person told me I looked good in a dress or an outfit when I started to gain back the weight, but most importantly, no one commented on how much happier or healthier or confident I looked, despite that I felt it. And that was very hard for me to deal with. I would cry and battle myself over being skinny, and people appreciating me, or gaining the weight, and becoming invisible again.
During the time I was losing weight, I tracked everything through Instagram, and I posted pretty much everything I ate and every workout that I completed. I gained a very large following, which added a huge amount of pressure to the whole process and was a huge trigger in the issues that I had at the time. I’d look at these other super thin girls and wonder if I’d ever look like that, reassessing if 1100 calories a day was really low enough if I wanted to get like them. The best thing I ever did was completely stop using Instagram around 15 months ago. I also used to take a few pictures pretty much every day, and use them as ‘progress pictures’ that I’d obsess over. The same day that I deleted my Instagram, I also deleted around 1000 pictures of me from all angles at every point in my weight loss progress.
As Iris says at one point in the video: ‘People looked at me, and saw thinner, and assumed healthy.’ – think about this the next time you comment on someone’s weight loss and what that could trigger in someone’s mind.
Weirdly enough, around April/May 2012 was when I had started to gain a tiny bit of weight again, and is also when I got a tattoo saying ‘love yourself’ on my back. I truly believe this helped me love myself and gain a better understanding of my body and why I’m designed in the beautiful way I am. At the time, everyone told me I would regret getting it. Now, when I get genuinely down about my weight (which doesn’t happen very often), I remember how that helped me stop weighing my food and start to become the person I am today.
I’m not saying gaining the weight back was easy and that everything’s perfect now, but I do feel a million times better. Funnily enough, the first time I’ve ever stopped caring about food completely was when I initially moved to France. Despite a stint around December time, I pretty much did workouts that I enjoyed (when I could, and without beating myself up at all for not going), and ate what I wanted – I’m a nutritionist and I love eating healthily anyway so my eating habits aren’t terrible anyway! But seriously, how could I avoid the cheese and wine?!
Right now, I would say I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been with my weight. I weighed myself when I got back from France (on my old scales) for the first time in about a year and a half. This was (genuinely) purely to see what weight I was, and whatever the number was on that scale, I truly didn’t care.
Funnily enough, I’m the same weight I was when I started to lose weight a few years ago, but the difference in my attitude to it is at the completely other end of the scale (get it?). Seriously though, I love to work out and feel good, and I love fruit and vegetables (and also greasy pizza) so I continue to eat and do those things. But I’m not obsessing over it or getting stressed out about it. I’m not going to say that I don’t want to tone up or anything because that would be a lie. I very recently got my body fat percentage taken, and I’d like for that to drop a little before my 21st birthday, just so that I look and feel a bit leaner. I’m starting to seriously take on weight lifting again, which is really fun (today was shoulders and biceps if you care to know!). However, I’m also going out (probably way too) often and spending lots of time with friends and new friends and enjoying myself immensely this year at university. I truly thought nothing would beat second year, but this year’s looking to be a good one.
I feel great with the way I look right now and I’m enjoying not being tied down. Life’s just pretty great in general. Yeah, sometimes I’m a little upset I can’t wear something I used to be able to. But, I put on one of my favourite outfits, and I feel totally fine again. I have a great group of friends around me and I feel absolutely zero pressure to be skinny.
For now, just remember that being skinny isn’t everything, and being skinny certainly does not lead to happiness. Trust me.
Originally I was going to combine this post with one about the TED video, but after writing out my whole experience, I’ve decided to talk about my thoughts on the video in my next blog in this series. So the next one will be a kind of sequel to this post.
[If you want some more information about eating disorders, visit this website: NationalEatingDisorders.org]
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you’d like to read any of the other posts in this A-Z blogging series, here’s all the links:
L: Leaving Aix