Towards the end of March this year, after switching to a new birth control, I gained a significant amount of weight. Saying that is definitely my “no responsibility” answer though, and it was also 100% down to the fact that I was eating probably the unhealthiest I had ever been. After dropping out of university in November, I went through a period of feeling really lost and overwhelmed with the idea that I had to sort out my life and figure out what I was going to do. Everything felt completely out of control for me, and the only thing left that I could control was food. It became a massive comfort to get home after work and order takeaway, or go for dinner with friends, or get fast food on my lunch break. The short term gratification and positive feedback loop I was getting from the instant pleasure of highly palatable but nutritionally sparse food was incredibly addictive and was fast becoming one of the only things that made me happy.
I hit the highest weight I had ever been, but absolutely refused to acknowledge it and kept eating - I felt like if I ignored it then it would go away. People around me were gently asking if I was eating okay, and I would shut out everything anyone said, become incredibly angry and defensive and continue to be in denial about what was happening to my body. I know I may not look that “overweight” or big, but to me it wasn’t about the size, it was how I felt. My mindset was the worst it had ever been about my own self image, and I felt miserable. I couldn’t wear any of my old jeans or trousers because they just didn’t fit anymore, and physically I just felt disgusting. I woke up everyday bloated and exhausted, after eating late into the night left me with restless sleep and stomach aches because my digestive system had slowed down too much overnight to process half of the heavy and greasy foods I’d eaten. All of the animal products I was consuming in this time were also making the problem worse, and the amount of dairy I was eating caused my skin to breakout constantly, and a constant feeling of nausea and bloating.
Everyone has a moment when they finally wake up to what they’re doing and the way their behaviour has manifested itself, and the evening that I took those pictures was my wake up call. There were a few main steps I took to lose the amount of weight that I eventually did and those were:
1. Trying to work out, even if it was only for ten minutes, every single day.
I started literally so small with this because I had completely stopped exercising and had no idea how to get back into working out after stopping for so long. The gym intimidated me and I was NOT in the right state of mind to watch Grace Fit UK lookalikes lifting massive weights and looking amazing while doing it as I heaved my way through one sit up. I watched the Victoria’s Secret Ab workout by XHIT Daily every day and followed along, because the routine only took 10 minutes and was relatively easy to do for someone who was as unfit as I was. When I didn’t feel like doing that I went for a walk or walked to things I would normally have taken the bus to. This didn’t feel like much at all and I honestly didn’t expect to see any results from it, but slowly my waist started to slim down and my legs started to lean out from the walking. This encouraged me hugely and motivated me to incorporate different variations of these workouts, such as other resistance based workouts and longer hikes. After 3 months of doing this I’ve lost 3 inches off of my waist and dropped from a 12 in bottoms to a 6.
2. 80% Diet, 20% Exercise:
The biggest change I made in this period was completely altering my diet. I temporarily complete cut off fast food and eating out because I knew I couldn’t trust myself not to fall back into the binging mentality and I needed to break my addiction to these kinds of food. I cut all animal products from my diet and went basically completely ketogenic style with my food groups. Refined carbs like bread and pasta were a huge weakness for me, so lowering my intake of them when I was initially trying to shift the first few pounds really helped. When I did reintroduce them more regularly in meals, I changed from white bread and pasta to brown, and gluten free. I’m not gluten intolerant completely but it has always made me feel uncomfortable and bloated, the same as dairy had before I removed it from my eating. I ate high fat foods like nuts and avocados, loaded on carbs that were vegetable based and included more protein through vegan protein powder shakes and eating a lot of soy protein.
3. Changing my mindset and attitude towards food and myself:
At the end of the day, being nice to yourself is really hard. “Comparison is the theif of joy”, is one of my favourite quotes, and I think it’s so relevant given the importance placed on social media and whats on show and who looks good and who doesn’t. There will always be someone smaller than you. There will always be someone with what you perceive to be a “better” body than yours. And it takes a lot to realise that doesn’t make you any less of a person. When I began to change my mindset from one of anger and negativity and hatred towards myself to one of understand and kindness and healing, I couldn’t believe the amount of time I had wasted feeling bad. Life is genuinely short, and crying over models and Instagram girls and even my own friends who I thought looked so much better than me was not the right way to be spending precious time. Food is amazing! It’s something that has the power to nourish us, fuel us and heal us. We should feel nothing but love and gratitude towards food and what it can do for us, especially when we are the ones fortunate and blessed enough to live in a society where we will never know what it is like to go hungry, and will go through our lives only really knowing abundance. Spending another day hating yourself and hating your body and hating your life won’t do anything other than waste the precious time that we have on earth, and it is so not worth it. I cannot stress that enough. It’s so hard to do and we’re conditioned that loving ourselves and the way we look is conceited and wrong but it’s so so right. When I was going through the period of losing weight, I had gotten to a point that I could barely look at myself in the mirror. So I forced myself to do the opposite. I looked in the mirror every morning and literally said out loud, “I’m so grateful for my body. It lets me go anywhere I want to go and do anything I want to do. I have the power to heal it and make it healthy and that’s what I am doing. I love my body, and I love the changes it’s going through.” I felt ridiculous. But it helped. Positive thoughts have been shown to have double the power and impact on the brain than negative ones, and speaking aloud a positive affirmation every day truly changed my self perception and thinking.
Everyone deserves to feel happy with their bodies and to love the way they look, no matter what. People might notice I’ve lost weight but they won’t know that I’ve also lost years worth of unhealthy eating patterns and unhappiness with my body and food. I’m still working on a lot of the parts that go into being happy, but starting with this was a big one! Lots of love to anyone dealing with the same thing. I know everyones just trying to do their best. - H x
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