Find your strength
I’ve titled this post about strength, but where the story actually begins is with weight.
Growing up, some of you may know, I struggled with my weight. I was a child that loved her food. Instead of eating one orange I would eat 3. My parents would struggle to lift me because I wasn’t the average weight of a child my age. At the age of around 11 I had to wear clothes of an adult 14 or 16.
I remember people used to make me feel pretty inadequate because of it. This wasn’t strangers, but extended family members and friends. I was judged for not being a pretty and slim child. I had frizzy out of control hair, was one of the tallest in my year, along with one of the heaviest. I remember times I would sneak food, I guess as a comfort. I guess you could say it was puppy fat, but when comments are thrown at you from people around you your self worth really depreciates, and puppy fat or not it can be quite depressing. Next time you see a slightly overweight child, maybe stop for a second before judging them. It was a battle for me and one till this day, I still carry with me.
Ever since then I’ve had quite an unhealthy obsession with weight. Once going to high school my growth spurt stopped, I started to lose the puppy fat and I became more of a 'normal' weight for my age. I specifically remember in sixth form I was probably the smallest I had been. I was careful with what I ate and my mum always ensured we had healthy meals. I also found a love for swimming and took the lead from my sisters in going to the gym. You could say that I had things in check.
However, once going to university, things changed and spiralled again for me. I was now the one in control of my food and diet. I had stopped any form of exercise and I wasn’t eating or drinking properly, as I was living on a students budget. And before you knew it in the space of around 6 months I had gained nearly a stone. It was depressing. I started to see dimples in my thighs because I had gained that much. In the summers through uni when I came back home I would start to get my weight back in check again. But then when returning for the next term I would once again find it hard to maintain. On finishing uni and moving back home I got my first job and started to have a routine to my day and week. I started to eat healthier and exercise more. I became more curious with food and exercise and I guess it became a bit of an obsession.
It’s funny because when I was younger I felt like I was judged for being too big. Fast forward and as I became obsessed with losing weight I felt people started to then judge me for that. I would get comments like ‘oh you’re not eating enough’ or ‘oh you exercise far too much’. The thing is, people can make comments but they have no idea of the internal battle. I really advise you to think before you speak about weight, sometimes you may have no idea of someone's journey with weight and what mental impact it can have.
I wrote previously about this year being a turning point for me. And my weight is one of the things I have come to understand more. I’ve realised what my triggers are with weight; it's all to do with external comments and caring about what ‘society’ thinks. When I refer to society I mean that extended family that made comments in the past, I mean the portrayal of the perfect body on social media, I mean the demands of men and women to look good all the time. It's unrealistic, unfair and unnecessary. So I’ve taken action.
Previously I was watching what I was eating and doing as much exercise as I could as I thought that was what society expected. But no matter what you do for society it will never be enough. And why make all of that investment for society. Instead of doing it for anyone else anymore, I do it for myself. I have chosen to look after my physical and mental health as a conscious choice for me. So when it comes to healthy eating, I do that because it makes me feel good. Likewise with exercise, I do it because I love the strength I find in my body. So now I see my physical and mental body with strength. I work on those things for strength, rather than acceptance.
Its been a big turning point for me and one I am proud of. I am proud of my body and I treat it with respect rather than forcing it to do things it doesn't want to do. I know what foods it can tolerate and which foods make me feel bloated and lethargic. I just have a respect for my body that I don’t think I had before, probably because of years of conditioning at a younger age by ‘society’ into thinking I was ‘fat’ and not worthy.
So this post is for any younger girls or boys out there going through something similar. Or for those who have already been through it and are trying to get a grasp on it. You may have a slightly different story where people have said you are too ‘skinny’ or ‘too dark’ or too ‘short’. At the end of the day, we are all unique so who is to say what the perfect body looks like. My best advice is to stay true to yourself. Do what is right for your body and your mind and find your own strength, not that as defined by ‘society’. Know your worth, know your mind and know your body. If you can connect to that, things will flow so much better and your diet and exercise won’t be a chore. You might find that you actually enjoy doing it!
I hope you find my story inspiring in some way. Just know you can be your own authentic self in mind, body and spirit!