I am ‘fat’ by definition, I am not like the models I have to work with every day, nor am I like the members of my team at work who are obsessed with the next fad diet – which is often my boss, who is usually trying to encourage me (far too enthusiastically) to take part in his next ‘huge’ fad like the celery juice diet, or the Skinny Coffee ‘diet’, and month after month he’ll swear he’s lost 10lbs, but not because he’s always located on the toilet for 2 weeks straight.
But anyway, we’re here to talk about me, I’m fat by definition, but that doesn’t define ME. I’m also funny, kind, the favorite aunty to my tribe of nieces and nephews. I’m smart, artistic, wise, and I can master any skill (or at least I can convince Karen from HR that I’m a master at kung-fu!)
Years ago, I had an eating disorder, but I also had body dysmorphia – and although I weighed only eight stone, I looked in the mirror, and I saw a fat girl. My face was too chubby, my thighs were HUGE, and so were my arms.
The thing that I was missing was that I played Tennis. I played football, and I climbed trees, I skateboarded, I cycled 7 miles a day, every day. I lived on the 13th floor of an apartment block and hated the elevator because it once broke down on me and I had to be rescued by firefighters, thus resulting in my running down AND clambering up 13 flights of stairs every time my parents would call me in for something. I’d need a drink; I’d go to get my skateboard. I’d climb those 13 flights of stairs more than ten times a day for years. And my older sister used to enter my brother and me into Arm Wrestling Championships, being trained by Britain’s Arm Wrestling Champion.
The point is, I was full of muscle, and I was comparing myself to girls who were stick thin, to genetically gifted people who would always be complaining they had fat thighs – I’d think, god, if they believe they have thick thighs then what must I look like?
Fast forward a few years, I was involved in a chemical incident that resulted in my having crippling asthma when I was 16; it meant the end to my excessive exercise as I was in ICU for two months with pneumonia.
When I got out of the hospital, I’d gained more than three stone – from their shoddy hospital food or the excessive amount of steroids I was ingesting, who knows?
Fast forward a few more years, and I’m 19, a few fad diets and T10’s and I’m now at 11 stone… how could this be happening? These diets and pills are supposed to make me LOSE weight, not gain it. Madness, right? Maybe not. I did try the Keto diet and lost 10lbs in 2 weeks. I looked great, and I felt shite.
Fast forward another few years and more failed attempts, I’m now 15 stone 6, and I’m only 22. I’m now working in a fast-paced start-up, and the takeaway strip at the end of the street (also famously known as the takeaway capital of England) is the only feasible option to be quick enough to get back to work on time without being reprimanded. It’s here that I put on two stone in 10 months and have a mental breakdown.
Fortunately, the mental breakdown led me to LOSE weight, somehow, because despite being on Mirtazapine (pills also used to make anorexia sufferers gain weight) for anxiety, I lose weight instead.
The thing is, I’m happy, I’m no longer wondering if I’m fat, I’m no longer wondering what people think of me, I know that I’m fat and I know that they’re looking at me and thinking “god, she’s fat.” And that’s okay with me because I’m no longer crippled with paranoia. For once in my life, my body image no longer matters to me and I’m content, despite not being able to fit in beautiful clothes, and not being picked to go to work events in the USA because I ‘don’t fit the image of the brand’ which was stick-thin models.
It’s 2018 now, and I move to a new job in the middle of the nowhere, which means walking 1.5 miles from my house to the bus stop, getting a bus and then walking another 2 miles to our offices.
After about a month of this, I’m on holiday in Spain about to go swimming in my costume; my sister says “have you been dieting?” I’m like, “no, why?” to which she says, “you look like you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
I got home, and I weighed myself, I’d gone from 17 stone 6lbs to 16 stone in a month.
I was eating well, Weetabix or Porridge in a morning, and meat and vegetables for tea (I’m still living with my mum at this point, and she has diabetes, so has a strict diet). Oh. My problem, I realised, was eating junk food on my lunch breaks because it was fast and easy.
Last Summer, I decided to go traveling while freelancing (from a beach!!!) I lost a further two stone with all the swimming (my favourite sport) hiking, learning to Surf, walking 15-25k steps a day!)
But when I got home, and the weather got cold, I went back to work, and this time I got a lift in a colleagues car, I stopped walking everywhere, I stayed inside. I gained the weight right back.
All of this is why I’m here, although I’d spent a lot of time being content, I have bloody asthma, I want to wear beautiful clothes, I want to be in the magazine shoots when we go away on work trips, not behind the camera, shooed to one side. I want my boss to stop telling me to try our fad diets when I know all about nutrition, and I know he’s a fool. And although I still run around with my niece and nephews, it exhausts me, I want to be able to race the kids around our local track like me, and my brother did when we were their age.
Isn’t it crazy that body image can affect so much of your life? I wish I were as fat as the first time I thought I was fat.
At the end of it all, I know it can be done, but I got lazy, and I saw Layla’s Journey on Instagram and it inspired me to stop being so selfish, and to take the next step, no matter how hard it feels at first, if I can do it, being so lazy and all, anyone can.
*I’m also sort of terrified that losing weight will make me lose my self-deprecating humour.