Before I started writing this blog post, I was trying to think back over the past 5 or 6 years to a time when I felt confident with my body and the way I looked. Genuinely, I couldn’t think of one time! I’ve never been fully confident with my body, ever, and it really dawned on me when I was thinking about how to start this post.
When you are younger, for example, at high school, the way you feel about your body and body confidence isn’t really something that you are constantly thinking about. Well, for me it wasn’t anyway. My main focuses were enjoying my time with my friends, talking about boys and trying to stay out of any drama! I would never wake up and look at myself and think that I was unhappy, even though I probably was. I’d just put my uniform on and get on with my day. When I got to year 11, so I was 16 years old, I lost so much weight. Looking back at pictures of me when I was as small as I was honestly makes me want to cry. I didn’t lose this weight intentionally as my final year of school was probably one of the worst years I’ve had in my life so far, which caused me to lose all the weight. I became ill, the small amount of food that I was actually eating I couldn’t even hold down because every day I was so anxious about the number of things that were going on, my body physically wouldn’t let me swallow! I ended up going down to a size 4-6. I’ve always had curves, the same as my Mum, but I just lost everything. I can’t stand to look at pictures of myself like that, because I know how unhealthy it was.
When I got to college, I was back eating normally again but I still wasn’t happy with the way I looked. I would say that I was probably putting on weight, but definitely not enough. My anxiety over these two years was still through the roof, and the whole two years of college seems like a complete blur to me and not a time that I like to reflect on. At this point of my life, it became clear how much pressure is put on young women to look a certain way. I would go into college and look around me at all the other girls, who dressed up for college, and then I’d go into the bathroom and look at myself in a hoodie and leggings and feel so awful. I didn’t even have the confidence to wear what I wanted, I wasn’t the size I wanted to be and I wasn’t wearing the things I would have loved to wear.
I then moved onto University, where I started to put so much weight back on, but then I put on too much. I felt fat, ugly and disgusting, even though to others they didn’t think that at all. I was unhappy in my first year of University and stopped going to my lectures as I knew I was going to change course and start my first year again, so all I did every single day was stay in bed and eat. I was way too anxious to go out, and the thought of stepping foot in a gym scared me way too much. It was never going to happen. I could feel myself becoming so unhealthy and every time I looked at myself, again, I felt awful. But I couldn’t stop eating! I had nothing else to do during my days, I was literally waiting for the year to be over. So, food was my comfort for making the days’ pass. It wasn’t even healthy food either, I was eating way too much pasta, getting takeaways and chocolate from the shop every other day. I was a complete mess, and even reflecting on this part of my life fills my stomach with knots.
I don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom, but I needed to share my journey with you all. I’m now almost 21, and in my third year of University and I have never felt better.
I’ve gone from being a girl who was too anxious to leave the house, who never felt confident about who she was and what she looked like, a girl who was depressed, to now going to the gym every day and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve gone from wearing baggy clothes in the gym and wanting to cover every inch of me, to now feeling confident enough to wear whatever gym clothes I want, whether they be baggy or tight gym leggings and crop tops. And the best part which I never thought I would say; I’m taking part in a triathlon in a month’s time. I can’t believe it!
The whole point of this blog post is just to share with anyone who has struggled with their body image and feeling body confident, or still is struggling, that things can change so easily and so quickly. Never in a million years did I think that I would be taking part in a big sporting event. Firstly, because I didn’t think I would ever feel confident enough. And secondly, because I never thought I would be fit and healthy enough.
My first bit of advice is that you need to surround yourself with the right people. From my last year at high school and all throughout college, I had nobody around me who was trying to motivate me and empower me, which is what best friends and any kind of relationships are meant to be there for. I was left feeling like I wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone because I was allowing people around me to treat me this way. Moving into different groups and letting go of people who only made me feel worse about myself was the best decision. Even if this means cutting them off, and losing a big group of people who you believed to be your ‘friend
s’. The reality is, if they don’t make you feel great and support you, are they truly meant to be in your life?
Secondly, you have to make yourself feel better, for you and only you. Try not to care what people think of you. I know myself, it’s difficult especially if you’re an over-thinker or suffer with anxiety. I found it hard to go to the gym because I was worried that everyone would be staring at me and judging me. But the reality is, that doesn’t happen! People may look at you once when you walk through the door to see who it is (don’t we all?) but then everyone looks away and carries on with their own thing. You need to do as much or as little to whatever suits you and whatever makes you feel better. Don’t change your body for the approval of others. If you’re unhappy, it’s only you who can do something about it.
I’ve emerged the gym into my daily routine, and I ensure that I eat well because it’s me who does my food shopping. If I don’t buy bad foods, then I can’t eat them! I really can’t believe how far I have come with my body and my confidence, and although I am not quite 100% yet, I am so excited to continue improving my life and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I also try not to kid myself thinking it’s all going to be easy. There are times when I’ve been feeling unmotivated and have skipped the gym for a week, or maybe even two when everything has been getting on top of me. There have been times when I feel down and can’t even find the energy to make something to eat, so I’ll waste my money and order a takeaway and feel even worse about myself afterwards. But you’ve just got to try and push yourself!
I know that if I can make myself feel better, generally healthier in my body AND my mind from where I started from, then anyone can. I would love to continue sharing my fitness progress through my blog, because anyone can do it.
I know you can! Believe in yourself.