Warning: this post contains some material that readers may find distressing. If you can’t handle raw, unfiltered truths then please make a swift exit and go look at photos of French bulldogs on Instagram.
This blog tells a story of someone who was categorically obese as a teenager and slimmed all the way down to a size 8 (UK) for her twenty sixth birthday. After gaining roughly two stone in the past eighteen months and feeling uncomfortably large, I am now dealing with something I had hoped I would never have to battle again: excess body fat, obesity and weight gain. That’s right, I’m borderline obese according to the NHS BMI calculator. No surprises here! I have been pouring chocolate, peanut butter, bread, booze and all sorts into my body for months, whilst leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle thanks to a desk job and a rubbish London commute. After suffering some catastrophic hormone imbalances, I have found my body fighting against me and it is bloody exhausting.
I have been in and out of doctor appointments more times than I can count. I have visited multiple specialists, through private healthcare, and several GPs through the NHS. I have had blood tests, scans, more blood tests, sleep aids, supplements, herbal medications, hormone treatments and nothing has been able to fix me. At one point, I thought I was going through menopause and shortly after, I was convinced I was pregnant (I even took a test). I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was scary. I have no mental energy left to spend at doctors or hospitals for now, so I’m trying a more holistic approach. This involves staying as active as possible, using probiotics and natural health tonics, a few supplements and a diet made up of lots of plant-based and nutrient-dense foods.
Most of my free time is now spent trying to lose the weight I’ve gained, and I’ve been failing miserably. The excess fat just doesn’t want to shift. But I refuse to give up and accept that this is the body I am cursed with for the rest of my life. As I write this, I’m brainstorming new approaches to my diet and figuring out where I need to make changes. A few days ago, I came across a series of interviews and videos on Youtube related to one of my favourite TV shows: The Biggest loser. A medical study had found that when the slimmed-down contestants left the show, a high number of them gained the weight back. This wasn’t down to lack of willpower or laziness, it was due to reduced levels of the hormone Leptin and a vastly reduced metabolic rate. Leptin is the hormone which regulates appetite and satiety. BMR (Base Metabolic Rate) is the amount of energy and calories you burn when sedentary. Put these two irregularities together and you then have someone who burns less calories when they’re not moving, but feels hungry pretty much 24/7*.
Gaining this much weight as a twenty-something has been incredibly distressing and has completely interrupted my life. I am right back where I was as an overweight teenager… too scared to wear a bikini in front of anybody, hiding my body in baggy clothing, feeling like the “fat friend,” trapped in a body that is preventing me from living the life I want to live and lacking energy to do the activities I enjoy. The thought of dating right now makes me nauseous since I’m at least a stone heavier than my Tinder photos and if I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, why would anybody else find me attractive? I keep telling myself; you’ve done it once, you can do it again. But as someone who dieted and tracked consistently for over a year, the thought of going back to macros tracking, calorie-counting and MyFitnessPal makes me want to crawl into a hole and never resurface. However, if I can find a way to turn this into a game or a challenge or something positive, I’m all for it.
Anyone who knows me will know that I am open, blunt, direct, transparent and I speak my mind. If this post makes you feel uncomfortable, then I would advise you to go and hug all your friends and tell them how much you love them. You have no idea what they may be going through. And you should feel very lucky that you haven’t suffered any of the things I’ve described in this post. If you have gone through any of the above, then please contact me and we can chat about how sh*t it all is but also, how strong we are for not giving up. The person I am today is someone who I don’t recognise. A lot of my confidence is tied to my weight and my body, and if you’re a woman and you’re shocked by this, then you’re fooling yourself. Many of the women I know have disordered eating behaviours and so do I. Body confidence and issues with food affect some of us more than others. Personally, it affects every aspect of my life. I long for the day when I’m at a weight I feel comfortable with and can maintain it whilst still enjoying a lifestyle I’m happy with. I don’t want to be known as the girl who “used to be fat” but I HATE being the girl who “used to be slim.” Being fit and in shape became a huge part of my identity and as that slowly slips away, I am suffering an identity crisis and a great feeling of loss. Perhaps rather than longing to be the old me again, I should let her die, mourn the loss and think of this as the birth of a new me. That sounds like an opportunity for a fresh start and I am all about overhauls, make-overs, do-overs and new beginnings. Happy Sunday and remember, just keep swimming.
*There are ways to trick your body into thinking it’s not hungry or into thinking it’s full. But that’s a story for another post.