First, The Painful Bit To Share
This is painful for me to write but I can’t remember a time when I’ve been truly happy with my body, it’s not even a weight issue, this is a deep rooted gut twisting battle that I still face daily. I’ve made many silly decisions around my quest for betterment. I recall leaving toast crumbs from the toaster tray on a plate sometimes so Steve or my mum would think I’d eaten.
I went through a period over the last few years of believing that if I did as much cardio as humanly possible I’d achieve that dream body and all my issues would disappear! Needless to say, this was both unsustainable and in hindsight pretty dangerous. I guess it wouldn’t have been too bad if I was actually feeding my body but I undertook this with a daily calorie goal of about 700-800kcals a day.
Yes, The ABBA Photo Above Is Me!
Le’s rewind back to when my weight first became a conscious issue for me. It was 2001 and we’d just been to my now mother-in-laws 40th birthday party. It was a great 70’s themed night and I’d decided to channel my inner ABBA and chose a lovely sparkly number. When the photos were developed, I was shocked by what I saw. How did this happen? I was the skinny girl at school, affectionately called ‘bean-pole’ and stick insect. These names were in jest, but I guess I never realised I was no longer a stick insect. Three years of being fed amazing home cooked Greek food by Steve’s mum with portion sizes big enough to feed two had caught up with me in a BIG way!
OK, Something Has To Change!
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being 160lbs, or even looking the way I did but for me at 5ft 3″and having a naturally petite frame was too much for me, something needed to change. I took control of my diet and the weight quickly started to drop. I followed a few fad diets along the way but would always feel happiest when I was in control of what and when I wanted to eat. In the noughties, it was all about portion and calorie control for me. At this stage I hadn’t found exercise in any meaningful way. As a couple, this is when we began to have different plates of food, as opposed to feeling the need to match Steve’s appetite.
Fairytale of New York
2008 was the year me and Steve got married. It was magical, amazing, and a day I will never forget. I was comfortable with my weight and figure and felt myself again. To be clear, I wasn’t in love with my shape, but instead accepting of my curves. I was maintaining a healthy weight of about 140lbs.
Body Struggles as a Mother
That was soon to change when I fell pregnant with our first baby. Children are a blessing, a reason for living, 100% life changing. And they’re definitely body changing. I truly never understood how much your body can be affected by pregnancy and hormones – it was a whirlwind and I found myself eating snacks out of convenience or in between feeds (and the odd bathroom sponge – the weirdest craving!). I was sleep deprived and seemed ravenous a lot of the time.
My health and diet was no longer a priority, looking after these beautiful little humans was my full time job and I felt I had no time to commit to much else. I lost the baby weight quite quickly after both pregnancies but never felt as happy or confident as I had previously. I felt something was missing, and some bad relationships with food and weight started to set in.
Taking Control, But Going Too Far…
Since January 2016, I’ve transformed my body. I got into HIIT group sessions, I got control of my diet, and I began to do extra long-bouts cardio and band work in the gym. Some days I would work out twice a day. And it was working! Down to 108lbs, felt the most body confident ever, got the most reactions and compliments, and felt I was on a role. I cracked it.
The problem was I was massively under eating. I kept it to myself, but in reality I was consuming on average 700-800kcals a day. Under 1,200 for a woman is considered dangerous and impactful to hormones and day-to-day bodily functions. I didn’t know that, I just knew this has worked, and I needed to keep it up. Plus, as a positive (so I thought), I was never really hungry. It was easy to keep to not eating much at all.
The Consequences Of Disrespecting My Bodies Health
Then things took a turn. Just last year (2017), I started to address some health issues which had been starting to take their toll. I was always so cold and needed to wear jumpers all year round (and in bed), I felt like the foggy ‘baby brain’ was impossible to shift and I couldn’t lift a damn thing weight wise in the gym. I decided to have a full blood panel and it indicated I was hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism is an auto immune disease which can be brought on by many things for many people, but I have to take ownership of this and believe this came from years of calorie restriction and disrespect I’d shown my body by starving it of vital nutrients.
The not so amusing thing about all this calorie restriction? I didn’t even lose weight anymore! My body had become so efficient that I now just stored that stubborn fat in my problems areas even more.
2017 also showed me what ignoring your nutritional needs can do, I came down with Shingles. This is a nasty disease I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It is known to take hold when your immune system is low or you are undergoing significant stress. I was miserable, the itching was intolerable, I lost some vision in my eye and felt like a complete fool for letting myself get in this position. The hardest part of this was trying to pretend I wasn’t secretly happy with the 4lbs loss on the scales.
I go through things like this and I’m always brought back to the same motivation… lose weight by whatever means and I’ll be happy with myself?! It’s preposterous to even write this, clearly I know what I’m doing if I can write about it but it’s a switch I just can’t turn off.
Hitting the Weights, losing the HIIT, and Finding Yoga
Hypothyroidism and Shingles sent me a warning shot last year. Pay some respect to your body. Feed it nutritious food, get enough calories to correct my metabolism, and calm down with pummelling my body into the ground. I’m taking baby steps in this journey as it’s something I really want to lay to rest after so many years. I feel every month I make some progress but like lots of things, sometimes its two steps forward and one step back.
Relationship with food is getting better, but there’s a way to go. I’ve pulled away from the intensive HIIT and long bouts of steady state cardio, and instead have learned how to workout with Dumbbells, Olympic Barbells and Cables. I hardly do any cardio anymore, and my body feels stronger and grateful. Weight training is daunting, but so rewarding, and a great way to tone, be strong and torch calories.
A big win for me through this journey has been finding Yoga in the last few months. I like to feel my breath, I like to be alone with my thoughts and I do feel in tune with myself in a way I’ve never experienced before. I think after going ‘beast mode’ for such a long time, my body was screaming out for some recovery and calm. I’m not great at it but hey, I’m trying and thats the main thing right?
Setting an Example for My Beautiful Children
As our girls are getting to the ages where they pick up on habits and lifestyles, a huge motivation for me is to not promote any bad habits or hangups for them. I need to deal with my crap, and show them what being a strong, healthy woman looks like. And that this is normal.
Now is the time to get the body and health I know I could and should have. Our girls now have a positive message reinforced that exercise is a part of life. Its not everything in life but without your health you have no wealth, and I love the girls joining me in the gym sometimes and using the equipment in their own child like unique ways. My seven year old is much better a pull ups than me!
So What Does The Future Hold?
Well its been a bumpy road at times, but I’m now able to maintain a body weight of about 115lbs. Am I body happy now? No, unfortunately not, but I feel happiness is in reach. Join me on my journey of finding out when is enough, and what does it take me for me to be truly comfortable in my own skin, and having optimal health.
I’d like to thank my amazing husband for inspiring me everyday. He’s loved me throughout our 19 years together regardless of my own demons I’ve battled, and it’s the last couple of years that inspired Steve to start AdapNation. To make a difference.
This has been cathartic, I’ll write again soon. M x
Follow my micro blog as it unfolds. The focus is to bring a real and honest females perspective to being fit, healthy and strong. Comment if you have questions, ideas or motivation to offer, and please keep me honest to the above.