That number. That number on the scales that you watch carefully, perhaps daily, going up going down causing joy and despair. It can become an obsession quite easily.
My weight has fluctuated for most of my adult life. I was in reasonably good shape for the majority of my twenties but it could still easily change by a stone to two from season to season. We all like some winter padding after all. Weight fluctuates for the majority of women. Pregnancy being one of the biggest causes for very good reason. But it’s not just pregnancy, stress, life changes, relationship breakdowns and equally relationship highs, love and happiness have all played a part in my weight changes over the years.
Although I wouldn’t say that I have ever had a problem such as an eating disorder I know that have definitely been too concerned with my weight and with the numbers in particular. In my late teens, early twenties there seemed to be a real craze with magazines showing photos of perfect celebrity bodies with their age and weight alongside, do you remember that? Even the highest of these celebrity weights seemed unattainable. In hindsight I can see they probably weren’t even real figures but at the time I remember clearly thinking that I would never reach that magic number.
After I had my second daughter Chloe I weighed myself all the time, pretty much every day for a few months. Watching the pounds slowly drop off. Which they do after you give birth, obviously, but it was so very very slow. I was unwell, Chloe was very unwell and I was under a significant amount of stress so I didn’t exercise. In fact I barely had the energy to climb out of bed. But things began to improve as they do and life got back to normal and when it did I wanted to feel better about myself. I joined a weight loss club ( weight watchers ) which promoted a healthy eating plan. But still one which involved weekly weigh ins. Losses were celebrated and gains were mourned but harder still were the weeks where nothing changed. The weeks where you ate exactly to plan and exercised each day but your weight didn’t budge and that is so disappointing.
Then the most amazing thing happens, after a lot of hard work, a lot less cheese and a lot of meal planning and cutting out all the junk…You hit your goal weight. That magic number. Then you realise hey that isn’t quite enough. Maybe another half stone and I will finally have my dream body, go down one more dress size and feel happy with how I look. Where does it stop?
You see weight loss is a bit addictive. People start to compliment you more on how you look, you can fit into the slinky dresses and you finally feel confident in a swimsuit.
Then perhaps you think well maybe I should lose a few pounds more, so that if I gain some I still maintain my size…..
Scary isn’t it? And really easy to see how young impressionable girls develop eating disorders, yet this isn’t unusual, how I felt was far from unusual because based on many many conversations with friends and siblings I know this is how the majority of us think, not the minority.
The problem is that as woman your weight will fluctuate, pretty much ALL the time so the daily or even weekly weigh ins aren’t a good idea. I know that for myself my weight can vary massively just from one end of a month to another.
So I’ve stopped. One day I went cold turkey. I don’t have a set of scales at home anymore, something I was keen to avoid the girls ever noticing and apart from when I occasionally use a health check machine at work for other health checks I don’t know how much I weigh and that in itself is quite exhilarating.
When talking to people and having the inevitable haven’t you lost weight conversations with the people you don’t see very often I always count my weight loss figure from the time I actively started with Weight Watchers about 22 months ago so around 2.5 stone. However this week I found some notes I had made, starting from 4 days post partum (nearly 4 years ago) with my weight and resulting losses over the following 6 months. Since that time I have lost over 4.5 stone, 4.5 stone!! That is a HUGE amount. And it kind of alarmed me to see that figure again. Was I ever that size, that weight? Well yes, yes I was. But you know what, there were reasons for that weight gain, two fairly amazing ones in fact. I had just had my second child in a two year period and so I did something wonderfully freeing, I ripped up those notes. I am not that weight now, I am as sure as you can ever be about these things that I won’t be that weight again.
Right now I know that I am probably at least half a stone heavier than I was when I stopped actively dieting. I don’t know exactly how much because I haven’t weighed and I’m not planning to anytime soon. I do know that I am feeling pretty damn good right now. I feel healthy and I feel strong. My skin, hair and nails are stronger and in better condition, I have some kind of muscle definition, a heap more flexibility and my whole body is more toned. I eat what I want, I don’t go overboard but I never hold back because of what the scales may say. Because I’ve realised that the numbers don’t matter. The number on the scales, the size on the dress, even the dates on my birth certificate. You are only as old as you feel after all and hitting another year of my early 30’s in May didn’t bother me anywhere near the way I imagined it would. I feel younger now that I did five years ago, go figure. I am looking after myself and reaping the rewards and really I am the only one who is responsible for the way my body is, inside and out. You only get one after all.
I know that lots of you reading will be dieting or just about to start or just finished as it seems to be a constant way of life for most of us these days but try not to let the actual scales worry you too much. Try to avoid becoming obsessed by it. Go by how you feel.
You may feel like you need a set weight loss routine or club to kick start a change in your shape but it doesn’t need to be a permanent part of your life. A lifelong diet is no way to live. I have found for me the balance is working out a lot when I can, eating well when I can and not beating myself up for having days when I eat Nutella by the jar and bacon on bacon. Life is a balance. If you cut out all of your carbs one day you will find yourself storming into a bakery and buying all the bread. Cut out all the fat and well where is the enjoyment in life? Aren’t butter and bacon just two of the best things ever created?
Eat a little less, move a lot more and look at ways to enjoy healthier food and believe me after a while it just becomes second nature. If you follow me on Instagram you know how often and how much I eat but I just don’t eat rich, calorie laden food all the time. Yes I will eat a big fat brownie and a sweet, milky cappuccino but I won’t have it 7 days a week. I fill up on fruit, vegetables and lately more oats and grains to keep me fuller. Yet I have always have a pantry full of treats, around 4 jars of Nutella at any one time and I drink gin, rum and Prosecco (in moderation). Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, for me anyway and I am done with depriving myself to keep to the perfect weight.
I’ll be sharing a post soon all about how I have felt my body changing these past six months and what exercise I do as well as some recommendations for fitness products that I enjoy using.