I was always the skinny one. It was my thing. I am remarkably average in most respects, but one thing I could excel at was being thin. And without trying too. I was one of those annoying, naturally skinny girls that people love to hate. My size became the one thing that my self esteem hinged on. I always felt that I had very little else to offer the world; no other reason to be proud of myself. And so, if I did ever start gaining weight I would immediately cut back on what I was eating to make sure I stayed skinny.
My GP encouraged me towards a healthy weight for my height, but I didn’t want to be a ‘normal’ weight. How would I stand out then? I would be lost in a sea of average-ness. I was briefly lured into upping my calorie intake by the promise that gaining weight was harder than losing it, so if I managed it I would actually have something to be proud of. But it didn’t last long; pregnancy led to a period of disordered eating; so scared was I of the inevitable weight gain that growing another human would entail.
Add to this the fact that I was suffering with depression, and living in a violent relationship, so to say I was at a low ebb might be underselling it somewhat. But two years ago today I left that relationship and so begun my journey from skinny to strong.
It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually my sense of self worth increased. Finally I had other reasons to be proud of myself. I had left an abusive relationship. I had moved to a different town and set up a new life for me and my son. I had got a new job. I was raising my child as a single parent. I had come off the antidepressants. Actual proper stuff to be proud of.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when my attitude towards my body changed, maybe it was the wave of ‘Strong is the new skinny’ across social media, maybe it was the knowledge that I could push myself to my limits and survive, maybe it was as simple as meeting a new fitness-addicted friend who gave me the push I needed to start taking my body out of it’s comfort zone. Whatever the reason, two years on my focus is now on building a strong, toned body and reaching fitness goals I never thought possible. In the past I’ve taken up running and given up after a few days because I found it so hard. These days when I find it hard I keep on pushing and revel in the pride that comes with achieving a personal best. Now, when my boyfriend says he loves my curves, I don’t think “shit, I’m fat”, I agree with him and think hell yeah, I’ve worked hard for this bum and these thighs. I now have a healthy relationship with food, and I eat to nourish and grow rather than restrict my weight. In fact I’m eating more than I ever have before. My focus has shifted from weight (I have no idea what I weigh now – an idea that was unthinkable before) to creating a body that can actually do things.
My journey from skinny to strong will continue and although the old thoughts make an appearance every now and then, I’m much better at silencing them now. My body is certainly strong these days, but my mind is even stronger. I’m not just surviving, I’m thriving, and for that I’ll be forever proud.