When I started this journey, my plan was solely to achieve weight loss. I was unhappy with my size and my weight. I needed to do something for my health and also to try and alleviate the chronic back pain and frequent illness that I was suffering from. Being told, aged 24, that the pain in my back may require surgery by 40, was quite the reality check. I didn’t want invasive spinal surgery. I just wanted to feel no pain and the doctor advised that getting fit would help.
This decision to drastically alter my lifestyle was always going to have a profound impact. I have, for as long as I can remember, struggled with my body image. I’ve discussed it here before, but there’s so much more to be said. Body dysmorphia is so common that I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t experience it, to a degree. There would always be those well-meaning people who said “why do you need to lose weight? You look fine!” But the reality was, I was unhappy with myself I knew my health depended on the change.
Looking back, now that I know what I do about nutrition, I roll my eyes at the choices I made. I think for the first month I survived off 2 bowls of cereal and one meal per day. I was tired, still sore (because I wasn’t feeding my body the right things to help it heal) and I was malnourished.
But I had started to lose weight because I was in a calorific deficit. By quite some margin.
And so began a new battle with the scales. I’d have what I thought was a great week. I’d stick to my food plan and I’d walked and exercised. I felt like I looked skinnier so I’d weigh myself only to see another few hundred grams ADDED.
Then the downward spiral would start. I’d binge. Then skip meals. I’d cry. It was hell. I had zero understanding of my body’s weight pattern, of water retention, of macronutrients. Zero. Fuck all. Nada.
By this point I’d signed up to do The Kiltwalk. So the added miles of walking really kicked the weight loss goal’s ass. I was soon down by 7kgs. I was delighted. I was still malnourished.
And the war still raged.
Over the coming months and years, I would yoyo by around a stone at a time. Thus creating the other problem I’ve had to try and address: my relationship with the Hate Step. Aka the bathroom scales.
The hardest fight came after the initial significant weight loss. After the difficult maintenance phase. After the endurance journey started.
The real battle is now, as I get stronger every week.
In October last year I weighed 69kgs. Not small. But not big. I was pretty ok with that. 65 would be nice but 69 is ok. I’d come back under 70 again and I was pretty stagnant. But then illness. And Christmas.
On January 9th i weighed myself and cried. 74.5kgs. Literally the heaviest I’ve ever been. Heavier than when I called myself “fat”.
And yet, my clothes still fit. Sort of.
I knew that a healthy weight for me is under 70. So I spoke to Coach, got myself straight and started weighing food and tracking macros in earnest. We’re now into march and I’m back at 71. My clothes DEFINITELY fit and I feel better for it. Still 2kg to go but I’m in control of it.
Now. I must state that, for the record, this drop in weight is not for aesthetic purposes (That’s a big statement from me). It is primarily down to being as race-ready possible so I don’t obliterate my joints.
But that whole approach has taken SERIOUS determination and I still struggle every so often with the girl looking back from the mirror.
I have to fight with the numbers constantly. Stare down the girl who fights against the numbers and try to show her how STRONG we are.
I will never be as committed to food control as some of my peers. I mean, I’m not elite. I’m not a pro. And I have no interest in being the fastest or strongest out of any group. I just want to be a fitter, stronger me. Sure I could be even faster, fitter and stronger with obsessive control of food. But life is literally too short to not eat that piece of cake or enjoy a beer with my mates on a Friday night. Life is for living and good food is SO important.
That has also been a big lesson. Yes it’s fuel. And in the run up to an event I will work to depletion and then loading macro goals. Because jam. But gradually I’ve learnt that it’s so important to be happy and healthy while enjoying what you love doing.
The best thing I’ve learnt through all of this is not to weigh myself out of vanity. My body is capable of amazing things. EVERYBODY’s body is capable of amazing things.
The sooner we stop looking at numbers and seeing fitness, health, strength and endurance as the marker for improvement, the better.