The Struggle

I’ve been struggling with something lately.

Those who know me will understand that I am a bit of a control freak. Those who know me well will understand that I am also a perfectionist who is very self-critical.

Combine these two, rather charming, characteristics and add a dose of body dysmorphia and you have the perfect recipe for a bad relationship with food and weight management.

I’m not going to call what I’ve struggled with an “eating disorder” because the bad relationship wasn’t with food as such, it was with myself.

I’m not exactly sure if there is a specific point at which I suddenly decided I was fat… I just remember becoming aware of my body. I was 15. I had never ever worried about what I ate before. Mum had tried diets and spoken about them to me but never in a way that instilled them as a quick fix or something I should ever consider. I just became aware.

I was called “chubby” by a school friend but assumed they were jealous because boys fancied me and I never needed make up or short skirts to get attention.

I just became AWARE.

Aware that my body was changing and that I couldn’t stop it.

Aware that I maybe had a bit too much chub around my hips.

Unaware that this was prepubescent, I began not eating. And then eating ALL the things. Thus never losing weight. Thus getting increasingly unhappy.

Things died down in my 5th and 6th year until by 3rd year of uni. I was living with two amazing but very VERY body conscious girls who were MUCH thinner than me. Their dieting and worrying rubbed off on me in new, scarier ways and my relationship with my body deteriorated once more.

Boys still fancied me. Clothes still fitted me. I never starved myself for longer than a day. But I fucking hated the way I looked.

“Oh poor you” I hear you say. “You have a lovely figure with perfect skin what have you got to complain about?”

Nothing. But. Everything. I HATED myself.

And that is sad. I’ve spent a good 50% of my life hating my body. Which has done nothing but exist and take what I’ve thrown at it.

I read about girls who have starved themselves to the brink of death. And girls who binge in secret like I once did, and I feel desperately sad for them. Mostly because I know that it will never go away for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I kicked the arse of my self-hatred. But it still comes back. Sometimes unexpectedly.

(If you don’t know me well, I will have come across in tweets as a cocky and arrogant shit. I am, of course. But it’s mostly for show.)

Now the hard part. The part I don’t want to have to admit to and the part I know will make my mummy sad.

I have to confess that since I lost loads of weight training for the marathon (32lbs), it’s been difficult if I’ve put any back on through overindulging or water weight or hormones.

In the last 4 weeks, I have skipped meals consciously. There. I said it.

I am not using exercise to lose weight any more. But to maintain it. Which is healthy. I’d just like to make that clear.

I am writing this down so that I’ve said it publicly. I don’t want any “oh but you look amazing’s”. No. What I want is for anyone that’s reading this that has had those thoughts ever, to stop for a minute and realise that you are not alone.

And it’s ok. Not to skip meals, but to know that you’ve done it. It’s ok to accept it. But you need to work out why. And get to the bottom of it. Which is what I’m trying to do.

You’ll be told you’re stupid. And self-centred. And aren’t there more important things to worry about in life?

Probably, yes.

But to be honest there is little that is more frustrating than achieving something amazing and not being able to enjoy it because it’s just not enough.

There is little that is more difficult to manage than anger at yourself and a lack of understanding as to how to deal with this.

There is little more frustrating than hating absolutely EVERYTHING about yourself and being told you’re stupid for thinking those things.

You are, of course, perfect in your own, silly, melodramatic, slightly chubby-in-the-wrong-places way.

You won’t like hearing that. But you are.

And you are not alone.