Most people think they are overweight at some point in their life and have various physical hangups when it comes to their own bodies. I think this is completely natural and definitely something that plays on my mind at times. I’m currently following the SlimFast Challenge and have done various other diets in the past – especially after having LP.
But looking back at my body from my teenage years until now it has changed incredibly, my weight has gone up and down at various points in my life and my overall shape is a lot different since having children. But there is one thing that has always been consistent, apart from when I was pregnant I have never truly been happy with the way I look.
Now, don’t get me wrong. My face is fine, I don’t think I’m ugly and I think when fully clothed I look okay. But when I get dressed in the morning or get out of the shower and see my reflection in the mirror it isn’t what I want to see and this has been something that has followed me through my life. I have never been happy with that reflection looking back at me.
But I know I am not alone. I know that many women – and men too – have hangups about their bodies. It’s made me think though about when I started to have issues with my body. I got bullied horrendously as a teenager and it could have been then but that was all about my hair colour, having braces and wearing glasses – nothing to do with my body really.
So I think it actually started after I moved out of home. When I was seventeen I found myself working full time and renting a room in a house, having to manage my finances for the first time. Over the couple of years that followed my weight plummeted where I didn’t have the best of diets and was constantly on the go but it’s only in hindsight that I realise my weight had fallen drastically. I wasn’t healthy – it wasn’t a healthy slimness but more a bony skinniness. But even then, at the point I met the man that would become my husband, I thought I was fat.
Three months into our relationship we went to the Dominican Republic. It was the first time I’d been abroad and the first time I had even worn a bikini. I have never felt so self conscious and at times uncomfortable. I was fine wearing shorts or a skirt and my bikini top but when I had my whole bikini on and nothing else I felt like a whale. At the time I felt really pear shaped with legs like tree trunks and although my boyfriend clearly adored me I had very low self esteem.
Now I have those same hangups. I feel really pear shaped with the added extra of a mummy tummy. My legs are decidedly heavier than the rest of me and I will never let my knees be on show – unless we’re abroad.
But I look at myself now, and look at how I was 11 years ago when we went on that holiday, the first time I thought I was fat, and I realise how wrong I was.
That twenty year old laying on a sun lounger isn’t fat at all. She’s absolutely fine just the way she is. The problem is not the skin that she’s in but the way she feels in that skin. I wasn’t fat – far from it and yet I didn’t like myself much at all. But what I would give to look like that now.
So this year I am starting again. I am on a diet that fits well with my lifestyle, I have a goal to get to and when I get to it I’m going to see how I feel in my skin and I’m going to remember that girl on the sun lounger.
In the summer we’re going abroad for the first time in a very long time and I know that I will be wearing a bikini again. That is something I never thought I would say. But this year I am taking ownership of my body again. I am going to wear a bikini, lay on a sun lounger and be comfortable in my own skin. No, I don’t expect to look as I did when I had just turned twenty but I do expect to be happy and content with the body I have now that I am in my thirties.
I have spent most of my life criticising myself and this body that I was born with. Every day my body lets me spend time with my children, go to work and go on adventures. It really isn’t a bad body at all and I think I need to worry about more important things than whether my stomach will ever be flat again.
So I am going to keep doing what I’m doing – dieting in a healthy way and exercising and then I’m going to go on holiday with my beautiful family and spend the time making memories instead of worrying how I look in a bikini. I cannot wait for two weeks in the sun with no routines, no plans and just each other.