I’ve had a rocky journey over the last 11 years, which has brought me to where I am now. Thought maybe if I could share, in pictures, the tumultuous journey I had with body image and dieting, you may be able to understand why I have hated “diets” with a passion, but am now working to a more balanced life!
On the right, me in 2002. A new mum, exhausted with my new role, and desperately wanting to lose the weight I’d gained in pregnancy. My now husband had proposed, and I had just over a year to lose the best part of 6 stone, at least that was my aim.
2003 left, having lost around 3 stone. Wearing baggy clothes and not feeling the point of wearing nice clothes. I suffered with PND when my first born arrived. That and dieting was an evil combination. The weight was coming off slowly, but I wasn’t celebrating it. And I was obsessed with it, when really I should have been enjoying my son.
Well we hit 2004, the year I got married. I hadn’t hit my target, but I had got into the top end of the BMI chart for my height. All power to the BMI chart, stressing people out since it’s creation. I had used Slimming World to get to target, but left one group with a bitter taste in my mouth, after the class leader, knowing I hadn’t hit target, said loudly to the whole group “No one wants to be fat on their wedding day!” I was far from fat, but I still felt like a failure. On a happier note, I got pregnant with child number two below right, a honeymoon baby, and while I didn’t gain as much as first pregnancy, I gained a bit. I was paranoid about being fat, but thankfully it was summer, an opportunity to enjoy my sarongs. Fat? No. Pregnant. Yes. And I look back and think. You look fine woman, why did you worry?
2005 on the left. I’m actually hiding a cigarette behind the chair because I wanted to pretend I didn’t smoke. This was the most relaxed year out of my whole time! My body found it’s own natural weight without me worrying about any dieting of any sort. I was too busy looking after two young children and enjoying my family! I wish I’d remained in that mindset. I wish I could have kept it for the next 2 years at the very least. Because this is the laid back, chilled out thought process that we should all have, surely? “Am I hungry? Yes! Time to eat. Have I had enough? Yes. Time to stop!” It sounds so simple now, but what followed was years of paranoia and anxiety.
2006 below right, the day my third child came into the world. I remained slim all the way through this pregnancy, with little effort. I wasn’t worrying at all about how I ate. It was all so instinctive. I didn’t worry, and just lived.
And here, still in 2006, feeding my little man. I mix fed, because I couldn’t keep breastfeeding all by myself.
Somewhere here it all started to change again, and paranoia started to sweep back in. Maybe it was the desire to be the perfect, all things to all people type mother. Still wanting to be a yummy mummy? Maybe it was the PND affecting me. But I started to worry about my weight.
During our late Summer holiday I had crept back up to, wait for it, it’s shocking, a 12-14. I was letting myself go! And by January 2007 I was a solid size 14. I felt horrendous. Out of control and so desperate. I couldn’t work out what had happened. But I was obsessed that I needed to lose weight. I had become a monster! That woman on the right, hideously huge, don’t you think? No? No, neither do I. 😦
And so arrived the year of INTENSE dieting, and a very real food issue. The start of Weight Watchers, of bingeing and purging, of being so paranoid about weight that I ate nothing a lot of the time, was running on empty and suffered dizziness and fainting a few times.
I was finally the skinniest I had ever been. I celebrated my size 10 jeans. I loved being able to buy the smallest sizes I had ever purchased. But unfortunately, all I really remember about that year is the fainting, the obsession, and the delight in being skinny. I can’t remember much else besides diet clubs and salads. Oh wait, I remember one week, Gloucester flooded spectacularly and we lost water for a week. I remember the sheer joy of washing our clothes in the garden, using rainwater.
I kept the weight off for several months, and in 2008 I was still slim, in a gorgeous Whistles coat. I felt chic. But the effort of maintaining this weight loss was starting to take its toll. I needed to eat more so as not to pass out, but I felt so smug and pious about people who hadn’t lost weight. Those people just weren’t trying hard enough. I was starting to hate the way I thought about other people, and was miserable and tired. This was the start of 2008 on the right, on the left the picture is the Christmas of 2008.
In one year I had gone from a size 10 to a size 14. I now considered myself obese, but didn’t know how to stop myself. I was miserably trying to diet but only ever getting bigger. One month later and I was a size 16.
January 2009, now a size 16 after a Christmas of indulgence. I was celebrating my anniversary and my 30th birthday in London with my gorgeous husband. I was determined to enjoy it, but still had to hop in the scales in our hotel bathroom every so often. I’d let myself go. How could I be so fat for my anniversary? How had it come to this, and why couldn’t I diet to lose weight? I felt more and more out of control, and nothing was working. But this was also the year of change, because thankfully I discovered Intuitive Eating.
Above photos show left, 2009, and right 2010. I was progressively getting bigger, though weight gain had slowed down. I went from a 16 to an 18, but then stayed around 18. But finally, though slowly, I was beginning to make peace with myself and my body. To make peace with foods, and to start to undo all the years of damage that dieting had done. Looking back I think I can safely say that 2007 was the most damaging of all years. I couldn’t think of anything else but weight loss and being thin. I had created such a powerful emotion of self loathing that there was a lot of work to be undone, and a lot of peace to be made.
The photos now don’t change too much, because of my pretty much constant weight.
Left, having bought a wetsuit and braving the cornish waters. Something I had never considered before. No way I could wear a wetsuit and body board! But intuitive eating taught me to love and appreciate my body. So I made a start!
So there we have it. 11 years of monstrous body hate and diets, intuitive eating without realising, and a body reacting to a strict diet in a spectacular way. I would love to be slim again, to be able to move my body more easily and to feel far more healthy. But my body deserves to be treated with love and kindness, and that’s the route we’re taking!
Resharing on 30/04/2015, 2 and a half stone lighter than first published in 2013, still equally as passionate about self acceptance, body acceptance, and self care.