24th January 18
TW: This post discusses weight loss and eating

I’ve been on a journey with being able to accept my body ever since I was old enough to pick up teen magazines and start to notice that all of the beautiful girls lining the pages were tall, slender, and nothing like me. Since then, my body has grown and changed. Curves have swelled in places where they never used to be, some bits have got bigger and others have got stretched out, leaving marks on my skin as they did. The only thing which didn’t change was my ability to compare. For every new lump or bump which I developed, those girls in the glossy magazines stayed the same, their perfections constantly scolding me.


When I was a teen I tried my hardest to just shut out all of this disapproval from companies telling me I should be more slim and beautiful than I was. I tried my best to ignore it all and continue growing up. I ate what I wanted without thinking about it. I didn’t calorie count. I just shut it all out. I completely removed myself from societies expectations, telling myself that I was never going to look like my beautiful friends and the gorgeous people in magazines and on television. Reminding myself that they wouldn’t want someone like me in their gang anyway. Looking back, I realise that this was just another outlet for me to tell myself that my body wasn’t good enough. Another method of beating myself up.


When I got to university, my diet shifted to one of ready meals, takeaway chips at 3am, alcohol and hangover breakfasts. As you can imagine, my body reacted as any body would, and completely freaked out. I was pushing it to the edge – loading it up with absolutely nothing good for me and not treating it well at all. My skin broke out, I started piling on the pounds and mentally I started to feel completely hopeless. I realised at this point that it wasn’t so much my weight which I needed to get sorted, but I needed to start looking after myself more. I needed to give my body the love which it deserved and stop abusing it.


Eventually, I decided while at uni that I needed to get my act together and start looking after myself more. I told myself that the best way to do this and to take control would be to lose weight quickly. I watched as the scales would tip lower and lower every time that I stepped on. Every time that I told myself I was removing one item from my shopping list or going for a run for a little longer. I never reached an unhealthy level, but I did start to feel like my entire life was being dictated by food, and which food I was or wasn’t allowed to put in my body. Yes, the weight was falling away, but so was any happiness that I’d previously had. I literally couldn’t find a balance.

Fast forward four years and here I am. 3 stone lighter than when I started university. For years I had a ‘goal weight’ in my head. The weight which I thought, when I hit it, everything would magically be better. My skin would be great, I’d love my body, my food cravings would stop and my mental health would be sky high. And so I sit here now, at this goal weight which I pushed myself to achieve, feeling none of those things.


Yes, I feel happier than I did before, because I’m fitter than I was previously – more flexible and toned. But once you’ve hit a goal, it no longer feels like the goal anymore. It feels like another hurdle on your way to the next goal. Even after reaching what I previously thought was ‘perfection’, I still notice new imperfections. I still have blemished skin, I still notice the lumps, I still wake up bloated some days and I still have a relationship with my body which is up and down every day.


So here’s the thing that I’ve learnt on this long journey with my body: your weight has absolutely nothing to do with it. Having a goal weight can feel like something to strive towards and something to keep you going, but honestly, hitting that goal is not going to help you to love yourself any more. That love has to come from within. It has to be practised and worked on, and you have to learn to love the flaws as well as the good parts of yourself. Loving yourself isn’t about punishing your body daily until it looks the way you want it to. If you do that, as I started to do to myself, you’re never going to learn what self-love feels like.


Body confidence is unbelievably hard to achieve, but believe me when I say that your weight isn’t going to help you to achieve it. It’s the other things on your journey which will help you to do that, like learning to live a balanced lifestyle. Like eating a diet which provides your body with the nutrients that you need (or, if you’re unable to do that, not beating yourself up for eating meals which aren’t huge bowls of kale). Body confidence comes from embracing your stretch marks and loose skin and knowing that you can be beautiful with or without it. It comes from realising the difference between weight, health and happiness.


I’d be lying if I said that I’ve figured out all of the secrets on how to love your body. But the real secret is that honestly, nobody has. Even those beautiful girls who I stared at in the pages of magazines will wake up in the morning and pick out their own flaws. Nobody is completely perfect and because of that, individually, we all are. Exactly the way we are.