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And once again it’s a Wednesday morning! How are we all keeping? Did you know that today marks 14 Wednesdays of being at home and fully furloughed? Well the exciting news is that’s all changing soon, but to find out more you’ll need to pop back next week! So in the meantime, I wanted to talk today about weight (gain and loss). If this is something that may trigger you then I apologise, but today’s post is all about my weight journey – one I’m still on. If you do choose to read on about my weight journey and find you need to talk to someone, you can find help in this post.
My Weight Journey – The Pre Uni Years
Let’s take it right back to the basics and chat about my relationship with food because let’s face it, a weight journey mainly is based around food. Food has always been a comfort. We use it when we celebrate, when we commiserate, when we’re home alone or out in a group setting. Many nights out at university ended with a cheesy chip and sitting in Kitchen 14 chatting and laughing and continuing the party – normally because I only went out for a couple of hours but wanted to see people when they made it home after closing. But my relationship with food is just… let’s just say we have a love hate relationship which really hasn’t helped with my weight journey.
I like to think I was a cute child. A little chubby, but what child doesn’t have puppy fat? However I remember being in primary school in Scotland and the school nurse telling Mum I was about as heavy as they would want a 6 year old child to be. I didn’t know what she meant, but I do remember sitting colouring in pictures as she said it. Roll on a few years, and I remember the morning Mum suggested I join her in swapping out my morning piece of toast for “something healthier, like an apple”. I didn’t know it at the time, but Mum was at Weight Watchers (part of her own weight journey) and this was her looking for support in cutting down on her bread intake. So I went along with it and ate an apple and a bowl of cereal every morning, alongside my glass of juice. Our packed lunches were never the exciting ones our friends had – break was a biscuit (Penguins, KitKats, that sort of thing) or a cereal bar. Lunch was a homemade sandwich (ham and cheese or similar), a piece of fruit and a yoghurt, and either a carton of juice (when I was P1-P3) or a bottle of water as I got older. As for dinner, we just ate what Mum and Dad were eating – we liked “adult” food and felt so grown up to be allowed the same food as them! This style of packed lunch continued then when we moved across to Northern Ireland and continued primary school – a biscuit for breakfast, and either a sandwich or couscous with cold meats. Sometimes we had tuna pasta if it was a real treat! The routine then was that on a Friday we could add a treat to our lunches – a bag of Hula Hoops or something similar. It was so exciting! Then the school introduced “Fruity Friday” when the entire school had to have fruit as their breaktime snack on a Friday, and so the crisps were replaced with fruit and they became an after school treat. Treats were treats – we had them at the weekend, or if we visited certain family members who let you eat whatever you wanted.
Next up came secondary school. First year I had school dinners and boy were they dinners! This meant I was having 2 proper meals a day, never mind breakfast and whatever break I had brought with me. I got the bus to school in first year, meaning we had the walk up the hill from the bus stop. It wasn’t a long walk, but by the time you were lugging textbooks and PE kits and anything else you needed that day up the hill, you were glad to get into your form room to sit down! Second year we changed to the train, and that’s when I started to eat more and secretly. We got off the train at about 8:05 and walked past M&S who were just putting their freshly baked chocolate cookies out, or the half baguettes. We started buying them and eating them on our way up the hill. Or on the way home we would stop in the Co-Op to buy crisps, chocolate, or whatever happened to be on offer. This continued to be an almost daily trip, with my month’s pocket money being spent on snacks. It was also this year that I stopped eating lunch at lunchtime. Instead, I would eat my full lunch at breaktime so I could spend lunch in the library which had a no food policy.
GCSEs were picked and Fourth Year began. As I was doing Additional Maths, there wasn’t room in my school timetable for anyone doing Add Maths to do PE – a very normal thing to happen in 2010/2011. So the snacking continued, but my exercise dropped so much. Also, Dad was now driving us to school every morning so I didn’t have the walk up the hill, and some mornings he would stop to buy us Percy Pigs, a sandwich and a fizzy drink for lunch as a treat. But we were still walking to the train in the afternoons, so that was something. I signed up to do my DoE Silver Award, and joined Mum’s Pilates class as my form of physical exercise, but it wasn’t enough to combat what I was eating. By the time I left school in 2014, I weighed 13st 2lbs.
My Weight Journey – The Uni Years
Ah university. I loved it! Well, I loved my friends and the freedom and the chance to learn more about myself. Hell, I would never have been blogging if it hadn’t been for university! So there’s so much to be grateful for. But one thing university did not help with was my weight journey.
I started university the September of 2014 and immediately loved the freedom. I could eat treats whenever I wanted. I could drink without permission. No one would tell me I couldn’t buy Coco Pops or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for breakfast. I was living the dream! My main socialising was done in Kitchen 14 with the most incredible people. And I mean it. You have no idea how much I miss them. I organised a huge Thanksgiving dinner in first year for one of the girls over on a semester abroad from California. Christmas we had a big party. There were birthdays and socials and weekly parties. We had a movie night every Sunday so naturally there were snacks a-plenty, and every day when I finished lectures at 12pm I had to walk past Sainsbury’s on my way home so would buy my lunch from there. When I went home for Christmas, I remember being asked if I was pregnant because that was the only reason my family could think I would gain so much weight so quickly. But I brushed it off – they’d always told me I needed to lose weight, this was nothing different.
I hadn’t been near a set of scales since I went to university, and I didn’t plan on stepping on them when I came home. All I knew was that my clothes felt a little tighter. I went back to uni and started to make use of my free gym membership. Well, for a few weeks anyway. I stopped snacking, actually asking a friend to keep custody of my snacks in his room so I couldn’t eat. This would’ve worked if I then hadn’t started buying food from the vending machines in the common room. But I changed what I was eating to an apple with yoghurt and pumpkin seeds for breakfast, soup for lunch, and something light in the evenings. I think I lost a little weight, but then Easter came and I filled the suitcase under my bed with Easter eggs that I could eat at any time. And the hunger from lack of eating at meals meant I was even more likely to snack. Definitely not good for the weight journey.
Second year we moved to a flat closer to uni, but also closer to restaurants, shops, and cafes, and stayed there for third year. I continued to buy snacks and lunches and whatever took my fancy. And I’ve still to this day no idea how I afforded it. I would order Dominos pizza on a Tuesday – 2 large pizzas, a portion of chicken dippers, and the brownies – and would eat about 1 and a half of the pizzas alongside the sides and pudding. I’d drink Coke most days because the sugar kept me awake to study. I’d snack while studying or watching TV. It reached a point that the only thing I could do without snacking was blogging. But still, I didn’t see myself putting on weight. I didn’t feel myself getting less fit. I joined Irish Dancing classes, walked up and down Library Hill between the GUU and the Library which was tough. Especially on the days I had to complete a 20 minute walk in 5 minutes so I wouldn’t miss the start of my next class. I kept eating and drinking like nothing was wrong. I hosted dinners and lunches and loved to cook for my friends. Some time during these two years, I reached 22st 4lbs. So before I left uni I did start to try losing weight. By the June I left university (June 2017) I was 18st 6lbs. So I had reached the maximum weight of my weight journey, and needed help to make sure I kept reducing those numbers on the scales.
After University – My Weight Journey in 2017 and Onwards
I joined Weight Watchers within a week of being home from university. I had reached the point I couldn’t climb the stairs without being out of breath – the lowest trough on my weight journey (if you pardon the pun). Playing with Baron was a nightmare because I just couldn’t breathe when I bent over to play with him. That first week of Weight Watchers I managed to lose 6.5lbs, and actually cried that it wasn’t the 7lbs to make it half a stone. I continued, loving the food, and losing weight consistently without having to exercise. I went on a 10 day all inclusive holiday, and came home again to find I had actually lost 6 or 7lbs over the holiday! I was moving back to Glasgow in the hopes of getting a job and settling down in the city, and my last night of Weight Watchers in Lisburn saw me 2 stone lighter than I had been when I first joined. If you’d like to read more about my experience with Weight Watchers, I’ve so many posts available, but maybe start with this one.
When I moved back across to Glasgow, I worked hard on losing more weight and continuing the weight journey. I was down over 40lbs by the time I quit what was the most horrible job I have ever worked in and returned to Northern Ireland. I went back to my old Weight Watchers classes – soon rebranded as WW and has changed again since then. By the time we left for Cyprus in May 2019 I had reached my WW goal weight – 12st 2lbs. But I didn’t stop going. Instead I stuck with it, and found myself either losing a pound here and there, or maintaining. I was pleased – all that weight off and I hadn’t had to exercise at all! But the flabby skin on my stomach and arms and neck constantly left me feeling so self conscious. I bought crop tops, but refused to wear them. I wore a bikini in 2018 for the first time since probably 2013, and I didn’t feel awful. I did however refuse to be in any photos while wearing it. So during that holiday to Cyprus, I took a photo in my bikini and shared in on Instagram. I felt good. I still hated the flab, but I was beginning to love my body a bit more.
And Then Covid-19 Hit
Ah furlough… that word that none of us had used before March 2020, but now so many of us are aware of it and use it to describe ourselves. When the schools closed, Joe Wicks started PE with Joe on the 23rd March. So when I woke up on the 25th March and was officially furloughed, I decided to give this PE lesson a go. I knew I was unfit, but thought “it’s a PE class for kids, how hard can it be?” – let me tell you; I died that first morning. After that embarrassing morning, I started taking part almost daily with Rachel to help keep me going. While we were eating and drinking a lot more, the little bit of exercise involved in PE with Joe was making me actually lose weight!
Before she went back to Edinburgh, Rachel suggested I look at the 90 Day Body Plan on The Body Coach’s website. There was a sale on, and you could sign up for £50 for the 90 days. So I did. Why not? I mean, this weight journey has been an experiment from the start, why not try another plan that might help? By the end of the first 90 days, I had lost another 6lbs in weight, but that wasn’t all. I’d lost 4 inches around my chest, 5 and a half from my hips, and 4 and a half from my waist. My thighs were marginally thinner, but if you feel them it’s now muscle instead of flab. I’m halfway into Cycle 2 now and have avoided the scales or the tape measure so far, but I’ve to submit my Cycle 2 measurements on 8th July, and I am very much excited to see how I’ve got on. Who knew I would actually enjoy HIIT workouts?! A mix of cardio, ab work and weights, and I do it first thing in the morning before I have a chance to wake up and put myself off it.
But what, you may ask, is the point of this whole post? Well for starters let’s take a look at the below picture.
I look at it and all I can see are stretch marks. Loose flab. A huge belly. Thighs worthy of a rugby player. Short dumpy legs, and weak arms that (to be fair to them) are the thinnest part of my body. What I’m trying to say is: it doesn’t matter how much weight I lose or gain. Nor does it matter how much I exercise or try to tone up. What matters is perception.
When I look at this photo now, I try to focus on the positives. Look at how much weight I’ve lost since I left university. It’s great that I’m getting up every (weekday) morning and doing a workout. My thighs are now muscle instead of pure fat. My arms are getting bigger, but it’s again muscle. I feel better. I look better. My stomach is getting smaller. Or to put it the way I did on Twitter – my belly button has moved up by a good few inches!
And it’s okay to not be 100% happy with my body, but I need to cut it some slack. It’s been going through all these years and life events with me. All I can do is show it the love and attention it deserves, and hope that someday I won’t have to force myself to think positive thoughts when I look in the mirror. My weight journey is far from over, and I know I will always have an issue with my weight, but all I can hope is that I learn to manage it and keep on top of it. From my heaviest, I am down almost 11 stone. I’d be happy to stay around this weight, but we’ll keep toning and exercising, and we’ll see where we end up.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences on any of the above. Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment below but still want someone to talk to, you can email me or contact me by private message on any of my social media accounts. And remember – accepting yourself only if you look a certain way is not self-love, it’s self-destruction.
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