December 3, 2012 by Max
“You were so fit when I met you!”
My boyfriend’s looking (a bit lustfully) at a photo of me taken right after we met 18 months ago. A slim size 12 blonde is radiating confidence as she smiles at the camera, hand on hip, displaying tanned toned arms, and a waist circled by a gold Topshop belt in size small.
Then he looks back at me and says ‘You could do it, you know. You could look like that again.’
And I blink back tears and try really hard to smile, and I do my best to blank out the heavy reality of the 55kgs I’ve packed on in the last 18 months and how unhappy it makes me, because right now, I really can’t believe I was ever her. And I’m 99.9% certain I could never look like that or even be that awesome woman ever again.
55kgs in a year – what the hell happened? (You’re not the only one wondering, I ask myself that several times a day.)
I’ve always been a compulsive eater, even when I was a kid. Chocolate was manna to me – when I wasn’t given it by my parents, I stole it and when I was given it I ate it all as fast as I could. I developed an unhealthy habit of binge eating and I got fatter and fatter each year until I was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension at 22 and then depression when I was 25. It wasn’t solely because of my weight, but at the time I weighed 122kgs and was a UK size 24, and was admittedly desperately unhappy because of it. I’m pretty strong willed, and once I faced up to depression, I was determined it was not going to beat me. I resolved to join a gym, get some endorphins from working out and send depression packing. I knew I was going to hate the gym part of that plan (because what kind of freaks want to spend time getting sweaty in a room with a bunch of other people getting
sweaty? Gross) but there was no way I was going to take pills. While I was doing the depression-bashing thing, I thought I might as well try losing weight again to go with my new exercise plans. Nothing to lose except weight, right?
To cut a long story short, I discovered that I loved working out and getting fit. I mean really loved it. I’d never been ‘sporty’ and hated sports at school, but I found out I was pretty strong and that I actually enjoyed my gym sessions. To cut a long story short, I learned to tune into my body and gradually changed the way I ate (I’ve since learned about something called Intuitive Eating, which I think is what I was doing without knowing it) and the weight fell off effortlessly. I mean, I was putting a fair amount of effort in at the gym, but I was having so much fun it never felt like work. And since I was learning to listen to my body and not over
eat/comfort eat like I’d done my whole life, I was loving the eating side of things too. I dropped down to 72kgs, rowed competitively (and was pretty badass at it, too – hello semi-finals of Henley!), completed events like the London Duathlon and rediscovered myself. It was like the layers of fat I’d built up had buried who I was, and as I dropped the fat I gradually let myself become happy again. I swore I’d never stop exercising, would never revert back to my old eating habits, and would never destroy myself again.
Then – I’m not entirely sure what happened. Last summer, I got made redundant. At the same time I’d stopped enjoying rowing. I quit rowing after Henley, had to quit the gym because I couldn’t afford it with no income, and then stopped working out altogether because I didn’t feel I h
ad anything to train for any more. I had to move into a cheaper house I hated, where I didn’t have a lot of my own space and felt cut-off from my friends. I fell in love for the first time, and was terrified – I’d spent my whole life knowing I was disgusting and physically repulsive and here was this wonderful man wanting to do scary stuff like see me naked. Argh. All this happening all at once created massive emotional turmoil that I just couldn’t cope with. I started binge eating again. And didn’t stop.
Today, I’m a size 18/20 and weigh over 120kgs again. I hate the way I look and feel. I can’t remember the last time I really felt good about myself. I remember what it was like to be the fit girl in the photo but I can’t rela
te to her now. I want to be her again, but how? It seems like such a huge mountain to climb. Logically, I know it’s possible and I also know I did it once and can do it again.
So now, I’m getting started. I’m scared of it, and I really don’t think I’ll ever be that good again, but even typing those words is making me want to slap myself hard and shout ‘YES YOU CAN! HARDEN THE F**K UP!! JUST DO IT!!” So I’m going to. I can do it. Watch this space; I’m getting my life and my body back.
Here’s the ‘You were so fit’ photo from June 2011: