We are rarely happy with our bodies, ain’t that the truth. We look upon women with perfect figures who carry off the latest styles with ease and grace and wish we looked just a little bit like them. It doesn’t matter what size we are, we are rarely happy with what reflects back at us from the mirror. Many of us also assume that if we had a different body, were taller, curvier, slimmer we would be happier and we set about trying to change in order to achieve that illusive state.
We were always good ‘grubbers’. My mam made a homemade curry like no other, with chutney made from scratch and the beautiful smells wafting throughout the house as she cooked. She baked brown bread which we slathered with butter and cheese and vats of rice pudding with full fat milk that we just loved to faceplant after a long day at school. Don’t even talk to me about that vegetable stew with buttery toast and a pool of melting butter swirled throughout. We were well fed, well cared for and well loved.
I think it was in secondary school that I started to feel most ill at ease with my body. I hated getting on buses or walking by a group of lads who would inevitably jeer and laugh at me as I wobbled past. I had to buy jeans from Dunnes, the only ones that would fit me. To be frank, they were ‘mammy jeans’ with a line down the front and an elasticated waistband. Oh the shame.
In my late teens I had my first dalliances with dieting, to varying degrees of success. I started each week all enthusiastic and danced about the front room to Jane Fonda or the likes, finishing the evening with a small bowl of Birds custard made with low fat milk. I liked the changes happening to my body and vowed to never ever EVER go back to my old ways again. If I could have bottled that feeling I would have made a fortune out of it. I think I lost 3 stone, a pretty good achievement for a college gal who liked nothing more than frothy marshmallow topped hot chocolates with extra cream.
Well, you’ve guessed it! The weight went back on, and more alongside it. I remember shopping for a wedding dress, unable to find anything to fit so I could get even an idea of how I would look on the day. I met an amazing designer who did my fuller figure justice on the day but I know at that time I beat myself up about not having made more of an effort to slim down.
The years passed and I lost count of the amount of times I started again. Every Monday was ‘D’ day, shopping was done and meals were prepped and full of vim and vigour I would go to bed on a Sunday night vowing that this week was going to be different. Sometimes it was. Sometimes I lost quite a bit of weight, loved my newly found confidence that had been buried under the fat and again, vowed never to go back to my old ways. Yep, you’ve guessed it, I did. I used pregnancy as an excuse to eat for two. I used maternity leave as the reason for treating myself, marriage breakup as the excuse for overeating and cancer as the perfect reason to eat what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I lost weight at varying times through those years but it always seemed to find me again.
I’m 45 now and I’ve often looked back at my life and wondered why I never successfully kept the weight off. The plans worked for other people, they managed to have the willpower to stick with it and transform their lives. So why hasn’t it worked for me? I’m staring down the barrel of a gun, loaded with health problems that are aimed in my direction if I don’t for once change my god forsaken way of eating.
How is it that I can’t ‘treat’ myself without disappearing down a rabbit hole of bread, sugar and crisps? Why does one piece of chocolate undo months and months of hard work and make me feel so guilty and worthless every time.
I know why, it’s because I haven’t accepted me. I haven’t looked at my body and congratulated it for what it has achieved. I know body positivity is all about loving yourself but for now I think I need to work on plain and simple acceptance.
I am who I am, yes I could be fitter and of course I could be healthier but this future happiness that I think I will achieve by doing those things will be just as illusive when I am a size 14 if I never actually get to work on accepting this body for what it is. A vehicle for me – kind, patience and loving me. The me that is going to be that person regardless of what package that is tied up in.
So I’m going to ditch the guilt and the scales. It’s been a long time coming but I cannot go on waking up every Monday morning and stepping on those scales, giving them the power to either ruin my day or make my week. So instead of letting those numbers define me, I’m going to get busy living my life. I think the inevitable outcome of that is moving away from any feelings around food, whether they be happy or sad and filling my life instead with achievements that are not related to the size of clothes I wear. The power is within me, to look in that mirror every damn morning and be grateful for this body.
Join me x