Body Positivity, Self Love and Weight Loss
It's no secret that I'm a huge advocate of body positivity and self love.
What that means is that I celebrate people with bodies of all shapes and sizes, I don't hate or discriminate against people of a certain size and I encourage people to do the same. I also encourage people, particularly women, to learn their value and worth and fall in love with themselves for who they are and the traits they possess, rather than based solely on physical appearance.
However, it's no secret that I have spent a lot of this year documenting a weight loss journey. It started in March, ended in July and then restarted again this month. Understandably I receive a lot of questions about how I can advocate body positivity and self love whilst actively losing weight and sharing my progress on social media, so I thought I'd use this space to explain it in more detail than anyone cares to read in an Instagram caption.
Am I trying to lose weight?
Yes, I am. However, I'm not trying to be set size or weight - in fact, I don't weight or measure myself at all because I think it's unhealthy. Our bodies change every single day, women's bodies change at every point of their hormonal cycle, you're slimmer and lighter in the morning than you are before you go to bed... there's all sorts of variances that can affect the number on the scales or the tape measure.
Instead, I go by how I feel, physically, emotionally and mentally, and also simply how I look in photos and in the mirror. I also go by how my clothes fit.
Why am I trying to lose weight?
Back in January, I had a really low point. I mean, really bad. I lost all motivation for anything, I did absolutely no exercise, I didn't want to see anyone, I binge ate... it was a really hard time for me. I ended up putting on a lot of weight which resulted in none of my clothes fitting comfortably and something new. Eczema.
I've had eczema my whole life, but only on my joints (inner elbows, wrists, back of knee) when it gets hot. That's normal for me. However 2018 brought a whole new bout of eczema to my life - big, sore, angry red patches that were bigger than any patches of eczema I'd had before, in places I hadn't had before either, such as between my thighs, on my boobs, on my feet and other places. I was honestly so stressed about this because it had never happened before - and the stress meant the eczema was getting worse.
I used steroid cream, I used a moisturiser that went viral and claimed to "clear up" psoriasis, I used other over the counter creams for eczema and nothing worked. So of course I turned to Dr Google, who recommended that a change in diet - specifically, cutting out dairy - could sometimes help. I also read that a change in lifestyle could also help. I didn't want to cut out dairy (I bloody love cheese!) and so I decided to get fitter and eat better. The eating better was not a problem but the exercise I just couldn't deal with. I bloody hated it.
The final straw came in March when I was still covered in eczema and my wonderful boyfriend wanted to take me out on a date. I went to get changed into something nice and discovered that literally none of my clothes in my wardrobe fit me. I had a breakdown, literally sobbing my heart out into his arms because I just felt so awful about myself - and I realised I had hit rock bottom.
"I still had Dominos on almost a weekly basis, and a McDonald's too... and for the most part, ate exactly what I wanted"
So what did I do?
Monday came around (Monday's are always great for fresh starts, aren't they?) and I took my before photo and put a plan in place. I hate dieting, I don't like calorie counting and don't like weight loss plans either. Using guidance from my Mum, who is a qualified nutritionist and PT, I decided to eat around 1,800 calories a day (instead of the approx 2,500+ I was eating) and walk 10,000 steps a day, every day - which seemed mammoth to me but I knew my Mum did it, and so did several other people, so I could too.
I still had Dominos on almost a weekly basis, and a McDonald's too (lol) and for the most part, ate exactly what I wanted. I just controlled my portion sizes a bit more and exercised.
In addition to the 10,000 steps I begun doing this mini seven minute workout in the morning before work by a fitness instructor called Lucy Wyndham-Read, which claimed to reduce your waistline/belly by two inches in just seven days! It seemed to have worked for a blogger I followed, Sophie, so I chose to give it a go - and guess what? It worked!
I didn't do the workouts religiously for seven days as Lucy instructs - I usually did them on weekdays then didn't do them at the weekend, but I still got the results I wanted. I was soon fitting back into my clothes, with some even being a little looser than before, and best of all? My eczema cleared up. I was absolutely over the moon.
I've no idea how many inches or how much weight I loss, because I didn't count. But the proof is in my before and after pictures, taken approximately three months apart.
Then what happened?
I went on holiday, came back and kind of fell out of my habit of exercising every day and doing 10,000 steps. We were eating pasta and pizza for quick and easy meals most days.
We eat better than ever before, trying new foods and recipes, eating more fruit and vegetable and just generally living better. He does 7,500 steps a day and I do 10,000 - which means we go for nice walk together most evenings. We also attend my mums circuit class once a week which I honestly thought I'd despise (I hate exercising in front of people!) but turned out to love. I actually look forward to going each week, which seems crazy to me!
I'm starting to get fitter and stronger - I am definitely significantly less breathless when I go for a walk which is amazing, I feel better within myself and my eczema is clearing up again, which is great!
Why share my journey?
I share my journey online via my Instagram page and also a private food-only Instagram page for two reasons. One is to hold myself accountable, so I can see if I'm starting to eat nothing but pasta every day again and the other reason is to help people.
I share my journey to present myself as living proof that it really is possible to eat exactly what you want to and stay at the weight/shape you want to be if you exercise in proportion to what you eat! Obviously, not everyone is bothered by this or interested in it - but I know from the comments I get and the DM's I receive on a very regular basis that enough people are interested for it to be worthwhile for me to share my journey and experiences.
Better still, my journey isn't coming from someone who is already slim and losing weight. It's not coming from someone who is plus sized and losing weight. It's coming from someone who is comfortably midsized, a size that a lot of people can relate to, and so I feel like this is part of the reasons so many people find my posts helpful - I have a relatable body size and go through relatable struggles, which helps them with their own.
Losing weight for the sake of my personal health and wellbeing does not mean that I am not body positive. I don't care what size a person is - and if it didn't have such a negative effect on my physical health, I wouldn't care about my size either! If you're fit, healthy and above all else happy, that's all that matters! Even when I'm trying to lose weight, my opinion on body positivity and inclusivity when it comes to people of all sizes does not change.
Losing weight doesn't mean I don't love myself either. I loved myself at the start of this year (not in January when I was at my lowest, but from February) when I was bigger and I love myself now, when I'm smaller - because self love is more than just how you look physically. Self love is about embracing every part of you, is about learning to love yourself no matter what society tells you about yourself - and this is something I try to shout from the rooftops everyday. Everyone is worthy of being loved and everyone deserves to love themselves, no matter what.
Wow, I think my fingers are ready to fall off after all that. I hope it's cleared some things up and answered some of the questions I receive on a regular basis! If you're interested in my food/fitness page, you can follow it here and don't forget to follow my ordinary Insta here too!
What do you think about weight loss? Have you struggled with it, does it affect how you feel about yourself? Let's chat about it.