10 Apr 2016

Weight Loss; A different before and after story


I said that this blog would change when I came back to writing, that I wanted it to be more personal and less about craft. My battle with my own body image is something that I've touched on before but never been totally honest about here. In the past year I have lost a significant amount of weight, the type of significant weight loss that people plaster Instagram Before and After photos with. I'm not that kind of person though, and there is something in those posts that rankles with the feminist in me. There is something inherently wrong in those 'look at me now' photos that makes women feel ashamed if they are not ripped and svelte. I blogged for many years in my 'What I'm Wearing Posts' about being happy and confident as a plus size woman, if I was to turn around now with a crass before and after shot that would feel like negating that positive message I was trying to convey.

Nearly every woman I know has a complex relationship with her own body; how she feels about it herself, how she feels it's viewed by others, how she views other women's bodies in comparison to her own. This evolves and become less fraught as we get older, but there is still baggage that we all struggle to grapple with, hopefully we learn to let go and find some true inner confidence. Given how loud the voice of the media is, this struggle can be hard, it can take years of blocking out the white noise that tells you to hate yourself while trying to sell you the solution in the form of fashion and the latest phony wrinkle cream. I certainly have not been immune to this loud inner critic, I've cried in changing rooms, I've hated my reflection, I've masked the pain of feeling monstrously unattractive, but there are very few women that I know who can't tell a similar story. Thankfully that stage of my life is over, not because I'm thinner, but because I spent years figuring out how to unpack that baggage, leave it behind, and start loving myself properly. 


I have been many shapes and sizes over the years. When I started college I was size UK10, moderately happy with my body on a surface level, but in reality I was uncomfortable with my own reflection, felt larger than everyone else, and didn't really feel present in my body. I went on the pill soon after I started my first long term relationship, within 6 months I had gone up to a size UK16, and I didn't understand what was happening to me. I didn't really acknowledge the weight gain, I thought it was just part of not being a teenager anymore, I stuck my head in the sand, and continued feeling much the same on the inside; sad with a veneer of confidence that convinced nobody. As I got to my mid 20's, I crept up to a UK18, my attitude to dieting was militant and confused, I refused to give into regular notions of beauty, to starve myself to fit someone else's ideal. I armored myself in a garb of feminism and denial, which in many ways helped me to start having a healthy relationship with myself. I wrongfully bundled together fad dieting with living a healthy lifestyle, I saw them both as self hatred in disguise. It was far more important to me to get a handle on self acceptance than being an a certain weight, which is a good thing, but I was blinkered; I was afraid of addressing the unhealthy elements in my life. My physical fitness was terrible and I was chronically addicted to sugar, things I absolutely did not want to address.

A few years ago I blogged about my journey to getting healthier, these lifestyle choices were due to taking an allergy test that told me that a lot needed to change in my life. I followed it for a while, but my heart was never fully in it, and when I fell off the wagon, I did so spectacularly. Dealing with the break up of my relationship and partying heavily for a couple of years undid any good work I may have done during the detox. When I opened The Stormy Teacup I naturally started losing weigh due to the long hours I was working. Around the same time I because close friends with a yoga teacher, Christine McNally, through this friendship I started going to her beginners Ashtanga Yoga classes(my relationship with yoga will warrant a whole post by itself soon). It was at this point that everything turned around for me. It wasn't just losing weight that kept me going back to her class, but the peace that I found on the mat each time I practiced. I marveled at my growing physical strength, I learned to be kinder to myself, to value patience and self forgiveness, by figuring out how to care for myself on the mat, I was able to apply this in my day to day battles. Losing weight was one of the side effects of this turnaround in my life, but it was one the smallest transformations, it was a nice benefit, but dropping all the baggage was the real weight loss.


Since moving to Ennis and starting a new job in a health food shop this journey has continued. I have given up dairy and meat, cut down hugely on sugar and revel in cooking delicious healthy things for myself each evening. Yet again I am tackling my allergy issues, and specifically my skin condition rosacea(this will also warrant a whole blog post). It feels like a gentler more sympathetic way of treating myself, that is sustainable over a lifetime, rather than a regime that I've foisted upon myself. I got a bit of a shock the other day, I was getting dressed and put on a skirt that I know was a tight fit when I moved here 6 months ago, now it's too big to wear and I can take it off without opening it. Most women, who's goal it is to be thinner would be delighted with this but I felt a bit shaky. I hadn't noticed I'd changed that much, and to see a physical manifestation of it jolted me into a new awareness. 

I don't associate being thinner with happiness, just like I didn't relate being plus size with self hatred. I refuse to post a before and after photo with this blog post because I don't want to add my voice to the conversation that shames women over a certain size. The after picture is these words, the after picture is me saying I feel happier on the inside because I figured out how to be kind to myself. When I bump into old friends and they are shocked by my appearance, I don't know how to react, I know that they mean well, I know that they're genuinely happy for me. Even though it's not how it's meant, it feels like a judgement on how I looked before, I was beautiful then and I'm beautiful now. This post is an attempt at having a different type of conversation about body image, about self love and acceptance, just so every voice is not about thinspiration and fat shaming.

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3 comments:

  1. beautiful & honest, really enjoyed reading this, its made me look at parts of me in a nicer light. :) lovely post gorgeous lady! :)

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  2. You look wonderful....and although I don't have a size problem, I do have to be very careful what I eat due to allergies...so I know the struggle that is sometimes!Have you come across a book The blood group diet http://www.dadamo.com/.It changed the way I ate and felt....I do stray sometimes!!!Keep the blog coming, most interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You look wonderful....and although I don't have a size problem, I do have to be very careful what I eat due to allergies...so I know the struggle that is sometimes!Have you come across a book The blood group diet http://www.dadamo.com/.It changed the way I ate and felt....I do stray sometimes!!!Keep the blog coming, most interesting!

    ReplyDelete

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