It’s that time of year where there is lots of talk about ‘summer bodies’. I think I’m probably right in saying that most women of my age will picture the perfect summer body being something along these lines…
There has been many a time where I would spend hours trawling through Tumblr or Instagram looking at bodies like this. I’d save these sorts of pictures on my phone, I’d put them as my phone and laptop background in the hope I would magically summon up the motivation to transform myself into this beautiful bronzed girl posing in front of palm trees. I haven’t reached this ideal yet, despite various efforts.
I have tried many methods of losing weight in the last few years. In my final year of sixth form, I was put on antidepressants. The ones I took (called SSRIs) had a tendency to cause those who took them to gain weight. Sadly, I blindly took the tablets to help control my mental illness without thinking about its detrimental effects on my physical health. I believe the antidepressants have made it hard to lose weight, as I seem to gain weight very quickly and really struggle to lose it ever since going on the pills. After my first 3 months at university, in the winter of 2014-15 I lost the most amount of weight, but not particularly healthily or sustainably. In 3 months I had gained a huge amount of weight. Honestly, people who don’t get fat at uni are very disciplined indeed. The alcohol and subsequent takeaways had taken their toll. When I came home for the Christmas holidays, I began eating two average sized meals a day, usually a brunch around 10am and a lunch/dinner at around 3pm. These meals were very balanced, usually half a plate full of vegetables and lean protein. As well as this, I cycled on our exercise bike at home for at least an hour everyday, burning at least around 500 calories everyday from cardio exercise. I lost a stone in a month, I felt great. The weight felt like it was literally dropping off, I felt noticeably thinner everyday. While I was probably effectively starving myself (I think eating less than 1,100 calories a day medically counts as starving?), it felt incredible to be getting thinner. I was so much more confident, after a rough year struggling with depression and anxiety I felt like I could do anything. I weighed 11 stone 2 and I felt the most body confident I have ever been. The picture below shows the big different in 2 months of clean eating and lots of exercise.
Returning to uni in January certainly made keeping this sustainable very difficult. I tried to keep it up by joining the gym and counting calories and eating healthily. It was increasingly difficult as I became more and more withdrawn from my uni halls (thanks anxiety and depression!) and I was eating more meals out, usually unhealthy ones. Over the next few months I had gained back a stone. I stopped going to the gym out of embarrassment, I felt repulsive and like people would laugh at me. This steady weight gain continued up until around this time last year. In August 2016, me and my boyfriend booked a holiday to Greece. The beach body image was clearer in my mind than ever. I could actually pose by those palm trees, with my slightly chubbier version of the photo above. I found this very motivating, and once again joined the gym. At this point I was around 13 stone (just inside the overweight category for my BMI, my height means I can afford to be slightly heavier than the average woman), and very unhappy with my body again. Over the 5 weeks running up to my holiday I lost a respectable 8 pounds. By counting calories and going to the gym I had managed to feel that little bit more body confident in time for my holiday. I was now at the upper end of a healthy weight according to my BMI for the first time in a year and half, which was a massive confidence boost.
This is how I looked on day 2 of our holiday. Not 100% happy with my body, but on the way to being happy. I was horrified to learn that over the course of our holiday (one bloody week) the scales said I had gained A STONE. How is that possible?! I admit, I ate badly (don’t we all on holiday, all inclusive cocktails did me no favours). This made me feel truly awful about myself. Now weighing in at 13 stone 5, I felt truly repulsive. As I mentioned earlier, my antidepressants have made it so gaining weight is very easy and losing it is very hard. Can’t win!
It’s 9 months later and I have lost approximately 7 pounds since after my holiday. My weight has significantly fluctuated in this time, and while I have been trying to count calories using the app MyFitnessPal, my tendency towards emotional eating and boredom eating severely thwarted my efforts and any kind of permanent weight loss. I am using this blog post as a way of demonstrating to myself that losing weight is possible. I have been that amazing 11 stone 2 before, and I can be again. Coming off my antidepressants should make losing weight easier, and going home for the summer means my trusty exercise bike is close by. I guess the point I’m trying to make to myself is you can fucking do it. Make a conscious effort to lose that weight that is making you feel so bad about yourself. Fuck depression, fuck anxiety, fuck antidepressants. I can’t let these be barriers to being body confident and healthy again. Watch this space.