So, I have been trying to think about how best to kick off this blog and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably best to start by providing some more in depth information about myself, my history and how I got to where I am today.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start……
Well, if we want to go from the VERY beginning then I guess I’ll start by saying that back in June of 1989 my family were bless by the arrival of me; a totally healthy baby girl. I was a few weeks early, but happy and healthy. Up till the age of 8 I was a skinny kid; not unhealthily so, but I was slim and I was an active kid. I grew up in the countryside and loved running around in the fields and climbing trees. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was about 4 or 5 and was given an inhaler to take daily. I struggled to actually use the inhaler though and ended up stopping use of it after about a year as my mum was able to get it under control through changes around the house (like asthma friendly bedding which made a huge difference!). I went to the local state school and was a hugely outgoing kid – always a chatterbox, happy to be the centre of attention, comfortable talking to strangers and never shy or embarrassed. I was never a “good eater” – that’s not to say that I was an unhealthy eater, but I’ve never been one to eat large amounts and I’ve always been very picky. Even as a baby I never liked milk and I ordered kids menu meals in restaurants until I was about 12.
Changes, changes, changes
The year I turned 8 was a year of huge change for me. My sister and I started at a new school – an all-girls private school which was a huge difference from what we were used to. I had grown up reading the likes of Malory Towers and was so excited to attend this school, and though I loved my time there, there were definitely pros and cons and one of the cons was the effect that environment had on my self esteem and personal image. On top of changing to a new a school, I also started going through puberty – very young, I know, but I had my first bra by my 9th birthday. I also, totally inexplicably started putting on weight. I was still active and energetic and there had been no change in my diet and yet somehow I was piling on the pounds. My mum was concerned, but I was blissfully unaware. I had never really thought about other people being fat or thin, let alone myself; it just wasn’t on my radar. Until a couple of months after I started my new school that is. I was still adjusting and making friends and I remember walking to lunch when a girl I was friendly with looped her arm through mine and said “I’m so glad you came to [this school]…” – which made me really happy! Until she followed it with “…now I’m not the fattest girl our year, so I’m not the worst”. That really shocked me and I never responded. That was the first day that I started to critically look at my body and to feel bad about myself. Looking back at old photos, I actually wasn’t bigger than that girl, but she told me I was and I believed it. I also believed that I was now “the worst” in our year – the most embarrassing, the least pretty, something to be ashamed of.
An apple a day, keeps the doctor away
My mum was concerned with the change in my weight – as I said, I didn’t eat much, and I was pretty active. (By the way, my mum was concerned from a health point of view, not a superficial one). A family friend was embarking on a diet and had ordered this kit thing from America that was supposed to tell you what kind of foods work well for your body – she raved about it and my mum decided to try it for me. It came with a blood glucose monitor and you were supposed to check your blood sugar level, then drink this (absolutely vile) drink, wait for an hour, and then check it again. (there was more components to it than this, but they’re not really relevant to this story). So, before the drink my level was somewhere around 95 mg/dL which was normal. An hour after the drink it was supposed to be raised, but not higher than something like 140 or 150. Mine came back at 300. Initially we thought it was wrong but after checking about 10 times and getting the same result my mum panicked that I was diabetic and booked me in to see the doctor ASAP. The doctor ran some tests and said that I wasn’t diabetic, but that I had a “glucose intolerance”, that I was essentially allergic to sugar. I cried on the way home from that appointment. Yep, I actually cried because I wasn’t diabetic! Now, the reason for that is not because I desperately wanted to be diabetic, but I was a kid, and I didn’t really know what diabetes was, but to me it was a diagnosis: it was something medical that (a) meant it wasn’t my fault, and (b) could be cured with medication. (Again, I was a kid: I know now that diabetes can’t just be cured with medication, but as a kid I figured they would just give me some pills and I would suddenly be skinny again). In retrospect, we should have asked more questions – what was causing this “intolerance”? What did that actually mean? How should we combat it? For some reason though, we didn’t, we just said ok and went home. The doctor did say however to try and have less sugar, so that’s what we focused on. I will undoubtedly do a separate post about this cause I think it’s important to talk more about carbs and what foods they’re in and stuff, but for now I will just say that we cut out a number of foods but from our own lack of education we left in a lot of stuff that we shouldn’t. It made a slight difference but it soon plateaued and I was left miserable: nothing seemed to work and I thought I would just spend the rest of my life not eating the stuff I liked and still staying fat.
So, while that continued to go on, I noticed that I started struggling to breath during sports. I hadn’t really struggled before and had actually been pretty good at running, but suddenly I was slow and couldn’t breath, couldn’t push past it. I tried to talk to my teacher about it and his response was to say “that’s because you’re unfit” and to make me run an extra lap. I didn’t remember what it had been like when I had asthma, so I didn’t realise that was the issue but a year or 2 later my sister complained about the same problem and we were both tested by the doctor. So it turned out I had regular asthma as well as particularly bad exercise induced asthma. I started taking a brown inhaler daily and a blue inhaler as needed and it worked a treat, but unfortunately in the time that elapsed while I was undiagnosed I had started on a negative spiral with sports and exercise. I lost all confidence and sort of got scared of exercising so I would do whatever I could to not get involved, to do the minimum amount and hide away. The more I did that, the more weight I put on, which meant the more I felt uncomfortable and wanted to shy away – and on and on it went! I developed a real fear or exercising in front of other people and it really held me back.
Things went on like that until I was 16. This was when I started lower sixth and had access to the gym without supervision. I was a full time boarder and the gym was pretty much unused in the evenings so I was able to exercise completely alone for hours a day and I was hell bent on getting into shape so I worked out like mad. I was also engaging in some very unhealthy behaviour and was barely eating so I actually did lose a bunch of weight that year and it made me incredibly happy. It was the first time that I felt like I had any control over my body or was able to work towards being happy and looking the way I wanted to. Then, the summer that I turned 17 I was diagnosed with a heart condition. I had been on a day out cycling with my family and had suddenly had a feeling that I can only describe as being like when you get butterflies, but in my throat not my stomach. This wasn’t new to me, it had been happening all my life and I thought nothing of it. This time however, it got really strong and then suddenly I lost my sight – everything just went black, and my hearing went too and suddenly I was passed out on the ground. It turned out that I had some form of tachyarrhythmia which means that my heart goes too fast. I’ve always had it, but that was the first time I passed out from it and so it was the first time it was brought to anyone’s attention. The problem was, they didn’t know what kind of tachyarrhythmia I had and my heart was going about 500 beats a minute so I was suddenly told that I couldn’t do anything that increased my heart rate. No more exercise. I was gutted and the weight started creeping back. When I lost the motivation to keep starving myself the weight piled on very quickly.
After a year I was given permission to exercise again, but by that time I had put all the weight back on and my fear of exercising in front of others was back with a vengeance. So I went to university much heavier than I wanted, and when I got there I was too afraid to enter the gym and instead spent all my time partying (with the occasional night of study). Every so often I would get back on a kick of eating really healthy and working out and would not see any results, so after a few months of that I would go see a doctor and every time they would make me feel bad; they would essentially say that I had to be lying, that there was no way I was eating healthy and going to the gym and not getting any results. The only thing they ever tested was my thyroid (which about 5 different doctors tested) but there was nothing wrong. Eventually, when I was about 21 I went to a new doctor. I told him about my issues with being unable to lose weight and he looked over my notes and asked me why I had been on the contraceptive pill since I was 14, to which I told him it was for skin as I had had acne and it always came back when I stopped taking the pill. He then asked my questions about my period which I thought was really odd but answered anyway. He said that he had an idea what may be going on and that he wanted to do some blood tests. When the results were in he was able to tell me that I had PCOS and that this was causing insulin resistance. This explained a lot – my body was essentially turning all sugars into fat instead of energy, so when I was eating heaps of sugary fruits and thinking they were healthy and that I would get energy from them, actually I was just making myself fat!
Learning and re-learning
I realised in the following years that everything I thought I knew about food was wrong… I’ll do a separate post about this, but my understanding of things like carbs and protein and fats was totally wrong – how foods were made up of them, how they work and effect your body and in particular, the effect they have on my body. Last year (2017) I finally started to understand all of this and was able to make positive changes. I went keto, prepped all my food for the week on a Sunday and joined a gym again. Finally I was seeing results! I lost 45 lbs and was really feeling great about myself. I also decided to make positive changes in other aspects of my life and decided to get a new job, and managed to get a job that I really wanted in an amazing company with a fantastic team. One of the perks of that awesome new job was that breakfast and lunch were provided for us daily. I started eating things I knew I shouldn’t because they were there and it was so easy. I started putting the weight back on but I could see it happening and I did not want to allow that, so I started gaining control again and getting back to the right habits. I was determined. Then something awful happened. In February of this year my Grandfather, who meant the world to me, passed away. This had a huge affect on me; it was unlike anything I had experienced before. I got really depressed and lost the will or desire to work out and instead found solace in comfort eating. I ended up putting on all of the weight that I lost, plus about 5lbs more and was worse of than where I started.
That brings us to this year. I was still really sad about losing my grandfather but he was really proud of me for the positive changes I had made and I knew he wouldn’t want me to stop moving down that path. I knew what I had to do this time and had a renewed passion and drive to do it. It’s frustrating to have to re-do all of my hard work, but I’m learning more about myself and I’m going to be that much more proud of myself when I finally reach my goals.
At my highest ever weight, earlier this year, I was 260 lbs. It’s incredibly difficult for me to say that, to put it into writing. I want to be open and honest in this blog, but it’s scary and somewhat overwhelming…
I’m currently down to 220 lbs. It’s currently November 5th and my aim is to be down to 200 lbs by the end of the year. I’m not going to say what my ultimate goal weight is, but I’ll share updated goals as I go.
I know this has been a really long post, and if you’ve stuck it out to here….. bloody well done! If you have any questions about anything I have mentioned here please message me and I will be happy to chat 🙂
Thanks for reading!