I’ll warn you all from the get go that this post will include very honest, kinda sucky feelings, but it ends on a high, so stay with me on this one!
Growing up, I was a rake. I was so skinny that some of the kids at school would call me ‘anorexic’. I was never anorexic, I never had what I would describe as a troubled relationship with food. I was just naturally very skinny, but not in a healthy way, I looked awful. Comments from my peers were, as anyone can imagine, destructive. I spent about 6-7 years desperately trying to gain weight. I was embarrassed that I could still fit into my age 12 clothing and that being a size 4 just meant it was impossible to find anything that fit me well.
While I was in sixth form, my mum gave me a pair of Pepe jeans that she owned when she was 15 (authentic vintage!), but they were too big for me to wear. In my second year of university, I finally zipped them up and they were a perfect fit. Reaching my goal weight was extremely satisfying, it felt good to be gaining, rather than losing.
The thing is, those jeans are tiny. They must be a size 6, 8 at a push. By the end of third year, I couldn’t fit into them anymore. I jumped from 6s and 8s to 10s, and even a 12. None of these sizes are big, but such a drastic change has not been the easiest thing to get used to.
I have mixed feelings looking in the mirror, I love 80% of my body, but there’s this food baby that I need to admit isn’t just a food baby anymore. I don’t want to think of myself as being on a diet, and I don’t want to burn off all the years of hard work I put into gaining enough weight to feel good about myself. And with this, comes the realisation that it’s not about how I look. It’s about how I feel. The perfect body may come alongside that, or it may not.
This week, I took my first Zumba class. I battled stitch, foot cramp and exhaustion and I was embarrassed about how unfit I am, but I persevered. I’m pretty sure I make good material for You’ve Been Framed (or just the guys trawling through security footage), but I missed the euphoric feeling of a good workout so much. It was great to be surrounded by people who were there for themselves, not to look at me trip over my feet, and that built my confidence a lot.
As with a lot of the previous exercise regimes I’ve tried, I can’t promise that I’m going to stick with Zumba. But I’m hoping I stick to this feeling, because it’s pretty damn good.