I used to hate my body.
A story of my fitness journey over the past five years
From what people see of me in real life, or in photos I post, I have a slim, relatively well-proportioned body that many women would kill to have.
But like many other people, I have not always been comfortable with my body and my physical health, and to get it to the state it’s in now and feel good about it has taken me a very long time. I hated my body. I hated to open up about my body image issues because people made me feel like I had no right to be unhappy with my body because I was “pretty”. I wished I was taller, because I was frequently bullied for being short. I saw other dancers in my ballet class who were skinnier than me, and I thought I was fat.
I was also diagnosed with high blood cholesterol when I was ten years old. It gave me so much grief because I was constantly told that my diet needed to be changed. I felt like I was unhealthy and simply not skinny enough.
2012: McDonald’s breakfasts & instant coffee
Four years ago, I was on antidepressants and I still ate red meat. I skipped a lot of meals. I was under a lot of stress at university. I would leave home at 6:55am every morning for class. Getting used to the long commute took a toll on me, especially when my workplace was near my hometown, and any time out of class was usually spent at my job.
In the mornings, I would barely have time for breakfast. I would make instant coffee in a thermos and drink it. Some days I had instant packet soup and I would drink it on the go.
As soon as I arrived in the city I would buy a bacon-and-egg McMuffin from McDonald’s. For lunchtime I would eat a lot of sushi. I snacked a lot on cookies and biscuits.
I ate very irregularly. When I ate a lot, I felt bloated and sick, and I would try to offset the damage by starving myself for a day or two. With the added stress, this cycle continued to repeat.
2013: Running, extreme yo-yo dieting, and settling for pescetarianism
I had friends who went to the gym, but I despised the idea of going to a gym. People tried to convince me to try a gym but I turned away. I was pretty disgusted by the gym. Instead I went running every weekday morning. I have to admit that I got very good and enjoyed it.
I thought I was doing enough exercise, but my high cholesterol did not lower. I did not lose weight. I would grab the fat sitting on my hips and get angry that there was so much of it. I would squeeze my meaty thighs between my hands and cry when I realised my hands were too small to grasp my thighs all the way around. I had a dangerous vision of “beauty”, and my extreme dieting reflected this.
I tried every diet that I could find.
Because I was so unhappy with my body, I went through several months of yoyo-dieting, trying everything I read on the Internet:
- Gluten free. This was one of my favourite diets and the one that encouraged me to cook and eat more vegetables. I cooked simple food myself and loved it.
- Low carbohydrates.
- High protein. I ate a lot of eggs. I tried to eat nothing but eggs. This was such a stupid diet. I also tried to eat a lot of prawns and nothing else. I was clearly not educated on “protein”.
- Low sugar and fat. I simply tried to stop eating cookies and eating snacks high in fat and sugar. I scrutinised food packaging to check their nutrition information.
- Sugar free. I didn’t eat any fruits, fruit juices, tomatoes. I generally tried to cook my own food so I knew what was going into it. I actually liked this diet and would recommend anyone to try going sugar-free (even just processed sugar) for a week. You get headaches since your body depends on sugar, but you feel very rejuvenated.
- Liquids. I tried to have nothing but water with a bit of lemon juice, and plain boring soups. I got hungry and gave up.
- Detoxing. I tried to have nothing but water. It was excruciating, and though I could stand to have an empty stomach for a while, I would go back to binge eating or having a snack.
In the end, I tried and settled for a pescetarian diet. I enjoyed eating fish because of its health properties. By this time I was sick of eating chicken almost daily, was not a fan of pork, did not miss beef, and refused to eat duck because I had a real affinity for them as animals. Because I was not eating most common meats, I opted for vegetables instead. Starting a pescetarian diet helped me eat more healthily and encouraged me to try whole foods.
Somewhere along the line, I became lactose intolerant. This may have been due to the fact that I ate very little cow’s milk since I was ten years old (when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol). One day I had yoghurt and it made me very ill. I was in a lot of pain, and other dairy products became difficult to stomach after that.
I now find that I can have a small amount of lactose without feeling too terrible, but it’s best avoided unless I want to deliberately make myself sit on the loo. 😜
On vegetarianism vs pescetarianism
In all honesty, my change in diet has helped me make friends and sympathise with fellow vegetarians and vegans whose diets were either by choice or for health purposes. I do believe animal cruelty is wrong, but I don’t consider myself any kind of activist for animal cruelty, or a representative in the community. However, I have nothing against people who are.
To each their own, but some people have asked why I don’t just go vegetarian. I like fish, although I don’t eat all seafood, and personally (based on research) I find it healthier than meat. There are some days I feel like vegetarian food — plants are delicious – and other days when I really wouldn’t mind a fillet of grilled fish. I would say it depends on my mood, but I also limit my fish intake sometimes.
High cholesterol medication
Some time in 2013 I was put on medication for high cholesterol, when a different doctor finally revealed that my condition was genetic and not influenced by my diet. (Read: The twelve-year battle is over. and part II.) It was a relief to be able to better my relationship with food. To this day, I still don’t really like having to take my medication every morning and wish I didn’t have to, but it’s working. I’ve kept the same diet, and I no longer have to worry as much about what I’m eating.
2014: Discovering a gym, struggling with food, and experiencing stress
I once swore that I would never go to a gym. I was content with exercising at home. It wasn’t until someone – no longer a friend of mine – left me feeling insecure about my body, and I felt the need to become some sort of Wonder Woman, that I decided to give it a try. I went several times a week, doing a lot of cardio but lifting some weights too. I slowly grew to like strength training even though I had no previous interest in it before.
I was snacking very frequently on less-than-favourable foods. There was a snack cupboard at the place I worked at the time, which gave me access to a bad snack diet: I ate full cups of nuts, protein bars, processed fruit sticks, packaged seaweed, and other such “junk”. I ate breakfast in the morning which was usually a healthy bowl of oats, but otherwise, I was not eating well. I fell back into the dangerous habit of trying to “undo” my bad habits by having less proper meals and starving myself.
Stress and weight loss
I was under a lot of stress in the latter half of 2014. I was going through a rough patch with my relationships and I ate almost nothing for weeks. I had no appetite, and I was depressed. I drank nothing but soup and tea because that’s all I could stomach. I continued to go to the gym, about three to four times a week, and it would always make me feel even less hungry after a session.
I dropped a lot of weight, but I didn’t notice. It wasn’t until I saw a photo Lilian took of me, where I was standing in a short skirt and a sleeveless top, that I realised I looked stick-thin. My bones poked out from the tops of my shoulders. I noticed my clothing becoming looser.
I looked so thin, but I could see my arms becoming more toned. The fat that I used to grab on my hips had reduced – I almost couldn’t grab it anymore. This was also the time I noticed that visual results speak larger volumes than the numbers on the scale.
2015-2017: A gradual, healthy, happy change
One might say that through my relationship with Nick, I have emerged a glowing, happy woman. I suppose it is true that if happiness is coming from one source, other aspects of your life will brighten too.
Over the past couple of years it was a bit difficult getting into a regular exercise routine. Things like holidays can throw you off, too. I am pleased to say that I have been going to the gym at least three times a week for the past six months, and it’s going well.
I’ve mostly been working on my arms, but I always warm up with cardio and have recently been doing more squats. I like seeing my arms become more toned. You will be surprised how difficult it is to “get muscly” and “bulk up”. I have worked on my arms a lot, but you don’t see my arms as super muscular. Getting my legs and butt in shape is my next goal.
The gym is not for everyone, but I have found that I never regret a good workout. Exercise has come to feel really good, and in turn motivates me to continue eating a lot of healthy food. I try to eat less bad food but if I want a treat, I will let myself have one (I gotta work on controlling myself with the sugar though). It really is all about moderation.
Recent news from the doctor has also showed me that lifting and building up lean muscle can help lower my cholesterol more naturally. And for that, I am glad. :D
I’m now probably the happiest and most comfortable I have ever been with my body. I have never been prouder of my body than I am today, not even when I was able to do several flawless pirouettes in a row, not even that moment I realised I dropped a dress size. It’s today. It’s right now. :)
It takes time for one to love the body they are given, and to decide what they do with it. But your decisions determine the way you’re going, and that is what made me change over time.
It was hard for me to write this post in full; I appreciate your comments and your support 💖
It’s so sad that the first doctor wasn’t able to think about the fact that your cholesterol problem was genetic. The fact that you were young at the times you discovered high level of cholesterol in your blood should’ve made him think about the fact that the problem might be genetic, put you on a specific diet and recommend being active, then re-do your blood tests and see your evolution. But it’s a very good thing that you finally discovered what the problem was and you could eat properly and keep it under control with medication.
I am glad that you finally found a balance in your life, started going to he gym and finally got comfortable in your body. We cannot have the perfect body, but we can treat it right and learn to love it, even the things we don’t like so much.
Good luck with your fitness goals <3
Thanks Cristina. 💗🙂 I know that at the time, doctors did not know much about high cholesterol but they have learned much more over time. It’s still far better to have a doctor who is up-to-date and knows exactly what is going on.
Thank you for writing this, G. I’m sure others will relate – I know I did.
I think a huge part of the issue with body image nowadays is the focus on food and health and diets and how fitness seems to equate to being superior in some way, like treating your body right is a free pass to god knows what. It took me a long time to realise it doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable.
I also started strength training recently and I love it. I don’t know if you’ve heard of DareBee, but it’s a free fitness resource with workouts and programmes that are achievable! Totally recommend. I haven’t made much progress yet but it’s like you said in your post about goals: get a system going and stick to it and your goals will be met that way. 💪
I always had a weird relationship with food. I was a picky eater and when I was at school it was all girls and just cliquey and competitive and I didn’t fit in because I was awkward but I also didn’t like how I looked, either. I tried dieting at 14 but didn’t tell my family because it was nuts and I knew they’d say that, but some way or another I would cheat and feel like crap.
That went on for a while. Then I moved away from home and started cooking and buying my own food and went veggie and then vegan and that really recalibrated my relationship with food. I never used to think of food as fuel before and I ate like a bird… I just didn’t have a big appetite. That’s really changed.
There are still aspects of my body I don’t like. I’m pear shaped and my thighs and butt and short legs and no ankles to speak off is at times infuriating. I’m out of proportion, really. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I have a big butt and stocky legs. So do lots of other women.
I try and focus now not on the negatives of how my body looks and BUT on how my body performs. I’m working so that it is stronger and more flexible, not so that my thighs firm up, however nice a side effect that may be.
Its a shame that stories like yours and mine are probably the experiences of most people nowadays. As I said, I really feel like the food culture has got out of control.
Keep hitting the gym, girl. 💪💪 work it! 😎 You are gorgeous inside and out 💚
Thank you, Georgia. 💖
I have actually heard of DareBee and I’m doing the abs & core challenge this month! 😄💪 I don’t do enough of that so it’s been good to have something to motivate me a little.
The cheating on your own diet is something I went through far too often. Dieting can take a toll on you emotionally, especially because most diets involve quitting things cold turkey and lacking the respect your body needs. It definitely takes time to find something that works for you, but I’m glad you have a much better relationship with food too. :)
first of all, it’s so brave of you to write these in an unfiltered, raw and genuine way. i enjoyed reading through your experiences. i’m also grateful for you stating that going the gym is not for everyone. not sure if you read it before or you remember but i used to starve myself too and binged on coffee to suppress my hunger. i didn’t let myself touch “sinful” food like noodle or pasta or pizza. i never let myself had any cheat day because it felt like i ate garbage and wanted to throw them up afterwards. granted, even if i ate healthy (leafy greens, boiled salmon, etc), i felt gross too but slightly lesser than when i let myself had a cheat day. and when i did (have a cheat day), i cried myself to sleep because i felt fat. i lost 10+ kg and i was happy even though it wasn’t a proper way of dieting. it’s like wow all those times i starved myself paid off.
just like how nick came into your life, when my bf came into my life, i’m starting (or learning, at least) to let loose of myself. he’s been trying to make me not feel guilty whenever i eat and that i’m not fat. i still feel fat though and i still get anxious and depressed whenever i weigh myself (i’m 50-51kg but i desperately wish i’d go back to being somewhere around 45-47kg) all my friends have been telling me that i’m not as fat but i know, i know that my cheeks are starting to be chubby again and my stomach is starting to protrude. gah i don’t know, man. i’m still stuck in the loop, the whole evil yo-yo circle, y’know? i’m glad you managed to step away from that hell hole but me, i don’t think i want to yet. i still hate my weight and my body even though i no longer prevent myself from eating shit i want. it’s just the regret is always there, ya know? hm..
some people say stuff like “you should just go to the gym!” but they forgot that the gym isn’t for everyone. plus, the parasite has always been my thought and my anxiety of being fat and gaining weight. it’s like….it’s different, y’know? it’s not like going to the gym will make these dark clouds go away.
oh well, i’m glad you finally escaped. maybe not entirely (because insecurity is a bitch but i see you as this confident woman so….) but you did find balance. i hope i can find mine someday.
good luck x
It’s really cool to read about your journey. This post came at THE perfect time. Currently, I’m struggling with my own body image, I’ve noticed a significant weight gain. Usually I never noticed when I gained weight because it wasn’t enough of a difference. This time, I’ve noticed. My diet is terrible, and I have no exercise routine. I think it’s the combination of sitting at a work desk all week, with the added hormones of birth control. My sister also says it’s Happy Relationship weight gain. I am indeed happy with Matt. Plus, he and I go out to eat, A LOT. Like….every time we hang out. Yummy food, but not healthy nor does it make my wallet happy. But reading about how you have managed to find something that works for you, gives me motivation. I just need to find a happy balance. And even though the weight gain doesn’t make me happy, I also just want to make sure I’m healthy. So here’s to figuring out what works for my body and to appreciating it. :)<3
Wow, you’ve been through a lot when it comes to your body and health. I also struggle with my eating habits, but I’ve been taking the “Meh, I’ll work on it later” approach. It’s been a slow process. And I have to say, Georgie, that last picture is breathtaking. You look so confident and proud of your body.
You poor thing! *hugs* Sorry it took all that to finally be okay with yourself! But you should be! You look great! =3
I swear, fast food is the root of all evil when it comes to health issues. McDonald’s is definitely a bargain but it’s so bad for your body. I had the same mentality when I heard about going to the gym before. I thought people who went are those who want to get swole but I’m thankful I was very wrong.
A pescetarian diet is better than the other diets you’ve tried. You get the proper nutrient you need without having to eat any land meat. I’m already sick of most chicken, beef, and pork as it is. Ugg, I am lactose intolerant as well. Coconut milk for the win XD.
It’s always interesting how certain people could change how you take on things in life. It’s great that you found a great routine to stick with. I’m glad that you’re happier with your body now. I agree that the gym is not for everyone. If I had an opportunity, I’d take on a home gym *but maybe in the near future*.
I think a big thing that contributes to self-confidence is the fear of negative judgment. I’ve faced enough to the point where if people want to say my body is a certain way, that’s their problem. I’m happy with what I have and it’s really /my/ life. Another thing is that we don’t need to conform to other people’s definition of what beauty is. That’s just me :’)
Keep on working towards your fitness goals!
This must have taken so much courage. I don’t know how to comment in a way that won’t come across as flippant in light of such a serious, honest post tbh. But, thank you for sharing this. I can relate to a lot of what you say – particularly the cycle of binging and starving – and about appearing slim but not feeling like its enough. I’m glad that you’ve escaped from that, as I know how much it can take over your life having those kind of intense negative thoughts about food and appearance. Its great that you’ve found a way out, and also quite inspiring. :)
You look great :D I still dislike how my body looks :/ Trying my hardest to love myself and get into shape and it isn’t easy. It is also the fact that a lot of my dislike stems from years of abuse from parents and even family calling me fat when I wasn’t. I am glad that you’re doing better and hopefully, I will too.
Your story really really encouraged me.
The Endometriosis has torn my body up, when it comes to my stomach issues (bloat, constipation, etc) so on top of the diet, I’m not in the best shape. I have no energy, so it’s really hard to motivate myself to exercise. It’s really no excuse, because I should just get up and do it, and I’ll feel so much better once I start doing it. I’ve been seeing the scales move up and down consistently, but I only have myself to blame.
How do you stay motivated to keep exercising?
Firstly, Georgie can we just sit down and have a coffee and like talk about this irl one day because seriously I am half in tears at this post. You are fucking amazing and should wake up in the morning – in fact when you read this, please do this – look at yourself in the mirror and be like I HAVE GOTTEN SO FUCKING FAR. I AM SO FUCKING PROUD OF MYSELF. I AM AMAZING. Because seriously girl, I am so pumped for you. The body positivity in this post has my heart screaminggggggg! ILYSM <3
I can totally relate to "feel like I had no right to be unhappy with my body because I was “pretty”." A lot of people I know at work have said this to me in the past, that I should be happy with what I have right now. I shouldn't work out. I should eat the bad food because i'm already "skinny" and already "pretty" so I didn't have to work out. I always tell them that I exercise to feel good, to feel happy, healthy and fit. It's not always about the appearance.
2012 sounded like my first and second year at university. It was so unhealthy now I look back. I was so slugish and hated moving. I felt shit about how my body looked, how I felt, how my muscles werent being used to their full potential. I made the change last August and havent looked back since. The active life is where I want to belong – it's made such a positive impact on my everyday life in terms of mental and physical health. I'm so happy reading through this post that you've seen that same change. I'm also thrilled to further confirm that Nick has had such a great impact on your life, he seems like such an amazing supportive best friend and finance. Love does exist <3
I went through a similar phase with my diet. I remember starving myself and restricting myself to something stupid like 500 calories. Ugh, the thought makes me shiver. It was horrible. I remember feeling weak and exhausted – the complete opposite to fit and healthy! Since August, I realised that eating is one of the most important things about gainz. Without fuel, cars can't run. It's exactly the same with our bodies! I can't believe it's taken me so long to realise this but now that I have I won't ever look back. Food is fuel. Food gives me that peach growth I want and makes me feel energetic to the max!
I love the last picture. I can see the gradual change of someone uncomfortable about her body to someone who fucking embraces it to the fullest. That body positivity is glowing, I respect and appreciate you so much for sharing this. I'm super pumped and motivated to keep improving myself. Let's do this together, Georgie!! Good luck with your fitness goals! <3
A very motivational post! I’m thinking about my own health plans right now.
I use to be extremely unhealthy and unfit for years. I would literally faint if I walk too much or too fast. I knew I had issues, but what I found most annoying were families around me constantly telling me that I need to exercise without actually telling me how. Eventually, I spoke to a personal trainer who taught me exactly what I can do to improve my overall health and lose some weight. In short, she told me to calorie count and start off by walking every day, then eventually move into some harder cardio and weights. That really walked wonders. Now I can walk and walk without any issues.
My biggest problem is food, I absolutely love eating and will eat everything on my plate. I also hate drinking plain water. Cutting down portions size was the hardest for me. After a long hard 2 months, I finally learn to control my eating and just eat till I’m 70% full rather than 120% which was what I use to do a lot. I’m much better at drinking water than I use to.
Unfortunately, I didn’t carry on with it and have pretty much stopped keeping on top of it all for a year now. Getting back into it is so much harder.
I absolutely love the last photo. You look amazing there, and so happy and confident! Keep up the amazing work :D
a blog by Pauline
[…] felt a fresh wave of motivation since seeing more frequent body positivity posts, reading Georgie’s recent post on her fitness journey, bonding with fellow fitness gals at the gym, and of course, buying new Gymshark clothes […]