I’m going to start from the beginning of my fitness journey: An early morning in October 2014. I woke up, weighed myself, cried, tried to eat breakfast and cried again. I got dressed in a pair of leggings and a my old ratty GCSE leavers hoodie, and drove to the gym with my 10 visit pass to spend an hour sweating in the sauna in the hope of coming home a few pounds lighter. A destructive and unhealthy means of weight loss, but something I relied so heavily upon. At that point in my life I had considered myself somewhat recovered; no longer drastically underweight I didn’t really see any need to change my current habits. My daily life was a constant loop of eating, crying, weighing myself, crying and starting all over again. My happiness was solely dependent on my weight, but conversely my weight was never at a figure that made me happy. I don't know what it was about that day, but as I left the sauna to go home and weigh myself (for not the first and certainly not the last time that day), something in my head felt different. At some point that morning I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I would do anything in my power to get better, to get stronger and to be a person again instead of the shell I had spent too many years living as. The immediate days that followed were spent trawling through instagram for hours on end, scrolling through image after image on the hashtags #edwarriors #strongnotskinny #girlsthatlift…. If these girls could recover then why couldn’t I? What if one day people looked up to me the way that I looked up to these girls? I stared in awe at how strong they were, how far they’d come, and surprisingly how good they looked. But needless to say I stayed in my destructive ways.
By the time January came around, my weight had dipped again and this mini relapse forced me into making my final decision. And once I've set my mind to something, failure is never an option.
I got myself a personal trainer (and trust me, this was not the Hollywood star type luxury that you may think it was). I spent a lot of money and a lot of time putting myself through what can only be described as utter hell. Constantly questioning whether it was worth the tears and the sleepless nights. My trainer was harsh, he was mean, he deliberately put me in situations that would not only question my physical health but my mental health too. Hours and hours were spent sat in the dreaded fitness assessment room, talking and analysing and crying about my situation. For months on end my training became just as big a battle as my recovery, and my mind was finding it increasingly hard to accept that the weight I was gaining was muscle not fat. But after the months of hell, came progress. Yes my trainer was mean and harsh, but he had done it for a reason. He had increased my fitness levels, showed me strength I never knew I was capable of and ultimately gave me my life back.
People started to make comments to me in the gym, mostly positive but it was the negative ones that stuck with me. People remarking that I was 'obsessed' with the gym, that I don't want to lift too many weights or I'll get bulky, and that I couldn't possibly simultaneously be working hard for my degree as I spent all my time in the gym (despite the fact I was still maintaining a very high 1st at this point). People see someone trying to do something different from the norm, and they don't like it. And that is the problem with society today: you can't win. If you are seen eating someone is judging your choice of food, if you're not seen eating it is assumed you must be skipping meals. If you go to the gym you're obsessed with your looks and if you don't you're lazy and unhealthy.
Women have fought for years for equality, the vote, better jobs, the right to earn the same as men, and yet in 2015 we are still subject to sexism in the view that weights are a privilege kept solely for men.
It was partially these comments that spurred me on. I started to reevaluate my beauty ideals, I started to thrive on seeing an increase in my strength. I felt healthy, I felt fit, I felt strong. Things that I had never before felt in my life, so what did it matter if I was heavier? Women are supposed to be dainty, thin, pretty little things right? Wrong. There is a new generation of women that are strong, athletic, confident and beautiful. And I am proud to be one of those women.