If someone had said to me that this year, I was going to be one of the winners for a plus size modelling campaign, I would’ve laughed hysterically, and told them to jog on! Little did I know that after entering the Yours Clothing competition for the Face of Yours campaign, would I now be sitting here, as a plus size model, after becoming one of the winners.
I’ve never really spoken about my weight, or the issues that I have with my body away from mito, but I think it’s time that I speak about them here, in this blog entry, because I promised honesty, in all it’s painful glory.
I’ve never been ‘skinny’, or blessed with an athletic frame. I was bullied throughout school because of my weight, leading me to believe that I was fat. It is only years and years later that I can finally look back at photographs of myself and realise that having breasts and curves doesn’t mean that you are fat. I can see now that I was slim, but curvaceous, and because the other girls hadn’t developed breasts yet, I was seen as fat and unattractive because I didn’t look at skinny as they did.
Fast forward a few more years, and now I’m actually overweight. How ironic that all those years I believed I was bigger than I was, to now actually become the person that everyone bullied.
I’ve struggled with my weight for years now, trying fad diet, after fad diet. I could never stick at them, I could never exercise enough, and I would always give up, because ‘my head wasn’t in it’.
As the years went on, the more and more I began to dislike what I saw in the mirror. My confidence has never been on the higher end of the scale, and my self-esteem has kept it company at the bottom of the pile.
Last year, in 2018, I stepped onto the scales and saw a figure that I’d never seen before. I’d become the heaviest in my life, and it made me feel sick. I promised myself then and there that I would go on a diet, and do all I could to lose some weight. I’ve never wanted an athletic figure, or a figure so slim that I could get away with wearing hot pants and bralette. A size 14 would do me nicely. Hell, right now I’d settle for a size 16! I’d like to keep my hips, my curves and my breasts. I want to embrace the hour glass figure that I once portrayed.
My diet has never been very varied. It’s pretty bland, and pretty beige. Give me a beige buffet any day, and I’d be in my element. I’m not adventurous with food – I know what I like, and I stick to it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slice of (or whole) pizza as much as the next person, and my cravings have always been centred around chocolate, but I don’t think I over-eat. In fact, I know I don’t. I may eat the wrong things, but contrary to popular belief, overweight people don’t have to be over-eaters.
Last year, I was referred by my consultant in Newcastle to a weight management team, to help me in my quest to lose weight. It was there that I was told that I had food anxiety. Some of you may be rolling your eyes now, or having a chuckle to yourself, thinking that that doesn’t exist, and that I’m just a typical plus size woman. That’s fine. You can react however you want, and you’re entitled to your opinion. But the truth is, that I cannot eat vegetables (other than peas, and only when they’re on the side of my plate), and I categorically cannot eat salad. It’s not for the want of trying though. I never say that I don’t like something, or I can’t stomach something, without having tried it first. But my reactions to the foods I’m anxious about can be as severe as gagging, and retching, and having my breath taken away. It’s not a nice experience, and it makes losing weight all the more difficult.
Now throw into the mix the wonder that is mito, and I’ve got myself stuck in-between a rock and a hard place when it comes to losing weight. I’ve never been very good at exercising – I’ve always become exhausted very quickly, sore and feeling unwell. Growing up, I knew people just thought I was lazy, and I guess I wondered if I was to. But now I know that there had been something going on the whole time, and I keep trying to remind myself that I wasn’t just a lazy school girl, or a lazy young woman. There was a reason I hated exercise. It was because it made me feel awful. I’ve never understood when people say that had excess energy after going to the gym, or that they were flooded with endorphins after a workout. It had never happened to me, no matter what I tried. When I was younger, I took part in lots of activities and classes, but I always ended up quitting and not enjoying them. Apart from swimming. I loved swimming, and it was the one thing that I was good at. But after everything else, I would feel so utterly exhausted and sick to my stomach, that I could barely move. I didn’t have any renewed energy, and I didn’t feel high on life just because I’d been exercising. Now I understand why. It wasn’t my fault. It was mito.
So, after deciding to lose weight last year, I managed to lose a stone on my own, just by cutting back on calories and not snacking between meals etc. But I wasn’t fully invested in it, even though the weight I was made me feel even worse about myself. And don’t even get me started on photographs of myself. I hated having my photo taken, and in some respects, I still do. I felt ashamed to look the way that I did, and to have let my weight creep up so much.
It was after Christmas, in January of this year, 2019, that suddenly something clicked in my head. I don’t think I could tell you what it was, because I honestly don’t know. But something happened, and all of a sudden, I was focused, determined, and full of a will-power that I had only ever dreamt of having. I was turning down unhealthy meals, making an effort to blend vegetables in the food processor so that I was getting some form of nutrition, and try to combat my food anxiety. I was saying no chocolate, cake, desserts, and fizzy drinks. I was on a mission, and the weight was coming off me quickly. 8lbs one week, 6lbs the next week. It went on and on, and I was so proud of myself. I had a long way to go, but that size 14 was getting closer and closer. I started getting compliments, and comments about my weight loss, and how good I looked. It made me feel better about myself than I had in a long time.
I guess I always thought that eating disorders couldn’t really happen to overweight people. It was a naïve and ignorant thought to have, but I have to be honest. So, I was surprised when my nutritionist told me that I had Starvation Syndrome. I remember thinking, ‘bloody hell, how many more conditions can be possibly added to this list?!’ She also told me that I have Body Dysmorphia. Again, I thought that only happened to slim people, who looked in the mirror and believed that they were overweight. I’d gotten so caught up in the thrill of losing weight quickly, that I’d started turning down food at every opportunity, until I was only eating when Wes, or my parents were around, and I couldn’t get away with going without food. I’d lost 10% of my body fat within two months, and my nutritionist told me that my body was in shock. I’d lost this weight purely by not eating enough. Some days I would enter my calories into My Fitness Pal, and by the end of the day, discover that I had a thousand calories left, and had only used five hundred. I celebrated those days silently.