Being happy but unhappy with your body

Oh this is one of those posts I’m a bit nervous about publishing because I really don’t want it to come off in the wrong way. Our relationship with and thoughts about our bodies are so personal but I feel like I need to bring this up as I think a lot of people go through these things I want to bring up and I don’t feel it’s spoken about. Like it’s a bit taboo to go through these different stages and feelings. We can’t help how we think and feel always but if we are aware of it we can at least work to change it. Maybe this all sounds a bit all over the place but hopefully you’ll understand where I’m coming from when you’ve read this post.

I was skyping with my sister Ellie the other day and we got onto a very interesting topic I wanted to bring up here on the blog. It’s about our relationships with our bodies and how it changes on a weekly, daily and almost hourly basis. With all the body positivity flying about it’s not always easy to admit that you’re not entirely happy with your body a hundred percent of the time. I can say I’m one of them. The majority of the time I love my body but I do still struggle with it at times. The struggle has been in different stages at different points in my life. The majority of the time it’s been due to what I’ve been taught by society to think when my body is or looks a certain way.

Before I get started I want to just clarify that I wasn’t always thinking about my body or stressing about it. I just want to lift the fact that we can have moments in our life when it happens. It’s a rollercoaster with ups and downs, always changing.

Before I started training as I do today, at the beginning of uni, I had gained a bit of weight from all my drinking and partying days as well as poor eating habits. I was quite happy with myself, not overly but I felt alright I guess. I was just living the partying life and not really thinking about the impact it had on my wellbeing. The days of nights out started to get boring after a while. I wasn’t feeling very healthy or happy in my body and eventually wanted change. Clothes that I used to fit into felt stretched and tight. It wasn’t a great feeling so I decided to take the leap and improve myself, get fitter and happier in my own skin and that’s where it all started. Spring in freshers year at uni.

I’d been conditioned by society to think smaller is better. I started going to the gym a bit more regularly and tried to eat healthier, which meant less and salads in my world at the time. I was living in catered halls so it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to eat well.

I was happy when I noticed things fitted better and fitting a size 6 instead of a 10 or 12. It made me feel good. One thing looking back on it all was that there was no end point to this weight loss mission. Even when I eventually was smaller I wasn’t fully content. I felt like there was always something that could’ve been improved. For instance, my stomach fat has always been one of the most stubborn areas for me. Even when the rest of me was small, my abs weren’t as visible as I would’ve liked at the time and I felt like it wasn’t good enough.

Not a healthy way to think but that’s sort of the look you think you should strive for when you look at the images floating about everywhere. I trained at that point to look a certain way rather than for health, wellbeing, fitness or performance. I wanted to be healthy too but I thought once I was smaller the health, wellbeing and fitness would come with it. I felt stressed by the thought of putting on weight. I didn’t have an eating disorder but I was very confused and wasn’t sure what my own goals were. Yup, I was one of those girls who was terrified of lifting weights because I was afraid to look manly. It is sad now looking back on it because I wish I would’ve known better but I don’t really want to and can’t regret any decisions because it’s what brought me to where I am today and I love where I am today.

A couple of years into my training was when I found G5 and my life changed. Everything changed. My world changed. All of a sudden it didn’t matter at all how “toned” and small I was, it meant nothing if my body couldn’t perform. Performance is key in Crossfit and that’s what revolutionised my world and changed it for the better. I thought that I was relatively fit, which I sort of was but in no way fit in the way that Crossfit requires you to be. I went in and I died. I struggled so bad and realised that whilst I looked a certain way, it meant nothing. My body couldn’t perform. I couldn’t do a burpee over bar to save my life. My upper body strength was next to none and I died in every training session (haha I still always die during class but I’d like to think I’ve improved a bit since I first started).

I realised that I needed to change again. I started eating more to fuel my performance. Until then my portions were quite restricted but I instead decided to up my food intake to get more energy. I started eating more plant-based at this point too and with eating more and training at the intensity of Crossfit, my body changed again. I started to see muscles growing. I could see my body slowly getting stronger. It changed once again and very quickly. I didn’t notice it at first but I remember one day trying to put on my favourite jumpsuit and I just could not zip it up. My first immediate reaction was, am I getting fat? How sad is that? I had no clue what was going on with my body and in today’s society we’re constantly told that getting bigger is bad and undesirable but it of course completely depends on the situation and in what way you are gaining weight.

I remember standing and looking in the mirror wondering what was going on. I couldn’t really see a massive difference body fat wise but then I slowly came to the realisation that it was my muscles. My back muscles barely existed before so of course they would grow from all of a sudden using weights. One of my favourite blouses all of a sudden looked tiny with my shoulders sticking out way past the seam. Where did those shoulders come from?! It’s all subtle changes with time that you do not notice straight away. I think my my more muscular shoulders look great but once again I started worrying at first about the change rather than being excited. Change is a lot of the time good because it comes from growth, so why is the immediate reaction kind of negative? It’s incredibly sad.

I rarely weigh myself these days because I personally think it’s a terrible way to track anything to be honest. Unless it’s a specialist scale, it doesn’t show in what way you’ve gained or lost weight. It could be muscles, it could be body fat, it could be your dinner you just had or water… Who the hell knows?!

Out of interest I did coincidentally recently weigh myself and I am now just a bit lighter from I what I weighed in the first picture above and what a difference weight on your body can look like. This was however my next struggle when I started with Crossfit, gaining weight because that’s also viewed as a “bad” thing. I had a massive surprise when I stepped on the scale one day after months of training at G5 without weighing myself or anything. At my lightest I weighed about 53/55 kg for my 1.71 metres. All of a sudden I was weighing about 62-63kg. Yes I had gained about 7/8kg training Crossfit. Once again I had an inner battle with my mind, this awful little voice in my head saying, Maddie you’ve gained too much weight. Gaining weight is bad.

I once again resorted to the mirror, once again I didn’t see a massive difference apart from the fact that I thought I looked fitter, healthier and more toned than ever but yet I had this machine showing a number which somehow was telling me that it wasn’t good. Whatever was in the mirror wasn’t good because it weighed more. At least that’s what we’re always told in media and whether I like it or not it affects me sometimes. I try to push it away but it does creep out from the corners of your mind to haunt you once in a while.

Where do I stand today? It’s up and down, I think with age comes an acceptance and love for your body. You don’t get as affected by your surroundings because experience and knowledge gives you confidence in yourself at a deeper level rather than just the physical. I also have come to love feeling stronger and seeing my body getting stronger. For instance, a couple of months ago I tried on an old blouse and yet again the seams were way up my shoulder and I bursted out laughing because it looked ridiculous. I was actually happy because my little upper body is slowly but surely growing and getting stronger. All that hard work and training is slowly paying off. The growth let’s me accomplish more things in the gym and that makes me so happy and really excited. Being able to do heavier and more things at the gym is the most rewarding feeling.

I love my body because it’s mine, sometimes I don’t like it as much (whenever those thoughts come up I try to change them but I think we all have our moments) but overall I love it. I do. That’s something I couldn’t say before. But it’s as the title of this post says, I’m happy but unhappy. It’s not a permanent feeling always being happy with your body. It’s something that changes with time but the constant is that it’s mine and I wouldn’t change it to any other body. It does me proud every day, it gets me place and allows me to live. What’s not to like?

Do I still wish I had those super visible abs? Yeah I suppose I do once in a while but we’re all different, we all look differently and have all different places where we look more lean and strong than others. For instance, my sister has an insane core but I know my back and shoulder muscles look pretty muscular. Some girls have got thinner legs and bum, I’ve got a curvier shape around there (I used to feel really uncomfortable about this but it’s a part of who I am and what makes me me and now I don’t even think about it anymore, it’s my body and I wouldn’t change it). It’s what makes us us. My body is mine and I wouldn’t change it for anyone else’s. I suppose I could try and alter my diet loads more to get that definition but I don’t want to. How I eat and train now I feel is sustainable and I can still eat out and enjoy the occasional sweet treat when I want it. I want balance and not restriction. It’s not worth it to me. It might be worth to some to cut all of it out but not to me. For me food and all of that is part of living and enjoyment. That’s what is important in my life, more important than what my stomach looks like.

The one thing I would say since my physique has changed is finding “normal people clothes”. Dressing nicely does make you feel good and confident. I find a lot of clothes in the every day shops does not always flatter a more athletically built body, which is why I prefer wearing my gym gear a lot of the time, hehe. I think my lululemon clothes are probably some of the most flattering clothes for my body type these days, plus they’re probably the comfiest clothes you could wear. Now thinking about it, you also achieve some pretty badass things in those clothes, which probably adds to the feeling of why I prefer them. I think I just need to take a bit more time to maybe rethink my “normal person” wardrobe to find new clothes and styles which I think suit me a bit more and make me feels as comfortable as my gym gear.

Things like that might seem like shallow things but those things do have an impact too. I think we need more diversity within clothes still. It’s moments in the changing room when I can’t find anything I think looks flattering I can understand why people question their body shape but then how can one size fit varying bodies? It’s crazy when you consider how many individuals there are in the world and how one size 6,8 or 10 etc should fit all kinds of 6, 8 or 10 etc bodies.

So that is my journey with the constant battle of what society says a body should be like and the change my body has been going through with training. It’s complicated and I think unfortunately a lot of people go through this. I’m a bit nervous posting this but at the same time I want to share this struggle to hopefully show that we all go through these things. Reading this post through, my thoughts may seem a bit dramatic and I don’t want anyone to worry about my past and the thoughts I had. They were not always the healthiest thoughts but I always loved to eat and I always loved to train. I wasn’t obsessed with either of them but I think my relationship and view of them was a bit messed up. I think it’s just a stage a lot people go through when they try to figure out their relationship with exercise and food.

If you are however feeling like you’re struggling with thoughts about food and training and that it’s becoming obsessive please turn to someone no matter who they are for help and express these concerns. It’s not embarrassing to ask for help, it is incredibly brave and insightful. Not everyone dares to ask for help but when you do there will be so many people wanting to help you to get on the right track. Just take the leap and your world will change. It won’t always be easy but life is unfortunately not easy but that’s what makes it life and these struggles help us grow and learn. Whenever I face hardship I always think of the day I can look back on it. You usually look back at the hard times and think it was hard but that’s about it, it’s just a chapter of your life and once you’ve been through it, it’s gone and you move on. It’s not always easy but life goes on and we live. We get through things and eventually, despite how horrible those things were, we one day smile again and are happy again.

Sorry this post is so long! I just saw it’s over 2000 words. If anyone is still reading this, I hope I haven’t bored you to death. I have so much more to say on how I’ve changed my mindset about my body but I think that will have to be in a different post because this is already so long!

Have a beautiful day my dears, M xxx

 

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