It’s so easy to be happy with hating your body. It doesn’t take long before it feels totally normal to be horrible to (and about) yourself, and I am as guilty of that as anyone.
I so often find myself having nothing good to say about myself. I see no redeeming features, I don’t see an attractive figure and, for a long time, I have bullied myself about my appearance. However, I’ve recently shifted my attitude and instead of resenting the weight I have gained and the way my body has changed, I have become grateful.
I written openly before about my struggles with disordered eating, and how at times my battles with my own mind regarding food and my body have left me very ill. I have been through periods of time where, due to not allowing myself to eat properly or through a desperation to lose weight, I became very thin, weak and suffered the side effects.
Figures surrounding weight can be so triggering for those suffering with eating disorders, so I won’t divulge into the numerical details of my disordered eating – how much I weighed, what I wanted to weigh, my waist size, my BMI, etc. – but anyone who has suffered with an eating disorder will tell you, numbers matter and they did for me too.
When in the worst place with my eating struggles, I didn’t overly focus on my physical appearance or how my body looked but the numbers on the scale. I became very out of tune with my body, not really every appreciating how it looked or felt, most likely as this made the crippling side effects of not eating easier to deal with – I just didn’t let myself acknowledge them.
It took a long time for me to get out of the dark times of disordered eating. I struggled in that way for years and it wasn’t until a worse trauma in my life occurred that my focus shifted from hating eating to actually appreciating the enjoyment food could bring.
After I went through a breakup and I was living alone, battling depression and PTSD I found comfort in food – which led to weight gain. At the time of my breakup, I had reached one of the lowest weights I had ever been, my BMI was considered underweight and I didn’t look or feel well, so finding enjoyment in food was not a bad thing.
I gradually started to eat in a healthier and more consistent way, no longer weighing myself or focusing on numbers, just enjoying my new passion for food, cooking and eating out, allowing myself to gain weight and actually reach a healthier size.
What no one tells you about eating disorders is that sometimes, the time when you’re suffering isn’t the hardest part. I used to feel happy the smaller and lighter I got, the slimmer I was, the better I felt. For me, recovering was the harder journey. Putting weight on was a tougher battle than losing it and that was such an odd concept to get my head round.
I spent a lot of time resenting myself for allowing myself to put weight on, despite it being something I had to do for my own health. I couldn’t carry on living the way I was or I would’ve become severely ill; I was constantly under the weather, my periods just weren’t happening, my face looked gaunt, I could not have carried on that way – gaining weight stopped me becoming seriously in danger.
Although I have always known this deep down, watching yourself go from a size you thought was the most socially acceptable and desirable to a totally different shape and size is a difficult transition. I watched myself gain weight, change shape, look different in clothes and although I feel healthier than ever, I still struggle sometimes to be ok with this change.
However, I have recently tried to embrace my new imperfections. I now have stretch marks and cellulite, things I never had during my days of suffering terribly with disordered eating, something I sometimes wish I could go back to but then I remember, I’m alive and if it wasn’t for gaining the weight that has brought with it these stretch marks and this cellulite, I might not have been.
It’s so easy to hate our bodies, not appreciate what they do for us but when you’ve subjected your body to starvation and struggle the way I did and are still standing, in a now healthy and functioning body, with just a few stretch marks and a bit of cellulite as a reminder, there’s a lot to be grateful for.
It amazes me the way my body bounced back, how it managed to go back to functioning normally with no permanent damage after not being nourished properly for so long, so I am starting to consistently remind myself that if all I have as a lasting effect from that traumatic time is some stretch marks and some cellulite, then I am so incredibly lucky.
Always see the good in whatever you don’t like about your body because your body, whatever it looks like, is doing incredible things for you every day and that should be one of the things we are most grateful for, yet so often aren’t.
Useful websites and helplines: