What would you tell your younger self?

Monday 18 April

The very first thing I would tell the younger me would be this: abs do not define who you are, eating the least calorific item on the menu does not define who you are, cardio does not define who you are, your body does not define who you are. Who we are is more than just our bodies. Who we are comes from within – our personality, our dreams and little quirks. Bodies are just a vessel for our disposition. We are so much more than our appearance. We believe that our worth is based on what we look like, because that’s the first thing we see every day in the mirror and at that moment in time, we have nothing else to base our self-worth on. Learn to look at yourself inwards to outwards. See yourself for who you are, not what you look like.

Weight gain is not just about numbers going up, it’s about gaining happiness, life, freedom. It’s about gaining the confidence back to live a life beyond calories and cardio. Remembering that exercise is supposed to be a hobby to enjoy and a celebration of what your body can do and accomplish, rather than a punishmentThrough this new lifestyle, you can start to do things you once thought was impossible, unimaginable: eating out with friends and families without thinking about the calories in the meal or how you are going to compensate for the meal and drinks with excess cardio tomorrow; holidays, days out, drinks with friends. Weight gain is so much more than becoming a “healthy weight” again. It’s about being able to grow and flourish as a new person, living life outside the bubble you once were imprisoned in.

The only goals I have ever had in life have been around weight loss (or now even weight gain) and doing a certain number of workouts a day and so on. Now, I can start to have actual life goals that relate to things completely aside from what I eat or how I exercise: life goals that include a degree, a job, a family. There’s so much more out there. What’s the point in living a life – which is incredibly short by the way ­– constantly doubting how you look and writing down what you put in your mouth each day? Life is so much more than calories. It doesn’t matter what you look like – it doesn’t stop you achieving the life you want, does it?

Life is so exciting! Every day poses new challenges and things to overcome, but also offers new pleasures and things to enjoy with new friends. The journey of bettering yourself is never ending, because the “best version of yourself” doesn’t yet exist and will never actually exist, because it’s an abstract concept.  It’s a process of constantly evolving and bettering your mindset and lifestyle.

And so only over the last few weeks I have learnt that you are never happy if you keep punishing yourself with exercise and restricted eating (even if you think it will give you happiness when you see the numbers on the scale go down). I want to start living to succeed and live a life well-lived. I no longer want to look back at the years before and think how much time I have wasted thinking like that. At the same time, though, I am grateful for my younger self for having that toxic mindset, because it has taught me the lessons needed for me to come to this “enlightenment” (I hate that word but it’s the most fitting here) and start living the life I actually want to, and not worry about the numbers on the scale or how I look like in the mirror or to other people. My stomach will grow, and I may start to look ‘fuller’ but that won’t faze me any longer. I don’t want to have to always think about what I am going to eat next, or I can’t have bread with my meal tonight because I had toast for breakfast. It’s all about balance: with food as well as social life and work life and everything in one. As long as everything is in balance and moderation, anything in life is possible. And that is something I truly believe.

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