Weight can be a touchy subject for anyone, let alone those who suffer with anxiety. It’s something I’ve battled with personally for a while now and there are several factors that have influenced this. In my younger years, I was always quite slim and I never really had to worry about my weight or what I ate. It wasn’t until I got into high school, that my weight started to fluctuate and become unhealthy for someone my age and height.
During my last year of high school, I got bullied by someone who up until that point was my best friend. This led to me drinking copious amounts of alcohol to escape the anxiety and depression this caused. Thankfully, I managed to get myself through this difficult stage and build on myself as a person. It was an awful thing to go through, however I do believe it made me stronger and I am a much kinder and loving person today because of it. I don’t doubt that this will be one of the next topics to feature in my blogposts about anxiety.
Battling my weight
So, I was 16 and weighed around 10 1/2 stone. The effects of the alcohol had clearly made an impact on my weight and it wasn’t until I got into college, that my confidence started to rebuild. I was in a good place, enjoying my courses and making lots of new friends. I studied musical theatre, dance of which was a key component and was something I loved and kept me fit.
I then started working out at home (Deanne Berry workouts – I would highly recommend) and the weight just started to drop off. Before I knew it, I was 8 1/2 stone and my cheekbones were visible again. I’ve kept an eye on my weight ever since and vowed never to let myself lose control of it again.
My other half
I was quite petite leading into my university years, the second year of which I met my fiancé. Again, I studied performing arts for my degree which meant that I could continue to dance and keep fit. As any girl will probably know, you do let yourself go a little when you become comfortable with your other half. I certainly did. We had dinner on date nights, takeaways, popcorn and nachos at the cinema, the list goes on. It’s nice to be able to enjoy those things (in moderation of course). I’m now in my mid-twenties and my weight has gone up slightly, but I am a comfortable size 10. I try to exercise where I can and eat well, allowing myself one cheat day a week, although this often ends up being a cheat weekend.
My weight has been on my mind a lot recently and I’ve been struggling from an exercise perspective for a few reasons. It got me thinking, is there actually such a thing as a happy weight? Have I ever actually been happy with my weight, even when I was at my smallest?
Fear of the gym
Keeping fit and healthy when you have an office based job can be quite difficult (for me anyway). I can’t exercise before work as I’m really not a morning person and when I do exercise after work, it can be difficult to find the motivation after a tiring day. I used to go to the gym 2-3 times a week, however I’ve recently stopped going as I get really anxious about it. I’m not sure why to be honest. Exercise can obviously be quite vigorous and hard work, no pain no gain as they say, and I wonder whether it’s because I want to avoid that exhausted or uncomfortable feeling.
When I get anxious, I want nothing more than to curl up in my duvet and hide from the world. It’s that feeling of being at home, all cosy in my pjs and relaxing with my fiancé, that makes the gym less appealing. The weird thing is, when I actually get myself to the gym, I enjoy my sessions. What is it about my anxiety that has caused me to stop going? It’s incredibly difficult to explain, but I just can’t bring myself to go. I get this really negative feeling and it’s almost as if I can’t leave the house. I’ve chosen to workout at home now as I feel more comfortable doing this.
If I don’t workout, I feel incredibly guilty. I then beat myself up about it and feel anxious for the rest of the evening. If I eat anything that isn’t remotely healthy, I feel even worse. As I highlighted earlier, this is probably something most girls can relate to, it just feels like such a battle for me personally as my anxiety makes it seem like a more drastic problem than it actually is.
The media has a large part to play in how society perceives body image these days. It’s such a huge influencer whether you are conscious of it or not. I went for dinner with my friends recently and the topic of weight surfaced a fair few times, so much so to the point where I felt slightly uncomfortable and pudgy after finishing my dessert. I also felt sad. My friends are beautiful people and it makes me sad that instead of focusing more on catching up (which we did a fair share of), we were talking about weight.
This is also the case with the people I work with. Every day colleagues are telling me about their latest diet techniques or healthy lunches because they’re trying to lose weight. Some of these colleagues are around a size 8 or smaller, so you can imagine my amazement when they make such comments. Social media doesn’t make this any easier, especially when you have people plastering pictures of themselves doing workouts or sharing progress shots of their perfectly toned abs on Facebook and Instagram.
Defining my standards
I look back at photos from my early twenties and I can’t quite understand why I was so negative about my weight. I guess the question I have to ask myself is, how do I define my standards of a happy weight? I am influenced by friends, celebrities and media in general. Their standards aren’t necessarily right though. I also have to be realistic about my body type. There are some people who can eat as much as they like and still maintain a petite figure. Those same people also try to eat more as they feel they are too skinny but can’t put on weight.
Being kind to myself
Something I’m trying to teach myself today is to accept my body as it is, and focus more on taking care of it than having it comply with everybody else’s standards. It’s hard. I still have days where I cry about being fat. I think the important thing I need to remember, is that when I meet someone, I don’t decide to become friends with them because of their appearance. Who they are as person is what matters the most. Everybody is beautiful to someone.