At first glance, my transformation doesn’t appear to be drastic. I didn’t lose 5 stone or gain 10 pounds of muscle. The physical changes in my body are just a bi product of a major lifestyle change. I lost a total of 1 & 1/2 stone before I ditched the scales, and I went from a size 12 to a size 8.
I went on a big group holiday to I biza last year and had the time of my life. However, I spent a lot of time comparing myself to the teeny tiny girls I was away with, and I felt like “the fat friend” the whole time. I wasn’t used to that feeling. For most of my life I was perfectly happy with my figure. More than happy. I was one of those annoying girls who could eat whatever I pleased, without the consequences ever manifesting themselves into weight gain. I was really sporty in school, but even though I gave it all up after leaving, and started to drive everywhere, my weight still didn’t suffer.
So when I put on weight, I was confused. I hadn’t changed anything to encourage it. I was still skipping breakfast (the less calories the better right?) and eating crisps, noodles, breadrolls, chocolate and Chinese takeaways day in day out. I don’t know why, but it suddenly all caught up with me. This was unfortunate, since I was a fussy eater who hated healthy food almost as much as I hated exercise. Actually it’s fair to say I despised exercise. I regularly drove to my friend’s house who lives 9 doors down from me. Yep, it was that bad.
However, I didn’t dislike any of that as much as I couldn’t bare not fitting into any of my old clothes. My self esteem and confidence were depleting rapidly. People told me I was being silly and I was far from big, but it didn’t matter. I hated what I saw in the mirror and nothing anyone said could change that. I spent a little bit of time complaining about being fat and lazy, but I didn’t let it get too far before I made a change.
It started with the food (and that’s where I originally intended it to end). I went on “a diet”. It could have been worse, but the extent of what I knew about how to lose weight didn’t extend far beyond watching your calories. I was actively trying though, and that’s the main thing. Then I was on Instagram one day and I discovered the #irishfitfam tag. I started following a few of the girls for meal ideas, but I got more than I bargained for. I started to understand the importance of nutrition.
Before then, my world revolved around calories. I was fuelling up on 1500+ calories a day without realising it was 90% carbohydrates and God knows how much sugar. I was slowly losing weight, but not in a healthy way, and I was often hungry and hunger only leads to feelings of deprivation and inevitably binge eating. So I turned to the Irish “fitfam” for tips, I researched “clean eating”, and most importantly I started to give all those foods I “hated” (that I’d never tasted in my life) a try. It turned out I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them, but I could put up with them (and little did I know I would learn to adore them). So by the end of November I was 3lbs away from my target weight. I got stuck at the same weight for about three weeks, and made a snap decision to create an Instagram account specifically for food.
@MissionSummerGirl seemed appropriate because I was adamant that the next time bikini season came around, I could put one on and know I was the best version of myself. I wanted to be held accountable by my Instagram and I wanted to converse with the girls the way I’d seen them do with each other. I wanted to be a part of this health and fitness community. Best. Decision. Ever!
I was almost instantly surrounded by like minded people. I was trying new foods, I joined a fitness class and went once a week. I downloaded workout apps and spent hours jumping and squatting around my sitting room like a lunatic. I bought a football and kicked it around my garden like I did when I was 10. I was under my original goal weight which meant it was the lightest I’d been as an adult. But I was no longer satisfied with just Beijing thin. I wanted to be fit.
Then, *deep breaths* I joined the gym. I was TERRIFIED! I’d been to gyms before, but never on my own, and my last gym experience had been really negative. The first 5 times I went I had anxiety attacks either in the car or the toilets before I went in. I was the only girl covered in sweat before I’d moved a muscle. It was horrific, but thankfully I found a way to keep pushing through it. I stuck to the treadmill and classes because just the thoughts of heading down to the weights section was enough to make me turn around and head back out the door. It took a while, but eventually I ventured down as far as the machines. Then as my confidence slowly grew (and I realised that the muscles in the weights section were actually covering real life humans just like me) I tackled the free weights. Now it’s my favourite place in the world. Baby steps were- and will always be- my friends.
Suddenly, I didn’t care about the scales. I wasn’t obsessing over calories. All I wanted was to be able to squat 60kg for reps, to do pull ups and chin ups, deadlift my bodyweight for reps, buy new gym clothes, research different techniques to improve my lifts, fuel my body with the nutrients it needed to reach my goals for me, watch videos on YouTube to learn from the athletes I admire so much, move onto 70kg squats, venture around Dublin to use other gyms that my friends were in- the list goes on. My body changing was just a bonus prize for all the things I was learning to do, and how strong I was becoming. I found a passion for this lifestyle. Me! The girl too lazy to walk 9 doors down! Best of all, the people who looked at me like I was crazy for weighing food or for missing social events in favour of the gym, started to join me. My sisters ask me for healthy eating tips and recipes. My brother goes running. My mam gave up sugar. My friends joined gyms. Acquaintances and complete strangers send me messages to tell me that I inspire them and they look up to me, just like I look up to the girls on Instagram. Fitness is contagious and inspiring people is the best feeling in the world.
I still consider myself an absolute newbie. I only joined the gym in November, so when you add on all the time I spent panicking and avoiding weights, I’m not at this very long. Panic still sets in the very odd time, but for the most part, I’ve grown to be really comfortable working out. I still struggle with sugar cravings on a daily basis, and I sometimes have to force myself to the gym after 11 hour long working days, but I wouldn’t give it back for love nor money. I have a long way to go to reach my goals, and when I reach them I’ll already have new goals to work towards. As the saying goes, I already know what it feels like to quit, now I want to see what happens when I keep going….