Like many people, I’ve spent the majority life being horribly self-conscious about my weight. I was always bigger than anyone in my class, was the tallest, and always had a big bum. I spent the guts of both primary and secondary school life with a jumper tied around my waist, thinking I was a freak. It’s only since the Kardashians came to prominence that I’ve learned to appreciate and accept my huge arse isn’t going anywhere – so thank you Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, for that one.
Unfortunately, I was also born with the lazy gene – and when I say I hate exercise I mean I absolutely despise it with a passion. I was ‘sick’ for almost every P.E class throughout secondary school, and am known for getting on a bus to go two stops up the road.
Up until a few months ago, I had no idea how to manage a normal diet/exercise balance. I thought nothing of spending of €20 in Marks & Spencer on one 2000 calorie dinner. I never did a weekly shop, creating a viscous cycle of realising at 8pm that there was nothing in the fridge, and either running to the shop for a ready meal, or ordering a takeaway. I often wondered why I was so broke two weeks into my pay slip – I just have to look at my Deliveroo history to see why!
For as long as I remember I’ve had such an unhealthy outlook on food. A few years ago, before a sun holiday, I basically stopped eating and existed on vegetarian burgers and carrots for ten days, power-walked to work and back, and dropped a stone. I felt fab on the holiday, but as soon as I got home I was eating normally again and the weight came back. It was in no way, shape or form something I could keep up.
In 2014, I tried Slimming World with my friend Grace. At SW, you’d be weighed at the start of your class every week and if I hadn’t lost a pound, or indeed if I had put one on, I’d be devo. I started not eating on Tuesdays to ensure maximum impact on the scales, and then after class, would binge on takeaways and cakes for no apparent reason other than that I ‘deserved it’. After I stopped going, I put on the stone I’d lost within weeks and was back to my old tricks. Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely works for some people – but as my friend Sue said, ‘when they’d rather you’d eat a Mug Shot (with the nutritional value of the packet it comes in) over an avocado there are serious problems’.
I started an office job in January of 2016 and slipped into a disastrous routine of a cappuccino and muffin for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and either an M&S ready meal or takeaway, and half a bottle of wine, for dinner. For snacks, I legit ate whatever I wanted. It felt like there was a birthday in the office every week and I’d be first in the queue for a slice of cake. If I bought a family sized bar of Whole Nut for the week, I’d devour it in one sitting. I had no concept of control, and with every bite I would assure myself that the ‘diet will start tomorrow’. It never did.
I knew full well that none of these things were good for me, but I felt I somehow ‘deserved’ them because I was working hard, or not getting home till late. My weight crept up and up, to the point that none of my clothes would fit me, and I was DREADING the approaching Summer. All I wanted was a baggy jumper and a faux fur coat.
I was attending a wedding during the Summer and trying to find something to wear was utterly traumatic. I was crying in my room the day before because I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. Nothing fit me, and my waist – the literal only part of my body that I had ever liked – had completely disappeared. My confidence was at an all time low.
Due to working longer hours, outside of town, I saw my friends less and less over the course of the year. There were friends I hadn’t seen in six months at this stage, and I was absolutely terrified of bumping into anyone I’d not seen in a while. I began to avoid everyone at all costs and went out less and less.
In September of 2016, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I hadn’t stepped on a scales in about two years so I had no idea what I weighed, but I from how I looked and felt, this was an absolute low point. The lowest day was one off from work, and I was minding my niece and nephew. While I was outside their school waiting to collect them, the button popped on the only pair of trousers I had that fit me. I managed to salvage the situation with a hair bobbin, but felt awful. Walking down the road with the kids, I saw an ex-employer who I would be friendly with, but hadn’t seen in a few years, and literally crossed the street to avoid her. Later, in M&S, I spotted a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in an age, and proceeded to spend 20 mins slinking through the aisles trying to avoid him. I was like Harriet the Spy dodging the aisles he was on. I would’ve left only they had the €14 meal deal on and I wasn’t leaving without that bottle of wine.
I literally just couldn’t face him. I couldn’t accept who I had become.
Funnily enough, both of my younger sister and brother are both Personal Trainers – the complete opposite of me. After a bottle of wine on the couch one night, half locked, I texted my brother Sam about training. I’d won a Flyefit membership (where Sam works) on Twitter in July – which I hadn’t even activated. Sam told me to come in and we’d get a plan sorted. The gym membership is less than €30 a month, which is an amazing price, and you pay extra for the personal training sessions.
I came in and stepped on the scales, but was adamant I didn’t want to know what I weighed. I just couldn’t face it. I could barely walk up the stairs in the gym, let alone do the squats Sam was asking of me, however, we got through our first session. The next day, I was in the most physical BITS I had ever been in. I had to have three baths in one day. My entire body felt like it had been savagely beaten – I had never experienced pain like it. But we kept going and it got easier with each week. Mind you, I do still be in bits after. No pain, no gain!!
For the first month, Sam asked that I cut out carbs and alcohol. I was allowed veg, meat, cheese, nuts, eggs and butter. I did a huge shop for the week, which only cost about €50 in Lidl, and began cooking the most delicious meals every evening, making double the amount so I’d have something for lunch the next day. I swapped my morning cappuccinos (approx 180 cals) for flat white (68 cals) and had eggs for breakfast instead of muffins, and I’d walk a bit of the way to work instead of getting the bus the whole way. I was brought up vegetarian, and only started eating meat when I was about 20. I never got into beef, so I stick to chicken, salmon and bacon. I also despise fruit and colourful veg like peppers so I stick to all of the greens. I am now, at the age of 27, only realising my obsession with asparagus (gorge done under the grill with butter, salt and pepper… divine!)
I am allowed one cheat meal a week, which is usually an Honest Pizza or Smokin Bones and a few slimline G&T’s on a Saturday night – this keeps me focused. Takeaways have become a once a week treat, as they should be. I also don’t ‘meal prep’ as I love fresh food. I couldn’t imagine eating a lunch on a Thursday that had been in my fridge since Sunday – but I know this works for loads of people.
I’ve adapted to the low carbs thing with no issues, and dropped an initial 12lbs over September and October. I was THRILLED. I train with Sam for an hour on Saturday and Sunday, and send him pics of my meals throughout the week to show him staying on track. He constantly keeps me motivated and pushes me at my training sessions. I ask not be weighed at every session, but every few weeks instead. I refuse to become a slave to the scales and to this day I still have no idea what I weighed to start or what I weigh now and I don’t want to know. I truly believe the scales affects people more than they realise. Such a large part of healthiness is a healthy mind. Feeling amazing about yourself only step on the scales and see you’ve put on a pound can be incredibly damaging to our self esteem. I personally prefer to take progress pics to keep me going.
If I feel like a sandwich for lunch I’ll have one – no point denying yourself but you have to exercise control. I don’t drink wine anymore – in fact, I’ve completely gone off it, despite being fully addicted for ten years. My new obsession is a slimline G&T or prosecco on cheat nights. If I feel like a snack I’ll have a Fulfil bar or some almonds.
I absolutely let loose over Christmas and the New Year, as we all should! I enjoyed myself, and who knows, probably put on a few pounds – the main thing is, I don’t know if I did and I don’t care. I no longer see my weight, I now see my body. I see it changing every day, my confidence growing and my personal style evolving as a result.
I can safely say there is no quick fix or magic diet. Figuring out your weakness, which for me was the cycle of believing I ‘deserved’ all of these treats, and getting some support such as a PT, was all I needed to get me on the right track, and I honestly couldn’t recommend it more. Even now, when I’m getting my cheat meal, I find myself going for the chicken wings instead of the chicken burger because I know it’s the healthier option – our bodies need to be looked after and nourished, not constantly ‘treated’ to processed meals and sugar. It’s like I’ve seen the light, and I finally understand!
I still have a long way to go – I’m now 19lbs down in 19 weeks, and I feel FAB. I’ve been way thinner before than I am now, but through starvation and unhealthy ‘quick-fixes’. Knowing I’m doing this the right way, the healthy way, it doesn’t concern me how long it takes – I’m just so happy I am on the way.