For those of you that didn't know me during the Chubgate scandal of 2009, I gained a fair bit of weight, and I gained it real quick. It all began when I was sixteen, and I hustled someone into thinking I was an appropriate choice for a full-time office job. Most of my time was spent staring at a computer screen, answering calls that I didn't really care about, and pretending that I was actually happy with my rash decision to leave college. It was hardly a strenuous job. The only time I needed to do any sort of physical exercise was when I walked to the shop to buy another boredom-relieving snack, or when I was forced to waddle quickly for the bus.
My weight gain escalated massively when I started to hustle bartenders with an ID that clearly wasn't mine. Honestly, I'll never know how they fell for it; the girl in the photo had lovely, dark olive skin, and I still have to buy foundation that's titled 'been dead a few days'.
What's actually really concerning is that I genuinely didn't realise how much weight I'd gained. In hindsight, it probably should've been a sign when I was trying on a dress I'd just bought, and I had to shout at my little sister to stand on my back, just so she'd be at a better angle to forcibly do up the zip (she still couldn’t do up the zip, so I was just left lying on the floor like a sweaty, and partially dressed, beached whale). It also should've been a sign when my parents felt the need to use exercise as a 'consequence for my actions'. It most definitely should've been a sign when I was directly told by people that they were concerned about how much weight I'd gained. But, in a childish act of defiance, I actually started to eat, and drink, more. Needless to say, I didn't have the last laugh, especially when fitting into clothes from high street stores became a real struggle.
Looking back, I think that was the tipping point for me. When you’re on your own in a changing room, you do not want to get stuck in a dress; it's more intense than watching the first series of the Walking Dead. Sure, I could've blamed high street stores for not catering for larger sizes (which they don’t), but I'm not naturally a ‘larger woman’. I was only larger because I drank too much, and ate too many half-cooked pizzas after drinking too much.
Finally, I realised that if I carried on the way I was, I’d be forced to wear a bedsheet to work. Not in a cute toga way, but in an ‘I can only be carried by a crane’ kind of way. I knew something had to change. But, ever since I discovered the 'rosebud' code on the Sims, I've been a sucker for a good cheat. So, instead of doing the normal thing of dieting and exercising, I took 'diet' pills for a week, which completely numbed my hunger. Yes, I did lose weight, but I also had to leave work early on the Friday because I was sicker than the girl from the Exorcist.
Worryingly, that didn't bother me; I was too pleased with my rapid weight loss to even consider the damage I was doing to my health. Losing weight became an obsession, and I started to weigh myself almost every day. Watching the numbers decrease on the scales was more satisfying than when I discovered that some guys didn’t actually use the classic ‘machine gun’ tactic.
The more weight I lost, the more obsessed I became. I started refusing to eat carbs, and my diet pretty much consisted solely of omelettes. At one point, I even stopped eating mayonnaise (for me, that's like refusing to shower regularly).
What's even more embarrassing is that sometimes I actually resented both of my younger sisters; they ate pretty much what they wanted, and they both looked like Swedish models. Whereas I thought I looked like Bruce Bogtrotter...on one of his good days.
It’s pretty scary, but I was probably on the verge of developing an eating disorder. I’m ridiculously lucky that my love for homemade banoffee pie outweighs my need to be skinny.
I know there are healthy ways to lose weight, because I’ve done it. Two years ago, I spent the summer training aggressively; I was convinced you needed to be super fit to run a Tough Mudder (oh yeah, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’ve completed two Tough Mudders…I’m kind of a big deal). Even though it did feel great to be toned, and I absolutely loved that a strong lunge was my preferred mode of transport, I still wasn’t happy. Training took over my life. My evenings consisted of lots of tears and swearing, minimal laughter, and definitely no frolicking (my absolute favourite thing).
Towards the end of the summer, I stopped training, because I remembered how great it is to see your friends regularly, and I’ve not regretted it. Since then, I’ve realised that it’s okay not to have the ‘perfect figure’. I enjoy pizza and rum way too much to be one of Victoria’s Angels anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s important to eat well (most of the time), and to exercise (sometimes). Apart from the fact it massively helps your ego, it’s good to look after your body a little bit. But, I do strongly believe that it’s important not to judge yourself by what you look like. Honestly, it makes you so much happier. Of course, it’s not always easy; we’d all like to look like Daniel Craig when we come out of the sea, but it really is okay to be more of a budget Bond.
At the end of the day, unless you’re making it rain all the way to the bank, you can’t really change your appearance too drastically (even if you can, there’s always a risk you’ll fall into Pete Burns’ footsteps). And surely, isn’t it better to be surrounded by people that love you, rather than by people who only find you visually appealing? We can’t all be Will Smith, or Paul Rudd; there’s a high chance we’ll end up looking pretty haggered one day, and I’m 74% sure that my three friends will still want to hang out with me then.
So go ahead: skip that boxercise class, frolic with your friends, and rock those short shorts.
You've got this.