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Wait, but why are YOU dieting?

(Originally published January 2021)

It’s 2021 and yet we STILL get asked things like the above?! (Insert brain exploding emoji here!)

Firstly lets make peace with the word ‘diet’ the Oxford Dictionary describes ‘Diet’ first and foremost as ‘the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats’ but I was at least 25 before I learned this, having spent at least 10 years thinking ‘diet’ meant the thing I did when I wanted to lose a few pounds for my holiday which is more likely some kind of a fad weight loss plan.

Ever since I’ve worked hard to not ‘go on on a diet’ or refer to myself as ‘dieting’ rather I am consciously working to increase the health and nutritional value of MY diet. It’s personal to be and it varies across the year depending on season, activity level and of course life around me.

I’ve generally eaten well and exercised, using portion control and more recently intuitive eating for the last 5 or 6 years after trying more fad weight loss plans that I can count, celebrity slim, slim fast, 5:2, restrictive calorie, slimming world and special K to name a few! And whilst I learned things from each of them and some will work for others, they absolutely did not work for me.

By nature I’m quite a greedy person, I’m also indulgent and at times can be hyper-emotional, all of this can and does for me relate into my eating patterns and is the cause for my weight forever fluctuating roughly 2 stone since I was a teen. The most infuriating thing I’ve come across was back when I worked in an office environment and people thought it was ok for them to comment on the fact that I clearly didn’t NEED to diet, as I was so much skinnier then them already..

A few things I have said or wished to say in response;

  1. No matter your size in comparison to my size, how I feel in my own body is my business.

  2. It’s irrelevant if you think the food I’m eating isn’t nice, this is again my business.

  3. A weight loss plan that worked or didn’t for you, may or may not be right for me, let’s all respect our different lifestyles and metabolisms.

  4. No matter what my current shape or size, it’s a daily choice I make to be there, sometimes that is healthier both physically and mentally than other times.

  5. Yes, the way we look is not everything but if we are aiming to feel healthy and happy both inside and out, then it is important to be aware of our eating habits and find a shape and size we can truly be proud of it, be it a size 6 or a size 20. It’s personal.

Sometimes as I write these blogs I wonder why I’m doing it, what am I trying to achieve? And in all honesty sometimes that aim is clearer than others but ultimately if my rambles resemble something you’ve felt and it makes you feel a little less alone in that emotion, then jobs a goodun!

2020 was a year of trauma, no matter who you are or what your situation was last year we all suffered trauma in one way or another, right across the world. 2020 stole things from us in all different ways but it also gifted us things (time with certain loved ones, time to switch off etc.) this trauma will manifest in all different ways for us, some clear now and some will be down the line so it’s important to address what we can as soon as we can.

For me it reset a lot, I was bored and emotional and my world became the size of my (pretty average semi-detached) house so I lost my motivation! It started off feeling a little like a holiday, no yoga to get up early for? woop woop lets have some prosecco! Birthday events cancelled? woop woop more red wine please! Suns out? Cider and crisps!! And so the pounds piled on.. and then of course the cycle continues as then you feel bad about yourself, so you’re sad, so you eat a little more and so on and so forth…!

August came and life had turned upside down from my 9-5 pre lockdown to being a newly full time yoga teacher this brought with it a whole new routine (or lack thereof) but I slowly got into it, I booked a personal trainer for the first time in my life to incorporate weight training along with my yoga as I ditched the gym and all other fitness when my yoga love affair started. I got on top of my eating again, cutting down the processed snacks and booze and was really enjoying getting into a shape that helped me feel more confident in myself.

And then they closed the gyms in Liverpool, and I was out of work again so I couldn’t use a gym or afford to pay my PT from afar, we opened up again for about 2 weeks after the petition had it overturned but National Lockdown happened as we know in November, and then during December whilst teaching again I couldn’t get out of the lockdown into Christmas mode meaning excess booze and snacks!

January landed and all my beautiful yoga leggings (my everyday wear since March!) where a little snug, my face a little bloated and my self esteem dipping. I know that our weight and our body doesn’t define us and this isn’t about that! But I looked in the mirror and I could see I wasn’t healthy, I hadn’t felt this unhealthy in many years! Somebody who usually has their 10 a day not 5, I realised on 1st Jan that on NYE I didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable all day and it really shocked me!

January has been hard, it feels so cliche to go on your ‘health kick’ so much so it almost put me off. But I took 2021 as a fresh start, I’m leaving 2020 and all its weird lessons behind me. I’ve spent 4 weeks now eating well, increasing back to my old 10 a day, eating a variety of foods and eating in a way that inspires me! As a massive foodie restrictive diets don’t work for me, an increase in nutritionally dense food along with exercise and plenty of fresh air plus a month of dry January has done me the world of good!

I’m more energised with less crashes in the afternoon and whilst I’ve still not slept great or felt myself every day due to the position we’re all still in with this Lockdown 3.0 I can say with certainty I’d be feeling a lot worse if I hadn’t made these changes.

I’m 30 now, I’m 5″4 and a size 10/12 which I understand is all pretty average but the weight I was after New Year was classified by the NHS as overweight, some would look at me and tell me I had nothing to be bothered about but is’t it about how you feel inside? I don’t strive to be as thin as a super model, I’m not aiming for that! I want to be healthy and also happy so whilst I am on the continuing journey to self love, its ok to be open and say. I want to lose a bit of weight! I shouldn’t feel like I can’t say this, but yet we often do for a variety of reasons. Loving yourself and loving your body doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to lose a little weight or improve your fitness.

If somebody around you has wishes to gain or lose weight, to improve their physical fitness or their body shape don’t dismiss them and tell them they should love themselves as they are, self love comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and as much as we need to work on our love inside we of course need to love ourselves outside too.

Ultimately if you focus on being healthier (that means not eating that family bag of crisps each weekend Megs!), with a balanced diet (wine just once a week maybe Megs?) and a nutritionally dense meal plan (Nope, that does not include Maccies Megs!) and an increased focus on your exercise be it walking, running, yoga or hiit or maybe a combination of them all. You’ll feel happier inside AND outside and thats the winning ticket for me!


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