Are you overweight? If your life never quite satisfies you – if you don’t feel you’re as confident, productive, motivated or enthused as you could be, try kick-starting the changes you want to make by starting with your body.
Seven years back, I was shy, chubby, lacking in confidence, and struggling to think beyond my immediate future: going to university. I’d been fatter than my classmates ever since the age of nine or ten. Finally losing that extra thirty or so pounds I’d been carrying has had a huge effect on my life over the past seven years.
1. Understanding how to enjoy food
I was a really picky eater as a kid and in my teens. I’d sulk in the treehouse in the garden if my parents tried to make me eat vegetables, and refused anything suspiciously “healthy” on matter of principle – diet sodas, fruit salad rather than ice-cream, anything which didn’t come with chips.
When I finally chose to shed weight, and went on a diet, I had to find new foods which I liked – things which were filling without being fattening. Furthermore, I started thinking about nutrition: more fruit and veg, more whole grains, less sugar and fat. Nowadays, I’ll try just about anything, and some of my favourite foods (crispbreads with cottage cheese, vegetable stir fries, raw carrot sticks) are ones that I’d never have touched a few years ago.
2. Being confident in a group
Whenever I had to be part of a new group I found myself checking if I was the fattest person there. If I was, I would be convinced that everybody else was hyper-aware of this too, and that they were silently despising me.
It’s likely that they couldn’t have cared less about my size. But it was only after shedding pounds that I became confident enough to take the lead in situations where I had to deal with strangers. I joined societies at university and set up my own creative writing group. At the office, I’ve delivered presentations and training to clients; a few years ago, I’d have been nervous about how I looked, but now I really like being in front of an audience.
3. Dressing well and having confidence in my appearance
Throughout my teens, I lived in jogging bottoms and oversized t-shirts, varied with the occasional disastrous purchase in an effort to follow the latest trends and fit in. (One top specifically led to another girl loudly pointing out my “spare tyre”.) I figured that hiding under baggy clothes would conceal me, but if anything it made me look shapeless and lumpy.
Once I’d started shedding pounds, I purchased my first ever pair of jeans. I tried some fitted t-shirts. Hardly the height of teenage fashion, but my clothes were finally comfortable and flattering.
4. Enjoying frequent exercise
“Exercise” was once a dirty word. I hated every humiliating moment of games lessons at school (the changing rooms, the fitness tests, falling over each and every hurdle…) I couldn’t understand why some friends desired to play sport or go jogging after school.
Once exercise was no longer compulsory, though, I began to find types of activity which I enjoyed. Cycling, swimming, and walking all featured prominently. It wasn’t until I went to university that I nervously crept into the little college gym and tried out the rowing machines, but from then, I was hooked.
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