Ok this is quite deep, but it was something I was thinking about today.
As females, we’re conditioned in today’s society that beauty comes in the form of a slender bod. As much as we try to change that, somehow I feel like it’s never going to quite go away. The body posi movement has been a true blessing for this generation, but there’s still a lot of underlying beliefs around how a girls body should be and what is desirable. Some people can be pretty resilient to this type of thing and say ‘fuck it I’ll look how I want to’ and that’s great. But when you’re young and impressionable, trying to feel comfortable in your body in a world telling you not to be, can be very mentally challenging.
From the age of 13 – 15 all I wanted was to be a looker, like the type of gal who just glowed. I went through a long period of restrictive eating thinking this would turn me into that radiant queen. I was soaking up information I found on the internet to help me on the road to being ‘skinny’, and one of the things I would always see were ways to ‘fill yourself up’ or that hunger was a good sign. Fair to say that messed with my head a lot. I was in a constant limbo of taking pleasure out of feeling hungry, but at the same time knowing what I was doing went against every bodily signal and function I had. I wasn’t even considered as underweight at this time, any GP would of turned me away because I wasn’t deemed skinny enough. Fun fact, eating disorders aren’t just about being underweight. Mind. Blown. It became my obsession and feeling full was the last thing I wanted.
I realise this is quite a touchy subject, even triggering for some, but it’s something that’s become more obvious to me the deeper I get into the fitness world. Nowadays, we know that to build muscle and the ideal lean physique, we need food. But for a lot of us, that goes against everything we thought we knew. When I was told I needed to seriously increase calories to maintain and build muscle it gave me huge anxiety. Like, what if I blow up?! I still remember having my first bowl of pre workout oats, after basically a year of totally 0 carb living. I was petrified. I headed into the gym and my belly felt full and I didn’t like it. Soon enough I realised JEEZ this is giving me crazy energy, sure I feel uncomfortable and weird, but there’s something better going on.
Imagine a car, like a little silver BMW, it runs off fuel. When it runs out of fuel it begins to shut down and not function efficiently. Once you’ve filled up the tank, you’re feeling good and the car’s ready to go. This is just how your body works with food.
The issue with eating more and feeling full is that it can really trigger feelings of guilt and anxiety in people who have sensitive issues around food. What I had to realise was that feeling full was a way of my body telling me ‘Thank you Anna for the fuel and energy, I’ve had enough and I’m ready to get going’ – that may sound totally bizarre, but your body thrives off that food in your tum, it’s your first form of survival. I’m not talking about eating to the point of discomfort, but a feeling of satisfaction. You are nourishing and helping your body. For me, it took time to understand that my body really did need to be nourished after disrespecting it for so long. My hair began to grow unevenly, I developed acne, my ladytime was irregular and I had no energy for life. I was rude, anxious, snappy and not fun to be around. Even now I still see my mood drop dramatically when I under eat, it’s scary and it’s not a place I want to be.
If you do start to feel anxious thoughts around food and the feelings of fullness, write them down, meditate or have a mantra to calm you. The last thing you want to do is start to feel guilty. This will only lead to a difficult, dark cycle which becomes tough to break! Try to think rationally and understand that you aren’t stupid and these thoughts don’t make you stupid either, it’s the way you’ve been programmed into thinking.
Obviously I don’t really have a massive leg to stand on as I probably haven’t experienced the worst feelings in comparison to some. But I do understand how it feels to get overwhelmed around food and the idea of having to eat more. My biggest tip for someone wanting to gain weight, eat more or just generally feel more comfortable around food, is to take it easy on yourself. Take it slowly and understand it will take time. Do it gradually, introducing new things each day. It’s easy to read a caption from some IG fit girl telling you to eat more to gain a booty, but this can be a whole other story when you feel barriers towards doing so. You almost have to block out others opinions and realise what you are doing is benefitting YOU. It’s for YOU and no one else.
All I can say is that finding that happy ground with myself and food was one of the best things for me mentally and physically. I’ve been tempted to try out bodybuilding competitions, fitness model things etc etc, but I don’t want to put that pressure on myself. I’m finding a happy balance between my personal life and my fitness life and that’s all I’ve ever wanted. Who knows, I may hop on stage in a few years time. But for now I’m content with a more sustainable lifestyle. Even when I attempt to lose weight or ‘cut’, I will never deprive my body of what it really needs, as for me, that’s no life to live. That’s not to say I won’t push myself, it’s just keeping my mental sanity 10/10 too!
I hope this was helpful or a lil insightful for anyone who’s been through / going through similar things. Let me know 🙂
Love Anna xx