I turned 38 in January. Like so many of us, I’ve a battle with my body since my early teens. That’s about 25 years of time and energy wasted on self-critique, hatred and punishment. I grew up the chubby kid and became the fat teenager, I learned there needed to be less of me for people to like me more, so one day I stopped eating. Simple. I lost 40kg in a matter of months (not recommended by the way), I also lost friends, I lost myself, and I lost several years when I should have been young and carefree being more miserable than ever.
Even after I ‘recovered’ from an active Eating Disorder I still spent the next ten years or so engaging in totally disordered behaviour around diet and exercise. Exercising for hours a day, restricting food, obsessively entering every mouthful into some head fuck of a food tracking app, calculating calories burned vs. calories consumed. I would routinely eat too little all week and drink too much in the weekend. I took perverse pride in being a dedicated gym goer, every day without fail, often twice a day, regardless of whether I was sick, injured or just plain exhausted, and to be honest I was usually exhausted. There is very little benefit to be gained from putting your body through that level of punishment nutritionally and physically.
It’s only in the last few years in my 30s that I’ve started to near anything like self-acceptance and happiness within my own skin. When I choose to exercise (or not) and eat well to feel good, not to chase skinny. But some days it the feeling of being comfortable with being me still evades me. Days when everything’s too tight, too much flesh spills over where it ‘shouldn’t’, the softness of my stomach feels like big, ugly rolls and don’t even get me started my baggy, dimply arse situation.
Over all those years I’ve wasted a lot of time waiting until I’m the right size or shape to wear things, do things, or feel good about myself. I’ve always looked at girls working out in crop tops and thought ‘cute, I’ll do that once I have abs going on’. But y’ know what I’ve realised? I didn’t have abs at 45 kilos and starving, there was no rock solid stomach when I was (insanely) working out for 3 hours a day, and no rippling 6 pack when I was CrossFit as fuck. It seems that after 38 years, if I’ve never had the right combination of genetics, training and enough fucks to give to make my abs in the kitchen, then it’s probably just not in my destiny. So finally, I thought fuck it, that’s ok.
Last month I wore a crop top to the gym, muffin-top and all, and guess what happened? Nothing. I went, I worked out, I came home. The only person who gave a fuck what I was wearing or what I looked like was me. And once I got used to it, I actually felt fucking good about myself – and not just when I was standing and kinda flexing and sucking in, but also when I bent, moved and sat and my stomach did the rolly, foldy things that flesh and fat will do. And I’d like to feel that good more often.
So, I’ve decided that now I’m a fucking grown up I don’t need to try to be less when I can focus on being more of all the good shit. More compassionate and patient – with myself as well as others, more grateful for all the things I do have, more in the moment, more of exactly what I am. Fuck the joy-killing ‘shoulds’!