School is a very confusing place… not only are you learning a lot about different subjects, but you’re also learning a lot about yourself and your body whether you recognise it or not. For me, school was a bit up and down in terms of body positivity as throughout my 7 years I was a variety of shapes and sizes. I would say in Year 7 and 8 I was just your ‘average’ 11/12 year old, although I was a little chubby around the belly area but at this stage I like to refer to it as ‘puppy fat’ like my mum always says.
Then when it came to Year 9/10 I really started to notice a difference in my body shape and my chubbiness was no longer deemed ‘cute puppy fat’ anymore, it was just ‘fat’. By this point the social pressure to ‘fit in’, wear the ‘right’ things and look a certain way really kicked in and I’m not going to lie this is one of the reasons which spurred me on to losing weight, but the main and most important reason was to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle. I remember I used to bake loads of cakes and cookies because I was fundraising for my expedition to Ecuador, but this soon just turned into an excuse for me to eat the cakes and cookies myself and of course any leftovers. I knew I had to make a change because how was I going to survive in the Amazon rainforest lugging massive logs up a hill and even just walking in the humidity alone. So this was another reason why I started to lose weight.
So when I came back from Ecuador people started to really notice a change, as this was the lightest that I had ever weighed (9 stone something, I can’t remember exactly).
It was all well and good that I had lost all this weight but I’ll be honest with you it was very very hard to maintain. So when I finally broke out of school and came to university I was bound to put weight on because A this is the first time I could buy my own food and basically eat what I want when I want and B there’s so many new changes and things happening that my hormones were all over the place (and still are now to a certain extent). But the difference between school and university is that you no longer strive to ‘fit in’, instead you’re able to discover who you are and ultimately BE YOURSELF. It may have taken a year for me to be comfortable with the body I have but I wouldn’t have it any other way because every experience is a valuable lesson. I am a slightly bigger build than before as I now have hips, a big bum and a belly but I lead a healthy lifestyle and thats the key thing here. I spent months beating myself up about the fact that I don’t look like my friends and I don’t look like how I used to when I was ‘slimmer’ but I don’t waste any more time thinking these negative thoughts.
So if I was to give my 11 year old self advice at the start of this journey I would tell myself these three things:
- Don’t worry. I am a great believer that things happen for a reason and I was meant to be fat (as weird as that sounds) because now I really appreciate my body and strive to lead a healthy lifestyle. Worrying is one of my worst traits but it ultimately gets you nowhere and the less time you spend worrying, the more time you can spend living.
- ‘Fitting in’ isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. At the time wearing something from Jack Wills or having a Hollister bag may seem like the most important thing in the world, but believe me being yourself and being unique is far more credible than following the crowd.
- Don’t try to impress others. Now this one might be a bit confusing as I said earlier that one of the reasons I decided to lose weight was because I became aware of my body shape and others around me. Yes this is true but I never once started losing weight to impress anyone else but myself. In life its important to do things for yourself and this was definitely one of them. So to put it into context now with my Instagram, my blog and my fitness… this is all for me and it doesn’t matter if 2 people read them or 100 people (and yes I do have to remind myself this sometimes) but its my way to express myself and keep track of what I’m doing.
- Change is not a bad thing. Change is something that a lot of people don’t like at school and if you change then sometimes this is not well reciprocated. But in all honesty the whole point of growing up is about changing and discovering the person you’re meant to be. It’s okay to change. I can tell you now that I’ve changed a lot since moving to university and some may not like this and others will but thats just life.
- You can’t please everyone. As much as you’d like to be friends with everyone, this is just impossible. In life there are going to be people who don’t like you or don’t appreciate what you’re wearing or what you’re posting on social media. This is something that I’ve definitely learnt to deal with since starting my blog and posting more regularly on Instagram. In a way I’m grateful for this as its enabled me to be a lot more confident and not care what other people think of me. Yes I have my good days and bad days but it just shows that I’m human.