Sharing a picture of myself in a bikini is never something I honestly thought I would do for my blog. HOWEVER, this isn’t about the way I looked in the photo, but how I felt after it was taken. It represents a time when, after years of battling, I finally felt happy and confident about my body inside and out.
Body confidence seems to be a prominent subject at the moment. Unfortunately, I have always had body confidence issues of some kind. For a short period, my body confidence issues seemed to fade. However, having now had a baby, the negative way I have always felt about my body is back with a vengeance.
As a child teased for being “chubby”, weight became an obsession. It literally ruled me. At thirteen years old, I weighed myself every single morning without fail. I gave my lunch away at school leaving myself an apple and a plain bread roll. As I walked around 4 miles to secondary school and back every day, the weight fell off pretty quickly after primary school. Eventually I refused to eat very little without looking at the fat content. I looked at every single packet before eating anything. If the fat content wasn’t to my liking (basically next to nothing), I wouldn’t eat it at all. There was a time when I wouldn’t finish my dinner through fear of gaining weight and my safe haven was always apples. I probably ate around 4 apples a day. I remember feeling devastated when my Mum removed the scales from the bathroom and threatened me with a psychiatrist if I did not start eating properly.
Although the weight obsession never truly went away, I feel thankful to my now husband who helped to me to feel a little more comfortable with myself after our relationship started at just 14 years old. By the time 17 hit, I was out partying and eating drunken munchies galore. The inevitable weight gain made me feel guilty and the obsession started all over again.
No matter how I looked, I have simply never been happy!
When I turned pregnant, and my bump started growing, I remember looking back at photos in disbelief: how and why did I think something was wrong? There were even photos where I could not believe how skinny I looked. Now with my post pregnancy shape, again unhappy with little body confidence, I realise how much I took the way I looked for granted. There was absolutely nothing wrong. Despite seeing myself as “fat”, I was far from it.
However, this photo, well this is an exception. It was taken approximately one year before I fell pregnant. I had fully cut out all refined sugar for around 6 months and I had started having three or four vegan days a week. By adapting my approach towards food and making it a lifestyle choice, I feel like my worries faded. I was positive, energetic, much less bloated, my IBS complaints seemed a distant memory, my skin cleared and my ovarian cysts and gynaecological problems seemed to regulate. I was happy, healthy and for the first time, I DID NOT WORRY ABOUT MY WEIGHT! After this photo was taken, I looked at it and FOR ONCE I did not pick any flaws.
With summer approaching, many people I know are concentrating on getting their bikini body! This has caused me to ask myself: Are we all spending a little too much time worrying about our appearance and the way we look?
Eating more plantbased food made me realise that what we eat should be far more than eating what is deemed “healthy”. In my view, a lot of the foods that are labelled “healthy” are actually not anyway. Afterall, isn’t most of it just clever marketing?
How many of us are in a diet trap? How many of us are on a diet to lose weight for a temporary period of time, while we deny ourselves of that cake that we want so desperately. The cake that causes us an inner mental explosion because we crave it, or because it causes us to feel guilty if we give into the craving?
IS THAT REALLY A LIFE? Be honest, how many of you deny yourselves food because of the calories or the fat?
Finally, if you have body confidence difficulties, how much of that difficulty comes from feeling bad about what you eat?
It seems to me that we may be living in a world where no one really knows what “healthy eating” really is anyway. We have become attached to terms like “clean eating”, “plant based”, yet it seems everyone’s definition of what those terms mean is different. Plant based to me simply means eating natural wholefood; foods that come from the land – no animal products but no manmade substitutes either! Just recognisable ingredients with no additives i.e., “clean”.
I battled hugely to eat plantbased while I was pregnant. I craved meat (especially beef), dairy, sugar… all the things that at one point made me feel terrible about my body and that, in my view, caused me health problems in the first place (especially inflammatory illness such as ovarian cysts and IBS). I tried to fight my cravings. Desperately. I tried a homemade lentil burger instead of a beef burger… gag, chickpeas…gag, all fruit and vegetables …gag (apart from avocados…thank goodness), vegan “beef” burgers…gag. When I reached my third trimester I finally started wanting things that were a little more me, though I still ate chicken and cheese. Sure enough after giving birth, I noticed my IBS return and I have felt ovarian cysts in the last months. My body - mind and soul – has been screaming at me. I have felt lethargic, lifeless, my skin has been terrible and my post pregnant stomach has felt like a write off.
So here I am writing this blog as relatively new Mum at 32 years old feeling the way she did as a weight obsessed teenager. HOWEVER, I am already feeling better through means I wished I had realised all those years ago: [real] food is medicine. Food as we know it in the western world is something that may cause us fear, but real food, food in it’s most natural rawest form is not.
So what’s the point of this ramble?
It seems to me that I spent most of my life worrying about what I ate in the hope that if I remained slim I could achieve body confidence, but I never did. By 30 years old, I was finally there and I truly believe I did this by not worrying about what I ate. By making what I ate a lifestyle instead of a diet. It did not happen overnight, but by slowly making small changes. Slowly cutting out the crap and eating simple nourishing foods regardless of fat or calories but because of the ingredients.
While the journey started from reducing refined sugars, the real journey started with breakfast, hence this is now a meal I strongly believe in. Breakfast is the first meal we have for the day. The meal over which we may “ponder” our thoughts, think about how we are going to tackle our day, how we are going to radiate awesomeness!
Again post pregnancy, feeling terrible about myself, I have started once more with breakfast - Breakfast by Bella style - where it all began. Little by little I am regaining a healthy body and a healthy mind once more. Slowly but surely, I am regaining some of that lost body confidence. Once more positive and bouncy.
So why not give it a try. For those of you in a rush…there is no excuse. BREAKFAST IN A JAR IS WHERE IT’S AT!! Take a look at the Breakfast by Bella recipe page for ideas and keep on the look out...
… THERE IS PLENTY MORE TO COME!