2019: I choose joy over skinny.
F*ck the scales and f*ck the need to feel skinny to feel worthy anymore! I have found so much joy in the prospect of me becoming fitter, healthier and stronger! So, in 2019 I have decided to choose joy over skinny.
Something has happened to me recently. It's like something has clicked in my brain because the, "I want to always look super lean and skinny" voices I've heard for many many years have finally become very quiet. The desire to feel lean all of the time and feel skinny doesn't motivate me anymore like it used to. I have struggled to explain why or how so I decided to blog about it and see what I come up with! I just feel like this shift in myself has an important message and I think it's time I spoke up!
I am turning 30 this year, perhaps that's influencing my turning point?
Maybe my physique ego no longer feels the need to challenge me mentally anymore because I have realised how happy I am in my own skin. From last year to this year I've gained weight. The 2 pictures you will see below are 8-9lbs/3-4kgs weight gain difference, which was from May 2018 to now Jan 2019. Gaining weight and being okay with that is a big deal to me, it’s a huge achievement, I know you’re probably thinking “why would you want to gain weight?” but I have my reasons and I will explain below.
The regain in weight is completely intentional as I knew I needed to make this transition.
I tried to maintain my leanest and lightest figure for the first half of 2018 but I was struggling to do so. I was suffering from hunger, tiredness, loss of my menstrual cycle and I really lacked that "get up and go" feeling. I wanted to feel stronger in the gym but I felt weak and I didn’t have the energy to push myself harder to do so. To maintain a lean and light physique you have to make sacrifices. For one you can’t eat as much as you’d probably like to, you’ll lack energy and sometimes even your mojo about life can start to sizzle out. It’s a constant headf*ck.
Now don't get me wrong, I felt great in my skin. It felt amazing to slide into my size 6-8 clothes with room to spare, I felt light and small, it was nice BUT it was a huge battle to maintain this physically and mentally. I've spent so many years dieting, restricting, yo-yo'ing, then I finally learned how to diet a healthy way which was a huge achievement for me. 4 years ago I lost the initial weight I was un-happy with and by doing so it gave me the skills to teach others this today through Online Coaching. Helping my clients break free from the restrictive dieting mindset is such a great gift and I love it.
Right now I don't feel the need, or want to diet anymore. I am well aware of the compromises I had to make to maintain my lean light body and it's hard work! I don't find pleasure in weight loss or feeling lighter like I used to. Weight loss itself used to motivate me, now I have no desire for that. I have found such joy and pleasure in feeling fitter, I am also finding joy in those dark (this is so f*cking hard but awesome) moments where I challenge myself physically and mentally in a training session, it feels SO empowering to get through it.
Do you know what, I actually feel a bit emosh writing this!
Here I am, entering my last year of my 20's and I think, I think I am finally seeing things clearer now.
My health and how I feel physically is so valuable, it’s so much more than fitting into my skinny jeans. Feeling fitter and stronger is fun! I also want to add that this change to my lifestyle has really influenced a healthier thought process, my mental health feels very healthy right now. Last Sunday I ran almost 10miles (9.9 dammit lol!) and I haven't been able to do that for what, 6-7 years? It feels incredible to be able to explore my fitness again as I would have struggled so much to have done that back in May, I wouldn't have seen it through. I'm learning so much more about myself through improving my fitness, through building upon my strength and every week I notice progress in some way. I couldn’t physically achieve progress like this when I was trying to maintain my lighter weight because I just didn’t have the energy to do so, truthfully I was more focused on how I look. Now even though I have gained weight and I am a little “fluffier” than I was back in May I think my body composition in the two images isn't too dissimilar, I couldn’t be prouder of that. See the thing is when you have weight trained for a period of time (a good couple of years) your overall body composition changes and you develop muscle, muscle tone. My physique has evolved which means I can actually be a bit heavier and still look lean. I carry less fat now where I used to because I have trained to support that. Ladies this is an important message to you all, it is possible to weigh more than your lightest weight and still look good! The simplest answer to that is start lifting weights consistently.
I started a new programme at the very end of December 2018…
This programme is called 100days To Strong created by a very respectable strength coach called Andy McKenzie and I believe it has heavily influenced my physical and mental acceptance. I’m not very good at writing my own programmes and following them through, I am fully invested in writing incredible programmes for my clients and the thought of doing my own doesn’t excite me, I would rather pay someone else to do mine for me. Also, when someone else tells you to “just get on with it”, you’re more likely to get on with it right? That’s my theory anyway! Interestingly the first block has NO compound barbell lifts, go figure! I have been lifting with barbells consistently for the past 4-5years and my initial thoughts were, "how am I going to get stronger without lifting?" well, 4 weeks down I feel stronger & fitter than ever. This has taught/reminded me that to get stronger we often need to strip all of the components of exercise back to work on our weaker links like, your cardiovascular fitness, endurance, power, speed, agility and bodyweight strength. All of these components help to increase overall strength.
The positives of allowing myself to be heavier means I can eat to fuel my body as a machine, I eat to live, rather than eating solely just to survive. For one, I love food so I am extremely happy about that haha, however it also means I can finally light up the energy rocket up my arse. I am finding I can do super cool things again like chest to floor press ups, I can maintain a decent hiking pace without my legs burning out too quickly, I can run, I can sprint, I can even free handstand hold and feel my core through my toes?!? The other very important thing I need to tell you is that I have also managed to maintain the size of my glutes whilst not doing any barbell work, no hip thrusts for a month! I didn't think that was even possible? I can feel my glutes working when I sprint, I can feel my glutes working when I do a burpee, I can feel my glutes working when I am half dying on the AirDyne Bike. Yes, I love having a big peach, that's never going to change, not ever lol, that’s why I forever swear by my brand #getpeachy! Your glutes are the powerhouse of your body - get them big and strong and you won't regret it ever!
Now, I just want to make it clear when I say “I want to be stronger” I don't mean I feel the need to be able to lift my bodyweight x 2. No, I don't care about the number of KG's I can lift, it serves me no purpose other than knowing a number. Yes of course it's cool to see those numbers go up here and there, however, the total amount of weight lifted doesn't actually bother me. I care about my own body strength, which I can only describe as how well I connect with my body, how well I can brace my core, how well I can connect with my back muscles and to feel physically strong in your body is such an amazing feeling, it's so powerful. I guess looking back I was very "weedy" at school, I remember playing Netball and being knocked over many times because I was as light as a feather I had no strength to hold myself. I was laughed at a bit, I was never bullied but it sucked to feel weedy, I mean back then I was just skin and bone! Now, I'd be as strong as a pillar! I still hate Netball though lol!
Where does this leave me now?
I am heavier, fitter and stronger because I chose joy over my ego.
The health benefits mean my menstrual cycle occasionally returns and I have so much more energy. My sleep is incredible I don't get lethargic anymore, I can train 4-5 times a week and not feel mentally and physically exhausted and like I said above I am fitter and stronger now. When I was lighter I felt like I looked fit but I didn’t really feel fit like I do now. I’ve let go of feeling like I have to weigh a certain amount to feel worthy. I still weigh myself occasionally to keep myself in check, however I have come to realise I don't actually mind seeing a higher number because I have so much more joy in my life, my joy is no longer reliant on a number.
Now, I'm not saying this is forever because I might want to change my weight/physique at some point if I feel like I want to. I believe it's important I say that out loud because as I am constantly evolving as a person, I know if I say "I am no longer going to...." I am making a choice from a restrictive mindset. I don't live or lead a restrictive lifestyle anymore so, with that being said if I decide to change my mind for a while later down the line, I am ok with that because I know it will come from a place of self-clarity, not self-criticism.
I am going to finish this blog here with a few final words.
I was inspired to write this blog as a few of my own clients have noticed I have changed my training regime and I’ve been questioned on it, "Why are running more often now?", “You’re doing burpees? Are you feeling ok??”. Also recently I have been asked a topical question which was along the lines of, "Angi, I’ve lost weight and I am finding it very hard to maintain my lightest weight, what should I do?", I am hoping this blogs helps you answer that question.
I do hope that this blog might help someone out there and I hope I have conveyed the following message to you well…
You don't need to diet for the rest of your life, choose to live not just survive. Choose joy!
Give yourself permission to fall in love with the physical and mental process of health and fitness, not just the outcome. Give yourself permission to love yourself right here today, not next week, not in 3 months but right, now.
All my love,