Back when I lived in Southampton, as well as being an accountant, I was a part-time fitness instructor. I taught 3-4 classes a week, as well as being a bit of a gym bunny the rest of the time too.
Before we moved up here, I took advantage of a groupon offer to have myself a studio photoshoot – I wanted a bunch of photos of me doing fitness-type things that I could use when I started my own classes up here. At the time, I was a size 6-8, but I remember worrying over how I would look in the photos. It’s kind of ironic really: back then I was the skinniest I’ve ever been, or am ever likely to be – I had, like, muscle definition and shit! But constantly hanging out with super fit, lean fitness fanatics gave me a slightly insane idea of what was “normal”. So despite being slim by any sensible standards, I was never really happy with my physique or how I looked. I was constantly on a diet to lose a few more pounds and get leaner. I don’t think I had any sort of actual eating disorder, but I certainly didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, exercise or my appearance.
So anyway, I did the photoshoot. I didn’t particularly enjoy it: I felt self-conscious in front of the camera, and couldn’t really relax. However there were a few shots I liked, this one being my favourite.
Fast forward two years and I am now over a stone heavier than I was then, and wearing size 12 clothes. I did teach fitness classes for a while here, but they weren’t really busy enough to make me any sort of decent money, and took up too much of my time to justify the return. I haven’t been inside a gym for 18 months. I’m obviously nowhere near as fit as I used to be. For a while, I couldn’t decide whether or not this bothered me. I mean, I used to be ALL ABOUT the fitness. And – let’s be brutally honest here – it was mostly about wanting to look good. Did I want to go back to dieting, and fit back into my size 8 clothes? Or should I resign myself to middle aged spread – after all, I’m 40 now! But if I did, would it be the start of a slippery slope whereby I’d end up in size 20 clothes by the age of 50?!
Happily, eventually I decided that there is more to life than being skinny. Now, I try to take a more balanced approach. I don’t always get it right, far from it! But I’m getting there, I think. I try to eat mostly healthy stuff, and enjoy chocolate, cake and wine when I want to without going mental. I try to exercise for health and vitality. This has been the big change in mindset for me. No longer do I want to beast myself with a hardcore exercise session to burn as many calories as possible. These days, I simply want to be fit and healthy enough to enjoy life. I want Dave and I to still be able to climb Merrick when we’re in our 70s. Even if it is at a slow pace. So now I walk, I climb hills, I run, I stretch, I do the odd bit of yoga and I try to be generally active. I look in the mirror and – wonder of wonders – I’m fairly happy with what I see. How strange and mad that when I was thinner, I never liked what I saw and always thought I looked fat. I guess I’m just so much happier in my life in general now, that I am finally learning to love my body as it is. Yes, flabby, wobbly bits and all.
This week, Dave was asked to take some photos for a client, so I ended up having my first ever “job” as a model for a photoshoot. Ha!!!!!!!!!! I found it amusing to think how the old – much skinnier! – me would have obsessed over this. Wanting to inspect every photo in case a roll of fat was visible. Worrying for hours about what to wear, For this photoshoot, I slapped on a bit of make-up, shoved my hair in a pony tail, and then had lots of fun prancing around in the sunshine and not even caring if my bum looked big. I jumped in muddy puddles and didn’t worry that I looked like a mentaller. I felt relaxed, happy, and free of inhibitions. I suppose in terms of conventional beauty the first photoshoot picture is more attractive – but I totally love the second one. I’m wearing crappy leggings and an ancient brown cardigan, my hair is a state, but look how HAPPY I look! Look how much fun I’m having! I’m playing in the sunshine, with the beautiful Galloway mountains behind me, and I’m right where I belong. That’s so much better than being skinny.