My last post touched on the steps I first took to go about changing my mind and behaviour to focus more on health and less on aesthetics.
The lowest weight I ever got to and in the peak of my disorder, prior to competing was 45kg. I was scared of heavy weights for the fear of getting big, I did pump classes followed by an hour running on the treadmill every single day, ate less than 1200 calories and beat myself up if I went over 1100.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I stood on the scales and felt such a massive sense of achievement when I saw that number glaring back at me.
Beaming, I walked into the kitchen and told my mum the weight I had just reached, who’s response was not as excited as my own. She was worried; she looked at her youngest child wasting away from her, felt helpless and at a complete loss. I look back now and feel deep sense of remorse for what I must have put my family through.
I went through a few changes throughout my six years of disordered eating. It started out as a full on eating disorder. For anyone who knew what signs to look for it would have been obvious. I wouldn’t eat anything except vegetables and lean meat. I never ate in front of people, my behaviour and personality changed, I became withdrawn, antisocial and depressed. If I ate anything ‘bad’ I would literally go to the gym or for a run straight away, almost crying because of how fat I felt.
Then I educated myself. I found the weights room, saw my body change and fell in love with the gym and competing. I started to eat more and include more food groups, cut down training to only weights and for an hour as opposed to two, but my eating was still very restrictive and my body image issues had merely shifted in their focus. I gained muscle so my weight increased, but that wasn’t a problem because I was still 12% and had no period. Winning. I’ve explained the place I was in while competing so I won’t bore you with that again.
And then came health. My mindest shifted again and with that shift came much needed weight gain. This time, it wasn’t muscle and I definitely was not 12%.
So how did I initially cope with the fat & weight gain, the shift in perception and the focus on health as opposed to aesthetics?
Firstly, I changed my goals. You know when you have a goal you so badly want to achieve, it becomes all you think about? You start to research, plan, prepare and implement ways that you can get there. I did that. Instead of being so focused on how I looked I became interested in how to go about re-establishing my lost health. What I looked for in others changed. What I looked for in myself, naturally changed. Articles I read, people I talked to, the way I trained at the gym, all changed to meet my current goals.
Secondly, I moved countries. I’m joking. Kind of. But I removed myself from certain situations, groups, friendships and circles. I unfollowed ‘fitspo’ accounts on Instagram and became very selective in those whom I chose to engage with. It’s psychology 101 that the more you’re exposed to something the more you begin to like it. This is true with people, places, flavours and smells. So I started to follow individuals who I aspired to be like, those who were healthy in my eyes, who were curvy but still sexy. Women who were powerful and intellectual, whose whole existence didn’t depend on whether they had abs or whether men found them attractive. I started to be drawn to people who had something valuable to say and didn’t feel the need to flaunt their ass or fake tits in every photo. I didn’t really spend much time with many friends who were serious about competing so I didn’t need to cut many people out. But it’s hard to be around individuals who are strict with their diets, weigh their food, obsess about training and are constantly looking in the mirror to see if they’re getting gains when that’s the exact behaviour you are trying to move away from. So I advise, either tell people to act like a normal human being around you for respect, or GTFO.
Once again, I was honest with those around me. I always have been and I always will be. Often I’m a closed book and can come across as very guarded but this is one topic that I’m more than open in talking about. It helps to feel like to can get shit off your chest and confide in someone who will listen and keep you accountable. Otherwise it’s very easy to slip back into your old, comfortable ways.
I made myself say nice things about my body and my brain. If I looked in the mirror at my body (which was rarely as alluded to in my last blog post), I forced myself to say positive things, even if I didn’t believe them yet. “I am strong. I am beautiful. I am intelligent. I am fucking awesome”. Say it enough and you start to believe it. And you should, because you are fucking awesome. I started to focus on achievements outside of the gym. My career, friendships and overall happiness. I went for walks to clear my head and breathe in fresh air. I explored a new city and fell in love with things that didn’t involve a dumbbell.
Lastly, I started to have fun with my training again. I had gotten so fucking bored of sets and reps. Legs Monday, Shoulders Tuesday, Arms Wedneszzzzzzz. Fuck that. I started trying crossfit, yoga, running, HIIT, spinning, pilates. I started to realise that fitness doesn’t need to involve a gym at all. And you know what? I fell in love with the feeling of movement again. I didn’t feel the NEED to go to the gym because I wasn’t scared of losing gains or gaining fat but instead, I wanted to move and feel fit and strong. And if one day I didn’t feel like moving, then I wouldn’t and that is okay. Some days I got changed, started a set and realised I was only there because I wanted to avoid feeling guilty for missing a session. On those days I took a good hard look in the mirror and reminded myself of my goals and had a stern word with myself to go home. So I did. And it was fucking glorious.
People may have thought that I wasn’t hardcore or serious anymore, that I had gotten slack and let myself go. I even began to think it myself sometimes. But I was so hardcore and serious about MY goals that I pushed through, I persevered through some of the hardest, most confronting months of my life and I reversed SIX YEARS of damage, infertility, osteopenia, and hypothalamic amenorrhea in one fucking year. Now tell me I’m not serious about my goals.
My goals changed which meant my body needed to change. There are days, even months where I feel like I could flick a switch and go back to gym-and-diet-obsessed Stacie. There are times when I miss looking like a fitness model and being able to grate cheese on my abs. But back then, I wouldn’t even eat the damn cheese. What’s the point in that? You work so damn hard to get this amazing body, only to spend your whole life at home or in a gym.
My body weight now fluctuates between 57 – 60kg on any given day. That’s up to 15kg heavier than my lowest weight. For someone with my height and frame, that is MASSIVE.
Every time I think I miss the lean stage of my life I think about the sacrifices I made to get there. The people I neglected, the life I missed out on and the bloody good food I could have experienced. Yes, it has been hard. But I have learned so much about myself and have found a new way of living that allows me to be the bubbly person I always was, love health and fitness, focus on my career and still have a life outside of those four walls of the gym. I really have found balance and a sense of self-love that I don’t feel the need to look like a wasting away, starving child. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.