Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a healthy person. In my late teens and early twenties, I cut down on my calorie intake so much that I was becoming ill.
Growing up I was a stick, there was nothing of me. I was always so thin no matter what I ate and I ate a lot! I could eat as much chocolate and pasta as I wanted and I never gained any weight. My friends used to ask me how I did it and I had no idea!
Then I moved out of home and decided a diet of pizza, beer and midnight snacks of cheese on toast was a good idea.
Well…eventually it all caught up with me but I didn’t see the weight piling on. I went from a size 6 to a size 12/14 without really noticing it until I had my tonsils out when I was 18. I could barely suck on an ice cube let alone eat anything and the weight started falling off me. I remember sitting on my bed looking at my legs and thinking wow they look skinny! I was actually excited and wondered how on earth I’d let myself put on all that weight.
It was that moment that I decided I was never going to let that happen again.
From that time on, I became obsessive about trying to eat as little as possible and getting as skinny as I could. It was like someone had flicked a switch in me and I went from a normal girl with a healthy appetite to someone that could only focus on what I was not going to eat and my weight.
I would plan my meals for the day so meticulously and would never sway from what I had prepared, no matter what someone tried to put in front of me.
I would skip breakfast, opting instead of having a cigarette. I found the lowest calorie bread available and for lunch I would make a sandwich; with 1 slice of ham, no butter and the crusts cut off. After a few weeks I realised that I needed a bit more to eat during the day so I added a mini twix to my lunchbox every day. That was it until I got home from work. There I would have a glass of red wine (low calorie) as alcohol helped curb my appetite and then prepare a dinner of steamed vegetables with a slice of chicken followed by more wine and cigarettes.
Eating out became really hard and even eating with my family was a struggle.
If I went to my mums house and she cooked pasta, I would have the smallest bowl, (getting quite angry if she put too much in the bowl) with a tablespoon of pasta sauce.
If I went out to eat, I would order a chicken salad with the dressing on the side because I didn’t want the fatty dressings and I couldn’t eat the salad if it was smothered in sauce as it was just fat to me.
I caught any cold and flu bug going and spent a lot of time poorly but even that didn’t deter me from my strict diet!
People started noticing and saying I needed to put on a bit of weight but when they said that I immediately thought back to how I’d put on weight before and thought they were trying to get me to be ‘fat’ again and I was not going to let that happen!
I continued on like that for a couple of years and then I got a job as the Manager of a Fitness Club.
Being surrounded by fit, healthy people, fitness instructors and physical trainers who were eating to fuel their bodies in order to get the best out of their training made me think there was a better way.
I will never forget the first time I got on a cross trainer and tried to make my legs go round… I couldn’t do it for longer than 3 minutes. I was exhausted and I didn’t have the energy to continue but never one to give up, I was back the next day and tried again. And I kept going back and the more I exercised, the more I realised I needed to eat to be able to get the best out of my workout. I wanted to be healthy and strong.
Exercise saved me from a life of calorie counting and exhaustion.
Now, I work out 3-4 times a week and when I eat, I focus on fuelling my body by putting nutritious, energising food in so that I can get the best out of it. I have treats every now and then but I stick to nutritious food 90% of the time so I can enjoy my treat without feeling guilty.
It took a long time to get to a place where I had a healthy relationship with food after my trip down starving myself lane but I am stronger and healthier because of it. I never look back with regret, every lesson in life is worth learning and it has played a big part in shaping who I am today…happy healthy Tash!