Being Slim: Not That I See It

Last updated: October 2018

Editor's Note: The following article mentions details surrounding the author’s experiences with dieting and body image, which may be upsetting for some readers.

The plus of cancer is that I became thin without having to do anything. I’m mental about my weight/appearance. I was fat when I was little. I think that I think I was so much fatter than I actually was at the time.  I remember how I felt, and I felt huge.  I don’t know if I actually was. When I look at photos of me when I was little and fat, I just see a sad little girl.  I see a fat girl.  I don’t see how I actually was.  I don’t see how I am now.  I just see fat.

People tell me today that they can’t imagine me being fat.  They are amazed that in my early 20’s I was a UK size 14-16 on a bad day.  I think the heaviest I was was 12 and a half stone (175 pounds) and I’m 5ft 6 and a half (1.67 meters).  That was all down to booze and drunk food in my first year at Edinburgh.  A very carb filled time!

Unexplained weight loss

When I was little, being overweight was more noticeable. Far fewer children were overweight in the 80s than now. I was never bullied or made to feel it by others. I just told myself that I was fat and ugly. That voice is still there. Quieter...but still there. And then by magic, I was thin! I didn’t have to do anything. It just happened over the space of about 6 months. And it was AMAZING!!! A UK size 8-10. This was winning! And then being told I had cancer.

Well, That explained it.

Other than a blip, I have stayed that size. I put on around a stone and half (21 pounds) in 2010 and then became obsessed with My Fitness Pal and calorie counting. I was limiting myself to 1300 calories a day and got anxious if I went over it, or didn’t input something I ate into the app, which felt like I ‘lied’ to myself.  I had to delete the app.  I was getting mental about food and I refuse to have anxiety around eating. I did lose the weight though.

A mixed relationship with exercise

I also started running again around this time. I have a mixed relationship with exercise. I love it and hate it. I was signed off from sports at school due to bad knees and have always felt self-conscious exercising in front of others because I’m fat/have no body strength/am rubbish at classes etc etc etc.  But I discovered in 2009, when I agreed to do a half marathon, that I liked jogging and I didn’t care that people could see me doing it.  I have since then done 2 marathons in 2012 and 2016. The last in 2016 was horrific. Doing it with chronic fatigue and working nearly killed me. Not literally. But I was in a dark, dark place.

I’ve had to stop exercising as I can’t manage jogging and work.  It’s too much.  I also push myself.  I’m not happy with 3 little runs of around 2 miles each a week.  I want to be doing 5 miles, 3 times a week.  Because the more I exercise the less I have to beat my self up about not being as thin as I was.  When I was really really ill…..

The downside of not knowing how ill I was when I was diagnosed is that I just remember what I felt were the good things.  And I casually ignore how my body was showing that it was in serious need of help.

Cancer has taken away a lot of things.  But it’s made me thin. And for that, I will always be grateful.

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