For almost a decade now I have had an interest in health and fitness. Back in the early days it was only sparked by a desire to lose some weight, I never realised just how involved I would become over the years. Although my intentions were only ever good, when I look back now my patterns of exercise fueled by a warped relationship with body image over the years haven’t really been all that healthy. Fast forward to 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with my current fitness habits and my approach to health and well being. It didn’t happen over night but one liberating way to start this process was to ditch the before and after pictures.
We’re living in a world where ‘before and after’ pictures are thrown at us on an almost daily rate. But in reality our bodies are never really in a state of ‘after’ because most normal healthy human’s bodies fluctuate up and down constantly. We are taught to strive for this perfectly polished and finished body that doesn’t exist in real life. The before image is viewed as wrong while the after image is seen as accepted and the message behind this is not teaching us to be kind on our bodies at all.
Its also worth stepping back for a moment to understand that behind all those ‘before and after’ shots is a story. I remember feeling so proud of mine, it was like my body was finally acceptable. Yet even after I lost the weight I wanted, I still had a tricky time of accepting my body because I was striving for a perfect version of myself that didn’t exist. The tale of my ‘after’ picture was hours of obsessively exercising, stressing out if I missed one session, denying myself food and constantly feeling hungry then consequently being irritable or unpleasant to be around. It wasn’t a happy cycle.
So last year I stripped things back to basics and took myself straight back to the gym where it all began. I think one day the penny just dropped.
I needed a sustainable routine that didn’t revolve on achieving results.
For the first time ever, I began focusing purely on strength training and low intensity workouts. I enjoy the challenge of simply lifting weights which in turn made me begin feeling like I was in control. It was an empowering revelation. I wasn’t jumping about slogging my guts off putting my body through a hard time for hours on end. The game changed for me BIG time. A workout is no longer a method of getting my body to look better, its a challenge to myself to see what I can do and what I’m capable of achieving.
I love my strong, curvy little body and feel truly content in it for the first time in my life.
Even better I no longer see my body in terms of ‘before’ or ‘after’ its just my body as it is right now.
*And for the record the images I’ve used in this post were taken in 2014 when I wasn’t happy with how I looked. When I see these images four years on I wonder why. There is nothing wrong with my body, then or now. The world we live in totally destroys the way we looked at our bodies.