I’m back to blogging! I’ve been so busy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and literally haven’t had a chance to open my laptop since July…but I’ve come to a cute little café, got myself an orange, chilli and clove hot chocolate (hence the photo…it’s incredible), and looking forward to writing again.
Opening my laptop isn’t the only thing I’ve not had a chance to do during August. The festival is just none stop…and I’ve found it a lot more difficult to stick to my eating plan. We are constantly on the go, so things like meal prep have gone out the window, I’m grabbing things on the go, not eating at regular meal times every day…it’s one thing I have been finding a little stressful. I’m sure many of you can relate…when your eating habits get in a muddle, it can be hard to deal with!
I’ve also had very little time to exercise (which deep down I know is unnecessary, as I probably walk about a hundred miles a day here…and so many hills!). But that is another thing I find hard, because along with it comes the fear that I’m putting on a lot of weight. This is something that’s been consuming my mind over the last couple of days. It’s been really affecting my concentration, my mood, and just generally bringing me down.
Again…I’m sure many of you can relate! But all this worrying about putting weight on and needing to lose it suddenly got me thinking…do I want to go down that road again? Do I want to start losing more weight, become drastically underweight, and re-live all that again?
No. No I bloody well don’t!
I know the title of my blog “Do you really want to be underweight?”, will inevitably be a controversial one…because when you have an eating disorder, there are many different answers to this question. Over the last few years, I have responded, completely truthfully, with all these answers (at different stages):
“Yes! I’m trying so hard to get there…I know it will make me happier.”
“I already am. I absolutely love it, I’m never going to change.”
“I already am, and I hate it. But I’m terrified of putting weight back on.”
“I used to be…and I really miss it.”
“I used to be…it’s was the worst period of my life. I will never ever do it again.”
Looking back, it’s funny to think that I have gone through so many answers to the same question, and been adamant every time about each one. But despite my worrying over the last couple of days, my answer is most definitely the last one, and I know for a fact that it will never ever change. Being dangerously underweight truly was the most miserable, horrible period of my entire life, and I will not allow myself to ever go back to it. I was so determined to become underweight at the start of my illness. I thought I’d be happier, fitter, more attractive, and just a better human. But the truth couldn’t have been further from that.
If you are at the stage where you are aspiring to be underweight…I know it can be such a consuming goal, and you feel like it’s all you want and it will make everything better. But just consider some of these things…
You’re freezing cold all the time!
After being underweight, I now have such a fear of being cold. Because oh my goodness…I cannot describe how miserable it is to be so freezing all the time. Think about it…if you have absolutely no body fat to keep you warm, you’re going to really suffer. It stops your enjoyment of just about anything – I found it nearly impossible to even go outside when I was underweight. Trust me – it’s the worst. And no amount of hot chocolate will warm you up! And permanently blue fingers and toes aren’t all that attractive.
Your skin and hair will hugely suffer.
You know when you have a one off bad hair day or you wake up with a big spot on your chin, and it can make you feel a bit rubbish and unattractive that day? Well imagine that every single day of life. If you starve your body of all the nutrients it needs, you will see your skin and hair (amongst many other things), rapidly deteriorate. Your hair will become lank, much thinner, and get greasy much more quickly. You may also find it starts falling out in the shower…not fun. But for that hair you lose, it will start growing more on the rest of your body to try and keep you warm…not what you want! Your skin becomes so dull, and you will be constantly breaking out in places you’ve never broken out before. Honestly, would you really want that? Noooooo!
I was diagnosed with depression and put on anti-depressants within a few days of being diagnosed as anorexic. Sadly, the two seem to go hand in hand. Because when I was underweight, despite my hopes of being happier…as I keep saying, I have never been so unhappy. I had no energy – physical, mental or emotional. I couldn’t enjoy any of the things I used to enjoy. I’d constantly be breaking down into tears for no reason. Seeing my friends didn’t make me happy, I didn’t really want to see anyone because I didn’t have the energy for a conversation. My relationships with my family and friends suffered hugely. I just couldn’t see any reason for trying to do or achieve anything, all I wanted to do was exercise and sleep. I know if you haven’t been through depression, the feeling is impossible to describe to anyone else. But trust me, if you haven’t suffered with it…you really don’t want to. It’s an incredibly difficult hole to get out of…and being underweight is a direct ticket to it.
Zero sex drive
Now I know this may not apply to everyone who reads this (apologies!), but I thought it was an important to one to include. Because when you are underweight, sex is the last thing you want to be doing. Firstly, you have absolutely no energy, and you feel so self-conscious about your body that you don’t have anywhere near enough confidence to show it. I was so worried that this was having a huge impact on my relationship with my boyfriend. I was scared there was something wrong with me, or I wasn’t attracted to him anymore…but that was complete nonsense. The one and only problem, was I was underweight. And solving that problem solved everything else!
You can’t have a bath
This might seem a bit random, and hey, maybe you’re not a bath person…but for all you bubble bath lovers out there…trust me, you don’t want to become underweight!! Baths are one of my favourite things ever. Nothing makes me happier than lighting some candles, and sinking into a hot bubble bath (maybe with a Lush bath bomb), with a book and a glass of wine after a long day. But I had to say bye to this for a very long time. Because when I was underweight, I actually couldn’t sit in the bath, because it would bruise the bottom of my spine. There was no body fat or muscle to support me, so I couldn’t sit without being in pain. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of relaxation! Being underweight affects so many areas of your life, and deprives you of so many wonderful things…including baths.
You can’t go clothes shopping.
I love clothes shopping as much as anyone else. You just can’t beat the feeling of going out in something brand new, and feeling really great in it. Or that feeling when you try something on, and you look at yourself and think “I just have to get this!” This is another thing an eating disorder ruins – in two ways. In the first instance, you don’t try anything on because you think “I can’t wear that, I’ll look fat. I need to wait until I lose weight.” But then you become underweight, and you have a new problem…nothing fits. Or you find yourself thinking “I can’t wear that, I don’t want people to see how thin my legs have become.” There is nothing worse than seeing a skirt, dress or shirt you really love, and you can’t buy it because even the smallest size doesn’t fit. I suddenly realised how strange it was that I’d been so desperate to be the tiniest dress size possible – but actually, it made me feel the least body confident I’d ever felt in my life.
The danger of becoming infertile.
Along with many, many other health risks that come with being underweight, this was always the scariest one for me. I won’t go into great deal, because I’ve talked about it a lot before. And it’s pretty simple really. I want to be a mother one day more than anything in the world. I’m sure many of you would like to be parents too. Is being able to fit into a size zero worth not being able to have a child? Nah. Not really.
If you are underweight and wanting to stay that way, or aspiring to be underweight, I’m sorry if this sounds like a bit of a harsh wake-up call. But ask yourself seriously…is it really worth it? You might be happy right now, but will you be happy when all these things start happening? (As they inevitably will?) I know you think you will be “more attractive” when you’re underweight – I certainly did. But trust me, when you have people constantly telling you “You look really ill/pale/sick/awful” – you can get a bit fed up of that.
You deserve so much more than you’ll get from life when you’re underweight. Give your beautiful body the love it deserves, let your body be the way it’s meant to be. I know it’s easy for me to type that, and the idea of putting weight on again is terrifying…but trust me, in reality, it’s not so bad.
When I was getting dressed this morning, I saw myself in the mirror. I was leaning forward, and I saw my stomach rolls. A while ago, that would have made me cry and manically exercise. But today, I grabbed hold of them and thought to myself “Do you know what? I love my body. And being the weight I am now, I feel more body confident than I ever had before.” I bought a gorgeous dress for my 22nd birthday in January, and I had to give it to a charity shop. It doesn’t fit now…because I got my boobs back! Wahey! I got rid of that dress (and many too small bras), with much happiness.
It wasn’t just my boobs I got back from becoming a healthy weight again. I also got back my happiness, my energy, and my love of life. (And pizza).
Life’s a ton better this way. Live well, laugh often, eat cake, and be happy.
Love Lucy x