Why losing weight was possibly the worst thing for my self-confidence

The guilt of eating Maccies vs the rebellion of not giving a fuck

Ever since I escaped from a difficult time in my life and thought, 'fuck it, I'm not being a victim anymore, not even to myself', I learned to love myself and be confident.

I always knew that I wasnt skinny, I always knew I was medically obese for my height and my BMI was too high, but I was never 'unfit'. Well, 'unfit' being classed as not being able to run away from brain eating zombies in my book. But I didn't care. Honestly, I loved having big boobs, I loved having a thick ass. I didn't always like the belly and the thunder thighs that came with it but I learned to value my intelligence over the number on the scale. I enjoyed eating what I wanted to eat and not having to scrutinise. But I also knew this was unhealthy, and I did need to lose weight.

I did this after I had to weigh myself in order to get some medication at the doctors, and honestly, I was shook at the fact that not only had I let go of my mental health, I had of my physical too. At just 5ft'6, I weighed 15st, with a BMI of 32. I knew this wasn't a matter of just enjoying food anymore. I wanted to avoid complications.

A stone less- and looking on the first picture in embarrassment

A stone less- and looking on the first picture in embarrassment

I'm going to use the word fat not as an insult. I loved my body when I was fat and I'm learning to love it again now, even though I do still have fat floating around my body. I probably always will. Of course, all my friends told me I didn't look fat, I was still hot and curvy. Being flabby isnt something to be ashamed of. I could go on a ramble about the dangers of media for young girls and boys, and all that crap that we all know anyway; but I knew I had to lose weight for my health. Despite my confidence and love for myself as a person and my body, I didn't like having to buy bigger sizes at stores, I didn't like the label that came with getting a size 18. Shame should not be attached to this.

My girl rocking some KILLER curves

My girl rocking some KILLER curves

So alongside trying to better my mental health, I went on a diet to get my weight under control. In just 1 month I lost 10lbs. I did it unhealthily. I became very tired and lethargic, and though my appetite did decrease and I felt better, stronger and healthier, my mentality was not in the right place. Because I was weak mentally, food became the one of the only things that I could stay in control of and -I thought- control myself.

I'm still continuing to lose weight, but I feel like I've lost my sense of love for myself whatever my size is. For a while, I did start to associate my value and level of attractiveness with how many pounds I lost. I turned from self-loving and confident into self-criticising and becoming too focused on the exact amount of calories I'd eaten that day, and the guilt whenever I went over was crushing. I did consider throwing up at points and just not eating altogether, but luckily my friends helped slap the rationale back into me that that wasn't a healthy way to go about things. I was never the girl to care about the size of my waist. I was always the girl that rocked whatever body I had and it never stopped me hoeing happily.

Don't get me wrong, losing weight has made me a lot healthier, and I'm still very glad I've done it. I just wish I handled it better mentally. I suddenly became in competition with myself, and though I loved all the compliments I got from my friends, despite their reassurance I was hot either way, I felt guilty that one of the major focus's in my life- even if for a short time- was my weight, that it wasn't even health anymore it was appearance. I just have to keep reminding myself that the first picture- winning an award in my first year of university- I did that. And my weight doesn't factor in that in any way.

That's why I say losing weight has done more bad than good. But that isn't a message telling people not to lose weight. It's a plea to those who need to for their health to do it safely, to do it rationally and not to do it as a solution to fix your mental health problems. It helps, but I found out I'm not going to be 'fixed' if i'm a stone or two less.

If you find yourself needing some help with eating disorders and body dysphoria, please do not hesitate to contact somebody. Your welfare officer, your doctor, the advice centre, enabling services and Steps2Wellbeing are all there to help you.

University of Southampton