I think it’s difficult being an active child who has a ‘sport’ such as gymnastics or horse riding or netball. You do this sport every week, and maybe even all three if you’re like me, and then one day you’re older and too cool and suddenly you just stop. I remember from the ages of 8-14, I went to a gymnastics group every week, and I even competed and could of been pretty good (I remember I always loved the vault and trampolining best).
But I think you get to about 14 and you stop doing these things because your parents no longer schedule your social life, and other things take priority. I still blame puberty for blessing (and cursing) me with a voluptuous figure, which meant fitting into a leotard was nearly impossible, as well as jumping for an extended period of time which is a crucial part of gymnastics.
I stopped being active, and as a result I felt I lost control of my body and my health. I battled with an eating disorder when I was 14 because I felt I was overweight and curvier than other girls my age. Sometimes I think if I had persued gymnastics or any other sport into my adolescence, I wouldn’t have struggled so much with my body image, and maybe I wouldn’t have struggled with anerexia or body mismorphia.
Thankfully, after about 6 months I bounced back from my eating disorder and stopped punishing myself for eating and not looking like everyone else. Like most young people, I grew into my body and everything became a bit more proportionate and a little less scary.
When I was 17, I went for a checkup up my local GP. She checked my blood pressure and recorded my height and weight, and I never forget her saying ‘Oh, I would recommend not gaining anymore weight as you’re just on the cusp of overweight.’
Before then, I’d never considered that my weight could go the over way and I might be overweight. I was still fitting into clothes and considered myself as pretty normal, so obviously this was hard to hear and somewhat of a wake up call.
Although I think my doctor was completely tactless and could of been far more supportive/informative, I am grateful for the blunt remark, as it reignited my love of exercise. That day I went for my first run since GCSE P.E, and started building exercise into my day. Although it started because of a health scare, I continued because I found I genuinely loved running and HIIT training, and especially loved how it improved my mood and outlook.
Since then, exercise has become a habit.
Although it was hard originally to build up my fitness and stamina, once I found the motivation to actually do it, I was so glad I did. I’m now a keen runner, an expert hula hooper, and somebody who genuinely couldn’t exist without daily exercise (even if it’s just a walk).
To quote Kate Nash “It’s your life and it’s no one else’s, sweetheart. Don’t let someone put you in a box.” So, don’t let somebody define your boundaries or worth by your weight or gender, and find something that keeps you fit that you love!