Every body-type is beautiful, but fighting against your own isn't. That’s something I remind myself a lot these days. However, it is also something I appreciate can be difficult to accept. My body isn't naturally skinny, it never has been and never will be. I'm thick thighed, wide hipped and have a decent pair of...
I now embrace this fact, but it hasn’t always been that way.
After starvation that spiralled out of control into anorexia, I was stuck in quasi-recovery for years. That was until I discovered weight lifting. Yes, you read that correctly; picking up heavy objects and putting them back down again allowed me to break free from my eating disorder that riddled me with body confidence issues. How? It enabled me to sculpt my body to the best it can be around my genetics. My predetermined shape. It forces me to fuel my body to perform and grow and, ultimately, build a positive relationship with food again.
It’s important to note, motivation and reasoning for anything has to come from the correct mindset. Unsurprisingly, initially introducing exercise into my routine quickly became a new fuel to my obsessive fire. When suffering from any kind of issues surrounding food and your body, exercise can mask one issue creating another. I never suffered from over exercising however, any calorie increase I consciously made was counteracted with extra exercise; I was stuck in a cycle, forcing myself to do cardio whenever I "over ate". Sadly, and commonly seen, this was how my fitness journey began - with rules and restrictions. I don't enjoy many forms of cardio, so every workout was a chore. I still couldn't quite understand why I wasn't 'toning up' or 'leaning out' despite increasing my exercise and keeping my calories capped to what I thought was "enough" but not "too much". After a year of this routine, I was still unhappy, still hating my body and finally, ready for a change.
Social media can unfortunately often play a role in aggravating body issues. However, for me, it has become a way of connecting with a positive and inspirational community. In fact, I've met some of my best-friends via Instagram whom share both similar stories and an enthusiasm for lifting.
I started simply - following people who live normal lives, post unedited content with good intentions and, of course, weight train a bit here and there! One thought kept running through my mind - if they can do it, then what's stopping me? I like a challenge so after heading back to uni for a second year, I went for it.
I started off clueless and weak, I had no idea what I was doing in the gym. Jumping from machine to machine and feeling embarrassed in the free weights section, my arms still showing traces of my anorexic past, struggling to lift the lightest of dumbbells. Everyone else appeared to be professionals, committed to that infamous ‘go hard or go home’ attitude. But, despite feeling like it, I didn't go home. Something got me hooked. Not knowing the potential strength of my body, I tried, failed and tried again - learning as I went.
Student budget led me to the cheap chain gym which, inevitably, was always busy. Sometimes, I would even set my alarm for 5am to increase (quite highly) my chances of securing the sacred squat rack. I see it as dedication rather than obsession. Although crazy to some, for me it’s my therapy. A natural antidepressant of endorphin release. What’s more, the regular reminder of how strong my body is hints at how strong my mind can be too. It's beyond the physique change; the desired aesthetic "goals", it is the mental release and sanity it brings with that.
I train between 3-5 times a week depending on how I'm feeling and how busy I am. I wake up early and am most productive before midday thus I prefer to train in the morning if I can. Porridge is my staple pre-workout meal which I adore; if it was optimal to eat just oats I'd have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've never had a personal trainer or a coach so my workouts are put together by me with input from Instagram and YouTube content alongside personal preference. Now, I'm not only stronger mentally but physically too. I am empowered by my lifestyle.
Life is unpredictable and rewind back a couple of years I wouldn't have pictured myself a fitness fanatic. Unpredictability, however, shows life can get better. Let any discontent you have drive you to make proactive changes. Step out of your comfort zone (maybe even into the weights section of your gym?) and try something new. I promise you, you won't regret it. Who knows? It might even change your life for the better.
Instagram - @shauna.squats