This opening statement, this blog… they have been a long time coming.
While looking from afar, I am sure my life does not appear as anything else but ordinary (there were probably three moments that changed the course of my story), some choices I made I hope will encourage change for better health for others, as much as they have for me.
As any well-respected story, this is how it starts…
Once upon a time in the late ’80s…
But that would make this page way too long and way too boring, so flash forward…
I’m Elle, Italian, married to Jay, Indian – till here, nothing too complicated; we met when I was 20 and he was 25, fell in love and, while he remained his slim self, I felt so loved and comfortable that I ate the world twice around and put on way more weight than acceptable for my height.
I guess the fact of living alone, not having anyone telling me I can’t eat anything that is not a salad or weighted by the gram chicken, and – finally – being loved and appreciated for what I really am, was registered by my brain as the freeway to the fridge and jars of chocolate spread.
You see, as an Italian girl born in the late 80s and grown up in the 90s, appearance has always been an important factor in my life, so much so, that I can say I have been on a diet my whole life (since primary school), turning my relationship with food into something unhealthy and obsessive, the treat for when I’ve been good and the comfort for when things haven’t been so good.
Jay is the sunshine of my life – he’s never commented on my weight gain or my eating habits, he’s just been worried about my health, without being insensitive about the topic – which is odd, as he grew up in the opposite situation, often having ‘just enough’.
From the age of 20 to the age of 28 I gained about 50 kilos, bringing me to just under 120 kilos in weight… way too much for someone under 1.7m; I tried to avoid thinking of how I felt, not only mentally but also physically (exhausted? In pain? uncomfortable?) until I realized how throughout the years that I had been gaining weight I allowed other people, especially my female bosses, to treat me as I was not worth it and realized it was because I thought I was not worth it.
Now, hear me out, this was not because I was obese – nothing to do with it – it was because I recognized that I had zero willpower, zero control, and felt useless.
This was how I allowed people to treat me because that is what I thought I deserved.
I felt hopeless, I was not in control of what I was doing, and allowed these people, to treat me like I was worth less than zero, because I thought that I could not and should not speak up.
Based on what would I have the courage to give my opinion? What did I do in my life so noteworthy that I now thought I could say that the way I was being bullied by them was not right? How did I acquire a right I had not worked for?
So how does a girl take back control of her life?
Yes – I booked into the hairdresser for the first time in years and went for the chop – a small one admittedly, but it was more of a mental weight I needed to lift. That was my statement. I was starting something new.
Slowly, one day at the time, one decision at the time I moved through life with a lightness in my heart I had not felt before.
Just the fact of taking that decision – the one to take care of and love me – made me feel worth it, in control of what was going to be.
I started going to the gym, thinking I could outrun the calories eaten, and after about four months I realized it simply wasn’t possible… unless I was running a couple of marathons per day, which was (and is) clearly not feasible.
What I learned though in those first four months was that I was stronger than I thought, more motivated than I ever was, and absolutely more courageous than I imagined; I was proud of myself, as at over 260lbs I made myself walk for the first time through the doors of that classroom, wearing leggings and short sleeves and did a whole Box Fit class as if my life depended on it. And it did.
My life did depend on it, that was my new start – my opportunity to reach what I always wanted for myself but never worked hard enough to get, never put myself completely in the game. This time I did.
That was October 2017 and since then I lost 50 kilos (regained 5 – or 8 – during the pandemic as I decided to give up smoking! – Another victory!), started going to the gym, and even did some races (like the Spartan and Cancer Research Races you can see the pictures of just above).
How did I get here?
Well – I now live in a healthy way without forgetting my roots or my now husband’s roots. It has always been very important for us to find a way of not forgetting where we come from, while still working towards where we want to be.
As a massive food lover (like most of you now reading this), therefore, I needed to create calorie counted traditional recipes to ensure sustainability. I started following beauty trends and found the ones that work for me (to feel young – or at least my age – again), and took different gym classes (and YouTube classes during the pandemic) to get strong – additionally, I read loads about nutrition, psychology and everything in between and I have as well picked up hobbies that keep my hands occupied (so not to eat or smoke) and here I am… trying to get healthy and looking to lose those last 10 kilos.
While I am still trying to lose weight, I do feel like sharing is caring… so why not share this journey? Share what I learned the hard way? My notes, recipes?
There is no reason for me not to do so…
Here’s to a healthier me, here’s to a healthier you – may we all feel great, may we be great, and may our dreams be great, as we decide what we are and we now decided to go and make our dreams our reality.