“OMG how did you lose so much weight?” Well, here’s the answer!

I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever struggled with my weight. What I would say though is that I’ve struggled with accepting my weight, and appearance, as something I could genuinely be happy with.

before and after photograph of my weight loss
The original ‘before and after’ photograph.

As humans, we are constantly dwelling on what others have that we don’t. The worst part – I know I’m one of the biggest culprits. Longer legs, a flatter stomach, nicer hair, better eyebrows, bigger lips, straighter teeth…

These are all things I have to admit I’ve craved for throughout my teenage years. I’ve stared for hours at passers-by admiring how perfect they appear to me, and yet I know that they too will have their insecurities.

I never wanted to look like a model. Not because I don’t find that image beautiful, but simply because I knew in my own mind that being 5 foot 2 and having always had a muscular frame from dancing, achieving that kind of image for myself would be almost impossible and therefore not something worth stressing over. But I did want to lose weight. I didn’t like how I looked, and so I began to change my lifestyle.

After posting a ‘before and after’ weight loss photograph on social networking sites last year, people often ask me how I managed to lose so much weight, and how I overcame the sometimes uncontrollable insecurities I once had.

I lost two stone. But that wasn’t the only thing I lost.

My health declined dramatically. I was constantly in and out of hospitals and became very unwell, partly because my now petite body just wasn’t strong enough to handle the pressures of my extreme weight loss. My college suggested I took a gap year. The dance career I wanted so badly was starting to look unlikely. Balancing A-Levels, a part time job, and everything else was more than a handful without the added stress of health issues and a new form of body consciousness.

Because that’s what I was unprepared for; I knew I felt uncomfortable in my body before, but I always thought a slimmer waist and tighter thighs would make me happier. But they didn’t.

At the time, I didn’t even think twice about the message I was giving out when boasting to people about how much weight I had lost, because at the time all I cared about, stupidly, was the figures on the scales.

Since losing the original two stone, I’ve put a considerable amount back on. Yes, I eat far too many biscuits, and yes I probably should cut back on the before-bed snacking. But I’m healthy. I’m me again.

a more recent photograph of me
A more recent photograph of me. Well, the chunky legs were never gonna go – they’re my trademark! Photo: Richard Lancashire

So here’s my real advice that so many people have been waiting for. Here’s the advice that you need to hear.

You want to lose weight? Fine. Set yourself a sensible goal. Work hard, but don’t stress. Eat healthily and exercise regularly, but don’t wear yourself into the ground. Take breaks. Don’t become obsessed. Do it for the right reasons.

Don’t lose yourself.

There is so much more to life. It’s taken me so many years and so many awful experiences to realise that. But what’s important is that I’m happier now, and I hope that other people who suffered, or continue to suffer, the same feelings that I did soon learn the valuable lessons that I learnt.

You want to lose weight? Take a long, hard look in the mirror.

You’re unique. You’re you.

Is there really anything more beautiful than that?

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