Running on from a topic I wrote about in my newsletter this week, today I wanted to talk about how my bodyweight has changed over the years. Since I started lifting, I have gained 7kg (but, at one point, almost 15kg!) and yet I’ve never felt more confident or happy with my body.
When I reached my full height (5’8”) at 15, I weighed 52kg. I was dancing six days a week and basically starving myself to maintain my bodyweight, all the while thinking I was too fat.
When I cut back on dancing at around the age of 20, my weight started creeping up. When I got married at 21, I weighed 61kg. The month before my wedding, I did all kinds of crazy things to drop weight, including the cabbage soup diet.
It’s funny how I didn’t see how skinny I was. All I could see was the “fat” on my love handles.
Starting from my first day as a newlywed, with a gigantic buffet breakfast, I started gaining weight until I reached 65kg. I was so uncomfortable and was constantly on a diet, while running 7 to 10 kilometres every single day.
Eventually, having no days off took a toll, and I hurt my knee pretty badly. I had to strap up my knee and ankle just so I could walk to work. Running was out of the question.
This is actually what led me to lifting. I needed to rehab my knee and was going stir crazy not being able to run. To my surprise, I really loved lifting weights – much more than I’d ever liked running! – and I decided to stick with it.
Naturally, my goal was to drop 5kg, so that I could finally reach my goal weight of 60kg – something I had been trying to do for years.
However, I started gaining weight and immediately panicked. Despite the fact that I had more energy, felt healthier and even looked better, I was desperate to see a smaller number on the scale.
I complained to my coach, who eventually got sick of my nonsensical whinging and told me to get off the scale.
After about 18 months of lifting, I weighed 70/71kg. By this point, I only stepped on the scale a couple of times a year, usually out of curiosity or at doctor’s appointments.
I had learned to separate my feelings about my body from the number on the scale, as I knew it did not reflect how I looked or felt. I had added muscle to my frame but dropped body fat.
Right before I started strongwoman training, I was dabbling in a bit of powerlifting-style training and my weight hovered around 75kg.
When I started strongwoman training, I increased my intake to at least 4000 calories a day. But, because I was training like a madwoman, my weight dropped back down to 72kg. I saw more muscle growth and fat loss in a three-month period than I had in the previous three years.
Apart from now, I think this is the best I’ve ever looked – even if I was covered in bruises and had huge patches of skin missing on my forearms from loading atlas stones.
When I started training more seriously for national-level comps, I approached eating like a full-time job. My weight crept up to 77-78kg, which was a little too high as it meant I had to cut weight for competition. I didn’t feel entirely uncomfortable at this size, because I was more interested in being strong than super lean.
When I started travelling and stopped training so seriously, my weight reached its highest point of 79kg. I was eating with no regard to macros whatsoever, and I did eat 90 scoops of gelato in 90 days, so I can’t really be surprised! I was able to maintain my strength pretty well despite training somewhat sporadically.
About a year ago I decided that, if my life was essentially going to be a permanent vacation, I couldn’t eat like I was on vacation all the time. I had gotten all the amazing Italian and Croatian food out of my system, and was ready to eat a bit healthier.
I started losing weight gradually just by tightening up my diet. By no means was I restrictive; I simply reduced my portion sizes and stopped eating pasta and ice cream every single day.
When I arrived in Paris, of all places, I really started losing weight. I stepped on the scale for the first time in a long time last week. I knew I had lost weight, because people have commented on it, but even I was surprised to see that I’m down to 70.5kg.
This is a combination of a few things:
- My training has changed. I’m still in the gym four days a week, but I’m not training as heavy as before. This means that not only is my appetite not as big, but also that I don’t need to eat so much in preparation for a workout. I’m doing more bodybuilding-style workouts, so my CNS is less stressed.
- I’m doing a lot more cardio. I’m enjoying all kinds of exercise, particularly dancing and running, even more so than lifting at the moment. I also walk everywhere, so I feel like I’m active for at least half of my waking hours.
- I rarely eat out. While I average two baguettes and croissants each week in Paris, I only eat out once every week or two. This gives me greater control over my portion sizes and what goes into my food.
- I haven’t been actively trying to lose weight. As I’ve said many times, one of the worst things to do is to focus on weight loss. I know this is easier said than done but, when you are constantly stressing about losing weight, your body will release more cortisol – which actively works against weight loss. I have worked my ass off before competitions to make weight and struggled to lose every gram, whereas I have lost weight multiple times without trying.
- I lost weight very slowly. Many people would scoff at the thought of losing 8.5kg in 12 months, when there are fad diets promising that much in a matter of weeks. The truth is, if you’re not overweight to begin with, that’s a solid amount of weight to lose. The time will pass anyway, and I would rather lose weight slowly, in a practically effortless way, than crash diet and regain all the weight.
This might sound vain to some people, but I truly love my body and I have no hesitations about jumping into a bikini at any time.
Although I have gained a considerable amount of weight, I think I look much better. My body is not perfect, but it feels perfect to me.
Has your weight changed over the years?
(I will do another post where I share an average day of eats soon, but this post is long enough!)