Birmingham, UK


As a kid I always loved sport. I could power through a football match, beat many of my peers at the 100 meters race, and I even have medals for both trampolining and horse riding. So why is my body so big? Well the teen years hit, my confidence dropped, and I quickly left anything sporty in the past. 

P.E. at school was mortifying for me. Once puberty hit I started to gain weight, mix that in with my love of quavers and you've got an obese child in the making. Now I don't personally think I've ever been obese, and I think that word in general has such nasty connotations around it, but I was told by a doctor at the impressionable age of 14 that I was just that. According to my BMI I was obese. How do you even begin to get your kit off and go play around on the sports field when you feel like a disgusting fat blob, and the doctor has just confirmed it for you? Looking back I was a very normal weight, slightly over maybe, but I had muscle and I was healthy. 

Fast forward to almost 10 years later and here I am. I'm definitely bigger but still healthy, and actually happy for once. It has taken me years of reversing all the damage done by self hate and vile comments from others for me to be where I am today and I'm quite proud. That being said I could be a lot healthier and I know that.

So now is the time to fix the damage that all those bags of quavers have done over the years. But now I have another challenge to face, I am actually quite large. Sports wear is very difficult to buy, not just because the sizing usually caters to slimmer people but because actually going to buy gym clothes is embarrassing. I know the fitting room assistant is thinking I'm too fat for leggings and I know the cashier is wondering if I've ever been to the gym in my life. I just know it, except I don't. I have no way of knowing what they are actually thinking about. More than likely they are too busy counting down the hours until they can clock off to even look at my body. I have to remember that next time I try to pick up some snazzy sports wear. 

For me, the thought of doing exercise now is still as mortifying as it was back when I was at school. 'Will my legs jiggle?', 'Will I be able to do it without getting sweaty and gross?', 'Will everyone judge me because I'm fat?' Those are just some of the hundreds of unhelpful, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that push themselves into my mind whenever I think about trying something new.

The hard truth is that yeah, maybe people will think nasty thoughts about me, and chances are my legs are going to jiggle, my tummy will too, but that's just life. I can't keep letting other people's thoughts effect me especially when 1. I'm trying to better myself and 2. I will never truly know what they are thinking.

Over the last few months I've been making more of an effort to get back into fitness. I've bought a bike which I occasionally ride to work, gone swimming with my friends, tried my hand at rock climbing, and even managed to get myself to the top of the Malvern Hills. It's not been easy, getting into a swimming costume was especially hard, but I did it.

For me half the challenge with fitness is getting into the right mindset to do it, and once I've overcome that, chances are I'll be able to to the activity I've chosen. I'm not as much of a blob as I sometimes think and I always feel so much better after a good workout. You can get back into fitness no matter your size, but it's always better to start sooner than later. 

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1 comment

  1. I really enjoyed reading this Grace. I think there's so much complexity around body shape, fatness and fitness, particularly for women. There’s also a lot of issues around obesity, about it being the disease but often a symptom of something else. I think for a lot of people it’s more than just eating too many cakes; there’s often a reason why they’re eating more than they used to, or moving less.

    I took up cycling last year and I love it, for more reasons that I can ever fully articulate for the peace of mind it gives me, but also the way it has changed my relationship with my body. I am the biggest I’ve ever been and I know a lot of this is a reaction to some mental health stuff, but cycling and getting to somewhere just on the power of my own wobbly thighs has made me appreciate my body. I totally hear you on shopping for exercise clothes as someone who is larger. The cycling industry seems to think that ‘large’ women are a size 14, despite that being smaller than the UK average, but discovering well fitting cycling clothes that wick moisture away from my body has been a revelation. I used to try and wear loose-fitting stuff, partly to not bring attention to the layers of fat, but after discovering just how clever well-fitting stuff is for wicking moisture away from my body, keeping me warm in winter and cool in summer, was such a revelation that I don’t mind it now. Because loose fitting things won’t disguise the fat, but well-fitting stuff, that makes it more comfortable to cycle. And if it helps get me further then I don’t care.

    I try not to think of it as exercise, because I know that will put me off. I try and think of it as moving my body or an adventure. Going on a long walk is a great excuse to chat with my mum, cycling into town is a brilliant excuse to spend some time along the canal which feels like a secret garden in the city. Stuff that makes me think I did it, I got there…and maybe I jiggled whilst I did it, but it was never about the jiggling anyway.

    Good luck with your fitness adventure.


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