The Jelly Belly and I

Dating straight back to my first day at University I have had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Being homesick, without the comfort of my family and no real set schedule meant I could eat what I wanted when I wanted! Oh the Joy! How wonderful! I made every excuse to nip to McDonalds, Subway, Dominos, Greg’s.. even the local chip shop. I’m not proud, but I also won’t deny that I really enjoyed everything I ate, and rarely felt any food-guilt at all!

Looking back now, I can see that this is when I began fooling myself. I just ate any old rubbish, and as much of it as I could. I made excuse after excuse and livened up my personality to hide the self created unhappiness and insecurities I felt about my weight.

I finished University and took a job teaching in Blackburn, I also continued to work Saturdays in W.H. Smith. I had a confident, bubbly personality but would have emotional crashes where I would cry for days on end and feel a real sense of hopelessness. I believed I was depressed but did not link these moods to the foods I ate. Instead of using this as a wake up call, my diet continued to get worse, but I managed to keep my clothes size around a 16-18 through walking everywhere. I am very thankful for the patient friends I had at this time of my life, they showered me with love, true friendship and many laughs, making it easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s a number of age old photos not even taken on a mobile of just some of the people who were there for me at this stage of life…

I can remember rolling out of bed around 5:30 every morning to get ready to get the bus, then lift to my teaching job. Instead of having a healthy breakfast and pack lunch ready, I’d walk, actually more like drag myself to the local corner shop in Lancaster where I lived, buy Crisps, Lucozade and some chocolate and munch that on the way to school. I’d usually eat a school lunch and then by the time I came home on the train I’d be too tired to cook and end up eating fast food, or something that I’d make quickly- full of grease. What was I doing!? To be honest this is the first real time I’ve reflected on all this and I’m pretty appalled at myself, but I didn’t start writing this to lie or ‘fluff’ it up- this is all part of my journey!

In long-story, cut short fashion, I moved home to Northern Ireland in 2009 and took up a job as a Civic Educator. The hours were sometimes anti social, meeting with youth groups in the evening, or venturing off on weekend retreats. I learnt a lot about myself in this job and worked on some worthwhile projects with amazing young people and because I was living at home with my parents, I ate much better, but still snacked in a very unhealthy manner, and still seemed to comfort eat whenever I felt sad, stressed or worried.

I only really see this now, I was happy and having fun, being young and working hard. I didn’t really have any interest in drinking alcohol, I had never, and will never smoked or taken drugs and aside from a love of clothes shopping, I had no vices other than food. Looking back now I think of all the money I must have spent on lunches out with friends, snacks and fast food and I really do cringe a little bit.

Fast forward to 2010, the year that changed my life. I was lucky enough to be selected for a project that allowed me to travel to Ethiopia. I realised how blessed I was and how bountiful my life was. I also got called fat in believe it or not an endearing way by some of the locals I encountered. I took it on the chin and focused on the projects I was working on. Not long after returning from Ethiopia did I meet my husband.. 2010 was a great year!

So over the past 8 years since Ethiopia and meeting my husband my weight issues have not really gone away. I’ve been a yo-yo slimming world member, going for a few weeks, losing a good bit of weight then dropping out, I’ve tried different diet fads and even did one day- yes one day at a shake diet- not for me. I was soooo hungry!!! I think the real issue has not actually been willpower but the fact that I haven’t tackled the root cause or thought about why I eat so unhealthily.

A rare photo showing my arms that I dislike so much

I’m still thinking about it, but for the first time in my life I really think that I’d like to explore my issues with food, weight and self esteem. My husband and son love me all the same, I feel loved, secure and confident in them, but do I like the way I look? The honest answer-not really. I can’t always get the clothes I want and moreover have to chose what fits. I hate my arms, I hide my stomachs when I sit down with a cushion and I finally feel like it may be time- the right time. I’ve resolved to try but I will likely still have the odd treat. I’ll keep you all posted, I’m sure I’m not alone in this one at all!

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