by Sarah Scurry
There is a lot of pressure on girls these days to be thin. Sorry, I won’t just say girls; I’d say pressure on everyone. Over the years a huge fitness craze has come about. When I was younger, this was unheard of. Maybe that’s why you could say I was a little on the heavy side. To be honest. It never bothered me. It wasn’t a big deal. Although I do remember visiting my doctor one time and he told me I should probably think about losing a few pounds, as I am quite tiny. I looked at him as if he was mad; thinking to myself ‘is he for real I look grand’.
It wasn’t until I was about 18 I actually looked into losing a bit of weight. Again, I didn’t think I really needed to lose weight, but myself and my friends had all booked a holiday to Ibiza. A gang of my friends all joined a slimming club called ‘Weight Watchers’. They were all doing this together and getting such good results. Always talking about it and how well they were doing it. So I kind of just joined because I didn’t want to be left out. I got really into this, and loved it. I was losing loads of weight and as all my friends were in this too, we kept each other motivated. I found Weight Watchers amazing if I’m honest, and I know not a lot of people will agree with me on this. But it really helped me get all the heavy weight off me. I won’t say I was eating extremely healthy. However, it kept me on track. WW has a point system which you are designated a certain amount of points per day depending on your height and weight. I found this so helpful as I hadn’t a clue how to lose weight otherwise. I was such a brutal eater. I didn’t eat much fruit or veg. I wouldn’t put a bit of lettuce past my mouth. When I think back of how bad I was I actually can’t believe how far I’ve come with my eating. Anyways I was in weight watchers for years. I lost 3 stone there.
However it wasn’t up until I planned to travel for a couple of months to America that I thought to myself. ‘Right it’s time to take this to the next level’. I joined a gym. Everyone laughed when I joined a gym, even one of my best friends who was the manager of the gym called me a ‘January joiner’. Just before I joined the gym I was in what you could say as a bit of a bad place. My health wasn’t great; I was in and out of hospital. Constantly in the doctors. But I can hand on my heart say joining the gym gave me such a lease of new life. I really enjoyed that feeling after a good work out. I won’t lie, I was on a treadmill for about an hour everyday (which is actually no good for you) but I felt fantastic week in week out. It is such a great place to de-stress and sweat it out. I was literally in the gym 5 days a week and loving life. Anyways I set myself a goal going to America. I wanted to be 10 stone. My weight watchers leader recommended this would be a healthy weight for me, as most of you know. My boobs are huge, so they add a lot of weight to me. So, I reached that goal, and I’ll never ever forget going into work telling all the girls ‘I’m 10 stone, I’m 10 stone’. I was literally the happiest girl in the world. I never forget being in America, and fitting into size 10 clothes, just being really confident in my own skin. HOWEVER. I travelled America for over 3 months; we were out partying most nights, and not eating the best. I did try sometimes (once a week) to go for a run, in the sun though it was just unbearable. So I was kind of like ‘sure sod it’ I will lose it when I’m home.
So I came home. Weighed myself. Lovely, a stone added to the waistline. I wasn’t too worried though. I joined weight watchers again and got back into my gym buzz and I eventually lost the stone. I am a healthy weight at 10 stone, I know I am. Professionals are telling me this. But this is when I started to let’s say take it a bit too serious. I was in the gym every single day. Weighing myself every day. And if I gained a single pound I would literally cry. I was hiding myself away from the world. The weight wasn’t coming off anymore. (That’s because I didn’t need to loose anymore weight) I was working myself to the bone thinking MORE CARDIO MORE CARDIO. Even though my friend who again is a fitness fanatic kept telling me to lift weights with her. I did sometimes. But I kept thinking I was going to get bulky and put on weight. I turned into a crazy person. I wouldn’t socialize with my friends because normally that meant for food or drinks, I wouldn’t even go to the cinema without my own snacks. I was so bad. My friends must have wanted to strangle me.
On lunch in work, I was finding myself staring at peoples lunches thinking to myself ‘can’t believe they’re eating that’. Which is awful, I understand that now. I was eating bare minimum. Completely starving myself, but in my head I was like ‘No I’m grand’.
A little while later, I thought I needed to lose MORE weight. So looked a little far and wider for advice. This is where I was introduced into eating healthy instead of eating nothing. And lifting weights. I was still going the gym after work and then a couple of classes a week. They were super, they taught me so much and, to my absolute delight, weight started to come off. I was getting thinner, which made me happier. Again, I got a little too obsessed. What I was eating was healthy, but the problem was I wasn’t eating enough.
Arguments with people all the time. My friends trying to tell me I was being too hard on myself. I really was too hard on myself, but I kept thinking to myself; ‘What do they know, they were never heavy, they don’t know what it’s like to be that way’. Then my Mam & Dad constantly on my case, telling me to eat more. I frowned upon them for getting curries once a week and what not. STUPID STUPID STUPID was the only word for me. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a curry probably once a week or every 2 weeks, but I literally felt like I was such a bad person for eating it. I’d be twice as long in the gym then. So, if I was going on a night out. I wouldn’t want to be bloated, so I wouldn’t eat that day. Everyone knows what that results in. Going out and getting absolutely legless. Waking up the next day totally having blacked out. Such a bad way to live I swear to God. If I had only listened to people around me constantly telling me I’m taking this too serious, it needs to stop. Again I didn’t listen. Sure do we ever listen? My weight went down but as my weight was going down, so was my health. Which at the time I didn’t realize. But now I can tell you I am paying for it.
I moved to Amsterdam and again, I tried to live a healthy, active lifestyle. I was here trying to find my feet. So I obviously hadn’t time to go lurking at gyms and what not. But I was so afraid that I was going to put on weight, I was running. When people go on runs, they run for what, hour? half hour? No I was going missing for 2 hours, 3 maybe. Just running. I was living with my friend at the time. He could obviously tell I wasn’t eating and kept asking me about it. I was going to the shop and buying cashew nuts and feeling full after them. He kept at me and at me giving out to me all the time. I was now 9 stone. I looked awfully unhealthy. I was unhealthy. After severe talks with my parents and friends, I realized this wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t living life the way the normal happy person should. So then I got a good balance going, I was eating bigger portions of the right food and happily having my ‘cheat days’. I got into a good rhythm of this. I joined a gym and to be honest I still go 5 days a week. But again this is because the gym is my ‘Happy Place’. It just gets me in a good mindset. So after Christmas I began to really not put so much pressure on myself with food, I was enjoying Amsterdam. Socializing a lot more. Trying new food places, not calorie counting so much. But I started getting awful pains in my stomach. I’d have my lunch and my stomach would just bloat. I’d be crippled with pain, but just sat there pretending nothing was going on. Obviously me being so paranoid about my weight. I was freaked out. (Apparently your nerve endings are in your gut. When you’re stressed, it causes your gut to swell). I was freaking out. My stomach was huge, and I couldn’t understand why. I was eating correctly, hitting the gym a lot.
Then it wasn’t only bloating that was happening. I couldn’t hold any food down. I was heaving up everything I was eating. Obviously being away from home I felt so frustrated and alone about this as I felt no one understood! And I didn’t know if I was making it all up in my head.
My Mam & Dad pleaded with me to go see a doctor. So I did.
She basically told me that as I had been eating so little for so long, when my body sees a normal size meal. It goes into shut down mode. I have completely wrecked my whole digestive system. My food pipe is now blocked; my stomach was full of acid and non-digested food. I was warned I would now have to follow a DAIRY/GLUTEN/WHEAT FREE diet from now on. So now I am left with this situation for life. But whose fault is that? It’s mine. I didn’t listen to these professional people telling me I am ruining my body. I didn’t want to hear what anyone had to say. And it’s all came back and smacked me in the face. I will be years working on myself now to get back into good habits & health.
Now I want to tell my story to people. I want to make young people aware of what taking dieting can do to not only your body, but your mind too. There is too much pressure on people to be thin these days; it makes me so angry that I felt like this. I felt this pressure. To be honest I put myself under it. But if you want to live a healthy lifestyle I am pleading with you to do it in the right way. There are professional personal trainers out there that know what they are doing to give you help! Don’t take the stupid, pathetic path I did. Cause I am now paying the price. Eat healthy, keep active. But enjoy yourself along the way. Treat yourself when you deserve it. Get that correct balance that I never got. I am now learning to walk past the weighing scale. I want be healthy. I will be healthy. I wrote this as I want to create awareness of extreme dieting and how it can harm a person. Life is too short to constantly worry about what you eat. For me now the next step is finding the balance and being happy and healthy. I also want to thank my amazing family & friends who have been there for me throughout all this, and I’d be in such a worse place without you all
Sarah Scurry is 24 and works at the Tommy Hilfiger headquarters in Amsterdam as a visual merchandiser. She moved there 6 months ago and loves it. She is from North City Dublin. She enjoys the gym, hanging out with friends & fashion.