For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with my weight. If memory serves right, I was aged nine when puberty hit way too early and I didn’t really understand why my face was dotted with a mild form of acne when the rest of the class was as clear-skinned as ever; and why, suddenly, I was taller than everyone else.
Thankfully, it wasn’t at the age of nine when I initially started dieting, although an overwhelming number of people will agree that dieting when 12 is equally disturbing. At this stage, my body began developing quite drastically and, when one is not used to having hips, a larger bottom certainly doesn’t fit the bill. Through some rational thought, I came to the conclusion that I needed to stop eating to lose what I had, out of nowhere, gained. For ten consecutive months, I didn’t consume anything that contained refined sugar – no, no cake on my birthday. I was probably running on circa 700 calories a day. I was exercising a very strict portion control and my mother was at the receiving end of constant scrutiny. My efforts paid off and I dropped to 37 kgs. Imagine my outrage when I was promised a speedy “recovery”, she labelled it, by a doctor at the hospital? She wanted to put me on a drip and have me at the nightmarish 45 kgs in three hours?! I was fuming..
Throughout my high school years, I maintained a small frame with the occasional weight gain, quickly resolved by “Fruit only” or “Water only” days. In hindsight, I displayed all the mental signs of someone suffering from anorexia. My parents were well aware but there was virtually nothing they could do. The scales were my best friend. I hopped on them roughly about 20-25 times a day. Sometimes more. A goal weight would be imprinted in my brain and as soon as I reached it, I would say to myself ‘You weigh 40 kgs now. But it’s better to be on the safe side and drop to 39.5 kgs’. The vicious circle I was in involved me ceaselessly aiming for a new low in weight values. I found comfort and happiness in seeing certain digits on an electronic device. I was angry and disappointed when I did not. I measured everything that I was in numbers.
I didn’t eat breakfast. I didn’t drink water, except for fasting. My meals, namely lunch and dinner, were tiny and I felt incredibly guilty for having had them. I despised the aftermath when my stomach would, naturally, enlarge and I wouldn’t have my hip bones sticking out..I knew the calorie content of many foods and drinks. Looking at the mirror was never satisfying, because the sole purpose of it was to find something to hate. There was always fat I could lose; I could always shrink a size; my legs could always be thinner. When comparing myself to others, I was always bigger.
Upon high school graduation at the very end of my being a teenager, I left for The Netherlands to pursue an academic degree. This is where the story takes a different turn. Not necessarily in the right direction. Due to the complete lifestyle swap, within a year I put on 10-11 kgs. Once eating again, I overdid it and it showed. The body was repaying me for everything I’d made it endure. It wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I returned to my pre-Holland weight. This time around I included exercise in my routine – be it only cardio – but I was still clueless about nutrition, the way the human body worked, recommended water intake and the worth of a good breakfast.
The realisation of all of the above finally took place a year and a half later when I found myself in London for the completion of an MA degree. Turning vegetarian for moral reasons meant that I had to educate myself on meat substitutes, what food groups were most suitable for this lifestyle, what properly reading product labels entailed, etc. I researched food in general and, with that, it dawned on me that my entire life I’d been doing everything wrong.
How running in the park became a symbol of freedom and feeling alive, how skipping a morning meal has never happened since – or will happen ever again – and how I’m striving for a more pronounced derrière will be revealed in the second chapter of my personal weight story. It’ll also set the tone for this blog, because cinnamonontop will be about a positive body image, a healthy lifestyle, keeping active and loving food. Stay tuned!