By NATALIA HAWK
It was the year 2009. I was 18, and I spent the year exercising like a woman possessed by some kind of Michelle-Bridges-inspired demon. I was a self-confessed uni bum with a lot of spare time and spent most of it at Fitness First, smashing out hours on the treadmill and on the rowing machine. I watched more MTV music videos and wore more pairs of Skins than I care to admit. I used to do an hour of cardio, then an hour-long group fitness class, then another half hour on weights afterwards. Four or five times a week.
And for most of that year, I was absolutely miserable.
The reason I spent so much time at the gym was because I wanted to lose weight and – in my head – exercise was what you did when you wanted to lose weight. So I entered this world of neverending elliptical machines and running shoes, a world where everyone around me was telling me that the more I sweated and the harder I pushed myself, the faster the weight would shed, and I’d lose that magical extra five kilos and then I would love my thighs and wear bikinis EVERYWHERE just because I could.
And then I would be truly happy.
But I didn’t need to lose weight. And my body knew that better than I did – so it didn’t lose any.
Mind you – I got stronger, my legs got toned, I could finally do push-ups on my toes. But I didn’t care about any of that. I was a woman on a mission, and all I wanted was to be skinnier.
When I didn’t lose any weight, I didn’t know what to do. I learned to despise exercise because – even though I was so much fitter – my thighs were still bigger than those girls in the Victoria’s Secret ads. I still had a booty. I still had boobs. Why did I still have boobs? WEREN’T THEY MEANT TO BE GONE?