I am a 26 year old Chinese woman, who grew up in a spacious house in a middle class Melbourne suburb with parents who are still together and who are very cultured. I grew up as quite an active kid. I was lucky as my parents provided me with so many opportunities that they didn't have back in their day. I did dancing, basketball, netball, swimming and calisthenics amongst other extracurricular activities. I grew up eating an asian (traditional Hong Kong style) diet, which always consisted of white rice, a vegetable dish of some sort and a meat dish. I was allowed to choose what I put in my bowl and I was never forced to eat anything.
This worked to my advantage because I never became a picky eater, I was never criticised on how much or little I ate. I had total freedom, and DAMN was I one lucky child. And an only child at that! I feel truly blessed to have had the life and parents I have... but that's a whole other story (we could be here for days, so lets save that for another time).
But I was NEVER happy with my body. Growing up with many female teenage magazines, TV and ever increasing access to social media (MySpace was so cool back then!), I was surrounded by pictures of models and famous individuals (where skinny was on trend in those days). I hated my 'giant calves' and 'stumpy legs' more than anything else on my body, which is something I have probably received the most compliments about to date.
When it came to university, I had sporadically decided I was interested in health and at last minute decided against my first preference and went for the double which allowed me to start my career in Health Science and Psychology. My interest in health continued to soar in uni, but I still wasn't looking after my diet or going to gym yet. It wasn't until my final years I started to train at the gym, I start to eat the 'typical' body building diet - rice, broccoli and chicken. I started to see results. I started to see 'abs' for the first time in my life. But I still wasn't happy. I wanted more. I wanted to have a six pack, I wanted to have shoulders, I wanted prominent biceps, a thigh gap, a lean back.
This lead me to calorie restriction. I never actually counted my calories, but I would eyeball pretty low calorie meals. Like "just having a tin of tuna and some rocket for lunch is enough right?" And then I would sit with the hunger, I loved feeling hungry because it meant I was losing weight! I probably got the leanest I ever have been during this period. But then I would also binge, and mostly in front of people because I wanted to be one of those people who could brag about how much I ate but could still stay lean. What a fraud I was! And we all know what was coming... calorie restriction is not sustainable.
Sure enough, my primal instincts of wanting to survive kicked in - my appetite soared. I started eating normally again (not terribly, but a lot more than I did previously). I know this was around my 25th birthday, and I started piling on the weight slowly. My 26th birthday hit and I was about 9kgs heavier than I'd ever been. Between this time I had yoyo-ed up and down but was on an upward trend. My training was bland, I never hit it hard, I sat with no progression and did nothing about it.
Fast forward 6 months and I am still on my journey of recovery. I realised the metabolic damage I had done. I realised how sedentary I had become and I realised how much I wasn't pushing myself in the gym. For the first time ever I tracked my calories and my macros. Not because I was calorie restricting, but because I needed to work out my numbers and go from there. I have intensified my workouts, and I have tried to reduce my fat intake and increase my carbs. I am trying to keep more active during the day and sitting down less. I have been more prepared with my meals and making sure I never get so hungry that I'll open a bag of chips. I have reduced my stress levels and am practicing more self care and mindfulness. I am still on this journey, and results may be slow but I'm starting to see a slow body composition change and although my weight hasn't changed much, I certainly feel leaner and stronger.
Stay tuned as I take you on my journey with me...