How I stopped Hating my body

I used to hate my body.

I have this really random and weird memory from when I was about 8 years old. I can recall it with a bizarre level of utmost clarity, like a 4k HD movie. I was sat on the bottom bed of mine and my sisters bunk bed with my leg positioned so that my knee pointed to the ceiling and my foot lay flat on the bed. I was staring at the slope of my hamstring in the mirror, grabbing my hamstring saying ‘I wish I wasn’t so fat.’

It’s kind of weird to recall because it was an isolated memory and my dislike of my body didn’t fully take off until a few years later. But is significant because it shows how I absorbed the body issues of society like a sponge and even at such a young and innocent age I had already learnt to hate my body.

I wasn’t fat as a a child. I did lots of running and was super active so was relatively muscular, but I sat there grabbing my muscle, accusing myself of being too fat because most other girls and women shown as beautiful on TV didn’t have muscular hamstrings.

When I was in year 6, I developed early. I started my period at a young age and got boobs super quick. I was a B to C cup at age 10… and I hated it!!

(I KNOW WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL CHILD CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE MY BOOBS WENT IS THIS THE PRICE I PAY FOR UNGRATEFULNESS??? FATHER FORGIVE ME)

I remember playing rugby one time with the rest of my school friends. One of the boys tackled me and my top came down a little, revealing my bra. He pointed at me and said:

“Sara’s got boobs!” And made fun of me and told EVERYONE. I was mortified. I hated having bigger boobs that the other girls.

Then, when I was in year 9 I started a new school. It was my first week, I still had no friends and it was P.E lesson time (at this point I was a top junior athlete, training regularly). As I was getting changed in the changing rooms, another girl (who was incredibly beautiful by all standards of the word) pointed at me and shouted:

“HAHAHAHA SHE’S GOT A MANS FIGURE BUT WITH BOOBS!”

Everyone looked at me as I stood there in my underwear, vulnerable as could be, and they all laughed. I was mortified and I will probably never forget that moment.

I stayed athletic for a good period of my life, ripping jeans with my thighs and constantly longing for a thigh gap. I didn’t like my arms because they were toned and ‘manly’. Then I stopped athletics training and gained a lot of weight. The legs that I hated for being muscular I now hated for their cellulite, the arms that I hated for being too toned I now hated for their bingo wings.

I could go on and on with memory after memory.

Kids in school told me my lips were sausage lips and too big (I have memories of folding my lips in to see what they would look like if they were smaller). A grown (black) woman in church asked me why my skin was so much darker than my sisters and why my nose was so much bigger. Me and Kima (my sister) looked at each other (I was around 12 years old at the time) and there was this moment when we both realised that my skin was slightly darker and my nose was slightly bigger. We had never noticed that before.

So for whatever reasons, I didn’t like my body.

And yet now I genuinely love my body. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wake up each day like DAMN SIS YOU FINE. It’s more of a chilled – I am okay with this to the point where I barely think about it because it’s chill kind of vibe. Sometimes I catch my reflection in the mirror, rolls (yes I still have those), muscles and all on show, and I think something like ‘it’s a crime that the whole world can’t see this fire right now’.

LOL like what? even?

Recently I’ve been pausing to wonder how the heck did I get from hating my body to kind of loving it? When after all – I don’t actually look that much different. I probably looked ‘better’ by worldly standards, when I was 16 years old.

I want to keep this post short (failed already) , so I’ll bullet point this, but from my reflections so far – here’s how I did it:

  1. I realised that I don’t have to be pretty. 

Nahhh let’s pause here.

I DON’T HAVE TO BE PRETTY!!!!

Or beautiful!!! Or sexually attractive!!

Adjusting my body to fit other peoples idea of beauty is LITERALLY NOT MY PURPOSE IN LIFE.

It’s like asking an eagle why it can’t swim. Like hun – it’s an eagle and it’s about to fly off and leave you feeling as irrelevant as that question.

That is not my purpose in life. I literally owe beauty to NO ONE.

If some guy finds me unattractive – that is about as relevant as my year 9 Geography grade. My body isn’t here for his sexual pleasure, creep. It’s here to allow me to live. It’s a temple, a vessel for the expression of life. How the heck is some random guy gonna try and belittle that supernatural, Godly purpose to his own creepy little sexual preference?

In the same way that I stopped stressing about my heartbreakingly, tragically low year 9 geography grade when I realised that the glorious combination of google maps and my medical career choice had rendered my geography skills wholly irrelevant to my life, I also stopped caring about my ‘beauty grade’ when I realised it was not my problem.

2. I started looking after it

A whole process, but you really learn to love stuff when you take the time to look after it, improve it, keep it in good condition, polish it and care for it.

3. I saw what happens when peoples bodies fail.

Good health is a blessing. Don’t take your body for granted

4. I realised that I’m the one who defines beauty – not society.

I get to decide what I think is pretty. One day I looked at my thick lips, fully looked at them and realised that I like them big. I genuinely liked them. Turns out society decided to agree 10 years later.

5. I removed myself from people who said mean things to me.

Literally left friends behind (e.g that girl in the changing rooms) because the words and actions that they chose to speak over me were detrimental to me bettering myself and at odds with the purpose on my life

 6. I stopped being mean to myself.

You can cut off all the bullies but if you still look in the mirror and call yourself ugly then you are still getting bullied. Stop being mean to yourself

7. I realised my looks are a gift from my parents and my gift to my future children.

I will never allow anyone to call my parents or future child ugly. Not even me

8. I faked it till I made it

Sometimes, wear that dress with confidence. Post that picture where your arms look huge, keep doing it again and again and don’t ask questions or reflect. Just move on and carry on with life

9. I focused on other things 

My relationship with God, my career, my athletic goals, how much I give, my kindness, my relationships, my ability to forgive others, my room decor, my youtube videos, my meme collection – turns out that when I focused on the important things there wasn’t enough time left over to stress about the width of my calves

 

And that’s all I can think of for now.
It’s a journey. It’s a process. It didn’t happen over night.

But it certainly didn’t happen by accident either.

I hope you get there if you aren’t already. You’re awesome and beautiful and you should be kind about your body.

From someone who knows what it’s like to live in a body that she hates and then live in a (probably quite similar looking but smaller chested) body that she loves – please believe me when I say that life is more enjoyable and fruitful when lived in a state of love.

Make time to learn to love yourself.

Life is better when lived in love.

 

Xoxo

Dr Saz

The Mindset that helped me achieve my Fitness Goals

I wasn’t always fit.

Well.

I was.

And then I wasn’t.

And then I had no idea how I ever was.

It was weird.

Long story short, I was a junior athlete, represented my country internationally, got injured, went to university, stopped athletics and got fat(ter).

At my heaviest I weighed 70 kg on a 5 ft 3 frame. Not obese, but overweight.

And I felt horrendous. I was fully addicted to over-eating and sugar, I was tired and lethargic. I had NO SELF CONTROL which was emotionally stressful. You know the feeling when you really want to stop eating but it feels like you literally can’t? That’s deep. And it sucks. Although I kept most of this internal, and thought it was normal at the time-  I obsessed over my weight and body. It was always a thing, if you know what I mean.

University ball? I need to lose 10lbs. Tagged in picture on facebook? I need to lose 10lbs. Person looked at you funny? It’s cos I’m fat and need to lose 10lbs.

It feels crazy looking back. Turns out my journey to lose weight, to become fit and healthy was about FAR MORE than my weight loss. It was a whole journey of learning to love myself in a real and practical way – but we can discuss that another day.

I tried diet after diet. I’m quite an impatient person, so I usually went for the ‘2 week fix’ protein only no carb run 10 miles every day type of fixes.

Needless to say, they failed.

Year after year.

With each fail I learnt new ways to fail. I learnt the importance of accountability, enjoying my food, maintaining quality of life and meal prepping.

But for me the one thing that changed the game was when I took the time limits off and stopped rushing.

After around two years of yo-yo dieting and no lasting success, I realised that (by God’s grace) 5 years from now I’d be five years older either way.

So I took the time limits off.

I stopped googling ‘how to lose weight fast’. I stopped setting stupid targets of 2lbs weight loss per week. I decided that it didn’t matter how long it took – I would simply never quit. I’d eat a realistic, enjoyable and sustainable diet for however long it took. I’d keep exercising, slowly but surely increasing the intensity – not in a rush, but gradually enough to cope and improve.

I didn’t need to get fit for the ball or get fit for my 21st anymore.

I just needed to be fit – and fit doesn’t have a time limit.

Removing unrealistic time limits from your fitness goals sounds simple – but it is huge. It changes everything. It changes your perspective, your route, your focus and your tactics.

It’s like two people (let’s call them Lindsey and Chukwu) want to get from point A to point B. Point B is 100 miles away. It’s the year 1734 and the only method of travel is by horse back (weird analogy coming up but hear me out..).

Lindsey is inpatient. She wants to get there as fast as possible. She doesn’t pack a lunch or provision for the journey. She sets out with a dodgy plan that promises to cut the journey by 3 days by taking her through short cuts. There are no rest points in this journey plan. No time to feed the horse or nap. But Lindseys like, ‘that’s cool!’, she really wants to get there a.s.a.p so she will simply power through and go extra hard for a shorter period of time.

50 miles into the journey, Lindsey finds herself stuck in front of a river with no bridge to cross – one of the promised short cuts fell a bit short. She’s tired, discouraged and has not reached her destination. She quits and stays by this river for about 6 months because she’s super disheartened – after all she did try super hard. One day she hears about another shortcut. She’s about 6 months behind schedule now so she decides she needs to hurry and sets off on this new short cut. Lindsey does this with great enthusiasm for each new short but she hears of. She tries to take short cuts for the next 5 years.

Chukwu on the other hand, doesn’t take a short cut. In fact he takes about 10 days to simply plan and PREPARE for the trip. It takes him ages. Along the way he even adds in a couple more rest points because he had not anticipated how tiring the journey would be on his horse. It’s tough. It’s difficult, but he keeps on keeping on in the knowledge that he will reach his destination. In the end he arrives 3 days late.

But he arrives. In fact, he arrives 5 years earlier than Lindsey – not that he minds, because he wasn’t rushing. His only aim was to arrive.

And that’s the whole point right?

To actually achieve your goals.

I truly believe that I achieved my fitness goals the moment I chose to stop rushing. The moment I said – I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll take the long, trusted, genuine route. No short cuts, no fad diets. I’ll keep going until I get there.

Practically speaking, this change of mindset changed the game for me in many ways:

  1. I improved my diet. No instant fixes, no cutting out of whole food groups
  2. I didn’t get discouraged when I failed because my goals were realistic so I was much less likely to fail.
  3. I wasn’t running late any more. When you are rushing for a target – it’s like running late. There’s no room or margin to allow for error. Suddenly, my errors (e.g woops just ate 10 digestive biscuits) didn’t matter any more because I wasn’t in a rush and I had margin. This meant I didn’t beat myself up over my inevitable mistakes because they were already accounted for
  4. I enjoyed the process
  5. I was happier

 

And here I am.

However many years later with a lifestyle that I truly love, healthy food that I genuinely enjoy (honestly didn’t know this was possible at one point) a body fat of 14.6% that I am maintaining without any strenuous effort, and a truly happy relationship with my body.

It’s a process, learning to both love and look after your body. Like and good relationship it takes time and patience.

Breath in, breathe out.

There’s no need to rush.

You’ve got this.

One step at a time.

 

xoxo Dr Saz

Sunday Night Thoughts: Never Change

Maybe I’m feeling deep right now. Maybe I’m denying that it’s nearly Monday, I don’t know. But here are some Sunday night thoughts ☁️☁️

I saw a celebrity post a picture of their other half the other day, with the caption saying “I love you, never change”. It made me think of how much I’ve changed over the last 3 years. Growing up and becoming a real life human being woman naaah it’s a LOT. You have to decide what your life is and and what it isn’t. Trying to figure out who and how I’ll ‘be’. The sad thing is, some changes have meant that I lost friends along the way. Friendships that I love and still miss. And it’s sad to see them go. But change will also shine a light on the friendships that count. The friends who stay with you through change. The friends who love the cool you, the quiet you, the fun you, the “wow you really messed that up” you, and – usually most telling – the successful you.

So as I lie here feeling so incredibly grateful for my few but wonderful friends and wondering about the ones I love and miss, I realise my prayer for my friends isn’t that they never change. I hope they change into all the awesome, world changing, confident things that they dream of being, doing and seeing. My prayer is that I might be the good and faithful friend that’s there cheering. Shouting “yaaasss get it girl” all the way through every phase, trial and success.
Truly loving someone isn’t limited to the one static version of who they are at one point in time.

Nothing is static or simple in this awesomely weird life.

So don’t let someone “love” the change out of you. Keep growing those badass grown-ass butterfly wings and see the real love start to flourish.
To my amazing best friends who may or may not make it to the end of this, thanks for being in my life.
P.s no salt or marinade at all intended to anyone who has ever used that caption. I’m just lying here pretending it isn’t nearly Monday.

What are your thoughts?

“Forgive Me”

“Forgive Me”

A poem by Dr Sara Sienna

Forgive me, but I think this is my therapy.
Because the hands that type – they felt his ribs crack.
And I paused, before I swiftly carried on.
I’m just a Doctor – not Sara when I’m bringing hearts back.

Forgive me, but I think I was too slow.
It took a moment just to get into the flow
I paused and I um’d and it only lasted seconds
But now he’s dead and I really don’t know.

Forgive me, for I should have lead the call.
But I’m not senior, I’m the most junior of them all
And in the moment I simply let it carry on
Instead of boldly speaking up and standing tall

Forgive me, but I can’t answer all your questions
Because I’m too lost to find the perfect words to say
I’m not familiar with the coroners process
and I’m so sorry that your loved one passed away.

Forgive me, but I haven’t shed a tear
Neither have they, but I will judge myself some more.
I am trying not to think about the gravity of his life
I must detatch from yet another crash call.

Forgive me, but I did just shed a tear
A river mourns the heartfelt girl I used to be.
Because the moment that we pronounced the time of death
I moved along to the next patient needing me.

Forgive me but I’ve washed my hands again
5th time, so why can I still feel his skin?
Forgive me but I do not want to talk
Forgive me, because I think I want a drink.

Forgive me, but I don’t want to work tomorrow.
Because I cried and now I do not wish to stop.
I do not want to be that numb and that professional
I want my innocence. I want to feel the lot.

Forgive me, but I am praying for his soul
We’re ‘not religious’, but Lord I prayed through it all.
Through the fear, through the numb and unresponsive
Through the darkness that is the failed crash call.

Forgive me, but by God’s grace I’ll wake tomorrow
I will smile, do my job and move along
The moment this poem ends, in order help other patients mend
I have no choice but to forgive and carry on

 

RIP

 

Dealing with grief and loss – NHS Choices