She’s coming back.
I can feel her knawing at the edges of my mind and creeping up the back of my throat. She’s on the tip of my tongue, hovering behind clenched teeth as I wrestle with what is stronger – the willpower not to eat the cake, or the willpower to ignore her and eat it anyway. I swallow her down every time I watch someone else eat a second slice – her cutting jibes and smug superiority.
I don’t eat cake.
She lurks behind narrowed eyes which scan my reflection in the mirror. She sneers at the parts of me that she thinks are too small and then she pinches at the parts that are too big. She guides me deep into the profiles of fitness models who call themselves ‘fluffy’ at 15% body fat. She tells me I’m not doing enough exercise. Do less HIIT and more LISS, if you’re trying to build muscle. Do more HIIT if you want to lose fat. Are you lifting heavy enough to cause muscle hypertrophy? You can’t outrun a bad diet.
The only time she is quiet is when I am exercising. As soon as I finish she has me back in front of the mirror.
Eat more to gain muscle, eat less to lose fat. But not just anything – you have to eat this and definitely don’t eat that. Eat at this time, not that time. How do you know you’re getting enough protein if you’re not measuring your food? Carbs are bad – no not those carbs, these carbs. You need carbs to replenish your glycogen. Have you noticed your cellulite recently? You’re clearly not drinking enough water. How many portions of fruit and vegetables did you have today? You know fruit is full of sugar, right? Eat berries every day. You can’t gain muscle if you don’t eat over maintenance. You’re probably bloated because you ate too much. Eat right, not less.
If I don’t exercise and eat right, I know I will feel awful and hate my body even more. But the more I do, the louder she gets.
I don’t want to go back to the misery of weighing food, of sweaty-palmed panic when I can’t measure and prepare my own meals. I don’t want crabby low-carb days and guilt-ridden cheat days with 1000 calorie workouts followed by binge-eating. I don’t want to be force-feeding enough calories down (before 9pm) on a workout day, or starving myself on a rest-day. I don’t want to be fitting my career and social life around exercise and meal planning. I just want to be fit and healthy, without risking the traps of an eating disorder.
I want to live by the things I tell others:
- Calorie counting is rubbish and miserable.
- Cellulite is natural and fine.
- Don’t feel guilty about eating.
- A bikini body is your one with a bikini on.
- Love your body – it does amazing things.
- Everything in moderation.
And deep down, I know I believe those things, for other people. But for me?