Being a teenager is tough. With crazy hormones and boy troubles, it’s easy to see why my health and fitness took a back seat. Actually, I don’t think it ever even took a seat. From a young age I “forgot” my P.E kit most days, faked excuse notes and even faked injuries. I hated exercise.
I was a chubby teenager and received a lot of bullying related to my image. My self-esteem was low and getting changed in a room full of slim, fit peers weren’t my idea of fun or education. On the rare occasion that I was forced into going to class I ALWAYS came last – maybe it was down to lack of effort, or maybe I was actually awful, I’m not too sure. In year 11 the school finally decided to drop P.E from my syllabus, leaving me with absolutely no means of exercise.
I can’t remember a time in my school years where I had any sort of motivation for fitness. Yet weight-loss was one of the main things that plagued my mind. Some days I wouldn’t eat anything and I’d beat myself up about being so “fat” other days I’d completely binge on anything I could get my hands on.
If I could go back in time and change my behaviour, I probably actually wouldn’t because maybe the way I was back then, is the reason I’m now as motivated and determined as I am. As much as it pains me how naive I was as a teenager, I don’t regret my history as it made me, well, me.
However, there are some facts, I wish I had known:
It’s not all about losing weight
It’s about being happy within yourself and making changes to your overall health and fitness. Not eating, in order to lose weight, is a ridiculous thing, yet I used to think it’s what I had to do. My naivety meant my body suffered from a massive lack of essential nutrients. Is it any surprise I was an unhealthy, unhappy teenager. Could my bad nutrition have affected my mental health?
You don’t have to be slim to get a boyfriend
It’s pretty evident that even morbidly obese people can have relationships. People have their preferences, and while some guys may prefer slim girls, others prefer curvy girls and some even prefer obese girls. At school, it was hard to believe that someone would ever love me for me. But now I’m older and oh so wiser, I know I’ve found that someone. Stay beautiful inside – if you’re a beautiful soul, you will always be cherished.
I also wish someone had told me to put my education before trying to find one too – I wasted so many years wishing I had what others had when I should have focused on the reason I was at school in the first place.
Being outside has so many benefits
So many lunch breaks were spent in my tutor room, bitching, gossiping and moaning with friends. we didn’t go outside. I didn’t get any fresh air. And I didn’t get much Vitamin D. As someone who gets very low during the winter months I know now how important getting sunlight is.
Not only for my mood, but I now suffer from psoriasis, so it’s even more important to get out – no matter how cold it is….It was -5 outside this morning when I started writing this post and I’d already begrudgingly been out to the gym.
Birthmarks are not an excuse to avoid P.E.
You think this is a joke right? It’s not. I have a weird birthmark on my arm that flares up in the cold and I actually used to use this as an excuse to get out of P.E. – The teachers didn’t even question it. To be honest, I think they’d given up on me a long time beforehand and were just humouring my new excuses.
You are stronger than you believe
I blamed everyone around me for the way I was. I blamed my mum for feeding me crap, I blamed the bullying on me being miserable and I blamed the school for not encouraging me. Really, it had nothing to do with anyone else but me. It’s me who decides my own future and it’s me who decided how I deal with what I’m given. I am strong, I am determined and I am motivated – these traits didn’t come from other people, they came from me.
Those slim girls may have their own struggles
I spent so many years green with envy over the size 8 girls. The girls who could wear anything they wanted and have any boyfriend they wanted. But just because they looked so perfect on the outside didn’t mean that everything was so perfect inside. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised seemingly perfect lives are never usually that way and even if they were at the time – nobody has an easy life and we all have our own struggles.
Smoking is not and never will be cool
What an awful thing for teenagers to believe. How does something so dangerous and irresponsible become this “tool” to show your “coolness”. It’s like a right of passage to the popular crowd. Hanging round the back of the bike sheds smoking is where the most popular “cool” kids at my school used to hang out. I tried my first cigarette when I was 12 because all I ever wanted to do was fit in. After years of smoking, countless chest infections and a hideous cloud of smelly smoke following me around I finally gave up in January 2015 – I will never go back.
Don’t be a sheep
My grandad used to tell me all the time, I’m not like everyone else. Nobody is like everyone else. We are all individuals with individual minds. The first time he told me this I was 10 years old and I really wanted blonde highlights like the other girls. I got them, did it make me any cooler? No, of course it didn’t.
How did I show my individuality as a teenager? I became an emo – the epitome of “I’m so individual I’m going to look, dress and act like all the other individuals”. I wanted to fit in, by not fitting in. Being an “Emo Kid” opened me up to more mental abuse from people at school, more bullying and more unhappiness.
My desperation to fit in somewhere affected me more than I ever could have imagined.
Find your happy
The most important lesson I’ve learned in the last 25 years, is this. Being happy with yourself is the most important thing PERIOD. Being happy reflects on not only your world but the world of others to. Happiness makes you a nicer, compassionate person. It motivates you. It’s contagious. Happiness doesn’t just happen. It needs to be worked at. It takes learning, it takes faking and it takes determination. A positive, can-do attitude will get you far in life. Even if you have to fake it at first, “fake it till you make it”.
I’m not happy 100000% of the time, nobody is. But actively trying to “be” happy, listening to audiobooks, reading and discovering happiness is the healthiest thing you can do with your life.
There was a poem on the door of one of my English classrooms. I never paid attention to at the time – but now I find it rather poignant:
If you could travel back in time, what would you tell your younger self?