One of my non-negotiable pleasures in life, is bread.
Ruggedly-cut, doorstop-esque bread, crisp yet fluffy, baked crumpets, artisan breads, homemade breads, heck, even the limp but reliable crunch of a Warburtons Toastie should the mood strike (the latter coincidentally seems unbeatable when it comes to making the classic bacon butty).
Regardless, all of the above should be toasted and loaded with copious amounts of butter, preferably Lurpak; salted, and spread until the yellow nectar turns into glorious golden puddles across the grain.
Find me someone who doesn’t love a good loaf and I’ll show you a Grade A fibber (or an unfortunate victim of coeliac disease).
In my journey of self-care, allowing myself two slices of toasted Spelt and Rye bread (the best – truly…well, this week anyway), a day, if I wanted it seemed SO radical, SO indulgent that it’s almost laughable to me now. This was a loaf! It wasn’t crack; I didn’t have to shuffle into Tesco with a hat pulled harshly down on my face to purchase a Sunflower and Honey Bloomer discreetly under the table. It was there ready for the taking, it wasn’t a bad thing, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to die from it.
We’ve been led to believe that carbs – specifically bread, is the enemy. You can’t have a beach bod AND a sandwich – don’t be absurd! Abs or avocado toast? I sure hope you said abs! (And I really hope you’re rolling your eyes as heavily as I am right now). The notion that our slimmest-selves cannot exist in the same universe as bread is frankly bullshit.
My most self-destructive state was when I was 24 and an air hostess. It was the perfect opportunity; I was away from my family so there was no one to take notice of how little I was eating. On trips away I would survive on merely a rice cake with a slither of hummus or maybe cornflakes with a splash of red milk if I was feeling flush; working out for hours at a time in the hotel gym or walking the length of the Golden Gate bridge with the promise of a Walgreens salad at the end.
I remember flying home from Jamaica and feeling faint from lack of substance and feeling happy that I had reached such levels of hunger. I was in control! I was determined! I had a thigh gap! (Go figure).
The reality was, my weight never went below 115 pounds so I was by no means anorexic, but for my 5 foot 5 frame, I looked scrawny and boyish and in no way my natural shape. I put having a flat stomach and space between my thighs above socialising and having fun with my friends.
So many occasions I made excuses for; cinema trips I bailed out of, nights out dancing with friends foregone, feigning lack of funds or tiredness. Any situation which might deter me from my goal was immediately refused.
I wasn’t living, I was merely existing; any excessive eating I did was a ritual which took place once a week in the privacy of my room, eating until I felt sick and then on many occasions, giving my gut a helping hand when I was sure everyone had gone to bed.
It’s a sad state of affairs when we’re sacrificing real-life relationships, a pizza date with the girls, all to show Instagram how hungry we look on a beach.
Because ultimately, that’s what a lot of us want(ed), isn’t it?
We want to upload the “natural” beach shot, that perfectly showcases our thigh gap, maybe a hint of rib – but not too much -and teeny weeny waistline. All to be greeted with comments of:
“How do you stay so skinny?!”
We’d shrug modestly; “Don’t be silly!”
The underlying truth: “I’m hungry, skip meals and secretly purge if I eat too much Dairy Milk”.
Instagram is not reality. Trust me.
For the most part, it’s incredibly sad and insecure individuals, looking for validation in a number of likes, or dire reality stars trying to push piss-poor products on easily influenced minds. The rest is hilarious cat videos and your friend’s awesome content, the latter is why I continue to indulge in the platform.
The turning point for me was when a close friend who had been battling with her weight, asked me how I got my thigh gap and I shamelessly told her my secret; “I’ve been skipping lunch every day and running on my break instead.”
When I got in bed that night, the conversation came flooding back to me, and I recoiled at myself for admitting this so freely. What if she took my advice? What if I had given her the leg up she needed into a new-found obsession with this dangerous trend? That’s not who I wanted to be! Despite hating my own body, I LOVED hers and everyone else’s.
People think they need to have stick-thin legs, taut thighs and a protruding décolletage to be beautiful; absolutely not. Those ladies with such distinguishing features ARE beautiful, but only if naturally so. If you have to work out at the gym 7 times a week to maintain the frame you think you should be, you will plateau and you will fail eventually – because your body wasn’t built that way baby.
Do you think Beyonce lays awake at night distressed because she doesn’t have Cameron Diaz’s never-ending legs?
The world needs its Beyonce’s, its bell-bottomed ladies, just as much as we need the Olive Oyle’s, the Jessica Rabbit’s, the big booty bitches and the petite-framed ladies.
Whatever is natural is beautiful and more importantly, you! So why do you want to waste your life trying to look like everybody else?
Self-acceptance is by far the most challenging lesson in life; and it might not be until it’s too late that we realise that those opportunities missed with friends or spent scared as to how that bacon and egg butty might affect the scales were times wasted and frankly redundant in your quest for a happier life.
Happiness IS drinks with your friends, it IS a naughty takeaway in bed with your lover, it IS going for a run with your best friend only to stop 2km in and decide that you’d find it easier to chat over a cappuccino instead. You CAN go to the gym AND go out for a pizza with your friends; you’ll easily waste away your best years if you don’t.
Life is frighteningly short, and it’s only when the realisation hits that we DON’T have all the time in the world that we start to realise our efforts of self-depreciation, hours logged slaving away on the stair master and not balanced with life were times wasted. It’s important to take care of ourselves, of course it is; but not at the cost of our experiences, happiness and joy.
So that’s why this week, if you’re guilty of any of the above, I want you to make a subtle change to bring a little extra joy in your life. Go to the cinema, and enjoy the softly sweet chews of overpriced popcorn; go for a walk with your friend at dusk and reward yourself at the end with a sizeable glass of your favourite red wine. Make a trough-ful of pasta at home with your mum or your sister, do not use the scales and eat the whole lot.
Please, for yourself, just grab life by the loaf and make a fucking sandwich.