Good morning lovely readers. Well apologies (again) for my absence since turning 30 in Dubai. I’m back in the real world to the usual hustle and grind. Since we last spoke I have moved job, which has been an overall awesome experience, and also got really on top of my health and fitness journey making some awesome progress and ready to push forward for Spring!
Something that has been on my mind for a while is the question mark around friendships, and particularly friendships evolving during a weight loss journey. As I’m writing this (I feel i should be whispering it, quietly in brackets) because it doesn’t feel like something I am “allowed” to talk about on a loosely fitness and health blog (where thou art my heart shaped bowl filled with kale?)
When I was a “big(ger) girl” I had LOADS of friends. I was the chubby funny one of the group. Life of the party, and I partied hard. I was the one that set up my guy friends with my girlfriends, cool enough to hang with the boys talk and dance with the girls. Looking back, I was the kind of girl nobody was intimidated of… the guys didn’t see me as a “hot girl” to be shy or smooth around, and my girl friends tottered over me in their heels safe in the knowledge I could never be “real competition”. I know that is an awful thing to say, especially about people you considered your best friends in the whole wide world, the type of friends you would talk all day and night with, and drive over with frozen cheesecake in the early hours just because they needed a shoulder to cry on, and their usual boy shaped shoulder was being an idiot (for about 4 hours, and then back in their life like nothing happened, but I digress).
Anyway, life happens to all of us. We grow up, we leave high school, we take different paths (work, college, uni, marriage, babies, skydiving) and we do our very best to hold on to our cheesecake friends, whom we share some sense of history with, convincing ourselves that length of friendship (in years) equates to quality of friendship (in happiness). Sometimes you strike it lucky – you are blessed with someone in your life that is a true friend, through thick and thin, is loyal to you and vice versa. It may be months apart when you see each other, but when you do its like nothing changes, and you pick up where you left off. They are always encouraging, supportive and you leave one another feeling the world is a better place. Just sometimes, this can happen.. but sometimes, it doesn’t.
Part of my life journey, as you all know by know (and if you don’t, erm… hello?) is that I’m on a mega health and fitness journey. I say mega, because I’m not in my string bikini pinching at invisible fat saying OMG IM SO, LIKE, FAAAT, I NEED TO LOSE, LIKE, 7 POUNDS Im that friend next to her, wearing the cover all poncho in the high sun, smiling through her teeth with a reassuring “don’t be daft you are not fat you are SO gorgeous” sweating buckets under her multiple stomach rolls.
( …and yes, this scenario has happened to me, more than once)
So in the last few years I’ve made some real changes in my life. KFC is out, Barbells are in. Comfort eating is out, portion control is in. Double chins and fat rolls are (on the way) out, little dresses and crossed legs are (on the way) in. I have lost about 3 stone, and have another 3 stone to lose, but I’m certainly moving into unmarked territory in terms of my body image and shape. I’ve now got curves, which, mind, I always had, except now they are more pleasing and in proportion in the eyes of society. The guys have certainly noticed (I do get checked out at the gym) but truth be told I’m far more interested in the reaction of girls.
Of all the changes I have made in my life, the main thing where all this stuff and this weight stems from is the one of priorities. I now, unashamedly, put myself FIRST. After years of being a people people and total pushover, I now address my wants, desires and needs AS IF I AM AS IMPORTANT AS OTHERS. That sounds really daft in capital letters, but I’m shouting it because for so long this was not my life. I was the one with no sense of “me-time” – my me time was your time; soothing you after your boyfriend broke up with you for the 11th time, helping you choose your prom dress, and spending my time and energy as your wing woman and personal side kick, making sure you looked even more glamourous with minimal threat and competition, showering you with daily, weekly and monthly compliment reminders before smart phones were invented.
And there is nothing wrong with that – the only problem is when friendship is in one direction (RIP Zayn Malik). The problem is when all that energy, time and effort is not being returned to lift you up. In your times of need, who was there for you? where were these people? In total honestly – my friend and comforter was food. It has taken me a long time to understand and realise that those friendships I valued so dearly were not as equal as I had hoped, but carbs could never let me down.
And maybe this has nothing to do with weight, but everything to do with moving do a different postcode, moving on with life, getting married, blah blah. However, now that my health lifestyle is a priority, it sheds a light on a lot of things. Why should female friendship be affected by a persons size?? it makes me so angry but it does happen. Research quoted by the Daily Mail (obviously very reputable, lol) states that a third of women are secretly jealous when their friend loses weight, with a sixth actually wishing their friend was fatter than them, with one in five saying they were generally happier in their life when they were slimmer than their friends.
I was once with said cheesecake friend, on our way out for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in some time, and I had visibly lost some weight. We both struggle with our weight and being “funny fat girls” was a core value in our friendship. She showered me with compliments, but the bitter shocked kind (you’ve lost weight – but how? when? you look….good?) We walked across the street and some guys wolf whistled, apparently at me. I thought it was at someone else (obviously, because wolf whistling has NEVER happened to me before) but she immediately snapped saying “Men are disgusting, how they did that to you”. We had a meze dinner, she ordered so much for us almost to force me to eat, and then I actually didn’t hear from her again for a very very long time. Hmm.
As you change, as your priorities change, as your plate changes and your body changes – naturally your friendships will too. It will expose those that are pleased for you, who want you to be fit and healthy and happy, and will stick by you… but it will also expose those that preferred you as their dependable chubby fat friend. At least in my experience.
So what do you do if you are facing that situation? here are my top tips if you are struggling with friendships through a weight loss journey
- Re-assess your definitions. What is important to you? what does friendship actually mean to you? – emotionally and practically what do you expect from others (and what do you expect from yourself). Do you expect a goodluck text, or a get well soon card, or some coffee catch up time? You will be much clearer about your friendships if you are crystal clear about your own expectations. Be aware that your definition of friendship changes through life stages. Your friendship when you shared a uni house together will not be the same as when you two are now married in opposite ends of the country. Learn to adjust.
- Before the big freeze, cut people some slack. There are certain life situations where I cut people some slack, getting married/in a new relationship/new baby/moving house/new job/illness&bereavements. Its not an excuse to be non existent / the worst friend ever, but those are the biggies. If your expectations are high, and your friend is going through something, reassess yourself and your attitudes. If your friend has just had a baby and has forgotten your birthday, its not (in my book) an immediate “shes a crap friend” situation. Be forgiving and accommodating – be a friend.
- A friend whom is threatened by you, is NOT a friend. If someone is jealous/envious of your new wardrobe, new body, new gym workouts, new confidence and attention and is being shady about it… she isn’t your friend. If she prefers you to be that the chubby dumpling holding her shit at the bar while she flirts with the boys, she isn’t your friend. Be aware that “threat” can be very subtle and even subconscious – passive aggressive behaviour (ignoring you, avoiding you, purposefully not saying anything) can be just as hurtful.
- Go on a friendship diet – now that you know what friendship means to you, what you can offer and expect from others, and have a rough idea of who is being shady in your life – go on a friendship diet. Cut those bad bitches like they are bad carbs! you do not need your thoughts, time and energy to be wasted on negative people in your life that drag you down. True Friendship should be something that lifts you up and that you don’t find at the bottom of an ice cream tub.
- Refresh! you will notice an emptiness, which is hard to deal with especially if said friend has been a part of your life for a long time, and if you are used to spending time catering to their every need as a people pleaser. Invest in new friendships – at your gym, through the healthy fitness blog world, through work or through friends of other good friends. Maybe use your spare time to kickstart your own wellness journey whether that be going to the gym or learning how to cook for yourself.
- Sometimes less is more. Be at peace that you don’t have to have a million friends. They say the luckiest people are those that can count their friends on one hand. I have a few friends but they mean the world to me and I feel and hope I can be a good friend to them whilst I navigate through my own health journey and multitasking through work and family commitments. I also am secure knowing they are there for me through my thick and my thin, celebrating with me during the highs, and supporting me through the lows.
As I adjust to my new body and lifestyle, it is natural for those around you to need time to adjust too – but I am so much more happier and content with my circle now that I feel comfortable in my own values and priorities, and that I treat myself with respect and gratitude before I expect it from others to validate me. I am no longer a “people pleaser” and balancing the scales, so to speak, has left me with fewer but much more healthier, caring friendships in my life.
If you are interested in this topic, or are going through a particularly rough patch with a friend, I wholeheartedly suggest the book “Best friends forever, surviving a breakup with your best friend” By Dr. Levine. It got me through a different transitionary period after I left university and got married, and is a book I have found very useful in learning about female friendships.
stay on your grind guys ! Stay in touch with me through my twitter and instagram which I post daily @goodphat