To all the amazing girl gainers out there,
My name is Elle, and I'd like to share my GirlGains story.
Having always hated sport - desperately begging my mum to give me a 'sick note' to give to my P.E. teacher so I wouldn't have to take part, telling the teacher I had forgotten my kit or faking that I was on my period so couldn't physically take part - you name it, I tried it. I think this hate for P.E. came from being self-conscious of my body, as most teenage girls are, and not wanting to get dirty, sweaty and 'ugly' in front of the boys. Whilst this approach worked for the first two years of teenage life, where I could still consume half of Waitrose and still be a tiny size 6, when I reached 15 I realised that these extra calories were going to go somewhere and I slowly began to get much more curvy, which panicked me.
As many of my friends began to lose their 'puppy fat', I was going in the opposite direction - getting bigger. Still hating P.E., even more so now, this slowly spiralled into a deep-rooted hate for the way my body looked. I would compensate this feeling by eating poorly, solely because I had little knowledge on diet and fitness and for a split second, it made me feel better.
Throughout sixth form this consciousness continued. I would never wear a bikini on holiday, I would never wear crop tops and wouldn't let my boyfriend touch my tummy. After sixth form, whilst on a gap year, I was invited on holiday with my boyfriend and his entire family. Unfortunately this rang alarm bells in my head, as it meant I would be expected to be in a bikini. My solution? I cut calories drastically and exercised obsessively. The result? My weight plummeting to 7 stone (I am 5'6), losing 2.5 stone in less than 2 months, my periods stopped and I was totally exhausted.
After admitting that I had a problem to myself mid-way through my first year at University, I decided I needed to make a change. I knew what I was doing was not healthy, or sustainable. I researched nutrition, balance, health, exercise and weight training. I was inspired by all of the results.
I followed many fitness Instagram accounts, and came across Zanna's, and then the GirlGains accounts. These, along with a couple of others, motivate me everyday. I now weigh very close to my original 9.2 stone, weight train 5 days a week with 2 'rehab' or yoga days and have a long-term goal to compete. My gains in strength have been amazing. Not only this, but my gains in body image and happiness have been extraordinary.
Yes there are days where I am not happy with my body. Yes there are days where I don't want to go to the gym - I'm tired, it's cold, or I have had a bad day. But these feelings are what make us human. I can guarantee that you won't regret a workout, it is my solution to many of my problems and always helps clear my mind. It isn't a chore, it is time for me, where I can plug my music in and ignore the world. It's just me versus me.
I have been in the top 5% attendance of my gym for three months, and have had people asking me what 'diet' I do/have, if I am training to compete and what my training plan is.
I would have never imagined myself to be where I am now and I am forever grateful to people like Zanna and the GirlGains for inspiring, motivating and instilling a sense that girls are strong, capable and tough and adding support, encouragement and kindness into the world, something there can never be enough of!