Everyone’s body is different

Contributor Dairne Black chats about body image and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Written by Dairne Black


I used to stand in front of the mirror and hate the way I looked. Pulling at the rolls of fat in upset and desperation, wishing more than anything they would evaporate and disappear. I hated it all, my huge chunky thighs and my expansive seemingly never-ending tummy. This big balloon of milk-bottle coloured flesh, that resembled a pregnancy bump more than a stomach.

Changing rooms were a nightmare. Trying to find the sizes towards the larger end of things, searching for baggy and loose fitting tops. Nothing clingy, never clingy, nothing tight or anything figure-hugging. As I hit college and started going out and socialising, I knew my weight was holding me back. I tried many a diet, healthy eating, anything to try shed a few pounds. A few times I was successful.

To date, my most successful attempt was when I embarked on a Biggest Loser competition. My confidence during that time soared. I trained like never before, I had to win. I was competitive and put my body through a gruelling exercise plan. I quit the junk food and gave up drinking for three months. It was one of the best things I’ve done to date.

However, as it so happens in life, and especially with weight, things fluctuate and go up and down. The weight I lost, somehow found me again, or rather, through bad habits, bad eating choices and little to no exercise I put it all back on over the course of time. I could blame a multitude of things; little things, big things, everyday things. However, if truth be told, the only person to blame was myself. I made the decision, I put the food in my mouth, I didn’t exercise. It’s simple.

Growing in confidence

As Christmas rolled around again this year, I, like many of the nation sat in my onesie and gorged on the many festive treats Christmas has to offer. However, as I headed back to work after a truly relaxing two weeks off, I made a promise to myself. Subconsciously, this year, I would lose weight. The goal is to be able to wear a bikini on the beach this Summer (I’ll take the Irish beach) and feel confident and happy. And, I suppose, more importantly like I look like I belong in it. I want to look good, and feel good.

It’s going to be a gradual process. No overnight miracles, but I’m determined. I’m not starving myself, I’m just eating healthily and exercising. I’m lucky in that I walk for around an hour every day between getting the DART and Luas to and from work. I wear my fluorescent runners, and I feel like Uzaine Bolt when I see my bus and run and make it. I enjoy my power walks to and from the Luas and while it’s not jogging or running, it’s still exercising.

The main thing I’ve cut is takeaways. Last week despite craving a Chinese or greasy pizza, I had steak and salad, which my boyfriend cooked – he’s brilliant in the kitchen and his support is amazing. Support from everyone is crucial. Don’t beat yourself up or be too hard. I still have a cheeky munch on chocolate or jellies, and last night I ravaged a mince pie. I’m only human. I’m not a huge drinker so cutting out the alcohol for me isn’t too tricky. Realistically, the next time I drink will be Valentine’s Day, closely followed by my boyfriend’s birthday. However, I’m making the decision to give up the beer; I’m not sure what I’ll drink when I eventually come to drinking, but beer is going to give me a belly. Also, it makes me feel bloated, which is something I could do without.

What I want to do now is try something that I can feasibly maintain. I want to be able to fit exercise into my routine and regime regardless. So, if I didn’t have that walk to and from the DART and Luas, what would I do to compensate it and make sure I got that little bit of exercise? I know I’ll slip up, and I’ll treat myself sometimes but I won’t apologise for it because slowly and surely I’m earning it. I know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a particularly fast metabolism, and therefore I need to keep a loose eye on my weight. It doesn’t ruin life, it’s just like anything else, and I keep tabs on it.

Learn to embrace your body

We all have different body shapes, from slim to curvy, big breasts, small breasts, love handles, no love handles. We come in all different shapes and sizes and I think that’s what makes us so wonderfully unique. We all have these combinations of bodies, sometimes we think they fit, other times we don’t. I’ve often joked about myself as a whale, a hippo or even a piece of fruit – pear shaped I think? Just because someone is heavier doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be unhealthy and unfit. Other factors, apart from food and exercise can contribute to your body size, like your height and your genes.

Some of us have a faster metabolism than others. Someone who is skinny and has the ‘perfect’ body may actually be more unfit than someone of a larger weight. They might be eating the wrong foods and not exercising. It’s not just about looking good, it’s about feeling good, but more importantly feeling and being healthy. We associate skinny with being healthy and being fat with being unhealthy. We link numbers to who we are. A size 12, 14, 16 does not define you or your body. It’s an item of clothing. Only this weekend I bought a size 20 blouse, it was the only one left, and while, no, I’m not size 20 it looked great as a baggy loose fitting top. Perfect for when my monthly friend rolls into town and I feel like I’m as wide as house. Define your body by what you put into it, not by anything else.

Learn to know your body, and embrace it. I can honestly say, that I adore my curves, and as I feel the inches leave my waist (slowly mind!) I can see them for what they are. I love that I can literally feel the curves, this hour-glass thing forming. I have two little stretch marks on my tummy, battle scars I say! A warrior who’s fighting.

I used to think, that being slim was the be all and end all. It’s not, you can lose all the weight you want and you can be skinny and miserable. To anyone who’s battling the bulge, don’t give up, take things day by day, and be proud of every achievement, no matter how small you think it is. It’s a slow, gradual process but worth every ounce of effort. Remember, you have so much inner strength, you just don’t know. Make this the year you unleash your warrior and fight your way healthy again!

Remember, bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and this is absolutely fine. Your health is dependent on a huge range of things, and body weight isn’t the most important thing. A healthy lifestyle involves taking care of both your body and your mind. Eat plenty of healthy foods, get loads of sleep, and exercise regularly at your own pace. Make sure you do little things every day that you enjoy and make you happy, and never be afraid to seek help if you’re feeling down.

Our work is supported by