strong versus skinny

This photo of myself was taken exactly a year ago today.

Other than the devastating fact that this was taken in Mallorca (rather than the rainy London I find myself in right now), the next and slightly bigger blow this photo gives me is that I no longer look like that.

This photo was taken ten days into my first (and so far only) round of Whole30. Whole30 is a very quick and very effective method of achieving quite dramatic body composition results (if that’s what you’re after). You can find the reasons I took on the original challenge here, but looking at that photo I would say that my body is in the best aesthetic condition it’s ever been in.

But like I said, it doesn’t look like that anymore. I’m not saying I am now overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but in the past year my body has changed more than it ever has done before.

A couple of weeks ago, one hot afternoon (I think we’ve had at least one hot afternoon so far this summer), I came home and changed into my favourite pair of denim shorts. Or at least I tried to. I’ve lived in the same pair of stripy Abercrombie & Fitch denim shorts every summer since I bought them in California five and a half years ago. They are (or rather, were) perfect – short, but not too short, slouchy but not too boyish, light but far enough away from white. And now I can no longer do them up. They fit like hot pants and the button does not do up. I could have cried.

Last week, I did an online Nike order that included a pair of training shoes, a vest and some jogging bottoms. The trainers fit (thank GOD), but the clothes to which I’d just waved an “I’m always a small in Nike” to the laptop screen were tight. Later that week I begrudgingly made the trip to Oxford Circus to swap both items for a medium.

The final nail in the coffin for my hope of still being a size 8 came in the form of a carrier bag full of clothes from my friend Felicity. There have been many a time where I’ve raided Felicity’s far-more-stylish-than-my-own wardrobe, but not one single item in the stash would fit me now. And the clothes were so nice *cry face*

Now, I’d much rather own clothes that fit than clothes I don’t feel comfortable in, and I think the idea of owning something you’ll ‘slim into’ ridiculous, but it’s all just been a bit of an odd realisation.

I wrote about feeling body unconfident in September 2011, and I hate to admit I sort of feel the same way again now.

I really shouldn’t. In reality, my body is the strongest it has been in a long time. I cycle everywhere (as my thighs can verify), I’m running consistently good times at parkrun, I go to 1Rebel, strongdem and yoga regularly and tomorrow I genuinely believe I have a very real and very achievable chance at a 10k PB.

So I’m annoyed. I look at this photo of my improving toned arms and I’m proud. I’m confident about a race I’m running tomorrow and I’m glad. I look at my strong cyclist legs and I like them. I’m going to classes I never would have dared set foot in.

But the fact I have half a drawer full of crop tops that won’t be making reappearances this summer still gets me down despite all those things and I am really annoyed about that. Being strong and fit and healthy really should be enough.


  1. 20th June 2015 / 7:38 PM

    I really hope this doesn’t sound patronising but unfortunately some of these changes are a part and parcel of getting older. Fact is that things which once fit just don’t any more and it’s hard to reconcile that mentally, I know. BUT – your body looks strong and amazing and it sounds like performance wise you are in a better place than ever. You looked healthy, happy and in amazing shape today at yoga for sure. My view? Focus on the numbers on your dumbbells – not the ones in your clothes or on the scales 😉 Hope you smash that PB tomorrow x

  2. Tlasade
    21st June 2015 / 9:05 AM

    It should be enough, shouldn’t it?

    I am feeling the most un-body confident I have in years and, unlike you it’s not because I’m getting stronger but because I have been treating my body like a trash can. I now look back at photos last year when I was the strongest healthiest I’d ever been and am sad because it wasn’t enough then, but I now know it should’ve been and definitely was.

    We’ll get there. Great post x

  3. 22nd June 2015 / 9:36 AM

    I wrote about this not so long ago, that even though we’re getting stronger and getting muscles, it’s still hard for a long time to mentally handle weight gain or changes in body shape that mean going up a size in clothes, etc. I find that I just have to get rid of clothes that are uncomfortably tight and just buy new stuff and not look at the label but just look at how it looks and how it feels. Long gone are the days I would only buy clothes that were the smallest size I could possibly squeeze into 🙂

  4. 22nd June 2015 / 3:22 PM

    Hey Melissa,

    I just read through your post and really feel for you! I often go through cycles of feeling unconfident about my body too, and I think it’s definitely a mind problem rather than an actual body problem. When I eat well and workout, I feel much happier about myself, no matter what. And considering you’re fitter than you were in that photo from Mallorca, you should be proud of yourself! A good body is often mistaken to be a thin body – being fit, and in proportion is much, much better. I hope this helps a little – I’m in awe that you can run 10k!

    Besma (Curiously Conscious)

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