Hello, gym.

As you may have guessed from my clever title, I’ve joined the gym. Well, rejoined.

The gym is scary, intimidating and sweaty. Much like my PCOS and sleepy thyroid. Over the last year, my final year in college, my symptoms have been such a drain. A daily drain. During third year, I tackled my IBS, headaches and flushes with copious amounts of immodium, motilium, rennies, any painkiller small enough to swallow and a dark bedroom. As the year passed by me, I began to notice the detrimental impact these habits have had on my mental health. Bringing immodium to a festival is smart. Refusing to leave the house without taking it is not.

I take stock of my life all the time. Everyone does. We think about our lives and we make plans. My final year was full of plans, but deep down I knew I physically wasn’t able for them. I took a hard look at my situation and made the most natural decision; it’s time to look after my health. Every time I joined Weight Watchers, the gym, started going for walks or just watched my portion sizes, it was purely for vanity. Yes, I knew my health would improve, but it was never the motivation behind my change. My failed changes.

My sparse blogging has opened my eyes to the amazing community of ‘plus size’/’size inclusive’ women writing about their experiences online. I started blogging out of fashion frustration. It’s difficult to find clothes at my height/size. I wanted to accept my size and be strong enough to say no to the constant pressure to lose weight. That is exactly what has happened. Only the outcome is a little different than I originally expected.

I’ve said it to my parents and friends countless times: I can deal with my size. I have accepted my body. I don’t wake up and think I’m horrible. I have bad days, but they are few and far between. However, I cannot and will not live with these symptoms anymore. I feel unreliable because I am unreliable. I am tired of missing out on life.

My symptoms irritate me daily. I miss out daily. I feel unwell daily. Instead of actually doing something every day to combat them, I took immodium and skipped meals. There will always be this niggling part of me that wants to lose weight, but it was never enough to motivate me. Now, I’m going to the gym and thinking about the headache I’m not going to have later and the upset stomach that won’t be keeping me at home this weekend.

So, today marks half way through week three and I’m sure I’ve lost a few pounds. That’s great. It all helps. The best part is knowing after less than three weeks of exercise I haven’t had a migraine, my flushes have already reduced and my stomach, well, it’s rebelling against the exercise, but we’ll get there.

Health, weight, bleugh, help, food.

(I AM A NOTE: If there are any lovely food blogs you might like to share, please post away. I’m totally open to anything. The more things I try, the more likely it is that I’ll find something that works for me. Same goes for PCOS/Under-active thyroid blogs or friends. Send them my way. We can bond.)

Sunday morning, ahem, afternoon is habitually tainted by morning-after regret, which can only be remedied by gorging on a salty, mountainous breakfast, lots of tea and crappy repeats on telly. Lets face it, waking to the smell of a homely nostrum is an event in itself. Personally, I would drink anything if I could use it as an excuse to eat fruit bowls brimming with sugary cereal all day. Heaven.

Before I go on, I should alert you all: This post will be long and potentially a little gross. Consider yourself warned.

This mornings pain was not caused by a night of liquid delight; blame lies with a BBQ chicken Dominos pizza and me for being foolish enough to eat it. Hmph. The Dominos -vs- tummy saga has entered its third year and my tummy is losing. I could spend hours giving out about how unfair it is seeing friends devour pizza, consequence free, but I won’t. Dominos is my only guaranteed trigger food. Yes, Dominos. Not pizza, just Dominos. Even when I find the strength to say no, it’s drug-like aroma draws me in. Will power, are you out there? Inhaling it knowing it’s soon to be tummy goo is my own fault and I hate admitting this. I feel awful today and expect no sympathy; I did it to myself, after all.

While Dominos is the one food to guarantee me a date with the toilet, it doesn’t stop my bowels controlling me daily, even when I’ve gone for the healthier option. For the record, I don’t suffer from any intolerance, namely gluten or dairy, and I don’t have IBS, although my GP briefly thought I did due to my, um, toilet-bound symptoms. Having been tested for everything under the sun, gone months without eating specific food groups and relying on immodium and motillium to go outside, I hope you can feel, or at least understand my frustration. My medical complaints (PCOS/Under-active Thyroid) affect my weight but it doesn’t seem to matter if I eat junk or spend time cooking healthy at home, it all results the exact same thing: Mega tummy owwwwies.

A few weeks back, the PCOS clinic in Tallaght Hospital sent me for a glucose tolerance test, which was to see if I am in a pre-diabetic stage because of my weight. Drinking Lucozade at 9am is disgusting, as are blood tests. Bleugh. Thankfully, I am not a pre-diabetic, although it didn’t stop my GP voicing his concern about my weight and BMI. You can’t hear it over the internet, but I just said BMI like I had a mouthful of food. I hate BMI. I know I’m overweight, but my BMI and my GP’s obsession with it frustrates me because even at my smallest (11stone-ish) I was smack bang in the middle of my range. This would be a positive point had I of naturally been that size, but I swam competitively at the time, notching up 25+ hours of vigourous exercise a week. The minute I would stop training in August (everyone had August off) I would immediately pack on a stone, minimum, and bam…over my healthy BMI range. Most years, I spent August running on my Dad’s treadmill hoping to soften the blow, but my good intentions always fell short. When I eventually stopped swimming completely, within 2 years I had put on 7 stone. That is a lot. It is a person, albeit a small person.

While I will hold my hand up, shame free, and admit I took to my new found freedom after giving up swimming by eating all the sweets, it came to a halt when I realised none of my clothes fit me. Since then, I’ve been careful about what I eat, up to a point. Being aware of what you put in your mouth is half the battle. The weight gain continued even without the copious amounts of sweets for breakfast, which was hard to take especially because I knew I wasn’t entirely to blame. It was impossible to convince my family of this when I’d been known for my veracious appetite for years. Once I stopped swimming my appetite slowly died down and it’s quite rare that I genuinely feel hungry nowadays. Having said that, I often say I’m starving when I know I’m not. Eventually, my parents saw the difference between mine and my brother’s portion sizes and slowly came around to the idea that I wasn’t secretly eating, something I did when I swam because my portions were strictly controlled by my Mam. This is something I have serious issues with now. With hindsight, I can see she was only trying to help me, but it lead to me having serious body issues and a dangerously unhealthy relationship with food. I can see how far I’ve come, though. The simplest example I can give involves a bar of chocolate; had someone of been silly enough to leave one unguarded in my house a few years ago, the anxiety would have been too much for me and I’d have inhaled it. Now, it doesn’t bother me when there are sweets in the house. I know I can get them if I want and often forget about jellies that have been left in my car.

My palette wouldn’t know the old me if they were in the same mouth. The things I will eat now put my former palette to shame. I’d never had mexican, olives, peppers, most fish and red meat and up until I was 18, curry. I know, how did I survive? Still, I felt the need to put it all out there because these are problems that once controlled my life. Okay, my weird, non-irritable bowel syndrome is annoying, but it could be worse, right? Also, a few weeks ago after being honest about why I opt to stay home a lot, ahem, tummy issues, a good friend of mine introduced me to a lovely girl with the same complaint as me. I have no words to tell you how relieved I felt. Hopefully, at some point, someone else will stumble across this post and say hey, I have PCOS or I have an under-active thyroid and eating this really works for me. Until then, I’ll be trudging away with my food and sharing on here and Twitter.

My GP says I need to lose weight. Fine. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’m also battling with this urge to accept my body the way it is because when I was smaller I never saw what I actually looked like. I don’t want to miss out on a dose of reality again. But then, the health issue immediately kicks back in and I think it’s more important to be healthy than accepting the way you look. Am I setting a bad example for other heavier women by promoting plus sized fashion when I’m about to try and lose some of the weight that makes me plus size? How can I connect with girls who have the same problems as me, if I no longer suffer with the same problems? (Chub rub/fatigue/finding clothes to fit.) Shut up, brain.

My next hospital appointment is at the beginning of September, so let’s just see what happens. Going gluten free, where possible, is my next plan. Apparently, it’s easier on your digestion. Fingers crossed.

LDN plans: Bravissimo and BOOBS

Today has been a total write off.

I spent my morning in Tallaght Hospital completing a glucose tolerance test to see if I have diabetes. It’s a long story, involving polycystic ovaries, an under-active thyroid and lots of arm pricking and lucozade. I had planned to post about my womanly health issues and how they relate to my weight, thinking it would be somewhat cathartic when in fact, being in the hospital hammered home how important my health is. Peter Negative came over and sucked all the life out of me. The results should be back next week and I will definitely be addressing ye olde health of the woman before then. In the meantime, I distracted myself by making plans for my two weeks in London. Hurray! (In two weeks, I’ll be in LDN doing this.)

Now, on to the topic of today: boobs. Girls have them. Some boys have them, but they’re generally referred to as ‘moobs’ or ‘man-boobs’. I also use the phrase ‘moob’ as an abbreviation of ‘mono-boob’, which occurs when ones top/dress lacks the sufficient space up top to cater for the size of ones boobs. As a lady, with boobs, I usually put them inside a bra. But after 12+ years of bra wearing, I’m convinced I’m wearing the wrong size. I don’t feel supported and when I do venture out to find my ideal fitting, boob holder, I follow the same, familiar pattern every time.

Step 1. Go to Marks & Spencer.

No beating around the bush here. There is no way in hell Penneys (Primark) or Dunnes will fit me. I like to think I’m saving myself some mental torture by going to the source.

Step 2. Try find DD+ range as quickly as humanly possible.

You see, the thing with the retail sector is they rely on visual ques to direct us while we are shopping. Obvious, yes? It is so very, very hard to walk in to Marks ‘n Sparks, make it all the long way down the back without being distracted by the sexual, patterned lingerie on the mannequins. It happens every time. They catch my eye. I know they won’t fit, yet I still waste ten minutes riffling through those rails on the off chance there’s a magic mongo-bra. There never is and then I deflate.

Step 3. Muster the strength to browse DD+.

As odd as it sounds, the size I buy – 38 E – is nearly always out of stock. Either they only get a hand few in, or other women, with larger chests are swarming in and grabbing what they can. Something tells me it’s the latter.

Step 4. Deflate and slump towards the granny/sports bras.

Give up. Go find the granny bras. I remember once seeing a stainless steel bra in Marks. I thought it was hilarious. Would it rust your boobs? Maybe it would turn them green like those ‘silver’ rings we all bought when we were kids. Either way, I’d deal with green, rusty boobs if it meant they were supported.

LDN: The Boob Plan feat. Bravissimo

These guys look amazing. I’ve seen their ads on TV and spent many a late night planning my boob attire on their website. They even stock a small line of swim wear and clothing basics to fit the woman who is ruled by her bust.

According to their site: “Bravissimo is a company that provides a wide choice of lingerie and swimwear in D-KK cup, as well as clothing designed especially for big boobed women so that they can celebrate their curves and feel good about themselves!”

Eh, what more could you want? Lovely, modern patterns and shapes. Well, here you go:

Just to put the whole thing in to contrast. This is the bra I’m wearing, (picture below) and my last freak out purchase in M&S.

(It’s specifically for sizes DD-G and I don’t look anything like the model wearing it. Maybe that’s because my boobs actually fall in to the DD-G category.)

Ahem. Possibly, the thing I am most excited about, is being measured.When I was about 17, my Mam forced me to get measured in Marks & Spencer. It was horrific. The bra squished my boobs and they were falling out of the cups. I used to swim with a boy who called it ‘Specky Four Tits’. The woman was obviously blind or about 70 so I’m not sure what we were expecting. Still, it put me off being measured and I’ve just gone in and tried every bra in the place ever since. Thing is, they always seem fine when I’m in there, and uncomfortable once I’m home. Boo-urns. Fingers crossed the Bravissimo Fitting Guide works it’s magic on me.

It’s strange, but having a nice, well fitting bra has become a minor obsession for me. Having something delicious on under your basic tee/jeans combo can apparently make you feel more organised, pulled together, fresher and confident. Who knows, I might also find some jeans while I’m in London so I can really test this theory out.