How I completely changed my life for better and for worse

When I was a teenager, around 18–19 years old, I was very overweight. I would eat as a way of combating stress, escaping from the hardships of my young life by filling myself with all manner of processed food. My family and friends tried to open my eyes to the body I was living in, to no avail. I would look in the mirror and see into my own eyes, but I would not see the body I was living in. One day this changed.

Call it an epiphany, I woke up one morning and looked into the mirror with fresh eyes, I saw something I hand’t truly comprehended. I was dangerously overweight. My body was scarred with years of rapid weight gain and I looked like someone I didn’t know, I no longer recognised myself.

I decided to change my life at that moment, I stepped onto the bathroom scales (which I had never once dared to look at) and weighed myself. I was 19 stone, how could I have ignored myself for so long? I had a long way to go.

I began to exercise, the unfamiliar movements were torture on my underused limbs, I cycled, I walked and I ate less. My bedroom stopped being my escape from the world but just a place where I rested my head. I hated exercising at first and I despised dieting, all the familiar foods which had comforted me during my teenage years were now my enemies. I felt like I had estranged my family, a family of sweet treats.

Then something remarkable happened, I started to see results. The bathroom scales displayed rapidly reducing numbers and my clothes loosened around me, my scars faded away and I could master any flight of stairs without losing my breath. Over the course of 1 year I lost nearly 5 stone.

I was happier than I had ever been, I had more confidence and I actually enjoyed living my life. However, I my old habits were replaced by a new ones, some just as bad.

I basically stopped eating, I would consume a small serving of soup and maybe an apple every day. If I was hungry for a snack I would pick from my family’s vegetable garden, literally a human rabbit.

I was more confident yes but my loose clothes were joined by a layer of unsightly loose skin around my body, I felt like a deflated balloon. The scars healed but they left a silvery trace all over my body. Also, because I hadn’t been getting enough water from my diet I contracted what can only be described as the worse case of Eczema I’ve ever seen.

My face, hands, arms and legs were covered in oozing red and yellow patches. I was now nearly 13 stone, my goal weight. But I didn’t stop. In hindsight I had replaced my overeating with under-eating and I still exercised like a maniac. The truth Is I enjoyed it too much, the feeling of control over my body, being able to make the numbers on the scale go down and down.

Nearly a year and a half after my transformation I had another epiphany, I met a group of friends who I hadn't seen in months and they were shocked. The person they once knew had been replaced by a gaunt and diseased figure. My puffy cheeks were now hollow holes in my face and my once thick wrists now were thin and bony.

I looked into that mirror one more time and saw I had become a person who was thinner but not more healthy than the person I was. I started to eat a little more and my body drank up the nutrients like a desert wandered. My skin regained its protective layer and I felt great. But I still have the scars on my body today, discoloured marks on my hands and arms are joined by the thin white scars of my youth.

I’m now a healthy weight and have been for nearly 5 years, I truly believe I’m a better person from my experience, But I still look back on those 2 troubled years and wonder what might have been if I chose another path.