Remind me, size doesn't matter

Eight sizes and three years ago, I liked what I saw in the mirror: someone who appeared happy, healthy and confident. Then I wore clothes in a UK size 18 to 20.

Today, I am down to sizes 10 or 12. I still love myself but hate how people seem to see me.

Nowadays people are popping out of the woodwork to stop me and say: "Have you lost weight? You look great now!" Once or twice was surprising (colleagues and gym buddies), the 15th and 16th times made me self-conscious (fellow customers at my favourite library cafe, for crying out loud) and, by the 20th time, I was irritatedly replying: "Thank you, but I always looked great!"

A large part of me - haha - wondered what all the fuss was about. Yes, I had lost weight, but why was this worthy of comment? It took a while for the horrific realisation to sink in: Larger women are not as attractive in most eyes and now I finally pinged people's "looking good" radar. When I always thought I did.

I never set out to lose weight, only to become a healthier person. In my early 20s, I was a size 14, set off no medical alarm bells and still exerted a powerful gravitational pull on slimming-centre salespersons every time I entered a mall.

I laughed in their faces and went on my merry way until I noticed it becoming harder to run for buses.

I was 32 when I went for a health check-up to find out what the problem was and learnt an underactive thyroid gland made me sluggish and much bigger.

Medical treatment led to 10kg dropping almost overnight off my frame and a resurgent interest in physical activity.

Exercise became a daily routine when my doctor said it could improve my health and happiness for the next five decades.

Fast forward three years to my recently joining a functional fitness centre with my ultra-competitive family of former athletes.

We're all toning up nicely nowadays but the change is most apparent in me simply because I have never been anything less than a size 14 since achieving my adult height of 1.7m.

Not in my teenage years, when schoolmates around me battled eating disorders, not even - in hindsight, callously - when my paternal grandmother begged me to, warning me I could be on the road to obesity and future health issues.

My body mass index was then just about in the medically acceptable range, but I was never a size 10, even as an undergraduate 14 years ago. So what?

It didn't stop me swimming, playing basketball, writing plays and running around directing them. It didn't stop me making friends, having boyfriends, getting a job and enjoying my life.

I never actively sought to lose weight but recently I have, simply by setting athletic targets with my family. Training to run 5km instead of merely walking it, for example. (My father is all for a marathon but has been persuaded to take it easy on me.)

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