Hello, and welcome to the second in a series of interviews with people from all over the world who have made significant changes to their lives, in the name of health. I had the pleasure of getting to know Amber-Rose of According To Amber.
Despite living in the U.K., many of the obstacles to health that Amber Rose has faced apply to those of us here in the States. I applaud Amber Rose for her stark honesty, and for being willing to share such a personal struggle with us.
tell us about your relationship with fitness and food when you were a child. Has it changed since you became an adult?
I was taught at home as a child, and my Mum was actually pretty good at disciplining me regarding food. She kept strict snack and meal times, everything we ate was home made and pretty healthy as I remember it. However, sometimes my Dad would take me to work with him, as he ran his own business just to give me Mum a break. My Dad would misguidedly use food to distract me, and reward me for good behaviour. If I sat quietly at the office and read a book all morning, I’d get taken out for Fish & Chips. If he’d had a good meeting, we’d go out and celebrate with a chocolate sundae. If it had been a bad meeting, perhaps he’d go down the pub where I’d be given crisps. We’d always get chocolate bars on the way through a garage for petrol. I was classed as ‘overweight’ at 7 years old and just stayed in that proportion.
Even as an adult, that emotional connection to food has stayed with me. If I’m upset, happy, celebrating, bored – I immediately turn to unhealthy food, without even realising it. I did have a random health kick when I was about 16 and lost around 60lbs just by drinking water instead of coca cola, having salad or a jacket potato for lunch every day, and walking the 20 minutes home from school. Three little things that really added up. I didn’t keep it up though, which is a shame.
What made you decide to take control of your health now?
I’d always have depressed moments of low self esteem after a de-tagging session on Facebook, but I never stayed upset for long enough to do anything about my weight. It wasn’t until an unexpected pregnancy ending badly, and being told by a Doctor that at my weight, pregnancy would always be difficult for me – I knew I had to do something. I was devastated to lose the baby, and whilst it wasn’t really my fault, I worried that if I’d been healthier, my body would have had an easier time of dealing with it. I have a rare blood type, and which means that any medical complications in the future could be really problematic for me. At 5″6 and topping 230lbs, I’m also at risk of diabetes, arthritis, and preeclampsia in future pregnancies which is connected to your blood pressure and can cause dangerous seizures. I’ve never had health problems before, so this all hit me rather hard, and made me realise that I needed to do something. I also lost around 12lbs through morning sickness, so that kinda helped to kick start it too.
I understand you’ve taken up running-my favorite sport- how has it helped your health?
Running has improved my health by leaps and bounds. Seriously, go run, now! I’m sleeping better, I have more energy, I crave foods that will actually give me the proteins I need. It had gotten to work so quickly on toning my butt and thighs, that even something simple like walking up stairs is easier! I used to get really bad back pain too, but that’s started to clear up as it’s improving my posture and core strength. It’s also nice to be able to walk upstairs to get something and not feel out of breath.
Running gives you some much needed thinking space which I think is great for your mental health. It’s one of the few times when I’m doing something and not multitasking with my mind or worrying. It’s really peaceful, and if I run in the morning, I carry that peace with me throughout the day. Running has made me a more patient person.
Has the change in lifestyle had an impact on how you feel about yourself?
Making a real effort to be healthier every day takes the guilt out of treating myself. Because I’m really good 80% of the time, I can justify having an ice cream at the beach, or just fancying some chocolate one evening then just eating it – guilt free! It means I have a much healthier relationship with food, and don’t see it either as a reward or something damaging. It’s just food.
I’ve only seen the slightest improvement in my physique so far, but it’s already improved my confidence. I’m not so self conscious when being intimate with my boyfriend, clothes that used to be uncomfortably snug now fit better, so day-to-day life is easier. All of this just makes me feel smiley, and strong, like I’m winning the battle
How have your family and friends reacted to the change in your lifestyle?
Not all my family and certainly not my co-workers know that why of my lifestyle change. So initially hey found it amusing. It must be a novelty to see a fat girl in Nikes. My boyfriend is amazingly good at kicking me out of bed on the days when I just can’t be bothered – I’m sure we all have those. One day he got up, made me a cup of tea, then literally put my trainers on my feet and pulled me out of bed to make me go. I’m lucky, in that I have my own personal motivation, and the support of my nearest and dearest.
I have another friend that’s much larger than I, and her Mother and Boyfriend would deliberately buy McDonalds for her, hide her trainers when I was picking her up for a Zumba glass and when she was having a rough day eat cake in front of her because they resented how guilty she was making them feel by taking control of her health. Eventually they wore her down and she’s back to her old eating habits. This is probably a rare reaction to experience, but it proves the point that motivation or support on their own aren’t enough. No one can support you into making a lifestyle change, no one can decide that it’s the right time for you. You need to have that motivation from somewhere inside yourself, along with the support of a friend, professional nutritionist or even someone online!
Ask on the Yes and Yes Network of Nice!
I’ve tried to turn my lifestyle around many a time before and failed, now that I’m succeeding, I can look back and see all the hurdles that had been stumbling me before, the largest being that I just didn’t want it enough.
I really appreciated the time Amber Rose took to share her story with us and I so look forward to hearing all about her first 5km!