A Year in Review: 2016

At the start of 2016 I decided that I wanted to take the year out for myself. To focus purely on me and my health.

2016 was an absolutely incredible year for me. We all know it’s been absolutely shitee politically so let’s not even go there – I even stopped reading the news earlier this year because it got to a point where it was mentally affecting me, and making me feel depressed and nauseous every time I would flick over to BBC News or something would pop up on my Facebook feed. So I just stopped reading it – an odd unfolding for a former Politics student, but honestly couldn’t handle seeing anymore shite online.

“If you ignite passion within you… the world has a miraculous and magnificent way of rearranging itself to suit the new person you are becoming.” – Tina Su

I recently stumbled upon this beautiful quote a while back whilst stalking a friend’s blog, originally posted on the Forbes site (love their quotes of the day!). There are many reasons why this resonated with me. At the end of 2015/start of 2016, I set myself very specific goals that I wanted to achieve, and I am proud to say with 2016 coming to an end, I have pretty much achieved all of these (bar passing my driving test… ergh). I have discovered many passions this year, and my environment has certainly reflected this – from the opportunities that arose to the people I met and chose to surround myself with.

At the start of 2016, I decided to lose weight, and in October 2016, after quite a journey, I reached my goal weight. It was by far one of the most challenging and most rewarding endeavours of my life. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will know how incredibly difficult it is. Many people at the start of a new year vow to shed weight and make a change etc. but this for me was not a solid proclamation or conscious decision, but sort of happened by accident – it was something that I thought I would try out on the basis of something my younger sister – Jamila – said to me one evening. She said that her lecturer at her university had lost lots of weight over the course of a few months by going on a low-carb diet. I had never really heard of this before and had never really tried to successfully diet before either; it wasn’t something of interest to me really, probably because I was never conscious of the fact that I was overweight, but mostly because my attention was invested in other things that were of importance to me, such as academia and adventure trips and finding things to do that pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me develop and discover myself as a person.

It’s hard to believe, considering the image-conscious society in which we live, but I have never really cared about the way I looked, and nor have I ever been particularly self-conscious or had any weight-related issues. I guess on a subconscious level it was me showing two fingers to imposed social values #feministrighthere. I mean, I used to go to the corner shop in my pj’s ppl (still do lol). Looking back now at the end of 2016, and after everything I have experienced this year, I realise what a true novelty it is for a girl whose been a chubster since birth (bar the few years during my toddler to primary years when I was in Bangladesh and thinned down naturally), not to have had any weight-related or food issues. I’ve always had an inner sense of indestructible self-confidence and belief, and perhaps that masked my over-weightness, but after losing a considerable amount of weight this year, I (again believe it or not), have found a renewed sense of confidence, especially in the way I dress and deal with food. It took me by surprise that I gained confidence, as this was not something I ever thought I was lacking; but on reflection, at least on a subconscious level, I may not have been all that comfortable with my weight – all my clothes were baggy/loose to cover up my flab and a lot of items appeared to be maternity range size lol… I am well-known amongst my friendship group for having very little fashion sense/style. Like I said, never really cared about what I looked like.

My journey started on January 3rd. And a week later I had lost 6-7lbs due to low-carbing. I was shocked. I am aware some of it is water-weight, but it was still a shock to lose that much in a week. It was after this visible loss, that I truly believed that I could lose my aim of 3 stone. I didn’t do this blindly; I did a lot of research beforehand and consulted a nutritionist and diet-peeps/consultants and used meal-replacements at the start to boost the initial results and my motivation. Initially, certain people I regarded close in my life laughed at my attempt to lose weight in such a restrictive approach and weren’t at all that supportive – only to later gawp at the results and attempt to follow in my footsteps. Yes, there are plenty of haters out there, but there are also a lot of supporters. So many people got in touch with my via social media to say wonderful things about my weight loss and determination, which really helped me stay motivated. I did do an initial social media detox for the first 3 months of 2016 to purely focus on this and remove myself from distractions, which also helped a lot I found.

The most unexpected thing I encountered in the process of my weight loss however is the amount of people who have something to say when you’re skinny or losing weight, but don’t have much to say to you when you’re overweight and your health is at risk. I learnt a shit load about nutrition and the body, I read tons of blogs and joined Facebook groups, signed up to online nutrition courses, hit the gym, and day by day talked myself into making better and healthier life choices around food. I did it for my health, not for vanity. I did it because over the years people in my family and beyond have hinted or said in other words that I was fat. I always let it go in one ear and out the other, but I got to the stage where I was going to turn 25 at the start of 2016 and I decided I didn’t want to be at risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and didn’t want my fam to look at me like a hopeless case of a potato with no prospects (talking about marriage here – I’m Asian inniittt). I wanted to stick two fingers and shout at everyone to leave me alone. I was fat and happy at the time, but my weight seemed to bother everyone but me until it actually bothered me. Weight shouldn’t define you, but unfortunately in our image-conscious and excruciatingly judgemental society, it does. We are more than the number on the scale, but it’s hard to remind yourself of that when you see the faint bulge of your belly popping over your jeans under your t-shirt.

What I discovered and am most proud of, is the incredible amount of discipline I exercised over my diet and lifestyle. It wasn’t easy (and still isn’t), especially with my mother overseas for most of the year and taking on the responsibility of looking after two of my younger siblings, a full-time job and a demanding marketing course on the side and a gazillion other things. But I did it and I have never felt better being fit and healthy and being in control around food. Not that I was never not in control, but it wasn’t something I ever thought about and I would indulge in high-calorie foods to deal with stress (usually to do with writing a horrendous amount of essays) or due to my emotions which would lead to comfort eating or binging. These are things I now realise in hindsight, at the end of this year, not something that I realised before.

I’ve had lots of support from my family and friends, although not always!! I am forever grateful to my beautiful sister and love ❤ Jamila ❤ for telling me about the diet in the first place, being a constant source of support and putting up with all my good days and dark days (of which there were many!). As they say, there is no magic pill – I dieted HARDCORE. If you know me, then you know that when I put my mind to something I prefer to do it right and go for it 100% – it's kind of all or nothing. So I went for it, and the hard work paid off. It did ignite a passion within me, to eat better, to take care of my body, to be a healthy and not have random back pains and lumps of fat on my body. I am certainly so much happier and more confident for it than I could have ever imagined. Losing weight was the last remaining wishful thing on my list of 3 ultimate things I've wanted since I was an overweight teen (and yes I wrote those 3 things down on a piece of paper and everything) – and I finally did it! I have got/achieved all those 3 things on that list.

I’m not one for #TransformationTuesday or #FatFaceFriday or whatever, but I did take progress pictures throughout my journey – which are for my eyes only ha (trust me you don’t want to see them) – but I thought I would put the following pictures side by side – these are images of my face that my sister Jamila drew, before and after, 2013 vs 2016:
So yes, this was the main thing that preoccupied 2016 for me and I couldn’t be happier with the result of my hard work and dedication and my gratefulness to the key people that played a huge role in my success – you know who you are. I did a lot of other things beyond trying to lose weight though, such as learning how to cook, actively making time to do some writing, learning to love exercising, seeing my friends get married and travelling! Rome, Singapore and Lake District – honestly some of my best trips to date. ABSOLUTELY LOVED ROME SOOO much- Italian food is insanely good, the stuff we have in the UK is honestly unworthy of the label of food. Food in the UK so shit it’s unbelievable. Singapore was amazing – especially getting to know a uni friend better, trying all types of bread possible (literally had no chill when I was there). And finally visiting the Lake District with two of my oldest and dearest friends was absolutely lovely.

Ok so lots of stuff happened. Going on from my visual roundup blog post last year, I have done a similar mosaic thing of my moments throughout 2016 here. Enjoy!

January 2016

 

January – new year, new me 😀 Started my diet, started writing like a maniac during my lunch breaks at work after some inspo at a friend’s Christmas party the month before and went to Calais with my sister from the support of a uni friend who was volunteering out there. Raised over £700 to go there and provide supplies to the refugees, and had an incredibly insightful time working with other volunteers and meeting and talking with the refugees.

February 2016

Went hard on the dietlife #lowcarb, which meant every time I went out to eat I went to Handmade Burger and Co. – coz the chicken is halal baby! Matt came to visit Soton for the first time ever and I ended up taking him there too ;D. Also spent lots of time with my sisters as my mum was still overseas so I was babysitting them in every sense of the term, drinking endless bouts of coffee, working through my CIM assignment, writing that tragic love story, continuing driving lessons with my instructor who continued to make sexual analogies at me about driving, reading motivational quotes to keep me on that #dietlife, and loving my baby nephew ❤

March 2016

Made the 5-6 hour trek to my sister’s new place in Basildon/London to spend time with her and my youngest and most adorable baby nephew who I loves so much ❤ ❤ ❤ over the Easter break, reunited with my oldest niece and nephew after being apart for 7 years (it was pretty emotional and yet at the same time as though we had never parted), met up with Cambridge peeps (pretty sure I won several pool matches too), and was still going strong on the diet and had lost just under 2 stone by then.

April 2016

Hit the 2 stone mark – was overjoyed! My half-brother had his baby daughter (that’s me in the hospital in the top left holding her 😀 ), stumbled onto a book on all I needed to know about potatoes in a charity shop 😄 (regret not buying it!), and had the most AMAZING trip in Rome with one of my oldest friends. The food in Rome is absolutely incredible and fresh (I STILL DREAM ABOUT IT SOMETIMES OMGGG). We saw all the main sights and did soo much walking that I actually lost weight during the trip! The picture in the bottom right is me at my friend Nadia’s birthday party in London. I was a bit of a social hermit from Jan-March and went on a social media detox. This is one of the first pictures I posted since I had lost a significant amount of weight and lots of lovely people got in touch online to congratulate me.

May 2016

May was an exceptionally busy month – finally met up with old school uni/China buddy in Portsmouth as she was down in the south for her placement, my mother returned after 6 months overseas, saw my besties and graduated with my MA at Cambridge (I know right it’s crazy how time flies!), my sister had her baby Hana Sophiya Matin ❤ (yes I am an aunty to a gazilljillion babies), saw one of my oldest and dearest friends in Coventry for her 25th birthday and did my civic duty i.e. jury service. I was so naive – I was super excited about doing this when I got the letter – for some reason I always wanted to do jury service (probs coz I watched way too much CSI back in the day). Anyway, I was put on the worst case imaginable and it was a truly horrible, un-enjoyable and stressful experience (possibly also because I was also trying to finish my CIM assignment during it). Would not recommend.

June 2016

June was equally as eventful – it was Ramadan, so I was fasting from sunrise to sunset whilst trying to balance the demands of my full-time job; the days were so long that me and my baby sis started baking! This was very experimental on my part – if you know anything about me then you know I struggle with the basics of life, like making edible rice and toast, although I have massively improved my culinary skills this year. I love bananas so I tried my hand at making a banana cake – which ended up being pretty decent! But it was my artistic sister Jamila who bought out all the stops when it came to baking and decorating. I also had the most amazing trip to Singapore to see my uni friend get married. I saw all the main sights and just had the most fantastic time meeting old and new PPS friends. I literally also had no chill when it came to food. I ate so much bread and cake I got acid reflux :/ I’ve never had this before – thought I was dying in my usual dramatic fashion but my mate put me straight. I was also racing against time with finishing off my CIM Marketing assignment – which I managed to submit in time and get a distinction in yeyyyyy #stillgoit 😀 And to top it all off I gained about a stone fml from eating cake everyday :’C

July 2016

Ramadan finished, I stopped eating cake, I got a personal trainer (woop) and started lifting weights; got a cold, tried to write but failed, got back on the #dietlife, although fasting had really messed up my routine and metabolism, went to the Lake District and was fortunate with beautiful weather, saw BSoc pal get married, saw one of my dearest friend’s for her 4th wedding anniversary (crazeee), enjoyed a Rio themed staff party at work (which was nice I suppose considering I completely ignored the actual Olympics), and reunited with an old school friend from Regent’s Park and her family which was super lovely ❤ It was like old times!

 August 2016

August was a bit of a stressful month for me, my mother had to go to Bangladesh again due to land issues, I wasn’t losing weight as fast as I wanted and was putting desperate amounts of pressure on myself and getting depressed about it; I also cut off a chunk of my hair because couldn’t deal with the drama of taming my long hair any longer, and I tried to limit my social outings as I was just struggling to manage all the stuff going on in my life and just feeling quite quickly overwhelmed, especially babysitting my younger sisters, the younger of which was giving me a right headache – #Kardashian worthy drama I tell ye. My emotions were just on a short leash in general (low carbing side effects probs), so the smallest things would just set me off on an emotional rant/rollercoaster. But I managed to power through and survive this challenging month. I saw lots of friends however, which kept me sane among the madness – loved re-visiting the sights in Winchester and my old sixth-form, seeing more of my old school friend and family from Regent’s Park, and catching up with the bestie. Also tried expanding my cooking repertoire with fish and did some light yet satisfying reading!

September 2016

My friend Abi reminded me about signing up to do a 5k run in October that I off-the-cuff agreed to months ago but completely forgot about – but so glad she mentioned it to me again and that I decided to go for it despite having two major modules of my CIM course to complete. She drove down from Portsmouth on a weekly basis so we could go running together in Southampton Common. This by far has been one of the best things to come out of 2016 – I fell in love with exercising but ultimately running outside! It’s such a social thing too – it was a great way for me to catch up with Abi and just unload – I don’t have many female friends close to me in Southampton so it was just wonderful being able to have a girl to chat to as a change (not that I don’t love catching up all my male friends, I do!, but it’s different chatting to a girl about your daily woes!!). I had so much fun training for this and got into a habit of working out/training 5 days a week – which I always thought would be crazy difficult to do, but wasn’t at all. Once it became a habit I didn’t need to think about it, I would just grab my gym bag and go! My sister also received a fab award from Peter Symonds on her charity work, it was Eid no.2, I was doing my best to start incorporating more of my fave treats in moderation back into my diet and get back into reading some thrillers and blogging. I also went up to London for a week to visit family and friends and my lovely dentist to get my Invasalign braces sorted. I have quite a bit of holiday with my job so had a number of days left over so was able to take a week off to enjoy. It was great being in London and just being able to relax and see people and catch up, especially as I’d been quite the hermit since the start of the year.

October 2016

October involved more running, food, and catching up with friends. I also hit my goal weight of 8.10 stones! Honestly it was a great feeling and I celebrated it by eating like a tonne of pasta and cheese. It wasn’t this huge euphoric moment for me or anything, it was a slow and long burn getting there and when I did I just felt like I had come into my own – don’t know if that makes any sense? But yes it was a great feeling. I loved the 5k (I truly felt like I was at the height of my fitness at this point) and making new friends in the process; and it was great to be able to raise and donate a sizeable chunk of money to the NSPCC, a charity close to my heart and one that I have been supporting since I got my very first job at the age of 16.

Whilst I was training for the 5k I pretty much ignored my CIM work so most of November was spent panicking about my assignment and exam prep and binge eating due to stress ergh. My manager also told me she was moving to a new job (after 10 years at the University of Southampton!). I cried buckets like a big bluberring baby #noshame. She’s been such an incredible person in my life ever since I started working and has made such a difference to my mental wellbeing and happiness at work that I was truly distraught when she said she was leaving – I wasn’t the only one, the rest of the Digital team were pretty much in the same boat. I continued to run casually for fun with Abi during the weekends, as it’s so beautiful in Southampton during autumn, as usual had great fun at with the Christmas lights switch on and working on the new undergraduate recruitment campaign, went to an Oxbridge BanglaSoc networking/reunion event, which was lovely for seeing old faces and new, and I also introduced a new slow cooker in my life, which wasn’t as revolutionary as I hoped it would be frankly, but possibly might need to try harder with recipes..

December 2016

December and the end of the year is upon us already. This month is usually the most busiest for me with events back to back. I was studying in the library for most of the start of it in prep for my exam (which was at Girton College, Cambridge – just when I thought I had done my last exam in the city back in 2013..). After that, I spent a weekend catching up and eating cake with my best friends in Coventry – as we had all finished our exams/got a new job/had reasons to celebrate something and just in general not having seen each other for ages. My sisters from London and my niece and nephew from Newcastle came down for the holidays too so it was a week of madness and I was pretty much sleeping on the couch for most of it, but you gotta do what you gotta do for yo fam.

All in all, 2016 was an incredibly challenging and fulfilling year for me. I have learnt so much about myself, what I am capable of, what I want and about the impact people can have on others, even though they might not know it. I am so glad that I decided to make positive changes in my life – these have all had a knock on effect on my mentality and self-belief and how I conduct myself in my personal relationships with people. I plan on setting myself even more goals for the year ahead to develop and myself further.

Also a thank you to everyone who follows my blog and reads it. Hello to all my new subscribers as well! I love all the feedback and the positivity received and very much appreciate it. Happy New Year everyone!

My next two posts will be regarding my new year’s goals for 2017 – watch this space! xxx

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