Size is just a number.

I never used to think about food.

I grew up in a household where meals ran like clockwork and weren’t a topic of family discussion. We ate breakfast at the table, I took a packed lunch to school and we sat and ate dinner together. When I went to college, I was surprised that people ate so much rubbish; chowing down on giant bags of chips and guzzling Pepsi like it was about to become obsolete. It was an eye opener, but I didn’t have the tastebuds for it.

It was later in my twenties when I started dating that food crept its way into my life, and under my skin. I ate out at fancy restaurants, cooked romantic feasts and snacked through loved-up movie fests with my SO. At some point my body changed and I didn’t even notice.

I went through a phase of nearly killing myself in the gym, battling to keep hold of the fat reigns before the hungry horse galloped off. I knew I was at that point where if I didn’t keep it under control, my cute, tight little birthday suit would pop its buttons and reveal a larger inflated onsie lurking just beneath the surface. So I spent several years in denial, shoving the extra fat underneath different silhouettes.

And then it happened. I stepped off the treadmill, threw in the towel, and accepted I was never going to be skinny again.

Gaining weight is an inevitable part of ageing. In the same way I embraced my wrinkles, I had to accept my new, rounder shape too. Accepting a more generous body shape wasn’t easy, far from it. Youth is synonymous with beauty in society’s unwrinkled eyes and it’s a choice you have to make to swim against the tide. If I could have flicked a switch and chosen to freeze my weight at a svelte figure, I would have. But there’s not an app for that. Yet.

There were days when I looked in the mirror and contemplated surgery, but a zippy nip tuck is misguided confidence. I knew I’d start with fixing up one thing and then shift my focus to another. Did I really want to spend the next few decades literally trying to shoo ageing away with a scalpel? And besides, I’m not the same person I was in my twenties, so why would I want to look like her? I’m more mature, confident, have learnt from my mistakes and battled through tough times.

So I embraced my new self-image and gave away clothes I knew in my heart of hearts I would never wear again. I stopped trying to hide my shape in dark hues, bought bold brights in a bigger size and as soon as I did that, the compliments flowed.

“You look well”, “So healthy”, “A tan really suits you,” they said.

In giving my new comfy onsie the green light I found an exciting sense of calm. My confidence blossomed, my smile was as broad as my hips, and I was happy again.

Life isn’t about pressing pause; it’s about moving forward. I’ve had some incredible life experiences – some fantastically good, others heartbreakingly bad – but they all add up to ‘me’, whatever size that means. Like the wrinkles on my face, my body is a reminder of how far of come.

Comment: Have you ever struggled with your body image?