Inspiration Over Lunch: Skinny Doll’s Turbulent Journey

It’s not every week I include an interview on my blog. I need to feel inspired and know that the piece I share will instil some confidence and inspiration in you guys otherwise – what’s the point?

I attended an O’Briens event in 2016 where Rachel Allen did a cookery demonstration (read more here). I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia Kinsella, a lady who I had come to know all too well via the blogging world. She’s as inspiring in person and certainly walks her talk as she has transformed her body, her mindset and in turn, her life with her attitude to food and her own self care.

She was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions and provided some intriguing insight into her life and mind.

Tell me all about yourself! Is there something you’d like to share that not many people know?

Oooh what secrets to tell!? I have an irrational fear of spiders having grown up in Australia! They can kill you ya know! I hate coriander. I want to retire to Tasmania and paint by the ocean. I’m a freelance graphic designer living in Dundrum, I’m lucky enough to work for myself which means I can fit blogging into my schedule during the week! I’m an only child and it’s only as I get older I wish I had some siblings. I am bulimic, I have been since I was about 17 but I really believe my issues with food started when I was much younger. My family came to Ireland for a holiday when I was about 6 or 7 and I only ate baked bean sandwiches for two months, so the signs were there. I was bullied when I was younger, but found my feet in university in London. I loved every second of it! It has made me a perpetual student. I’m currently trying to get my degree in counselling (module by module sigh…) so I can give back all the care I received to other people who need it. I’m a people pleaser and it’s hard trying to break that habit. Irish sign language is my second language!

Why did you start your blog?

I had just lost my job and was morbidly obese. I was alone, suffering from depression, and felt like I had no one to turn to. I put on such a happy face to the world that no one really knew how I was feeling and that’s mostly my fault. I hit rock bottom and went to my GP who set me on the healing path. With counselling and medication I was making small steps to feeling ‘normal’ again. One day I just thought to myself, there must be someone else out there, just like me who is struggling and isn’t coping. I needed to find these people and build a community where we could support each other. I know some people say you can’t be a positive happy bunny all the time in life but I sure as hell want to try it. There’s enough negativity in the big bad world that there really is no harm in creating a happy space where you can just put it all out there. I found a weight loss plan that works for me and I decided to document my journey et voila The Skinny Doll was born! I don’t ever plan on being ‘skinny’ it was just the name I picked in the heat of the moment and I went with it, sometimes I regret the name but mostly people get that it’s about me wanting to be happy in my own skin not skinny! I had no idea it would grow into the wonderful community that it has. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I haven’t given up and I think that’s why the blog is such a positive place for people. It’s honest and when I fall into a bag of chips at the weekend I tell the world, people feel normal when you tell them you did it too, no one life is picture perfect and social media can lead us to believe that people live in these perfect houses with perfect skin and perfect lives and the reality is far from that, so I’m all about keeping it real. I like my readers to know they’re not alone. But did we all at least enjoy the chips we fell into?! You’ll just get support and motivation. We’re all human. We fail but we keep going. We don’t give up on ourselves. I love that.

What does success look like for you?

Being happy in my own skin. I really admire all body positivity advocates out there. I would love to feel comfortable just throwing on something and feeling ok about myself but my path through life has instilled a feeling that I’ll never be good enough and I’m constantly working on improving that. My weight loss to date has certainly helped me. It’s not a number on the scales, it’s a feeling… happiness is not reserved for special people. Everyone has regret, people we’ve hurt, people who have hurt us but I’m a firm believer in you get what you deserve and we all deserve happiness as much as the next person. My ultimate goal is to look half decent in a pair of jeans one day! Numbers on social media mean very little to me, but the engagement I have with people online is priceless to me.

What has been your greatest milestone and how did that feel?

Hitting big losses at the scales have been amazing, when I hit my 10 stone loss, I was so happy. I’ve gained a little bit back since then but it’s in my sights so I’m aiming  for that right now! But it’s the NSV (Non Scale Victories) that have made me most proud.  The first time I didn’t have to ask for a belt extension on the plane I sobbed all the way to Gatwick, the poor air hostess thought I was having a meltdown! It wasn’t the fact that the belt actually fit me but thought process behind it. Whenever I went for a flight, the mind games would start as soon as I left the house. Would the air hostess be discreet? Would I get someone loud? It’s incredible how unkind some people can be. Would the person beside me cringe when I had to put the belt on? Would someone stare at me hoping they wouldn’t be stuck beside the fat woman for the whole flight? None of this ever materialised by the way.  I did have a few air hostesses shouting out ‘WHO NEEDS THE BELT EXTENSION?!?’ but to my ears it sounded like ‘WHERE IS THE FATTY?!!? COME ON PUT UP YOUR PAWS!’ but the embarrassment was unreal. Now I don’t have to worry about that. Those two hours aren’t full of anguish and worry now. It’s amazing how our mind works and that’s been a huge learning curve for me.

Winning the Best Health and Wellbeing awards was amazing last year, it’s nice to think that your peers rate you highly enough. I’ve been a finalist for the last 7 years and a judge every year too so it’s nice for the hard work to get recognised. I love the Irish Blog awards, it’s opened my eyes to so many amazing people documenting their lives online. It’s a fab little community to be a part of.

What has been your greatest milestone and how did that feel?

Hitting big losses at the scales have been amazing, when I hit my 10 stone loss I was so happy. I’ve gained a little bit back since then but it’s in my sights so I’m aiming for that right now! But it’s the NSV (Non Scale Victories) that have made me most proud… the first time I didn’t have to ask for a belt extension on the plane I sobbed all the way to Gatwick, the poor air hostess thought I was having a meltdown! It wasn’t the fact that the belt actually fit me but thought process behind it. Whenever I went for a flight, the mind games would start as soon as I left the house. Would the air hostess be discreet? Would I get someone shouty? It’s incredible how unkind some people can be. Would the person beside me cringe when I had to put the belt on? Would someone stare at me hoping they wouldn’t be stuck beside the fat woman for the whole flight? None of this ever materialised by the way, I did have a few air hostesses shouting out ‘WHO NEEDS THE BELT EXTENSION?!?’ but to my ears it sounded like ‘WHERE IS THE FATTY?!!? COME ON PUT UP YOUR PAWS!’ but the embarrassment was unreal. Now I don’t have to worry about that. Those two hours aren’t full of anguish and worry now. It’s amazing how our mind works and that’s been a huge learning curve for me.

Winning the Best Health and Wellbeing awards was amazing last year, it’s nice to think that your peers rate you highly enough. I’ve been a finalist for the last 7 years and a judge every year too so it’s nice for the hard work to get recognised. I love the Irish Blog awards, it’s opened my eyes to so many amazing people documenting their lives online. It’s a fab little community to be a part of.

Do you ever feel under motivated? If so, how do you find your motivation?

All the time! Staying motivated is the key for me. When I’m feeling positive and my mental health is good, I feel like I’m getting there. When I lose my mojo, I lose belief in myself and that’s why the blog helps so much. I can just say I’m having a bad week and people rally around and make you feel like you CAN do it! Because we all can!  I love all the positivity on Instagram too. Seeing people document their journey makes you realise just how far you’ve come and how much you can really achieve. I do a monthly photo challenge and the tips and support from followers from all over the world is incredible. Whilst some are having breakfast in Australia, other’s are having dinner in NYC and chatting about the pros and cons of cauliflower rice! It’s just brilliant! Better than any celebrity tv show!

Where do you see your blog going?

I don’t have any final destination for it, I honestly never expected it to become as successful as it has! I love just watching it grow organically, I spend so much time interacting with my readers and that’s what makes it for me. I shall continue to blog whilst I’m on this journey and it’s got its bumps in the road but it’s truly a labour of love to be honest. Losing a lot of weight can be daunting and it’s a lonely process, finding people on line who are on the same journey is such a relief, I have so many wonderful messages from people who tell me they have a lot of weight to lose and a blog post has inspired them to take the first step to join a class… or to try out a recipe… when you know that there’s someone going through the same process that you are, it’s a good feeling to just feel like you can support them because you’ve been there. I just want to keep spreading the MOJO and get happy with who I am and hopefully bring a lot of people along with me for the ride! Obviously I’d love to be able to blog full time, and once the euromillions comes through I’ll be doing just that on my own island with a pool boy for company!

To learn more about Olivia aka The Skinny Doll, visit the her website here.