One of my friends recently lost some weight and someone asked her about it. She said yes she did and instead of telling her good job or that she looked good, the woman said something to her about how awful her clothes fit now. I could not believe that! What was the point of making her more self conscious instead of building her up and giving her that motivation to keep going? I think that is a big problem with society now. The focus is not on being healthy it’s on being skinny. There is a big difference!
I always thought I would get to a place in my life where I would be comfortable with my body, and be okay with what I looked like. Or at least come to a place where I didn’t care what others thought, but I’m still not there yet. I’m still self conscious about putting on a bathing suit, or even about the clothes I wear each day. I want to feel comfortable, and be confident with myself but I just can’t get to that point.
This is a hard post for me to write about, because this is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember, and I still do today. Growing up, I wasn’t skin and bones, but I wasn’t fat either. I went through phases where I was chubby, but I would grow out of it. I was in dance, and was very active. I used to think maybe being in dance was why it was so much of an issue for me, but I see body shaming everywhere. It’s in the media constantly, and girls are taught to look a certain way or you are not pretty. Girls can be so hard on themselves anyways; they don’t need someone pointing out their flaws. They already know they are there, so why make them feel bad about it?
Being in dance was difficult when it came to my body. I felt like I was always being compared to the other girls. I wasn’t tall and slender, but I could dance just as well. I can remember my dance teacher telling girls that they needed to lose weight. I feel like this kind of shaming is what creates eating disorders. The “skinny” girls always got the good parts or solos, or got to be in the front. Everyone else was put in the back. Whether it was done on purpose or not, it made an impression on me that I was not “skinny”.
I think this shaming started very young for me. I can remember wanting so badly to look like my dancer friends. They were all bones, and I am not built like that. It was an unrealistic goal, but it’s what I thought I needed to look like. When I was a freshman in high school, I pretty much stopped eating. I was in dance, and I ran track. I would eat an apple at lunch and that was about all I would eat for the day. I weighed less than 100 pounds at one point. I was not healthy at all. Then my senior year, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder and I had to take steroids for almost a year. I gained around 80 pounds from those steroids. I was miserable, and I hated myself. Even though I couldn’t help it, I hated to even look at myself. After I stopped taking the medicine, the weight started coming off. I went to college and I wanted desperately wanted to be in dance, but I was way to self conscious. I ended up having the dance teacher in another class, and she talked me into coming to a dance class. I did, and I realized that everyone there was all different shapes and sizes and it was okay. I still struggled with myself, but I felt accepted, like people saw me for me, not for what I looked like. By dancing, I started losing the weight I had gained quicker. The next semester, I took all of the dance classes that I could, and I started running again and working out and I quickly got down to a healthy weight. I was so active, that I didn’t have to watch what I ate. I could eat whatever I wanted and never gain any weight because I was dancing several hours a day and running on top of that. I went to the gym several days a week too. I danced all through college and I stayed healthy.
After college, I started working full time and a lot of overtime, and there wasn’t much time for working out. I was still trying to run a few days a week, but I was still eating what I wanted, so I gained a little weight. When Jeremy and I started dating, we ate out all the time, and always late at night. We would order an appetizer, dinner, and dessert. And I was so used to not having to watch my weight that I didn’t worry about it and I started gaining. At first, it was okay because it wasn’t a lot. But then it seemed like overnight, it became A LOT, and I couldn’t get it off.
I would try to run, but it was miserable and I wouldn’t stick with it. I would try to diet, but I could never be consistent. I hated the way I looked, and I hated myself for getting to that point. I think I just got to a place where I gave up. I quit trying because it didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t lose any weight. I would always tell myself, “I’ll start tomorrow, it’s okay to eat that hamburger and fries tonight.” But then tomorrow turned into the next day, and that day turned into the day after that. Or, I would set unrealistic goals for myself and then when I wouldn’t meet them I would be so disappointed and give up. I might set a goal of I’m going to lose 10 pounds this month, and then if I didn’t lose any the first week, I would quit trying. I think a big part of my problem was that I had never really had to diet. I didn’t know how or how to do it in a healthy way. I stayed like this for several years, and I was miserable. I hated going places and being social. I didn’t like having to get dressed up, and I absolutely hated shopping for clothes. It was depressing. It was a vicious cycle. I was constantly worried about my weight, but I would eat because I was unhappy, then I would beat myself up for eating. It really was depressing.
I don’t know what changed, but something inside of me did. I just finally decided that I had had enough. I made an appointment with a nutritionist who helped design a meal plan for me. I had monthly checkups for a few months and this helped me to have to be accountable. She not only designed a meal plan, but also an exercise plan as well. This was the jump start that I needed. Once I could see results, I was able to keep going. I felt so much better. I have learned so much on this weight loss journey. I have learned how to make healthy choices. I have learned how to make meals healthier, and how to substitute healthy ingredients. I have also learned to listen to my body. After I eat something, I see how I feel. If my stomach is upset or I feel bloated or sluggish, then I know it’s not something that I need to eat again. I also listen to when I’m actually hungry. I don’t eat if I’m just bored or sad. I eat for fuel. I have also learned to eat in moderation. Just because I’m craving a cookie doesn’t mean that I need to sit down and eat the whole package.
I know that I am so much healthier than I used to be, and that should be enough. And I know that I’m never going to be completely ripped and toned, and I have learned to not set unrealistic goals for myself. But I still have a hard time not being self conscious, or worrying about the way I look. I think I still view myself as I was when I weighed a lot more. It’s not only a physical battle but a mental one as well. Now, I make much healthier choices when it comes to food, and I exercise at least 5 days a week, but I am still hard on myself if I splurge and eat something that I know is not healthy. I am really working on this, but I think it’s the same as it was in losing the weight. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. This is something that I will overcome eventually. I know I will because I get stronger every day.
Through dealing with this, it makes me sad to see young girls who are so worried about how they look. I understand the battle that they are facing, and I wish they could just see how beautiful they are and not let others influence the way they view themselves. I wish I could do that for myself too, but it is something that I am working on.
But, I wish that other people would realize that even small comments make a big impact on people who deal with this issue. I wish people would learn to keep their comments to themselves!