I know what you’re thinking. What right does this girl have to talk to us about loving yourself? Frankly, I’m wondering the same thing myself as I’m typing this. I have struggled (and continue to) find my place of full acceptance and comfort with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m much, much better than I was in the past. As far as body image is concerned, I don’t look at myself with disgust like I once did. But, I wouldn’t quite say I’m to the point where I fully love what I see either, and advocate how awesome it is to truly love my body. I strongly admire women who are like that. Especially those who aren’t skin and bones and have more curves. It’s a beautiful thing to see a woman who loves what is her own, someone who truly owns their body and walks confidently in their skin. I admire women like this.
I will be the first to admit that I have much room for growth in this area. While my weight is not the reason that I binge or still struggle with my eating disorder behaviors, I definitely am not at the point where I fully love what I see. My weight is a number that no longer binds me or causes anxiety for me. But there are still things about my body that I don’t like. I was obese when I was younger. I never shared any of my ‘chubby’ pictures on my blog before for several reasons. 1) I never wanted to receive praise for all the weight that I lost, since that is what set me spiraling out of control and into my eating disorder, 2) I didn’t have many pictures of myself back in those days, and 3) there was no real point or purpose in digging that up again, since I don’t look back on the past with much happiness or fondness. But, I see no reason not to anymore.
These pictures are some of the only few that I have in my possession anymore. I think I have a few others at my parent’s house, but my mom took those when I was in the depth of my eating disorder, as she didn’t think me having them was a good idea. These were taken around my senior year of high school, right when I was at my highest weight and shortly before I decided to make a change. It still surprises me looking back at these pictures. But the reality is, I never had a healthy relationship with food. When I was in middle school and high school I overate. I still vividly remember what a typical, normal day of eating looked like for me when I was in high school. I remember eating two packages of pop tarts during the course of the morning, a normal, school-served lunch, then I’d make a trip to the snack bar and get either a dessert or a ‘junky’ snack (sometimes both) and have that. Upon arriving home, I’d grab a few snacks from the pantry (usually chips and doritos, or chips and some cheese, or a piece of bread spread with peanut butter) all before having dinner in probably a matter of only two hours time. I also had no concept of exercise. Gym class was torture for me and nothing short of embarrassing.
I was never a very happy, social child growing up. Plus, I was the type of girl who never talked about things on my mind or that worried me. I kept every.single.thing to myself and internalized. Eating was my escape. Eating provided me with happiness and comfort.
Eventually I decided that it was time to do something about my weight. I started to realize just how unhealthy I was and how unhappy I was with my weight. So I started to diet and exercise. I had done so in the past, but each time I’d lose a little weight and then give up right away. But this time, things were different. I actually managed to stick with it. I started to feel the changes in my clothes, see the changes on the scale, and when I started receiving compliments from others, I was on cloud nine. From the point I was my heaviest, to the point where I was at a good and healthy place, I had lost a total of 67 pounds. Sadly, I didn’t know when or how to stop. I eliminated more and more from my diet, exercised more and more, and being healthy slowly morphed into the start of my eating disorder.
Looking back through it all, I have so many regrets about how I handled things. I wish I could go back and undo it. I wish I could erase my dependency on food and unhealthy eating habits. I wish I could go back and recreate a healthy beginning for myself, so that my disordered eating, my overexercising, and then onset of my eating disorder would never had happened. But I can’t. And all of the things from my past, have led me to where I am now, and to have the issues that I have with food, eating, body image, self-esteem and self-confidence. While I know I will never be able to undo all of the things that have happened in my past, I have to look for a hope that I can have the ability to change my future. I have to maintain that hope that just because all of this has been a part of my life for so long, for years upon years, that I will be able to create a new future for myself, a future that allows me to be healthy, and separated from my prior life. I need to believe that I can find a happy and healthy medium, where I can eat normal, balanced meals, and no longer have disordered thoughts about food and exercise. I will hold onto that hope; that dream. The more I aim for that goal, the more I hope I will be able to make that a reality.
Day 2 of the 50-day binge free challenge is to post a recent picture of yourself! Don’t body-shame, name two things you like about yourself in this picture.
I went with two. I chose the first, but then realized it only really showed my face, so I chose a second one that showed a bit more than my face. I’ve always loved my eyes. When I’m happy, or smiling, my eyes have a way of just lighting up. You can instantly tell if I’m in a good mood by the way my eyes look. I took both pictures yesterday. The first picture was shortly after I had just completed my longest run to date, of 8 miles. I had just eaten a very nutritious, well-rounded meal post-run to replenish what I had burned off, and was getting ready to spend the afternoon with my brother and sister-in-law. I was feeling really happy and really content, and really proud of myself and my body for carrying me 8 miles.
The second picture, was a little bit later. I decided the outfit I picked wasn’t quite warm enough for our weather (hence why the second picture has me in a different outfit) Again, I felt very comfortable in this picture. I was feeling really happy and content and the fact that I NEVER wear jeans on the weekend is a bit of a testament to that. I hate jeans…I love comfy, unflattering clothes normally. But I decided that I’d switch things up. I like the fact that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone a bit. If you dress in a way that looks as if you don’t value or respect your body, it will give off that vibe. If you choose outfits that make you look like you took more time than just rolling out of bed and running a brush through your hair, you’ll feel better about yourself.
The truth is that I still very much identify with the girl in the first set of pictures. People so often think that those who lose weight instantly feel great about themselves and like a whole new person. I never really had that. Granted, for a while I was pretty comfortable with my weight (non-coincidentally when I was at a healthy weight and still maintaining a well-balanced diet, before exercise and restriction took control). The only difference now is that I’ve seen that chasing an impossible goal of ultimate thinness is striving after the wind. It is simply unattainable. I no longer wish to be ‘skinny’, but wish to be healthy and happy and comfortable in my skin. The biggest piece of the puzzle that I really need to work out is the nutrition piece. Once I figure that out and it comes all into place, I think I’m going to be in a pretty comfortable, happy, and content place. I just need to keep on going and keep on fighting. In time, I know I will learn to full love myself.