The short answer: yes.
Warning: This post will be delving into the depths of problems with body image and the negative mental state that accompanies them. Please proceed with caution if this is a triggering topic for you. Much love xx.
A year ago today, I stood in front of my mirror and took the first photo. I looked at myself, completely ashamed of what I’ve let myself become, embarrassed by how much weight I’ve let myself gain, and disappointed by the fact that I was letting the ‘haters’ win by hating myself in that moment. I swiveled around on my feet to take pictures at different angles and proceeded to agonize over how my gut spilled over the garter of my new yoga pants.
A year ago today, I vowed to myself that I would never let myself get “this bad” again. I challenged myself to get to my goal weight that would require me to lose 37 pounds. (I’m almost there!) I said, “By the time of my 21st birthday, I want to be able to wear whatever I want and be comfortable in it.”
I remember not even being able to muster the courage to send that first set of pictures to my boyfriend. They were too raw, too real. They showed pretty much everything I never wanted anyone to see: the way my stomach spilled over and protruded under the band of my pants, how my stomach fell in rolls on my sides, and the way my thighs hugged each other like inseparable newlyweds. I hated everything about those pictures.
However, something was starting to change within me.
I had taken those pictures after my third kickboxing class and although I had this overwhelming negative reaction to the images that lit my screen, another feeling was bubbling underneath. I felt energized and motivated; my negative reaction only fueled my will to make my goals a reality. I was on some form of “runner’s high” that made me need this rather than want it.
Growing up in a mostly overweight to obese family didn’t stop the inappropriate ridicule I received as a young girl. The routine of my family gatherings consisted of relatives pitting me against my sister as they glorified her beauty and subjected me to derrogatory comments such as “pig” and “hippo” or the family favorite: “big kahoona!” I’ve always been on the pudgy side while my sister remained safe from the crossfire in the lanky realm. It didn’t help that I ate everything I saw; my eyes were inherently bigger than my stomach and I was never taught the bodily cues of hunger and satiation.
Unfortunately this consistent negative commentary inhibited me from forming any reasonable level of self esteem which led to years of self harm and early stages of eating disorders.
The only way the severity of my state came to my parents’ attention was when they found the rotting lunches, that my dad worked meticulously to make each morning, hidden in an old bookbag in my closet. I remember the contorted look on his face: a mixture of disappointment, anger, but most of all hurt. I remember the guilt I felt, knowing I had hurt him. I remember the pressure in my chest as I sobbed to them, trying to explain how much I was hurting. I remember the anger masking their worry as they struggled to understand. I remember the end of that lengthy family meeting resulted in a promise to eat, one that I broke for months following. I remember thinking “I just need to hide them better” because it was working.
Or so I thought.
One toxic relationship later, I found myself in a new territory of self hatred and depreciated self worth that led to the other side of the spectrum of eating disorders: binge eating. In early high school I finally got out of that relationship and found myself hiding from the resulting trauma in my food. If I felt anything negative, I would eat. Then, cue the typical high school drama where anyone who deviated from “perfect” was ridiculed. I was far from perfect. I was preyed on because of my lack of confidence and my lack of confidence was rooted in this unhealthy relationship with food. After every comment, I’d vow to stop eating again and that would go on for weeks until I’d break down and eat again. It became a viscous cycle.
It took years of battling my inner turmoil, my hatred for myself, and my poor relationship with food to get to the moment in that first photo; the moment where I despised how my fat distribution fell, where I struggled to find anything lovable in myself. But that moment was the exact moment where I told myself that this was in MY control. There were things I hated, but these were things I could change. That exact moment was when my mind chucked the “I wish” and reeled in the “I will”.
Today marks a year since that moment. It’s been a perilous year of crying to my boyfriend about plateauing once again and how I’d never lose it all because I was “destined to be fat”. But this year also had victorious moments where my confidence levels were so unreal, I couldn’t recognize myself. This year, I’ve made such a strong bond with my body as it proved to me time and time again how strong it really is, and not only from withstanding the beatings I gave it in the past. I’ve learned so much about how working out can help with my overall mental health. I was able to extinguish so many moments of despair, stress, and anger with a 20 minute workout!
Today marks a day of victory, change, and progress. I’m elated to express that my mental health is in the best place it’s ever been. I’m not as close to my goal “body” as I’d like to be, but I sure am proud of myself for all the hard work, literal sweat, and streams of tears that brought me to where I am today.