Food. Body image. Self-esteem. Confidence. Worthiness. These are all things that I struggle with every single day. I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that I struggle. I am human and I am a female with self-acceptance issues. But how did this begin? Before I embarked on this lifestyle journey of healthy eating and physical exercise, I was the most confident girl that never cared how people portrayed her physical image… or maybe that is what I would like to believe. Either way, this journey is so difficult and I want to write on it because if my opinions and experiences can help one person, then I am doing exactly what I need to be doing.
I know that I am not the only woman that has these struggles. The struggles of looking at yourself in the mirror and not liking what you see, day-in-and-day-out. It is exhausting. For me, it is a cycle that I have not quite been able to break yet. This is how it goes: wake up, not like what I see, restrict my eating, workout hard at the gym… do this for a couple days … then, feel good about myself and where I am at, treat myself to a “bad” food in a small quantity and feel guilty. This puts me right back at square one… right where I started at the beginning of the cycle. It is so easy to write about this, to talk about it and recognize what the issue is, but it is so difficult to change the way you think.
Here is the thing, my whole life up until a couple years ago, I relied on food to get me through tough situations, boredom and coping with loneliness. Never have I admitted that before. I always seemed so happy, so care-free and so full of joy. It was never that I was miserable, but I wasn’t genuinely happy either. Food was the thing in my life that I had control over. The thing that never “let me down”. Looking back now, I can see how much I abused that control but I just didn’t care.
And that puts me where I am at today. Battling. My relationship with food is slowly but surely healing – however, my relationship with myself, my body and my self-esteem still struggles most days. I was always the “bigger” friend, the friend that couldn’t share clothes, the kid that was uncomfortable in so many situations. Those thoughts just do not go away in an instant. I can say that there are so many days I will tell my husband, “I just feel like I am 800 pounds”. I am so scared to gain weight back, to feel like I once did.
I have “fear foods”. Foods that I completely cut out once I started transforming my body physically. And over the years, I have more fear foods that I have just made myself believe I can’t eat. Example: ANY carb or sweet. Wow. Is it truly living if I am not enjoying foods that I do love? I am not saying to “go crazy” and binge on these foods, but to enjoy a whole granola bar and not just “a bite”?
When I pick up a granola bar, a piece of bread, tortilla chips, cereal, a cookie, puppy chow (my absolute favorite), and so much more, I have to tell myself “it is just one bite” to make myself feel less guilty. But why? If I ate the whole thing, would I get off track? Would my goals not be met? Maybe. I might gain a pound. But really, a pound? Out of 365 days a year, I control my eating EVERY SINGLE DAY, so why can I not have a snack, a meal or a dessert here or there without feeling guilty? Life is about living, and this includes eating the foods that bring you joy – even if it is in moderation. You don’t need to lose weight to love yourself and live life with joy. It has taken some time for me to realize that.
What if I started telling myself that “it is just one bite” when I ate my vegetables? As if that “one bite” was going to instantly make me skinny. Maybe I would try harder to eliminate this thief of joy. This mindset that has slowly but surely taken so much happiness from me. It isn’t about being skinny. It is about being healthy. Healthy physically, yes. But also healthy mentally and emotionally. Healthy in your relationships, healthy in the work you do, and even healthy with the way you speak to your family and friends.
This is where it has landed me today, in this very moment. Realizing I don’t need to be skinny to be loved and desired. I have a husband who loves me and chooses to love me every day. Not for how I look, how much I weigh, what my clothes look like on me, or if I have to buy the next size up in pants. He doesn’t change his mind in loving me when he sees me grab a piece of chocolate, get a small bowl of cereal at 8 PM, eat animal crackers when I want them, and ask him to take me on ice cream dates. When he met me, he knew who I was, what I looked like and my personality – and he still chose me. He chose to spend his days with me from the very beginning and never once hesitated. He loves me not because of the way I restrict myself, but the way I try to take care of myself. He encourages a healthy life, he encourages the things that bring me joy, he encourages me wanting to better myself no matter what way that may be. I sit here and could be so upset because on a scale, I weigh more than my husband does. But what does that matter? Does he care? No. He just wants me to continue giving him my heart every day and working to better myself and our relationship.
I want to become the woman that fully loves herself, the journey she has been on and the relationships she possesses. One day, I will have a little family of my own (I cannot wait for that day), and I don’t want my kids to see me discouraging myself, what I look like and the things I can offer. They will remember this and they will take that with them. I want them to see me caring form myself, living a healthy lifestyle (physically, mentally and emotionally) and loving their dad so fiercely that they will know what it is like to love and to be loved.
I firmly believe that God put me here for a reason, he had me go through all of these obstacles for a reason. My triumphs may seem small to some, there are other people who are struggling with far worse situations. But I know that by going through my struggles, I will be able to help and reach people that not everyone can. If I can help one person who struggles with the same thing, walking through this mud will seem like I am walking on water.
Be kind to yourself,