My unexpected but, oh so worth it, journey from being diet-obsessed to body positive!
I can’t recall exactly when my journey to becoming diet-obsessed began, but I know my journey to becoming body positive took me by surprise. There was a time around puberty where I began wondering what boys thought of me. Of course, I wondered and worried the most, what the other girls thought and said about me when I wasn’t in the room. Did they whisper and say nasty things about the way I looked?
Before that, I always assumed that adolescent girldom was the way I saw it in the movies. The normal/average size girl playing sidekick to the blond-haired model that had it all.
By aged 14, the word diet meant to me that you had to eat specific foods in a specific way until you reached your ‘goal weight’ and then everything would be ok. Of course, it never was, and I spent those formative years trying to balance my love of food with my hatred of exercise.
The University Years
When I moved to university the scale range moved more. I constantly charted my weight, but I didn’t see it as a problem. Instead of losing the initial planned 5 pounds, I’d just have to lose 10 instead. Then came the months of fad diets; Keto, Paleo, Cambridge, Atkins-you name it, I tried it. I charted them all. At first, I used paper but then I got a Fitbit.
At 24, I reached my heaviest. I was two years into therapy at this time and one thing became glaringly clear: whatever ‘it’ was, I certainly did not have it together. This was abundantly clear when it came to my body. I consumed myself with day to day life-university, working part-time and the inevitable social life that comes with being a student. I didn’t realise my initial weight obsession started with sheer neuroticism. Controlling what I ate and how many steps I took made me think I was in control of my anxiety.
With my Fitbit by my side, I was constantly reminded of my daily goals. My daily achievement was to make that thing buzz and I could not rest until it had done so, even if that meant missing out. I recall times of jogging on the spot until midnight, excusing myself from events so I could take long walks, and having extra-long toilet breaks just to complete those goals.
There were days when I didn’t achieve it and I mentally scolded myself and guilted myself to make up for it the following day.
Awakening The Past
Before therapy, it had never occurred to me that my anxiety and eating were linked to something bigger. That gaining weight during this time was linked to reliving repressed memories.
When I looked through old diaries from my teenage years one thing became obvious: every few months I would start a health kick hoping that this was ‘it’. The content read the same: when I am X weight I will be happy; my anxiety will disappear, and I will not feel the need to binge eat my feelings.
Now at my heaviest, I have realised this bout of weight gain is different. This time I don’t hate myself for it. I’ve discovered that I am much more than my weight and for the first time I don’t feel exhausted from the cycles of weight watching. I know that being healthy is not about vanity. I was, without knowing it being ‘body positive’!
When I joined a gym but, this time on my terms. I did question whether I was being true to my new self as surely ‘body positive’ cannot go with working out, weight loss and eating healthy. Of course, it can. Body positivity for me is a mental state that involves, accepting my body the way it is today.
“It is not about the destination but the journey itself.”
Cheesy yes, but true. My journey involves swimming because I enjoy that, but I also enjoy the chocolate workshops I attend with my friend.
There is more to a healthy life than chasing something that is unsustainable.
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