Mixed messages in the world cause a lot of stress and confusion. The constantly changing trends over body types and what is considered ‘healthy’ is nauseating if you actually follow the information. I have always been a bigger kid (with the exception of a few years of high school volleyball) and as a result have always had poor body image. I remember being a freshman in high school in the best shape of my life. I was 5’3”, 145lbs and could box lift as much as any of the football boys. Even then I felt like a cow compared to my petite teammates that were all tall and skinny. I have an athletic build and I’m not ashamed of it anymore. But the worst memory I had from being that in shape was lying sideways on my couch and feeling my hip bones. I would obsess over that small belly pouch that would be squished against the couch. NEWS FLASH: There was no pouch; I just thought I was fat compared to everyone else around me.
I saw a meme the other day that said “I wish I was as skinny as the first time I thought I was fat”, and that statement made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Being a female today it feels like you need to fit into one of two molds: Be a skinny/healthy fitness model OR eat as much as you want and be praised for your bigger girl confidence. I don’t want to be either of those. Yes I want to be healthy. Yes I want to eat pizza and drink wine. Yes I want to have protein shakes after my workouts. But I don’t want that to be the thing that defines who I am as a person.
I have been on a health ‘journey’ of sorts, for about 6 years now. I gained that freshmen 15 after high school, but it was more like the freshmen 60. The amount of weight I put on in such a short time span still makes me sick. Like most people I was eating my feelings and looking for the quick and easy options when I was busy with work and school. 6 years ago I tried a diet program called SlimGenics. SlimGenics is a plan where you are eating both their prepackaged snacks and preparing your own food from an allotted food list. I lost 45lbs on this diet and I felt like a million bucks. What happened? I gained ALL OF IT BACK.
The truth about dieting for people with anxiety is that your brain can become obsessive. I would skip meals or eat less because I was afraid of not losing weight on the scale. With SlimGenics I was weighing in 3 days a week, and if you didn’t lose anything (I’m talking celebrating .01lbs lost) they would interrogate you on what you were doing wrong. As anyone with a brain knows, your body weight fluctuates A LOT throughout the day. This is due to water retention or waste moving its way through or just being a goddamn human. I hated feeling like I needed to justify what I was eating to them all the time, so I started trying to pee out as much liquid as I could before I went to weigh in and crossed my fingers it was good enough. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY. Nobody should put their body through the amount of stress I did, because you put yourself at risk of doing some serious damage.
I ended up 45lbs down and I was not able to lose any more weight. I hit a beautiful, frustrating plateau. Instead of doing the right thing and keeping faith in the plan by actually eating enough food, my anxiety decided it was good idea to deviate from plan and eat all of the foods I missed. Once I fell off the tracks I was done for. All of the 6 months of hard work were for absolutely nothing. But this is what happens every time I try to “diet”. I get so focused on the results and terrified to go off plan that once I have a “cheat day”, the diet is over.
Over the 6 years (gross I am old), I have tried about 6 or so diet plans including: Medifast, SlimGenics again, Nutrisystem, Paleo, Whole30, and Sensa to name a few. I don’t think I have a problem with the diet programs, I think some of them generally do work for people. Where I struggle is with my own brain trying to adjust to making changes and staying with my choices without getting too obsessive.
I have a tendency to be an “All or Nothing” type of person, and if I can’t throw myself into something 100% then what is the point. But in reality life is about finding a balance and understanding that it’s ok to let the scales tip a little to one side or the other. I try to never compare myself to other people, because we are all individuals. What works for one person, will probably not work for the next person. My currently focus is on educating myself on what to use for body fuel, instead of what is going to give me faster results. Having a full understanding of what my body needs is important in order to be physically and mentally healthier. It’s amazing that once you get used to giving your body proper fuel, anything other than that can drag you down. You start to listen to the messages you are given and can start to make better choices.
I will never be a size 2 and I will probably always have a larger chest. That’s called genetics. My focus is on training my brain to not obsess and to not set goals that are unattainable. As I’ve gotten older I understand that I am a beautiful person, and I have a lot to offer the world and the people around me. I just wish it wasn’t so hard to have that confidence on the outside.
Be true to who you are, and never apologize for it.