My Body Image Story - Getting free (part 3)
Professionally, things were going really well for me. I got a new job and was making good money. I bought my very first place and began focusing on that instead of dating. When I quit focusing on dating, which was probably my biggest reason for hating myself into losing weight, I stopped focusing on dieting and weight loss as much. Surprisingly, I found love shortly after. It was incredibly crazy to have someone compliment my looks, and for the longest time, I didn’t even believe it. I thought there was some angle or lies. But, over time and with consistency, I started believing it was true.
About two years into our relationship, I was still struggling with my body image though. I would go in and out of diets and still count calories. Even with love from someone else, it couldn’t heal the deep dislike I had for my body. I was still weighing myself a lot. The scale gave me so much shame and enormous amount of anxiety. It sort of took two things for a wakeup call for me. Around the time my best friend was getting married, I started taking this supplement gummies for weight loss to prepare for the wedding. They were literally making me almost shit my pants. I’d have intense stomach pain and have to run to the bathroom. After about a week, Tyler couldn’t take it any more and made me throw them away (a true gem of a man ya’ll). For the first time, I didn’t just see how these behaviors were affecting me, but they were now affecting someone else. He was seeing me suffer and couldn’t understand why I wanted to lose weight, especially in a way that was harmful.
A few months later, the second ah-ha moment took place. I watched this documentary called What the Health about a plant-based diet. It was truly eye opening to hear about food and how you could eat for your health that was not at all related to weight loss. That’s the only way I’d ever really thought about food was from a weight-loss perspective. After watching it, I decided to try a plant-based diet to see if I would feel better. To see if my health would be better. I wanted to, for the first time in my life, focus on how food made me fell when eating and not my weight. It was a total game-changer for me. (Also, I in no way am promoting or asking anyone to change how they eat at all. This was just an experience I had, and I definitely don’t do plant-based 100% at all.)
I immediately quit weighing myself, and four years later, I still don’t weigh myself. Although that was the weird way I started on my body acceptance journey, it’s been an ongoing transformation from there. I began reading more about diet culture, weight stigma, health at every size and so much more. For me, it became about how did I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It wasn’t about just a number on a scale any more. It was incredibly freeing to give up dieting and weighing. It was like releasing myself from this war I had been waging on my body my entire life. I didn’t hate my body any more or see it as a problem to be fixed. Instead, I wanted to care for it in a new way that I never had before, and it helped me start to appreciate my body.
Have I gained weight? Absolutely. Do I know how much I weigh? Definitely not. Instead of wasting so much time worrying about my weight, I now have the capacity to do and be so much more. I can show up for my partner better. I can find confidence in my other abilities and attributes. I started a business to be the woman today who I needed when I was younger. In so many ways, my life has expanded and became so much more meaningful when I stopped focusing on my body as this problem to fix. It never needed fixing. So now, I focus on what actually needs to be fixed – the systems and standards in place that make women feel bad about themselves.
It's not an amazing story or one that is going to change someone’s life. There won’t be a movie or book about my life. But, this is my story. This is how I got here and how I became who I am today. I love that little girl so much who used to eat the mac n’ cheese straight from the pot and have cheese all over her face. I love that little girl who didn’t know how to hate herself yet. I love that little girl who had so much joy and fun. I love her so much that I want to protect all future girls from ever feeling shame about themselves. Even if you’re not a little girl, dear friend, I want you to know today that you are more than a body. You are more than a scale or a number. You are this unique, incredible force that only you can bring to the world. You have a story. You have a purpose, and you are immensely needed in this world!