Ever since I was a child, I have struggled tremendously with my weight. I was a hefty little bugger in elementary school…often though of as an Oompah Loompah (very round, very tubby). Didn’t help matters much that I was a huge nerd. I always had my face in a book and was reading ahead in my school work. Basically, I unknowingly painted a giant ass sign of my back that said, “Please make fun of me, I love it!” But then, puberty hit, I grew five inches, and dropped a ridiculous amount of weight through some less than healthy ways. And the positive reinforcement was overwhelming! Suddenly, more people wanted to be my friend. Boys wanted to talk to me and dance at the middle school dances. I would get compliments from everyone, including my family, about how much better I looked now that I had “slimmed down.” It was awesome! It became a goal to see just how small my jeans could get (“I can wear the size fives just fine, but I wonder if I could fit into a three”) and with each smaller size, the positive reinforcement just grew and grew.
I had always been pretty athletic. I played softball for several years, then volleyball, and finally ran track in high school. I wasn’t emaciated by any stretch of the imagination…I had developed quite good muscle tone and was very fit during those years. Luckily, about a year or so after my initial drop in weight, my weight stabilized, and I lost interest in the “game” to see how small I could make myself. I was at a healthy weight…but I still felt ridiculously fat, as though I’d never lost any weight at all.
Throughout college…same struggle. I never gained the “Freshman 15” because I was working out every day of the week at the gym (and I never really got into drinking, which I’m sure helped with the weight gain). I participated in our school’s huge bike race my Junior year of college (Little 500…fantastic!), and then my senior year I had a ridiculous schedule and started interning an hour drive (each way) away from where I lived. That allowed for little exercise, lots of take-out, and lots of time spent sitting on my butt (which, by this point, was only getting larger). I gained around 20 pounds my Senior year of college, which only served to remind me how fat and unattractive I was.
Right after college, I started law school. The stress of law school really pushed me to start exercising again, and I was keeping a really healthy diet, so the weight came off again. I would probably say that first year of law school I was in the best shape of my life. I was feeling happy, successful, and once again sort of attractive! All great positives! Then, my second semester, I had a few issues with anxiety and depression, lost even more weight due to having stomach ulcers, and had to quit exercising for a while. Funny thing about exercise…once you stop, it’s a bitch to get started again! I stayed at a pretty stable weight for about 6 months, then slowly started putting it all back on. Plus, at this point, I had met my now husband, had gotten engaged, and was quite content with my life. I guess it’s called “getting comfortable” in a relationship.
Fast forward to today. It’s nearly 8 years later, and I’m still struggling. I take it off, I put it on, I take it off, I put it on. I feel like I can’t stick to the lifestyle changes that are required to be healthy and happy! Plus…it’s a never-ending cycle of self-abuse. I eat because I feel fat, and I’m fat because I eat crap! Stupid mind games.
But…I really, honestly, feel like I’ve turned a new corner by going vegetarian. I feel like I have more control over what I put in my body, and I’m happy with the way I’ve been feeling since I stopped eating meat. I eat a ton more fruits and vegetables, and I pay a lot more attention to reading the labels on the food that I do buy. Plus…I’ve started to track my calories again (which is a sure way to actually lose weight, so long as you don’t lie to yourself). After two weeks in, I’d down nearly 6 pounds, which feels really good! As much as I’m pleased with myself for losing the weight and working on my health, I still have this beast in the back of my mind, reminding me that I’ll always be fat and unattractive. It’s such a mind-game, and I hate that I do it to myself, but I honestly don’t know how to get past it! I’ve talked to a therapist, I’ve tried working it out on my own. I just feel like this crap body image is always a struggle for me…one that I just don’t know how to get out from under.
So…there’s some info about me. Like most people out there, I struggle with my body and how I view it in my mind. But, I’m going to do my damnedest to get past it. If anyone is interested in friending me on MyFitnessPal (what I use to track my calories), feel free to respond to this post and I’ll add you!