Learning to love myself: Feminist on a diet
I used to weigh twice of what I weigh right now.
Note: This is an extremely difficult post for me to write about an extremely personal journey, so please – if you have nothing nice to say, please don’t say it. Feel free to click “More” to hear about my roller coaster couple of years and share a moment in having a think about the messages we send about women & their bodies. Thanks!
I was unhealthy. Extremely unhealthy. I never ate vegetables or fruits or tried anything new. My lunches were entire BOXES of Macaroni & Cheese, and my snacks were half a bag of pizza rolls. It makes me sick to think about it now, but those were my ways of old.
I was sick of the number I saw on the scale, sick of my eating habits, and sick of the person I saw in the mirror. I decided to make a change.
About two years later, I’ve reached my goal weight – right smack dab in the middle of my healthy range. I am a much healthier eater – lunch is a salad, not fried chicken fingers with french fries. Breakfast is egg beaters and veggies, not 2 croissants. I am not afraid to try new foods or new things. I work out about an hour and a half every day.
I went to the Doctor for the first time a couple of weeks ago in 5 years and when she pointed to my weight in the middle of the healthy weight range, I started to cry – I had never, ever seen that before and had been striving for it my entire life.
But throughout this whole time, I have struggled on a constant basis with feminism, our body ideals in pop culture, and my fears and worries about weight.
I lost the weight by counting calories every day. It worked for me – diets where I couldn’t eat any one thing NEVER worked. But giving myself a target area of how much to eat and deciding how to do that? That worked for me.
Now, as I transition from two years of dieting to what will hopefully be a lifetime of maintaining this healthy weight and lifestyle, I struggle with my body image, my fears, and the messages society pushes on me now more than ever.
Being “skinny” hasn’t solved all of my problems, like I always thought it would. I am healthy, and happier. I am more outgoing, more fun to be around, etc. But I still nitpick my body like everybody else. I poke the chub on my belly every morning, I struggle to love that number I see on the scale – especially now, as I know that I don’t want it to go down anymore, but I don’t necessarily want it to go up, either. Seeing that magic “goal” number on the scale hasn’t made me perfect, as the diet websites and books told me it would. It’s made me paranoid.
As I got closer to my goal, I got even harder on myself. I pushed myself to eat very low amounts of calories, and trained my body to exist on so little.
Now, as I transition off of that mindset, and instead try to focus in on is what I’m eating healthy? as opposed to How many calories is in this?, I’ve found it more difficult than I thought – because I’m afraid to gain weight. My fear is so crippling, that I feel like I’m going to cry when I think about it.
And of course, all of that stems from society telling me that thinner is better. That an extra pound on my thighs is a sign of failure. And it isn’t. What matters are healthy eating habits, regular workouts, and a joie de vivre for life – something that’s harder to remember than you might think!
In a world loaded with warnings about obesity, my question is – why don’t we focus on healthy living instead of outward appearance when it comes to weight, body image, and eating habits? Why is my weight and waist size such an arbeiter of health and wellness?
I don’t have an answer for you, but I know that it’s something that we need to change.
In fact, it’s made me realize: I want to start a revolution. Girls today are consistently given the message that their weight is what matters. I want to tell them: No. It doesn’t. Your health is what matters. Are you open to trying new things? Do you eat fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains on a regular basis and move your body – go for a run, take a dance or karate class, bike ride, hike, or go to the gym? Then you’re doing great. Wonderfully.
Weight is just a number.
What matters is what’s on the inside.
And I need to learn to take my own advice.
Note: Throughout this journey, my wonderful family and friends have been an incredible support to me. I want to thank you all for being such wonderful people.