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I am 25 years old and I have spent over 15 years of my life worried about my weight. If you want to get technical, that is 60 percent of the time I have spent on this Earth. I know, it sounds like a cliché—a young female worried about her weight? That isn’t something new! But it is the reality for so many people.
Every New Year’s Day, news broadcasters spent a few minutes discussing New Year’s Resolutions. And without fail, at least one (or more) mentions some sort of weight-related resolution. And for a few weeks afterwards, we are all subjected to fluff pieces about health and wellness that will ultimately peter out after February rolls around (and the mention of one of our favorite chocolate holiday becomes the center focus). But what about the people that don’t think about their weight just one month out of the year? To myself, and many others, we are always in the constant loop of worry about what we consume and our number on that dreaded scale.
I am sure I could drudge up facts and statistics about how many people diet every year and bore you with the analysis of how many actually achieve the goals they set during New Year’s Day, but I would rather talk to you about what if feels like to chronically worry about the number on the scale, the food you put into your system, and the number of minutes you spent on the elliptical at the gym.
And more importantly, I want to motivate you to look beyond what that scale says and find inner peace with what good you are doing for your body even if that doesn’t reflect on the scale. This series will be on what has driven me to want to help others with their journey and to inspire others to begin to love themselves for who they are and not for what they eat or how many minutes they put in at the gym.
So to begin this series, let me tell you a little background on myself:
- I am 25 years old
- I have IBS—another battle unto itself—that affects my eating habits
- I have been tracking my food for over ten years now
- I have never been considered obese. However, when I was around 13 a doctor told me I should lose ten pounds to help with my appearance
Yes, it’s that last one that makes me angry.
Just so you know, I have never been considered an obese woman. I am 5'1" and at my most I have weighed 130 pounds. Now, imagine being 13 years old and having a doctor tell you should lose ten pounds to help with your appearance. This was all because most of my weight resided in my breasts and my waist.
I was devastated and cried the entire way home. My mother, who is a large woman, both sympathized with my plight but also encouraged me to watch my weight.
Now, doesn’t that sound odd—my mother, a rather large woman herself, encouraging her daughter to watch her weight at the tender age of thirteen? I am sure there are many other girls out there who get that tidbit of advice from their own mothers to watch their weight. But why should they? Because they had been also trained from a young age that their weight and appearance were the only thing that mattered.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I am sure there are men out there that have received such advice as well. Perhaps it was a couch on their sports team or a concerned grandmother who wanted her grandson to get a girlfriend. But why should we badger young teenagers who haven’t even entered puberty yet (and HAVEN’T FINISHED GROWING) to watch their weight?
This event at the doctor’s office set off a chain of events that affects me to this very day. I am sure you all have an event that also affects you like this—perhaps it was an off-hand comment from a friend or co-worker or it could be some troll on the internet that commented on your latest profile picture.
So what happened from there on, you may ask?
Well, another cliché occurred. I developed an eating disorder. I lost, not ten pounds, but 50. At my lowest, I was 89 pounds and could fit into children’s clothes. I can still remember being frustrated that my clothes didn’t fit the way I wanted them to. I didn’t understand why, after all that weight loss, why I didn’t look like the women in the magazines.
Well, for one thing, I am not a human Photoshop machine. And I wasn’t doing anything right to achieve what I really wanted—which was internal happiness.
I have only just recently begun learning to love my body with the aid of exercising, eating health (enough), and simply living my life without regrets to what I put into my body.
This is what I want to help others understand—not only the struggle of the constant dieter—but also how to take steps towards understanding how to love yourself for more than what you put into your body.
Get ready for the next article in which I discuss how my previous life experience as a chronic dieter has lead me to an unhappy life until I finally learned to balance out my need for dieting and my want to love myself.