I have always struggled with liking myself and feeling worthy of love. You see, I was the kid with no friends in school who got bullied so bad I eventually changed schools. I carried all those feelings of unhappiness and self-hatred into my adult life.
I turned to food as a form of comfort and as a way to control my otherwise uncontrollable life. Every time something went wrong I would eat -- a lot. And of course I became overweight, very overweight, and then eventually obese.
Even with all those feelings of self-hatred I eventually managed to find a great group of friends and even fell in love with an amazing man who, to my amazement, loved me back. I remember talking at length with him about my weight and how unhappy I was; how I couldn't understand how or why anyone could love me. He would say, "Well if you are unhappy with your life, change it." I thought, "Oh he is crazy, he doesn't understand. He is thin and always has been, I can't just change, that's ridiculous."
I stubbornly kept that mindset for years.
Meanwhile, society told me I should love myself the way I am, that I don't need to change because I am perfect, and that everyone should just accept themselves. This confused me because I never wanted to accept myself as overweight and unhealthy, and I certainly didn't feel perfect. I wanted to change, but I was scared.
I'm not sure exactly what made me decide to change. I think it was a combination of my impending 30th birthday and the man I love telling me he was scared I was going to die. At my biggest I was too fearful to weigh myself, but I had gotten to a staggering 250+ pounds, which was a lot on my little 5'3" frame.
I woke up one morning and said, "Enough is enough! I cannot live like this, I don't want to get to 30 and be obese." I realized I needed to make a change and I needed to make it right then and there. I wanted to live a long healthy life, to run and play sports, and to not be out of breath every time I walked up a flight of stairs. That was two and a half years and over 100lbs ago.
Over the years I had tried everything. I even had a doctor prescribe me diet pills (speed). I was only 18 years old. That worked great until I stopped taking them and gained all the weight back and then some (and some brand spanking new stretch marks too). I decided to do it right this time. I jumped on Google and started researching. I looked up things specific to me and discovered a wealth of knowledge. I found websites and blogs, books and videos.
I started doing little 20-minute workouts in my bedroom every day. I'd found some dance aerobics online with the tag lines 'fun and sexy', and claiming that you don't even feel like you are working out. It was an obvious choice. It was indeed fun and once I started to see changes, I knew I was on the right track.
I changed my diet completely. I decided to cut down on all the delicious things I loved so dearly, like refined sugar, white flour and pre packaged goodies. I started to eat lean proteins and lots and lots of fresh fruit and veg. They called it "clean eating," and I found it not only made more sense than any diet I'd tried, it made more of a difference to my energy, my health and my weight.
After a while I noticed big changes. I was no longer out of breath when I climbed the two flights of stairs to my apartment. My feet stopped hurting when I stood for longer than 30 minutes. My knees and back pain went away. One day I missed my bus and was able to run a block and a half to the next stop and make it before the bus did. This was a feat I often enjoyed bragging about. I felt happier and more confident. My friends started to notice the changes too, commenting on how much happier I seemed, and how I had all this positive energy. I got compliments about my looks from strangers, and guys started to hit on me when I rode the subway.
I discovered the joys of short skirts, and no longer felt anger towards girls who wore leggings as pants. I was, in fact, now one of those girls. I had stopped comparing myself to other women and instead of hating on them for being prettier or thinner than me, I was inspired by their beauty to work harder on myself. In turn, I started to appreciate how beautiful we all are.
Now I'm not saying the road was easy. It was paved with tiny Lego blocks, and I had bare feet. It took a strength I didn't know I had, with lots of tears and so much sweat. It was crying in front of an open fridge at 2 a.m. It was yelling at my alarm clock when it told me to wake up and do a workout. It was a lot of sore muscles, which led to a new appreciation for a supplement called Glucosamine. It was a lot of love, for myself.
Each day is still an uphill climb. This is my life now. I choose to workout, I choose to watch what I eat. I choose to be happy.
The last two and a half years have been the most eye opening years of my life. I look back on the old me and I don't even identify her as me. She was so angry and sad. She was so unhealthy, both physically and mentally. She wasn't very awesome.
The new me? Now she is awesome. She is confident and feels pretty. She likes who she is and doesn't mind catching a glimpse of herself in a reflective surface. She is everything I wished I were back then. She is me and I love her.
By Verity Fiction
The Purple Fig is a community where women share personal and relatable stories; no ego, no shame. We're about life, love and all of the stuff that makes us yearn, squirm, and giggle. These stories make up the authentic and intriguing journey of a woman.
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