I was standing on the scale at my GYN appointment. Scared. Embarrassed. Ashamed.
The guy I was seeing at the time had been hinting about my body type. I felt the small indications and read between the lines of his suggestions for us to work out together and create healthier eating habits. Each one felt like a little pinprick, making me feel even more self-conscious. When the cold, hard truth set in, I had to face the fact that I just felt guilty for being too scared (or perhaps too lazy) to do anything about it.
Of course, I wanted a better body and a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to be able to keep up. I didn’t want to be held back from things I desired to do because my current condition couldn’t meet the demands of an intense hike or an afternoon jog.
But there that number was, staring me in the face.
I was 24 years old, five foot five inches and 183 pounds. National standard labeled obese.
So I promised myself and him that I would never see that number again. I made a goal. I picked 150 pounds. Why? Because it was a healthy weight for my body mass index. Also, because I remembered him saying 150 pounds was the weight limit for any girl who wanted to ride on the back of his motorcycle. Hearing that I didn’t meet the criteria always made me feel inadequate.
Isn’t that the way most of us heartbreakingly view the definition of a woman’s beauty? The absence of adequacy. If you’re enough, you’re then deemed “beautiful.” I wasn’t enough yet because I wasn’t 150 pounds.
So, I started.
It was slow going. I cut out soda. Fixed healthier meals. I always felt too tired to work out, too exhausted from working several jobs at odd hours. I was constantly on the move so much that I didn’t have the time or the money to think about healthy options. Especially when a date was considered a trip to fast food joints between running errands or adventures. It was hard to keep up with my life’s demands while trying to pursue my goal.
I reached 165. Major progress. But I didn’t feel any different and didn’t see any results when I looked in the mirror. I had plateaued—everyone always talks about that happening, but I had never understood its true meaning until then. It felt like the more I pushed myself, the more stubborn those stupid little black numbers on my scale became.
So, I tried different diets. I did the:
• Eat Your Heart Out Diet
• The Cabbage Soup Diet
• The Hard Boiled Egg Diet
• The Military Diet
I did research on dieting for your blood type. I tried supplements. I tried counting calories. I ate several times a day to maintain my metabolism. Then I tried eating nothing all day until I got home and ate one, large meal. I bought a Fitbit. I tracked my steps. I did challenges with my coworkers. I made a food journal. I bought an exercise bike and a weight set to use at home because going to the gym was embarrassing. I felt like I had tried it all and the numbers still weren’t changing. I wasn’t changing. I was stuck. I was frustrated. I was sore. I was a failure.
I felt angry when my boyfriend bugged me to work out. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to fail. Not for myself, and definitely not for him. I didn’t want to be ashamed of my body while next to him. I didn’t want him to be ashamed of me. I didn’t want to seem weak. I didn’t want to complain about the pain, the pressure to perform. If I couldn’t do a push-up, was he going to break up with me?
I had turned 25 and almost half a year went by since I had begun my healthy journey, but my boyfriend and I went our separate ways. We ended our relationship for a million little reasons. And it broke me. I had never felt more worthless and valueless. Everything we had built and worked through seemed pointless. All that time and energy. All my sweat and tears. For what?
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t talk. I wasn’t hungry. I just cried until I went numb. And when the emptiness hit me again, I cried some more.
My mom took me out of town to the middle of nowhere. No cell service. Just us and nature. As miserable as I was, we went hiking. I can remember breaking down multiple times in the middle of a public trail, feeling like I couldn’t keep moving one foot in front of the other anymore. I was weak and tired. And heartbroken.
I went six days without eating solid food. I just wasn’t hungry. My friends and family were concerned. I tried to eat, but being emotionally ill made me physically ill. Anything I ate came right back up. Nothing settled well in my stomach. I was nauseous at even the sight of food. I drank hot teas and ice water with lemon to keep myself hydrated and a lot of coffee to keep me going to work.
Then, I got back on the scale.
It was time to refocus my life back to something I could control. I had to take back my life and stop feeling sorry for myself. I had to prove to myself that no goal I set was too hard. With or without a significant other…
I was 10 pounds away from my goal. I had broken the curse of the plateau! Even if it did take something painful, I was too close to the finish line to stop now.
So, back at it I went. Filling the time I would have spent crying on my exercise bike. Finding a food plan that matched my health requirements. I found that my body needs more protein to stay feeling strong and fewer carbs to lose weight. I learned about substituting certain ingredients in recipes and spent more hours on Pinterest than anyone who was 25 and single probably should. I did the work. I put in the time. I was focused on the discipline. It wasn’t easy. I was in pain. I felt sick while detoxing. I spent more time on the toilet than any woman might be willing to admit.
When I reached my goal three days before my 26th birthday, I celebrated with a road trip with my best friend to get a tattoo. “Faith over fear.” This was my mantra I leaned on over the past months of sweat and tears and the shedding of both physical weight and emotional baggage.
And I haven’t stopped there.
Weighing a certain number was the original goal. Being healthy and confident in my own skin is the life plan. I learned that we all need the right motivation to keep us fighting for the kind of people we want to be. I needed to convince myself I wasn’t worthless. To believe in myself and know that I wasn’t a failure. That I could achieve my goals all on my own. But I had to go through a lot of mental obstacles. I had to face more than just physical challenges, but emotional ones. Big, scary, painful hurdles that brought me face to face with some of my largest insecurities. I had to look in the mirror and convince myself that I could see something of value all on my own.
For more articles on body image and living a healthy lifestyle, start here:
What Every Woman Needs to Know About Body Image
6 Practical Tips When You Want to Get Healthy
Breaking Up and Becoming a Strong Woman
Overcoming Shame in the Grit and Grace Life
For the Woman Who Wants to Be Strong
3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life
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