Read this blog from elephant journal. I read it this morning and the way it made me feel is indescribable.
I have struggled with body image from as far back as I can remember. I wasn’t a chubby kid but I wasn’t the thin kid either. I was a cheerleader for 15 years and I remember always being the base, I would tell myself it was because I was “solid, strong”… but in reality I wasn’t small, I wasn’t skinny enough for someone else to hold me.
I did all the horrendous things, starved myself, took every diet pill known to mankind, binge ate then vomited, took laxatives and just mentally beat myself up for the past 30 years. Even as an adult, I have struggled. Things just stick when you’re already self -conscientious about something. I recall getting fitted for my first prom dress. I was probably about a size 10 or 12. As I’m standing their with my mama, feeling beautiful & elated that I found the “perfect” dress, the seamstress is tugging across the back lace trying to get it to button. After a few more tugs she yells across the bridal store “Hey, we’re gonna have to take this one out a bit we have a linebacker here” Gasp. I was mortified. Which in reality that had nothing to do with my size, I have broad shoulders (physically speaking) and a good set of ta-tas. But, in my self loathing way, I beat myself up for being too fat to fit the dress.
When I became pregnant with my son, I weighed about 135. After many months of not knowing I had gestational diabetes, I began to blow up like a balloon. I peaked at 200 lbs when he was born, which was in the form of a C-section. I stayed at nearly 192 lbs for a good 6 or 7 years. Through weight watchers I slimmed down to 162, where I stayed until I filed for divorce. Through the stress of divorce, and realizing I’m single after 11 years of marriage, I choose to not eat as much as I should and got down to my normal weight again of 135, where I stayed for about a year.
I yo-yo’d for years but not in healthy ways, I’d drop fast and gain twice as fast. I already had uber stretchy skin from becoming a house when I was prego but the rollercoastering didn’t help one bit. My skin couldn’t keep up. I’ve researched tummy tuck more than Trump googles bankruptcy. I can’t afford it or the amount of time off. I’ve even thought “if I accidentally stab myself in the stomach I would have to get surgery and maybe they can just pull it tighter then”…. yes, my thinking is that flawed.
My single-dom didn’t last long (no really, it was 4 days later I met my partner) and within a year I was putting a few pounds on. Ya know, the good old “we’re fat so we must be happy” thinking. I was happy with my life and relationship and it showed more and more until I peaked again at 162. I wasn’t happy with myself at all & it affected me in many ways.
Approximately 5 years ago my partner became highly interested in physical fitness and decided she wanted to become a personal trainer. Well goodness knows she can’t have a lard ass for a partner! I had to do something. I fell in love with Zumba®, who knew that burning that many calories could be so fun?? So I became an instructor in 2011 & taught for the next 3 years. Things were not progressing as quickly a we both had planned so we started a stricter fitness journey… it was a journey that got off the beaten path quite a few times until about 2013 when we took on the T25 challenge. (Shaun T is a fucking rock star!) I had a wedding April 2014 that I was a bridesmaid in and I didn’t want to be the “fat bridesmaid” walking down the aisle. You know how people look at you “she’s pretty, she could just afford to lose a few pounds” look. Yea, I’ve seen it many times.
142. That was as low as I could get by wedding time. We were measuring food, measuring our waists, counting calories, working our asses off so I was proud of myself. We took body shot images every week. Front views and side views. Man is this a reality check even when you think you’re in shape. I still felt pretty good about myself and thought I looked decent in my dress, so I walked down that aisle with a little more confidence.
This brings me to where I can relate to this story a lot more, but not as damaging, I am not comparing my weight loss (the one to come) story with hers, my heart goes out to her and it actually made me sick to hear her friend say she wishes she could lose weight like that even AFTER she knew why. Shows just how obsessed we are.
Last year my relationship hit a real nasty patch. And without any warning my partner decided she needed a break to figure things out. Unfortunately, in her time of confusion and darkness she used the phrase “I just don’t feel an attraction to you anymore”… Ouch. Dagger through my heart… wish it had been my stomach (see twisted idea above)
Luckily, it was a short period of time (2 months) and we ended up working things out. I say “short” now but it felt like a lifetime. I starved, literally. I could not eat anything solid so I lived on Special K shakes and water. In 2 months, I went from 142 to 109 pounds.
I had to change out my entire closet 3 times to keep up with the weight loss. I was sickly & depressed. My energized personality was non-existent. I missed more than 2 weeks of work per month. I had dark circles, I was losing my hair, II caused nerve damage in my foot to where I couldn’t teach Zumba®, didn’t smile or laugh. I was a completely different person.
But, I would constantly get compliments about how amazing I looked, how skinny I was and how I was such a brave example of determination. Really? If they only knew. I work at a gym, people were calling me the poster child for motivation. I did workout a lot, it was the only thing from keeping me from total insanity, plus my partner works there too so it just meant I got to see her more if I was there.
I thought, damn I look good. I feel like shit and could care less what I look like but the fact that I was wearing a size 4 gave me something “good” to focus on. It didn’t matter that I had dizzy spells and passed out a few times, that I vomited more than I ate (not purposefully) and that 3 co-workers asked my boss if I was dying…. I was a mother fuckin’ size 4!
My thinking was as twisted as those who commended me on my new anorexic look. I didn’t care though, their compliments made me feel good when I was feeling the worst in my life. I took body shot pictures and I was like “damn!” I needed something, anything to help boost my ego, I had just been squashed by the one person who built my confidence for years and told me I was the most beautiful person no matter what size I was. Though it took awhile, I truly started to believe her. Then she dropped the bomb.
I am a recovering body image addict. I still struggle, I still analyze my physique every day, I still step on that scale more than I should and I still mentally beat myself for every pound that is over “my ideal” weight. I am 131, and not 100% happy. I promised myself that even when my life got it’s shit together & I was myself again I wouldn’t get heavy again. I would not get out of the 120’s. Damn it, I lied.
The days where I start mentally beating myself up, I have to sit down, take a deep breath and repeat what I said when I went thru this heart break. And that was “I’d rather be fat & happy then feel the way I do and be skinny”. Not saying I can’t have both, with hard work, HEALTHY hard work, I can stay in my goal range and be happy. And that’s my life goal for ME to be happy I have to have love, starting with myself. When you don’t love yourself it truly is hard to exude love onto others. I’m a work in progress & thought skinny was “nice” I’ll take healthy with a side of fries.
(the picture above is me. the left is where I weighed 142 for the wedding that I thought I Iooked pretty good for, the one on right is me, about 5 lbs ago)