My fitness journey has been a rollercoaster. My thoughts, attitude, and overall feelings about body image have been warped from an early age. From early on, I had serious issues with the way I looked. While most people talked about dieting and running around the block a few times, I desperately tried to gain weight. It was somewhat of an ironic battle: the same people who dieted and constantly talked about losing inches, told me that being ‘my kind of thin’ wasn’t “popular”, that I needed to have a J-Lo booty, but the waist of a supermodel, mixed in with the arms of a volleyball player, and the calves of a marathon runner. I was even told once that if ‘I gained about ten pounds only then I’d be really pretty, the complete package’. That opinion stayed with me for years to come. It seems outrageously ridiculous now, but back then it was all I ever wanted—to fill that expectation to look like something I wasn’t.
The problem , especially for young girls, is that these comments stay with us for the rest of our lives. It isn’t about being overweight or underweight. It’s about believing the lie that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t pretty, that you aren’t valuable. You begin to compare yourself to others, without knowing their journey, their struggles, their health, or even knowing if the way they are is the ‘right’ way for you. At the age of sixteen I started to drink weight-gaining shakes. I grabbed the first giant jar I found on the shelf, with little knowledge about the ingredients, the quality, or even if it was right for me. I thought they’d be my ticket to achieving the ‘right way to look’, but soon after I discovered that not only I wasn’t gaining weight, but they were making me really sick. The high sugar intake, coupled with an unbalanced nutrition and a lack of understanding of the body and the ingredients I was putting in it, caused my system to reject the shakes. I felt tired all the time, sluggish, my skin broke out, and I had dull gray bags under my eyes. Feeling defeated, I threw the shakes in the garbage, now knowing that it was the best thing I could’ve done, but also feeling like my last ticket to looking ‘better’ had been shredded to pieces.
I wish I knew then what I know now. It took a really long time but I finally realized four important things:
*the importance of listening to my body;
*that medical guidelines, although helpful, don’t represent every single individual on the planet;
*that being skinny doesn’t mean I’m necessarily healthy; and
*other people’s expectations of what I should look like are none of my concern.
Considering my family history and the small built of most of the women in my family, I fall into the mold I was supposed to fit. Starting with my grandmother, the women on my mother’s side of the family have been small-boned and thin. How would I expect to be a giant when I come from a line of such small women? How can I achieve this ridiculous expectation that all women should have a Kim Kardashian’s butt, Angelina Jolie’s lips, and Brooke Burk’s abs? The answer, at least to me, is pretty clear. I can’t…and I don’t necessarily want to. I want to look the best version of myself. I want my body to look as uniquely fit as my own limitations will allow. I want to inspire my daughters that comparing yourself to other women is a dead ideal, that we are each wonderfully made, that we are perfect the way we are.
That said, I also learned the importance of fitness and to work out with realistic goals in mind. For many years I […TO CONTINUE READING CLICK HERE]