Trigger warnings: weight, food, body image
It’s only been a week since I opened up about my struggles with weight, but my perspective on the situation has gone through so many drastic changes in the past seven days that I want to write it all down. Trust me, it’s a lot.
I already explained my troubled relationship with my body in my last post, Dear Body, so I’m going to cut to the chase here: lately, I’ve been gaining a lot of weight and I’m having a hard time dealing with it because when I was younger, I struggled with disordered eating. In the past 6 months, I’ve gained close to 20 pounds, and about 10 days ago, I experienced a breakdown about it. I couldn’t focus on school, friends, or anything besides my body shape – I was at the end of my rope, and I needed to talk about it. I owe so much to my friends who patiently listened while I cried and panicked. It will sound cliche, but admitting the truth was the first step on my long journey of body acceptance.
To be honest, the past week has been full of extreme mood swings, anxiety, and hours of research about every aspect of weight management. There were definitely some sleepless nights and obsessive thoughts, but I’m going to focus on the good things I’ve done so far.
- I finally started watching my diet. Seriously, I never realized just how much junk food I eat. Why was I so surprised that I was gaining weight when I was eating all this crap? Over the past week, I’ve managed to cut out the sweets, caffeine, and pizza. While simply “eating less food” tends to lead me into unhealthy, extreme dieting, I’ve found that eating several small meals throughout the day is essential because it makes me less hungry throughout the day. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I finally went a whole week without gaining any more.
- I stopped viewing the scale as my enemy. As my weight started going up recently, it became very discouraging to step on the scale and see the number keep rising, so I avoided weighing myself at all costs. It’s like watching the news – if all you hear about is war and famine and dirty politics, you get sick of it and you turn off the TV. But this fear only increases my anxiety and reinforces the idea that my weight is something too frightening to know. So a few days ago, I forced myself to get on the scale and look at the number. Although it sucked to see proof, I could now look my weight in the eye and say “I’m not afraid of you.”
- I took photos of my body. This was by far the scariest thing I did this week, but I’m so proud of myself. My biggest fear is looking fat in photos, so I took some pictures of my belly fat and posted them on my Instagram story. Yes, you heard me right – unedited photos of my new friends, Muffin Top and Tummy Rolls. For someone who panics if I can see even the smallest lump through my clothes, this almost drove me crazy, and I took the photos down after about 12 hours because frankly, I wasn’t ready to be that candid yet. But I let the world see my body and I survived.
- I talked to my doctor about my body type. I had already gone through several of the “find your body type” quizzes online, but my doctor explained so many things about my metabolism, bone structure, and diet. For example, I learned that while my actual weight falls in a healthy range for my height, my body fat is unevenly distributed. I carry most of my weight around my stomach, so my waist measurement is bigger than ideal for my height (which puts me at higher risk for health problems as I get older). As someone who frequently used to think I was overweight even when I was thin, I often have a hard time determining if I actually need to lose weight or if it’s all in my head. When my doctor explained that you can be a healthy weight but still carry excess fat, it felt like confirmation that I wasn’t going crazy and imagining this whole weight problem. I’m now starting an exercise program and diet that are tailored to my body type and will help me burn away the belly fat without losing muscle or becoming too thin in other areas of my body.
- I bought new pants. Confession: I was wearing a size 1 in October and today, I’m wearing a 7. That’s three pant sizes in 6 months, and to be honest, that’s terrifying for me. Buying new clothes makes me anxious because I have to admit to myself that I can’t fit in the clothes I’ve been wearing for several years. I stubbornly tried to keep wearing the size 5’s I had bought not too long ago, but I gave in when I couldn’t zip them up. As much as I hate buying larger clothes in the moment, wearing pants that actually fit comfortably around my waist makes me less self-conscious than walking around with my belly hanging out because I refuse to wear a bigger size. Although I want to fit into my smaller clothes again, that’s not reality right now, so in the meantime, I’m going to rock these size 7 pants.
I’m not going to lie and say this week has been fun. Today was okay, other days have been rough. But I will continue working on my health and happiness, and I will keep you all updated about my progress.