Oy. Where to even start?
Around my sophomore or junior year in high school, my dad had some job change (I’m still not sure of the details) & I believe that’s when it all changed for me. Money was beyond tight. I went to a private high school & did my best to hide my shame & jealousy from my friends. They were all wearing Tommy Hilfiger & Lucky (it was the late 90s, after all 😉 ). They were hot, trendy, popular. I wanted to be like them.
For lunch, they would eat healthy frozen meals, a hot lunch, or if they had a cold lunch, it was full to the top of name brand snacks. I would have a small juice box, a plain, cold, cheese sandwich, & maybe an apple or a cookie. It’s just the way it was. I knew my parents were struggling & it hurt me. I couldn’t help. Our dinners were cheap. There were many times I wouldn’t eat that much because I was tired of eating the same meal three times a week. I made sure I never complained about it & did my best to be grateful. It broke my heart to know things were bad. I could see the pain in my parents’ eyes. To escape, I would pour myself into other activities to get my mind off of it. Namely, dance, weightlifting, extra cardio, & cheerleading. I also would do push ups, sit ups, & 100 crunches every night before I went to bed. I did a minimum of 2 – 2.5 hours of something athletic every day.
My sophomore year, I dropped a lot of weight. I was never a big girl to begin with. I was always slender & had a healthy “normal” weight on my 5’5″ frame. But that year, I toned up like a motherfucker. 🙂 Realistically, I probably only dropped 15 lbs but I was ripped. I remember I had to roll my cheerleading skirt because it would fall straight down off my hips & I would trip over it. Part of this was because I wasn’t eating that much. Like I said, I was tired of the same ol’, same ol’ dinner at home. You know what I had for lunch & I never really ate breakfast which is true even til today. Another part was the beginning of some mental disorders so I was focused on being athletic. If I kept my body moving, I wouldn’t have time to get lost in my mind. At the time I didn’t realize this but I can clearly see it now. Besides, I seemed to gain the attention I wanted from others. Girls were jealous & boys seemed interested. For the first time, I felt wanted. In my mind, it worked.
During this time, I also had another unhealthy influence via family & friends. That’s a post for another day. For now, let me offer this advice: NEVER tell a loved one to lose weight regardless of their size. You are not their doctor. You don’t know their mind. You don’t know how it affects them nor how long it’ll stick with them. I have vivid memories of loved ones telling me at 110 lbs that I needed to lose weight. It’s fucked up. Don’t do it.
Fast forward to college.
I’m on my own & realizing I don’t have to eat the same meal every other day. I can also drink my problems away. I think I was drunk most days of the week. Sometimes I would go to parties but I had no qualms against drinking at home (or “pre-gaming” as it were). I worked in a bar & the bartender & I would always be buzzed throughout our shifts together. On the outside, I’m sure I just looked like everything was peachy keen & I was living the high life. On the inside, I was down the rabbit hole. Just like every other college student, I was burning the candle at both ends. I was taking at least 21 credits a semester, working 40 hours a week, & eating & drinking whatever I could find. I’ve always loved fruits & vegetables but during this time, I rarely ate healthily. To be really honest, these years are kind of a blur to me. The little bit I can remember is very painful. I think it’s my mind trying to protect me.
So, obviously, I started to gain weight. Yippee. I would try random diets. I would lose the weight & then gain it back with some more. This cycle went on for years. And by “years,” I mean until now when I told myself that I’m done. What makes this season of my life different? My perspective has changed. I can’t really describe it. It’s like a switch has gone off in my brain. I’m done with the mind games I’m playing against myself. For the first time in 20 years, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m worth it. I deserve to be happy & healthy. I deserve to have a killer body again. And you know what? Fuck the naysayers.
To say my relationship with food is “complicated” is an understatement. We’ve been on-again, off-again for far too long. 🙂 I believe I’m at this point in my life where I’m just tired of how shitty I feel. I love to eat clean & how great my body feels from it. I love to work out until I’m dripping with sweat. So why don’t I? Well, there are mental walls & I’m working on it. But realizing this unhealthy pattern & being determined to stop is like a sledgehammer on that wall. I can see through to the other side now & I plan on beating the shit out of that wall.
Side Note: Thank you for taking the time to read this. This post was particularly painful to write out. Like alcohol on an open wound, it hurts but I understand it’s part of the healing process.