I want to disclaim that this post is not what you may think. I am not saying to read this and then gain fifteen pounds to feel better. I am simply suggesting that creating a healthy relationship with food, moving your body only in ways that you enjoy and finding a love for your body- no matter the size – may result in a happier, healthier you! I want to point out unhealthy cycles that I once had to stay a certain size and weight that caused me to feel drained, stressed and uncomfortable. And I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with the same things to find a healthy place.
Every time I see this picture, I am taken back to a dark place. At first glance, you see a young girl, holding an iguana and laughing. She looks happy. But what you don’t see is that before this picture was taken, that girl was having a panic attack in her bedroom over how she looked. Every time I see this picture, I think back to the night that my entire family was waiting for me to get dressed so that we wouldn’t be late to my family’s Christmas. I remember trying on several outfits, each one feeling like it was constricting me even more. I remember crying and screaming at my family for rushing me and continuously looking at myself in the mirror from every single angle. I remember this shirt fitting my arms a little tighter than normal and panicking that I looked fat. Every time I see this picture, I tell myself that I will NEVER go back to that place.
I remember when every thing I did was centered around what food I eat and what number was on the scale. I would restrict myself from foods that I knew weren’t “healthy” and that would make me “fat”. I would then binge on those foods later on when I felt completely drained. I remember when I would only take pictures on “good” or “skinny” days and would certainly only post pictures that I was completely comfortable with. My pictures use to look like these: Obsessing over having “lean muscle”, loving that you can see my ribs and wearing XL in kids clothing.
Now my pictures look more like this: Enjoying my workouts, genuine smiles because I’m spending time with the people I love and caring more about my future as a RD than what the scale says.
In these pictures, I don’t have everything put together. I don’t look my “best” in them all and regardless, I posted them because what you see in these pictures is true happiness and control over my life.
So, even though I am 15 pounds heavier…
1. I finally have food freedom
I use to have a very dangerous restrict-binge cycle that created an unhealthy relationship with many foods. Now that I have a better relationship with food and my weight – I am able to enjoy the foods I use to restrict. And because I allow these foods in my diet, I do not feel the need to binge on them later.
2. I have more energy and strength
Now that I fuel my body correctly, I don’t feel exhausted all the time. Since no food is restricted from my diet, I have a full gamut of foods to nourish my body with that provide me with the energy to push through the longest days. I remember when I would restrict and would excessively workout; I would wake up at 5 in the morning and run several miles on an empty stomach and then come home exhausted and go back to bed. Even after a nap, I remembering struggling through the day, just waiting for when I could crawl back into bed. Because I am nourishing my body and have the energy to push through workouts, I feel like I am physically more fit. It is scientifically proven that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are eating to fuel your body and energize it for a great workout – it’s normal to weigh a little heavier but actually look more fit. This is why the number on the scale SHOULD NOT matter!
3. I feel confident in my clothes ALL the time
I have had many changes in my body over the years, but now – being 15 lbs heavier – I finally feel sexy and feel like a woman, not a girl. Even though I always wanted to be “small” or “skinny”, I always struggled with the fact that I had no curves. This is because you cannot choose where you distribute the fat. So when I was trying to lose weight or stay small, I lost weight or stayed small everywhere. I had no curves and no matter what clothes I bought, they would hang on me like a little girl trying to wear her mother’s clothes. I would have to buy very small clothes to fit me and then anytime I would fluctuate in weight, I would feel SO uncomfortable and spiral again. Now that I am at a healthy, stable weight and have a healthy relationship with food, exercise and a love for my body – I don’t have days where I feel constricted or swallowed by my clothes. Yes, buying a wardrobe in a new size was hard at first, but now I feel confident and beautiful in them.
4. I actually enjoy exercising
I use to base my exercise routine solely on what foods I would eat. If I wanted a pint of ice cream, I would need to run at least ten miles to burn that off. Everything that I ate had a number on it and every workout that I did was subtracted from that number. Now, the foods I eat FUEL my workouts and I only move my body in ways that I enjoy. Yes, I would like to get back into running and I have somewhat, but I do not ever want to use it as a tool to be “skinny” or to burn the calories I ate earlier. If I am sore from my workout and feel I need a rest day – I take a rest day and I do not eat less that day because of it. I try to move my body everyday, however some days that looks like a yoga/stretch session, a hike or even a walk around the park.
5. I have more time for things that I enjoy
Before, I would focus so much on what I was going to eat, how many calories were in it and how I would burn those off through exercise. It was so time consuming and very unhealthy. Now that I have food freedom, allow myself to take rest days and only move my body in ways that I enjoy – I have much more time for the things that I enjoy. Such as, hiking, spending time with my pup and trying out new recipes (that are not always healthy).
This is simply an example of ways that I feel after finding a healthy lifestyle without restriction or exhaustion. I hope that you can take from this and find what works for you. I hope that if you want to workout – you do what you enjoy, if you want an ice cream cone – you indulge yourself, and if you gain a little weight – you see it as strength. You are beautiful no matter what weight the scale says. If you are nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods and moving your body, the number on the scale should not matter.