I spent most of my teens and twenties fighting with food.
I allowed myself 600 calories a day during my junior and senior years of high school — with the condition that I had to work all 600 calories off at the gym. If I indulged, purging was typical, but most often I restricted calories.
At 5’10” and with a chest (that no matter how thin I got, I was always defined as “busty”) it was easier for me than most to hide my disordered relationship with food and exercise.
The focus was always about my body, but on a deeper level it was about being in control. I let my weight become my currency, my worth, and my value.
After Adam and I got married five years ago, the weight kept falling off. Everyone told me how great I looked at the wedding, and subconsciously I probably kicked my food restrictions and workouts into high gear. I passed it off as getting sick after the wedding, the stress of being newlyweds, and building a house. I pretended to be upset when an acquaintance said, “Whatever tapeworm you’ve got, I’ll take one too!” joking that I had gotten even thinner.
My attitude shifted when I became pregnant with Fritz. In the first trimester, I lost over twenty pounds from nausea and vomiting (and likely cutting out white wine). Never before in my life had I wanted to gain weight! It took my entire pregnancy to gain it back, plus a few more pounds. Within weeks of having Fritz, I was down to lower than my pre-pregnancy weight. I won’t lie; that part felt terrific. Spoiler alert: I gained it all back when I stopped pumping!
The celebrations and teardowns I have with my body have all been challenging. It is something I fight myself on all the time. It is a constant battle of knowing that I grew a human and did amazing things in this vessel I call my body, and the harmful self-talk of telling myself I’ll be the fattest person in the room. I’ve worked hard in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to calm the negative voices down and celebrate the victories.
While I’ve worked so hard to calm my inner voice, there are still outside voices pushing back. There’s the pressure from Instagram Direct Messages trying to sign me up for a shake or magic tea. There’s the advice from unassuming friends and family on magic diets or cleanses. There’s the thought from others that maybe the way I am right now–at the weight I sit here typing, the weight I will be next week–isn’t good enough. It is hard to wrap my mind around the idea that others feel I need to change the way I look, even if I’m happy with it. Even if I feel great, even when I know it is good enough.
The one thing that has stayed constant through all of this regardless of my weight, body shape, or size, is that the problems I have with my body remain the same. Whether I’m waif-thin or a bit on the softer side, I carry these problems with me. I am working on them, and I know what they are. They aren’t something that losing weight or gaining weight will fix, but something I need to talk through with a licensed professional who can help me navigate this topic delicately.
Here are some things I do outside of therapy to work on loving this body I live in:
- Take a Pure Barre class
- Soak in Epsom Salts to destress
- Eat a piece of cheesecake if I feel like one!
- Wear my favorite outfit
- Talk to myself about things I do love: my hair, my legs, my height!
- Look in the mirror and say, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!”
Talking about food can be a really sensitive issue. So can discussing bodyweight and confidence. As women, this is a heavy load we carry with us. Even though it has gotten easier over the years, it still is heavy for me every day, and every day I work on making it just a little bit lighter.