I set the same exact goal for myself at the end of 2017 as millions of other Americans did: I would finally lose weight.
I don’t have a healthy relationship with weight. I’ll start off saying I’m not exactly the biggest girl, but I’m not the skinniest either. Chubby, chunky, whatever you want to call it. I’ve struggled with it all my life. To me, food is one of the best parts of life and my sweet tooth is the size of Texas. Growing up, I didn’t always have the best eating habits, and I don’t think I was ever properly educated on nutrition, weight management, exercise and how my body works.
I have always been the chubby one in my friend group and I’ve always hated it. My mother constantly reminded me how much better of a body I would have or how much more attractive I would be if I would just “eat better and exercise.” At a certain point, I think I just accepted I wasn’t meant to be skinny and decided to live with it.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to change that. I have put my body through the ringer. I did almost every fad diet I could find. I purchased diet pills in 8th grade from a friend. I took laxatives twice a day while working at an ice cream shop. (Ask me how that went during a busy Saturday summer night, ha!) I cut out any and everything I enjoyed because I felt like it was bad for me, but then I would binge on everything I was missing when I had a weak moment. I worked out consistently for two or three months then decided I didn’t have the time, or my hair was too much to deal with for the gym, or a cheat day turned into a cheat week. For some reason, I could never find the dedication to stick with something that I always said I wanted so badly.
And now, here I am. I’m 26, almost 27, and I’m probably the biggest I’ve ever been. The last three years have been an emotional roller coaster and my body and what I put in it has undoubtedly fallen to the bottom of my priority list. It sucks. I hate how I look. I’m ashamed. I feel self-conscious about it when I walk into a room of people. Are they whispering about me? Are they laughing at me? Are my friends screenshotting my pictures and discussing them in group chats, saying how gross I am? I’ve cancelled dinner plans and happy hour outings or birthday celebrations because when I went shopping I would spend the day crying in fitting rooms instead of finding a cute outfit for the night. The idea of an Instagram or Snapchat made me anxious and skipped almost every family event because I didn’t want to hear those comments about my gut.
So when 2018 came around, I was super ready for an actual change and for something to actually stick. I wanted to have a healthy relationship with my body and make sure that I did it the right way. No short cuts, no fad diets, no starving myself, nothing so drastic and insane that I would quit after a week. I knew it would be hard, but I was willing to put in the work. But first, I had to figure out exactly what it would take for this time to be different.
First, I knew I had to accept that it would be hard. And long.
The good old phrase “fuck it” would probably cross my mind a few times. But I couldn’t give up. And I would NOT beat myself up if I messed up. Cheat DAYS are okay. I can have one not so healthy meal, but I needed to keep on track the rest of the week. If I missed a workout or two, it wasn’t the end of the world. I would fall. I would mess up. But I had to keep going. Perfection is boring and I was far from it anyway. I had to allow myself to be human.
Second, I had to change my outlook on food.
Yes, cheeseburgers are life, and ice cream is like Jesus’ second coming, but I only have one body and I need to take care of it. I’m nearing 30 (eeek!) and I don’t have a body that’s going to bounce back. What I put into my body is SUPER important and healthy food can be fun too. I’ve spent hours and hours on Pinterest and learned how to make healthy meals fun. I’ve replaced my cherished rice and beans with riced cauliflower and “zoodles” for pasta. And I don’t mind it. Vegetables won’t kill me and red meat can be enjoyed every now and then, but not too often. Don’t get me wrong, Shake Shack will always be my favorite, but they will just see me a little less.
Third, I couldn’t let my weight gain stop me from living my life.
There’s a quote I saw once that talked about looking back on life and regretting not being a part of things because you were afraid of how you looked or nervous about the outcome of something. I was missing out of my friendships and amazing trips and memories because I felt like my belly was too big, or my face was too chunky now. I had amazing friends and they loved me no matter what. I wanted to be around for them and their life events. People will probably always have their comments and opinions about me, and there was nothing I can do to stop that. I will probably develop some sassy response to my family’s annoying comments and eventually let them roll off my back, but I will be present and not take the back seat in my own life.
So now, here I am about 6 weeks in to my journey. It’s been going. I’m not about to sit here and pretend I’m some weight loss guru. I struggle. I food prep and still stop at Chick Fil A on the way home and steal bites of my boyfriend’s cheesesteaks. Doing a push up makes me cry and I die inside on the treadmill. But I’ve had a little bit more energy. My jeans feel a little bit loose and my waist feels just a tiny bit smaller. I haven’t turned down a dinner plan yet. I don’t mind that my belly is a little softer and my boobs are bigger than the average female. I made it out for my friend’s birthday last month. This time WILL be different. This time IS different. It’s all about progress, not perfection.