In 2013, as I work on treating myself with more kindness and care, I can’t help but think about my existing insecurities and how desperately I want to turn them around. I’ve spent so much of my life being afraid of how other people perceive me and I hardly give any attention to the part of me that is okay with everything that I am. When I think back on the last ten years of my life, I realize how much time I have wasted in berating myself for my body, for the fleshy parts of my belly, for my thighs, for the cellulite, for the blemishes. Through all of this, I haven’t treated myself with kindness or respect. I put foods into my body that are unhealthy and I don’t exercise. And I don’t love myself for my imperfections, I just see the flaws and I outwardly project my insecurities. I rarely celebrate the parts of me that I love. I love my hair, especially the color. I think I have the most beautiful hair in the world. I look at myself in the mirror and I think that I am beautiful but for some reason, I’ve remained convinced that it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s the world around me that has to accept me. That’s what has become important to me. What a sad society that we’ve grown up in where beautiful, young women like myself are brought to doubt their own self-confidence.
I need to stop doing that right now.
In high school, I thought I was unattractive and overweight but now, at 26, I would do just about anything to have my high school body back. I’ve never had a flat stomach, not even when I was a little girl. I’ve always been full and voluptuous and I’ve always carried my weight well. But now, I’ve come to a point where I’ve let myself get past that point. I’m at the heaviest weight of my life, over 250 pounds, and I’m not happy about it. I’ve exercised and dieted in the past like everyone else who seems to come to their senses once or twice a year but the difference now is that I want to create a lifelong change. I’m tired of being lazy, of letting myself down. I want to be healthy and strong and radiate from the inside-out the things that I feel when I am alone, in the comfort of my bathroom walls where society’s judgments can’t find me.
I am tired of being overweight, this is true. I am not one of those chubby girls who wants to be proud of her obesity. “Chubby love" doesn’t seem right to me. It seems lazy. I like who I am. I like my personality and I love my beautiful, red, perfectly styled hair. I love my freckles and the dimples on my cheeks. I love my sense of humor and the passion that I have for many things. I love that I love cats. And I do love my body – I love my long legs and my funny, curly toes. I love my long fingers which are a perfect mixture of both my mom and my dad’s hands. But I don’t love that I can’t wear jeans because they cut into my belly and they leave painful indentations. I don’t love that my feet hurt in the mornings or after I’ve been sitting down. I don’t like that I can’t walk up the hill to my house without my lungs burning from the effort. I don’t like the way that my body responds negatively to most of the food that I eat. I don’t like the extra weight that I carry around. It’s hurting me, not only physically but emotionally, too. It’s taking away from the good things that I feel about myself and making me doubt myself as a strong, beautiful woman who can have the good life that she deserves.
Confidence comes from the inside but it certainly helps when you feel good about the outside, too. I don’t need to be skinny. I don’t even need to make it about weight loss. Of course, weight loss helps me find strength and fights body image issues that I have but in the end, it’s more about being healthy and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’ve always walked into weight loss goals for the wrong reasons. This time around, I want to make it about me and the love and acceptance that I have for myself. Who cares what everybody else thinks? Whatever comes my way as a result of the changes that I make will be a lucky bonus but ultimately, I’d just like to love myself to the fullest extent. Treating myself with kindness and respect requires that I start paying attention to the ways in which I can strengthen my body and change the bad habits that have brought me to this point.
From now on, I want to be the best version of myself. I want to focus my efforts on strengthening my body from the inside out. I promise to eat for my health. I’m excited about juicing and putting micronutrients directly into my body two to three times a day. I’m excited to exercise and work my body six times a week, even if it’s just a thirty minute walk around the neighborhood. I want to get back into running – I actually liked doing it! Maybe I can do another half marathon! Not maybe! I will! For my health and my happiness, I will make these changes. I don’t have any excuses.
This is a picture of me at 16, ten years ago, almost exactly to the day. This is the body that I want to have today - tall, strong, and healthy. I wasn’t skinny and I wasn’t perfect (who is?!) but I was healthy and I was comfortable. What I lacked was a strong identify and a sense of self. Without that, having the confidence that I needed to appreciate myself was impossible. I want to get back to this body. This is the body that I visualize as I work on my goals. It will be mine again. I can do it and I will. Watch me!