I remember growing up and hearing about dieting and the word "diet" all the time. It was a term used on the daily in my house. My grandmother was always on a diet. She was always encouraging my mother to be on a diet. Therefore, I always felt like I needed to be on one too. I was maybe 10 years old.
I don't want to say that my grandmother was "obsessed" with her weight and being thin, but I don't know if there is any other way to describe it. She had a group that she was a part of that supported her on her weight loss journey. She counted calories and portions. She was by far the most disciplined person. She walked, ran, and worked out at the gym. To be honest, she was enviable even by those who were half her age. She was so strong and healthy. She still is.
She was always politely, yet ever so openly, pushing my mom to diet; to join her weight loss group, which she did for a while. It worked, I'll admit. Not to say that my mom is unhealthy or anything like that, but living her life around counting calories and portions was just never her thing. I think even though my grandmother's comments came from a good place they were hurtful at times. The difference between my mom and I is that she has positive self-body image.
She has the enviable, I am super comfortable in my skin and I don't care what others think kind of body image. The kind of care that I am not.
I started yo-yo dieting at a very young age. Probably as soon as I became more and more exposed to the term and understood how "important" it was to be thin. I remember dieting even before I started my cycle at the age of 12 and passing out in the bathroom at times during that time of the month because I wasn't eating and drinking enough. I naturally was a curvy girl, so the weight did not fall off easily, which led to even longer stretches of not eating. I would lose a few pounds, feel safe, put it back on, and go back to starving myself. It was a cycle that lasted my entire teenage years and into young adulthood.
When I divorced later in life, I stopped eating much altogether. I experimented with diet pills and laxatives. I was the smallest I ever was and the most fit to be honest. I worked out every day and ate very little. I was very small and even though I was probably at the size and shape I had always dreamed about, it wasn't good enough. For me, anyways. It took a medical emergency to shake me into reality.
I started to try and just eat better and healthier; work out a few days instead of every day. Give my body a chance to heal. I did eventually move forward and break the chains of the worst of what was probably my own eating disorder. But, I still struggle to this day.
I have a very unhealthy relationship with food. I will go weeks eating so well and so healthy and suddenly find myself struggling with binging. I still struggle to find the right balance for me.
Why am I writing this? What is the point of this story? I missed out on a lot. I missed out on parties. I missed out on going to the beach and swimming with my friends. I missed out on dates. I missed out on opportunities. I missed out on a lot of "life" things because I was too worried and consumed with my body image. My very negative body image. I have never felt comfortable in my own skin even as a tiny size 2. Never. Even now, when life is busy and chaotic, and I am happily married with children, I find myself in that dark place every now and then wishing I could wear this or that. Do this or that. Go here or there. The rational part of me knows this is ridiculous and I am honestly too old to feel like that.
I don't blame anyone for the way I feel or felt growing up. No one ever told me I was fat or overweight growing up. My mom never said I needed to diet or lose weight. I just think that some people are just very impressionable when it comes to certain things. BUT, with that being said, I have made a conscious effort to never say the word diet around my daughter. I will not say " I feel fat," or, "I am having a fat day," or anything of that nature in front of her. I tell her she is beautiful and perfect all the time. I make sure she hears me tell other women how beautiful they are. No matter the size or what they are wearing. I try and make sure she sees me eating healthy, but at the same time not afraid to have that ice cream or dessert after dinner every now and then.
When I hear her tell other girls she doesn't even know how beautiful they are and how she just "looooooves," them, as silly as it seems it makes me so proud. I want her to feel confident in herself as a young lady and that her body image/perception never holds her back or keeps her from doing anything in life.
Moms, Dads, grandparents, families with girls, watch what you say about diets, exercise, food, and what perfection looks like. There is possibly a very impressionable little one listening. One sentence could change her life.
I can completely understand why this story was submitted anonymously. I have personally struggled with these feelings and you don't really want to 1) bring attention to yourself in general and 2) have people always asking/wondering, "is she eating," "why isn't she eating," "has she lost weight/gained weight," so yeah I get it. I think you are super brave for sharing this story because I can think of a whole lot of people this topic impacts. Can I get an Amen for #noangel!?
During the time period after Jack was diagnosed and going through a divorce (and I know I have talked about this before), I really struggled with this. I think it probably was lying dormant all these years rearing its ugly head every now and then. The one thing I could control back then in a situation that was out of control was what I did to my body. What I ate, what I didn't eat, and how much I worked out. Even during what was or should have been the "prime years" weighing in at 120 something pounds at 5'7 and working out 7 days a week, I still had the worst self body image. On the outside, I looked tan, toned, and healthy, but on the inside I was a wreck. It took a very long time to recover from that period of my life.
I think this story is such a great example of why sharing your story is so important. I seriously can't count the number of girls and women who are affected by negative body image and just being so uncomfortable in their own skin. You are beautiful as you are!! Yes, take care of yourself. Yes, eat healthy, everything in moderation, exercise, etc...but those things do not define who you are as a person. You are wonderfully and fearfully made and you are perfect. Never let society (or a man/woman or anyone else) define what beauty is when it comes to you. Don't let your fears of what others may think you look like keep you from enjoying life! That is no way to live. (P.S - they are probably feeling THE EXACT way actually)
I feel the same way too about watching what you say in front of your kiddos about dieting. I try and not talk about those things in front of my daughter as well. I think you are doing an amazing job with that!
I pray for continued healing in your life love! You just keep your supportive tribe close to you!