Weight. For most of my life, this “simple” word has had an extraordinarily heavy meaning for me. No matter my size, the numbers on the scale, the numbers on my jeans, and the numbers in my head, they never added up to a healthy equation.
What do these numbers mean? Do they matter? Does the numerical weight of a body truly dictate the level of one’s health and happiness? Okay, well the simple answer is “no” and the truthful answer is… I once weighed 127 pounds by starving myself and I was absolutely f**king miserable.
What would happen if we took a moment and… smashed the mirror, threw out the scale, ripped out the tags in our clothes, and erased our judgment? How would we FEEL in our bodies?
Currently, I still feel a little sluggish. Let’s just be honest here – I fell victim to the holiday feast overload and I’m working on getting my food groove back. But, I’m okay. I’m a human. A human who has quite the track record with food. Aside from the fact that I’m still breathing, how else do I know that I’m “okay” and taking care of myself?
I know I’m taking care of myself when…
- I can walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment without getting winded (unless I’m carrying four bags of groceries because I refuse to take that dreaded second trip…juvenile, I know)
- I can do a few more repetitions during my weight lifting (I’m not doing it because I have to or because some schedule tells me I’m supposed to. I’m doing it because I can and because I feel strong)
- I can sit down on my couch with a group of friends without reaching for a nearby pillow to place over my stomach (even if it’s there – my stomach that is).
- I’m not judging myself because I know I’m taking care of myself and working toward my goal and I’m able to say “fooey” to other’s potential judgment.
- I can go into my closet and it doesn’t feel like a war zone and my clothes aren’t my enemy (when getting dressed is about finding clothes for the day, not an epic battle of body hatred… one I have lost many a time)
- I’m eating out of hunger, for nourishment, and on my own terms (I’m not following a diet, eating out of boredom, and most of all… not eating to shove down negative emotions)
- I wake up in the morning and my body feels clean, not bogged down with late night emotional food regrets (If I eat late at night because my stomach is physically yelling at me for some food that’s different…I’m talking about the I’m-bored-can’t-sleep-feel-sad-must-eat-until-I-pass-out late night food regrets.
- I smile a little more often and laugh little more freely (because I’m taking care of myself a little more awesomely).
When I’m at my personal healthy weight I feel what I think others call “confidence.” Finding self-love in the chaotic mixture of binging, judgment, fear, and black-and-white thinking has never been easy. I feel proud of myself when I’ve taken back the control that I had given away – that I had given to food. When these moments occur, I pause the world around me and drink them in – what better nourishment is there for a body than a healthy dose of confidence?
Three lifestyle choices paved the path for my healthiest me
- Regularly exercising - This meant erasing these kinds of thoughts: “I have to get to the gym today or I’m a failure.” The less pressure I put on myself, the more I actually wanted to make my body stronger. Exercise became a choice – no longer a demand that measured the entire success of my day.
- Choosing natural, healthy, organic foods - For a long time, I was fixated on the concept of “lower calorie” food. One hundred calorie snack packs of pure artificial junk were constantly in my food line-up. While I am an advocate for indulgence and food fun (our taste buds are there for a reason, right?) I know that those foods don’t always make me feel good. Apples, carrots, free-range chicken, quinoa, kale, etc. make my body smile, not just from ear to ear, but from head to toe. (And most importantly- in my gut!)
- Taking care of myself - The more time I take for myself, the more I’m reminded that I’m worth the effort. During my toughest stages of binging, there were times when I wouldn’t bother to take care of the body that I blamed for my unhappiness. In reality, my body was doing everything in its power to accommodate my eating disorder. Of late, I’ve been hard at work re-paying my body and making up for the years of hatred and lack of interest that I showed it.
I’m still unsure of what my healthiest “weight” might be. I’m not even sure I’ve found it yet. I’ve had moments of feeling pretty satisfied with this vessel, but I’m a tough critic, especially when it comes to my body.
Years of food struggle, diet trauma, and exercise ups and downs have given me a warped view on weight. Well, now that I’m writing about it and thinking about it… my brain did think that I reached my healthiest weight once. But what was my first thought after this realization? “How will I ever maintain this!?” That’s how I know that I was NOT at my healthiest weight during that time.
If you’re like me, I say let’s kick the obsession over perfection. It brainwashes us, strips us of our self-confidence, and consumes our lives. It’s not about the weight ladies. It’s about whether or not you can dance in your underwear when no one’s looking and feel sexy… with yourself and for yourself. In fact, I swear on my very intense relationship with carbohydrates, that I had a dance party in my underwear just last week. I was terrified at first, but then I slowly grooved my way into a pants-less warrior princess. And it was awesome. Because I did it for ME.