I grew up playing volleyball – constantly surrounded by tall, skinny, beautiful women. I never thought I fit in with them because I’m short and was never skinny like them. It didn’t even matter that I played just as well as they did. And it would be a lie to say that college does great things for people’s self esteem.
Throughout high school and freshman year of college, I tried eating well, turned to fad diets, and exercised more. Nothing seemed to work. I could never hold myself accountable – I always cheated on my diets and sometimes did as little as possible during my workouts. I was never content, but still I suffered.
I have always been the ‘big girl,’ and I have always known it. My friends never commented on it, but I know I was and I have been extremely aware of it for as long as I can remember. I could never share my friends’ clothes after a sleepover, or prom. They were always ‘smalls,’ when I was a ‘large.’
I have always hated my body, constantly trying to stuff myself into a smaller space so people wouldn’t notice me. I avoided looking in mirrors in department stores, and I was always embarrassed to shop with my friends. I would only wear neutral colors so I wouldn’t stand out in a crowd.
Not feeling confident in your body is a crippling, terrifying thing, and there’s no way around it.
At the beginning of this year, I wrote the words: It’s 2016, let’s all try to love ourselves a little better this year. And I cringe to say that I never thought I’d be able to actually follow those words. But I at least wanted the chance.
But now, it’s official – I’ve lost 20 pounds and gained a lot of muscle. I’m not (that) ashamed to admit it. No, it’s not for a boy. No, it’s not because society pressured me to. It’s just because I always wanted to do it, and this year, I stuck with that desire. I’m not at my goal, but it’s a start. And starting is always the hardest part.
On my winter break, I decided 2016 was going to be the year: the year I stuck to a diet. The year I lost the weight. The year I chose myself over everything else.
I spent a lot of time researching diets I could do on my own time, that would make me eat well and build up my will power. I researched diets that would help me make good habits, and continue to live with them.
I settled on Weight Watchers – a plan where I can eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, and all I have to do is stay honest with myself. Here’s how it works: you’re not supposed to starve yourself – and that’s basically it. You eat what you want, and the program helps you learn portion control. At the same time I started this, I began to go to Pure Barre. This is a workout that targets every muscle in a 60-minute, low impact workout. Within five days, my posture had improved, and I felt stronger already.
This is all to say, I have begun to love my body for the first time in my life. I made this choice on my own and I held myself accountable for once. I made the choice to feel good about myself and, this time, it actually stuck. I no longer look away from mirrors in stores and I have started to believe people’s compliments. I feel strong and I feel healthy. I eat better, and I exercise more. I’ve created good habits, and have forced myself to continue doing them. Now, it’s nearly second nature.
This is not to say I am 100% confident and I strut my stuff. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to feel that way. For now though, I can just keep doing what I’m doing – feeling good and taking good care of my body. And since it’s 2016 and all, maybe, just maybe, I can try to love myself a little better.
Featured image via nolatrees