Ready to Begin Anew

Ok, here it goes. On Monday I am beginning a lifestyle overhaul. I am doing this for reasons any woman diets. I want to be healthier, look as good as I possibly can, regain some confidence, and undo some bad habits. But there is a deeper side to this, which I will explain.

 I have never really struggled with weight as I have seen others struggle. When I was a kid I was a normal size, not smaller than many, but not larger either. When I hit middle school I began feeling big. I wasn’t, at 5’3” and 113 lbs I was a fine size, but I had a far different figure than my peers which made me self conscious. I was curvy and had thick hips and a C cup bust. I felt out of place. It wasn’t just my looks that made me feel so; I was always a black sheep. I was a punk/Goth kid even at that age and I had few interests in common with those I went to school with. I liked the wrong music, I loved reading as opposed to school dances, I liked my small circle of friends instead of popularity, but most of all I liked honesty and sincerity. I had no time for the catty games pre-teen girls play, and spent a lot of my growing up slightly isolated, holding all but my best friends at arm’s length. I have always been naturally suspicious of people and when I was younger I just expected the worst out of everyone, mainly because of how my eccentricity was received. I soon quit caring about how I looked and just focused on being me. Then high school happened. I only gained half an inch in height, but was about 145 lbs. I was old enough to be body conscious, and my first boyfriend did not help. I see now that I looked fine, I was an athlete so I had a well muscled curvy frame that many would have killed for, and looking at these pictures now I feel so stupid for thinking I was anything other than beautiful. But this boy of  mine liked very slender girls. He never said I was fat, but made comments about how good I would look if I slimmed up just a bit.

   Our relationship was turbulent and far too mature for us at that point in our lives. We loved each other, but we didn’t know how to disagree without hurting one another. Neither of us was very emotionally stable for various reasons, and I found myself feeling bound to him in adversity and mutual need. He was the only boy to ever show interest in me, and I really believed he was my only shot. As we got older we warped each other as our circumstances had warped us. It was unhealthy and grew abusive, yet neither of us could manage without the other for long, so break-ups were quite brief. During this time we shared many formative experiences and forged a bond that to this day is not broken, though we are no longer together.

  We were together for a total of 6 years. In these 6 years I did all I could to be the perfect version of me which he had created and put on a pedestal. (Every time I failed to live up to this fantasy me in any way he wouldn’t fail to berate me for it.) Part of this was weight loss. I dieted to achieve the “perfect” figure. At this time I was also experimenting with drugs and partying hard. I ate only salad, veggies, and bread. No snacks. I was a softball player so working out was not hard since we had practice every day, then when I would come home from practice I would work out for another hour and a half.  The weight came off and I became obsessed. Every morning I looked at the scale, after every meal I looked at the scale, after I drank a glass of water I looked at the scale. Soon my hard partying ways took control of me and before I knew it I was a 00 jean size and weighed 103 lbs, and still was not completely content.

   Today I look at the pictures from back then, and I am shocked. I looked like a bobble head doll. There is not one thing I find attractive about ultra thin me, except maybe my cheekbones…lol… Through a series of interventions by my friends about both my drug use, and unhealthy relationship I began seeing more clearly, and wanting to put myself in a better place. This meant that I first had to tackle the source of my problems, myself. I could blame many people for what led me to the path I chose in my teens, but I made the choices, no one else. The pain I felt scared me, I could not control it and when I was younger I had no place for things I could not control; these things were often my emotions. I bottled up and ignored everything that caused me to feel emotions I viewed as weak. I internalized so much anger, that I am still trying to wade through it all and work through it today at 23. I have learned that anger is my comfort emotion. When I began facing reality, it was not pretty and it was not fun. My relationship with a person I truly loved and expected to be with ended. I knew it was for the better, but it threw me into despair. I finally had to learn to do what I was most afraid of. Be alone, face myself, work on facing my demons, and acknowledge that I needed to find love for myself. To do this I would have to face very uncomfortable truths and the task seemed impossible.

  In the midst of this, my grandfather, the most important person in the world to me, became ill, I met and fell in love with my future husband, and my best friend got pregnant. Months later my grandfather died, and my great grandfather followed a month later. Then my best friend (and cousin) gave birth. I felt so ill equipped to handle such large life changers.

  My grandfather’s passing’s had thrown off our families balance, and caused financial strain, as they had always been there to help everyone. But my new nephew was a bright spot that helped me hold things together, and much to my surprise my new boyfriend was supporting me through everything.

  During the passing of my grandfathers, as is the way in the South, everyone brought us food. I ate and ate and ate, not realizing that I was comfort eating. For months this continued. I was depressed and lost, and had gained a hefty chunk of weight.

This was 2009.

Since then I have continued working on myself psychologically. It has been painful, hard, slow, revealing, rewarding, and liberating. In 2011 my now husband got a job in Nigeria. We weren’t even engaged then, but he wanted me to go with him. So I did. I found that distance from the place of so much of my internal strife really helped. I also got to experience so much, put my life into perspective, and learn new things about myself. At present my husband and I have just moved to Thailand for yet another job. I spent my 2 years in Africa working on me, and working through my issues. I sit here today having been in Thailand for a month, and reflect on everything in my life. I am finally at a point where I am at peace with my past, thankful for my mistakes, in tune with my emotions, and understand most of the cause and effect of my life which once caused so much pain.

   I have forgiven those who have hurt me, but most of all I have forgiven myself. I have grieved for myself and I have freed myself from everything that made me such a self loathing person. It was a long and hard fought battle, but right now I finally love myself and my life. I found someone who loves me for exactly who I am, I have seen the world, and I have made it out the other side of a void within so dark it seemed bottomless, and now I find that the void is pretty much gone.

   So I strive to begin anew. I want to embrace this new life, shake off the old, and move forward without the constant harassment of the ghosts of the past. I can look in a mirror and say I am pretty and mean it (most of the time). These are all things that I was incapable of before. So I have decided, as I began with saying, that I am overhauling my lifestyle. I finally have the motivation to add to the positivity I have already found, and am committed to losing these extra pounds which are souvenirs of a darker time. This time though, I am doing this for me, not for acceptance, or love. I love who I am, and I want my outside to reflect my inner transformation. I am ready, and this time will feel a real accomplishment once my goal is reached.

  I have wanted to lose the weight ever since I gained it, but concluded I didn’t want to do it until I could accept myself. It may seem odd, but it was important for me to gain the inner peace I always lacked before I dealt with a superficial problem. I felt that dealing with how I look would tempt me to not focus on the real issues and become wrapped up in weight obsession, and compulsive shopping, which had brought me comfort when I was unwilling to confront my emotions.

 I have learned to love myself and find the beauty in myself even though I am overweight. I felt this had to happen before I could really benefit from any weight loss. This is as much a psychological process as a physical one. This is another stage of healing for me. And I am hoping that once I reach my goal, my journey of healing will be done. So here it goes. I will keep posting updates on my progress, who knows it may help someone! Also, if anyone reading this has advice on specific exercises or lifestyle changes that helped you lose and maintain your goal weight, please share!

(I am the one in the dress. The other is my cousin. So this is me pre-weight loss. 5’3″ and 180 lbs)