Being the fat kid sucks.
I was overweight from the age of 8 – 15 and it was brutal. All my friends had boyfriends, but I didn’t. Gym class was agonizing. I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin, betrayed by my frame.
Then, I lost weight (in a totally unhealthy, stupid way) and began a roller coaster ride with my body image that lasted a painful decade. I had a horrible relationship with food; I was either starving or bingeing. No middle ground. It was awful.
Things are better now, but the struggle will never be completely behind me. As Geneen Roth says, where things are broken, that’s where the light shines through, and many of the cracks in my heart and soul are as a result of my struggles with food, weight and body image.
That being said, I am in a better place than I have ever been and I am so thankful. I know it’s possible for old habits to creep back in, but I have made so much progress in accepting my body as a wonderful and imperfect house for my spirit, and I am not afraid of food anymore. I can eat what I want and my body tells me when I’m full. How novel. Only took me 15 years to figure that one out!
The latest piece of the puzzle for me has been exercise. I used to view it as only a means to burn calories, so I could lose weight, or rationalize that 12th piece of pizza. But a couple years ago I started a boot camp class, thinking I would only stick it out for a few weeks, drop 10 pounds and make a mad dash for my old ways, but alas, here I am, still getting up at 5:45 am to go and squat and lunge and sweat and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It has totally changed my perspective on fitness: it’s something I do because it makes me feel good, makes me feel strong, makes me feel healthy and alive. It has opened the doors to so many new experiences, because I feel ABLE to try things now. Want to hike to the top of this mountain? Sure! Want to try a new dance class? Yeah, I can keep up! Want to go mountain-biking? OKAY!
That’s what I did today: mountain biked. Was I good? Not especially, but I DID IT.
Do I still have a tummy pooch? Yes. Cellulite that stretches from my hips to my knees? You betcha. Stretch marks from three babies? Totally. Do I look like a bikini model? NEVER.
I have jiggly thighs but under that jiggle there is some hard-earned muscle, and today it helped me bike to the top of a mountain and see the lake and feel the breeze and know that all those mornings of squatting and lungeing were well worth it.