Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Love Yourself First and Foremost

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In honor of this week, I thought I'd share my story. And I'm sharing this because it helps me get it out. And if it helps someone else, then it's worth it. But more so I'm sharing so that my son knows he is always beautiful no.matter.what. 

To be blunt... I am pleasantly plump. I am short and squat. I have rolls and curves. Heck, I even came out chubby. 

I sure was cute though, wasn't I?! 

But for the first 20 years of my life, I was fat, plain and simple, and was told I wasn't beautiful. 

"You'd be so much prettier if you just lost a little weight."

"How hard is it to tie your shoes? Does all of THAT get in the way?" 

"Why are you even trying out for sports if you can barely move?!" 

"What's it like being fat?"

"Why don't you care about yourself?"

"You're my little butterball." 

I could go on. For years, comments like these poured in. Not just from my peers and people my own age, but from family and close friends and even my own parents. 

It made me self-conscious, embarrassed, and ashamed. I hid. I hid behind anything I could find. And I fed my sadness with food. It was my comfort and it made me feel better. I even thought at one point chopping all my hair off would help hide me. Nope. Didn't work.  

When I was in high school, I started to come out of my shell and wanted to be viewed differently. I wanted to be looked at as equal and not inferior to the athletes, the blonds, the cool kids, the musicians and dramatics, or even the popular kids. I was tired of wrapping my body in duct tape each morning under my clothes to suck it in. I didn't want to wear bike shorts and three bras anymore. I didn't want to be bullied anymore. I just wanted to be accepted as me, regardless of my size and shape.

So I tried to lose weight. I tried so hard. SO. Hard. And some things worked. But most didn't. 

My mom is overweight. My dad is overweight. Both of my brothers are obese. It's in my genes. It came to a point, numerous times actually, where I would cry in the doctor's office and just ask to be done. To no longer try and just stop caring. Because it was so bad, I didn't think it could truly get worse. I was always sad and lonely and questioning myself. The bullying and meanness had sunk into my thoughts. It was bad. really bad. 

The summer between high school and college something clicked. Maybe moving away from home helped. Maybe a change in scenery helped. Maybe being on my own helped. I honestly don't know. But I gave up looking down on myself and tried to see the positive. I was alive. I was healthy. I could easily be happy if I just got out of my own way. And I was somewhere new where no one else really knew who I was. 

I walked everywhere. I got a bike and rode to my classes on the other side of campus. I talked to people in my classes I didn't know. I took aerobic classes as part of my class schedule so I HAD to go and would get graded. As an overachiever, there was NO getting around that one. And finally, after a few years of requesting from our family health insurance provider, I was granted coverage for a breast reduction. At 19 years old, it is still the best decision I ever made. 

After my recovery, things were easier for me. Working out was easier. I mean, I went from a 44GGG to a 36C. I could MOVE for the first time in my life. I went from over 250 pounds to 150. At 19 years old, I lost a Backstreet Boy. Ha! 

In all seriousness, it gave me a newfound ability to move and try things I literally had never been able to do before. I walked more, I started running, I stood up straight (as crazy as that sounds, it made a HUGE impact on my confidence), and I smiled. A lot. 

I grew up and matured and learned to love myself. It did NOT happen overnight. But it happened eventually. 

I'm now in my 40s and I still struggle with it daily. But I know deep down that I am beautiful and I hope that I transfer that self-love onto my son so he knows he's beautiful no matter what anyone else thinks or says. 

I have kept those 100 pounds off for over 20 years now, give or take a few here and there over the years. And it's ok that I'm not tall, thin, and blond. Because when I look around at the average person, they're closer to me, my size, and shape than those we all tend to idolize. 

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