A Weighty Matter.

I’ve wanted to write this post for years now.  Something has held me back.  Everything felt too fresh, too raw, perhaps. Too honest to reveal.  But here I am now.  It’s time.  Time to tell my story.

I remember the day that I felt fat.

It was the end of my freshman year of college.  I had stopped working out completely.  There were late night rendezvous with friends to the campus cafe (french fries, chocolate silk pie, etc.)  My worst nightmare had happened.

I had gained 25 pounds.

Growing up, I had always been the “large kid.”  It wasn’t just my weight.  At 5’8″, I soured above most other girls my age.  I didn’t see the benefits to my height, only the downfalls.  At the age of 14, I remember being told that I was too big to ride the gorgeous arabian horse, Valentine, at riding camp.  I remember watching the beautiful thin girls in their riding tights and cute little riding boots take their turns on Val, as I stood watching from the sidelines.  I felt like a great big mastiff in a world of graceful greyhounds.

And then–to top things off–at the age of 18, the freshman 15 25 happened.

I knew that if anyone could do anything about this issue of feeling large and bulky, it was me.  It was in my control, and my control alone.  I didn’t care that my parents told me I was still beautiful.  I didn’t care that the boy that I had a crush on at school had asked me out.  I didn’t feel worthy of anyone’s attention.  I felt big.  Bulky.  Large.  I shrunk away from doing things that I knew I would enjoy, because somewhere in the back of my head, I still felt like that 14 year old girl watching from the sidelines.  “That could never be me,” I told myself.

I wanted, for once in my life, to be that thin girl.  The girl who got first dibs on the arabian horse.  The girl who felt beautiful and worthy and lovely.

So I did.

I became that girl that I envisioned.

I lost 35 pounds, bringing me to an all time low.  I didn’t starve myself.  And I didn’t have an eating disorder.  I just ran.  I ran and I ran and I ran.  Until my size 4 became a 2 became a 0.

Until…sigh.

Until I became dizzy and faint and couldn’t fathom the idea of running.  Until I couldn’t skip one single day of exercise.  Until a 4 mile run wasn’t enough.  Until I lost my period for over a year and a half.  Until I became cranky and pale and irritable.

I received so many compliments throughout this time.

“How can I get as thin as you?”  “You’re so tall and thin!”

But I never felt it. I never felt tall and thin. Or beautiful. And I most certainly wasn’t strong or happy. No. I was tired. Tired of running all the time and feeling like I had an insatiable appetite.  Tired of hiking a 4000 ft mountain and wondering how many calories I had just burned.  Tired of being cranky.  Tired of being tired.

And then.

Something clicked.

Not overnight. Not in one day.  But something happened.  Slowly, gradually, I began to realize that (a) I wasn’t happy, even at that “ideal” weight that I saw for myself, (b) I didn’t feel healthy despite all of the working out that I was doing and (c) if I wanted to someday (hopefully!) be a dietitian than I needed to snap out of whatever I was going through and find a level of peace and balance with myself and with exercise.

Fast forward 7 years.

I’m now 25 pounds heavier than during that time (10 pounds lighter than my “heaviest” weight.) I no longer get compliments on my “thinness,” even though I’m still on the thinner side (just not skinny!) And I’m so incredibly happy with myself!!! My shoulders and arms are finally feeling strong, thanks to yoga. I run because I want to, because it makes me feel amazing (versus because it was keeping me thin and keeping those non-believed yet welcomed compliments coming!)  A 2-mile walk isn’t just “extra” anymore; it’s my daily workout.

I owe a lot of who I am to both of my parents, but most importantly my dad who is the man who always made me feel safe and special as a little girl.  The man who told me that I was pretty through every single weight that I traveled across.  I wish every girl had a dad tell her she’s beautiful.  But whether or not this is realistic for you, you must know that you are!  You must take this to heart and believe it.  You’re beautiful.  You’re special.  You’re worth far more than you could imagine.

When I was at my thinnest, I would sometimes blame other people for who I was; “it was those girls riding the arabian horse who made me become this way!”  I even had the gumption to blame my childhood years at some points.  But none of it was true.

The truth is, I had to finally feel inward beauty.  I had to finally learn that God loved my heart.  I had to learn that strength is prettier than skinny.  I had to learn to love and cherish and nourish my body in the same way I would love and cherish and nourish a child.  I needed to respect myself.

I am happy to say that today I am a completely new person.  Completely restored, through lots of hard work, soul searching, Bible reading, journaling, and living.  I hardly recognize that girl who I was 7 years ago.  I am genuinely happy and at peace with myself.  I have no pull towards who I was…just a bitter distaste and a memory that makes me feel for girls who struggle through these similar situations (amenorrhea, excessive exercising, body scrutinization/comparison, etc.)

And here’s the cold hard truth: No one person or thing will ever make you feel worthy or lovely or beautiful forever.  Nobody.  But you can.  If you want to feel at peace with food, exercise and yourself, than I encourage you to take the first step.  Make a goal for who you want to be, mentally and physically.  It’s okay to want to be strong, but it’s not okay to feel anxiety and pressure to reach an unhealthy goal.

Strength and beauty and confidence come from somewhere deeper than the surface and these things take work to obtain.  But.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

QUESTION: Do you have a “weight” story to share?  Did you ever suffer from low self esteem as a kid and how did/are you overcoming it?  Do you accept genuine compliments from people or do you struggle to believe them?

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31 thoughts on “A Weighty Matter.

  1. Lovely post- you are wonderful writer. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I have had similar struggles, and this post is a great reminder for me to make peace with food and exercise.
    As Kelsey said above- keep on being awesome 😉

    • Thank you, Allie! It is a journey to come to peace with food and exercise (and sometimes yourself!) but it is a journey worth taking! Rest assured you are not alone and that it IS possible to overcome. 😀

  2. I stepped on the scale one morning and it read 156. I’m 5’4″. I swore I wouldn’t, that I couldn’t get into the 160’s. Where would it end? I started eating lots of salads, logging calories and walking. Every day. And, the weight slowly started dropping off. But, what started happening is that everyone began commenting on my weight, telling me how great I looked and asked “what’s your secret?” While I loved the compliments, I was frustrated that because I was losing weight people felt like they were free to comment on MY body. I wasn’t losing the weight for anyone but myself, I didn’t feel good, I was tired all the time, I didn’t like what I looked like in my clothes and nothing ever fit. There wasn’t any secret. There is no magic pill. Losing weight takes a lot of hard work and a complete life-style change – that’s it. This life change was for me. That walking turned into running and I’ve completed to half-marathons. I eat enough food to be satisfied and when I eat to much I feel sick. I eat healthy because I want to be a good example for my kids, no one else.

    • Beautiful words, Jami! And I think you hit the nail on the head, by stating that “the life change was for me.” Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you!

  3. I’m glad you got through it Sarah. My younger cousins have dealt with weight issues (anorexia, bulimia, OCD, anxiety, depression…) for over 10 years. It’s hard to see an end to it for them because I think what they want for themselves hasn’t clicked for them yet. Hopefully it will soon. I always pass on positive stories to them in the hope that one will some day help.

    • Your cousins are in my thoughts and prayers! Anything revolving around weight issues can be very touchy and difficult to get through. It’s easy to look back and see how far I’ve come, but I definitely didn’t always *feel* like I had a problem when I was going through it. At least your younger cousins have you for a role model…someone who can and does pass on the positive stories, letting them know there’s so much more than what they’re seeking. Keep it up!

  4. I’m so glad that you’re in a good place with your self esteem right now. You’re living a healthy lifestyle and you are so incredibly beautiful at every size.
    Self esteem is really something that you have to teach yourself. At least I did. I feel great about my body now even if I want to lose some belly fat and gain (even more!) muscle. I no longer try to avoid walking by mirrors or standing next to skinny girls or showing off my body in a swimsuit. I’m happy with who I am by coming to realize that there are SO many different body types in the world and mine is just as beautiful as any other.
    It can be extremely difficult to go from always feeling like you don’t look good enough to feeling comfortable with who you are. It takes a lot of confidence. I’m so glad that you gained that confidence.

    • Thank you for sharing, Samantha! And I agree, that self esteem is something that you have to teach yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight! But that confidence is such a treasure to find…I love your confidence!!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing! I really enjoyed reading your story.

    I struggled with my weight a little. When I was 12, I was underweight due to some health issues I was dealing with. Once we got those figured out (for the most part), I gained quite a bit in a short period of time. It was good – I wasn’t overweight – but it made me feel fat, since I ws used to being so skinny. There was a brief time when I really tried to lose weight – and them got discouraged. When I discovered that you don’t need to be skinny, but be your ideal weight, and then found out what mine was, it really helped me not to worry about being fat. There are still times now when I worry that some of the things I am doing now are setting patterns for weight gain in my future (I am 17), but it’s motivation to keep trying to be healthier.

    And this past month, when they had to weigh me at the doctor’s, I found that I had lost weight without really trying. Just with focusing on eating well and trying to excercise. It was a very pleaseant surprise. 🙂

    Thank you for your encouragement!

    ~Allison

  6. Lovely post! I’ve been trying to formulate one of my own but I’ve been hesitant to – not many people know about my blog (I’ve literally just started it, but even on past blogs I haven’t wanted to share them with family or friends) and I don’t want one of them to stumble upon it and find out all these insecurities and problems I’ve had with my body/ weight, especially when they’re not all resolved yet. Somehow it’s easier to say it to the Internet, to people who have a huge change of understanding, rather than friends who I get scared won’t understand or who will judge me. But I loved reading yours, it makes me want to write my own story up right now! You’re beautiful!

    – Stephanie
    http://veganstate.blogspot.com/

    • I had a really difficult time writing this post. Mostly for the reasons you stated. I know there are family members who read this and I didn’t want to become so vulnerable that it left me in an awkward position. I think that’s why it took me so long to write! I’ve been wanting to write it for so long now, but it was much too recent and raw an issue that I felt it wasn’t the right time. It took a good 5 years since reaching my “healthy” weight and going through the emotions/struggles that were still continuing on before I finally reached peace and contentment with myself and all of these issues. You may still be resolving your insecurities and emotions, but you ARE on your way to a complete and full restoration. You’ll write YOUR story when the time is right. 😀

  7. Words of encouragement in one fantastic post. Younger gals like myself who have body image issues or who have had them really need to hear something like this. It’s almost comforting and I appreciate you sharing this! I grew up back and forth between South Korea and Colorado most of my life and I was very active so I was always very slim and slender until I moved to Florida and started getting poor diet and less exercise. By the time I was in college, it got even worse. I gained around 50 lbs from excessive partying, drinking and a diet so poor that you might as well consider absolutely disgusting. Since I graduated, I’ve been working on cutting out all my bad habits and replacing them with something that would not only help me lose weight and get back in shape, but something that would help boost my confidence and make me a happier, healthy person. Again, thank you for sharing!

    — Cheers!

  8. This is such a great post! I can relate to this a lot. I put on 35-40 lb in high school and I was so uncomfortable with myself that it stopped me from living the life that I wanted. Finally in 2nd year of university I started exercising and eating healthily, but took it to an extreme (thank you, type A personality) and ended up losing 50 lbs. Like you, I just forced myself to snap out of it because I realized how unhappy it was making me. Now I may not be the thinnest I’ve ever been, but I feel happier and more balanced than ever.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  9. I think all women deal with those same pressures to be “thin” or “pretty” but it takes a strong woman to overcome these outside voices and listen to the only one that really matters- your own. Hopefully your story can help others in their quest for peace with their body.

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  11. Thank you for this post! I struggled with Bulimia for 3 years and recently I finally can say I am recovered. Eating disorders are a horrible thing because they.consume.your.life. You cannot possibly be there for friends and family when you are constantly caught up in a life draining habit. There is so much more to life than that! And you know what, we only get ONE life to live and we have to make the most of each and every day. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Thanks. I am also a dietitian and I have always had a struggle with my weight/health to this very moment. I constantly go back to counting calories and protein and fat whenever I fall off the band wagon for a couple of days or weeks and it makes me feel obsessed with fitness, which I don’t really like. I am an avid runner and biker and try to workout for 2hrs a day to burn off the calories… sigh. I am not overweight, not skinny, just your average fit girl but it’s not enough. I want the 6 pack definition, I want the 10km PR of 45min… I just feel like this is a constant life-long battle, I don’t like being this way but I don’t know any other way of being. Self acceptance, self acceptance, self acceptance. Must practice self acceptance. Maybe one day I’ll be there… Thanks for sharing your story, it’s very relatable and inspiring. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to post my story of how I overcame this struggle too.

    • I think what truly helped me was when I faced the question, “when is enough ever going to be enough?” And I realized that enough was never enough. If I ran hard in the morning, I still felt like I HAD to walk in the evening. I felt that if I was now running 5 miles, that 3 miles was not ever going to again be enough. I kept pushing my boundaries.

      The key part, of course, was that I was miserable. There are many athletes who take this sort of lifestyle on and they enjoy every part of it. Always pushing their bodies. Resting when they know they need it. Seeing how far they can go. The problem was that this rigorous lifestyle was overtaking my life in a sick kind of way. When I realized that enough was never going to be enough, this opened room for my wanting a change. Why was I working out so hard? I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. And I certainly wasn’t either of those things.

      I wish you the very best with everything! I completely understand where you are coming from and I have no doubt that you’ll have a story to tell of your journey as well…thanks so much for sharing! 😀

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