My Journey with My Body
Diet culture and the fitness industry have drilled it into our heads; you must look a certain way or be a certain size to be healthy. Workout 7 days a week, eat “clean”, don’t eat junk food, don’t eat carbs, the list goes on and on. The end goal is always the same: to look a certain way, which is typical thin and white. Fat has been demonized for a long time, so much so, that it’s often looked at as the worst thing you can be.
Growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s really did a number on us, and it took me a long time to realize just how much it affected me. I convinced myself that the images I grew up with in magazines and on TV didn’t affect my self image, yet in the back of my mind I was constantly comparing my body to the models I saw. I was always the chubby kid of my friend group, I almost quit soccer because I ran the slowest and had the biggest thighs, I was nine... nine years old and I already hated my body; I remember asking my mom to go on a diet because I felt so self conscious, I hated my tummy and my big thighs. Her response was amazing and I will never forget it; she told me that my body was still growing, and that if I still felt this way when I was 18, she would do Weight Watchers with me. Now, Weight Watchers might not be the best thing but those words allowed me to be a child again. Those words allowed me to accept my body all throughout middle and high school, allowing me to confidently play soccer, field hockey, and eat without worry.
Then at 18 I found out I was pregnant and when my body started changing and growing, I lost all the confidence I once had. Suddenly I had extra skin and fat, my body changed, as it does when you become pregnant and grow a baby inside of you. I was also in an abusive relationship where I felt my partner didn’t find me attractive anymore; one night I came out in heels and lingerie, only to be ignored for video games and finding out he cheated on me while pregnant. Since then, I have struggled with my self image, even though I’ve been an acceptable size 6-8 for most of my adult life.
I lost the remainder of my baby weight (15-20lbs) over the course of 6 weeks. I worked out 6 days a week and barely ate because of my mental health and traumatic separation (anxiety made it impossible for me to eat). I even won a contest from the gym I was a part of, for the amount of weight/inches I lost during those 6 weeks.
I spent the first part of my relationship with my now husband, not eating because of my mental health; when I was finally feeling better and regaining my appetite, I felt like I couldn’t eat in front of him because he would be disgusted with how much I ate. It’s taken me many years to eat comfortably in front of my husband, and I still wonder to myself if he thinks I eat too much. I’ve tried keto, intermittent fasting, macros, calorie counting, and veganism to maintain a body type and size that I felt was acceptable. For two years my AppleWatch ruled my life; closing those rings was my top priority, and if I didn’t, I convinced myself that I was lazy and unworthy.
Then, over the past year, I gained 70lbs, suddenly finding myself bigger and heavier than I was while pregnant. None of my clothes fit, my wedding ring would get stuck on my finger to the point that I had to stop wearing it, and my stomach hangs over my underwear if I don’t pull them up to my belly button. I convinced myself that my husband found me repulsive, with my double chin and new stretch marks. I asked him once if he thought I looked disgusting and he responded asking if that’s what I thought about myself, to which I responded yes. There have been many days over the past year where I’ve hated my body and myself for allowing this to happen.
The thing is, those 70lbs came from three of the hardest years of my life; moving to a small town to live with my dying mother in law, after my father in law unalived himself. I experienced three of the biggest changes in the span of 8 months; getting married, losing my father in law, and moving. Not to mention experiencing loss through suicide for the first time, living in my in laws house with horses, dogs, cats, and a property to take care of, while still being a mom and a wife, and taking care of someone who was actively dying, being with her up until the moment she passed. Almost three years of being uncomfortable in someone else’s home, building a business from scratch, and then going through a global pandemic which of course came with its own struggles. After my mother in law passed, we then had the task of going through my husband's childhood home, listing and selling the house, before buying and moving into our new home.
All of this took place over the span of three years, so no shit my body changed. My body enabled me to take on the last three years, to hold my husband after the loss of his parents, to hold my son after the loss of his grandparents. To take care of and support my dying mother in law. My body has held me through my darkest moments of wanting to disappear, to remove myself and the burden I believed I placed on my family. My body has taken me up mountains, across lakes, and through hell and back. She changed instinctively to protect me when I needed it most, and I don’t want to hate her anymore.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our weight and our bodies are the least interesting thing about us. Fat is not the worst thing you can be, and you can’t tell someone's health by looking at them. We need to stop hating our bodies because they don’t look like what we see on social media or in magazines. We need to stop beating ourselves up for not eating perfectly all the time, for indulging in food, and taking more rest than normal. Our bodies do so much for us, day in and day out, they don’t deserve this hate.
This past year has been one of healing and acceptance. I refuse to hate my body into losing weight, I refuse to even focus on my weight or my appearance. I’m buying bigger clothes because they fit and I’m not holding onto clothes hoping that I’ll fit them again. I’m actively filling my social media feeds with different body types, sizes, and colours. I’m moving my body in ways that feel good, like hiking and stretching. I’m adding in foods that make me feel good, while still enjoying treats. I’m not restricting myself in any way, but instead checking in for what I need. I’ve also been experimenting with different clothes, having lived in workout gear for so many years, I’m discovering my own style, which has been so fun and instantly boosts my confidence.
I’m not perfect, I have days where I feel really uncomfortable in my skin, but I’m finding ways to accept and honour my body (wearing clothes that actually fit has played a big role in this). We only have one body and we’ve been conditioned to hate it, but that’s never worked. It’s time we throw away our ideas of the ideal body and move towards accepting all bodies as they are; because even if we all ate the same and did the same workouts, we would still look different.