Dealing With Self Image Highs and Lows

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have struggled with body image my entire life.

Eighth grade was the real tipping point. A male classmate of mine had angrily told me to “go eat another twinkie” one day and after that I was never the same. I don’t think I realized at first what he meant and then it hit me. He thinks I’m fat. He sees me and thinks of me as a fat girl.

I was a chubby kid. I will not deny that. I was active and loved sports, but I also liked McDonald’s and sweetened soda and all of those things that just weren’t good for my body. But I don’t think I realized that I was fat until that moment. I mean I knew I wasn’t thin. I knew I wasn’t like the pretty, skinny girls in middle school who wore double zero Hollister jeans and belly shirts. I knew I wasn’t like them, I had always covered up my body. Often times wrapped up in my dad’s extra-extra large sweatshirts. But now it was real, I was fat and I immediately starting scrutinizing myself.

It was the summer after that hurtful comment that I entered the world of fitness. I wanted to get in shape for high school soccer so I started running and swimming and working out constantly all with the desire to be that fit, skinny girl that I wanted to be in my head. I also took on a strict 900 calorie-a-day diet. I starved myself. For four months I don’t think I ate chocolate or french fries or anything. I remember eating these ham sandwiches on low-calorie bread and 70 calorie yogurts. I remember eating plums and strangely enough I don’t remember many vegetables.

I do remember how it felt when I lost 25 pounds in one summer. I remember the awe in people’s eyes. I remember them saying I looked great and I remembered how it felt to finally, finally be a skinny girl. I remember it so clearly that I have tears in my eyes because I want that again.

Then came the fear. The fear of food. The fear of going to school and someone offering me a cookie, or hanging out with a friend and them offering me a slice of pizza. I was no longer in my own, protected world of starvation and running and I was terrified. Every day I spent hours thinking about food and the temptation and about getting fat.

I lived like that for years and then one day, my junior year of high school I realized I no longer had that resolve to say no. And so I ate.

Since then, four years later, it has been a diet roller coaster. I will get down to a great weight and then blow it. I will love my body and then I suddenly have no will power.

Recently, I haven’t been able to run and that has resulted in a severe depression that has led to me eating. I have once again allowed myself to dip into an unhealthy weight and once again I have to claw my way out of it.

It doesn’t matter how many times my dad tells me I look great, or the guy I’m dating tells me he loves my stomach, or my grandfather says that I finally look like myself, or my coworker tells me my body is banging, I hate it. I hate my body. Right now, while writing this I hate myself. I have let myself get somewhere that I never said I’d be again, and it’s scary.

But I know I have the strength to fight this, to get back to being who I am. It begins today and every day, the fight with my self image is real and alive, and I need to win this time, I NEED to win.

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If It Hurts, Go See A Doc

Even though I have been extremely awful at posting every day, which is my goal, I am going to hop right back into it and hopefully some of you will still be reading!

After finally going to the doctors, (I am extremely bad at actually getting checked out when I am sick), I have been diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome. This pain syndrome means that my patella and the end of my femur bone are rubbing together whenever I walk, or run, or really move and that is why I have had the debilitating pain. My doctor recommended a shot in my knee to reduce the inflammation. I am happy to report that I am feeling much better and have been advised to wait another week before trying running, but I am already overjoyed that I don’t need surgery!

I do need to do some muscle exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold the patella in place and then hopefully I can prevent this from being a recurring issue!

I am using this post to inform you that you SHOULD take workout injuries seriously! I am terrible at admitting when I am in pain, but often times if you push through an injury you risk causing more damage. If you hurt yourself further, then you’ll just be out of the workout game longer, and we all know how terrible that is!

I have been swimming and using the elliptical to combat my workout woes, but I’ll be very glad when I get back into running! I am simply not the same person without it. Not at all. I’ll discuss that depression and how it led to a flare up of body hatred in my next post.

But, if it hurts, and not just soreness, but real pain that is out of the ordinary, then call your doctor! Pushing yourself through another workout is not worth the pain of enduring a serious health issue!

Health Communication

Health communication is something that I am truly passionate about. Whether it is sharing health, fitness, or medical news, I think that communicating these types of things lie at the heart of having a full life.

Yesterday I was having a rather bad day. I was in a grumpy mood all day at work. At the end of my day I had to do an interview with a doctor from El Salvador. I won’t share her name only because I didn’t ask for her permission, but speaking with her was breathtaking.

Her goals, her dreams, her ideals were stunning. She wanted to change the face of pediatric oncology in El Salvador and she was doing it all by herself. She is the one who applied for the scholarship that brought her to America to world-class hospitals so that she could learn more efficient ways to run her own hospital.

Her goal was simple, find ways to save lives.

Suddenly I had all the perspective I needed on life. I looked at her and what she was doing and realized that me being grumpy, or me being selfish, or me not liking my weight or size meant nothing compared to what she is doing.

She is saving lives and is pushing herself so far out of her comfort zone to do it. She is living in a country, in a city, that doesn’t speak her first language fluently. She is away from her family, her patients, her hospital; all in an attempt to save lives and make the face of El Salvadorian medicine better.

I am in awe of her. I want to be her. Or rather I want to be about what she’s about. I want to change the world. I want to make an impact that is felt beyond the surface of my own skin. I want to have a purpose and in doing so make a difference in this world.

The Real Joy

The biggest mistake we can make in life is being afraid of living.

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is be afraid to accept a challenge, to push ourselves, to join the struggle to be a better person. The worst thing we can do is let our fear overcome our desire to live our life fully and beautifully.

I am scared.

I am scared of the real world and what it means next year when I graduate from college and have to get a job and live totally and completely on my own.

I am scared of never accomplishing my dream of running a marathon, of quitting on myself and not taking care of myself to the extent that I cannot do the things I love.

I am scared of the future. Scared that I will never find someone to spend the rest of my life with, to have babies with, to sit in rocking chairs with when we’re eighty and wrinkled and senile and drink iced tea.

I am scared.

It isn’t uncommon to be afraid. It isn’t uncommon to fight against the things you want and the people who make you better, because it is scary. It is scary to fight your entire life for something, to spend every day struggling and striving for a goal, and then realize that you are going to accomplish it. It is scary to live and to do so deliberately and honestly and with a heart full of love. But, not living that way is a waste of life.

I would rather live a life of purpose and strive for happiness, and love, and acceptance then spend my whole life sitting comfortably in a spot that gives me no joy.

The real joy in life is found in overcoming the challenges. The real joy comes when you fight long enough for something that you get it. The real joy comes in being afraid and allowing that fear to provoke you into creating the best moments of your life.

I am afraid. Every single day I am afraid. I am afraid of what I cannot do, and what I can do, but every day I wake up, and I look in the face of my challenge and I am aware that I can do it, I can overcome it, and that I will be a better person because of it.

You Are Perfect

A beautiful thing to remember today and every day. You have to look past all the flaws and insecurities you have and embrace who you are. Love your stomach and thighs and booty. Love yourself for all the bumps and bruises and who it has made you along the way. Just look in the mirror and realize you’re perfect, and own it. You are stunning and lovely and brilliant and no one can take that away from you. Hold onto it forever.

Overcoming the Challenge

My recent injury has left me with an inability to workout, at all. Walking from my apartment to the train station, or to work, is quite the feat itself. The cure I have been given for this injury is rest. But, I think my original diagnosis may not be right because the pain is far more severe, and the healing is not nearly as far along as I was hoping it would be.

So, since I am sidelined by pain I have to stick to low impact activities. I am looking into gyms with pools and yoga because I can’t simply just sit around and do nothing. I’m checking out the Wang YMCA and BSC which has a great $30 for 30 day deal.

But, I am also taking this on as a challenge. I’m being thrown a curveball by my body. I’m not sure if it is because of the countless trials I have put it through, or if I just need a break, but I am finding ways to make it work.

Life is challenging. Every single day we face challenges. Challenges at work, at school, challenges to be a better friend, a better girlfriend, a better person. Every day we face challenges. What makes us better is how we overcome the challenges. How we look the struggle in the face and get better.

Get Fit, Don’t Quit

A quick visit to my athletic trainer yesterday revealed some inflammation in my knee due to a slightly misaligned patella and a very weak “powder puff” muscle, as it is nicknamed. This muscle keeps your patella in place.

I have been given some exercises to strengthen my weakened muscle and been told to rest for a few days and then start by lightly running. I have decided that cross training needs to become a serious part of my life because the constant amount of running I do is putting serious wear on my joints.

My new goal is to interject different fit activities into my lifestyle so that my body doesn’t get too rundown. The plan includes yoga, which I have heard so many wonderful things about but have never tried. I am taking advantage of a deal through a studio near me, Back Bay Yoga, to try it out. I get two weeks of unlimited classes for $25 so hopefully I’ll like it!

I am also looking into all the hype around crossfit as well. I have found a beginners free trial at a box near me so hopefully they can give me the basics and help me get a better understanding of it. Reebok Crossfit Back Bay will potentially make me just as found of the craze as all of their crossfit followers.

I will keep you posted on what I think of these new exercises and how my knee pain develops and hopefully goes away (fingers crossed)!

Also stay tuned for a health overhaul and those fit profiles I promised you so long ago!