Thankfully, I never developed an eating disorder. However, I have let myself be drastically caloric deficient on more than one occasion, and I have tried some crazy diets. I think one of the craziest things I remember from high school was going all day without eating so I could drink a Sundrop - a very sugary, citrus soda - after school. Really? That is gross. Of course, the "break-up diet" was always a good one: too upset to eat and the scale is plummeting. At the end of a week, you are laughing at your ex because you obviously look really good and skinny now. Eat your heart out, sucker! Eat? Probably time for some french fries after the tragically sad week.
At twenty-one, I was pregnant with my first child. I was free, for the first time since I could remember, from this "I must be skinny" mentality. Not that being pregnant was the magical cure all for negative body image, but it did open my eyes to what I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure I never planted the fat seed in my child's head, and this meant some mental changes for me. I grew up with the adults around me talking about being fat and going on "diets". I decided to remove the word fat as a way of describing myself or anyone else.
As I said, the battle in my head still went on, but I made it a point never to use the word fat even when I was 50+ pounds over weight and ready to jump out of my skin. Guess what? My daughter actually thanked me for never making her feel she should look a certain way. Apparently, some of her friends had mothers who would tell them if they were "getting fat". Ouch! Not that Aynaka has never struggled with body image - society will always make sure we all question how we look and how we feel about our physical appearance - but, overall her self-image is healthy. She says it herself; "it's more important to be an individual with ideas and feelings and opinions." Her thanking me was definitely one of those maybe I was a good parent moments - as opposed to those I really sucked at that whole parenting thing moments. . . well, that's for another time.
Over the years, being healthy and feeling good have taken precedence over the number on the scale. It's important to take care of yourself. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle related health problems are serious, but it's healthy versus unhealthy- not fat versus skinny. I exercise hard and try to eat healthy so I can continue to feel strong as I age. I keep moving because I know if I stop moving, I'll stop moving. When I'm 75, I want to be speed walking in my velour sweatsuit. Well, maybe not velour - that stuff is itchy - but definitely speed walking and taking selfies for #FlexFriday.
The scale can still be a monkey on my back. Just today, the number made me start calling for the broccoli, but unlike 25 years ago, it doesn't control my mood or how I perceive myself. Regardless of what the number on the scale reads, I know what I can physically do and it is kind of impressive. Yes, I am impressed with myself - it's okay! It's okay to know your worth and own it. The fat seed tells us we shouldn't if we aren't a size 2, but look beyond that seed. Look beyond the scale or any outside force trying to make you feel unworthy. Focus on the things you love about yourself and everything else will fall into place.