Body Peace

Our society has a serious weight problem, and its not something that just popped up overnight. For years we tell young girls that its okay to be whatever size you are, yet it seems only skinny girls grace the covers of magazines or become the popular girls you go to school with. Weight has been something I’ve dealt with my entire life, and probably always will. Despite people telling you that you look fine in your own skin, there’s always the nagging voice in the back of your mind telling you its not.

Growing up in South Florida, I lived in a place where people seem to be in bathing suits more often than other clothes. I played soccer for years, and though I didn’t have the best eating habits I wasn’t a chubby kid. I will forever believe that middle school is the absolute worst years in terms of puberty. Though your body is still growing after 14, every kid feels totally awkward to watch themselves change. I got the family genes, which meant I had two things the skinny people didn’t have: boobs and a butt.

In seventh grade I got sick, and I never figured out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t eat or keep food down. It was the absolute worst thing you could imagine. My weight dropped to around 100 pounds and I didn’t have the energy to do anything, especially play soccer anymore. I felt so awkward, like a stranger in my own skin. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the face staring back at me.

But at some point the sickness stopped, and life went back to normal. Starting high school, I was probably a size 2. I know that’s small, but there were girls who were smaller than me and it didn’t help that I had a bigger chest than most of the girls in my class. I went to a private school, and I can’t begin to tell you how ruthless and mean people can be with the things they say about people’s appearances.

Unaccustomed to the number of hours I spent in school combined with the hours I spent on homework, I began stressing which led to stress eating. Weight slowly started to creep back on, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t fit into my school uniform. Junior year I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which is when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones to keep you functioning properly. Side effects included constant tiredness, hair loss, and abnormal weight gain.

At this point, I was on the school dance team and one day at practice, my teacher felt it would be a good idea to push me down further into a stretch. Hearing a loud pop from my knee immediately signaled that it wasn’t, and I soon learned I had a meniscal tear in my knee. It was just perfect to have to wear a full leg brace that did not bend for 6 weeks in a school that didn’t have elevators. My upstairs classes moved downstairs, and my friends jokingly referred to my brace as “the hobble leg” and imitated my fancy leg swing I had to do to walk around.

Fast forward to junior year of college four years later. During this time my weight had increased dramatically thanks to a lack of exercise coupled with extreme stress eating, terrible food choices, and several other factors. Feeling pain in my knee, I went back to the doctor to find out if I had reinjured myself from the years before. But I was told I hadn’t and that the pain was caused by early onset arthritis in my left knee. I was told it would practically go away as long as I lost 50 pounds.

At 21 years old, having someone tell you that you have arthritis is one of the worst feelings. Ever. I cried for hours, but knew that it was time to make a change. Yet each time I tried, I always fell back into the same habits: no exercise, a schedule too packed to fix my own meals, and constant fast food and soda consumption. By January 2015, my endocrinologist told me I weighed 200 pounds and my weight had become a serious issue for my 5’2″ frame even though I didn’t look like it.

I finally kicked my ass into gear this month after the clothes I just bought no longer fit me. The day after Easter, I started a program called Advocare. Let me tell you, watching my brother eat a chocolate bunny that first day was like pure torture. And there is perhaps nothing worse than caffeine withdrawal. But I’ve pushed through it, even though I’ve had a cold nearly the entire time I’ve been on this damn diet. After 14 days, I stepped on the scale…and I lost 6 pounds.

6 pounds might not seem like a lot to you, but to me its everything. I lost those 6 pounds purely from changing my eating habits, dropping fast food and soda like the bad habits that they are. Those 6 pounds have made me feel so much better about myself and  have inspired me to strive for greatness. With my cold nearly gone and just having bought a new bike for myself (Thank you Tax Return Gods!), I’m looking forward to completing the next half of my challenge and to how much more weight I will lose. I love my body the way it is, and I encourage other people to feel the same.

Last night I ate pizza…after eating a salad of course. I’m not ashamed, I’m damn proud of it.

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