Sometimes when I think back to this time in my life it seems fuzzy, like I'm just waking up and it's way too early, and I'm squinting and straining to read the clock across the room. It's hard to remember a lot of it, but if I commit to the memory, if I sit down and really focus and go back there, it becomes clear again. It's hard to talk about times in our life when we aren't at our best, and even harder to talk about them in a public setting like this, but for the sake of being open and honest, here goes.
I was in college when I first discovered what calories and nutrition labels meant. It's weird; until then I had been living in a state of blissful ignorance, never caring and never having to care, because all of my time was spent playing sports. But later in college, when I wasn't on the soccer field or the track day in and day out, I started to notice other girls paying attention to fat and calories and carbs and bites. So I did too.
And I could go on here about so many details. I could talk about how for awhile it was no big deal, the counting of the fat and calories and carbs and bites. And I could then talk about how over that Christmas break I was introduced to diet pills, those crazy kind of diet pills before they were ever regulated, and how I lost close to 15 pounds during those three weeks, which was a lot for an already small girl. I could talk about running for miles and miles in the morning and then working out for hours at night. I could tell you all about my favorite meal of choice- a plain can of tuna and baby carrots, or I could talk about how sometimes when a particular Dashboard album comes on I am taken right back to that elliptical machine and spending over an hour on it every single morning at 5am feeling like I was on crack. There are so many details I could go into, the restricting food and the over exercising, but as time has passed it's all kind of fused into one solid memory that's attached to a million feelings. Sadness, happiness, pain, and even nostalgia, which is weird to say. But that's part of it, for sure.
And I could also go on about a particular day when my best friend at the time took me to dinner and laid it all out. Told me what she saw in my behavior, talked about what I was doing. At the time it was so shocking to me, because I was surrounded by so many other girls doing the same thing that in a way it hadn't been a big deal at all. But Liz saw something else, and she was right. And I was lucky enough that although I had been engaging in self-destructive behavior, I was able to just stop. It sounds weird to explain it that way, but it wasn't hard to make the choice to end the bullshit. I stopped being obsessive about working out, I started eating normally, I refused to engage in the weird behaviors that some of my friends were, and my friend made me accountable. But of course, it never really goes away. And this isn't what I would even consider the turning point for all of this, although it was definitely the moment where things began to get better.
Fast forward all the way to a day in May 2010, when I was standing in front of the mirror looking at my stomach that had a baby growing inside of it. Henry. I had spent the past five years or so going through periods of feeling really good about my body, and then other times feeling quite the opposite. But I remember that afternoon- it was a half day at school so it must have been a Wednesday, and we were in that tiny house on Carleton Street. I had a cheap full length mirror propped up against our bedroom door and I was standing there just looking at that bump. I realized in that moment that I was done and so tired of not loving myself. There I was, with this baby growing inside of my body, MY BODY. My amazing fucking body, and I still had the audacity to give myself a hard time because my thighs touched. It was in that moment something in me clicked, a flip switched and my mind made itself up that I was done with the self-loathing crap. Sure, I felt good about myself a lot of the time, but those other times, when I ate a nice big dinner then guilted myself out of enjoying it later, that was not okay. And sure, I enjoyed working out a lot of the time but sometimes I made myself do it because I had eaten cheesecake in bed with Hank the night before. Not okay. So I made a promise to myself on that Wednesday afternoon. I made a promise to myself and that baby and my body that I was done with all of it. I'd come a long way since the days of over exercising and under eating but it still wasn't good enough. I still didn't love myself unconditionally, and as conversely simple and hard as it sounds, I made up my mind to just accept all of myself as I was then and as I would ever be.
That was my biggest crossroad and turning point to date, and I haven't looked back since. And sure, there are days where I feel down and out, or days where I could take a million photos and hate every one, but I won't ever let myself get back to that point, or even close. Food is delicious and exercise is fun, and that's where I'm at, and that's where I will stay. I'm 31 now and although I figured it out a few years ago, it still feels good to say it today, and say it proud:
I love me.
So, that's my response. How about yours? If you'd like, leave an excerpt from your response below, along with a link to your post. I can't wait to read it.
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