Join the conversation about body image and my personal commitment to engaging in a health-based dialog about how we are all awesome-shaped.
Over a year ago, I posted about my struggles with eating disorders. This prompted the following behaviors from others.
Appreciation for sharing my story
Mostly private, but a few individuals expressed they were proud of me for opening up.
“Let’s pretend that didn’t happen”
The more common reaction: ignoring it. Even I was guilty of neglecting an ongoing conversation about my own health.
Anonymous: X told me you posted about having an eating disorder.
Me: Yeah, I posted that.
Anonymous: But you didn’t really have an eating disorder.
Me: Yeah, I did. I went through periods where I chose not to eat when I could get away with it and people wouldn’t notice.
Anonymous: But you didn’t have an eating disorder where you got really skinny.
Me: Sure, I didn’t go to “the extreme” – but that doesn’t mean I made healthy decisions or had an appropriate relationship with food.
What happened/happens next?
And then there are the rare few that want to know how my life has been and how I’m continuing to grow.
I will say that I feel healthier than I did a year ago. I continue to make better choices, and with more consistency. I exercise more, and Scott and I joined a nice gym nearby – such a difference! I still have a bit of a portion control problem, and I could do better with snacking at/after work.
The biggest change hasn’t been physical. I’m shifting away from weight loss and focusing more on healthy living. I weigh myself, but I stopped defining myself by the number on the scale. More accurately, I stopped associating my weight with my value. My weight does not cause or even correlate to my worth. I’m more concerned about how I feel.
I still want to exercise. I’ve reconnected with my love of swimming. I like to challenge myself, and I go to a core class. If I lose a few pounds or inches, great – but I’m happy taking time for me and doing something I love. I bike, and I row, and I attempt to run on a treadmill, though I usually end up doing a bit of a hike. I enjoy connecting with what I can do, and having some time away from a desk and computer and cubicle. It’s fun to challenge myself, to see how I can do better, instead of associating exercise with payment for food choices.
I attribute a lot of my progress to self-reflection, support, and Season 15 of The Biggest Loser.
The Biggest Loser? One of the most widely-criticized “health” shows on television? Yep, the very same.
I used to watch TBL on Hulu. I got a little obsessed with it for a while. I watched, I think, eight seasons? It was an escape for me – a dark fantasy where I could pretend that these stories were inspirational instead of opportunistic on NBC’s part. Look at them overcoming willpower with that candy temptation!
I started watching Season 15, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t keep up with the show, and it kind of fell by the wayside. Until the finale, when season winner Rachel destroyed the competition by losing 155 pounds and clocking in at 105 pounds and (I believe) 5 feet, 4 inches.
Before the show aired, my goal weight was 105 pounds. And I am short – 5 feet, 2 inches.
People freaked out, and I saw my goal through others’ eyes and not my own dysmorphic lenses. 105 didn’t look like what I remembered. It didn’t look skinny or healthy. It looked skeletal. It looked dangerous.
It didn’t look like the me I wanted to be.
Sure, there were theories Rachel pushed herself to secure a victory, overdid it to rake in the dough – but I’m not a contestant competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars on national TV. I’m someone trying to be healthy, and maybe the first step in that process is redefining what healthy means in my life and my future.
I stopped looking for that 105-pound version of me. I stopped trying to find her buried under curves and cellulite. I discovered someone better: a woman who is happy striving to be the best version of herself, not the smallest size in the store.