It's been almost a year since I have written to y'all – mainly because I've done so much in the last year that looking back it almost doesn't feel real.
I reconnected with an old friend who turned out to be the love of my life.
I quit my salaried position to start my own agency focused on branding and presence for digital audiences.
I moved from Dallas to the Kansas City area.
I've been working part time at Starbucks to support my health benefits (and coffee addiction)
My working hours went from 40-50 to 70-80 hours per week.
My day starts at 4:30 am and usually ends around 10 pm. Every day.
I've never felt happier, more independent, or stronger in my entire life.
And now – well, as of yesterday – I've lost ten pounds since starting Weight Watchers again a month ago. To be honest, it's bringing up a lot of feelings for me; because, losing weight has always been about the number on the scale. Always. And if I'm being completely, 100% truthful with myself, it always will be.
Negative self-talk began at a very young age for me. Five-years-old, and I was crying because my thighs were bigger than the others' in class. How did I know? One of them told me. "You have big thighs" has been my subconscious cadence for the last 28 years, dancing in my brain day in and day out. Come elementary school, and my body continued to develop faster than the others. By fifth grade, I had a teacher tell me and the whole class that I was "boy crazy". Maybe because I was developing breasts, maybe because the majority of my friends were boys. Who knows. My insecurity about my body grew. Maybe if I were smaller...
Middle school. My relationship with food became obsessive. I felt three sizes bigger than my friends. Why couldn't I look like them? By eighth grade, I'd made myself throw up for the first time.
High school. I was active, social, bright, and talented. A "friends with everyone" kind of vibe. Freshman year, Volleyball and Track were my home. Running hurdles, my coach told me I would improve my speed if I would lose weight. My tunnel vision took over, and I started skipping meals. By junior year, I made Varsity Cheer, and met my new best friend, MetaboLife. Back in the early 2000s, MetaboLife was not what it is today. Ephedra was actually legal and we consumed it. With wild results. We weren't old enough to buy it, but that didn't stop us. When it wasn't enough, I started Weight Watchers and began watching my actual food intake, which lead me to calorie counting.
By college, I wouldn't eat over 1200 calories per day, if I even chose to eat in any given day. It was a mix of anorexia and bulimia - not eating until I couldn't stand it anymore, eating a ton, and throwing it up. I remember feeling accomplished when I didn't eat for two or more days at a time. I scoured pro-ana websites for tips – one in particular I remember vividly was to take an Asprin every day to speed up your metabolism (whether it was or wasn't true, I felt comforted by the advice from others like me). My normal weight of 140 pounds dropped to 121 pounds, and I had never felt more proud of myself. I was wearing shorts I had bought in probably 7th grade. I was receiving verbal compliments and oos and ahhhs and it was an adrenaline rush.
To this day, my body dysmorphia haunts me; but, I've learned to activate my thoughts rather than letting them activate me. And, I can honestly say that Weight Watchers has been the best option for me, teaching me to eat what I want in balance rather than depriving myself of my favorites.
What the hell do I mean by that? Because it absolutely just came to me, from my own internal therapist. But, really think about this - when we let our thoughts make our moves, control our moods, and navigate our days, we are not truly activated. We are merely going with the flow and letting life happen around us rather than really experiencing it. Speaking positivity and confidence into our own personal existence – that's "to activate your thoughts".
Now, I look at myself, and I force myself to focus on my beautiful blue eyes, long red hair, muscular and curvy build, freckles dusted over my shoulders and cheeks, and baby curls that peek out when I pull my hair up in a bun. I has taken me 33 years, two months, one week, and five days to realize that I am uniquely beautiful; and, I'm sure it will take another 33 years, two months, one week, and five days to believe that I am uniquely beautiful in every way, and live in true confidence and positivity.
Following the journey to self-love and acceptance is life-long. For those who are like me, it may take a little more effort to truly master. That's ok. Remember that we are never meant to fit a mold. Anything cookie cutter is boring. Differences are what make each of us beautiful in our own way, and trusting in those differences and owning them will only allow your inner light to beam.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) effects all genders and body types. If you are experiencing food addiction or body dysmorphic disorder, please visit www.bdd.iocdf.org to learn more about the disease and discover options for treatment. You are not alone.