Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'm No Super Model. Neither are They.

    I swear I was promised a super model body. Every diet/weight loss commercial on TV shows the before and after of how the super model found herself underneath her fat rolls. I started my weight loss journey with a preconceived notion that when I was done, I would be a super model.  I would have cut abs, a tight butt, and perfect boobs. My journey has been five years now and I've never woke up perfect; instead I have stretch marks, extra skin, cellulite, and thighs that still touch.  Reality is hard to face, somehow at the end I still felt like I failed.  I found myself at a cross road, a very slippery slope -  I wasn't happy with what I saw but I was healthy. How could I still not be satisfied? When do I stop fighting and start enjoying?

     I took a long look at myself in the mirror. I've never been kind to my body. I've starved it, stuffed it, abused it, and loathed it. I had to call a truce with myself. I had to stop hating myself - I don't want to spend my entire life not enjoying who I am and the package I come in.  This time it wasn't about the number on the scale, it was about love for myself and my body.        

     I accept the extra skin on my arms. My wings, my flab, my wabble, whatever name it goes by. No more am I wearing cardigans in 100 degree weather because I want to hide them. My arms are strong; they pick up, work out, and hug just like everyone else's. The skin is the remnants of a person who is no longer and will never be again. My arms show a part of my story. The extra skin doesn't represent failure, they represent a journey.  The skin is with me forever and forever is a long time to not like a part of myself.

   I accept my stretch marks. I remember when the purple lines formed on my stomach.  I stopped seeing my body after that. I felt ruined. I became a blur to myself, a quick change artist.  I had to listen to my own advice. I tell my son, who is shorter than most children his age, that it is a waste of energy to get upset over something you can not change. His height does not make him who he is as a person and neither do my stretch marks.  I am not kidding myself anymore; EVERYONE has stretch marks. EVERYONE!! They come about for all kinds of reasons and all are natural for the human body. No more will I waste my energy on what I can not change and is also NORMAL!!

     My arms and stretch marks are NOT flaws - they are what makes me human. I am not the only person with extra skin on my arms or stretch marks on my stomach.  Why are we trying to convince others that somehow we are the only person in the world to have never used our bodies? To have never grown, or had a baby, or gained weight?  Our body idols have stretch marks; Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce, Kate Middleton, and everyone else who ever lived. The vernacular used to describe the body needs to change. Erase the word "flaw" and replace it with "normal" and accept the body for what it does.

     I will never be a super model and neither will anyone else. There is no such person. I like this reality; there is a lot less pressure realizing no one has a blemish free body. I am done playing dumb to a culture that assumes I don't know models and actresses are being Photoshopped.  I will not allow these fantasy images to influence the acceptance of my body.  I am human, I am normal, and my body is healthy and strong.  I choose to love myself, to value myself, and to cherish my body.  I will now be removing the "sucker" sticker off my forehead. No one can make me feel bad about myself anymore.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Purple Bracelet

While exploring the world of Facebook to find like minded women, I discovered Beanie from her blog  Curves are Beautiful 2. As I have struggled in my life to obtain a socially acceptable body, so has she. I struggled with food, so has she. I had the most hateful inner monologue, so did she.  Now we have become two women determined to embrace our bodies and spread the message of body acceptance. Yet, we are on complete opposite ends of the body spectrum. In my eyes she is a skinny girl who could never be skinny enough and I am the fat girl who could never be skinny enough either. She has the body I was starving over and I have the body she was also starving over. After reading her story I saw the connections we had. Eating disorders hurt women of ALL sizes. 

It's not easy to come out and talk about the abuse that we, as women, put ourselves through. We are closet sufferers. The woman next to me in line at the grocery store is self conscious about her weight and only buying fat free items. The lady in the self check-out line is buying a box of cookies that she is ashamed of and will go home and eat them all.  Let's not forget the women that are not in line, they are at home, starving. All to achieve this body that no one actually has. Actresses and models are covered with make up, blasted with lights, and Photoshopped to an inhuman idea of beauty. 

From an early age I developed eating disorders and became a master at hiding them. I kept a diary durning high school, recording the torture I put myself through. My eating disorder lead me to be incredibly unhealthy. I was killing myself. Beanie was killing herself too. The fat girls and the skinny girls are walking the same path and under the surface, they are both dying. 

I feel I have learned at great deal about health and nutrition over the past few years. I take good care of my body now. I'm not perfect though; I have polished of a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Cookies a few times, or not eaten dinner because of an unhealthy lunch. Eating disorders don't disappear overnight. It takes time and patience with yourself. A svelte figure was not worth being miserable for the rest of my life, and if I didn't want to be miserable then, I had to make peace with myself. I had to make peace with my body and realize that unless I'm want to starve myself to be a size 4, it's never going to happen. I come with meat on my bones and that's ok! Curves are beautiful!

Beanie made the purple bracelet as a reminder to herself that curves are beautiful and it's ok to eat and enjoy food. She never has taken it off.  Even on her wedding day! I contacted her for one of her bracelets. She is helping women all over the world by reminding them that their bodies are beautiful. She inspired me to wear her bracelet as a reminder to myself that my curves are beautiful and I'm worth living a long and healthy life that includes dessert! 

I am wearing my purple bracelet and it makes me smile. Beanie made me smile. We need more voices to stand up for our bodies. Women, we are amazing creatures yet we treat ourselves with little respect.  My purple band is a reminder to embrace my figure -  "I was born to stand out!"

"I am learning that I do not want to be another victim of the worlds blinded definition(of beauty). I will not be another clone! I was born to stand out!"-Beanie

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Diary on Video

Photoshopped lies made me hate my body
I kept one hell of a secret in high school. I kept it so well not even my best friends knew. I never talked about it until a few years ago. I've shocked people over it. I've shocked myself over it. I always knew I had it but I never wanted to admit how bad it was.  I had an eating disorder, I hated myself, and put my health at risk for the approval of my peers.  I kept a diary during several attempts to lose 40 pounds or more.  It's time to be brutally honest about how much I hated myself.

February 13, 2000,
     Well this is it...hopefully....the start of the rest of my life. Today I got on the scale and weighed in at 190! Oh my god! I felt so bad.  So I ended the day right, with a an all vegetable meal...
 ...So let's see how long I'm going to last (and yes, I'm trying to stop putting myself down.) 

February 16, 2000,
     I totally screwed up on Valentines Day and yesterday! My punishment today is I'm not eating anything until 5p.m. tonight....
...I'm so hungry. I have diet pills on me that I'm going to take after this class...
...Well I'm very proud of myself. I survived lunch and didn't even take my pills. Can you believe food means so much to me?

Filled with hateful words. I was my worst enemy. 
Entry after entry detailed my longing for food, how hungry I was, and how I had to make it until 5p.m. until I would eat. I always had diet pills with me and many days they would be all I would have. 
No wonder I was such an angry teenager - I was starving! My grades and classes suffered because I wasn't able to focus on anything expect my empty stomach. 

My goal was to weigh 140 pounds. That was the magic number that would make me beautiful, popular, and would bring the boys to their knees. ...At least at that weight someone will find me attractive ...It's 13 years later and I have NEVER made it to 140 pounds! My doctor told me that between 170 and 180 are healthy weights for my body type. I'm 5'9, I'm not meant to weigh 140 pounds.

It wasn't long before not eating until 5 p.m. and diet pills also included taking a run before school. In my diary I used words like "fat ass" to encourage myself out of bed.  I lived off my diet pills and hateful inner monologue.  By March I had included a diet pill to take in my sleep,...I'm excited to see myself in three months.Starting tomorrow I'm going to take a new diet pill to help... This was a great combination. I'm starving and NOW I'm not sleeping. (I can feel my husband's heart tighten as he thinks of me both hungry and tired.) 

Hard on myself is an understatement. 
Rereading my diary makes me cry. I was hurting, I was starving, I was seeking someones approval, and I was slipping under the radar. The entires continue for a year and by the following February I was 220 pounds. How does a starving girl GAIN weight?! It's because of what I didn't write down. The binge eating. I refer to it in my diary as "a bad day." I would binge and purge. When I grew too weak to mentally fight off the need for food, I would stuff myself until I was sick. I remember telling myself I couldn't even torture myself thin. I couldn't starve the fat off or purge it off either. 

The worst binge memory I have includes an entire grocery bag full of candy. We sold candy in school to fundraise. I didn't want to sell it - handing me a bag of candy was like handing a drug user crack. The candy  didn't even make it a day. I was home only minutes before the carnage of candy wrappers covered my bedroom floor. This day was not entered into my diary. Many of these kinds of days didn't get written about. Acknowledgment would make them real. Instead I handed over my  money to cover the cost; that way,  no one knew I ate it all and life continued. 

Page from my diary. There are many pictures like this. 
As a senior, I wanted prom to be the highlight of my high school career. I wanted to be thin and amazing with my dream date on my arm.  Instead, it became my darkest time. My diary entries turn into daily check-ins of measurements, weight, food and exercise log. While on the outside I was an active senior; AP/Honors student, drama club president and editor on the paper, on the inside I was destroying myself. The closer prom got the worse my destruction became. I would go home after school, kill myself with an intense hour of exercise, then shower and return to school to work on the paper.  I timed everything around my school schedule and my mom's work hours. No one ever knew. I had reached my goal by the time prom rolled around. I was even lucky enough to have my crush as my date. I felt amazing. Then it was the next day. 

I road this roller coaster of weight lost and gained for almost 10 years. When I tipped the scale at 300 pounds, I knew I was fighting for my life now. I needed help. I wasn't winning the war with myself. I tried crazy diet after crazy diet. When I saw the commercial for Weight Watchers I figured, why not give that a try? Something has to work. Weight Watchers was what I needed. I needed to learn how to eat. My eating philosophy prior was eat salads to be thin and eat the entire package of cookies so there would be no evidence and purge. This was getting me nowhere. Weight Watchers taught me how to balance healthy with junk food. Healthy wasn't just rabbit food, in fact I lost my first 100 pounds without eating a single salad because I hated them! 

I now weigh 175 pounds. That's not much smaller than my smallest in high school. I worked hard to get to where I am physically though my greatest achievement has been breaking the mental hold my weight had on me.  I'm ending the war within myself. It's not a fight to be at my current weight. I do have to take care of myself, eat healthy (which does include salads), indulge occasionally, and exercise 4-5 times a week. I'm no longer on a "diet"  - I eat to live a long and happy life which sometimes includes cake! 

I still hear the voice of my disorder in the back of my head. 95% of time I am able to shut it up and move on with my healthy habit day. Then there is that 5% where I succumb to the voice and binge eat. After the blanket of guilt lifts off me, I forgive myself and just move past it. It is not easy, sometimes I get so unbelievably pissed at myself, however I made a promise to myself that I would love myself. Forgiveness is a part of love. 

I'm not perfect. I never achieved super model statues. My thighs still touch and I'm soft around the middle. I still have two digits in my size tag and the double chin has been known to make an appearance in pictures. I cannot get back those years of self-hate and torture. All I can do now is give myself the gift of love and forgiveness.  For today and many tomorrows I vow to embrace my body, just the way it is, and love it!