This is something I tried sending into Cosmopolitan but it never got published 🙂 so I decided to share it here!
For two and a half years I felt like Fetty Wap with the numbers 1738. 1,730 was approximately the number of calories I would let myself consume every day since the summer before my junior year in high school. I did this because like almost every other teenage girl in America I was uncomfortable with my own skin.
During my sophomore year of high school my metabolism finally wasn’t like a child’s anymore, but not knowing this I still ate the same as I had before. So naturally I gained weight and went through my “chubbiest phase.” The whole year I was uncomfortable with my body, but it wasn’t until that summer on vacation when I stepped on the scale that I began thinking I was fat.
Within the first week of only allowing myself to consume 1,730 calories I had lost a pound. Then I began exercising more and lost 15 pounds by the end of the year. I thought that the number on the scale would be enough but I still wasn’t satisfied.
I then began to worry about the “freshman 15” that I might gain in college. It was my biggest fear. I exercised almost daily and ate two salads a day until they made me sick (I still haven’t had a spinach salad in almost four months). I was never full and always tired. Each time I would add another “healthy habit” to my routine I kept thinking it would make me have a better life.
But I still wasn’t happy.
It was after that first semester when I decided I needed to change something. No more calling my mom to be reassured that I hadn’t gained weight since college. No more texting my boyfriend when I felt sad about how I looked in comparison to another girl. It was time to rely on myself to feel better.
My first step after starting my second semester of college was to stop counting calories on myfitnesspal. After a few days of that I decided to delete the app completely to fight the urge that counting calories was the only way to feel in control again. Next, I unfollowed accounts on social media that only showed strong, lean, skinny women. Yes they looked amazing and worked hard, but realistically that was not my body type nor would it ever be. Instead of looking up fitness blogs that only showed models, I looked up “body positivity.”
This change of social media 100% helped my focus. I was seeing women of all different sizes who I found absolutely stunning. I realized I wasn’t seeing myself as beautiful when I really should love who I am.
Now I am a month into my new mindset and I know that is not long but I already feel better. I still exercise at least four times a week and try to eat healthy, but I also don’t hold it against me if I slip up. If I’m feeling down when I am at the gym I try to find something about my body that I really like that day. If I’m craving chocolate, then yes I go for it! I’m healthy while still being sane.
Girls are impressionable at a young age. The very first time I felt bad in my own skin was in fourth grade. And it stuck. Don’t let that happen to your younger sisters or daughters, show them they are beautiful before they have a chance to think anything different.
(This photo is from a couple years ago but I feel like it captures a sense of calm and becoming)