Hello! I am not going to lie, today is flying by! I was in shock when it was time for lunch, I felt like I just got here. But, I was also excited because I knew I had leftover spicy refried bean soup waiting for me. This was the PERFECT lunch today for a below zero day. I enjoyed it with some blue corn tortilla chips.
It was amazing- which I expected. You have got to make this soup. I promise you will not regret it.
I think a post on this topic is long overdue. This is very personal and hitting publish is kind of giving me heart palpitations! Deep breathe, here goes:
I met a blog reader this weekend, we happened to be in the same place at the same time. She introduced herself and we got to talking. It was great to get to know her and she told me that reading my blog really inspired her. I was so happy to meet her and get some feedback on my blog. There was one thing she said to me a few times, she said, “You have so much confidence, I wish I had confidence like that.” In the past few days, I have been hearing that in my head over and over. It was strange for me to hear in some ways. I do have so much confidence, it is true. But that was not always the case. In fact, up until about 2 years ago, I had very little self-confidence. Speaking with her made me think about where this confidence came from and how it was born. To really understand why I do have it, I need to reflect on why I didn’t and what it was like for me before I didn’t.
As a kid, I thought I was superwoman. I was much like I am today- a busy body. I was went to school, did gymnastics, tap danced and when I wasn’t in activities I was running around my house like a maniac (sorry mom and dad). I thought I was pretty awesome, and I was. Around middle school everything changed for me. Up until that point I never really thought much about my body. I never worried about how I looked. It just never occurred to me to compare myself to anyone else. However, I did notice other people paid attention to my body. Other people, mostly classmates compared themselves to me and me to them. I was a VERY slow developer. A lot of the girls in my 7th and 8th grade classes looked like women. I still looked like I was 8 years old. I was made fun of a lot, and because of this I became so self conscious. I figured that if my “friends” said there was something wrong with me, they must be right?
In High School, I remained pretty self conscious during the first couple of years. Like other teen girls, I wanted to be thin and beautiful. I hated my thin hair, my braces, my wide nose, my flat chest and my puffy eyes. Then at start of my sophomore year, my family was faced with some really difficult times. We found out that my older brother (and only sibling) had a very bad drug addiction- which he has struggled with for years (he is currently 1 year and 5 months clean and I am very happy about that). This caused my family so much heartache. I was in more emotional pain than I even knew how to verbalize. I remember just thinking how badly I felt for my mom and dad. They are honestly the best parents in the world; I felt they did not deserve what my brother was doing to them and our family. I felt so much pressure to make up for all the sadness and hurt he had caused them. This pressure was self-induced. I don’t think anyone was even aware of the standard I was holding myself up to. To make up for his wrong-doings, I had to be perfect…nothing less, no arguments. This meant I had to be good at everything I tried, get straight A’s, easy to get along with and obviously be thin and beautiful. As we all know, perfection is not reachable or sustainable. This is the first point in time I remember my obsession with my weight kicking in.
For about 1-2 years, I surely took part in what some may call disordered eating. I wouldn’t say I was anorexic to the extent that people often think of it, but I did go days without eating much and would go to bed feeling very accomplished after a day like that. At one point, in the spring of my sophomore year, I was down to the mid to low 80′s weight-wise. I was also not very tall, so it is not as bad as you think. But, I was too thin and wanted to be thinner. I remember my friend Lauren telling me, “When I notice you are getting thin, I always know something is going on with you emotionally, so I make sure to check up on you.” She was right; not eating was the way I dealt with painful things. It made me feel like I had control. The more I could not live up to the “perfect image” I had in my brain, the more I hated myself and wished I was someone else.
In college, I would go through bouts of feeling really unhappy with the way I looked and getting angry with myself for not being able to lose weight. I would cut portions way back at times, but would never actually go without eating (THANK GOD!) I would eat a ½ of an english muffin with a slice of fat free cheese and call it lunch. I went on all different fad diets to try to get weight off, of course none of them worked. I will note that all through high school and college I was a pretty heavy smoker. I was very addicted, but will say, the fear of gaining weight did play a role in keeping me from quitting. Throughout all of college and after, I remained uncomfortable with my weight and convinced that I would so happy if I lost that extra 10 pounds. The obsession with my weight was pretty bad in the sense that, it was on my mind every day. I would bet I could not go 3 hours without thinking about my weight.
About 3 years ago, it was like I woke up. I decided that gaining weight or not, smoking was a bad choice I had made for far too long, and I quit cold turkey on Feb 23, 2007 and never looked back. After that I made a vow to lose the weight. My mind was never really in the right place, I ended up gaining about 15 pounds, which only made me more obsessed with weight and angry with myself. I actually HATED my body! I hated that nothing fit, I hated that I was uncomfortable in all my clothes. I would even not want to go out because I was afraid people would notice I had gained weight and was the heaviest I had ever been. I did some re-thinking and realized that I quit smoking to become healthy, why not just focus on getting healthy instead of getting skinny?
I will admit this shift in my thinking was not easy. I knew the only way to lose the weight and feel good about myself was going to be to work at it. Man, was it work. It was physical and emotional work that I can’t even to put into words. I started running and adding distance and speed little by little. Every time I got faster or gained distance I began to feel better about myself. Not just about my body, but about how I had the ability to work hard and reach a goal. I was amazed at how I could push through the physical challenged and applied the same exact dedication to push through those emotional hurtles. I also learned how to fuel my body in a way that made me feel good. I taught myself to cook- which made me feel really great about myself as well. I loved how creative I could get in the kitchen and how I seemed to really have a knack for it. It was a skill that I never knew I had! The more I got to know about myself, the more I really liked me. I remember thinking to myself, “I would totally be friends with me!” That was a huge step I went from hating myself to liking myself enough to want to be my friend. More importantly, I liked myself enough to treat myself and my body with the respect I deserved. Then something crazy happed-Those addition 30 pounds came off! Did it make me amazing happy and the world all rainbows and butterflies like I thought it would? Nope! But, I am happier, because I have learned to treat my body right, and in return, she treats me right. We work together, instead of me working against her and abusing her. I also learned a lot about who I am the strengths (which are boundless) and the weaknesses (which are many).
I will not say there are not days were I still struggle with body image (especially when my skin is broken out, or I feel bloated) But, I have done A LOT of work on myself to get to a point where I can say, I LOVE MYSELF AND MY BODY!!!! And really mean it There is no other person on this earth I would rather be than me. I am strong. I am stubborn. I am hilarious. I am beautiful. I am amazing!