From that day forward, I became very aware that I was bigger than my friends. At that age, I was too young to understand why I was the way I was. I didn't know that my eating habits were unhealthy, and no one ever told me so. I didn't know how to change it, but I was uncomfortable in my own skin. As time went on, I started to hide behind a shell. I became incredibly shy and while no one ever said anything or bullied me, I always felt that people noticed I was different too. As far as I know, none of my friends or peers ever laughed or made fun of me, but I always felt as though they were staring and laughing.
I have always been active. From dance, tap, clogging, ballet when I was young, to various sports as I got older. In all honesty, I was a good dancer. Captain of my team even. But I eventually quit something (dance) I loved because of my size. My friends and teammates all looked great in their costumes, and I always felt so self conscious and uncomfortable.
My first diet was in 4th grade. I'd try so hard to eat the right things, but I didn't have much support. There was always cookies, ice cream and chocolate in the house. While my mom made healthy dinners, 2nd, 3rd and even 4th helpings were always readily available.
I hated PE in elementary school. Not because I didn't want to run around or that I didn't enjoy the actual activities. I hated the pressure in not coming in last. I hated that I struggled to do a pull up when my smaller friends did it with ease. I hated that my face would become beat red after 2 minutes of "Steal the Bacon".
Then came middle school. Man, middle school is rough - for anyone. You start to notice boys, and you want boys to notice you. While all my girl friends were getting 'boyfriends', I was just one of the guys to the boys in my class. At this point, I took my food issues from one extreme to another. I'd skip breakfast, lying to my mom telling her I had some while she was in the shower. For lunch, I'd sit in the commons area with my friends, but never go through the line to get my own tray. Dinner would come, and I'd pick at my food telling my parents I was full from lunch. Lying to everyone, including myself.
Fortunately, I had people that loved me. I never got incredibly small, but people noticed the rapid weightloss and didn't stay quiet. I was always a people pleaser, and went back to eating - but eating too much- and put it all back on plus some.
I hid my insecurities, body and unhappiness under baggy jeans, t-shirts and hoodies.
After high school, once I was in complete control of the food in my house, I started to lose weight and for the first time in my life, gain some confidence.
But my pregnancy brought on a whole new host of insecurities. Ones that I'm still working on today. I had this beautiful, new baby boy at home. My heart was so full of love. But I remember, very vividly, sobbing when I looked in the mirror at my new body. Ah hormones.
So with all that being said, re-gaining the pounds I lost in the past year has been really difficult on me mentally these past couple of months. Back are the hoodies and baggy t-shirts. Back are the negative thoughts and self talk. It's a hard thing to overcome - a life time and bad body image.
I've put off my first run since getting healthy because of all of this. I was worried about how I'd look out there. Every time I've had a run planned in the past couple of weeks, I'd find an excuse not to do it. I've struggled to get past the mentality of, "I did this to myself. I don't look like I did 4 months ago." Then, this weekend, I realized something. I have never in my life seen a heavier person out walking or running and thought anything negative of them. And more than that, no one should ever be ashamed of their appearance. No one - including myself. Whether you're 105 pounds or 300+, who cares. It's what's on the inside that makes a person beautiful. Who cares if I have rolls showing through my shirt while I'm out there running? Who cares if I have to take some walking breaks? None of that matters.
So Saturday afternoon, I laced up my shoes, blared some music, held my head high and I ran. It was slow. It was difficult, but I did it. I took that first baby step into accepting myself. Accepting my short comings and past failures. And accepting that none of that is going to change unless I do something about it.
All of you out there, anyone reading this, YOU are beautiful. YOU are strong. YOU are the only one holding yourself back from achieving whatever goals or plans you might have. Hold your head high, and get to work!