It is hard not to compare yourself to others. All I see anymore is my Instagram feed full of girls who look like they should be on the cover of fitness magazines. I can’t help but feel like I need to look like that, and I need to take extreme measures to look like them.
It’s not okay when you look in the mirror and you feel disappointment, and quite frankly, just hopelessness. I was hopeless because everything I tried didn't give me the results I wanted.
What I have come to understand though, is that being healthy and fit is way more important than being skinny.
I look back at pictures sometimes and I get a little sad. I worked really hard and lost a lot of weight the summer before my freshman year of college. And I thought I looked the best I ever looked. I was proud of the body I had because I worked hard for it. I was dancing five days a week, going to the gym six days a week, eating to avoid the "freshman 15," and this gave me a body that I thought I loved. But, the stress of worrying about it, counting calories, and keeping track of my workouts made me feel like I needed to lose more and more weight to maintain the body I had.
I was miserable. I ended the school year “looking good,” but not feeling good. I had the body I always wanted, but now I wanted something different, something better. And I knew that what I was feeling was, for lack of a better term, not good.
Acknowledging that I was not living a healthy lifestyle allowed me to make changes before anything serious or dangerous happened. Going home, getting grounded, and being around non-college, homemade food let me realize that I can eat healthy and also enjoy what I eat. I can eat desserts and some “bad” food once in a while and in moderation. I can skip a day of the gym to hang out with friends and share a pizza.
I thought people would not like me or accept me if I didn't maintain my body that I thought was healthy. I thought the world wasn't accepting of what I looked like because I didn't think I looked good in a bathing suit. But, surrounding myself with people who told me I was beautiful the way I was, surrounding myself with people who had conversations about what was healthy eating and exercise has allowed me to accept myself.
I would be lying if I said I still don’t peek on Instagram and get that little feeling of insecurity, shame and jealousy. I’d be lying if I said I don’t get upset when I realize I don’t look like other girls, and probably never will. My body is how it is.
I just want it to be healthy.
Because of my friends and sorority who openly talk about a healthy and positive lifestyle, I was able to make changes. I was able to change my mindset about how I should live my life.
The truth is, I felt that nobody would accept me if my body didn’t look like those other people and those other girls. But, I realized that I am not other people. I am me. And this is my body. And people accept me for that.