Loving My Body Is More Challenging Than I Thought

Loving My Body Is More Challenging Than I Thought

Even after putting the years of disordered eating behind me, I still feel insecure about myself.
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“It feels like I’m hugging my mom!” I was in sixth grade when I was told that I have a mom-bod. (What’s wrong with being a mom and having a body anyway?) That’s when I looked down at my body and realized that my breasts have grown – but so did my stomach, my thighs, and my arms. My face was filled with acne, and my hair had grown curly and frizzy like never before.

There’s nothing worse than puberty and middle school – especially when you’re the only big girl with the full-blown hormone outrage amongst your friends. I hadn’t given too much consideration for my looks until then. I started picking at my skin, straightening my hair, and gave up the Frida Kahlo look in favor of trimming my eyebrows. But above all of my obsessions with beauty, my weight became my chief concern. In sixth grade, I developed a habit of disordered eating.

Disordered eating takes many forms. For me, it was extreme portion control and calorie restriction (you can read more about disordered eating here). I also paralleled my extreme diet with exercise, usually very heavy cardio. I was so obsessed that I would walk three miles on the stair-climber and look in the mirror immediately after to see if I got slimmer.

When food becomes your enemy, life cannot be more miserable because we’re supposed to eat! We have to nourish our bodies with energy and nutrients by responding to hunger. But I tried to avoid eating when I could. At school, where my mom couldn’t police my meals, I had a Yoplait yogurt for lunch. I remember sitting at the cafeteria table, waiting for my friends to finish their pizzas and burgers, because I had already devoured the cookies and soy milk that I sneaked from home.

My drastic weight loss kept me going. Even though I had horrible acne from malnutrition and constant fatigue, my friends were asking me how I lost so much weight. The attention felt great, but my knees were always aching from malnutrition. My lips were so pale that I looked ill without a chapstick. I was always irritable, but I preferred being irritable on an empty stomach than feeling full and having a bigger belly after eating a meal.

Working out was my mask. I claimed that I learned to love my body after taking up running, but I just loved the thin body that it gave me. It’s easy to love yourself when you look better. My advice is to feel comfortable in your own skin before trying to lose weight.

I confronted my weight obsession and disordered eating a few months ago – only because I hurt my foot. My being barred from running forced me to admit that I did not love myself; I just liked being skinny. Day and night, I would monitor whether my legs grew thinner or thicker. Having a full belly after dinner was enough to depress me.

“Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.” I would tell myself. I couldn’t even tolerate the small little pooch that grew in my lower belly from decreased physical activity. It’s ludicrous how I’ve degraded myself so much that I felt worthless with a slightly larger, less tight physique. The few months that should’ve been a time for healing my mind and body from strenuous exercise and diet regimes became time of self-torture and critique that refused to stop even for a minute.

Even now, I still fight with the fear of gaining weight. I know that I am more than how I look and that my family and friends love me for the way I am. But ultimately, it all comes down to self-satisfaction. To be honest, I’m still not comfortable in my own skin. I wish my thighs were thinner, my waist a little smaller, and my face a lot slimmer. I get scared when my belly and legs swell up from water retention during PMS. I can’t help but envy girls who remain thin though all they eat is junk food.

But I was born in this body; it’s all I have. Now, it seems silly to me that my life should be wasted measuring my worth to the amount of fat I have on my body. I no longer count my calories or heavily control my portions. Through intuitive eating and a plant-based diet, I am recovering from years of terrible relationship with my food.

Nevertheless, all it takes is a careless comment for me to fall into a pit of self-loathing. It’s a life-long journey, and I am still in recovery. I realized that self-love is a necessary, lifelong journey that does not happen overnight. Losing weight will not help you love yourself more either. If you don’t love yourself right now as you are, you never will no matter how fit, educated, beautiful, rich you become.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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The Real Way To 'Treat Yo Self' Is To Nourish Your Body Instead Of Indulging

I believe the real way to "treat yo self" is to ask, "What would make my body happy?"

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I have been interested in health and wellness for several years, but I have always struggled with committing to a 100% healthy lifestyle. There are temptations everywhere, and I'll admit, I have given into unhealthy indulgences or cravings on numerous occasions. Sometimes, I have gone through a stretch of multiple days of physical inactivity, which I justify by how much work I have or how I deserve relaxation time.

Recently, I had a realization that I (and many other people in my generation) have a skewed view of rewarding or treating ourselves. We tend to allow ourselves to satisfy our desires for comfort in every way possible.

We tend to think of a reward as something unnecessary, but we deserve it because we've earned the right to indulge.

Many young adults don't think of their lifestyle choices as having real effects on their bodies, especially long-term. But over time, our actions have consequences.

College students put their bodies (and minds) through enormous amounts of stress. Take midterm week: all-nighters to cram for exams, being sedentary with days of nonstop sitting, fast food and late-night binging to power through. And then comes the reward: a night of nonstop partying and drinking, or staring at Netflix for 12 hours armed with pizza and candy. I know I'm exaggerating, but you get the point: are these really rewards?

It's clear to me that those indulgences of "comfort foods" that I have given into have profound effects on my digestive system, gut microbiome, and much more. Those hours (read: days) of "relaxation time" spent binge-watching Netflix may have been entertaining, but were detrimental to my body's cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.

In other words, it turns out I'm not really "treating myself" if my body ends up paying for it.

I'm not telling you that you can never eat your favorite unhealthy foods or drinks, or spend a day watching TV, or whatever habit it is that's not good for you. It most likely won't affect you all that much if you do these things once in a while.

I simply believe it's time to re-construct our view of treating ourselves. I'm saying that, whatever choices we do make, we should be fully aware of the fact that certain habits are not rewards.

I think it's much better for us in the long term to fundamentally change what "Treat Yo Self" means to us rather than spend our lives trying to fight our desires.

I've finally started to understand that real "treats" are things that nourish my body. They include the small things, like making sure to get enough sleep and water, to more involved things like taking outdoor study breaks, making sure to squeeze a workout into a busy day, or cooking a fresh, clean meal for myself. When you come from a place of self-love, "treating yo self" means helping to give your body what it truly craves, which is to get into a state of optimal health.

Since realizing that our lifestyle choices have a lot to do with self-love, I came across a guided morning meditation that incorporates self-love, and I decided to try it for a few days.

One thing that tends to stay in my mind throughout the day after this meditation is the quote, "Today I'm giving love to my body."

After practicing this guided meditation every morning, I have noticed that my mindset has been shifting. I have newfound respect and gratitude for my body. I am bewildered by the amazing ability our bodies have to heal themselves, from the cellular to the psychological levels, if we simply give them the nourishment they need.

Since practicing self-love meditation, I have found it easier to stick to my goals of eating healthy foods and taking time to exercise every day. It now feels like I am rewarding myself when I choose a green smoothie over a bag of cookies. It feels like a reward, and a privilege, to be able to nourish my body, rather than indulge in something for temporary satisfaction. I only wish to share the truth: we are immensely lucky to have our own brilliant life machine that is our bodies.

It's a miracle to have blood flowing through our veins, and we should strive to treat our bodies with the love and respect they deserve. I believe the real way to "treat yo self" is to ask, "What would make my body happy?"

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