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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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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Just Because You Think Someone’s Attractive Doesn’t Mean You Can Use Them

People who get into relationships are not in it for looks, but personality is always the first and best lasting impression.

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Not too long ago, I remember something that someone once told me. "I usually go the ugly girls because they're easy." I can't express how many issues there are with that statement alone. What exactly makes a woman 'easy' and why does she not fit your standard in order to be 'easy'?

I never understood why this was always such a difficult question to answer. I then understood why. As women, we mostly believe that men who are attractive as our eyes first see it; we tend to believe that he has it all together. We believe that he's the most confident guy that walks into the room. However, looks are definitely deceiving. Every guy that I've ever found attractive I used to believe that he was the one that always had his stuff together. Turns out that wasn't the case. After truly getting to know them, I realized that just because he looks great on the outside doesn't mean that he has his life together on the inside. You never know what someone is going through until you truly get to know them.

For one, I'm always told that when someone meets me that I tend to be very protective of myself, yet I can be easy to hang out with. Regardless of that, I do in fact have some own insecurities of my own. But I'm glad that I was able to overcome some over the years. I had learned to let certain relationships end based on how it was making me feel mentally.

Once I realized that some people who I allowed in my life wanted to always find something wrong about me, was when I knew that they simply cannot stick around. People who see you doing well always want to find something wrong about you by making sure that you feel as awful about yourself than they do. I remember being friends with someone who would always make it a priority to put me down in public whether she cared that it was hurting me or not. She would always poke fun at my weight and say that I will never get a man by looking the way that I look. One day after everything she put me through; I realized that it was time for her to go. I never exactly told her in person that I never wanted to see her again. To avoid that type of drama I just simply let her out of my life by not speaking to her again. Although I don't see her anymore, I do however wish nothing but the best for her life.

I hope that she realizes the wrongs that she put me through and it would allow her to grow as a person. The same also went for one of my exes. With the time that we were together, I promised myself that we would not get into any arguments whatsoever. Those were things that I knew instantly ruin many relationships. We didn't break up because of that; we broke up because he was simply insecure. When we were together, there were some people that would stare and try to put judgement on him. However I told him that none of that stuff should bother him because when I'm with someone that I care about, I don't care about other people.

When I'm with you, you're the only one that matters to me regardless of what anyone tries to say. The one's that always assume are the ones that never know. Unfortunately, he broke up with me because he didn't feel good about himself to be with someone like me anymore.

Also the way he broke up with me was in a way that I am still finding a way to forgive. Not only did you break up with me over the phone, but he never met with me in person to talk about why he broke up with me the way that he did. As angry as it made me, I realize that it taught me something in a big way. It was not meant for me to stay with someone who was constantly throwing their frustrations and insecurities at me when I just simply have the type of personality to be in a good state of mind.

That brings me to the point of insecurities that are in both men and women. As women, we tend to find insecurities about ourselves on a daily basis. However, whenever we feel that there is no way out of our insecurities, we tend to remind ourselves of the positive things. Never forget why you have a reason to love yourself. Over and over I would always question myself as to why certain people come off the way that they do.

It is because of human nature that's why. I am as well guilty of this question but the question of 'How did he end up with HER?' or even vice versa. For the record, I am not speaking for everyone. People who get into relationships are not in it for looks, but personality is always the first and best lasting impression. For example, you can say 'Oh she's so hot' all you want but how much are you going to bet that she probably does not think that about herself. You can tell one person they are attractive 1,000 times, but they just won't believe you because of the insecurities that they have.

Just because a women looks and seems attractive on the outside doesn't always mean that she tends to have the huge ego you think she has. If she 'acts' like she's too good for you, it's the complete opposite. It means that by showing what she wants in a relationship which is simply based off looks, that means that her insecurities are constantly eating at her on a daily basis. She'll just never tell you that. The same goes for men.

Some people, however, end up with people that are out of their league because they feel that by being with that person, there are no worries. They don't have to worry if a guy or girl is constantly messaging them, staring at them, or asking for their number out in public. The less that a person has to worry about other people trying to hit on their significant other is the better it makes them feel.

We have a problem with grouping people all into one category. Instead of judging someone from what they look like from the outside, get to know them on the inside. Also, for men and women that flirt with someone simply because they're good looking, what if they actually liked you? They were not looking to get used, so STOP treating them like a fetish. If you like someone you should genuinely love them for the person that they are both inside and out. If they like you back that means that they are serious and have no one else to worry about other than you.

They could send all the DMs and thirst messages that they want, it doesn't mean that I will go rushing to them. You have something that they will never have, and that is respect. Of course, they are going to be jealous, that means that they can't give you what you can. Just remember the next time you say 'I think he or she is attractive', doesn't mean that they have it all together.

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