My first New Year's resolution was to lose weight. I was scheduling time to go for a run and hit the gym before I was 10 years old and I continued to do this for years.
As a child, I was the chubbiest one out of all my sisters. Their thin thighs and flat stomaches mocked me, even though I didn't necessarily know what the point of being skinny was. I assumed that losing weight would just magically make my life perfect since that's all I ever learned from television and movies.
It was always the skinny girl that got the guy to fall in love with her because being thin meant being beautiful, which ultimately meant being deserving of love.
After years of meticulously watching what I consumed, of feeling guilty for indulging in the smallest dessert, I began to truly look at myself and how I was living my life. I was skinny, but I was undeniably depressed. I thought that starving myself was supposed to solve all of my issues. Instead, it created larger obstacles that I could not overcome.
I wanted to enjoy excursions with my friends, but I felt overwhelmingly anxious in restaurants that did not display calories. I ignored my hunger cues for hours, eventually getting rid of them entirely. I didn't know what or when my body wanted to eat. I couldn't go on vacation without worrying about the carbs I would have to eat, who would be watching me.
It was more than physical exhaustion. It become such a mental burden to constantly listen to my own self-deprecating thoughts:
"You're not skinny enough."
"You will never be happy."
"No one will love you if you don't change."
I dyed my hair, I worked out more, and I was determined to improve my appearance. I felt emptier with every new year, continuing to revolve my resolution around weight loss.
Eventually, after destroying my body to a point of almost no return, I realized that no matter how much I weighed, I would never be satisfied. I could never become as skinny as I wanted to be, skinny enough to completely disappear.
I understand wanting to lose weight to improve your health, but I encourage everyone to evaluate if your desire to lose weight is about loving your body or punishing yourself.
What is losing weight about for you?
What are you hoping to accomplish?
Do you feel like you have to "earn" a burrito, a prize you cannot attain unless you commit to cardio at the gym?
Are you losing weight in a way that is genuinely healthy, or are you torturing yourself?
I thought I had to lose weight for people to accept me, for someone to love me. It was this superficial idea of love that fueled my years of self-shaming. Love cannot be measured by the number of scoops in a waffle cone, by the cups of pasta that you throw away after reading the label on the box.
I cannot let my toxic thoughts consume me anymore. It is a new decade, and I am ready to take advantage of everything this year has to offer. In order to learn how to love my body, I need to make a conscious effort to prioritize myself and my desires.
I cannot ignore my wounds and expect them to heal on their own.
For so long, I felt defined by my weight and my appearance. I am ready to challenge myself and discover my true interests, my raw passions. It is time for me to follow a journey of self-love, not a strict meal plan. I hope you will consider embarking on the same adventure.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association's helpline at 800-931-2237.