Struggling With Body Issues

What It's Like Struggling With Body Issues And How I Am Overcoming It

"Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate."

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The first time I remember being embarrassed about my body was when I was eight years old. My stomach was hanging out of my shirt in our school picture. There could have been other times before this, but this was the first time I remember being aware of what I looked like and how I didn't like it. I've been self-conscious about my body ever since.

There are only two times I really remember liking the way my body looked. The first was when I was 17 and was dumped by my then-boyfriend. I couldn't eat or sleep, so I ended up losing 10 pounds in one month. It was a rough summer spent anxiously crying from heartbreak, but I looked good. And I loved the way I looked. And so did other people. For once, I looked in the mirror and felt like a "pretty girl."

The second time was when I was 20 and managed to get my heart broken again, but instead of being sad, I was angry. I had a ton of pent-up anger in my body, and I used to go to the gym and just sprint around the track until my lungs felt like they were going to explode. Days and nights, I spent hours working out my anger at the gym, and again, I looked good.

But every time I became more stable in my mindset, my body would start to slip. I didn't look good because I loved myself enough to look good, I looked good because I was emotionally distressed.

I've never been able to strike a balance between feeling good about my life and feeling good about my body.

My body issues have plagued me for years and a lot more than I ever let on. I hate eating in front of people I'm not comfortable with. I ask my friends and family what they're ordering at restaurants so I can match their orders so I don't look gluttonous. Going out to eat for a date is a total nightmare. I feel nervous and self-conscious the entire time, and I usually don't end up eating much because I don't want to look "fat." If my clothes don't fit right or feel right, I'm put into a bad mood. Eating foods that aren't "healthy" give me instant guilt. Sometimes my body image is so poor that I look in the mirror and just feel pure loathing for what I see.

There are a lot of things I could blame on this problem.

I could blame the boys and girls who teased me for being chubby when I was little or society for glorifying such thin-framed bodies above other body types. I could blame my genetics that gave me such tenacious love-handles, a stomach that will never fall flat no matter how little I weigh, and wide, child-bearing hips make jeans and shorts difficult to wear. But my insecurities aren't anyone's fault but my own.

I choose to feel insecure, and I choose to listen to the negative things I think. Society is allowed to have a standard of beauty, and I'm not entitled to fit into that standard. I'm built the way I'm built, but it's not my genetic make-up that caused me to resent that fact. I'm smart, funny, driven, kind, creative, fun and sociable. I even love physical things about myself as well, such as my eyes, my smile, my cheekbones and how long my legs are. Having the perfect body isn't a necessity to being confident in who I am, and it shouldn't be for anyone else either.

I'm tired of feeling bad about myself and feeling sorry for myself. So I'm officially ending the mental war on myself. I'm going to start speaking to myself like I would speak to someone I love. I'm going to eat a little healthier and work out a little more, but I'll do it because I love myself, not because I hate myself.

I will never look like a model. I probably will never even look like half of the girls I'm friends with. My body isn't perfect, but it is strong, it is working and it gets to me to where I need to be, both literally and metaphorically.

I need to love my body for what is it, and I need to forgive myself for not being perfect in every way.

Cover Image Credit:

Jolie Delia

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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I Have Always Had This Fear Of Rejection But Now I Am Learning To Be Unapologetically Unfit

Embrace the "unfit" pieces, go with your gut, and don't apologize for being you.

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I always thought the phrase "be yourself" was just a common suggestion spewed off by comforting grandparents and older siblings that wanted you to feel comfortable in your own skin. I really didn't even know what it meant, except that it seemed to be used as a response to a negative event and as a kid those words meant nothing - you just wanted to fit in. You wanted the bad feeling to go away.

Since I can remember I have felt this irrational fear of rejection - constantly feeding into the belief system that I had to have certain things, behave a certain way, be a certain type of friend and daughter and worker to be the best version of myself. What if those things weren't me at all? In those attempts, I was only trying to be something - more and different - I didn't really like who I was, but now I think that's just because I never got to know WHO that was. Feeling different from a lot of people as a kid, and even more so as I got older, changing myself seemed like the answer.

There was a very nervous image in my mind about being out of ordinary, being on my own. It made me scared to stick up for myself, hesitant to disagree, concerned that people might not like the person in hiding. Concerned that I might not like her either. A people pleaser at heart, there was a guilty pleasure I felt in pleasing myself. One part of me dreamed about how magical it would be to take care of myself in the way I do others - I could be the best friend I ever had. But the other felt safe in this corner of appeasement that was undoubtedly dangerous.

For years I said no to a lot of things I would have loved and yes to a lot of things I did not. I had a behavior based on response and there was always something missing. Even in college, I wasn't choosing things for me, but instead, for this plan I had that "made sense", one that would make people proud, make me liked and successful and worthy. Even if I didn't see it in my own eyes.

I always loved writing but didn't tell anyone for 7 years, scared that people would judge me or think what I had to say was stupid. I never thought that I could write articles one day - ones that people actually wanted to read, but I do now and I've gotten better feedback than I ever imagined. Up to this point, it's my proudest accomplishment. It could turn into something because I took the chance to go off my perfect path of business degrees and money. I didn't share the interest with anyone in my family, nor many of my friends, but I fell in love with it anyway. How freeing it was, the ability it gave me to finally let go. Every part made me feel 100% real and it was the first time I could feel my own authenticity. It made me very different from the people around me, the things I admitted to and how I chose to illustrate my story. But, for the first time, the difference was worth the fear it instilled.

Relationships were applicable just like writing. I was scared to be in one, usually concerned that it would cause me to lose close friendships or miss out on "opportunities." I wanted to love someone, badly, but I chose not to get too close. I knew it would be harder to actively please others while simultaneously fostering a romantic relationship. I would come to walk away from many relationships, for this reason, each time wondering if I would get another shot and usually terrified I wouldn't. I wanted my own feelings to matter more than what other people thought. I wanted to be strong enough to not care.

In this very moment, I can see, I can even feel, that being different, for me, may just be the most fulfilling thing I can do. Being like other people, trying to make them happy at the expense of myself, didn't get me very far. I know I will always care, but I'm learning to care for "me" just as much. I am starting to see that something will always be missing if I don't let myself embrace the "unfit" pieces I tried to stuff away.

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