To The Mental Illness That Won't Let Me Have A Summer Body
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Health and Wellness

To The Mental Illness That Will Never Let Me Have A Summer Body

Which is worth more: having a summer body or a sound mind?

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To The Mental Illness That Will Never Let Me Have A Summer Body

It happens every time I open social media.

"8 Foods For Flat Summer Abs"

"30 Day Beach Body Challenge"

"12 Moves To Get That Insta-Worthy Bikini Bubble Butt"

I scroll past endless articles, endless posts by people I follow about how much weight they've lost, the latest miracle detox or diet they've tried, how they just feel SO good about themselves now that they are finally getting that #summerbody.

These days, I can stop to read the articles or their posts, can stop to look at the photos posted, and it doesn't faze me. Much.

But it wasn't always that way.

Before, I would open Facebook or Twitter and see those headlines or open Instagram and see those photos, and I would feel this sudden urgency to read the articles, to view the posts.

But I wouldn't simply read the article about good moves for toning my body, heed the advice and maybe incorporate those moves into my next workout. I wouldn't just read a post about someone's diet success and either be happy for them or just move along, or even have the normal reaction of slight jealousy, a little part of me comparing my own body, my own eating habits and exercise regimen to theirs.

***

It was exhilarating--the articles hooked me, each bit of information feeding my constantly starving brain, fueling it with an unmatched competitive energy.

My heart would race as I read each calorie-cutting trick, each way to burn more calories during my extensive workouts, as I thought of ways to take each piece of advice one step further.

My eyes would scan each photo, analyzing each person's body as it compared to mine.

Her legs are smaller. I flexed my own, the toned muscle invisible to my eyes. God, my legs are huge. I'll work on that. An extra couple of miles. Lifting?

I stood with them together, seeing how close I was to no longer having a thigh gap. Yeah, but stick to lunges. No weights. We want long and lean muscle, not big muscle.

But then there's her waist. I would grab my own sides, my gut twisting at the muffin top I could see in the mirror, even though my fingers were finding nothing but skin to pinch. Wow, I am so fat. Gross. I'll never look like that in a swimsuit... But I'll still cut back on fats.

I would go to my bathroom mirror, strip down and bend side to side, my eyes zeroing in on imaginary love handles. My chest would immediately constrict, my heart pounding against my visible ribs. No more carbs, either. I've been doing 800 calories a day; I can easily do 700.

Maybe less. Hopefully less.

And then it was on to the next post, the next article.

The next comparison.

Eventually, hours of research later, I would emerge from the haze, my body starved and disorder fed. A sense of calm would wash over me as I replayed in my mind my plan as to how I was going to implement the new restrictions on what and how much I could eat, how I would put more rules in place for my workout regimen.

I can do this, I thought.

I will do this.

***

Almost eight years later, with my body healthier--and bigger--than it used to be, I scroll through my feeds and see those same posts, those same articles on how to get the hottest summer body.

And I force myself to keep scrolling.

Because even now, though I can recognize that some people need to adjust their diet for health reasons and can celebrate with them as they meet their goals, there is still that little voice in the back of my mind, targeting my weak spots.

You really think you look OK now? Seriously? Look at yourself. I don't even want to think about how you would look in a bikini.

And on and on and on the lies and torments go.

It does get one thing right, though.

I may never have the "ideal" summer body again.

But you know what? I wouldn't want it, anyway.

My imperfect legs, the ones without a thigh gap, are able to go for runs for enjoyment rather than punishment.

My hips, the ones with curves instead of protruding bones, allow me to go out with friends, dancing for hours because I actually have the energy.

My stomach, neither flat nor pure muscle, aches with laughter after nights spent connecting with and enjoying those around me.

My face, full and rosy-cheeked, can have a smile across it that is genuine and full of life.

My mind, fueled daily with truth instead of lies, with love for myself instead of cruel critiques and unhealthy expectations, is finally free.

And if that isn't what summer body goals should be, I don't know what is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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