I peered into the trash can and looked between the orange peels and coffee grounds to see where the scale lay. I stood and stared, wondering if I had made the wrong decision. Before I fell down a rabbit hole of overthinking, I slammed the can shut. My whole body felt frozen as I walked back inside and passed the bathroom. I saw where the scale used to be and my head was already starting to feel clearer.
With the scale gone, I could finally take back control of my life.
My relationship with food has been extremely delicate. Whenever I felt a wave of emotion, food was always there for me. I had always been a little bigger than my peers, but my parents chalked that up to me playing tennis. I never had a thigh gap or skinny arms, but I was toned and strong. It was when I started my freshman year of high school that my whole health dynamic shifted.
I was in a difficult position — my dream school rejected me and my parents continued pressuring me to play competitive tennis. I had just graduated with a class of 92 people, whom I had been with for a decade, and was heading to a high school with over four thousand people. I was playing singles for the varsity team and taking a substantial course load. In short, I was extremely overwhelmed. As I had done before, I turned to food and ate all my troubles away. My stomach got bigger and my legs got wider. Before I knew it, I had gained 20 pounds. I avoided people in the school hallway, ashamed of the way I looked.
After weeks of doing this, I had decided that I would never put myself through that ever again.
I considered myself to be an all-or-nothing type of person. When I decided to lose weight, I really did. I counted every calorie and worked out at least two times a day. I weighed myself before and after every meal, agonizing when the numbers didn't drop as fast as I wanted them to.
I dropped 20 pounds in five weeks.
However, I couldn't stop. I was consumed with counting how many calories were in a yogurt cup or how many calories I could lose by doing 100 crunches. My tennis playing had been detrimentally impacted as I lost most of my muscle. I felt as though I was spiraling out of control. The breaking point was when I looked up the nutrition facts for a head of lettuce. I stopped myself, asking "Why am I doing this? Lettuce is healthy."
I looked in the mirror and as cliche, as it sounds, I didn't even recognize myself.
I decided it wasn't going to be like that anymore. I worked out once a day and I ate until I was full and satisfied, filling myself up with whole foods. I knew that I was healthy — I felt vibrant and truly alive. I ultimately decided that my life wasn't going to be defined by the number on the scale. My life is going to be defined by how many dogs I can pet, or how many smiles I can put on people's faces. In the grand scheme of life, how much I weigh, as long as I am eating healthy and exercising, is not the most important thing.
I know that I need to be content with myself before I can share myself with another person in a relationship. I am still a work in progress, but every person is constantly evolving, it's part of the human experience. By cultivating a healthy relationship with food and my body, I finally understand how everyone else is fighting their own inner battles. Self-love is an arduous journey, but it is one that I am glad I embarked on.
So, eat what you want, when you want. I emotionally eat and quarantine definitely has not helped. But stay strong. Be gentle with yourself.