“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” – Psalms 139:14
For years, I have struggled with body image issues. During high school, my highest tracked weight, right before I started Weight Watchers with my mom, was 232 pounds. I also wore braces and glasses, while dealing with that lovely thing called puberty that brought my chubby face many bouts of acne. My high school years were not nice to me.
Going into my college years, it didn’t get much better. Sure, I had dropped some weight, but I was still topping the scale around the 210-215 range. And to make matters worse, my face broke out. Not in the “oh, hey I have a pimple” kinda way. I mean full out, bright red bumps and white heads from up near my ears, all over my cheeks to down around my mouth and chin. Even looking at the few pictures I have from that year, I cringe at the sight and the memories.
So, I kept working out. If I couldn’t figure out how to fix my face, I’d make my body look better. By summer of 2010, I was down to the lowest weight I can ever remember reading on a scale – around 185. I was doing light weight workouts and running every other day. I was also sticking to my Weight Watcher methods, again. After combining that with some dermatology treatments to clear up my face, I thought I looked amazing.
After a bad car accident in October 2010, I struggled to workout after dealing with a ton of knee pain. The further away from exercise and “healthy” eating I got, the closer to alcohol, depression and laziness I got. I ate anything and everything I wanted, I drank alcohol, I smoked weed. Anything to coat the depression. Nothing worked though, and I ended back up near 215, a number I swore to myself I would never see again, by early 2012.
At this point, I was determined to change things. I began my “healthy” eating habits again (I use quotations because now that I’ve learned what healthy eating really is, I realized that for years I fell victim to the “low-fat, low-cal” diet food industry) and signed up for a membership at a Club Fitness just a few miles from my apartment. My friend moved in with me that summer and we began working out/eating healthy together, which helped a lot. However, we also indulged and helped each other justify our “cheats”, which didn’t help at all.
In November 2012, I attempted the Shape Reclaimed diet (the homeopathic line of the HCG drops). I dropped from 214 to 194, and while I was ecstatic, it was the most miserable “fix” I’d ever attempted – 500 calories and no workouts make me a very grumpy person. I swore I would never do it again.
After graduating college, I spent the first two months of 2013 eating and drinking my way through Europe. I packed back on about 10 pounds and regretted NOTHING. It was delicious, decadent and delightful.
A Change in Course
When I returned home, I was determined to get those 10 pounds off, and hopefully then some. I became a crazy cardio workout regime and slowly added in lower and upper body weight lifting sessions. I quickly lost the “Europe weight” I had put on and felt okay, but the stomach issues I had been having for the past few months continues. I tried everything – medicine, cutting out gluten and dairy, all natural remedies – nothing worked. Even if something started to work, it was extremely temporary and I just ended up miserable again.
For the last year, I have struggled with working out, eating well and feeling miserable. I felt as though I was constantly fighting a losing battle. I tried different workouts, bought macro/meal plans, adding in more cardio…and nothing. I was stuck in the 193-197 range. Which I would have been okay with, had I not felt miserable and huge.
So when the doctor called and told me that my blood work tested positive for Heliobactor Pylori, I was so relieved. It explained the pain, the constant hunger, the weight gain (I was back up over 200 — YUCK)… Plus, during the past year, my body was also absent of periods, which didn’t help with feeling gross and the stalled weight loss. So I thought that at some point, after antibiotics and progesterone pills, that I would just drop the weight and feel great.
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel better, but it wasn’t immediate and the weight has not come back off. I’m currently bloated, about to start and hoping my periods have come back to stay. I haven’t counted calories in over three months, but I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full (some call this intuitive eating). I also fill my plate with protein, tons of veggies and healthy carbs, along with good fats (okay, so I eat too much peanut butter…but, I feel like it’s kind of excusable, it’s a trade off for all the bread, pasta and cheese I can’t consume! Don’t judge…).
I started a new workout regime two week ago with my trainer friend and my weight has gone UP. But you know what? Screw the scale. I feel so good. I can see my body changing again and I am STRONG. Plus, I’m HEALTHY. So screw the number on the scale or a clothing tag. I don’t know who instilled in us the idea that you had to be a certain size to look or feel good about yourself, but they suck.
I saw a photo someone posted of their post-workout self one day with the caption, “This is the body I’m currently working with. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either…” and I often repeat that to myself when I’m having an “eww, I feel huge and look fat and just want to eat everything in sight” day. I have accepted the body I have, realizing it’s the only one I’m ever going to get. But you know what? It’s just a body. It’s a shell. It isn’t the skin I’m in that matters, it’s the soul and the heart inside of it. Yes, I want to look good on the outside, but my inner health and beauty is far more important.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7Jesus thinks my insides are pretty beautiful, and in the end, isn’t that all that really matters? I can’t take this body with me into eternity (and I think the heavenly one I’m going to get is going to be pretty darn awesome!).