This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Having interest in the nutrition field, this was always an area that I was interested in learning about. I started reading books about real life stories, listened to people tell their battles with eating disorders and continued to gain knowledge in the area. I never had a diagnosed eating disorder, but I definitely struggled with my body image in college. It didn’t really seem like anything at the time, but now as I gained weight in the past year and a half and look back on old pictures, I realize I am still struggling.
I’ve never had any issues with food. Let’s be real, food is my love. But I can’t honestly look back at pictures of my collegiate running and say “wow, you look healthy.” I look back now and think, “wow, that is not okay.” Why is it not okay? Because I thought I was big. I’m not sure if all runners do this, but I would look at my teammates and think they were smaller than me in size. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of us up next to each other, that no, I was actually smaller, but yet I couldn’t see that at the time.
Then you start wondering if you could be faster if you weighed less, because your teammate is smaller, or so you think, and they are faster. It’s like a morphed image of your body and that is what I struggled with. Then having your boyfriend at the time tell you that you need to put in extra work. This same person you have been with since high school, so they must know your body better than you right? So if they think you need to do more ab work, extra mileage or not eat that ice cream because you don’t deserve it, then you think you must not look okay.
I went through that. I went through the guilt of skipping one run. I lost a relationship because I couldn’t live with that the rest of my life. I don’t need someone making me feel bad about not doing something when I’m already doing so much. Now we flash forward a year and a half later and I’ve gained almost 40 pounds. Once again, I’m struggling with body image. Because if I thought I was big weighing 107 pounds running at the collegiate level, then I must really be huge weighing 144 pounds. But why do I feel I need to get small enough to fit into my old clothes, when they weren’t even an acceptable size to begin with. A kids large in nike tempo shorts, or kids large in denim shorts, are probably not what a 24 year old should be wearing.
I think it is now, after fully focusing on a healthy lifestyle, getting adequate amounts of sleep, eating appropriately while still eating my favorite foods without restricting or feeling bad, and finding a good balance of running and lifting that I am happy with, has truly put me at peace with the way I look. It should’ve never taken any of that to be at peace with the way I look. But the fact is, a lot of people struggle, and jokes or comments about body appearance can really tear someone down if they are already struggling with their body.
I don’t need anyone in my life to make me feel bad about any of the choices I make regarding my body and I definitely don’t need someone judging the way I look either. Why? Because I am extremely content and I will continue what I am doing to reach the goals I have for myself because it’s what I want to do, not what any one else wants.
The point of this was just to create awareness of the things that people could be going through, because I know many people have no idea that I struggled with body image, because how could someone so happy and smile so much have anything negative going on in their life? Just thought I would share.
Hope everyone has a great week!