In 6th grade I sprouted before everyone else. I grew tall and developed a chest in what seemed to be overnight. This was the first time I remember feeling insecure about my body. I distinctly remember wearing multiple sports bras to hide the fact that I had boobs now. And my dad pressuring me to play basketball, because of how tall I was. I’m not actually that tall, clocking in at 5 feet 6 inches, I’m just slightly above average, but I just got there before everyone else. Because I grew so fast, I developed stretch marks on my chest and hips. I remember feeling so embarrassed, and bad about myself. I didn’t understand what my body was going through, and no one was there to explain it to me. I wanted to stop growing.
Once becoming a teenager, the self-doubt was still there, but with new reasons. I was still embarrassed by those stretch marks, but in those years, I was always doubting if I was “skinny enough” or if my boobs were “perky enough”. When I think back, I don’t know why I had this image of how I should look, and why I thought I wasn’t living up to it. No one was making me feel bad about myself, except for myself. And when I look back at pictures from then, I’m like girl, you were beautiful.
And then in my 20’s, I was in those bad relationships that I discussed in: If I knew then, what I know now: Relationships. I think these years preyed on my existing insecurities, and just made everything worse. I was obsessed with trying different diets, diet pills, weight loss shakes, basically all the “gimmicks”. And yes, that’s what they are. Gimmicks. Losing weight can be more difficult for some, I certainly fall in that bucket, but there’s no secret. Eat a healthier diet, by healthier I mean your “real” foods: fruits, veggies, meat, nuts, ect. And exercise, and by that, I mean just move your body: power walk the mall, go to the gym, barre, CrossFit, yoga, ect. But when you’re desperate, like I was, you’re willing to try everything else. Because it’s hard work for some of us.
In 2013, I started counting calories in an unhealthy fashion. I was eating 1200 calories of food and not necessarily good food. I also started running. I used an app called 5K Runner, and it worked. I built up the ability to run 3 miles and I was doing it pretty consistently. Here’s the thing, I didn’t fuel my body properly, I never ate more on days I ran, and to top it off, I hated running. This is the WRONG way to lose weight. I was unhappy, and hungry ALL THE TIME. I stayed at it though, because people kept complimenting me and I felt like, finally, I look “skinny enough” for people to notice. When you are essentially starving your body and pushing yourself to run every day when it genuinely makes you unhappy, it can’t last, and it didn’t.
When I stopped. I stopped. I didn’t run anymore, and any resemblance of healthy eating or trying was out the window. For 10 years, I’d be all in, or all out. I never found a balance.
The next few years, off the wagon, I started dating Richard, and he loved my body just the way it was. He never got frustrated with me, when I’d be critical of myself. I believe that it really wouldn’t matter to him whether I was 50 pounds heavier or lighter. To this day, he’s always trying to support me, and really convince me that I’m being too critical of myself. But no one can take away your insecurities. It helps, having a supportive husband, but I had to learn to love myself by myself.
In 2016 I was doing Barre, and I really did enjoy it. That was my introduction back into fitness. The gym and running, just wasn’t for me. Barre got me moving again, and it was something that felt good for the mind and body. At some point, I started to not love it quite as much as I used to. I didn’t hate it, but I was looking for something more. I saw an ad for an introductory CrossFit class right around the corner from work. I had actually tried CrossFit once before, near my home, but I didn’t like it. I don’t know why I wanted to try it again, but I did. It was a 6 week program, and the only time slot that worked for me was 6AM! I would like to inform you, if you don’t know, I am NOT a morning person. I told myself 6 weeks, I can do anything for 6 weeks. And so, I did. In the beginning, I was all anxiety and nerves. I had all the misconceptions of what CrossFit was, and they proved me wrong. At the end of the 6 weeks, I joined and didn’t look back.
I bring this up, because CrossFit was a big turning point for me and the confidence I had in myself. I’m 2 years into my CrossFit journey, and I can say confidently this is what I needed. The community and the friendships I’ve formed. I mean, I will have to get into all that another time, but it’s important to note here, because this atmosphere makes you strive for more, and it makes you believe in yourself. Your goals shift, from “skinny goals” to “strong goals” and that change in mindset is important. I want to lift more and beat my own personal records. Seeing my improvement in the gym, helped build up my confidence.
If you are doing some form of fitness, that makes you super unhappy, I’m telling you, just try something else. There is something so fulfilling and uplifting when you find something that does make you happy.
Food wise, I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years. I’m no longer in the “all in or all out mind set”. One bad meal doesn’t derail me for week or month like it used to. One bad month, doesn’t make me hate myself. We try to stick to “real whole foods”, but we also love ice cream and tacos. I do think I’ve found an overall happy medium that we stick to most of the time. And when we don’t stick to it, that’s okay too. Food isn’t the enemy it once was.
I’m not as thin as I once was, but I’m 100% the strongest I’ve ever been. I love my body more today, than I ever have, but that self-love is a work in progress. I follow a lot of body positive sites, and seeing their confidence also helps me. Hearing their journey, and I don’t know, seeing more people out there like me, makes me feel more accepted I guess. Social media wasn’t around growing up and the people we saw on TV were just thin, so I also think this surge of the body positive movement has affected me in a very positive way.
Now, of course I still have bad days. I’m hard on myself, and sometimes I let the goals of other people get in my head. Like when they are obsessing over weight, the thoughts creep up into my head that maybe I should care more about that. Or I step on the scale and it’s not quite what I was expecting. Which is why I almost never weigh myself anymore. The difference now, is those moments are fleeing. It’s a day, where I feel shitty, but then I can more easily move on. If I feel like I’m not getting fitter, I go to more classes. If I feel bloated, I make sure my diet gets on point. I take action to not feel so crappy. But I don’t go so extreme that I’m unhappy. I’d rather be the version of myself I am today, over the skinny unhappy Alicia from 2013.
Skinny does not equal happiness. It just doesn’t.