Happy Thursday! One week until Thanksgiving! YAY!
With Thanksgiving coming up, we’re all thinking about food. As you can all tell, we are big fans of food at Bean and Nash. Though I am a lover of all things gastronomical, I have not always had a love-love relationship with food. This season, Thanksgiving will be different for me. I have struggled with what some might call an eating disorder and what others might call disordered eating for the past year. Last summer, I spent time working on my issues to return to school with a healthier view of food than I had when I left in May. I am looking forward to enjoying this holiday meal without guilt or worry, as I hope the rest of you do too!
At this point, I am comfortable discussing my tumultuous relationship with food. Here’s a little peek into my personal struggle; I hope that it helps you to get to know me a bit better.
One evening this summer, I walked into my parents’ bedroom and asked my mom if I looked like I had gained weight. I knew she would be more honest with me than anyone else; that’s what moms are good (and bad) for.
She told me yes, I looked like I had gained some weight but that I looked great.
I groaned loudly and then began to sob.
In that moment, I knew that I had a problem that I could not fix by myself.
My mom told me to sit down and tell her what was wrong. Everything that had run through my mind 24/7 for the past 9 months came spilling out. How I was sick of thinking about food all the time. How I both loved and dreaded mealtimes. How I could not go a day without working out or else I felt awful about myself. How I was sickened and crippled by my inexplicable and stupid desire to see my collarbones and have a thigh gap. How I used to obsessively weigh myself multiple times per day. How I was so frustrated and angry that I was always thinking about food. How I analyzed everything that I ingested and that I could probably recite to her what I ate on any given date over the past 9 months. How I did not know what to do. How I didn’t want to think about food anymore. How I just wanted to be happy and healthy. How I constantly felt trapped in my own head and all I wanted to do was get out.
As I searched for the words to speak through my tears, I realized that this was the most vulnerable I had ever been. The most open, honest, broken, and terrified that I had ever felt.
Today, I find myself happier than I have been in over a year. After my conversation with my mom, I began to work through my issues to root out their sources and find ways to fix them. Though it took time, I have come to realize that weight is a negligible number. What matters so much more than the number on the scale is how I feel. I will not let a number rule my life. I am more than a number.
Reflecting on my struggle, I am more saddened than anything else. How could I be so hard on myself? How could I let that happen to me? How could I go from being such a cheerful person to being so, so sad?
I used to constantly compare myself to others. I attend a school where appearance, as superficial as it is, is hugely important. I refuse to walk around in denial and say that brains matter more than body, because here, they might just be equal in importance. I did not want to be the overweight girl in a sea of seemingly perfect specimens.
Media did not help. Pictures of celebrities and models and stars on TV shows are enough to make any girl second guess her appearance. I saw celebrities and thought to myself, “if they can do it, then why can’t I?” I neglected to remind myself that it is the job of a celebrity to look great. That they aren’t going to class and focusing on their studies. I forgot to note that I do not live the life of a celebrity and am not expected nor required to look like one.
I stopped following celebrities so closely. I stopped following so many fitness bloggers on social media. I stopped comparing myself to others and started focusing on me. Just because she is eating that or working out for this long doesn’t mean that it will work for me. We are different people with different bodies, inside and out. By doing all of these things, I was able to break down my emotional barriers and really begin to love myself for who and what I am.
My eating issues were not solely caused by my constant self-comparison to others; however, it was a huge factor that contributed to my unhappiness. By focusing on myself, I am able to figure out what I want and need, whether I am considering what to eat for lunch or thinking too much about the size of my thighs (see what I did there? Nice rhyme, Gabby).
I am not writing this post to get attention or sympathy. I want to remind you that you should focus on being who you want to be, not who magazines or your friends or TV shows tell you to be. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare you to you. Be the best you that you can be.
Know that if you are struggling, you are not alone. Don’t get trapped in your own head. Talk to someone. The longer you drive yourself insane, the more difficult it will be to get back to a happier place. The most important step is admitting that you need help; there is no shame in owning that you can’t get through it on your own.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday! May you spend it eating, laughing, and smiling.