A friend’s post online sparked a thought, one about size, weight, and we feel about ourselves.
One of the things I am happy to see through social media is all the positive life progress people post online to keep themselves accountable. People are making their lives better and tracking every moment of it. These progressive pictures that propagate may be pesky to some people, but it always reminds me of being able to overcome adversity and the ability for us to turn our lives around, not through ease but through hard work and perseverance.
I used to count calories to see low I could go. Food was the enemy, and I was just a warrior in my battle against it.
I had always been heavy for my height, thankfully always getting taller to accommodate for all the extra calories. By the time I entered high school I was already unhappy with myself, which was one part depression and two parts the unfortunate side effect from it. I ate to make myself feel okay, thinking I needed that extra sandwich at lunch. I was a new place, with new people, after an old place with old people, something needed to change.
I was in my second year, learning to love the hobby of running that the results gave me something more than I could imagine, confidence. I was starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. The problem was I didn’t really know what healthy was, I mean sure my cousins worked out but I was never really privy to what exactly they were doing. So I stuck to my guns, decided to do all I could to reduce my weight. I was adhering to a guideline set out for me by the BMI index and dropping weight as much as I could.
I think few things really affected me during this period. First is that I got down to the weight that I wanted to, finally for the first time in my recorded life I hit the standard weight category. Second, my sister constantly referred to me as manorexic because of this weight loss. Third, I felt like I was finally able to have control over my own body. Lastly, the way I was eating caused me to have dizzy spells in the middle of the day where my vision would act like I was in the ocean and start wiggling about. I wanted to keep going because it felt so good to lose but my body resisted and stopped.
That being said, the next year I gained some of the weight back (partially because I was happily in my first relationship) and I have been yoyo-ing ever since. In all the subsequent years after that, I have never had a normal BMI number. Now it’s not unobtainable for a long stretch, but the question is, what is it that I want.
Years after another set of up and down I decided that my fitness goal instead of a number I am shooting for a fitness level. I want to be able to get up and go if my friends ask me to go on a spontaneous hike. I devoted myself not to look at the scale, as it is deceiving, never letting me get away from how others think my body should look and feel.
Now my goals have grown from there, and I feel like I am the most fit I have ever been in my life, not skinny in the conventional sense but have a lot more muscle than before. I am happy because I can eat the occasional unhealthy meal knowing I mostly eat healthy things and keep active incredibly regularly.
I stepped on the scale recently, not by choice but I wasn’t worried about what it said. I am 6’1″, 222 pounds, conventionally this weight would mean I was on the verge of obesity but I know that’s not true. This is a weight of effort and work, muscle. We’re not all the same, and there are better ways to check how well you’re doing but it is always possible to become healthy, our bodies want us to be. In the end as long as your making progress, then that’s all that matters, you are lapping everyone on the couch and that’s something to be proud of.
I will occasionally get worried about the number of calories I eat or feel like I need to step up my game at the gym. The mirror truthfully never is anything other than a battle between me and my scarred self-image. Whats most important is that I’m healthy, so if you ever wanted to have me step on a scale I might reply “Wait weight? Don’t tell me!”