I Used To Hate My Body

I didn’t fully realize it at the time.  But I totally hated my body.

I only really see it now, as I LOVE my body, fully and completely.  Being on the other side of that feeling has helped me fully recognize where I once was and how far I’ve come.

I’ve talked openly before about how I used to workout twice a day (if not more) and track calories.  But there’s a darker secret to those times I haven’t been fully honest about.

It all started when I was about 13 years old. 

I stepped onto a scale for the first time with an awareness that that number meant something.  As a child I know my parents weighed me at intervals to watch my growth.  But at this tender adolescent age I stepped on the scale for the first time where I payed attention to the number myself – and got feedback from a friend on how “good” that number was.  I weighed 108 pounds.  This was apparently very good!  Yay! Self esteem boosted and self value affirmed!

I later stepped on the scale when I was about 18 years old.  That number had increased to 120.  This was still good!  I was a child that first time, so I was able to justify the increase and to see that this new number was relative to the fact that I was now all grown up.  I imprinted this number into my mind as my adult weight.  One I thought I’d have for the rest of my life.  Oh to be young and naive!

The next time I stepped on a scale was only 4 years later.  At that time I had some friends who were struggling with their weight.  I was very aware of my mothers struggles over her life time with her weight.  But I had always maintained a false impression of myself, that I weighed 120 pounds and that this number was very, very good.

My whole world shifted when the new number I saw was 145.

According to the BMI index, I was bordering on “overweight”. 

This wasn’t good anymore.  This was me slipping into being too heavy, and most certainly less of a person.  I had identified with a young woman who was acceptable and even ideal in her physical presentation to the world.  And now I was beginning to identify with shame towards the body I lived in.  I didn’t want to be “fat”, I didn’t want to gain more weight.

So I joined Weight Watchers with my friends.

It was odd.  I was still the thinnest woman in the room.  But I had been gaining weight and it scared the crap out of me.  So here I was now counting points and journaling everything I ate.  I lost 20 pounds and became a Lifetime Member.

What no one knew, not my friends, not my Weight Watchers leaders, no one, was how I actually lost those 20 pounds, and so quickly.

I fell into a cycle of binge, then purge.

I would force myself to throw up at least once a day.  I would restrict my calories all day long, sit down in front of the TV and eat a big bowl of frozen yogurt, then throw it all right back up.  When I over ate, I purged.  When I ate “bad” food, I purged.  If I went over my points for the day, I purged (even if my last meal had been healthy).

When I met my now ex husband I was 23 years old and weighed 125 pounds.  I was acceptable again!  But I hated the lack of control I felt over food.  I wanted to eat everything, but not gain any weight.

I didn’t know how to eat healthy without feeling restricted.  I felt trapped.

Around that time I began to exercise.  I had always done some yoga, and walked a lot, but the notion of sweating, and really working my body was new.  The more I exercised, the less I purged.

But I was far from loving my body.  I simply swapped one unhealthy cycle with another.  Now I needed to burn enough calories to counter the calories I was putting into my body.  I had an app on my phone and I would track everything, including every step I took, every run, every yoga class and every gym workout.  I’d watch the clock to be sure I calculated every MINUTE of exercise, to award myself enough calories I could then eat – or drink.  As it was around this time, while working out several times a day, that I began another unhealthy cycle.

With my ex husband we drank alcohol.  I was working out to justify the calories that all that wine and beer represented.

I was now stuck in a miserable cycle.

I was still pretty thin.  But I wanted to be thinner.  With how much I worked out I thought I should be less curvy, more svelte.  I wished I was stronger.  More flexible.  Faster.  The cycle wasn’t just how I built my days.

The cycle I was stuck in was all about how I was simply never enough.

I would analyze my body in the mirror.  I would covet smaller clothing sizes.  I would injury my body as I worked out harder.

Then something changed.  Something shifted.  Around the same time that my marriage ultimately ended, I began to see myself in a very different way.

I began to see that I was worth more than this. 

That this secret life I had was making me miserable.  That I was tired of striving so hard to be someone else.

Stay tuned next week for more on my story as I pulled through to the other side to loving my body.

My home yoga studio, HappyTree Yoga, is hosting a really interesting workshop on Yoga, Food & Body Image with Chelsea Roff October 23-25th.  If you’re in the Montreal area I highly recommend you check it out.  Learn more and register here.

Please share with me your stories in the comments below!

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  1. Pingback: My Journey To Body Love! - A Paleo Yogi

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