I woke up from an afternoon nap today and while I was in bed, I had a flashback to this moment. I remember being in my hostel room by myself, standing up from my bed and going to look over the toilet bowl after a meal I had. I KNEW this was wrong. I KNEW this was unhealthy and a dangerous slippery slope, but I kept staring at the bowl. After some seconds of thought, I introduced my index finger to my tongue, down to the root of it. I retched. I couldn’t stand it, the taste of vomit. Out of shame and a mild form of self-disgust, I never did it again.
This was about four years ago. I really can’t remember when exactly, or what time period, but I remember the emotion I felt leading up to that moment: I almost hated my body. I cannot remember a time in my life since I started about what I looked like that I liked what I looked like wholly, and all those insecurities and negative thoughts were taking me captive. I would stand & take pictures beside my friends and when I looked at the photos all I could see were my flaws. I almost felt like the most shapeless of the bunch. That’s it, that’s what hit me the most. I felt like a box, or a ball, depending on how bad the self-hatred was that day. I felt like I wasn’t ‘womanly’ enough. Coupled with the fact that I have Blounts (Google that if you don’t know), I have always felt so self-conscious, and physically unattractive. There were a lot of horrible statements would make about myself which I’m not going to share here because that’s too dark, even for this article.
If you’re thinking, “oh you didn’t like something? Just work out and eat right & it will all change”, I tried. From secondary school, some of us were already being so strict on ourselves & “counting calories” so I did that. I have worked out consistently in bouts during my 6-year university study. I have moved to a largely healthy meal schedule. I have also tried the things they tell you not to try: diet pills, waist trainers, you name it. I even almost started an eating disorder. I was so desperate that bulimia seemed appealing. The only thing I got from all these was a fluctuation in my weight and my mood. At this point I have to say this: a slow metabolism sucks. My body feeling the need to hold on dearly to fat like it’s a life jacket definitely didn’t – and doesn’t – feel nice.
I like Instagram, I enjoy scrolling through and appreciating beautiful pictures. I was getting better at being kinder and more patient with myself last year, and then I felt myself taking several steps back. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the reason when I opened my Explore page. Seeing tiny waists and flat tummies everywhere -and the audience they were receiving – was subconsciously sending me back into that terrible place. I was not even liking or following anyone on there, but everywhere I turned was something, someone who I looked as “having everything I wanted to look like”. Everything was so triggering for me, and I eventually had to take a break from the app for a few weeks.
At this point, I think I have to add a disclaimer. I am not writing this to slander any body type. This is purely life from my perspective, and I do not project that unto others. I encourage you to do the same.
It is honestly so hard to be content with your physical appearance when you’re not the popular standard of beauty where you reside. It takes grit and strength to look past nasty comments and live your life to the fullest. I remember asking God why He didn’t create me with a faster metabolism or straighter legs, and I remember being almost angry with Him for a long time. I would pray and do the motions but there was that lingering feeling. Comparison stole my joy for a long time, I can tell you that.
The turn-around point for me though, was sometime late last year. Somehow, living and working through a pandemic made me realise that there was so much more to life than how I looked, and that health & fitness should always be the goal body-wise, not a smaller waist or flatter abdomen. These things obviously come with the package but they should not be sole motivators.
Health & fitness is the goal now for me. I’m almost afraid to say this, but I’ve been exercising 6 days a week and regulating my portions (most times). I abhor any diet that promotes restriction, because have been there and done that & it failed to produce any positive results in my life. I said I was afraid to say it earlier because I have said it before, and a part of me fears that saying it out loud will jinx it. This is not normal, I know. Maybe I’m not normal?
God has been helping me, I have to let you know. He has helped the most in all this. Learning to see myself the way He sees me is a something I work on regularly. I take care of my body because it is His temple, so I have to treat it right. Right now I feel stronger. HIIT workouts tend to do that to you. I can walk up hills and staircase without huffing and puffing. I feel happier about myself. I’m not going to be dishonest and say I now don’t care completely about curves or my abdomen and all that, however those are not the most important things to me anymore. That is not where I hang all my self-worth and perception of my beauty in.
This is not a “I had an issue but it is all gone now, glory!” post. There is an issue, I have recognised it & it is being fixed by the the help of the Holy Spirit. But it’s not all gone. I’m still in my process. There are good days and bad days. I saw a whole bunch of nicely-dressed and slimmer women, and I was already feeling a bit uncomfortable in my outfit earlier, and those thoughts began to creep in. I slept, woke up, God reminded me of how He sees me and that I’m doing my best, and I’m okay now. It’s a journey everyday. I know that it may look like I’m taking a step forward and two steps back, but guess what? That’s how healing is sometimes. This is a problem I have had for most of my time on earth, and it is going to take time to uproot. So I’m going to be patient with myself while constantly working at my goal. I’m learning to give myself the same grace I give to to others because I am worthy of it, because I deserve it too.
I don’t know why I feel the need to document and share this. But I do. So here we are. If you’re going through this same journey or something similar, I hope you have felt seen and heard. You are not alone.