For the majority of my life, the number on the scale was inversely proportional to how I felt about myself: the higher the number, the lower my self-esteem. I know I’m not the only woman in today’s society to feel this way.
I wasn’t what you’d call fat growing up, I couldn’t even tell you what I weighed throughout my childhood, but I did inherit my father’s body type ( aka: short and stocky with the ability to gain weight just by looking at food). I never felt fat, but was gently reminded of my genetics with beautiful little sayings like, “A moment on the lips Chrystal…” and “Whelp, slap it on your thighs.”
Everything changed shortly after I turned 15 and was sent to the kind of boarding school horror stories are made of. I became very depressed and thanks to the delicious food and insistence that you eat every meal, I packed on about 20lbs after just a few short months. Everyone noticed. I couldn’t hide from it. It was suggested that I was a food addict and should jump on the bandwagon of all the others and follow a strict food plan. I went back and forth on the plan for four years before I finally realized I wasn’t an addict.
Unfortunately, after I returned to “the real world” at 18 I had an incredibly warped perception of what healthy eating was. I viewed “healthy” as incredibly restricted. That delicious food should be directly associated with guilt. So, I yo-yoed my way through Lean Cuisines, Slim Fast and was always on some diet or another. If I wanted something unhealthy I would starve for the rest of the day to “earn” it. I destroyed my metabolism by starving myself and yo-yoing on no-carb diets. Every time I came off the diet, I only gained more weight as a result and was heavier than I was at the start. It was exhausting.
All I Wanted Was to Be Beautiful
To be the kind of girl that could wear anything and look amazing. On the upswing I’d wear revealing clothes to get noticed, on the downswing I wouldn’t want to leave the house. I was always striving for better, but I had no idea how to get there.
Last year, I watched my boyfriend do a complete 180 degree lifestyle change. He gave up drinking and dove headfirst into fitness. I decided that I too, needed to make a major change and went on the HCG diet. For 6 weeks I followed the plan to an exact T and lost 17lbs. I was told that as soon as I went off of the diet, I’d blow up like a balloon. I didn’t believe them and I didn’t care. I wanted a solution NOW.
At some point I realized that the zero carb mentality had to stop. How could I ever be the best version of myself if I was afraid of food? I decided I needed to get truly healthy, not just thin. I wanted to get fit. I wanted muscles.
I Wanted to Start Wearing My Strength on the Outside
I educated myself on supplements and nutrition. I started following a meal plan that included carbs at every meal. I joined my boyfriend’s CrossFit gym and started with their light program because weights intimidated me. The scale started creeping up. Panic started seeping in. Two months in and I had gained 10lbs and was officially freaking out.
How Am I Doing All the Right Things and Still Gaining Weight?
I pressed on, kept my food plan and started to lift weights. 3 months in and the scale hasn’t budged. My coach assures me I’ve gained muscle. One look in the mirror at my arms, my obliques that are popping out or my slightly bigger butt and I know that it’s true. It still doesn’t stop me from wishing that number would go down.
If you look at the photo below—you can see that I’m 12 whopping more pounds than I was after the HCG diet—but only 6lbs less than when I was overweight and incredibly unhappy with myself. The difference between the three is insane to me, and proof positive the number on the scale doesn’t mean a thing.
This is not a before and after picture—this is a before and “during” picture. I will always be a work in progress and I will always need to accept and maintain my health and fitness level as a lifestyle. Putting in work at the gym and spending a few hours a week doing meal prep is better than spending 5 seconds swimming in self-loathing.
5 Tips For Upping Your Body Image & Self-Worth
Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satiated. Learn what things are good for your body and what isn’t. Remember food is there to fuel you. You shouldn’t be afraid of eating anything and if you feel like eating something “unhealthy” do it and move on—just don’t binge.
Do Nice Things for Your Body
If you feel like crap after drinking—start cutting down. Make sure you drink enough water. Get massages and pedicures. Do the things that make you feel good and pampered. Your body will love you for it.
Kill Negativity Instantly and Replace with Gratitude
Every time you want to cut yourself down, express something you are grateful for. Instead of “I hate my chubby thighs” try “I’m grateful my legs are strong enough to get me through the day.” Even if it isn’t body-related expressing gratitude instead of negativity will change your outlook and increase your happiness.
Start learning what it feels like to be strong. Work out, learn your body’s limits and push them. Try new things like yoga or paddle boarding. Lift weights. Be amazed by what you are capable of.
Ditch the Scale
It’s fine to weigh yourself but if you are eating healthy and striving towards fitness- that number means nothing. Know and understand this and if you want to “measure” your progress, use photos and the way you fit in your clothes instead.
There are days that I absolutely hate the woman I see in the mirror. I can literally see every flaw and it makes me feel so hopeless. But, I have chosen a path and am running at it full force. Not only am I working hard on my outside but I’ve begin to work hard on the inside as well and love my body for what it is now, not only what I want it to become. I have the power now. I measure my self-worth now—not the scale. I know that I’m not only on the path to the body of my dreams, but to complete self-love, self-worth and self-acceptance.
How do you weigh your self-worth?
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