Looking through my timeline, I noticed the mass amounts of health professionals advertising about getting your “beach body ready” for summer as here in NYC, it is about that time… again. Tons of images portraying “fit,” tall models with lean bodies, abs, muscles, gaps between their legs, flowing hair blowing in the wind as they skip through the sand and jump into the ocean waves, looking all chipper, happy and carefree leaving most feeling guilty, bummed, picking apart how they look and how they want to look “skinny” and “fit” … all I can do I smirk and roll my eyes. If it’s not about getting fit for the New Year, then it’s getting fit for the summer time. It’s one or the other. But this, this really just got to me and sparked something in my soul to write about and put my own personal perspective hoping you too, can relate.
Growing up, I battled low self-esteem and felt super self-conscious about my body. I was a short, thick, curvy teen, but all I saw around me at school were “skinny” girls, all I saw on TV, were “skinny” girls and all I remember hearing peers around me talk about well, was being “skinny”! So, naturally, this got to me and I felt I had to be a “skinny girl” to feel accepted because this to me was the norm. I didn’t appreciate my body type because I didn’t know how to. I was a young, impressionable teen who was teased at in school, by both girls and boys and even by people I called friends, about my thick thighs, big hips and big butt not knowing how truly blessed I was to have those features. If only I knew then what I know now.
Having tried and failed so many different weight loss diets and strategies as advertised on TV, in magazines and everywhere, as a teen, would look to for answers, I ended up causing severe damage to my body. From endless (poorly performed) crunches and exercises to flatten my belly, taking diet pills to only have heart palpitations and basically starving myself silly, I realized it didn’t work and I was only feeling weaker and more depressed. These were uninformed, short term attempts at looking skinny so I may feel better about myself when, little did I know, it would not work if I didn’t learn to love and accept myself first, then proceed to IMPROVE on the things I could be better at. Learning this took years! It took looking deep into my heart and soul at who I am, who I truly wanted to be and who I was meant to be. It took asking myself, “why did I even want to be skinny? To fit in? Why did it matter so much?” But looking back, it was because of peer pressure, but why? The media! Not saying it’s all the media’s fault, but most of the way we do, say and act out things, is due to what we constantly are surrounded and exposed to- the media! TV, magazines, the radio, and now, it’s social media, which is probably the worst of all! Constantly in our face with all these subliminal ads manipulating us into thinking this is what is right for us and we must conform if we want to be loved and accepted!
Looking skinny was not who I am and who I was destined to be; loving myself and being healthy were. Struggling with self-esteem and poor body image were causing such chaos and stress on my body, mind and soul. Starvation then binging, obsessively exercising all while having nothing but negative thoughts run through my mind, all took a toll of my whole system to the point I was becoming very sick and depressed and making me question, is it really worth my health? This was my wake up call. It meant more to me to be healthy rather than to be skinny, and this is when I decided to do something about it. I started speaking to my mother about it, I started to express my feelings, and I started to seek out proper education and guidance about healthy eating and healthy exercising. My mom taught me a lot about food as medicine and even tried to guide me to love self but it took my own personal experiences and many ups and downs throughout the course of my life, to learn. My journey started then but still continues on, even now in the present day.
At this moment I can openly say, I love myself, I love my body, I love my curves, I love my imperfections, I love who I am and who I’ve become and who I continue to be. Of course I have moments where I feel I can do better, maybe tighten up some areas because I want to feel stronger, healthier, all while looking good for myself because I love myself enough to respect it as it’s our only place to live and you want to be happy where you live, right? It’s also okay to have these type of moments where you say you want to make improvements as I like to call it, it’s okay to want to feel and look a certain way as long as we understand the purpose is to truly do it for yourself, in a loving, positive way to make you better. Not placing so much stress and pressure on yourself to just snap your fingers and boom, arrive at your goal! Because it didn’t and doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time and continues on indefinitely, because we are constantly growing and learning. As we grow, we have to make that conscious decision to work on loving and bettering ourselves first before we let other’s influence who we are. Then can we truly not feel a certain type of way when we are surrounded by things that want to tell us or make us feel different. It took me to be at my lowest to rise up and be at my highest. It took making the choice and being ready to make the change I wanted to see within myself, to learn that I don’t have to be skinny, I don’t have to fit into what some think is the norm. This is one of the reasons I became a fitness trainer and dietitian, to help and properly guide those, like myself, to feel comfortable in their own skin first.
Find what truly will makes YOU happy and not just for satisfying others . Make a change when you feel like you need to do something empowering within and outside, of your SELF. Create healthy, realistic goals remembering it’s for the right reasons. Maybe you want to become stronger, leaner, maintain your curves or even add on some curves, lose beneficial weight, because whatever the reason may be, just make sure you do it because it’s going to better YOU, it’s going to uplift, add confidence and not make you feel stressed, depressed and unhealthy. There is no universal rule for what everyone should look like. Being skinny doesn’t always equal being healthy. Everyone is unique in their own ways, this is why all these advertisements about diets, magic pills, shakes, drinks, powders, foods, supplements, workout gear, exercise programs and the list goes on, don’t always work because if they did, we ALL would have achieved the same goal! It’s an individualized process; it takes love, experience, guidance, willingness to achieve your goals. No one was born knowing everything. It comes through being taught, seeing out knowledge, asking questions, educating yourself, having experiences, meeting and connecting with others who’ve been through what you’ve been through, listening to your body, mind and soul and working out a life’s plan that’s right for you, and continually tweaking it as you go on your journey to loving yourself and loving the skin you’re in.