|Me, in all my big-hipped glory.|
I don't want to blog about losing weight.
I know you're thinking, uh DUH no one asked you to. But I want to be honest with all of you and share my journey. The emotional journey of setting a goal that seems impossible and working to achieve it.
I love myself and my body. I embrace being a voluptuous woman and I don't want to change that. In fact, I want to be a role model for other women in the hopes that they will learn to accept themselves as beautiful no matter how they feel.
What I want to change is my relationship with food, myself and my body. Ask anyone who has struggled with weight, it is exclusively an emotional struggle above all else. It's never about being really hungry for food, we are hungry for something else - usually a big, ugly, gaping, rotting emotional wound we carry just beneath our exterior. Scratch the surface and there it is like a bad penny that keeps turning up.
Strip away my exterior and you know what's there? A great deal of unresolved emotional issues that I am working to conquer.
But before I get into that, I want to share my story with you a little.
For most of my life, I thought of myself as fat, and therefore inferior. I was a chubby kid who was late to develop, but the struggles of a teenager seeking acceptance and dealing with pain and darkness she didn't know how to cope with turned very quickly into dangerous behavior and a pretty raging eating disorder.
At 14, I moved to a new school that was almost exclusively people that did not look like me and had far more money than I did. I know what you're thinking, waaaah, waaah, but even I forget how young I was then (just four years in double digits - lol, I know that sounds crazy, but think about it.) And if we all think back to our teen years, we'll all remember how everything seemed like the world was ending.
Anyway, at 14 I gained forty pounds in just six months and learned eating habits that would spell a laundry list of struggles I carry even to this day more than a decade later.
Let me be clear, this is MY story alone. A lot of people don't have a problem with food, whether they are thin or fat. But a lot of people (also, both thin and fat) do. Just look around at America. Most of us, on both sides, have a VERY unhealthy relationship with food.
When it comes to pain, some people use drugs, some people use food. It's all the same really: abusing something to the point where it impedes your daily life, your judgment and above all else, your health. In my case, I would self-medicate my teenage woes - which I will spare u deets of -- with carbs, fat, fast food and then an ensuing nap.
As a teen, I slept like crazy. Of course I did ... all I did was gorge, unsuccessfully purge, cry, then sleep away the guilt for three hours. Then I'd wake up and eat more garbage. Then go back to sleep to wake up and repeat the day's behaviors. I graduated high school in a bad physical place. I'm not sure the number and really it doesn't matter. My behaviors were neither happy nor healthy. I had high cholesterol and could barely do any activity. I went from a cross country runner as a freshman to a depressed couch potato senior who cried herself to sleep most nights.
Fast forward to college, where I lost weight. Yes, my eating habits were SO bad as a teenager that the dining hall, beer and pizza caused me to LOSE weight. I started taking somewhat better care of myself emotionally, allowing myself to believe that I was an attractive and worthy person. It's amazing the power that a little self love has. Honestly, THIS is why those who argue against accepting yourself at any size are profoundly flawed. Really, it's only upon accepting who you are, flaws and all, that you can become the BEST version of yourself. In fact, if all women (and men) were allowed the PERMISSION to feel beautiful and worthy no matter how they look, I guarantee that half of the world's health problems would be solved. Be it obesity or otherwise.
I'll get off my soapbox now.
Anyway, at 22, after graduating, I weighed less, but I still wasn't practicing healthy eating habits or working out as I should have been. And I can't say what sparked it, but one day I just decided I wanted to try and change. I knew it was different that time because something in my head was clear. I was at peace with it. And with that, something clicked. I learned how to eat and how to exercise and I lost weight. A lot of weight. Almost seventy pounds to be exact.
|Me, a long time and a lot of pounds ago.|
You see, I THOUGHT that losing weight meant I was cured of the emotional issues. I thought if I was thinner (and therefore beautiful), that meant that i would never have to deal with the darkness inside of me again. I thought I just turned off the switch and BOOM I would be CURED. If my size 8's fit, Jesus himself was going to come down and tell me how great and worthy I was of his love. And duh, I thought that seventy pounds was gone forever.
I was as deluded, broken and wrong as before. But no one seemed to care because I was doing it in smaller pants.
During this time, I was COMPLETELY obsessed with dieting, going from extreme menus of nothing but cauliflower, broccoli and protein shakes to weekends where I lived off McDonalds (counteracted with grueling workouts for several hours at a time.) I tried it all --well known diet pills, cleanses, fasts .. anything to get it off. And guess what? They ALL worked. I didn't care that those diet pills caused me to faint in the middle of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and wake up with two nice university students standing over me yelling to see if I was ok (yea, I'm not sharing all the deets of that story with you until you buy me a beer).
The pills made me vomit and live in a constant state of light-headedness. But who cares, I was getting THIN, y'all! I weighed myself daily. I wrote my calories on napkins and carried photos of my celebrity inspirations in my wallet. I worked out twice, sometimes three times a day. I lived and breathed my weight loss. I relished every single compliment I received from people who were just SO surprised at how GOOD I looked and could I share my secret to success? My secret was that I was a raging lunatic. But it didn't matter because on the outside, I was moving toward what the world SAYS women should look like.
I was hardly better ... I was just what I like to call "differently bad."
I moved back to NJ with my parents in the summer of 2007. At that time I was a great "on-paper" weight and felt and looked fantastic. Removed from the confines of living in my own apartment alone, I was reintroduced to all the things that had caused me to gain in the first place. Within 2 weeks, I had already gained 15 pounds. By December, another 18. By the next June, I had gained nearly 50 pounds back.
And now, I am here, beginning my journey to healthy again. A little older, a little wiser, and, well, a little fatter.
I am now working in my dream field of journalism, trying to work my way toward broadcast. I am also a plus size model who thinks curves are the most beautiful amazing thing a woman possesses.
But understand that all of this does NOT mean that i don't still struggle with the emotional issues that caused me to gain and lose nearly 200 pounds in my lifetime.
Modeling and television are both industries fraught with men and women who carry inside of them a darkness and a narcissism that most refuse to articulate.
Well, I am going to articulate it.
I am here not because I want to be thin. I have been thin and I have been fat and every damn size in between. Trust me, I was never a better person either way. I was always the same old Allie.
I am here because I want to live a good, long and healthy life that inspires others. I am here because I want to teach my future children what it means to be a healthy, active person who is not just self-accepting, but also self-loving. I am here because I am living proof that you can love yourself and your body and still want to be healthy and improve it. I am here because I still abuse myself with unkind words, self deprecation and unhealthy habits. I am here because there are still pains in my heart that if I share them, they will at least not be inside of me any longer.
I am here because if I have these feelings, I know some of you do too.
You don't have to comment on my blog. You don't have to repost my words. Really, you don't even have to read it. I just want to put it out there because so many of YOUR words help, inspire and touch me. And part of my goal in life is to help women and men who have dealt and continue to deal with the issues I stand up today to face.
I'm going to write whatever I feel - uncensored. I am going to open myself up to the ghosts of the web. And I am going to let those wounds be exposed to the air and the elements. And, as is nature's way, even my worst wounds will surely heal.
I've been told God gives all of us our purpose right in front of our faces but most of us never realize it. The other day my pastor looked at me and said, "Al, you want to know how you learn your purpose? Take what has been the biggest, most recurring issue in your heart and in your life and boom, there you have your first step. Whatever it is, decide to talk about it and slowly, your path will be revealed."
I just took the first step.