Last updated on April 21, 2021
TW: Eating Disorders + Trauma
Weight. This is a topic that I will revisit often. This is a story of overcoming fear.
I’ve spent my whole life never disclosing my weight. I would always sidestep the issue unless at a doctor’s office when I was to face the music with healthcare professionals. The clanking sound of the sliding weights inching farther to the right than I wanted, resembled nails on a chalkboard more than a melody. My blood pressure would be through the roof, and usually had to be taken twice because I’d damn near have a heart attack before stepping on the scale. By the end of the visit, my heart rate would drop significantly to a much more plausible number – an indication from the staff that I was NOT hypertensive, but was in fact, “just a ball of nerves”.
Outside of those visits, on my scale at home, I obsessed over what the arrow pointed at. It was not unusual for me to weigh myself multiple times a day. Either breathing a sigh of relief as the number went down or swallowing back tears when it moved up. The repetitive weigh ins were so mentally draining that I was forced to let the habit go. Saying that if I was able to just stop paying attention to it, at some point I wouldn’t care about what size I was. I would closet the scale, stop picking out the flaws, stop poking at the squishy parts, and bury down my anxieties. Those moments were blissful, but very short lived when I would cave and put the scale back on the bathroom floor. Kept under lock and key, I’d jot down the number in one of the copious fitness journals I had started but would never finish; never to be seen by a second set of eyes.
Fact is, I was embarrassed to address my issues. Growing up, there was a lot of instability in my homelife. Around the age of 13, regulating my weight was difficult for me to do, and would become a huge source of my anxiety and anger. So, instead of seeking help with what I was struggling with, the cheaper and easier option was to put blinders on. In retrospect, I know now puberty and physical maturity occurs at different ages, and it happened to be much later in life for me. At the time however, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t look the way that other girls did.
Feeling outcast and upset with the disparities, I constantly compared myself to my classmates and adult women in magazines and television. Without knowledge, resources, and having an unrealistic expectation in mind, I developed eating disorders.
I allowed other people to dictate how I should view my own body and saw it as everything it wasn’t instead of everything that it is. I mourned the unrequited love that my body held for me and refused to acknowledge an ounce of it.The strength she emitted was viewed as inadequate and shelved. Shoving down quick fixes, deregulating my appetite, and displacing my nutrition caused long term mental damage. Nothing was ever good enough and instead of showing kindness, understanding, and appreciation to myself, I curb stomped the hell outta her.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time resenting my body in the most abusive ways. But storm clouds roll thunder, as they too, roll past. In trying to mutate my body and make it something it’s not, I never stopped and told her that I loved her as well. After years of screaming hateful comments at myself, I realized I never said one positive thing to her without doubling down on two negative things to go along with it. I used to create internal monologues wishing I was someone else, but all the while she was within me. When I realized this, it blew my mind. And when the shock resided, I wept softly.
I decided from then on to do better. You can’t continue to repeat the same actions and expect a different outcome. This time, my weight loss was focused on reshaping my mind instead of “fixing” my shape. Positive affirmations became my prayer and I would speak things I loved about me instead of what I hated. I unfollowed every fake workout influencer on instagram who represented everything I didn’t want to be. I replaced them with accounts that focused on the mental fortitude, strength and conditioning, and self love. When I started to go down the unbalanced negative path that my trauma always led me to, I was able to cope. I sought help to realign my hormones and readjusted my lifestyle. I still have intense moments of frustration and I handle my demons every day. I’m not perfect, I have a long way to go. But this my body; and it’s the only one I have and it’s strong as hell. Strong enough to somehow endure physical combat for enjoyment.
By the time I began Muay Thai, I was 165lbs. I had lost my first 25 pounds by diet and exercise (and spite…. a whole lotta spite). Jogging and machines at the gym were becoming less interesting and I eventually became stagnant in my routine. So, on a Thursday afternoon, after years of nagging from my roommate, I went to a trial class. Trial is an accurate description because I felt like I had to go on stand and testify for a crime I did not commit. I was terrified to go in. As I signed my name on the check-in list, the familiar, overwhelming feeling of sinking into self doubt began to creep in and make itself known.
Sure, I was active, but this was not the same thing. Once again, I began to panic about what people would think of me. “What if I couldn’t keep up in the class?” or “can I even get through the warm up?” “What if I look stupid and people laugh at me?” As I sat in the locker room, heart rate in the hyperstensive category yet again, I took a deep breath.I reminded myself, “I’m only human, and if I can’t do it, so what? It’s better to try than to give up before you even start”. With some reassurance by a friendly stranger that I could do this, I walked out of that locker room onto the mat.
What I didn’t take into account however, was the question ‘what if I enjoy it?’. I was so wrapped up in fear of the unknown that I forgot to think “what would happen if I had fun?”. I set my expectations to just get through the class, never knowing that 3 years later I would be writing it all down. Did I look stupid? Yes, absolutely, but I stuck with it. Eventually, day by day, small step by small step, I managed to look a little less stupid. Little did I know I would be enjoying it as much as I had the first day, and now very close friends with that stranger in the locker room.
Muay Thai made such a profound impact on my mental and physical well being that in a light, casual conversation with some training partners, huddled around the ring post-class, I uttered my weight aloud for the first time by sheer. total. accident.
We had been discussing weight brackets for my friend’s up and coming fight. He had a rough few pounds to gain in order to get to his fight weight, and in the throes of exchange, I said that my goal was to go from 165 to 140lbs. Looking back, I poker faced the fuck out of that moment, because I had extreme terror coursing inside of me. I had made it my life’s mission to never tell anyone what my weight was and what I wanted it to be. My unspoken nightmare had just come to fruition, and by the time I realized that I said it, I couldn’t take it back. I braced for what I had expected to be ridicule or a look of shock from my peers with their newfound knowledge, but it never came. The only thing that followed my statement from those around me was a nonchalant head nod, “nice”, and “that’s cool” and then moved onto other people’s goal weights and continued our discussion
I couldn’t believe it. My biggest fear, the size of an ocean liner on a lake, wasn’t even a minnow on their radar. I had inadvertently conquered my tallest mental hurdle with the calmness of a cucumber on a 100% complete fluke. I was so elated, I spent the next week telling anyone who asked how my workouts were going what my weight milestones were with elevated pride. By stating aloud what my goal was, a new fire was ignited within me. I worked my ass off (literally) to stabilize my psyche and physical form. I got into the best shape of my life and managed to bring down my compulsive weight checking to once or twice a week, only in the mornings. Throughout quarantine, I now sit comfortably in the 130’s – 140’s. Post-lockdown I will be fighting my first fight at 120lbs, a number I never thought possible.
Don’t be fooled. I am sharing my own journey as a means to mutually trust each other and to encourage you on your path. Any progress is good progress. Whatever feeling you may have about those numbers, remember, they are just numbers. Everybody and every body is different. It has taken me up until now to learn to love myself – to be happy with who I am and what I look like. To be proud of what my body and mind can do. Knowing that whatever the digits on the scale come out to be does not define me. They do not define what kind of friend I can be, how much my significant other cares about me, my capabilities, my education, my happiness, how beautiful I am, or what I wear. I am enough.
Nothing beats feeling complete and total confidence in my own skin. It doesn’t come from diet pills, makeup, comparing yourself to others, or letting the fear of what could happen stand in your way. It starts with adjusting your mind and habits, seeking help and support from those around you, and the courage to face the unknown that will eventually domino the rest into place. Don’t worry about what other people think or how they view you, that’s none of your business. Embrace yourself and know that you can always try, and try again. Sky’s the limit.
Thank you for reading!