Hello! It has been a while. Summer is officially in full swing and I am staying home with my awesome family and taking the summer off to focus on me, i.e., writing my second novel, reading a bunch great novels that school work wouldn’t let me, working on my undergraduate thesis and trying to make working out a lifestyle instead of a chore. Still. I started trying to make the healthier lifestyle choice earlier this year in January, and I am still struggling with it as June approaches. And that is okay, because I have faith that I will get there.
I haven’t been home for too long, but the past few days, I have been kinda down on myself. I have absolutely abhorred walking past anything that managed a reflection, I was eating a large bowl of ice cream for a snack every night (and then some) and was struggling to work out at all. And it isn’t like I don’t have the time: time I have so much of when I am used to having so little, half the time I am overwhelmed with the options of what to do in order to fill it. Yet I struggle to get up in the morning and actually work out, which was one of my major goals this summer. And because I have been having a slight slump and not working out as much, I can’t even bear to look at myself and have just been feeling like shit about my body. And I was struggling of figuring out why, especially when I *want* this so badly.
Maybe it is because, even though working out and eating right have been at the forefront of my mind all semester, I am at the heaviest that I have ever been and that is depressing as hell. Maybe because, since I live in a society where everything is expected to happen quicker than a blink of an eye, I unconsciously expect (even though it is irrational) that after running once after not running in almost a year, I should lose ten pounds immediately — because that is the type of society we live in today and one that I have grown up in; we expect everything now, we expect everything to come easily, efficiently and exactly how we want it. We aren’t used to having to *work* for some things anymore. Weight-loss is no exception to this. With so many instant dieting pills and programs, people just expect to be able to pop a pill, eat a pizza, drink a beer and get abs. But it doesn’t work like that. Nor, do I think, should it.
But after contemplating it a bit (consequently, while I was running for the second time this week; leggo), I realized that while it is a combination of everything I just mentioned above, I know the true reason I have been hating on myself so much this week; this sudden backtrack into self-loathing is a product of a mindset that I grew up learning to have: one that equates self-worth with body image. In my mind, if you placed me beside other women who are the same as me in every aspect except for weight, placing me beside a woman who was fit and a woman who was just naturally skinny, I would think that their *value* as people automatically increased in comparison to mine, simply because they are beautiful; knowing nothing else about them, about their character, their past, their hopes or their dreams, I would automatically think them better than me, simply because their body is formed in a more appealing way than I believe mine is.
How f-ed up is that?
I have believed this ever since I was in middle school. The popular girls in school (though being popular is not always something to aspire to, something I quickly learned) were all skinny. One of the main topics that I experienced with bullying was associated with appearance, often weight. Some of the jobs that make the most money in the world, .e.g, athletics and movie stars, usually require you to be fit and skinny in order to excel in them. The best actresses are skinny. And those who aren’t are quickly ridiculed for their appearance, which brings up another point: with social media taking over the world, it is so easy to hide behind the keys of a message board and give your opinion about *anything* for the world to read. Sometimes this is an awesome thing — I am able to keep in touch with two of my good friends in Great Britain thanks to social media, write this blog and give my own opinions for people to agree with or disagree with, waste hours on Pinterest because it is awesome — but this also enables people to be ridiculed and hurt easier than ever before; appearance is not immune to this type of cyber violence, as not only can we connect and reach people easier, but it is also harder to stay out of everyone’s lives once you are in the spotlight.
I think that it is completely messed up to associate self-worth with your appearance, especially comparing it to the ridiculous standards that society puts in place, yet it is something that I have unconsciously done for a long time. And I hate that our society spreads this silly standard, yet doesn’t do anything to help encourage positive self-image awareness. Personally, I believe that every person is beautiful and valued, no matter what their body type is, but not every person is healthy. There is a difference between beauty and health, I think. There is definitely a difference between value and being healthy. Yet another interesting thing is, if I found another person who was 195 pounds (which is what I weigh; and that makes me vomit to write out and actually let people know, because I fear judgment and I fear what people will do with that knowledge ((just another side affect of this society)), but I think that by being this vulnerable and open is an important step to actually making this lifestyle change for the healthier; so, there you go), I would still honestly believe that they were a beautiful person, who should have self-esteem and self-worth, instead of being afraid of mirrors, hateful of pictures and unable to take selfies (although honestly, a few less selfies in the world is not a bad thing) because they don’t like what the camera captures. Yet towards myself, I am quite hypocritcial on that front: I value myself less than I do others, even if I was looking at an exact replica of me in someone else. Not sure where those intense standards came from, but alas, they are here.
What I discovered, thinking about all of this, is that getting healthy is not only about working out consistently, but also very much about what you eat; but even more, it is about training your mind. And that is the hurdle that I still haven’t overcome yet, and what is holding me back. I have let society shape my brain to view myself in such a negative light, that unconsciously, I refuse to work out or even try because I am so depressed that I let myself because this way in the first place (when, in reality, though I may weigh 195, I don’t think I actually look like I weigh that much; and genetics always come into play, which I think people forget; I have really great, strong calves ((thanks KU!)) but you can’t tell because I inherited thicker calves from my Dad’s side of the family; no amount of working out can help that; just something that can happen that I think people forgot about it). So I write this not only to complain of how society has made us think less of ourselves and our bodies, but also as calling for a favor from all of you. I want to have a healthier lifestyle, so I am going to work out more and eat healthier, but I am also going to try and change the mindset that society has given me, to this: to love myself no matter what, to stop comparing myself to others, and to always work on bettering myself. Because if I do that, them I don’t think I would ever have a reason to feel as shitty about myself — especially so uncalled for — as I did this week. So hold me accountable and lets break this horrible mindset that the 21st century sometimes helps us create!