This is my personal story. Even though I am writing this to give you some perspective on self-love, I have not always been the greatest at accepting my own body. I was never the skinny one at school, I had a great love for food, and did not care about what I put into my body. I had a lot of ups and downs with my body shape; creating a healthy relationship with food has taken years for me. So here is my story, how I overcome my struggles to not to be perfect all the time, not to let my soul deprive under the pressure around us to be “skinny” all the time. Who makes these rules anyway? Every women—every body type—is beautiful and unique. By sharing my own journey to self-love, I hope I could give you guys some perspective on being totally in peace with our beautiful bodies.
Ever since my childhood, I had a profound relationship with food. I love eating, I still do, but back then I did not have any balance, rather ate everything I wanted, not caring about the ingredients or nutrition. By the time I was 16, I realized that I was not happy with how I looked, tried to cover my thighs with longer shirts, but still ate unhealthily despite my dream to be skinnier. I thought that being skinny was the ultimate goal. I did not understand that not everybody type could be the same, some people lose weight from the legs, some from the upper body. Also, I only focused on losing weight by eating less, depriving myself of all the necessary vitamins and nutrition, just starving and waiting for the scale to show my “efforts”.
Working out was not a part of the process then. My mother led the way to me to consult a doctor and find my way to becoming healthier. By questioning my relationship to food, I found out that except for my passion for good food, I sometimes ate my emotions. Whenever I was stressed, a jar of Nutella would end up with me. Also, the fact that industrial world is no longer caring about producing high-quality food, I filled up my body with empty, unnecessary junk food all the time. They were my “key” to happiness in my mind, however that state of joy lasted only for a couple of hours. Later, I would regret and say to myself in front of a mirror that I was not beautiful, or not thin enough. Deep inside, I knew that I was that negative to myself because of all the social pressure that still keeps going on around us.
Today’s world pushes women to always look “better,” as if better means being the exact same size all the time. A smaller number on the scale does not mean that you are one hundred percent healthy, it is only a number. Could a number define our lives? While going through all these thoughts, I did research a lot to find a healthy eating routine that would make me happy. My family has always been health-conscious and I was the odd one out. I rediscovered the amazing taste of vegetables and fruits and created a healthy diet based on balance. I never put my eating habits into labels; I am not a vegan, not gluten or dairy-free. I always keep in mind that, if one day I consume more of a group of food like red meat, the other day I try to eat more green vegetables for my body to balance itself. I lost almost 35 pounds in 1.5 years by incorporating fitness, cardio, and pilates into my life. I know that 1.5 years might sound long for some of you out there, but believe me the time does not matter, what matters is that you have a goal and it will eventually happen. I did not aim for perfection, but to get a little better every day and always believed in true power. It is a journey, a journey to accept my body, see the change, be happy with it, and find my inner peace.
Now, when I look back, I think that I could have had much more fun in my teenage life instead of looking into the magazines and thinking that I should be like one of those really skinny girls. Stopping the negative self-perspective is the first step in learning to appreciate who you really are. It is not easy to reach to this perspective; it takes time, dedication, and lots of faith in ourselves. I became a young woman who still loves eating, not in a junk food way, but with real food, even though it is sometimes pasta or pizza. I don’t restrict myself to constantly eat healthily, but balance 80% healthy food with 20% what my body craves. I also love working out and being active all the time, it is one of the best things that I do for my body and mind. The most important of them all, I no longer care about numbers, labels, or others. I care about my own body, mind, and health. Being healthy is the most precious gift, I love what I see in the mirror, even though sometimes I could be bloated, or a couple of pounds heavier. I no longer look into the mirror and talk to myself about how I look. Rather, I trust and listen to my body, and embrace all my uniqueness.
When I think about my journey, I realized that I used the word ‘should’ a lot. As in, ‘I should be thinner’ or ‘I should lose 10 pounds this fast’ But whose ‘should’ is that? With whose rules was I measuring myself? Our culture’s? My friends? My parents? I thought that if I focused on that “should,” it would lead me toward my goals. Today, I no longer fix my mind with such pre-determined, so-called “rules”. But rather I try to understand that in the end, I need to decide if it is something I want to do or something I do to make others happy. It is your OWN happiness that matters. Your OWN sake of mind. Your OWN peace with your unique body type. No matter what happens, no matter how many times you fall down, if you can keep the bigger picture in mind, it will help you put your successes and failures into perspective, and realize that beauty is not just defined by physical looks, but it actually lies within our hearts and soul. There are not any labels that define beauty. Being kind to ourselves is helpful to understand that this very body that we have with its curves, scars, marks, aches, and pleasures is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully alive and fully peaceful. Happiness is not related to size, it is related to the ability to accept every element of our body—and never be ashamed of it, keeping our head up high all the time. Love yourself unconditionally. Love yourself despite what others say or except. Love yourself with all the parts of your body, it is who you are. Let your mind, body, and soul always be in accord.