I’m twenty-eight years old, five feet five inches tall and I weigh 230 pounds. I’m classified as obese. When I look at myself, a lot of the time I’m mortified at how I got here, but more than anything I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that I look this way because of the line of work I’m going into, nutrition. What is even nutritionally good about how my body looks at this point? I am one of these individuals, like many that have it engrained in their brains, that if you’re not skinny enough you must not be the healthiest. But that’s far from the truth.
I completed my bachelor’s program in Food Science and Nutrition at Central Washington University this summer. I have learned so much from the way diet culture is perceived by many through social media to how important it is that we teach the future, our kids, how to properly eat and listen to their bodies. I look at a lot of my peers and cannot help but put myself down and make awful comparisons: the “she’s skinny, athletic and eats all the right things”. It’s constant beatdowns in my mind towards myself. I look at so many dietitians in the workforce and peers in my major and they all fit this tiny box of being skinny, athletic, or both. I question myself all the time, who’s going to take the fat diabetic girl’s advice?
The whole reason I got into this major is because of my illness. Being a type one diabetic for almost twenty-two years now; I wanted to make a difference. Helping others has come easily to me. so giving back in the form of education and resources was huge. My ultimate goal is to be a diabetes educator for pediatric patients. This means currently completing my Master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition, going through a dietetic internship, then hopefully taking another internship later on specifically for diabetes education.
Weight was something I had recently started struggling with over the past few years. I think a lot of people can sympathize with me on this that the pandemic took it out of them. I was going to the gym regularly at my community college, on track to lose weight at a healthy rate to look great in my bridesmaid’s dress at my best friend’s wedding. Suddenly, COVID changed everything, my attitude toward food and my mental state. It took a toll to the point I was using food more as a coping mechanism than I did in the past. I would find myself not being active, wanting to sleep most of the day and eating whatever and whenever I wanted. I felt like I was digging myself a huge hole, that I’m not certain is reflected in my future career.
Food has always been a passion for me. I love to cook, come up with meal plans for the week for my boyfriend and I and even host events. Food is a love language for me and I feel like I can communicate well through my cooking skills. I feel like sometimes I make and eat a lot of the right things but I don’t balance things right like I should with physical activity. I make excuses like “I’m tired”, “I have a paper due tonight” and the fan-favorite “tomorrow for sure”. Motivation has been such a difficult thing to get back and I’m not sure how I get back to that place of having so much of it.
The hardest struggle I face every day when I’m sitting in classes, whether it’s being the student or the grad assistant, is whether I am a walking joke. My friends and loved ones say no, but it is hard to believe when I am telling others one thing and my body does not reflect what I am interpreting to others. The biggest thing I should realize as a nutrition major is body types are different and we are constantly a work in progress. Just because you’re not looking like a supermodel or a celebrity doesn’t mean you don’t have the right body type that fits the perfectionist mold. Body types are evolving and for now, I consider mine a work in progress. I want to take in all the things I’ve learned to not only better myself but better others, so they know that they are not alone in the difficult world of body shame and body expectations that are far from existence.