Throughout high school I never considered myself to be thin, no matter how many times my mom tried to convince me in the dressing room while prom dress shopping (bless her heart). The truth is, my weight fluctuated a lot during high school. Not so dramatically where I felt like others were noticing or talking about it, but enough that I could tell and my self-confidence would be impacted because of it.
It was not until my senior year that I really started to workout frequently outside of my regular sports practices. I would wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. some days just to be able to squeeze in a good workout before school and on top of that, I would have cross country or softball practice after school. I was eating insanely healthy, rarely letting myself have sweets (which, if you know me, I have the biggest sweet tooth).
Now, I was definitely being overly restrictive about the way I approached fitness my senior year, but it did teach me a lot about the gym, my body and also about my mental health. I learned that I feel so much better after a workout. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. Even today, when I find myself slipping into that seasonal depression and getting crabby with everyone I talk to, I force myself to get up, move my body in any way, whether it is just a stretch, walk on the elliptical or a sweaty HIIT workout.
I also discovered that a lot of my low self-esteem stemmed from comparison, like most people’s does. I was following influencers on Instagram who had a completely different body type than my own, constantly wishing I could be just as thin or as fit as them. I now follow women who not only have the same fitness goals as I do but also who spread positivity and emphasize the reality that Instagram is fake. My favorite quote is by Mik Zazon, an influencer I follow who reminds her followers daily to love their bodies for what they do and to “normalize normal bodies.”
Do not get me wrong, I still catch myself doing that nasty comparison thing when scrolling through someone’s account every now and then, but I am able to recognize that and affirm myself of who I am and that I am also beautiful.
I think the biggest thing that I have learned in the past few years about loving and accepting my body is that it is important to move my body and workout because it makes me feel good, NOT because I am punishing myself for eating ice cream last night or because I am trying to reach a certain weight.
Overall, I have come such a long way from counting every single calorie and waking up before the sun and I am so proud of myself for that. Everyone’s journey to self-love is different and in my case, I still have to affirm myself daily that the weight on the scale does not define me but I also know that all bodies are beautiful including mine and it is what is on the inside that truly matters most.