I never wanted to lose weight.
It happened unintentionally about 2 years ago when I decided to limit the amount of sugar and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables I was eating.
With the pandemic keeping most of the country on strict lockdown restrictions, I cooked more meals at home. It was the perfect opportunity for me to learn a new skill and feel healthier. It was never about looks — until the world opened back up and I decided to put my jeans on after almost 5 months in quarantine.
The jeans I had been wearing for years no longer fit me the way they used to. It was surreal feeling the space in the pants where my thighs used to fill. In all of my high school and early college years, I never really thought too much about my weight. I can’t recall ever feeling “too big” or “too small.” I was just me.
But as I stared at myself in the mirror in those jeans, I couldn’t help but feel different. I felt new.
It turns out I ended up unintentionally losing 20 pounds.
During the whole period of time I had changed my eating habits, I never once weighed myself. I had done it once, months before the pandemic, but never since. When I saw my new weight on the scale, I was in shock. There was now a number to define and explain the changes I went through.
I didn’t fixate on my weight loss until I received comments on my weight from other people. Friends I hadn’t seen in a while told me I looked great. It felt like I got more compliments from strangers than ever before. I started to relish in (what seemed like) this newfound sense of confidence in myself.
With this “confidence,” came the agonizing pressure to maintain my new image that everyone around me seemed to value so much. That’s when things took an unhealthy turn.
I no longer ate for nutritional value. My diet was now centered around numbers. I was constantly jumping from eating to feeling ashamed of what I ate, especially if it was something my number-oriented brain considered unhealthy. This new pattern caused me to go down another pants size. I was excited about that for a while, until I overheard a comment from a few of my family members saying that I looked “too skinny.”
That was the moment I realized that my obsession with maintaining my new size was causing me more harm than good. How could I be happy if my self-confidence relied on the opinions and judgements of those around me?
I realized I had been obsessing over how I looked instead of how I felt. For a while I didn’t view myself holistically. I treated myself as just a body and neglected the parts of myself that needed love and attention. I realized that in many ways, I had put myself in stressful environments that were hindering my health.
I have since learned the difference between judgmental eating and mindful eating. I listen to my body, rather than judge its needs based on numbers on a scale or on a size chart. I choose to love myself and my body along every step of my journey, no matter how I may look on the outside.