How Weightlifting Changed My Body Image for the Better

I was never really satisfied with the way I looked.

I grew up with an older sister who finish an entire package of Oreos by herself, eat as much chocolate as she wanted and consume crazy amounts of junk food, yet consistently stay the same weight and look thinner than ever.

It wasn’t fair to methenand, quite frankly, it still isn’t fair to me now.

But, what I’ve come to realize is that I can’t change her body. I have no control over her size, or what food she puts in her mouth, or how it might be so unfair that she can still look this way when she doesn’t consider her health in the process.

What I’ve also come to realize is that while I can’t change any of those things, I can change the way I view my own body.

College has done a lot of things for me. But one of the most important things it has done was open up numerous doors for me, allowing me to expand my horizons beyond just standing in front of a mirror judging myself for the way I look, when I know I should love every ounce of my body.

The University of Florida includes access to fully equipped gyms that all students have access to. This was where I learned new ways to challenge my body and mind to get into the best shape I could possibly be.

I started with losing five pounds, then I increased to ten and eventually made my way up the ranks and started using the squat rack.

I didn’t see it as a means of getting smaller-- I saw it as a challenge.

There’s no better feeling than sweat dripping down your body while pushing your body to the maximum limit during a set on a machine. Or, maybe that’s just me.

Every workout I had moving forward led to my repetitions and the amount of weight I lifted increasing. I was on a high, and I loved it.

This led to me realizing that in order for me to improve my strength, I needed to fuel my body correctly.

I switched white bread to whole grain, increased my vegetable intake and downed water as much as I could.

Similar to that of an engine of a car, the correct “fuel” makes it run smoother.

The gym made me happier. 

I didn’t always check my figure in the mirror to see if I put on pounds.

I didn’t step on the scale daily.

I was more focused in my classes, enjoyed taking longer walks and slept better at night.

I didn’t even realize the physical changes to my body until friends pointed out how toned I became over the past months. 

It’s because the way I looked wasn’t a priority anymore, rather it was the way I felt.

The gym isn’t a tool to get skinny or diet. In fact, the gym isn’t the only secret to losing weight or getting smaller.

Eating the right food and maintaing the best exercise routine are how I keep my sanity, my happiness and my drive.

Because in order to look one’s best, one must feel their best.

Push yourself to your limits and create a reason to improve your body each and every day.

Don’t focus on the outer appearances. I promise, they don’t matter as much as you think. Start focusing on how to make yourself happier from within.

Because now, I’m not okay with the way I look — I love the way I look.

Physical changes won’t appear until a mental change is made.