I'm Tired of Dieting

It was one random afternoon at the doctor’s office when I was in the fifth grade, that basically changed me forever. From this day on, I would never see myself the same. This is the beginning of a never-ending quest to become some perfect version of myself that I could never seem to attain. This is when my life of dieting began. 

I’d always been a very shy and reserved child, too scared to initiate friendships with other kids, but not yet too concerned about if my stomach was flat enough or if my hair looked perfect. I wasn’t necessarily a big kid, but I wasn’t considered skinny either, so I was basically pretty average in terms of weight and body size. I first remember me and my mom being warned by a previous doctor that my weight was a little too high for a child my age (I believe I was in the third or fourth grade at this point). I understood that that was a “bad” thing, but why should I care? I was just a kid; I had better things to do, like catching the latest episode of Hannah Montana. Caring about my weight seemed like an adult problem. 

Then, middle school happened. I think it’s safe to say that all of us experienced some level of insecurity and low self-esteem during these years; in fact; I think it’s almost a requirement to enter puberty. So, what happened in my case? My new doctor broke the news to me and my mom: I was overweight. Fortunately, I was healthy in every other area, but that pesky weight, it had to go. He recommended at least 30 minutes of exercise, as well as eating more fruits and vegetables, and less junk food. My mom and I agreed, and we went on about our day. 

After that appointment, it's as if something completely changed in me. “How could I be overweight?” I thought. I was filled with such shame and embarrassment after that. And thus, my diet journey began. 

This may not surprise you, but I never stayed on a consistent healthy diet. Like most people, I promised to be vigilant about what I ate, and that I wouldn’t eat anything that tasted good until I lost the weight. Until I would cave, and throw Doritos and gummy bears into my mom’s shopping cart at Walmart. And of course, as the years went on, this pattern continued, and I stayed overweight. I hated what I saw in the mirror; I hated myself. My teen years were a constant cycle of self-hatred and low self-esteem. Why couldn’t I look like the popular girls who seemed to just have it all together? Why did my parents curse me with such crappy genes? Why me?

I definitely carried these feelings with me into college as well. I’d managed to lose some weight during my sophomore year of high school, but I had yet to reach my goal; the dieting and self-hatred cycle continued. At this point in my life, I knew I was definitely depressed, and ended up seeking free counseling provided by Youngstown State. A few months after that, I began trying out antidepressants (under the supervision of a doctor, of course). 

To make a long story a bit shorter, I’m doing much better mentally these days. My depression was caused by many other factors besides my body image issues, which I’d be lying about if I said I’d overcame them. I still find myself wanting to cry when I see myself in the mirror when I’m getting dressed, or feeling guilty when I eat a cupcake. For years I’ve been telling myself “I wish I could eat that & not worry about gaining weight” and “when I lose this weight, then I’ll be able to eat whatever I want like everyone else”. I’m finally realizing that this is such a toxic mindset. Slowly but surely, I’m finding balance in what I eat. This year I decided to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet, and I feel like it’s made me healthier and more conscious of what I put into my body. This isn’t me trying to guilt anyone into going vegan, it’s just been something that has made me feel better about what I eat, and ironically, I feel less restrictive about what I eat as well. But like the title of this article says, I’m tired of dieting. women with different body types Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

I no longer want to restrict myself from eating yummy foods in order to become what society deems “acceptable”. I no longer want to hate myself into becoming skinny. I no longer want to compare myself to other women who look “perfect”. I no longer want to be a slave to a number on the scale. I still have weight that I want to lose, and I’ll get there, with a balanced diet and exercise. I’m still a work in progress as far as my thoughts surrounding my body image go, but I’m learning every day that there’s so much more to life than just trying to lose weight all the time and that I’m good enough how I am. Self-love is such a foreign concept for a lot of us, but it’s ultimately so worth it.