Health, clarity and compassion

I stumbled upon this blog post tonight, and it got me thinking about my own journey and my love/hate relationship with my body and food for the past 29 years.

This year I’m entering my 30’s, and like the author of this blog, I want to stop being worried about achieving some size 00 and approach my body with “intentions about health, clarity and compassion.”

I might have blogged about my relationship with my body before, but let’s recap in this extremely honest post.

I haven’t always had the healthiest relationship with myself. Growing up, I watched my mom and sister struggle with their own bodies and self-image. I was always looked at as the “lucky” one. The skinny one, who could eat whatever she wanted and never gained an ounce. And I could. Until I was about 18 years old.

Some of it had to do with a boyfriend at the time, who had an affinity for Applebees. So we ate out a lot. and I mean a lot. and I mean Chicken Fried Steak and Mashed Potatoes. and I mean lots of noodle, and rice. and sometimes noodles and rice. and Taco Bell.

My little five foot frame soon held 130 pounds on it. That’s a lot for a short girl, who never broke 100 until turning 18.

I started college overweight. I was on a floor with a lot of bulimic girls my Freshman year. I heard them puking in the bathroom. One friend even had a roommate who would chew her food and spit it into a trashbag instead of swallowing it. I decided not to go that route.

Instead, I decided to restrict my calories. I lived off of rice cakes, and small meals. I started to exercise in our college’s state of the art gym. I hated food and I loved food.

As college progressed, my relationship with food got worse. I remember measuring my Lucky Charms my Senior year, only eating a cup of cereal, and subsisting on that the whole day. I had a good racket going. I would eat when out with friends, or in front of family so they wouldn’t get too worried. But then I would agonize about every calorie. I would weigh myself constantly.

95 pounds wasn’t skinny enough, I wanted to be 90.

Then, I graduated. I entered the real world. And the stress of my first job in PR, in Manhattan, and walking all the time in Manhattan, helped me achieve that 90 pound goal. My thighs didn’t touch. But, when I looked in the mirror, I only saw my flaws. I thought I was fat at 90 pounds, when my hip bones pierced my jeans. When I could count every rib in my body. I was a size 00.

I didn’t start to finally understand health until I ran my half-marathon. That was in 2008. Four years back in Atlanta, and I had gained weight. I was at a healthy weight. I started running. I became strong. I nourished my body with food as fuel. I bid 00 adieu, but I had muscles and abs. I was a runner. Running kept me sane. Running also kept me healthy.

My body has fluctuated since then. In stressful times, I’ve seen myself shrink back down. In happy times, I tend to plump up a little.

In giving up animal products, I feel like I’m finally getting to that true healthy weight. I’m not restricting calories. I’m eating as much as I want. I never feel that uncomfortably full. I always feel satisfied. But the scale holds steady. No big ups. No big downs.

I want to be friends with my body in my 30’s. I want to treat it right. I want to nourish it. But I also want to challenge it. I want to get really good at yoga. I want to master Chatarungas. I want to feel good. I want to approach my diet with health, clarity and compassion in mind. I want to approach life with health, clarity and compassion in mind.




2 thoughts on “Health, clarity and compassion

  1. Great post! I’m taking a yoga class that is also a book club and we’re reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. It’s a great read so far and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read her work. It really deconstructs our issues with food–it’s more about binging but I think anyone who has experienced any kind of disordered eating (ie, most of us) can find something to relate to.

  2. Beautiful post, Rachel. I am in favor of honestly – with ourselves, and with our communities who will support us. I only just found you blog this morning – from looking at my Google Analytics stats, I see you’ve sent a number of referrals – but please know I will support you! I too suffer from body dysmorphia (seeing what isn’t there, and hating it) when I am at my thinnest. And having been the route of eating disorder (I did the same calorie obsession, only with exercise bulimia thrown in there), I now have a goal of just trying to be healthy. This paragraph that begins “In giving up animal products,…” rings especially true for me. This is my size – it might go up a little or down a little, but this is basically it and I need to learn to love it. Thanks for sharing your lovely body-positive thoughts!!

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