So, I know I post the odd thing about positive body image, but I usually neglect the diet/exercise aspect of being healthy to accompany my rants about having a positive body image. So here you go. Prepare yourself. There are confessions and disgusting details.
Where to start… I suppose I should start at the relative beginning.
I was a very skinny child.
I was recently looking through family photo albums, yes people over the age of 18 will know what those things are. (I’m sorry. I’ve just been coming to terms with how much technology is changing aspects of family life.) So I saw some pictures of myself from when I was around 8-10, and I realized how terrifyingly skinny I was. I mean, I actually looked like I might have escaped from a concentration camp. I looked starved and malnourished. This is because I was dancing competitively and had class for about 3 hours a night including weekends. That’s a hell of a lot of exercise for anyone. Let alone someone who was growing crazy tall and also about to go through puberty.
Spoiler, the next few years were about to get awkward.
Due to some family politics and other factors, I stopped dancing. But I kept eating like I was dancing. It wasn’t that big of a deal because I was growing really tall still and had the metabolism of a squirrel. So fast forward, I started to get a little pudgy, but grew and the pudge sort of disappeared, then I put on some more weight, and I grew some more and it was all fine. Mostly because I was 13 years old, moderately active, and nowhere near overweight. I maintain that during puberty you should take into consideration how much your hormones will fuck with your weight. Having said that, keep an eye on your diet. What’s the carb to protein ratio on your packaged food? Pretty high? Pretty low?
Anyway, around this time I was starting to form my own ideas of what was attractive. This process was not at all aided by the fact that tabloids were starting to get really big. I also didn’t really understand that there was a difference in frame size. I didn’t realize that your literal hips- like the bones- could vary from woman to woman. I figured the size variation was due to the amount of fat around the hips, and if you were a bigger size, you were just fatter.
facepalm younger self. I also was being constantly reminded, mostly in a positive sense of how skinny I was. I was maintaining very similar weight to my pubescent counterparts while being at least 6 inches taller than them. Everyone was jealous of me because I was so much skinnier than me.
Now, this is the bad part. My folks were going through an awkward time, so my pubescent years were spent mostly “self soothing” if you will. It was a sort of hands off parenting approach, so my diet was um… well, it was off. I ate all the sugar, fattening, processed things I wanted to, because my parents weren’t really around to tell me no, and teach me things about proper nutrition. Even today their diets are “off,” so even if they had been around, I doubt it would have been great advice they were giving me.
So fast forward to the part you knew was coming. My metabolism slowed down a bit. Not crazy slow where I became a whale, but I certainly felt like it at the time. My body was still adjusting to post puberty size/shape and I was not into what I was turning into. You must understand that I thought I would be rail thin all my life. For those of you who don’t know what I look like, I’m 6’ tall and right now weigh about 170 lbs. Weighing that much still freaks me out a little. Who am I kidding, I’m freaked out a lot. AH! I’m jumping ahead of myself. So I was skinny skinny, and then puberty happened, and my body started transitioning into what it is now. I have been the same height since puberty (so 6’), but I’ve put on 50-60 lbs. Throughout high school I was still pretty slender, but I had huge birthing hips, I was constantly worried about them, and just really self-conscious, because I was still of the mentality that bigger sizes meant fatter, not just
bigger. Again, facepalm younger self. None of this was helped by the fact that I had terrible self esteem in high school. Not that surprising because HIGH SCHOOL GIRL. So, there I was tall, still pretty skinny by how today’s standards ( I mean in comparison to myself), scrounging for dates to dances and not dating anyone at all. This perceived problem has a lot more to do with choices I made in high school, and how I perceived others I went to school with, and my absolutely all consuming depression.
Eventually I went to college and decided to be a better person and that depression was for wusses. Also being active and constantly having stuff to do really helped. That’s what actually helped me get over it. OK OK. DEPRESSION IS A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY. COLLEGE WAS AWESOME. I got some self esteem back, because I was eating like a normal human but still gaining weight. I was a little not ok with this, but I realized my boobs and booty were getting bigger. I was also getting more attention from the opposite sex, and sometimes from the same sex. But I started to realize what made me attractive or pretty wasn’t my skinniness, it was how I felt in my own skin. I also happened to have a pretty bangin’ bod when I was in college. I was still pretty skinny, but I basically had a barbie body. Tall, on the slender side of “curvy,” I had (have) huge boobs, a nice butt and a TINY waist. I wasn’t doing too bad for not working out and basically eating everything I wanted. So I just kept doing what I was doing. Sometimes I thought about getting in shape, but I liked the way I looked without doing that, and being in shape has never really been a high priority for me.
I even moved to Spain and watched most of my classmates gain a bunch of weight. I think in the year I was there I gained like a couple pounds, but I was also eating huge amounts of food and drinking like a fish, so I felt like I was doing pretty well. I also was doing very well with the opposite sex except for the random odd guy who was just a jerk and it had nothing to do with how I looked.
When I moved back though, it was the first time in my life I was having to go shop for myself, and cook for myself. I wasn’t in the dorms anymore, and I didn’t have a host mom, or a real mom to cook for me. It was a strange and hard time for me. I think I kept things mostly balanced, but I was having a lot of issues with depression again so I basically became a slug. I laid in bed for days at a time if I didn’t have to go to work or anything. It was a dark time in my life.
Random anecdote: I was trying to save money on lunches, so I started making my own sandwiches and bringing them to work, but I wasn’t considering how much bread I was eating on a daily basis compared to how much I was eating normally. I’ll let you guess… It was at least 500% more, because I don’t usually eat bread. It’s just not a thing I crave. I actually thought I might have been pregnant for how much weight I gained. But then I met Nathan. Nathan is my boyfriend right now, he’s very lovely, and active, and outdoorsy, and awesome. He sort of prompted me to get out of the house, mostly to go see him, but also to just go do stuff and enjoy things again. But then I moved to the Bahamas and lost weight. I think I managed to do that by just sweating it off in the galley. (This is a small part of a much longer story, but this is the part that pertains to diet/exercise.) I wasn’t eating a crazy amount of food either. I was just eating enough to keep myself from being hungry. It wasn’t like I was gorging myself on food.
But then I moved back, and my life has been… pretty terrible if we’re being honest. I mean, I have boyfriend to help support me, but I’m actually having to be a real adult now, with bills and working a job I hate because I can’t manage to get a different job right now and I need money to pay bills. I also moved to Seattle in the dead of winter from the BAHAMAS, so… yeah, like I said, it’s been a little difficult, but one of the few things I’ve been truly enjoying anymore, is eating. Now… this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because at least I can enjoy something, but when that thing is food, and not including exercise or any sort of diet, this turns into Danielle is on the G-6 to fattyville. (That’s what my co-worker and I call it.)
So long story short I’m out of shape and depressed, and eating my feelings lately, so I’ve been putting on more weight than I feel comfortable with. I also found a post on Imgur that really just made me sit the fuck up and not want to feel like a slug.
I wasn’t waiting for a sign, but the internet seemed like it was talking to me. Like maybe there was something I was waiting for, and this was it.
Turns out the post was just about fitness, but let me show you.
Wait a minute… I can do 50 squats… but mostly I WANT MY BUTT TO LOOK LIKE THAT. IF IT TAKES 50 SQUATS BUILDING UP TO A LOT OF SQUATS SO BE IT! I WILL DO THEM!
I CAN TOTALLY PLANK FOR 20 SECONDS!
PHSSSSSSSHHHHHHHH 50 JUMPING JACKS IS CHILD’S PLAY
well… maybe if they’re girl pushups…
But then I started looking at this blog,
justaskinnyminute, and I really liked it.
Because yes, it was a lot of absurdly skinny women, but then I realized, that a lof of these women, work really hard to get their bodies to look like that, and a lot of them don’t do it through eating disorders or being unhealthy. It is possible to get a body that you’re proud of just by dieting and exercising. Maybe it’s not what you thought was an amazing body to begin with, but now it’s real because it’s what your body looks like. (What I’m unsuccessfully trying to get at is, endorphins from working out make you happy. You should work out, you’ll be happier.)
I’ll reblog some stuff from her blog that I really like, like the motivational stuff, or quicky workout ideas, that you can combine to make an easy work out, so at least you’re doing something instead of being a slug. I just feel like a positive body image is really important, but so is eating healthy and exercising. I can’t stress that enough. I’m not saying go become a gym rat and at 1500 calories a day. I’m saying, be more conscious about what you’re putting into your body. Do you feel a little overweight? Are you really inactive? Have I just said what you didn’t really want to hear, because you know it’s true? Just, start with one of those little challenges I posted up top. Just one. Jumping jacks, or the planks. Not all, just one. Was it that bad? Try another. Just be a little conscious about what you’re putting in your body. You don’t need to become obsessive about it, but you know, is it really processed and full of preservatives and salt? Or is it mostly natural and full of protein and healthy carbs? Some great diet advice I had was look at the packaging of stuff you usually eat. Look at the ratio of carbs to protein. To stop fueling the fat train (I say that in the most loving, let’s laugh a little bit, because we’re both in the same boat-way possible) you have to cut carbs to protein ratio waaaaaay down. Find foods that are high in protein, not high in carbs. Quit snacking. Eat more berries and apples. If you quit snacking, you’ll save more money, and you won’t eat those “quick fixes” like potato chips, or really unhealthy little cookies, or candy or something. Eating the unhealthy stuff is fine, once in a while, sort of like a prize. Just keep it small. Like I really love gummy worms. So if I had a really good week of not gorging myself, and eating nice healthy meals, I’ll eat like 5 of ‘em. I don’t need to make myself a meal consisting of gummy worms. If I’m that hungry, I need to go make myself a meal.
Anyway my post was meant to be a sort of walk through what it’s like to go through puberty and not really understand what bodies look like. But it’s also meant to be a little eye opener that we could all get in a little better shape, eat a little healthier, walk a little bit more, get a little happier.
I’m sorry that this post was a lot about depression. I’ve just struggled with it for a while, and it’s getting really bad lately. I just wanted to share with someone.
Growing up and leaving college kind of sucks because you don’t have a close knit group of people constantly around you monitoring you, who’ll notice if you’re really off. I just have handsome pants (boyfriend) and he doesn’t know what to do most of the time except tell me that I can do anything I want. Which isn’t true. I want it to be true, but it’s not.
Let’s go exercise so we can get some endorphins and try and battle this stupid depression thing.