For as long I was young, my body was always on the heavier side. My friends and family made fun of me relentlessly for being overweight. When I was 5, my aunt told me and my cousins about a flat stomach. Everyone went around saying they had flat stomachs but when I said it, everyone laughed at me. My cousin used to push me onto the weighing machine just to see my weight and laugh. My friends used to say I looked like an ‘aunty’. I asked my mom to get me Special-K, after watching the advertisement, just so I could ‘become thinner’, so I could stand on a weighing machine and not feel bad. I was 12.
When I was 13, my teenage instincts kicked in. I worked out consistently for a while until I lost 5 kgs. After I achieved my ‘goal weight’, I stopped because I’ve never really been one for working out. Turns out, it wasn’t so great for my body because I had also starved myself. I fainted one morning as soon as I woke up. I fainted again a week later. These weren’t ‘big’ things anyone needed to be concerned about right? And well, no one was. It was a small price to pay for losing the weight. In the upcoming months, everyone I met complimented my weight loss, told me I looked good now, and recollected how I used to gouge myself in chocolate as a plump chubby child. I nodded and laughed with them.
Fast forward to a couple of years later when my unhealthy eating habits and generally unhealthy lifestyle caught up to me. I put on those kilos again. This time I was 17. I was going through other personal issues at the time as well. One of my friends hugged me, tapped my tummy and said something about it not being ‘flat’. This brought back so many memories and emotions from my past. I decided to starve myself because I didn’t have time to work out. Then I gave up and gouged myself with junk food. Most of the time, immediately after I’d stuffed myself with packets of junk food, I felt so bad, I forced myself to vomit. I’d been doing it from a young age, so I didn’t know this was an eating disorder. I struggled to find some ounce of body positivity but well, the world wasn’t that kind to me. This continued until a couple of months ago.
I thought I realised what I was doing to myself. I tried to embrace my body for what it was. But I had no clue how to do it. I told myself I live only once, continued eating junk food and explained myself that this was body positivity. But was it? It didn’t feel like it. When I found out about my PCOS, my gynecologist first asked me about my eating habits. So it was established that this was the reality check I needed. I was treating my body like utter trash without any regard for any of its functions and it finally caught up to me.
Something had to change.
I told myself it’s okay to love my body and try to be healthier. Why did I ever think these were exclusionary?
My perception surrounding body positivity was always negative. It’s always either eat healthy or drown yourself in junk food. Why is there no in between? Why can’t I do both? Is it not possible to be body positive and work out, eat healthy and unhealthy? I don’t know. I had to torture myself and push harder because apparently that’s what leading a healthy lifestyle is. It’s forcing yourself to work out in the gym and giving up pizza.
But I think I can finally say that I’ve understood how messed up that is. Now, I strive to find some form of balance. I don’t want to engage in some fad that I’ll give up once I’ve attained my ‘goal weight’. I’m looking for longer, more sustainable habits that I can keep up with. I don’t deprive myself of junk food when I feel like it but I try to eat nutritious food for the most part. I don’t force myself to clock 1 hour in the gym but I do like to do yoga because it helps calm me down.
I’m trying to build a healthier way of living for myself but it has been hard because I’ve only seen the two extremes. My weight is still important to me, as much as I try to let it go but atleast I’m trying hard to grow out of unhealthy tendencies. I’m trying to be a better version every day and I guess that has to count for something.