Struggling with Body Issues

Hi, guys! Today’s post was supposed to be all about my cat, Baby Tiddy, but I woke up this morning with something else on my mind, so I’ll just have to write about her another week.

This post will be a little bit more sensitive than my other ones, so I will try to tread lightly, and I hope all of you will do the same.

Now, I’m not an expert on what to say to someone when they’re struggling with their body image. In fact, I actually struggle with it myself. And I’m definitely not a therapist, although I do hope that the things I say in this post will change even the smallest opinions about yourself.

My Body Struggle

Since I was a young’un I always knew I was a little bit chubbier than the other kids. I had big cheeks, big arms, and a thick neck that barely stuck out from my shirt collar. I wasn’t huge, but I was big enough to be aware of my stomach when it poked out from my Bobby Jack monkey shirts. I didn’t like it at all, but my mother always said I’d grow out of it, and the best thing for me to do was to exercise and get my metabolism going. Of course, as a kid, it didn’t matter that much to me because size wasn’t important to the people you shared your crayons with.

Once I started going to middle school, my chunkiness became more apparent to me on the days that I went back-to-school shopping and nothing cute ever seemed to fit me. I mostly just stuck to my sister’s hand-me-downs because she had the same weight problems. Jeans, however, were the worst for big girls because they would often wear out from chub rub before they could even get to the younger sister, so that meant hours of trying on pants before even (possibly) finding the right pair. I hated those moments.

Still, though, I wasn’t bothered that much by it. No one ever bullied me for my size in middle school (surprisingly), and I was too caught up in One Direction and, later, YouTubers to even care in my 6th and 7th years. Sure, if someone took a picture of me from the side I’d cringe at my double chins, but it definitely didn’t make me want to exercise. Definitely not. Exercise was the worst.

Then 8th grade arrived, and I was nearing 150 pounds, which is a bit above average for girls at 13. I started caring more about my clothes and just wishing for some change. It took me watching a Korean Drama called Dream High, where a girl goes through a major body transformation through dieting and exercise within 200 days, to realize it was finally time for me to do something about my weight.

My exercise routine was called “The Drop 10 Workout”: 100 crunches, 90 jumping jacks, 80 lunges, 70 squats, 60 seconds running in place, 50-second plank, 40 jumping jacks, 30 squats, 20 high knees, and 10 push ups. It was a daily workout to drop 10 pounds in “just 2 weeks!” I did it for about 5 months (I think), starting from January 2015 and ending in May, and lost 20 pounds. Granted, I cut some things out of the routine, and most likely didn’t do all the steps right. Either way, it made me feel so great about myself and I rarely ever didn’t do it.

I also went on a diet, which didn’t go as well as I had hoped. For breakfast I usually had a bowl of oatmeal and yogurt, then a sandwich, grapes, and water for lunch. I started out eating Progressive soups for dinner, which was a mistake because they have SO MANY CALORIES. Don’t do that. Then, I transitioned to a baked potato every night with no cheese and a vegetable oil spread. It was a good plan, but I cheated a lot, which is understandable.

After losing that 20 pounds, my cheeks lost most of their fat, I grew taller so my stomach slimmed out a bit, and I just felt so much more confident in my body. It wouldn’t last long, though, because summer arrived, and my laziness reached its peak.

Me being the idiot that I am, I had forgotten to stretch every night before doing my workout. So the countless amount of lunges and squats took a toll on my knee and left me no choice but to quit my workout for the summer. Without it, I rarely every exercised. When school started, I did even less. I didn’t gain my weight back right away, though, since my freshman year book picture is probably the skinniest my cheeks have ever been.

I went the whole of freshman year only exercising in P.E. class which, technically, is still exercise, but I hated it. I hated doing those fitness tests and seeing my classmates easily run around the school without turning red and breathing heavy. When the year ended, I was officially finished with P.E. and all the embarrassment of being what seemed like the most unfit girl in the class.

Now, a year later, I avoid the mirror’s reflection when stepping out of the shower. I try to avoid all tight shirts and, if I’m curious about one, I’ll put it on and sit down in front of a mirror to see if my rolls will be visible when I sit at my desk. Most of the time, I wear jackets to keep my arms covered up and my stomach from protruding. I am terrified of wearing a swimsuit this summer because this is the heaviest I’ve ever been.

I don’t hate myself for how I look. I’m just really, really ashamed of myself. I’m ashamed because I know I could do something about it. I know that I could go back to my routine or start walking down the road or run on my dad’s elliptical every night, and I would feel healthy again. But I don’t for two reasons:

  1. I’M LAZY AND EXERCISE SUCKS.
  2. I think that I have no time for it because of homework and stuff.

Laziness doesn’t excuse anything, I know that. It takes effort to actually want to lose weight, and I currently have no motivation right now. And having no time doesn’t really excuse anything either because, although homework is extremely important, exercise should be a priority in my life. If I don’t exercise now, I’m going to wither away from osteoporosis.

What You and I Should Learn From It

You should NOT be like me and do nothing about your weight. I’m all for body positivity and loving yourself the way you are, but if you’re not exercising, you need to start. It makes me feel so much better when I do, which is why I hope that I will getting back into it soon.

You also should only want to change yourself for you, not for other people. I know everyone says this, but I think it’s super important for everyone to understand. It doesn’t even have to be someone who bullies you for your size, it could be that you want to make yourself appealing to other people. If they’re the right person, THEY WILL NOT CARE ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH. They will only care about whether you’re living a healthy lifestyle.

Also (this one gets me really bad), if you know you’re full, stop eating. I struggle with this more than anything else. When I love the way a piece of food looks or smells, I will eat it all and ignore the sickening amount in my stomach. I’ll look for something to eat even when I’m not hungry. I have never, NEVER not ordered food at a restaurant, and I almost always clean my plate. DO NOT DO THIS. No matter how delicious it looks, or how awful you feel about leaving that cookie on the plate knowing that there are starving kids in Africa, don’t eat it. Be grateful you’re not the starving kid. You’re the pleasantly full and content one.

Lastly, don’t hate people who like to workout. (I’m extremely guilty of this.) When I see someone who goes to the gym a few times every week or even just briefly mentions their weight loss, it makes me so angry at them for really stupid reasons. (How do they have so much energy and motivation and I don’t? Why do they like rubbing it in my face that they enjoy exercising when they probably know I haven’t done a push-up in months? ) Try and use their healthy lifestyle as inspiration for your own, instead of envying them. Don’t make it into a competition, though. There’s only so many times you can go to the gym in a week. (The max for me would be like… 3.)

Most importantly and most cheesy, you’re beautiful no matter what you weigh, what you look like, or what you think of yourself. Please, please please understand that. And make sure others do, too. Although this post mainly focused on bigger girls, it is the same for all sizes: small, medium, tall, skinny, average, etc. And all colors, too.

Now, I wish I could say that after I write this post I will start an exercising routine right away, and I will immediately start feeling better about myself. The truth is I probably won’t and, even if I did, how I see my body will not change, at least not right away. Some people don’t even see the progress they have made after losing their weight, they just always see themselves as fat. It’s called body dysmorphia, and it’s an actual mental illness that should not be ignored. If you have this problem, please seek treatment right away. You should never not love your body for what it is.

Sorry if this post seemed kind of basic and repetitive. It only seems that way because the topic of loving yourself is so important that it has to be stressed more than anything else. I’m hoping that one day I will write a 2nd part to this explaining how it has motivated me to keep my body healthy and giving better advice on how to deal with it.

Remember: I love you bunches! ❤

~Vannah Smalley

P.S. FBAWTFT Update: 572 days. Jude Law has been casted as Young Dumbledore (!!!) and Callum Turner as Theseus, Newt’s older brother (still iffy, but I’m starting to warm up to it).  btw- Newt’s freckles are adorable 🙂

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