When I was 10 years old and approaching puberty, I began gaining weight.
It was a gradual process and one that I didn’t really notice. I was already socially awkward and just kind of in my own world, so my appearance wasn’t something I was concerned with. But when I turned 12 and experienced the Machiavellian hellhole that is junior high, where your “rep” and your “image” begin to truly matter, I quickly and painfully realized that I was truly “fat”.
Throughout 7th grade, I was ridiculed on an almost-daily basis for my weight. Sure, everyone gave everyone shit for something, so it’s not like I was the only one being made fun of. But my weight was my target for jokes and slander to be thrown in my direction. It was the first time that a group of people verbally called me fat and ugly, and those are descriptors I still carry with me to this day.
Fatso. Tubby. Piggy.
More often than not, I hate my body. I see it as a sloppy, bloated, disgusting mess that should be guarded by clothing as often as humanly possible. I’ve lost weight, sure, but I’ve also gained some back. This is a continuous process. Therefore, I never see my body as being good enough. Lean enough. Strong enough. Sexy enough. And even when I do get back down to my lowest adult weight of 194 lb., I’m still going to look in the mirror and think:
Fatso. Tubby. Piggy.
No amount of running is going to make me forget crying myself to sleep Sunday nights, knowing I’d be verbally tormented at school the next morning. No amount of squats will take away the sense of imprisonment I felt inside my chamber of obesity as I was superficially judged by people who didn’t know the real me. No amount of healthy eating will make me forget the heroin-like comfort that processed sugar and fried foods gave me when I was dealing with bullying or my hardcore obsessive compulsive disorder I developed that summer.
Even as I type this, I feel a sense of shame. My weight is somewhere in the high 220s/low 230s due to inconsistency with my workouts and my diet. I keep thinking to myself, “It’s been four years since your fitness rebirth. You should be in the 180s by now. Maybe even the 170s. If your friends and all these people in the Beachbody infomercials can maintain their weight losses, you should too.” This sickness, this body dysmorphia, is my demon. It’s what wakes me up at night and tells me that I’m not good enough, that I’m still the same fat, ugly mess of a child I used to be.
I’m writing this one week into my alcohol cleanse, and one day into my soda/sweets cleanse, so as you can imagine, I’m a little on edge. However, I’m trying hard to remind myself that life isn’t as simple as the “Before and After” pics from the infomercials make it seem. Success isn’t a straight line, it’s all over the place and almost always involves taking big steps back. What’s keeping me strong, however, is my clear, concentrated effort to remove the crutches of sugar and empty calorie dependence from my life, and the truth that I am limited only by myself.
I started this fitness journey in 2012 after years of ignorance and complacency, and while I’ve failed at it more times than I can even count, those failures gave me so many learning opportunities. I’ve determined through trial and error that I simply can’t trust myself around soda and processed sugar and limiting myself to just one beer. Until I can prove that I can go a long time without it, I can’t indulge with even a little bit. And yes, that sucks, but it’s my battle and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the demons on the other side (and in my own head) defeat me.
I’ve struggled too hard and sacrificed too much to just give up. I have the tools at my disposal to take my fitness to the next level. I have the ability to push toward my goal of 200 lb. and beyond. I am not limiting myself to excuses or the past, because neither of those things define me. I WILL soldier on. I WILL push forward in the face of adversity. I WILL learn and grow with each passing day.
I WILL succeed.