About a year ago, I started going to the gym regularly. My motivation was the betterment of my mental health, and it wasn’t long until I noticed a difference. My mind felt clearer and stronger. I felt more grounded and capable of handling stress.
The gym became my safe space for any internal release, and as my mind began to change and adapt, so did my body.
I was eating differently and moving more, which naturally affected me physically. The change in lifestyle influenced a change in my body shape. I began to notice this shift, and I won’t lie; I liked it.
I felt slimmer and, in my eyes, more beautiful than ever.
Somewhere along the way, I aligned happiness and perfection with feeling or looking as slim as possible, and I wanted to keep going.
So I started eating less and pushed for burning calories in the gym, which was easy to do at the time, amongst a busy schedule with my studies and optimizing my nicotine intake to suppress hunger.
This felt healthy because striving for skinniness felt healthy in my mind.
Eventually, people around me started to notice the change in my body. I’d lost so much weight so quickly that my mum was worried that it had something to do with existing health conditions or medication rather than my efforts to eat less and work out more.
I believed that I was genuinely happy thinner. But behind all that, I was turning down social events, crying when someone offered me chocolate, and my mind was slowly consumed by thoughts of food.
It became exhausting and mentally drained me, and soon, I was right back where I started.
I’d put myself through something that could only be briefly sustained. It was never something I could have healthily maintained forever.
And this is where I mentally hit a wall for some time because I couldn’t see it.
I never once sat back to remind myself of my personal context when altering my diet and working my body.
1. I have always loved food, and that wasn’t something I could dispose of. I adore chocolate, eating out with friends, snacking in the evenings with my boyfriend. I am a foodie through and through, and the sudden restriction completely deteriorated my relationship with food.
2. Two years ago, I had my thyroid removed after having cancer, and my metabolism and energy levels would never be the same again. I would be furious at myself for missing the gym on days when I just didn’t have the energy to go. I would beat myself up for the food I consumed, which affected me differently than others, even though these things were completely out of my control.
All this time, I had been fighting a battle I could never truly win if I wanted the parts of me that made me me to remain intact.
I lost sight of my initial goals, replaced with dangerous thoughts about how I should look.
I had affirmed this harmful idea in my head of what the perfect body meant for me, and it did nothing but restrict how much I could truly enjoy my life and feel genuine happiness.
The truth was, the body that was perfect for me was the body that allowed me to be happy. To eat out with my friends without obsessing over what I ordered. To skip the gym without feeling guilty. To go for a walk without needing to power walk to burn more calories.
The body that allowed me to live to the fullest wasn’t that shrunken, skinnier body. Having good physical health does not align with the leanest version of my body, and neither does my mental health.
In realizing that, I’m now free to enjoy food, exercise, and socializing as I’m meant to.