I decided to talk a little bit, briefly but not, about the different changes in my eating habits I have experienced through my youth and adult life so far. I think many of us will be able to relate to my story and how my personal eating habits have changed through the years, with this on-going roller coaster and finally to where I am right now – healthiest I’ve been. While this might not be entirely educational, it is a self-reflection and it might shed some light for some of us who have been through similar struggles.
I have to admit I don’t remember too much from the younger years of my life in terms of eating – I was a chubby girl, not fat but above average. I was fluffy and cuddly, if you will. I hated exercise, I never worked out. I was a master at getting out of PE class – I was almost always the one that would sit when she could, one of the last ones when running laps – as an artsy girl and a bookworm, I much preferred the peace and quiet of a good book or a pen and pencil to explore my thoughts and imagination. Exercise was something I really disliked.
I ate whatever I wanted and I loved sweets. I could eat chocolate all day every day. I remember one particular day, I told my friend you would have to pry my away from the candy (chocolate) bowl. If I had one… I just had to have more. And it was true, I was shocked that she was able to practice self control and have one or two pieces of chocolate and be happy. How is that even possible?, I thought. I love chocolate! I couldn’t stop at two. It just tastes way too good to stop. It makes me happy to eat it so why stop? Indeed, she had to hide the bowl away from me. That was the first time I realized how little self control I had.
While I paid little attention to what and how much I was eating, I wasn’t necessarily binging yet. I would overeat frequently but I wasn’t necessarily obsessed with food yet – sure, I gave in to my cravings more often than not as well but I also never felt guilty about it. I felt good. I liked food and I loved satisfying my cravings. It made me feel happy. I never stopped to think that I should feel guilty about it because “it would make me fat.” Especially since I wasn’t necessarily “fat”. I’m sure my body fat percentage was much higher than it should be for an average 16 year old girl, but I didn’t really weigh that much. I was 5’3-5’4 and I weighed right around 135 lbs. A weight that must be my set point since that’s the weight I usually go back to whenever I fall off the wagon.
Going into my sophomore year, I got more pictures taken while I was out with friends. I started comparing myself more to other girls although I was not entirely self-conscious yet. At this time, my mom and I got our first gym membership (which had free tanning!) and because I wanted to tan, I went and exercised with her as well. I had no idea what I was doing and spent most of my time on the elliptical and did a lot of reps with low weights on various machines. I can’t say it really did much for me because I still overate frequently. Feelings of guilt would only be fleeting and overshadowed by the bliss I felt from satisfying a craving. I liked my life and I liked being happy. And mostly, I liked that food could make me happy when I was sad and that it could prolong my happy feelings when they occurred. It was nice.
Before my “crazy scene hair” phase
With my “rebellious” stage in sophomore year, I took confidence in my looks in terms of clothing I wore and the overall appearance I had. I portrayed myself as a “club kid” – I was a mix of a scene kid and a clubhead , if you are familiar with those. My hair was wild and crazy, I was tan, I wore scene club clothes – I was one of the girls you always saw at the club and I loved being known in the scene. Being a natural introvert, it helped my shyness and helped break out of my shell a little bit. While I was happy with who I was, it was unavoidable to start noticing the fact that I was more cuddly than many girls I saw. Go-Go dancers with their perfect bodies, dancing around in a bra and panties – it’s definitely hard not to compare yourself to these girls when you are faced with them every weekend. Especially when you notice how desirable they are – all of the guys wanted them. They wanted them, and I was single. The typical lonely teenage girl thoughts would come through my mind at those times. It must be because I’m fat compared to them. After a while, I became more preoccupied with my own body and looks.
PS: The educational systems are different in Poland and here, that’s why I was older than kids in my class.
PPS: I am sparing you from seeing my embarrassing photos from those years (aside from these two photos). You would never take me seriously after seeing how I looked like during that time, haha. They are just too funny. Sigh. Good thing I grew up fast.