It’s my spring break, so let’s talk about physical appearance for just a second. I’ve always been small and relatively skinny. I didn’t start seriously working out until I went to college, but hadn’t felt that I needed to either. Growing up a girl is hard. Our physical appearances are judged daily and I was no exception. I’d often walk down the halls and hear “I wonder what she looks like naked?” ring out behind me. While this objectifying wasn’t right, I did go through most of high school exceptionally confident in what I looked like.
I moved to Boston for school and immediately recognized a shift. I suddenly wasn’t the hot girl. I panicked. Partially, (and I hate to admit it) it was the lack of attention from boys. But more than that, it was my classmates’ constant comparisons. In theatre, so much is based on appearance, and I would be lying to say that it doesn’t effect how I feel about myself and those around me. And from there I spiraled.
I started going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week during my sophomore year and regularly swearing off certain food groups. The summer in between my sophomore and junior year, I upped my workouts to everyday. I would go for a run on my lunch break and I stopped eating meat and almost all dairy. I cut back on sugar. I lost 10 pounds, quickly replacing my fat with muscle. I was thrilled, and suddenly the comments returned. I basked in them.
But my feelings shifted as school started back. I had almost entirely stopped eating processed sugar, was doing a full body workout daily, with no rest days, and was still off meat. I had started counting my calories and would mentally beat up on myself when I broke my diet. I panicked again, but this time, it was stress. What was I doing?
I told my roommates and then my boyfriend. I cried a lot, and then I started to feel better. I stopped reading nutrition facts and I built a rest day into my routine. My mood improved and so did my outlook. I felt healthier.
But I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I harp on myself for eating too many carbs. Or not love what I see. I do feel guilty and ‘off’ when I skip a workout, but I no longer push myself to exhaustion. I love my food journal. I do eat meat again, in moderation, and sugar isn’t fully banned from my diet. Health and self love are such a balancing act and I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I’m happy for the days when I can look in the mirror and say “Yeah, I’d wanna see myself naked too.”