My Health Journey – Mind, Body, and Soul
This post is by Parita.
Through my blog, my goal is to show people that it is possible to enjoy life and maintain a healthy balance with good nutrition and exercise. I want to share a little bit about myself every day with the hope that my story serves as a positive inspiration for those who read it.
One night, I was reading Caitlin’s blog, and she had posted a request for people to submit their stories of overcoming negative self-talk. I thought about this for a couple of days, and it dawned on me that my overall struggle was never really with my weight, it was with myself. I was my own worst enemy. I started thinking about my past, and I thought, “My story could serve as an example of the destructive power of negative self-talk.” But more than that, my story serves as an example of how you can overcome negative self-talk and start to build a positive relationship with yourself, one small step at a time. So, here is my story…
From the outside in, people probably see me as someone who grew up slightly chubby and proceeded to lose 30 pounds by exercising and eating better in her early 20s. End of story. But only I know the true internal struggles I went through with regards to negative self-talk. Let me back up a bit first. Growing up, my parents allowed me to eat pretty much anything my little heart desired. That wasn’t because they didn’t care about my health, but because they didn’t grow up thinking about healthy foods and calorie counting. All they knew was that I loved chocolate chip cookies and cheese! They couldn’t deny their little girl her favorite treats! I wouldn’t say that my eating habits were terrible, but they weren’t superb either. The one thing my parents really enforced was eating most of our meals at home. My mom made home cooked Indian food almost every night. I guess that’s why even to this day I can’t eat out for more than a couple of days at a time.
My sister and I also grew up playing baseball in the summers, swimming at the YMCA year round, and dancing pretty much all the time! Even with all of those different activities, I was a chubby kid. My parents and those who loved me never let me feel that way because to them I was beautiful no matter what my weight and size. I’m glad I had such supportive people in my life because if I didn’t, I don’t know where I’d be today.
Throughout my middle school and high school years, I excelled in school, had lots of friends, loved shopping, went to the movies, etc. My focus was never on eating right and working out, but I was still happy. I don’t ever remember thinking I was “fat” or unattractive. And I never compared myself to other girls.
Then came college. I had heard the phrase “freshman 15” before, but little did I know I would gain the freshman 17. I had no one to blame for that but myself. Taco bell, pizza, molten chocolate cake, and inactivity led me to that point, but still, negative self-talk never made an appearance, not even once.
I moved out of the dorms and into my first real apartment my sophomore year. The apartment complex had a gym, so I started working out about three times a week. I also joined my friends at our school gym every now and then. My preferred form of exercise at this point was power walking. My eating habits also starting improving this year because I had a real kitchen that allowed me to cook food at home. By the end of my sophomore year, I had probably lost about 10 pounds or so.
Then came my junior year. The first half of it pretty much resembled the previous year. I was slowly losing weight and still feeling very good about myself. My friends were very encouraging and always made me feel beautiful, as did my family. I don’t know what happened toward the end of the year, but my mindset completely changed. You could say it was because a guy (my current boyfriend) showed real interest in me, but I honestly don’t know if that’s the reason. He started liking me when I was about 10 pounds heavier than I am now, and he never, not once, mentioned anything about my weight. He always made me feel like I was special and beautiful. He liked me for who I was (and still does). But something in me changed soon after we met. I became obsessed with being “skinny,” and in my head skinny equaled beautiful. My power walks turned into running, which in and of itself is a great thing, but couple that with fewer calories, and you can see where the issues started arising.
My senior year came around, and I didn’t just love working out, I was obsessed with it. If I didn’t make it to the gym, I would get really down on myself, which would lead to even fewer calories consumed that day. My friends, boyfriend, and family started noticing my inconsistent behavior and attempted to talk to me, but I convinced them that I was ok and that “I had a few pounds to lose.” No big deal. I eventually started eating better after a few arguments with those who cared about me, but the negative self-talk didn’t disappear. In fact, it went from sometimes making an appearance to permanently taking residence in my head. From that point forward, I was never good enough for myself. And no one could convince me otherwise. My obsessive and quite frankly self-destructive behavior included constantly touching my stomach to feel the “fat,” eating cereal for dinner most nights of the week, comparing myself to everyone around me, “eating” before going out to dinner with friends and only snacking here and there, constantly looking in the mirror to find the flaws, slipping “fat” talk into every conversation, etc. This continued after graduation for about four years.
Looking back, my weight, according to my height, was never below the normal range. From the outside in, the world viewed me as a thin person. However, I now see that it wasn’t my weight that was an issue. It was the relationship I had with myself. I never allowed myself to feel beautiful, take compliments, etc. The minute I even started feeling good about myself, that negative voice in the back of my head would start up and convince me that I wasn’t worthy of positive thoughts and feelings.
Then in 2010, something changed, and again, I’m not sure what it was. Maybe it was the exhaustion of trying to be perfect and “skinny,” maybe it was having all the enjoyment taken out of eating, maybe it was me finally wanting to find balance and just be me…or maybe it was a combination of a lot of different things. Well, after years of depriving myself of a positive relationship with myself, I can honestly say that I am now striving to find balance in my life with eating and exercising. I am taking care of myself and listening to my body. I am also injecting positive self-talk back into my life because I deserve it. Every now and then, that negative voice shows its ugly face and tries to take over my thoughts and put me down, but this Parita is stronger, more confident, and content with who she is. My hope is that one day that negative voice disappears for good, not only from my head but from everyone’s head that it tries to take over. We are all beautiful, we just have to realize it for ourselves!