Shot by: Julia Otest Photo
How I stopped hating my body and started living my gd life (hint: it wasn't easy)
I can't remember exactly when it all started -- the self-loathing, insecurity and dissatisfaction with my own body -- but my best guess is sometime around high school. On the outside, I was outgoing and athletic. I had tons of friends from volleyball and never felt like I was an outcast in school. And yet, I was a hot ass mess inside.
I remember coming home after school, famished from starving myself all day, and binge eating everything in sight. All of my fears, worries and responsibilities melted away when I was eating alone. It took my mind off of things. It was cathartic, and it calmed me. But then, time after time, the same looping soundtrack would flood my mind: "You're worthless. You're a failure. You have no self-control - you can't even control how much you're eating!" The remainder of the night would be spent feeling depressed and ashamed of my actions - promising myself that I wouldn't let it happen again. The next few weeks I'd starve the hell outta myself, then finally "give in" and binge. Repeat. And repeat. (I'm exhausted just thinking about it, tbh).
I started college and moved into the dorms, feeling exhilarated at the promise of a fresh start. I adored college. I made incredible friends that I love with my entire heart. I learned so much about myself, but one thing that I couldn't seem to shake was my disordered eating. When I "controlled" my eating (restricted), I felt on top of the world and in-control. When I returned home for Thanksgiving break my freshman year 15 pounds lighter, the compliments flooded in. Everyone wanted to know my secret. I told them "oh not much.. just eating healthy and exercising!" but inside I wanted to scream "I'M STARVING MYSELF BECAUSE I FEEL INSECURE IN MY OWN BODY." I felt like a fraud.
Fast forward. I graduated college and moved to San Francisco. Things with food had improved slightly, thanks to being a few years older and a bit more secure with myself. But I was fed up AF with my turbulent relationship with food, and finally ready to make a real change. And the first step was realizing that for once, I couldn't solve this problem on my own. I rallied the troops - and by troops I mean Molly Alliman. Molly is not only a mentor, friend and fellow food instagrammer, but she singlehandedly helped heal my relationship with food.
Struggling with food? A few things that have helped me in my journey:
- TELL SOMEONE. The hardest (but most effective) step in my journey was the initial outreach to Molly. Before talking to her, no one else knew the internal battle that was going on inside. As soon as I told someone, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders - it wasn't a solo burden to bear. There are tons of incredible nutritional therapists out there that can help you.
- FOOD IS NOURISHMENT. I spent too damn long thinking of food as a numbers game: calories in, calories out. Nutrition is way more complicated than that. Our bodies are smart as hell - sure, you can eat "the perfect diet," but if you're stressing yourself out over it, you're negating all the health benefits. When I started thinking about how certain foods will make me FEEL, not LOOK - everything shifted.
- FEEL YOUR GODDAMN FEELINGS. This one was the hardest for me. I love being happy. As soon as I'd feel a "negative" emotion: stress, sadness, anxiety, loneliness - I'd turn to food as a coping mechanism. Pausing and sitting with my negative emotions, really feeling them (!) has helped me infinitely.
- THESE ARE THE GOOD OL' DAYS. What someone eats is BY FAR the least interesting thing about them. Go get drinks with your friends, or take a salsa dancing class with that cute guy from work. When you're on your death bed looking back at your life, are you gonna remember the nights you stayed home and made a salad, or the nights you danced on the bar til 4am with your friends?
I am by no means perfect. I still have days where I'm stressed out and have the urge to either skip dinner or dive headfirst into a carton of ice cream (I wouldn't say moderation is one of my strengths). But I remind myself that it's just a coping mechanism, and remember that I'm a badass bitch who's in charge of my own goddamn happiness.