In the past year I have endured many challenges. One of these is a new challenge I haven’t written a lot about, something I know to be prevalent in the world right now, especially in America: Body Positivity. If you have read some of my blog before you might remember some of my history, but I will recap.
When I lived with my mother, there were a few years where food was scarce and my siblings and I were malnourished. Due to this, when I got away from my mother I weighed about 100 lbs.–As a 19 year old woman. I wasn’t so bad off that I didn’t get my period, but my periods were irregular. When I moved in with my father food was something provided and I just paid rent, but I didn’t change in size. I thought I just was very petite, that somehow I was unlike the rest of my family.
When I married, I became a vegan and worked out more than I ever felt was necessary, yet because of these things I felt like I was healthy. Through working out and protein shakes the heaviest I was was 120 lbs. In the last two years of my marriage when I was struggling with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, I was back down to 100 lbs. And that was the weight I was when I left my ex–at 28 years old.
So when I started gaining weight after I struck out on my own I was fearful. I was afraid I was going to end up diabetic and overweight like the majority of my family and all the women in my family. There were a few reasons why I was gaining weight:
I started taking a new prescription for my birth control. When I left my ex I no longer had medical insurance, but I knew I could find help in Planned Parenthood. I made an appointment and saw a doctor and submitted my finances. I was awarded funding for 18 months of birth control pills! This was not just a need for if I was to become sexually active again. when I first started taking birth control pills, my periods became shorter, lighter, my cramps went away–all in all it made my periods more manageable. When I was in highschool I missed one day a month because my cramps were debilitating and my mother didn’t bother to have me see a doctor about my extreme periods. On birth control I never missed work because of my period.
With the new prescription, side effects included weight gain and breast enlargement. Both of which happened. Now I am a full B cup, when I used to be a AA.
I biked to and from work. Before I got my car I biked at least four miles to and from work a day, more if I needed to run errands. Due to the consistent muscle building activity, I continued to go up in pants sizes simply because my thighs kept getting bigger! At 29 years old, I got my first stretch marks on my legs–and I love them! I thought I would hate stretch marks and that I wouldn’t have any unless I had a baby (a myth some people still believe I’m sure).
I started eating a regular diet. After I left my ex I stayed with my aunt and uncle and their family. I knew having nothing but what could fit into my duffle bag and backpack, with no job and little money from friends and family, that I could not expect to eat all vegan. Beggars can’t be choosers. Then when I moved in with my current roommate I got on food assistance, but I still received food from friends and family sometimes making my choices slim. So a regular diet it was and has been ever since.
Now over a year later, I weigh 155 lbs. At first I was torn up inside. I thought I was unhealthy and that I needed to get on a vegan diet again immediately. I was restricting calories and obsessing over my new body–how I couldn’t fit into my jeans anymore–that my stomach wasn’t completely flat like it used to be–and I fatigued myself and missed some work. I thought I was going to become diabetic or get early cancer like my father.
But in contrast there are a few things which convinced me that I am actually healthier now even though I weigh more than I used to: For example, I was so thin my pelvic bones used to stuck out! Now I have rounded hips. When I look at my height and BMI indexes I am right in the range of where a 29 year old woman should be.
It was hard for me to accept my new body. I had to radically accept that I was shaped differently and that that is okay. Due to a new job I will update you guys on later, I get 15k-24k steps every day I work, so I am still physically active and burning calories. Yet acceptance took months.
A couple of months again I ended up crying in my group therapy and one woman pulled me aside and told me a story of how one of her friends was so obsessed with being thin that she developed anorexia. She was hospitalized and soon after passed away. Her story hit home because I have made myself sick by not eating enough and I know that had to stop.
The woman in my group also told me that I looked like a regular size person.This was interesting to me. I was so used to being a size 0 and buying my short shorts in the tween section, that I wasn’t putting things into perspective. Being a size 6-8 in women’s clothing is normal. And I soon came to realize even though I wasn’t vegan anymore, I could still eat healthy and was healthier (not that being vegan isn’t something that can be done with healthy habits). I’m not wasting away. Now I have bigger curves, bigger boobs, beautiful stretch marks that show how strong my legs really are, and I don’t get as cold as I used to.
Another influence which has been invaluable is my current boyfriend. He accepts me for who I am, trusts that I am taking care of my own health and has said he has seen progress in my physical and mental health. And he still loves me and is as affectionate as he was when I was tiny. I can tell he still finds me sexy. He accepting me helped me accept myself.
Thanks for listening,