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"Looking Great" Didn't Make Me Happy, But Gaining Weight Did

Katie Nicholson
Written by Katie Nicholson

I'll never forget hearing the words "you look great" from a friend's mom when I was a senior in high school. I weighed 104 pounds and by society's standards, I did "look great." But I was deep into my struggle with bulimia and I was a mess.

I was emotionally, mentally, and physically distressed. My body wasn't getting enough calories, my mind was worn thin by obsessively keeping track of how much I ate and exercised, and my self-­confidence was at an all time low despite defined abs and a thigh gap.

Although I've never weighed as little as I did then, there have been times in my past when I've weighed less than was ideally healthy for my body, mind, and spirit. Like when I was in a stressful relationship in college. When my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness. When my parents finally divorced after years and years of fighting and dysfunction. After my breakup with aforementioned college boyfriend.

Even when I met my fiance — the man who helped me understand how to truly appreciate the tastes, textures and aromas of food — I was underweight. Although my eating was on track, I was still obsessively working out. As I write this, I weigh roughly 125 pounds and there are still times I think I should lose weight, tone my muscles, start eating better, exercise more, etc. But then I think again.

For starters, I'm not about to go back down the rabbit hole of an eating disorder. It's a long, scary, dangerous path that I made it out of once and don't ever want to revert back to that place. And, I'm simply happier when I weigh more.

All of the happiest times in my life have come when I weighed more than what might "look great": In early high school before I became obsessed with working out and calorie counting, when studying abroad in Australia during college, while falling in love and dating my fiance.

I've weighed roughly the same for the past three years or so. This weight is my new normal. This body of mine, it's at a place where it's meant to be ... Where my mind, body and spirit are in harmony with one another. Where I'm completely and utterly at peace with my life. And of course, at a time in my life when I am truly happy.

So forget all of the pressure to lose weight. To look "great." Stop beating yourself up for your lack of abs or thigh gap because I can tell you firsthand that those aesthetic things definitely don't equal happiness. I'm convinced that once you find your happiest self, when you really truly love yourself, your weight will follow. It sure did for me.

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