A Brief History of My Body Image Struggle
I am a child of the ‘80’s. Growing up I watched Family Ties, Full House, and The Facts of Life. To me, the actors on those shows looked like my family.
As we all know, things have changed. Society’s image of what we are supposed to look like can’t even compare to two decades ago.
Living in Los Angeles, especially by the beach, I feel like a total fatso sometimes. (OK, all the time.)
I am not overweight. I am healthy, I exercise, eat as well as I can, and do a ton of yoga.
Here’s a great LA anecdote for you. For the past several years, whenever I've had a doctor’s appointment, I've opted out of getting weighed.
Recently, I was at an appointment and the nurse insisted I step on the scale. So I did, but didn’t look at the number. It had been at least four years since I had been weighed at the doctor’s office. Once she compared the numbers on my chart, she asked if I'd recently had a kid.
No, I did not recently have a kid.
Pause for laughter.
Look, I don’t weigh 120. I don’t know what I weigh because I never step on the scale. I am not overweight nor am I out of shape. So why do I get so mad at myself every time I look in the mirror?
Because TV, commercials, celebrities, magazines, EVERYTHING has made us feel badly about the way we look.
So has – brutal honesty time! – an ex-boyfriend of mine. Who, after just a few dates, suggested to my insecure self to try the Atkins Diet. And I did. And damn did I get skinny and look good.
Let me tell you a little about my daily food consumption on Atkins.
For breakfast I’d eat four slices of bacon and three slices of Swiss cheese from some creepy plastic packaging I got at the grocery store, because I was too cheap to pay for deli cheese. (Is that even better? I don’t know.)
A snack was half an avocado. I’d give the other half to my co-worker. Dinner was pickles, canned tuna with mayo, or a hot dog pan fried like my mom made me when I was a kid. If I wanted a cocktail, it was vodka and Fresca.
Yes, I had to take a lot of laxatives and fiber pills to keep things moving.
But damn, I looked good! Who needs bread? I didn’t. It’s actually a really easy diet to follow. Going out to eat with friends? Just get that juicy burger with cheese and mushrooms and special sauce and leave the bun on the side.
But like all diets, it’s easy to fall off the Atkins wagon. I did. And a few years later, I find myself two months into being completely vegan (and without that ex!), embracing my health, yoga, and going through a very intense teacher training, because this lifestyle means a lot to me, and my future.
But I can’t help but feel like I’m getting fat. I can eat ALL THE BREAD AND BOXED PASTA I WANT! (In authentic Italian restaurants, they use egg in their pasta. Make sure it’s from a box if you're trying to be vegan.)
Sure I’m eating a TON of fruits and vegetables, but I am by no means losing weight. And no, that wasn’t that goal to begin with.
But I find myself asking, what was the goal?
Because I’m in yoga teacher training and I’ve learned in philosophy class that energy and breath will move through you more freely without the burden of meat and dairy in your system?
I still drink wine. Yoga philosophy tells me I’m not supposed to do that, either. So why do one without the other? I don’t know.
So if you’re looking for an answer, I don’t have it. I’m just as confused as you are about what I should be doing to feel my best and – as I’m now 32 years old – LOOK my best.
I want to live the life I believe is my truth.
I suppose I’m still figuring out WHAT my truth is.
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