My relationship with food has been on the rocks for a while. It’s no surprise either, when you see all the pressure on social media, on T.V. and in advertisements to look a certain way, especially when you’re a teenager. Something else that didn’t help: I was a cross-country and track runner in high school, and the best girls on the team were usually the smallest. I had fooled myself into thinking that if I were just smaller somehow, I could be faster, better.
Instead, I probably completely sabotaged myself from being able to improve. I would skip lunch sometimes, I would eat a lot at once, then feel guilty and not eat for hours afterward. Running makes one super hungry, especially when you’re still growing. And it was surprisingly difficult for me to find a balance.
With the amount of exercise I was doing in high school, I began to become really interested in nutrition, and in where our food came from and how it affected our bodies. I also recognized that if I wanted to be a better athlete, I was going to have to learn how to take care of my body better.
But let me tell you, it takes a ridiculously long time to learn how to love your body, to be okay with where you’re at. High school was a time riddled with insecurities, most of them concerning my body. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized what a massive amount of time I wasted worrying about my body image.
Part of it is that pressure from being in sports, and the constant desire to be better. An important part of staying healthy is finding a work out routine that works for you, and surprise, running a ton of miles six days out of the week isn’t that great for you. At least, it wasn’t good for my body (I was also injured a decent amount of times). I still run a couple of days out of the week, but now I can stop whenever I want and take a break for however long I feel like I need. I’ve also incorporated lifting weights, and other exercises that have been way better for my body than just running for days on end.
I still look in the mirror some days and worry that I’m not as toned as I used to be, or that I look too bloated, or whatever. Some days are harder than others – I still feel guilty after eating too much or eating something that’s not healthy, or if I skipped that day’s work out/run.
It takes a long time to find what works for you. I’ve found a lifestyle that’s worked better for me than anything I’ve done in the past (working out or running around four days a week, plus I don’t eat meat anymore). Different things work better for different people, of course. I’m not writing this to say it’s what everyone should do, I just want to share a story that I’m sure many others have also experienced: body image issues, a weird relationship with food, maybe a little too crazy about working out like I’ve been since my sophomore year of high school.
That chase for perfection affected me really negatively in high school. I’ve come a really far way since then. Thank goodness, because let me tell you, spending all that time worrying about what you’re eating and picking yourself apart in the mirror is exhausting. It’s okay to accept and love yourself but still want to improve at the same time. It’s all about finding that balance, and about finding a healthy and positive mindset.
I’ve written about this before, but it’s something that we should keep discussing, because people don’t just “get over it.” Plus, nutrition is super important and something that needs to stay relevant, always, especially now, when huge corporations control our food growth and distribution, only seeming to care about profits.