After much internal debate, I recently posted on Instagram about loving your body. I can’t look at the photo for long, or I’ll feel insecure.
This year, one of my goals is to love my body, an issue I’ve struggled with my whole life.
Growing up, I ate a typical Standard American diet. I wasn’t raised in a healthy household – physically, mentally, or emotionally – so, starting young, I used food to mask the pain. I have vivid memories of stealing cake frosting tubs and hiding, eating the entire jar in a sitting. I’d hoard all the Little Debbie snacks and eat every one. I’d eat entire boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
All the other kids who’d play and get so involved they’d forget about eating? Not me. Sometimes I wished I were them, but food consumed me. Instead of crying or showing any emotion, I’d eat. Food was always comforting.
A child is not emotionally equipped to deal with adult situations, so they revert back to basic human needs. Eating felt good, and I did anything to make myself feel good while dealing with things no child should.
Emotional eating has stayed with me ever since. The switch flipped when I was a high school senior. I lost my beloved grandfather to cancer, and it was devastating. He was one of the only family members I had a loving connection with, and when he died, a piece of me went with him.
Instead of eating my feelings, I restricted. Having control over food was satisfying when my world was crumbling. Inevitably, I shed a few pounds, which had an addictive feeling.
This only added more trouble to an already-long journey of disordered eating.
Astonishingly, my weight has remained relatively consistent throughout the years, but the eating battle has been consuming. I’ve overeaten, binged, restricted, purged, and any combination in between.
One important reason I love to run is because it’s the only time I feel completely comfortable in my body. How can you not feel strong after conquering a new distance or pace?
After each and every run, I feel accomplished and learn to love my body, even if only a bit more. These legs, this torso, my arms, they all helped me hammer out a nice 10-miler. How can I not feel at least a tinge of respect for them?
Unfortunately, an eating disorder isn’t like a cold – you don’t catch it once, then get over it. Some of the unhealthy habits and compulsions will be with me forever, but running allows me to temper them. I’m reminded I am powerful, and that power doesn’t stem from physical appearances.
My self-love journey is far from over, but I’m happy to say I’m at a relatively peaceful place with food, and run after run, I’m starting to develop a deep sense of gratitude for my body.