I remember it vividly. Sitting at a small wooden table in the basement of my hometown church, the buzz of children fills the room. I look up and observe my surroundings; colorful construction paper, dripping bottles of Elmer’s Glue, and books with stories about Jesus are strewn haphazardly about the table. However in that moment I was not pondering the Bible verse we had learned that day, nor was I concerned about what interesting artwork my peers were creating. Instead, the thought running through my mind was, “Am I fat?”
I was five years old.
This memory has not only haunted me into my adulthood, but it has remained a constant theme in my daily train of thought from that day forth.
It strikes me as a bit odd (and very random) that today is the day that I decide to share this memory, as I would rather let it lurk in the dark recesses of my mind, known only to my own subconscious. Yet, I didn’t start this blog to pretend that I live a completely confident life free of the nagging self-deprecation that so many women (and men) deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not perfect, and I have always had body image issues. I probably always will.
After being called “fat and ugly” by a classmate in 7th grade, followed by the look of disappointment in my mother’s eyes as she purchased a size 10 pair of jeans for me, I resorted to the only method of weight loss that I knew of at that time. I simply stopped eating. Lots of girls did it, so why couldn’t I? In my mind, I couldn’t make myself pretty (you were either born that way, or you weren’t), but I could certainly make myself skinny. And so skinny is what I would become.
I gained an immense sense of pride when I was able to successfully skip a meal under the radar, or manage to eat just a few bites of food while discreetly disposing of the rest of my plate. On the rare chance I would eat a full meal, I’d punish myself with a regiment of pushups and sit-ups in the privacy of my bedroom. I tried diet pills and even tried making myself throw up, but nothing felt so satisfying as the gnawing sensation of an empty belly. It provided me a false sense of self-confidence that I deeply craved, and I was hooked.
I continued a cycle of obsessively working out combined with minimal calorie intake for years. It was the one area of life where I had full control over my own personal success or failure, it was intoxicating. While other kids my age were experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I was testing the limits of how little I could eat without getting sent to a therapist. In a way, it was my own personal version of high school rebellion.
Adulthood arrived and brought with it its own challenges. I moved away from home and earned the true independence and sense of self I had always craved. Yet along with this, I let the restrictive behavior of the past years give away to the exact opposite behavior. I ate, I drank, I partied, I gained weight. I ended up hating myself.
I became my own biggest critic, and I allowed my inner voice scream its disappointment at my lack of discipline. Eventually, after years of unhealthy living accompanied by a malcontent ego, I made the decision that it was finally time to make a positive change. It was time to get healthy the right way, to take care of my body, and to be a true role model to those who are dealing with the issues that I’ve dealt with.
This is how Muddy Mommy came to be.
I worked hard, I ate healthy, I lost weight, and I was HAPPY. I wanted to share that joy, and I found that writing my experiences helped inspire many of the people who came across my musings.
However I must admit that I am far from perfect. In fact, part of the reason that my writing has been sparse as of late is because, yet again, I’ve been battling my own personal demons. After recently stepping on the scale and staring with shock at a number I had promised myself I’d never see again, I suddenly found myself smack dab in the all-too-familiar state of self-loathing that I’d thought I’d left behind me for good. I’m embarrassed. I feel foolish. I feel like a failure. And that voice in my head takes delight in confirming these feelings as it is constantly assessing, judging, and nagging me with viscious whispers of disappointment.
How can I encourage and inspire my readers when I am deep in a personal battle with my own weakness?
I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to share this tonight, I guess feel that perhaps being completely transparent and sharing my own personal struggle might help someone reading this to know that they are not alone. The struggle IS real, it’s hard, and it sucks.
Despite that, I’m a fighter, and I’ll keep battling the awful voice in my head that is determined to convince me that I’m not worthy of sharing inspiration to others. Why? Because no matter my size I have still done some amazing things! I have run nearly 100 races, two of which were marathons, I’ve qualified for and competed in the OCR World Championships, I’ve committed myself to getting up at 4:30 in the morning most weekdays to get to the gym for a workout, I try my best to eat well every day (even though I occasionally opt for delicious over practical… who doesn’t right?!?), and I am committed to living a vibrant life filled with incredible experiences, relationships, and accomplishments. I can do this at any size. I WILL do this at any size. So can you.
Long story short, I am currently struggling, and I’ve been very hard on myself, but I hope that we can all be a work in progress together. Let’s work on loving ourselves just a little bit more this year. Will you commit to that with me? Let’s end this battle once and for all.