Updated: Nov 9, 2019
I wasn't always a confident person. I wasn't always the first to laugh, the first to speak up or the first to go after my dreams.
Actually, I was the opposite.
For many years, I spent my days obsessing over every ounce of fat on my body, how people perceived me, and whether I was worthy enough for people's love and affection.
If you don't know my story, I grew up the only girl in a family of five boys and was home schooled all the way through until grade 12. I had a brief stint at university but quickly realized I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and dropped out. Then I got married at 18 and started my career in sales & fashion. I spent over 7 years working in various positions with the same business until I finally took the leap into entrepreneurship. Oh, and I stayed married to the man that has challenged me, tested me and helped shape me into the woman I am today.
Damn. I know that's a lot to take in and is definitely the "pretty" version of events that led me to today.
One huge aspect of my childhood that had a massive impact on my story was that I grew up overweight. Not just "needs to lose a few pounds" but rather what would be considered obese.
I remember the first day I became aware that I was overweight. My mom had taken me along with her to the pharmacy near where we lived. I loved that pharmacy. It meant sweet things, salty things and endless entertainment. At one point, my mom asked me to step on the scale. I remember weighing in at 130 lb. I was 8. From that moment on, I knew I was overweight and needed to loose weight.
I never really got over that moment. Going from being a carefree child that thinks you are just like everyone else to a child that is ashamed of their body and their endless urge to overeat is excruciating. I felt shame, guilt, remorse & hatred for my body on a daily basis. I couldn't understand why I had been cursed with this. Why couldn't I just be like everyone else? I remember sitting up night after night bawling my eyes out WISHING I looked like everyone else. When I wasn't crying, I was falling asleep dreaming about what it would be like to be thin. I knew that if I was thin everything would be better. It was a vicious, never-ending cycle that I fell into for over 17 years of my life.
When I was 15, I lost the weight. My brother was getting married and had asked me to be a bridesmaid. I went to get fitted for the dress. They measured me up and everything was just dandy, but when the dress arrived, it was too tight. I couldn't even get it zipped up.
I guess my self-hatred had finally reached a boiling point. From that moment on, I worked out and ate like a saint. I remember that first day crying on the treadmill while cursing at myself for being so fat. My motivation for weight-loss was entirely hate based. And it worked.
Before my brother's wedding, I lost 25 lbs in less than a couple of months. My grandmother came down for the wedding and told me she would pay me for every 10lbs I lost. Everywhere I went people were giving me compliments. I was doing it! I was becoming skinny.
The compliments were enough to keep me going. I was riding a high, and I didn't want to let it go. I kept loosing and loosing, and I kept restricting and restricting. First, no carbs. Then, no protein. Finally, even apples seemed to be the enemy. I lost my period for 7 months, but my doctor told me it was normal and to keep up my running. My hour long run on a diet of apples and water.
I would go to friends houses, birthday parties and youth group events and get a high from watching everyone eat all while not eating a single thing. It was like a drug to be "better" than everyone else. Those people were so weak. I felt so superior.
I had lost 70 pounds in less than 6 months. I weighed in at 135 lbs. (To put things in perspective, my "healthy weight" target is 160-170, and I currently weigh 190).
I fit into a pair of size 6 pants once and cried. This was it. I had arrived.
But I still hated my body. I hated my belly. I hated my breasts. I hated my legs. All I saw when I looked in the mirror was imperfections. I craved to look like my friends. Did people think I was fat?
Things finally came crashing down when my mother was arguing with me about not eating enough. She was trying to get me to eat a piece of bread and was shaking it in front of my face when I passed out.
Fuck. My secret was out.
And the weight started piling on.
I remembered how AMAZING food tasted. I remembered how fantastic eating a whole cheesecake to yourself could be, and my body quickly remembered too.
I somehow managed not to gain ALL the weight back. Maybe it was my extreme self-loathing or maybe all that insane running had built up enough muscle or maybe my brain had developed a little bit more and with it some self-control. Whatever the reason, I only put on about 30 pounds which put me nicely around my goal weight.
But the self-loathing intensified.
Over the next eight years, I continued to chase the impossible dream. I lost and gained 30 pounds more times than I can even remember. Yo-yo dieting was my favorite pass time.
Everything changed for me when I was 25. I reached my "rock bottom" when I drank 12 or 13 cocktails at a Christmas party and became so obliterated that I barely had any sense of where I was or what was going on around me.
I had never truly become self-aware. I had made up a million excuses for my actions and told myself that what I was doing or saying or THINKING was normal and okay. But that night I was faced with a choice: quit drinking and start digging into my problems or loose everything I cared about in my life.
I quit drinking and started on a path of transformation.
I started going to therapy. I started unpacking why I thought the way I thought and stopped telling myself that these thoughts were okay. I finally had had enough of the bullshit. I had enough of hating myself, of being isolated, of wondering if I was good enough, of thinking about the way I looked and sounded and acted 24/7. I was simply put: done.
The biggest lesson I had to learn was so simple: it is not okay to hate yourself.
Learning to accept who I was, how I looked and where I was in life ended up being the key to finding freedom from the pain I experienced on a daily basis.
Today I weigh about 20 pounds more than is healthy for me. I still have a lot of bad eating habits and patterns and am working through these issues, but I don't hate myself anymore. Yesterday, I put on a skimpy bikini and sent a photo to a friend excited about wearing my new suit. I can't even IMAGINE doing that even last year. The way I view myself and value myself has completely been flipped on its head.
I hope by reading my story today and how I got to where I am inspires just one person to start on their journey of transformation and of ending the BULLSHIT.
It will be hard. It will challenge you.
But f*ck will it change you.