I think we all feel pressures from society to look a certain way, whether its coming from the media, your peers, or family. As a model, I felt this in the form of my career. I felt as if I didn't achieve a certain body type, I would not work or achieve the things in my career that I wanted to. I lost a job or two once because of the way my body looked.
I deprived myself so much when I started modeling. I was only 14 and I labeled foods as bad and told myself I was not aloud to eat grains, dairy or sweets. I also never ate much meat because of my love for animals. I would go months without eating these foods, and only on holidays I would treat myself. Otherwise, I would have a salad for nearly every meal. Then when I signed with a modeling agency in Miami, I allowed myself a celebration (it was the holidays also so maybe I went a little crazy). I let myself eat food I had labeled as bad. This quickly spiraled out of control. I started binging because I had deprived myself for so long. I'm an emotional eater. So, when I put on weight, I became upset with myself and when I became upset, I would eat more. The cycle would just continue, until I had gained 40 lbs.!
After depriving myself for so long, my relationship with food was so unhealthy. It took me years to recover from this unhealthy way I had trained myself to think. I think my biggest problem during these years was the fact that I felt like I needed to conform to these unattainable standards and that I would speak very negatively to myself when I was not achieving those standards. I was honestly, so miserable. My weight was the only thing that really mattered to me and I felt like I was holding myself back in my career when I kept gaining weight. But I was being so mean to myself, and putting so much pressure on myself. There was no way I was going to lose any weight with this mindset. I viewed workouts not as fun, but as a need. I told myself I had no choice. This made me not want to workout even more. It was a chore to me.
The quote that has had the largest impact on me is
"Talk to yourself like you would your best friend,"
When I read this quote it really made me stop and think. I would never be so hard on or so mean to a friend. I genuinely felt bad for the things that I had said to myself. Reading that quote had allowed me to step outside of my body and look at things from an outsiders point of view.
I was always my toughest critic. It's so easy to let your inner voice go off on a tangent of negativity, but whenever you catch yourself spiraling, stop and treat yourself with some compassion. Allow yourself to make mistakes and don't beat yourself up over it.
Treat yourself with kindness!
Another thing I needed to address, why did I want to conform to these unrealistic standards? Even when I was at my thinnest, I didn't feel thin enough. I would stand next to other models, and I would always feel like I was the biggest. And a lot of these girls weren't healthy either. I would see lots of eating disorders running rampant. The black coffee for breakfast diet. The only eating vegetable diets. Some modeling agents even encouraged this unhealthy mindset. These girls weren't happy. I wasn't happy. And when I really thought about it, I didn't want to be that thin. I would rather be healthy and strong.
Neither when I was depriving myself, or binging, was I healthy. My weight meant nothing, if I wasn't healthy. I decided to stop getting on the scale. The numbers always lied anyways. The scale is a horrible way to track your progress. If you must track your progress, try to measure by photographs or use a measuring tape! Muscle weighs more than fat, so you can never really track your progress on the scale.
The most important thing that I had to do before going on a journey to become HEALTHY, was to accept myself where I was at. To tell myself I was beautiful whether I was 40lbs heavier or lighter and that no ones opinion of me mattered. I wanted to become healthier for myself, not for my job. When I resumed working out, I made sure I was working out to become STRONGER, not to become thinner. And I was doing workouts I enjoyed, not the ones that simply burned the most calories.
A lot of people gained their quarantine 15 or weight over the holidays, and if you're one of those people, I want you to stay positive and know that its okay and normal. Its natural for your body to change and fluctuate. You deserve to splurge and let go once in a while. A lot of things have changed this last year and we all handle stress differently. Please be nice to yourself and speak highly of yourself. Tell yourself you're beautiful, allow yourself to have days off, and workout because you LOVE YOURSELF not because you want to change yourself. Your body is your temple.
BONUS TIP: Follow body positive people on Instagram! and happy news accounts, cats, memes, you know, the fun stuff!
Have you ever felt pressured to fit into a certain society standard?