Finding Self Worth: The Day I Stopped Letting Others Define Me
Breakfast was a banana. Lunch was a cup of vegetables, an egg + half of an apple. Dinner was another cup of vegetables, an egg + the other half of the apple from lunch. This is what I ate to fuel my body for a combined total of two to three hours of exercise per day. It didn’t matter that I easily burned all of those calories + more during the first hour of exercise. In my mind, I was still eating too much, + I was still not doing enough.
I ran at least 5 miles each day, went to HIIT training sessions, led small group exercise classes, + lifted weights. Combined, I thought this is what it would take to finally make me look like one of those retouched magazine models.
Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I have never been more than 105 pounds in my life. I’m telling you this not because I want the world to know how much I weigh, but because I want you to understand how serious eating disorders are. Two-thirds of college-aged women have an undiagnosed or emerging eating disorder, with 60 percent engaging in some form of dieting or binging. This is where I found myself. Convinced I was overweight + unappealing on every level.
People knew something wasn’t right. I was frequently told to eat. I was passing the serving bowls far more often than anyone else. I was the recipient of far more concerned looks than I’m willing to admit. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship. One in which I was made to believe that I would never be good enough + deserved to be treated as such. I listened to that for years + after constant exposure to that view of myself, I began to believe it.
How could I let my self-worth suffer like that? Well, what happens is I began to internalize my feelings + promise myself that the next day I’d be better. Each day I would wake up + tell myself, “This is it. This is the day I’ll do it. I’ll be better. I’ll finally be enough to make everyone happy.”
But that day never came.
It never came because it doesn’t exist. Girls, it didn’t exist not because I wasn’t *enough* but because I realized I couldn’t live my life trying to be enough for every, single person on this massive earth. That is absolutely impossible.
I didn’t learn that until I walked into a local CrossFit gym. I showed up — wispy, hungry, but nonetheless determined. Five minutes in, the trainer asked me about my health + fitness. I told him I worked out regularly, ate healthy foods + he just looked at me.
After what felt like eternity, he said, “To lift weights, you need to eat. To be strong, you need to eat. You will eat + you will gain weight + it will be OK.”
No one ever addressed me like that. Straightforward. No dancing around the issue. It was out on the table + I had to respond.
I cried when I got home + again promised I would be better. This time, however, I promised I’d be better, not for anyone else, but for myself. I finally let myself eat, + for the first time in a long, long time, my stomach stopped growling.
The trainer doesn’t know it, but he probably saved my life — or at least saved me from a far more drastic set of circumstances than I had been in.
I still struggle, but I’m getting there. I still have days that I don’t want to eat or I don’t want to leave the gym out of fear that I didn’t work hard enough. But I fight those feelings the best I can. Everyone has a bad day. The key is not letting bad days + negative thoughts define your life, ++ thankfully, I’m not anymore.
I’m finally learning to believe no matter how much weight you put on the barbell, you can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can be the finest, fittest girl on the planet + someone is going to find issue with you or the way you live your life. ++ you know what? That’s fine. Let them live that way. Let them believe that. But not you. Don’t ever accept that. If someone doesn’t value you as a human being + appreciate what you do, walk away.
Confidence + strength don’t come from making everyone happy — I learned that the hard way. Those qualities come from making yourself happy + living a life filled with all of the passion + excitement you can muster.
I can’t ask that you take all of the advice I give, but if you can do one thing for me, it would make all of the difference. Take a second to promise you will never let someone else’s vision guide how you see yourself. Believe that you are an absolutely stunning individual… because you truly are.
+ Grace [@gm.inchaarg], Kent CHAARG