I remember granting myself three daily wishes as a young girl. At the end of my shower routine, I would turn around to face the water stream, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, audibly utter three requests in the same repetitive and whiney manner, day in and day out. It wasn’t as if I could grant myself these wishes, and it wasn’t as if my uttering them out loud was going to magically change their status, but yet, I carried on asking for personal or physical favors, however minute or grandiose they were.
If I was asked what my wishes were at the time, I would plead the fifth, politely declining to answer numbers two and three. But, wish number one is something I will always openly share, as it helped spawn my journey to self appreciation, and helped me take pride in the notion of working with what you were given. The wish, you ask, “to be able to eat whatever I want and be skinny”.
I grew up in a very financially comfortable area of New York, surrounded by beautiful, well-dressed, and of course, naturally thin, teenage girls. While I considered myself pretty and a good dresser, my pre-pubescent and early high school years do not depict me as a beacon of beauty or as Kendall Jenner’s twin: the hard cold fact was, I was chubby. And, I was not the chubby that could be considered cute or squeezable, I was bloated in my mid-section, carried an inordinate amount of weight in my face and neck, and the cherry on the sundae- I gained most of my weight in my bottom half, as most women in my family have for generations. Being thin was something that, at a young age, I knew I was going to have to work hard to accomplish.
Since evolving past the awkward stage, I passed through rough patches of non-existant eating and binge eating, both of which left me scarred emotionally and definitely played an active role in slowing down my metabolism that much farther in the future. Yet, while deeply entrenched in both of those phases, I still wished I could be skinny naturally. Whether not eating at all or not merely eating enough (and please understand that I was wearing a size 00) I constantly prayed and wished to be skinnier, I walked around frustrated and angry that I would never reach my goals. And, when I was eating my body weight in take-out Chinese food and every type of pasta imaginable, ironically, I wished for the same thing. Perhaps I was punishing myself over and over, in drastically different ways, for well, not being naturally thin.
It wasn’t until several years ago that I took the drivers seat and stopped blaming myself for the way I was born. I also stopped harboring resentment towards others that had the pleasure of being able to eat whatever they so desire and stay skinny. Through deep self reflection and the understanding that anger and eating issues (on both sides of the spectrum) were so hazardously detrimental to me, and both could not change my bodies fate, I understood the mere fact that I was going to have to work for it, and began to actively do so.
It was then that I abandoned the diets and the starvations and the binges, and vowed to eat the foods that worked well for me. I made the conscious decision to adhere to a permanent healthy lifestyle, one that would have staying power, rather than a crash diet or binge session, for both of those made me resentful and bitter. And hey, guess what, my plan worked! I have maintained a solid weight for several years now and continue to feel great and full of energy when both eating healthy and when looking in the mirror, with acceptance, perseverance and patience by my side.
My takeaway: self-acceptance is a hamster wheel– you are never going to feel good and whole 100 percent of the time, and you can not stop the ride and get off when you so choose. Work with what you have and work with what you know. And of course, accept the things you can not change, rather than trying to change the things you can not accept.