The picture featured in my ‘before’ was not the first moment I realized I needed to gain weight, it was merely another one of my low ends of the yo-yo; however, what’s important about that photo is that it marks the point where I realized that I had fixations on symmetry and ‘zero’ that were unhealthy and repeatedly driving me into stress-induced partial starvation. It was the night before I snapped that shot, when I was sitting on the edge of my guest bed–naked–and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I turned to reach for something behind me, and all I saw was bone in that mirror. The bones made me wonder when my last meal was. My breath caught in my throat. I almost cried. I was appalled because I knew better, I had already been there before and I had again let myself slip back into starvation mode without much of a thought. This time it was going to be okay, though; there was no denying anymore that fixation was getting in the way of true health, happiness, and integrity.
I wish I could say I got rid of my fixations but I don’t really work that way; instead I have to slowly replace them with healthier, louder ones that can drown out the noise of the old tune whenever it may start to be sung again. I have a new fixation, now: being truly well through maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle (both psychologically and physically healthy). I’ve always been a fairly athletic person–martial arts was my jam in addition to dance and I was always the most balanced while training in heavily-disciplined styles. Several injuries contributed to my slipping away from athleticism but being active makes me happy and energized so it’s become a passion again that helps drive my healthy eating habits (because you need lots of healthy foods to have the energy and strength to be active and gain muscle!). I can honestly say that now more than ever I’m passionate about true mind-body wellness and while I candidly desire to maintain an athletic figure, my primary goal is to care for my heart and mind and love myself as I am.
In the second (after) picture, the focus is definitely on my current progress at gaining a more rounded, lifted butt so you can’t really tell how much more muscle overall or, more importantly, how much more confidence and self-love I have in the second shot, but it’s there. It won’t always be easy but I’m working on my stress responses, my self-love, my self-control, and myself in general. Part of that self-work is sharing my story because I can’t be in denial about unhealthy fixations if I admit them openly and I can’t have people looking at my modeling portfolio and possibly idolizing my skinny-girl body without knowing the truth behind its existence. In that same vein perhaps my story can help others who are also struggling with an ED, on the spectrum or not and whatever may be the root cause of it, because it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone and that you are supported, and that what you see on social media lacks important context. This transformation Tuesday story isn’t about body transformation but mindset transformation. And as you continue to progress in transforming your mind and developing self-love day by day, even if that progression involves some setbacks from time-to-time, know that others are fighting to re-program and accept themselves right along with you. Let our end goal be to be healthy and happy and in love with our beautiful selves. And never forget:
Wellness is not defined by a number, shape, or size, and everybody has a different struggle.