My Journey to Happy: A Brief Discussion on Body Image
It’s not a secret that I’ve lost some weight. I’ve never fully discussed my transition or reason for the lifestyle changes publicly as I’ve never felt my reasoning needed any justification from any one person. But I experienced something today that made me think differently, and I wanted to share it with you as well as delve a little deeper into the past year and what it’s meant for me and my life.
After work today, I endured the traffic through the rain towards my usual daily workout at my gym. I’ve been exercising on a routine for almost 12 months. In fact, it’ll be a year in about three weeks that I’ve been regimented in my fitness and health, and I’m down about 80 pounds. Today is cardio day, and I usually tune in to a podcast to help me focus on the next 45 minutes. I usually love Serial or Radiolab, but I’ve been really into This American Life lately. I usually listen to them on the weekends when they stream on NPR. I noticed a new podcast had been uploaded to their channel, and it piqued my interest. The episode titled Tell Me I’m Fat detailed different personal accounts on body image and what it meant to be overweight to them. The subject matter was, to say the least, provocative. I suggest everyone take a listen and develop their own opinions. I’ll link to the podcast here.
The impetus for this podcast was columnist Lindy West’s idea that one could come out as fat, so to speak. As one would come out of the closet as gay or transgender, one could “come out” as fat. I am paraphrasing her ideas here, but this was a way of taking ownership of one’s body and loving oneself regardless of societal stigma. Other points of view followed Lindy’s including a woman’s loss of identity post weight loss, the experience of being black and overweight in America and the Christian weight loss movement. All of these stories in this podcast hit home for me and made me think about my own weight loss journey.
Thoughts and viewpoints expressed in this podcast discussed the idea that one could fully feel comfortable in their own skin and not be thin. I personally believe this to be true, however, that wasn’t my truth. The overall message I gathered from this podcast is that every person has an individualized outlook on their body image. As a society, I feel like we like to put people in boxes to generalize and understand their situations better, but we are all mostly unique individuals.
I was not comfortable in my skin or body for most of my teenage years through the beginning of college. That was my truth and my experience. I tried to find a true before photo to show my progress when I realized I relied on the selfie photos for nearly a decade to hide any visualization of my body as I had perceived. You can see an array of all my photos on my Instagram account.
I wasn’t happy with myself. I wanted to go hiking. I didn’t want to go on some nature trail through a park. I wanted to properly hike a steep incline. I wanted to train for a marathon. As I got older with a bit more paid vacation, I wanted to travel the world and see different cultures. Maybe I could one day walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. How could I accomplish any of this in my lifetime if I couldn’t walk a small flight of stairs or even feel comfortable moving?
I made a decision last year to work hard on myself once and for all to be the person I knew I could be. I am nearing 30, and I know that genetics and science only start to work against me at that point.
I am proud of the progress I’ve made and continue to make as I am still changing and becoming a better person each day in my eyes. But this is my life experience. I don’t imagine myself to be anyone’s inspiration, and I hold compliments of the like in very high regard. I am just doing what I feel is best for myself, and I am happier for it. At the end of the day, we all need to love ourselves as ourselves. That’s where it starts and ends.
Lindy West discusses in the podcast about the beauty of the body in its natural form. We are all beautiful; I don’t want to give the impression that I feel people who are thinner are superior to those who are overweight. Quite the contrary. There is beauty in everyone. I did what was best for myself, and that may not be what is best for someone else. I’ll beat this dead horse one last time: we all need to love ourselves as ourselves however that may be. I finally do.