I used to be obsessed with my body, in a constant pursuit of making it smaller. A huge motivating factor for my eating disorder behaviors was trying to look thinner. Yet, even as I lost weight and followed the extremely strict food and eating rules, I felt increasingly worse. The eating disorder paradox is that the more focus we put on our bodies, and the more we try to change them, the more dissatisfied we become.
Even though I believed that losing weight would make me like my body more, it actually made me dislike my body more. Rather, once I gained about forty pounds, I found myself with a significantly more positive body image. This was possibly because I actually looked better (curves look much nicer on me than the bony, waif-like physique) and also possibly because I had come to appreciate my body for what it was rather than hate it for what it wasn’t. Looking back at the thoughts that consumed my mind ten years ago, I would be lying if I said that my “goal body” was the body I’m currently living in. However, I like my body so much more today than I did ten years ago. Having the freedom to live in my body rather than feel imprisoned by it is worth 100% of every bit of discomfort that it took to get to this point.
The best part of letting go of the desire to have a different body is the fact that I almost never actually think about my body. Sure, I am now generally comfortable in my skin (and dare I say it, even fond of my shape/size.) But the size and shape of my body has so little influence on the status of my day, that it almost doesn’t matter that I have a more positive body image — and that’s incredibly freeing. Instead of daydreaming about being thinner, and devising extensive plans for how to achieve a different physique, I have the mental space to think about other, more important things. Instead of waking up and asking myself what I can do to avoid food better than I did the day before, I ask myself this:
“What can I do today to enjoy life, honor God, and bless other people?”
Instead of counting down the minutes until the end of the day, when I can finally be relieved that I don’t have to fruitlessly strive towards a totally futile goal, I can reflect on what God was doing in me and through me during that day. Oh yeah, and the delicious food I got to eat that day, without being afraid that it would ruin my life’s goals.
Speaking of which, in the time that I was obsessed with my body, I was also obsessed with food. In addition to trying to avoid eating it, I was constantly trying to be around it. (Looking back, I now realize that this was because I was not feeding myself properly, and was freaking hungry.) I’d spend hours carefully crafting beautiful baked goods, like these cupcakes, but never eat them. (That is, unless I was binge eating them.) Nowadays, I’ve realized that I don’t even like cupcakes, and gladly pass on them in favor of ice cream, pie, and all the other desserts that I actually enjoy. Now that is food freedom!