Everyone has their issues with themselves. Their monster, their vices, their wins and losses. Body imagine, however, seems to be something that overtakes a lot of hearts of females (as well as some males) in existence. It’s an obvious subject, but I just felt inclined to write something about it– to mark a memory for myself.
I was always a chubby kid. I was about nine pounds at birth and the weight did nothing but spill in after that (as it would). I had a young mother who lived a rocky lifestyle, so health foods weren’t exactly the first thing on her mind. My brother and I grew up on a diet of whole milk, instant iced tea, soda, spaghetti, pizza rolls, hot pockets, and dollar store potato chips. Food was the love of my life and the only thing that kept me company at such a young age. I wasn’t much of an extrovert, so I considered it to be my entertainment and best friend. I didn’t pay much attention to what I looked like, not that children really do. I carried on from one day to the next.
The older I became, the more apparent it was that I was bigger than everyone else. I was 110 pounds by the time I was in the fourth grade, which didn’t seem like a big deal to me, until some of the other kids had fun at my expense. One of my first memories of getting picked on was during my fourth grade year. A boy (who is now a registered child sex offender–go figure) wrote on a piece of paper, “Steph weighs 50000000000000000 [insert 4 pages of zeros] pounds.” He showed it to the other kids who thought it was funny and proceeded to laugh in my face about it, I was crushed. I didn’t feel normal. At that moment, I made all my problems weight related. Anything that was happening at home or school, it was because I was fat. Isolation at such a young age, was only the beginning.
Around this time AOL was hopping onto the scene. Not many kids had computers or the internet yet, but my Grandmother was nice enough to make that happen for us. I was immediately hooked and at that point, I found no reason to do anything else with my time besides park myself in front of a boxed screen for several hours, making friends around the country….being able to be someone else. At ten years old, I was catfishing people. I would go into chatrooms stating that I was a 15/f/pa that had “CCC cup size” (ha!) and I was willing to take any attention I could receive. No one had much technology to send each other pictures at this time, unless you were lucky enough to have a webcam, so most people conversed with each other on behalf of scripted physical descriptions. I was in love with the me I wanted to be. It gave me an inner sense of confidence while life was falling apart at home.
On arrival of entering high school, I was 210 pounds. I turned into this gothy kid living out of the Hot Topic clothes I begged my Grandmother to buy me for birthdays and Christmas. UFO pants, band tees, crazy hair, and piercings. When I started dressing like the “rebels,” I gained more attention. I proceeded to start doing things that would earn me a bigger circle of “real friends.” I turned to cigarette smoking, drugs, alcohol, being a smart ass in class, anything you could think of that would gain a glance. I managed to get a circle of friends, mostly males, but that would be the extent of that. I was always just the friend, dying inside, watching all the other girls seemingly happy hand in hand with their boyfriends. I wanted it so bad. I even became so obsessed with a senior during my sophomore year that I made up a complete bullshit story on how we were together. I would create this alternate universe where him and I would hang out after school, that I lost my virginity to him, that he was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I told people these stories. That guy never gave me the time of day. I tried talking to him one time and he just kind of stared at me. Even after that, my heart was broken the day he graduated. I again linked every ounce of this to my weight.
Junior year, I’m up to 225 pounds. No other girl in my class weighs as much as I do. I’m heavily involved in the party scene, drowning out any image of reality. I met this guy around then. He was 19 years old, he was cute, he was also my friend’s boyfriend. Mind you I’ve never kissed a boy at this point, but I thought about it, all the time…. I thought about everything, all the time. This guy eventually strays away from his girlfriend to start hanging out with me. To make a long story short, I threw my virginity away like a bag of trash randomly one night to this guy. A guy that I’ve never even KISSED. I thought that since he wanted to have sex with me, that meant he had to like me a lot, right? Right?! I even lied to him saying that I wasn’t a virgin so I sounded like I knew what I was doing. We had sex a few times, and one day we’re laying next to each other and one of the shittiest things I’ve ever heard was said to me, “You know, you gotta real cute face, if you lost weight, you’d look good.” What the fuck? See my cursing? I’m almost still angry about it. I sobbed for hours. When I was starting to feel slightly comfortable in my own skin, it was taken. My, how I felt so incredibly STUPID. A few days later I found out that he was still seeing his ex girlfriend the whole time. That was the end of that. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a whole journey of a complete lack of respect for myself.
I moved out of my mother’s house during my senior year to my Grandmother’s. A fresh start, a new life… I thought everything would be great. I didn’t have any friends in the town I had moved to, so I turned back to the internet for a safe haven. I became extremely big on Myspace and Blink182 chat rooms. Looking to talk to and feel like I’m worth something to someone. I had real pictures of myself, but the angles did my actual self no justice at all. The fact that so many strangers were telling me I was beautiful made me so happy. They were my real friends. They made me feel good about myself. I then began this very long strain of meeting people off the internet. Boys. A lot of boys. A lot of one night stands. A lot of repeated mistakes thinking that sleeping with people would make them like me better. If I could go back and know what I know now, I would. That can’t happen, so perhaps my mistake can help others. Aside the trysts of numerous occasion, I didn’t stop to think for one second the danger I was putting myself in. Not just STDs or pregnancy, but what if one of these guys weren’t who they said they were? What if one of them was a murderer? That never crossed my mind one time. In the middle of all that I met my first boyfriend on Myspace at 20 years old. My weight continued to crawl, but I didn’t care anymore because someone finally loved me. Destructive and lasting a little over two years, that would be the only guy in my life that I would actually date from the internet.
When one relationship ended, another began. I had jumped into a rebound relationship with an addict that was tremendously stressful, and eons more heartbreaking than anything I had ever experienced. I had gotten pregnant, gotten an abortion, and our firework display of emotional rollercoasters quickly burned to the ground within 3 months.
At that point, I started losing weight. Not on purpose, it was just happening. It was the first time in my life that I was so stressed out that I had no desire to eat. One might worry in a situation like this, but I was actually happy about it.
I took that opportunity to somewhat start changing my physical self. Granted, I was still partying on a daily basis, but to become that vision I always imagined since I was a teenager was my ultimate goal. I began eating a little better, took over an overly physical job, began a love affair with Stackers, and developed a slight eating disorder. The diet peoples were introduced to me by a friend who used them to get through her hangovers at work, and being the alcoholic junkie I am, I hopped on board. I was in love with the speed aspect of it all. I didn’t give two shits about sweating buckets of water in a 120 degree factory, I had way too much energy to care. I loved that it boomed me through my whole shift and had me ready to start the next night over again. All the cocaine I refused to do in my life and I chose to do this, which is just as bad, but I couldn’t let it go. I quickly noticed how fast weight was pouring off my body. It was so unreal. I became obsessed with weighing myself on a daily basis, multiple times throughout the day. I always needed to look at myself in the mirror sideways with my shirt up, just to see if I looked skinnier that day. I picked, pulled, and prodded at all my imperfections – obsessing over every single one. I would skip numerous meals, sometimes leading to binge eating. If I binge ate that night, I would end up sitting in the bathroom for an hour TRYING to make myself throw up. My gag reflex was non-existent, so I would be practically choking myself to throw up all the shit I had eaten, crying to God that I just wanted to fucking throw up. This went on for awhile. I dropped 85 pounds in 3 1/2 months. I had no boobs anymore, SO much skin. I still hated my body, I still wanted to look better. Numerous friends and family members made comments about how I looked. Some thought I had gotten too thin, some thought I looked great, everyone said it happened way too fast. I didn’t care though. I kept going. When I started gaining endless attention from guys, I knew I couldn’t give up then! But I had to. I started developing a stinging sensation up my arms on almost a nightly basis. Kind of like pins and needles, but worse. It would keep me up at night, wondering what was wrong with me. No, I never made it to a doctor, but after a ton of research, I came to the conclusion that it was the diet pills. People taking the same thing had experienced similar side effects, especially when taking more when they were supposed to.
After that, I started calming down on that. I weaned myself off the diet pills, which was harder than I thought. I had been relying on them to get me through my daily routine for a few months, so it was kind of like going through detox. I survived it, and no, things didn’t get better after that, but at least I had kicked that habit. I didn’t gain weight back immediately, I was still working the same job, still barely eating, so my weight stayed the same for a long time, but I still hated myself every single day. It was scary and uncomfortable. Who wants to hate the body they’re in?
It’s not necessary to tell my life story of what happened in between then and now. A lot of things did. Terrible things. Those events are of the past and I at this point I can only use the experience to better my future. I will say that once I got sober on April 30, 2013, my life changed. I had freed myself from any substance and drink after a bad run. My whole perception of myself changed and I was instilled with the drive to take care of myself. Yes, I gained about 20 pounds upon sobriety. But with some footwork, I was able to get rid of most of that, just by walking, A LOT. I stopped caring so much about the outside stuff. Don’t get me wrong, you should want to take care of you, but you shouldn’t let it become an unhealthy addiction in itself. AA taught me to love myself, as well as everyone else, despite the events that may transpire in our lives. I was taught to be grateful about everything, because the next person may not be so lucky. Body image can be as any street drug. I chose to give it my all, to give it up.
I still had my moments. Always wishing for that better body, wanting to be those Victoria’s Secret models I see on TV. I’m a woman, of course I’ll think this way. In the beginning of April of this year, I stumbled across a workout regime that couldn’t have been made easier than chewing gum. That regime would become a very big part of my life, every day. I almost sound like a spokesperson, but no dears, I do not work for Cassey Ho. Through endless Googling, the Blogilates site popped in my results. I checked it out. I was almost skeptical that I found something like this and was wondering how it could possibly be free. The only requirement was an e-mail address so I could get passwords each month to unlock each workout calendar. I was skeptical at first. Thinking, oh boy, I’m going to be flooded with spam every single day…or thinking there’d be a catch somewhere. I signed on anyway. I began the Beginner’s Calendar to aim towards my unfit needs. I wasn’t sure if I’d stick to this or not, but each day passing, I was doing it. I made it a point to do my workouts the second I walked in from work in front of my computer, every single day. I was so weak at first, barely battling through some of the workouts that seemed so simple in front of me. I stuck it out however, and even managed to obtain clean eating habits in between. Cassey does offer a food plan, but I declined. I know what I should and shouldn’t be eating, so I had to make it work in my budget. Before I knew it I was feeling stronger, getting through some exercises I could barely do at day one. I felt better about myself, mostly because I was simply ACCOMPLISHING a workout every day. Sure enough, I completed the Beginner’s Calendar. I slimmed down a bit, not much, but there was definitely a difference. Yes, on the outside, but more so on the INSIDE. It’s like I woke up one day and realized that I wasn’t shredding my self image anymore. That was the day I felt euphoria, and that was the day I started my ah-MAY-zing calendar challenge. Longer and more strenuous workouts that are making me feel absolutely fantastic. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without this in my life. I’ve tried to explain it to people, whom all think it sounds strange, but that doesn’t matter to me. At this point, most days I am not struggling with an issue with my self image. All it took was a little footwork.
Today I’m 10 pounds lighter, that was almost two months ago. Sure, it doesn’t seem like much to the person looking for overnight results, but it’s the world to me. I haven’t just lost fat, I’ve gained muscle. Everything is looking more toned. I enjoy having a schedule that is set for me. I’m not saying I’m booming with energy every single day, but I’ve never regretted muscling through a workout that I didn’t want to do. More so, I’m the most happy with the way I’ve gone about changing myself this time. I’m happy that I’m eating right and taking care of my body for the most part. I’m happy that I’m not sucked into a hole of illusion that makes me think starving, puking, and diet pills were my only way out. I’m happy that I’m not sad every day anymore. I had to make this work for myself. No one would do it for me, nor would I expect them to. So if some soul out there is STILL reading down to this point, odds are that you are feeling how I was. I promise you that there is a way out of that rut if you’re willing to work for it. Nothing could ever beat that feeling of being satisfied with accomplishment.