Most people, not only women, struggle with weight. For most of us, the struggle is about losing weight or keeping it off.
After a lifetime of dealing with body-shame issues and going through almost every eating disorder, I finally reached a point in my life where I no longer need to worry about it. I never have to put myself through strict diets or rigorous training sessions in the gym. My BMI is low to average and my weight is good for my age and height. Sure, I might feel better in a bathing suit if I dropped 5 pounds, but I feel good about the way I currently look so I don't stress about it.
My journey to get here hasn't been easy. What I didn't know was that all that struggle wasn't serving me much, it was when I discovered self love that everything changed.
I'm going to break down my journey in a few steps so you, whomever you are, you wonderful being, can see if you identify yourself in any of these stages.
***Disclaimer: I am neither a dietitian nor a psychiatrist so only take these steps as advice. These are a compilation of moments in my journey and they intend only to work as general advice.
Phase One: You are feeling stuck and can't even stand to look at yourself in the mirror
I don't remember ever feeling great about the way I looked. As a kid, I noticed being bigger than the average girls I went to school with. I wasn't overweight but I also wasn't a skinny girl that could wear the dresses the real-size barbie dolls had.
When puberty came along, I lost that "extra weight" and it all went to my height. I remember a girl from school telling me that I was "just in the middle". She said something like I wasn't fat but I also wasn't super skinny and that was "OK". I took that as a compliment because I realized other people didn't see me as fat, though, I still wanted to look like the super skinny girls.
I made this my new identity. I felt normal, but I still was insecure about my body. It wasn't until I was 15 that I realized my "heaviness" was just having the body of a Latina woman. I had curves and the other girls didn't. This made me start embracing my body, though I still wished I was smaller so I could look the way they looked in the newest fashion.
To make a long story short, I got in my school's track team because my mom thought it would be a way to stay fit and she had the hope that I would get taller- I didn't, I'm 5'-1"- and when I got tired of it I sort of fell into depression and started gaining weight. I put on 15 pounds, and for someone as small as me, that looked like a lot. I was so disgusted with myself I couldn't ever face the mirror. I tried diets but I bounced back and got even worse as soon as I stopped them.
This is my conclusion for this phase: nothing works.
There's no diet that will give you a permanent result or any magic training. This was the time that I got so desperate to lose weight that I stopped eating altogether, and if I ate, I would get rid of whatever I ate with whatever method I could. Guess what? That didn't make me lose weight either. I was in an unhealthy cycle of not eating, eating too much and feeling guilty.
And this is what I have to say to you: you will never lose weight as long as you are in this cycle. No matter how much you work out, no matter what new diet you are trying out. Losing weight from a state of frustration and desperation will always bring you back to stage one. You need to stop and step back.
Phase Two: There's gotta be another way
Going to dinner parties was painful because I had to pretend everything was alright and eat whatever was put in front of me. That was usually followed by me running to the bathroom to get rid of whatever had just entered my system.
At this time in my life, I had just signed up for an internship-like program abroad. This would be the first time in my life that I would have absolute control of my everyday life, the first time in my life I would have to budget my food and prepare it for myself.
I gained a bunch of weight while being abroad. My priority was to make money, not lose weight so much, so I took whatever free food I could (mostly pizza), I bought hyper-processed food that was cheap (lot's of empty calories) and I got little to no exercise. In three months, I became 20 pounds bigger. This is the heaviest I've ever been.
Something changed in this time, though, I met a guy. This person was so attracted to me that I could not believe it was real. I mean, I looked my worst. Yet, here comes this guy who finds my extra skin super sexy. This was mind blowing. I got into this relationship with a skeptic heart, but the more time I spent with him, the more I realized he was truthful about his feelings. This is when things started changing for me.
This is my conclusion for this phase: you have got to face the mirror
When I came back home, I continued to talk to this guy and I started believing him. Then, I just started eating normal: not too much junk food, just normal homemade food. In a couple of months I was able to drop at least half the weight I had put on in that trip.
This is what I have to say to you: I started facing the mirror. The more I talked to him, the more I believed I was attractive. Out of curiosity, at first, I started looking at myself in the mirror trying to find what he was so attracted to. It took me a little while to understand it, but the more I did it the more I got comfortable with the way I looked. My mind changed from thinking the only way I would ever be skinny was if I didn't eat to "what if I'm not skinny and that is OK?" or "what if I'm actually as attractive or more than a skinny girl?".
Being comfortable with the way you look is the first step to everything else. Go to the bathroom, get the water ready, and look at your wonderful body in the mirror. That person in there is the person that can make you the happiest. Love her. Treat her with respect. Tell her she's worth it, because she is. And if all of this feels kind of awkward, take small steps. Maybe find someone else you love and ask them all the great attributes they think you have. You'll be surprised of all the good things people notice about you that you are too blind to see because of your frustration.
Phase Three: Staying Fit
Here's the trick, once you start being comfortable in your own skin, you start liking yourself. Once you start liking yourself, you start appreciating yourself. This will give you a whole new approach to the way you exercise and eat.
This is my conclusion for this phase: do it for you, because you love yourself
When you start eating healthy because you care about the stuff that goes into your body, because you love yourself the same way you would love your children, then McDonalds and cake stop sounding that great. You have to love your body to nurture your body the right way. The stuff you eat matters and the same way you wouldn't feed your children stuff that's poisonous (like hyper processed food or high sugar food) you shouldn't feed it to yourself.
This is what I have to say to you: It gets way easier. Once you make the commitment of loving and nurturing your body, it learns not to settle for anything less. Making healthy food part of your everyday diet is the first step. I'm not saying you can't have french fries and cake ever again, but make sure you are aware of the quantity and quality of what you eat every day.
Follow these next steps because you love yourself and you love your body:
1. As most things, to be able to accomplish this, repetition is key. Give yourself one month. In this month, make sure you create a healthy eating plan for yourself. It doesn't need to be terrible, pick a few healthy meals you already like and commit to eating only that for that month. Cut sugar as much as possible, start reading the labels of the food you buy and try not to get anything that has more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. And most importantly, drink water- all the time!
2. Make sure you balance your meals from more to less. What I mean by that is that you should try to eat the most at breakfast and the least at night. If you are the kind of person that never eats breakfast and feasts at dinner, this might be a hard one to pull off. Take little steps and start by eating a little more each morning and a little less each night.
3. Start including more activities in your schedule. Staying active is key to a healthy body. It is said that you should be taking at least 250 steps every hour. This might be impossible if you have a desk job but it shouldn't stop you. Try walking your dog every morning before work or every night before going to bed. Find a super fun workout class (like Zumba!) that feels like you are having fun more than working out. Stop making excuses and start moving. Before you know it, you'll be hitting the gym because you want to!
4. This is when it starts getting easier. After you've been eating healthy- not dieting, not being frustrated, just eating healthy delicious food- when you go try that new big ass burger from your closest fast food chain it will taste like crap. It is crazy how our bodies can heal themselves to the point that they realize that you are feeding them poison. Suddenly, that cake that sounded so great, will not taste that good after the first bite. This is a real thing, when you make nurturing your body part of your everyday activities, bad food will taste bad!
5. Sometimes, your body will need to purge all the bad things inside and reset. I recommend finding a detox plan that will help you renew your gut health and the way your body produces energy. To find a detox plan, hit up Brook at www.brookezigurs.juiceplus.com.
So here's a quick recap:
1. Stop dieting and exercising out of frustration
2. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin
3. Start eating healthy and exercising because you want to show love to your body, not because you hate it.
I hope this serves you well and don't forget to leave some comments below!