Earlier in the month I had a realisation that I wanted to share as I believe that it may help others too. This is in no way intended to blame anyone or play the victim, I simply wanted to share my thoughts and experience.
I was looking at old Facebook pictures and realised that even when I thought I was ‘in shape’ I was actually still quite overweight. The truth is, I can’t remember the last time I was actually in good shape. By in good shape I mean fueling my body with the right nutrients, exercising on a daily basis, a healthy weight and looking and feeling good. When I was a size 12 I had all the confidence in the world and felt comfortable with my body however I was still eating McDonald’s and KFC on a regular basis and overweight. To be honest, I have never really looked after my body and essentially, never respected it.
When I was looking through those photos I felt really disappointed in myself because I realised I have never respected my body. I remember when I was 13, I would spend my pay check each week from my casual job on cheesecakes, massive blocks of Cadburys chocolate and Burger King. Payday lunch consisted of a packet of chocolate biscuits along with lollies, chips and pies. This begged the question, why have I never respected my body? The answer has multiple elements to it and boils down to education and good examples.
Healthy role models
Throughout my childhood and as a teenager, I was never taught to have respect for my body and unfortunately, I didn’t have a good role model for what healthy is or looks like.
Growing up, dinner consisted of meat, a huge helping of mashed potatoes and a tablespoon or two of frozen mixed veggies. Lunches were chips, sandwiches and baked goods.
My mum used to always tell me that the number on the scales doesn’t matter. We never had scales in our house growing up because my mum didn’t want my sisters and I weighing ourselves as she believed that it would cause body insecurity and potentially eating disorders. I feel that this is true however it caused a mentality of ‘the number on the scale doesn’t matter.’ Whenever I looked at the number on the scale (I weighed myself at the Drs office or at friends’ houses) I knew it wasn’t healthy however I brushed it off with ‘the number doesn’t matter’ therefore making it OK to be unhealthily overweight.
Again this comes down to education. During my childhood I was never taught how to process or deal with my emotions and the only way I knew how to deal with them was through binge eating which was the example set by the adults around me. I only realised this last year. From age 12 onwards, I binge ate all the time as a way of dealing with my emotions.
There are so many things that as children or teenagers, we need to be educated about and health is a huge issue that we are not being educated on enough. Health is not only eating the right foods and exercising. Health is broken down into three key elements; physical, spiritual and mental health. If we are not taught how to keep all three elements balanced and in check, how can we expect to be healthy individuals?
I realised that my body is amazing. It has kept me functioning during all these years of mistreatment and I haven’t ended up in hospital with any severe illness.
For most of my life I have had severely low iron which has now gotten to the point where I am anemic in conjunction with a B12 deficiency. My body has been so incredibly wonderful to me by keeping me going on such low iron and I haven’t shown any sort of gratitude for this. At some point, if we keep mistreating our bodies they will give out and we will end up very ill or in hospital.
Respecting your body comes down to loving yourself and having a sense of self-worth. If we are not taught this as children, it will take such a long time for us to learn that not only do we need to respect our body, we also need to learn how to respect it.
Now that I know I have been disrespecting my body for my entire life, it is time for transformation. I know that I need to change my ways because as Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change you wish to see in the world.”