I genuinely enjoy social media. I often worry about saying that because it’s now trendy to exist off the grid, but social media has equipped me with means to connect with both people I’ve met in person, but also other like-minded people whose ideas are worth listening to. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram also aid in marketing my blog, and in turn, I aspire to motivate those who feel recovery is so far-fetched that recovery is absolutely worth it. Social media, however, can also be detrimental to your self-confidence by providing a false sense of reality or virtually slapping you in the face every time you’re reminded of a past life you no longer wish to live but also are challenged to let go of. Although it’s easy for me to avoid getting caught up in others’ posts and to feel a compulsion to go back to old behaviors, it’s not as elementary to let go of yearning to look like a version of me plagued by mental illness and a desire to be thin. A me that was so obsessed with dieting and over-exercising that I sabotaged friendships and relationships and put myself at risk of life-long side effects; moreover, I neared death, and that’s something I am reminded of every time I’ve had the urge to restrict my intake again. Although I’m recovered now, each day is a new day to commit to myself and the life-long process that is ensuring my eating disorder doesn’t take over my life once more, and as we approach a new year I found it to be fitting to say goodbye to my diet-obsessed body as I welcome a body who leads a life in the pursuit of happiness – and not the faux-happiness dieting often engrains in you before it turns your life into an obsessive, not-worth-it hell.
Bodies change. Bodies are supposed to change. Sometimes reiterating this idea reminds me that my teenage body isn’t even something I could go back to if I wanted to. The phrase “freshman fifteen” should retire in 2018, and this same idea tormented me going into my freshman year in 2014 until I moved to Chicago and began to accept my new, recovered self. Adult bodies endure more responsibility and stress than teenage bodies, so it should be assumed that adult bodies thus change to adapt to the stress just like a pre-teen body changes entering into puberty. I never made this connection until recently, and it makes emotionally and mentally adjusting to my new body, a body that’s capable of doing so much more than my teenage body, easier. I don’t like to live my life with regret, but the trepidation I was swept over by with the idea of gaining weight my freshman year only left me with missed opportunities on fun and making the most of the one time you get to be an undergrad. If anything, my decision to not engage in the partying, the going out, and the city exploration only led me to inspire freshman to come. The taste I’ve gotten of this lifestyle this past year helps me let go of the diet mentality as I’ve realized how lovely a life worth living is without micro-managing everything.
Social media recently reminded me of the time I had abs. Having a six-pack was all I ever used to dream of, and eating less than a thousand calories per day was a sure fire way to get there while destroying my metabolism, draining me of the limited energy I was trying to run on, fogging my brain and making it impossible to study much less engage in meaningful conversation, and finally putting me at risk for serious medical conditions if I were to continue that lifestyle. My body is nourished and glows now. My hair doesn’t fall out, my nails don’t flake off, and I’m not growing a weird layer of hair on my abdomen and arms like I was when my body was malnourished. The food I ate when I was in the midst of my dieting days disgusts me, and I won’t lie that my abs were nice at one point but aren’t what I care about now. I have friends and family that love me for who I am and not what I once wanted to be, but more importantly, I’ve welcomed in a new-found self that I love for who I am and not what my past was or ever wanted to be. The subtle ab reminders on Facebook and Instagram don’t trigger me, rather they inspire me to keep on doing my thing knowing how sad I was in that previous life.
To 2018: a year for body kindness, traveling, eating good food, meeting and spending time with worthwhile people, graduating, and journeying through a new, recovered life.
Goodbye diet-self, hello eat what I want, when I want self.
To Mike who offered me a drink at the Ten Sleep Climbing Festival, now you know why I didn’t accept. I hope I can take you up on that offer someday sooner rather than later if you’re still game.