Over the past five years, this beautiful space of mine has transitioned from a “highlight reel” to “the real shit.”
Back in 2012, I would post all the great things. What was going well in my classroom. That one time I went to a bootcamp class. The salad – filled with veggies from the Campbell Farmers Market. All the things that made me look like a “put-together” human.
The french fries never got posted. The bottle of wine I downed after an especially difficult day with my students. I never shared the things I struggled with.
And when life got hard for five months in a row, I just disappeared from the blog altogether.
Obviously, a lot of that has changed. If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know that I am way more open about the challenges I face.
I have nothing to hide.
But, back before this blog existed and even in the early years of Eat Teach Blog, I used to send e-mails to myself. To get that cathartic release of journaling. Without an audience watching.
Anyway, I happened to stumble upon these e-mails on Saturday morning.
And what I found broke my heart.
Reading the words back to myself gives me so much physical and emotional pain.
Every single post signed off with a comment about my weight or being unhappy about my physical appearance.
It was a year of a lot of Herbalife shakes and/or Subway for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was paralyzed when a friend recommended we eat anywhere but Subway. And it was the year that I gained my confidence through people commenting on my appearance.
I made sure to document the clothes I wore when people praised me for how I looked. So I could wear them again and feel good. Because someone else commented that I looked great.
I gave up on Subway. And I ate a lot. I stress ate all the time. I was a first-year teacher and I was literally just trying to survive each day. The guilt of eating crap and not working out ate at me every single day.
I let people tell me I wasn’t good enough. And then I fucking BELIEVED THEM. I changed my actions and my behavior because someone indirectly told me I was a liar for promoting a healthy lifestyle.
I said horrible, horrible things about myself. And guess what? The guilt never worked. In fact, it had the opposite effect. In 2012, I said horrible things about myself. And, over the next three years, I would proceed to gain 30 more pounds.
I lived my life for other people. I couldn’t stop to acknowledge the excitement of my friends getting married because I was so focused on how I would appear in the dress I wore on their big day.
Yes, I was unhealthy. But, worst, I was unhappy.
And I sobbed because even after saying all of these cruel, terrible things about myself, nothing changed. I was still unhealthy. I was still miserable. And I wasted so much time feeling guilty for every action I took (or didn’t take).
Guilt didn’t work.
It never works.
I know you can’t always turn off the negative thoughts that creep into your mind. Even today, they show up from time to time. But the difference between my 2009 self and my present self is that I love the shit out of myself.
I fuel my body with healthy foods most of the time. But when I do decide to indulge in a piece of pizza or a chocolate chip cookie, I don’t beat myself up for it.
We move on.
I’m a work in process. But I’m also a masterpiece. And when you can treat yourself like a masterpiece, the “work in process” becomes a whole lot easier.
I don’t have it all figured out. But I do know that my voice has suddenly become the loudest and the most important. I don’t seek validation or attention from other people. And when I’m feeling icky about how I feel (NOT how I look), I figure out how I can take steps to feel my best again.
I wish I could package all these words and this advice and deliver it to my 20-something self. But maybe I had to go through all that to get to where I am now. Maybe we all have to go through this kind of heartache and pain to realize that we are actually pretty fucking amazing.
Whatever the case, I’m just happy I am where I am now. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I will forever be working toward a stronger, better, healthier version of myself. We should all be doing that anyway.
But I will never, ever, EVER tear myself down in that way again.
It doesn’t work.
The only thing that works is love.
Question of the Day:
- Do you sabotage your progress by criticizing yourself?
- How can you be your biggest cheerleader?