Up until university, I never cared much about my physical appearance. Sure I cared how I looked but I was never very critical about my body shape. I ate what I wanted, didn’t really excercise in a conventional way and enjoyed life. Even as a teenager I never looked in the mirror and thought that I was fat or skinny. There were a few times that I might have fallen into that but I never obsessed about it and I never connected my food to my body. I ate what tasted good and never worried about it.
It wasn’t until I gained significant weight in university and then loss it did I develop a complex about it. I had an eating disorder where I needed to excercise all the time. I counted calories like crazy and had to negate them through excercise. I became obsessed with food and what it could do to you. It consumed my thoughts all the time. I judged others for their choices and myself even more. The most important change from going through this was I developed an obsession with perfection.
At first it started off just in terms of my body. I needed to be perfect in both what I ate and how I looked but then it started spilling into everything. I needed the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect job, to be the perfect employee, the perfect me. My obsession with my body had become an obsession with me. Soon I was living a life not for me but for what I thought others would see as perfection.
Here’s the funny thing about perfection, it can never be satisfied because it doesn’t really exist. There is no one stop perfect person because we are all different and see perfection differently. What I see as a perfect body, you may not, it’s all subjective to the individual person. That’s the way life truly is, a personal experience and if you constantly go after this perfection you will always be let down. It’s not a way to live life, trust me on this one. It can consume you until you don’t even recognize who you are anymore and you are so dissconnected with yourself you feel lost within yourself. That’s not a fun place to be.
It’s not an easy thing to turn off, this need for perfection, it can consume you and make you believe that it is truth, it’s not. I think as we age we also become conscious of our bodies and understand the bombardment of beauty standards being portrayed to us by various marketing campaigns. We understand the messages being given to us constantly, strive for perfection, it’s the only real goal. It’s not. Those aren’t real. We are real. But they make us feel like we aren’t doing it right, even though we know they aren’t living our lives, they aren’t in our heads.
Still to this day I have a hard time eating a treat without mounds of guilt on the side. I think many women feel this way, but not all. I have a few friends who eat what they want when they want, and guilt isn’t something they are consuming too. My husband has no guilt when it comes to his food, for the most part he eats healthy but when he reaches for a bag of potato chips here or there, he enjoys them all on their own. I am not there yet, I still feel guilt if I do have the occasional treat but I also recognize that not too long ago I wouldn’t haven’t even considered the notion of a treat in terms of food.
It takes time, but I hope to get back to that girl who doesn’t care so much about her body appearance, who never had guilt for indulging here or there and who truly loved life and living it. It takes practice but I am on my way.