So remember my promise that I’m going to be in Glamour? It’s on newsstands!
My buddy Jess just sent me a pic of the article. Check it:
Gahhhhh kind of crazy. But it’s me! If you can read the little snippet there, it’s a pretty edited version of the full story I submitted. Which I actually have the complete version of (go figure). Read on for my True Life: I’m Happy With My Weight story:
Up until about a year ago, the last time I could remember being completely happy with my weight I was in the eighth grade. Ah, the blissful life of a perpetually skinny 13-year-old.
I would eat roast beef sandwiches the size of my head and shovel mountains of ice cream into my bowl each night, confident in my genetics and the fact that the scale never budged even a centimeter. Until the day it, well, did.
It wasn’t until the summer before I started college that I first really noticed my body changing in a way that I couldn’t blame on a growth spurt. My cushy job as a nanny left my body, ahem, cushier. And my spotty attendance at the gym didn’t do anything to slow my expanding skin.
No matter what I did (hours on the elliptical, nights of feeling my stomach ache with hunger after a day of starvation, hours of berating myself for not sticking to the extreme diets I continually put myself on), the scale continued to climb. I was averaging ten pounds a year by the time I graduated college, and a last-minute doctor visit before I moved to New York to pursue my dream job left me biting back tears when the scale registered squarely on the highest weight I had ever been.
If I was honest about it (which I never was), I knew why my weight continued to climb. I loved food. And I had convinced myself it loved me back, something I couldn’t say I even did anymore. So when I was sad I didn’t have a boyfriend, I ate. When I was lonely because all my friends went to school hours away from me, I ate. When I was stressed about grades and internships and jobs, I ate. I ate even when I wasn’t hungry, even when it felt gross to shove more food into my mouth. As long as I could point to my weight and say, “There. That is why you’re unhappy,” then at least I didn’t have to look any deeper into my problems.
Whether I ate because I was unhappy or I was unhappy because I ate didn’t really matter. What mattered was, I wasn’t happy. And one day, I decided I wanted to be.
I started on the inside. I created and repeated a series of mantras I would repeat to myself when I was feeling down. (Yup, I’m the crazy girl talking to herself in her car.) “You are a good person. You are a kind person. You are better than this.” And I guess I started to believe it.
Next I moved on to making myself feel physically good. I started taking classes at a gym near my apartment in Brooklyn. I’d picked that gym because I literally couldn’t get home without passing it, so I figured I would be more likely to actually go. Turns out, I was right.
Then I bought a nice pair of running shoes and told myself it would be a waste (especially on my paltry salary) not to use them. The next thing I knew, I was running six to eight miles a week.
And then, miracle of miracles, I even found a boyfriend (now my husband) who without even knowing it, fell for me at my biggest and has continued to love me no matter what size jeans I wear. And then, perhaps even crazier, I learned to stop arguing with him when he told me I was beautiful.
The thing is, after almost six years of being on some kind of diet, I stopped dieting. I trusted myself, listened to my body, and ate whatever I wanted—and then I stopped when I was full. Crazy, right?
One day, one of my new friends in New York told me how thin I was getting. Was I? I felt the same. A few months later, a friend’s mom told me I was her inspiration. Then, a friend who had started incorporating more fitness into her life said she wanted to be “Justine skinny.” She wanted to look like me? When I last went to the doctor, I was 30 pounds lighter than that fateful visit before I moved. Thirty. On accident!
For my wedding last spring, I continued my “plan” of not trying to lose weight. I bought a dress that fit perfectly and kept living a healthy life. Now I’m training for my first half marathon, yet another thing I never imagined I would be capable of. I actually like how I look. I love how I feel. I’m happy.
I think my 13-year-old self would be proud.