I have struggled with self-confidence/self-esteem/body image for as long as I can remember. I’ve had times in my life where I have been “chubby”, times in my life when I have been borderline anorexic (although I didn’t realize it at the time), and times anywhere in between. Looking back, I know it was because I had an underlying thyroid condition that was causing drastic shifts in my metabolic rate… not to mention a relationship with a man during my super skinny phase that led me to believe I was “fat” and if I didn’t “get skinnier he’d find someone else.” Granted, he found someone (many someones) else anyway… but that’s another story for another day. Suffice to say that I have had a screwed up relationship with food and my body for a very, very long time that was amplified by an actual health condition.
I had my thyroid gland removed in 2006 and my battle with my body truly began. At the time following the surgery, I had a doctor who wasn’t very supportive. She didn’t listen to me, and instead listened only to blood tests that she ran very infrequently. I was gaining weight rapidly and when I realized this I began using my treadmill religiously. I was walking upwards of 11 miles a day, while also riding 2-4 times a week and limiting my calorie intake. I still gained weight. I gained about 80 pounds after my surgery, and her only response was “Your bloodworm is fine, maybe you should start eating less.” I finally just simply gave up and figured I’d “just be fat.” When I moved to North Carolina I went to my new Lady Doctor and when I told her I hadn’t had blood work drawn in well over six months, she was horrified. She drew the blood and found that my thyroid levels were drastically off. She upped my dosage and explained to me that she felt certain that my weight gain was due to my metabolism functioning at an incredibly low level. She also said, “It won’t be easy to get the weight off now that it’s there, because your metabolism will always be lower than other peoples’.” Great.
I’ve gone through ups and downs with my weight ever since. I had a lot of success with Weight Watchers the first time I did it, and I feel confident that I will experience. However, this post isn’t really about weight loss. It’s about something I realized recently, something very important.
I was at my landlords’ house to pay my rent. Their son had just moved back home after being gone for quite some time. I’ve known the family for over 5 years; I was their daughter’s homebound instructor when she had cancer. So I got to know their son fairly well. He was in high school when I first worked with the family, and then he was deployed in the Marines. I’d see him occasionally over the next few years, but even after he was back and discharged, he was living out of state. I have always felt close with him though… for whatever reason he and I have a bond. I think it’s because he’s always known that I care for his sister almost as much as he does, and she is incredibly important to him. In any case, he moved back with his lovely wife. I went to pay rent and then was hanging out chatting and catching up with them. His wife has recently had some serious health struggles, and she was talking about how she hates how much weight she’s lost. He began talking about how when they first met, she was curvy and much heavier and looked healthy. He then looked at me and said, “Kate, your body is like the perfect body. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife no matter what. But I love a girl with curves and something to hold on to… you’ve got like my ideal body for a woman.” And his wife said she was envious that I was curvy.
I didn’t know what to say to be honest. He is, without a doubt, an incredibly attractive young man. This is something I’ve told him, and he always just blushes and tells me I’m ridiculous. But it’s true. His wife is stunning. On top of that, they’re both super nice and lovely. I thanked him and we moved on to another topic, but I was still thinking about what he’d said. When I left that night, I drove home and I found myself tearing up… because I was overcome by the fact that this handsome guy told me I was attractive to him. I have spent a very long time beating myself up, shaming myself and berating myself for my size. I’ve spent a long time hating the person I see in the mirror because I wasn’t “skinny enough” or “pretty enough” or “whatever enough”. The past four years I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking that if I was any of those things, relationships might’ve worked out differently, that my life would be working out differently. That probably sounds silly, to put so much emphasis on my weight/appearance, but it’s the truth. I’ve thought that my extra weight was such a negative thing, that it overshadowed anything else. I thought there was no way any man could possibly think I was attractive looking at me. Let alone a handsome man like him.
What he said to me made me realize that my body is beautiful how it is. Plain and simple. It’s beautiful how it is, and I need to love myself for where I’m at. I’m good enough where I’m at, and anyone who doesn’t love me how I am now is not someone I need in my life. That includes romantic interests, friends, whatever. All of this time I’ve spent hating my reflection has been such a waste of time. It also made me really realize something else: while this body is beautiful and attractive, I want more for my body. It’s good to love my body and all its curves, it’s also important to have some goals. I want my body to be healthy and strong. I want to keep curves, but I want them to be toned, fit, and healthy. While my body is amazing, I also know that I would be healthier if I did lose some weight. I have allowed myself to gain more than I should, and that’s something I need to work on. So I’m going to. When he told me that I’m beautiful just how I am, it made me realize how important it is to love myself enough to get myself where I want to be. My back would be healthier, my knee would be healthier, and I would feel better overall.
So I’m going to.
My goal is to lose 60-65 pounds over the next year. I’m 100% certain that I can do this, and am so grateful to my landlord’s son (who refers to himself as my little brother) and his wife for lifting me up without even knowing they did it. I hope that this time next year I can walk into their house and tell them this story, and thank them for motivating me and teaching me to love myself. It’s a first step, but a big first step.