Self-love is a characteristic some people in our culture fail to identify with. We are raised to have limitations and not be the best versions of ourselves. Often times we get into unhealthy relationships because of lack of self-love and we tolerate toxic behaviour which leaves us more damaged that before.
The other day we spoke about body shaming and one of the participants in the group shared her story which I feel a lot of people will relate to. Have a read and share with anyone you think might benefit from this inspirational story.
Not so many years ago I weighed a whopping 120kgs and I wore size 44-46. To be honest I was comfortable with my weight. My closest relatives actually complimented me on how “healthy” and “well kept” I was. I actually thought being that fat was a sign to the world that I was fine and dandy. I would eat any and everything and I would sit on the couch and eat a whole chocolate slab, packet of crisps and gulp down and entire bottle of red wine while I watched TV or read a book. Exercise was something I would watch on TV and something I never got actively involved in.
I got a rude awakening from my unhealthy eating ways when I found out that the man of my dreams had gone on to marry someone else on the exact same day he was meant to pay lobola for me. I found out he had been dating my “skinny” friend and it had been happening for a while and I had never suspected it, the betrayal and the heartache were beyond comprehension!! This whole time I was being a couch potato the man of my dreams was making other plans that didn’t involve me, life changing plans for that matter! I decided to seek advice from the people who knew us and the people who were close to us and I was shocked and disgusted by the responses I got. Let me tell you the five top responses that made me hate my body and feel disgusted by who I was and who I had become;
- “Aigodii nekufuta kwawakaita?” (What was he supposed to do with the way you are so fat?)
- “Honey, the way you are looking like a 40 year old and yet you are only 25years old is unbecoming”
- “I am so sorry but what did you expect look at your friend she is skinny, beautiful and fit and she is light skinned.”
- “I am so sorry about what you are going through but I think you are to blame I mean you are fatter than his own mother, he went to what was attractive.”
- “You need to lose weight. If you were skinny like his now wife I am sure he wouldn’t have strayed but her body compared to yours there was no chance you would keep him, hauna kana shape. (You are shapeless)
Those were the harshest and most cruel things anyone had ever told me and what made it worse was the realization that in their heart of hearts all these people had thought this but never said anything about it. I probably would have taken offence if they had but real friends would have said something about my sky rocketing weight. Those words coupled with heartbreak drove to a state of self-disgust and I hated my body and food. I blamed those two things for letting me not see that my man was losing interest in me and making plans to be with someone else.
I wished I could exchange bodies it seemed all the women I saw were slimmer and prettier. Suicidal thoughts…yes I got them because to me there was nothing worse that the world seeing you as fat and ugly. Couple that with everyone knowing that the man thought was for keeps had left you for a “slimmer” and “prettier” woman. Thankfully, I couldn’t get myself to follow through my suicidal thoughts because I had two little angels who looked up to me and I couldn’t imagine leaving them. Instead I decided to diet and lose weight but when I started my weight loss journey my reason was to win my man back, I wanted to be pretty for him and I thought he would love me again if I was “slim and pretty like her” and we would get back together and get married and our fairy tale life would continue as we had both imagined it.
And so my weight-loss journey began. I gave myself a couple of weight loss rules that I was certain would work.
- Eat as little I you can
- Exercise for 8 hours a day
- I have to match “her” weight or maybe lose a few more kilograms then I will be “pretty”
- I will have to do all this within 90 days
I would eat practically nothing the whole day. On an average day I would have 2 slices of brown bread and a lot of water the WHOLE DAY. I would go to the gym from 5am to 9am and again from 5pm to 9pm and I would push myself harder and further each day till I go to a point where all I would eat in a day would be chewing gum when I felt hungry and water.
The weight dropped. Within 3 months I had lost close to 70 kilograms but unfortunately I had also developed ulcers, acid re-flux and insomnia to name but a few. My skin changed colour and even my hair grew thin and just when I thought people would compliment me they started saying I was sick and maybe I had HIV. I clearly was not doing something right because even after all these efforts my man has still not come back to me. I decided to lose more weight pushed myself to lose more. I think I had gotten to point of being anorexic because eating any food was no longer a part of my life.
An angel of mercy came to my rescue. She had seen my transformation and had heard me break down in my room so many times so she sat me down and offered a few pointers. I remember her advice like she told it to me just yesterday.
No matter how much weight I lost I would never feel beautiful unless I was beautiful to myself first. Beauty comes from within and with me and then radiates on the outside for everyone to see. Beauty did not have to be physical alone but both inside and out.
This got me thinking…
Yes I loved my ex boyfriend but for the right love to find me I had to love me first before anyone else could love me. I had to be my first love and just because we did not work out it does not mean there isn’t a prince waiting for me out there.
Weight loss and health work hand in hand. I had to take care of my body for it to take care of me. I had to lose weight in a healthy manner so as to avoid skin and stomach issues that I had developed as well as to curb the insomnia (the insomnia had got so bad I couldn’t concentrate at work and I got fired).
Being healthy and being mentally stable work hand in hand, if I am mentally stable I am able to deal with issues that come my way better.
My world and my actions should not be swayed or centered around what people will say about me or about my circumstances but it should be centered about what I feel is right and what I know I should do.
I had to find a way of dealing with my pains, ups and down besides turning to food or to the gym and I chose to keep a journal. That way I could separate issues and still eat healthy and love myself.
After the talk it took me a while to start eating again and to go to the gym. I now work exercise for a maximum of 2 hours a day and I feed myself with positive affirmations each day. I got over my ex boyfriend and I moved on. I became my first love and I taught myself to be able to separate issues and deal with them in a healthy and progressive manner. Today I weigh 89kgs (I am definitely not going back to tripledigits on the scale) I am exercising, I have a new job and I LOVE MY BODY SOOOO MUCH. I want to lose weight for me because I want to be healthy and I am doing it in a healthy way this time around.
My new rules of losing weight now are;
- Eat a maximum of 5 small meals a day
- Watch my portions
- Incorporate more vegetables in my meals and less carbs
- WATER, WATER and MORE WATER
- Run, skip and go to the gym
- Prayer and meditation for my soul
- Join group of other people that are in the same weightless journey as me for motivation(#RunWithFitnessBae)
- When I am not okay I write it down in my journal
You gain weight gradually and you will certainly lose it gradually. Weight loss is a journey and not an event. It takes hard work, determination and perseverance!
Have you gone through body image issues in the past? If yes, how did you deal with them, if not, how have you helped those around you to love themselves both inside and out.