Throughout middle and high school I was compared to my older sister, the pretty one. By family, older classmates, people in school and youth group. That just made me feel worse about myself, starting a spiral of self consciousness, all of those comments making me feel fat and ugly.
Coming to college, getting away from the state in which I grew up, was supposed to be a fresh start. I had a rough beginning, but things got better quickly. A so-called friend from my high school youth group attended the same university. I had lunch with him and a friend of his one day, only to be compared to my pretty sister again and degraded like I was a piece of meat. Luckily, that friend of his saw what a jerk he was being and payed no attention. Over the next year, that friend of his started hanging out with me and my new friends more and more, building up my confidence, making me see how amazing I can be. That friend later became my husband and my biggest supporter.
Even though The Hubs is amazing and makes me feel like I'm priceless, I can't just shake those feelings that were ingrained in me from the time I was 10. I'm still working on being me and loving me. In the mean time, I work hard to make sure I eat well and exercise to make sure my physical well-being is taken care of while I continue to work on my emotional well-being. I am doing my best to instill feelings of self-worth in my son and want to make sure I am a great role model for any daughters and sons we have in the future. I want this cycle of self hate to end with me.
There is probably something else at work because I spent 2 years eating only good things, rarely a processed food had passed my lips, I walked the mile to and from university, sometimes the 5+ miles to the other side of campus to my lab and worked out 3-5 times a week. For 2 years! I lost about 3 pounds. That is extremely frustrating and takes away any motivation. Plus, I never get that feeling of accomplishment after a good workout. I never feel great that I've worked out that day. I never feel like I want to do it again to get that workout high that never comes. I'm a little jealous of the people who do get those feel-good feelings because it would help motivate me to get them again. Nope, the only way I get those feel-good feelings is when I eat chocolate. And those feelings last all day, despite what all of those workout gurus say. My body just prefers a good piece of dark chocolate, or two, over that awful feeling of working out.
Now I'm working on my PhD, I have a toddler, my funding is running out, my research isn't working, there are sick family members on both sides, I'm getting fed up with people still telling me I'm not good enough. I'm stressed! My good diet comes and goes. My good exercise habits come and go. I finally had someone pushing me to stick with it all while I pushed her and then I injured myself. First my calf felt like it popped while I was running and hasn't been the same since and then I re-injured my shoulder and have a pinched nerve. I've gained too much weight since starting my PhD and I am tired of not being able to find clothes that look good. I'm tired of being tired all the time (again, there is probably something else going on there too since I can't remember a time when I wasn't tired, it's just getting worse). I can keep up with my toddler now, but I don't want to get to a point where I can't. He is a very active little boy and I'm hoping will stay this way. I love his energy and curiosity and want to make it flourish!
So today, the day after Passover, until Shavuot, the next holiday coming up in 42 days, I am committing to a vegan diet. It can be a very healthy lifestyle if one chooses to eat right, which is my plan. It won't be a huge change for me since I eat a plant-based diet anyway, so I'll just have to make some minor adjustments. However, it will force me to really pay attention to what I'm eating. To read labels just to make sure there aren't any animal products in my food. To make sure I am getting enough vitamins and minerals. I'm hoping that this careful attention to food will force me to eat better for life.
So there it is. I'm laying it all out there so there is no turning back. It's on the internet so I have to hold myself accountable, hopefully with some pushing from my readers. Feel free to share your favorite vegan meals and snacks or your story of weight loss and healthy eating success and struggles in the comments!