For those of us who live in America, it’s hard not to admit that we live in a society that is completely obsessed with body image. Plastic surgery, body enchantments, or achieving the ideal hourglass frame, have all become ordinary topics. On top of all of that, living in a social media crazed world doesn’t help either, by constantly stimulating our eyes to people showcasing their fit or altered bodies, with many striving for followers and likes. We live in an era, where being an “Instagram Model”, is a legitimate career, and I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle now, but it clearly speaks to how much we value body image in this country. As humans beings, regardless of our gender, I’m sure many of us can relate to feeling insecure or uncomfortable, when it comes to our bodies.
Speaking for myself, my entire existence on this earth, up until three years ago, my resentments about my weight, were by far, one of the biggest plagues put upon my life. Extending all the way back to my childhood, I was an extremely overweight kid, especially in my elementary school years. My friends at the time, were all slender in size, and I remember them making outlandish complaints about their small frames, such as jumping from a size 0 to a size 2. In my mind, all I could think about was how I couldn’t even recall what it felt like to be a size 0. I absolutely dreaded going to the doctor’s office to get a physical, even as a teen, because I hated the embarrassment produced from stepping on the scale, and being told for the thousandth time “That I was over the BMI mark.” Frequent comments from my foreign relatives didn’t help either, in fact their constant reiterations, for how I needed to lose weight, were all additional blows to my low self-esteem.
Around 7th to 9th grade, I had slimmed down a bit, but according to my primary physician, I was still overweight. It felt like a never ending battle, and once the summer of my freshman year arrived, I decided to put myself on an official diet. I became so fixated to obtain the body types I would see whenever I flipped the pages of my seventeen magazine. After a change in diet, and remainining consistent, I had lost over 20 pounds. Once sophomore year arrived, I was unrecognizable to many, but the overwhelming attention I was showered with for my summer weight loss, was enough to make anyone who struggled with their weight content. At the doctors, my weight and BMI were the lowest they had ever been. I remember following the lines with my eyes as I witnessed the high line on my weight chart, begin to change direction, and slowly decline. Listen, I was ecstatic about my new body frame, but overtime my excitement turned into a borderline obsession, especially when pessimistic thoughts of gaining all my weight back, would flood my mind with worry. I grew so overly invested in my body size, that it eventually morphed into a silent battle with an eating disorder.
“Keyana yah need to gain some weight, Ya too skinny”, chanted some of my family members, hypocritically reversing their comments about me losing weight, to now needing to gain weight. It felt as though I simply could not win. I was still very insecure, and ironically still struggling with my body frame. The only person that knew I was suffering with an eating disorder at the time was my high school boyfriend, who tried his best to uplift me during my darkest hours, but in reality I was the only person that could uplift me. By my senior year I had tackled my silent battle, but after breaking up with my high school boyfriend, emotionally distraught, I began to pack back on some pounds. In college, I tried my best to rock my new thick gyal frame, but in the back of my mind, I still wasn’t fully comfortable with it, to embrace it. I knew I wanted to do something about it, but like many people, I lacked the drive.
After graduating college, I served at the English High School in Boston, as a corp member, for City Year Boston. City Year is a 10 month long, and 1,700 hour Ameri-corp volunteer program, where corp members are expected to work long hour days, stipend pay, strict uniform and rules, pushing everyday to find a purpose bigger than self. That shit was hard for a rebellious young woman like myself, especially when you would get a check every two weeks, just to see you made 300-400 dollars after working over 60 hour per week. Throughout that year, I had cultivated such meaningful relationships with several students, as I pushed them to love themselves, conquer their goals, and to believe in the power of personal and academic growth. In the middle of my corp year, I began to reflect, and think to myself, how am I pushing my student’s to accomplish their goals, and I’m not pushing myself to accomplish mines?
I knew I wanted to improve my body, but I wasn’t pushing myself to do it, but here I was hypocritically pushing students to reach their own goals. It was I March of 2015, that I decided to sign up for my local YMCA, and everyday after service, I would work out for 45 minutes. I even changed my diet, by changing the options that I brought in to eat for breakfast and lunch, decreasing my portion sizes, and cutting out one of my guilty pleasure at the time, which was Ginger Ale. Man listen, the amount of Gingle I would and could consume used to be ridiculous! I could easily drink a whole liter in a day and a half.
Eventually the weight started to shed and by June 2015, I had already lost about 20 pounds. By the end of the summer, I had lost an additional 12 pounds, and by my next Birthday in February of 2016, I was 40 pounds lighter. The irony of it all, I ended up being the same exact weight that I was in highschool, but this time around, I felt comfortable and content in my own body. This is the first time in my life, that I can actually say I’m comfortable in my own body, and the feeling is quite liberating.
I’m not a fitness guru, so my mission is not to write this to try to give anyone pointers on how to lose weight, or how to go about losing weight, and all that jazz. I wanted to let my readers know that if you are uncomfortable with your body, or anything in your life, always remember that you have the power to change it. There is a Maya Angelou quote that I absolutely love, that states, “Nothing will work, unless you do”. In my most recent unmotivated times, in my depressed times, or in my moments where I feel defeated this quote has reminded me of the power that I have, and that only I can create the change that I wish to see.
Yes, losing weight is a tough battle, and I know it can be hard when you want the results fast and right away, but focus on being consistent, focus on you goal, but most importantly focus on yourself. I think the reason why I’m so happy with my weight loss is because it was for me. Often times, when some people lose weight they are more concerned about the reactions from others, the looks from others, the perceptions from others, without realizing that you come first. I think it’s really about about what weight YOU thinks looks right on you, and how much weight YOU want to lose. It’s all about how YOU want to feel in your body, because it’s yours.
When I lost weight in high school, that weight loss wasn’t completely for me. No matter how hard I worked in the summer, working out before work to lose the weight, no matter how determined I was to change my body, I also cared about fitting in to the body standards of a judgemental highschool environment. I enjoyed being called skinny, I enjoyed being told I looked smaller, but I became so fixated with my weight, that I was even more insecure when I lost the weight, than when I had it on me. And it was because I didn’t completely do it for me.
Improving ourselves, changing our habits, and our mindsets are some of the greatest challenges that life presents us with, and from those challenges, we receive some of the greatest rewards. So for anyone that wants to lose weight, or may not even want to lose weight, but just wants to improve something about themselves, if you want to improve anything about yourself, 1) with consistency, faith and optimism, you can do it, and 2) if you do it for you, you will receive the greatest reward in the end. Not only will you transform your body, but you will transform your mind and spirit. Yes you may still face insecurities, yes you may still face doubt, but you will believe in yourself, a lot more than you believe in yourself before, and that’s all that matters. Growth.
Every step we take, is leading us to something greater. So if you want to improve something about yourself do it, we are all works in progress, and we all have a lot of growing to do throughout our lifetimes, but not everyone is willingly to grow, so don’t be Everyone, Be that powerful You.
Below are 10 fitness tips and ways to improve your body for you:
1) Exercise! I would suggest at least 4-5 times a week, for at least 45 minutes, but remember you know your fitness goals, so do what will consistently and effectively works for you!
2) Get in the mindset of portioning out your food. You can still eat the things you like here and there, but just portion them out. That way when you do lose the weight, your body has gotten used to smaller portions now.
3) For my juice drinkers or soda drinkers , subsistitute them both with water, or a juice that is low in calorie. For example I drink the 15 calorie Minute Maid lemonade, and I like it!
4) Drink Green Tea! That is if you like green tea, or are willingly to try it! Green Tea is an antioxidant that helps burn your belly fat. 5 cups of green tea a day, keeps the belly fat away! Also, if you drink Green Tea before a workout, I researched that it actually is supposed to make you burn more calories, during your workout!
5) Do exercises that you will stay consistent with. In the beginning it may be hard to build that momentum and consistency but stay with it! Also, it’s okay if you get tired of the gym, but I suggest you find an alternative exercise that you like! Mines is walking, I enjoy to walk a lot, and I actually found that I seriously toned my body from walking!
6) Celebrate the small weight loss successes, along the way. Try your best to focus on your journey, and to focus on realistic weight loss goals. Trying to crash diet, or lose the weight in a week or two, will not work. You want the weight to come off, and stay off!
7) Create a consistent routine! If you remain consistent, you WILL eventually start to see results!
8) If you can, work out in the morning! You burn more calories in the morning, and it also is a great way to get you motivated for the day!
9) Set a deadline for yourself. Some people say, by this month, I should have lost some weight, or by summer I will have slimmed down, or toned. For example, my deadline was I started working out in March 2015, but I said by the summer I wanted to have slimmed down, and by the summer I had slimmed down. That deadline can be a huge motivator, and can keep you going, especially on those days where you may not be as motivated as you want to be!
10) Believe in yourself! It doesn’t matter what size you currently are, believe in your ability to progress and get better with time! And remember that,
“Nothing will work unless you do”
From this list what tips can you see yourself doing?
I appreciate you all taking the time to read this post, and I hope you all feel motivated in achieving, starting or continuing your fitness goals! You got this! Please introduce yourself on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or email Keytofashion@gmail.com