All women have been there. You see an image flash across your television screen. It makes you think – I want to be skinny. You see a billboard pushing the latest fad diet – I would look good if only I was thinner.
As a woman I am constantly told that thin is in and that I shouldn’t indulge in any good food because food = fat.
So this summer I decided that I would forgo all other birthday gifts and settle for something I actually needed – an expensive diet to make me thinner.
My freshman year of college, late night snacking and pizza made me (what I thought back then was) fat.
I was so tired of looking in the mirror everyday and hating what I saw. I was tired of not fitting into my clothes. I was tired of being the biggest of my friends. I was tired of feeling jealous looking at other girls. I was tired of trying to diet and failing. I was just tired.
So I started a strict diet that involved no exercise and was under 1,000 calories a day.
It. Was. Fabulous.
I was all about this diet. I told all my friends, measured all my vegetables, and didn’t cheat but once.
The pounds began to fall off.
The first week I lost two pounds – more than I could manage to lose after a year of “diet” and exercise.
I felt great. Sure, the hunger gnawed at my stomach every night making it hard to sleep, but it was worth the weight loss.
Each day became a routine:
Measure out breakfast and eat.
Think about food.
Measure out lunch and eat.
Think about food.
Measure out snack and eat.
Think about food.
Measure out dinner and eat.
Struggle to sleep because of how much I was thinking about food.
What started out as a goal to lose weight became an obsession. I would get angry over unmeasured food or restaurants that didn’t have nutrition facts. Even vacation was a nightmare because the only thing I thought about the whole time was when and where I was going to eat.
But still, the pounds continued to fall off and the praise began.
Everyone said I looked happy and healthy and thin. I enjoyed the praise I was getting. I enjoyed fitting into my clothes from freshman year of high school.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the hunger.
Three months into the diet, I moved back to college. At this point I was only 115 pounds – underweight for my height. My smallest clothes were too big and I hadn’t had a period for a whole month because my body fat was too low. Friends and family urged me to stop, but all I could think about was the numbers falling on the scale.
I was aware that I was unhealthy. I was aware that I was unhappy. But I looked good and that was all I cared about.
Then, one day, I stopped.
I don’t really know when I decided to stop dieting. I just did.
I saw how happy my friends were. They weren’t obsessed with food. They weren’t super skinny. And they were content with life. After months of frustration and anger, I just wanted to find that happiness again.
So I slowly began to eat like a normal human being. I let go of my body dysmorphia and ate what my body told me to eat.
I’ll admit, I am forever changed from dieting. I still struggle with binging and calorie counting and I weigh more than I did to begin with.
But no matter the struggle I went through, I am so thankful for what dieting did for me.
Yes, it made me lose weight, but more importantly it made me realize that I am the same person, no matter how much I weigh.
I thought that, when I reached my goal body, I would be happier. I wasn’t.
I still loved myself skinny the same as I did average size.
I realized that being thin didn’t make me a better person, it just made me look a little different. At the end of the day I was still Ivey. I needed to be happy on the inside.
So now I don’t diet and I don’t count my calories and I don’t exercise. That may make me lazy or unhealthy, but it’s the truth.
Instead I’m living my life. I go get ice cream with friends when we need to destress from school. I drive people to Sonic when we need to talk about life. I go on food-truck adventures with my sisters. I bond. I smile. I laugh and I laugh and I laugh.
And I don’t worry about my waistline or the scale, because Ivey Dyson is too busy working on the woman she is on the inside.