I was feeling really down—lethargic, unhappy in my body, and riddled with anxiety. I was eating whatever I wanted, a coping mechanism I'd put in place years prior to inspire comfort, but those brief moments of food-induced euphoria had suddenly been replaced with unpleasant side effects. I'd done enough research in the wellness space to know my diet was affecting my life in a negative way, and I finally felt motivated to make a change.
Over the years, I tried out various healthy-eating tactics, mostly for a story, and went back to my laissez-faire routine immediately afterward. But this time, I decided to put a system in place I knew would make my body feel better and stick to it. Or, at the very least, take note of the changes I experienced and decide whether or not to keep it up over time. For me, that meant cutting out gluten. Bio-individuality makes it so the inner workings of our bodies respond very differently to various foods. For some, meat is an issue, dairy doesn't digest well, or coffee leads to anxiety. None of those things seemed to affect me in any unfavorable way, but gluten did. After advice from a few experts, I decided to remove refined oils and processed foods as well. It's a lot of healthy fats, cold-water fish, and tons of yogurt, fruits, and roasted vegetables.
The result was dramatic. Even I was surprised how radical the changes felt in my everyday life. I had more energy throughout the day and for the first time in a long time got restful, deep sleep throughout the night. My previously debilitating PMS symptoms vanished completely, and my skin looked better than ever. I also lost some weight. While that was a welcome shift (I'm not going to pretend it wasn't), it wasn't the intention behind my lifestyle changes. In the process, though, I noticed something I'd never previously expected: I missed my curves. Well, one curve in particular: my butt.
As someone who's suffered from disordered eating in the past, it's foreign to feel uncomfortable with weight loss. It always seemed like this beacon of hope in a life drenched in body-specific shame. But this time it was different. I'd healed enough to come to terms with the idea that "skinny" could no longer be the goal and my curves are a part of who I am. I began to feel comfortable with the mold of my body, and I felt especially proud of my butt. As I watched it disappear, I couldn't help but feel devastated over losing this part of me—especially one I'd so cruelly disregarded for so many years. It felt like a disservice to the progress I'd worked so hard to hold on to. Beyond that, liking a curve (which was formerly symbolic of failure as part of my eating disorder) is emblematic of this positive mental shift—one I'm happy to welcome into my brain space. But since shedding weight, I've felt this irrational tug of war, this fear I might be losing what I've worked so hard to gain, even if my lifestyle is no longer steeped in restriction and disordered thoughts. It's a polarizing place to be, really, as it's not exactly easy to complain about weight loss, especially after making an intentional change in my diet. But even so, my feelings are real and confusing and I needed to figure out how to feel okay wading through their complexities.
The first thing I did? Buy new jeans. It seems trivial, but it didn't help to look at loose, ill-fitting styles better suited for my previous shape. Instead, I invested in a few new pairs to feel good about this one. It worked. That was my first step in realizing my body wasn't gone; it was just different. Then I spent time honing in on what I loved about my new frame—legs, arms, jawline—and reveled in showing them off. I made a list of all the ways I felt better and how making healthy choices has positively impacted my life outside of my body. Because that's the real reason for all of this, right? I want to feel good and happy. I'll get there. For now, the positive results so drastically outweigh the negative.