Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In more ways than one. Her Spark videos keep me going and get me inspired to push towards 1,000+ fitness minutes every month. Today I was reading her behind the scenes SELF photo shoot blog and there was a link there about her body image struggles. I think she is a beautiful young woman and I was like, huh? How could she have ever had body image struggles? I clicked the link and was sent to this blog of her's: www.dailyspark.com/blog.
I read on and was shocked that I could relate so much to what she went through. She is such an inspiration to me and if I thought she was a strong person before-- I am even more thankful that she is involved with Spark. She is making such a big difference in so many lives. Especially mine. Watching her videos was the start of my journey and finding friends on Spark, reading blogs and inspirational stories has changed me and made me a better person. I wish I had this back when I was a 13 year old girl. But I am going to do everything I can to spread the Spark love. I think it's very important to help young teenagers understand their body better and give them the best help to keep themselves healthy and prevent harmful body image problems. We need to teach the young to love and nurture their bodies not hate and hurt themselves.
I went through the same thing as Coach Nicole-- only it started in junior high due to comments and comparisons to other "little tiny" girls in my class from girls and even my parents. I hit puberty way before most girls and I now know that's why my body was different, bigger, and more developed. I was also shorter than everyone 4'9'' (I am now 5'1" so I am still height challenged) so that combined with the curves that came with puberty made me different from the other girls in my class. I also know that change also made me uncomfortable in my own skin and so much more vulnerable to those comparisons and comments. I began exercising obsessively, dieting, skipping meals, and eventually a cycle of binging and purging began. Even when I was at my smallest-- I only saw fat and ugliness when I looked in the mirror. I did this all through 8th grade but then 9th grade I was caught purging in the bathroom during lunch hour. Rumors spread through the school quickly and I was shunned and shamed. First, I was talked about for being bigger now I was talked about because I had a disorder. Girls would follow me to the bathroom constantly and people would make comments "you're not fat at all you're so skinny. Are you ok?" but most of the time they would point and whisper. I couldn't ask to leave class and go to the bathroom without feeling all eyes on me-- practically feeling and hearing the judgement in their thoughts. And then a boy I had been friends with for years and had a crush on suddenly out of nowhere began flirting with me and asked me out. I later found out that it was his sister that had outed my disorder to everyone else and I decided that his attention towards me was pure pity. I hated him and ended our friendship. As a freshman, that first year of high school was mortifying for me. I went to the hospital with extreme stomach "stress" pain several times. When I moved and started my Sophomore year at a new high school, I rebelled against the warped eating disorder I had developed and everyone else's expectation of my image and ate what I wanted. I had 3 hours of volleyball practice every day and continued to be very physical so although I gained quite a bit of weight I was able to maintain it through exercise. I reverted to emotional eating and the more my parents disapproved of my image, the more I rebelled. But college things changed, I didn't exercise and didn't eat better so gained weight. Finally, I decided to make a change and began jogging/walking a mile every day before classes and eating better. I lost about 15 pounds and told my parents about my weight loss. My parents came to visit soon after and before they left my mother told me that they couldn't see any weight loss and that my father had told her I was "just lying". It was a cut straight into my heart. I felt what I had all along, disapproved of and not good enough. I didn't measure up. At that moment I decided I was done trying to make other people like my appearance. I was done trying to get approval. I should have told myself that I should do it for myself that I should make myself happy and do it for my own approval. But things got dark and I decided I didn't care if I got fat-- what was the difference with the way I was treated anyway. My weight, mental, and emotional health just kept getting worse and worse every year. I had been in denial for way too long. But Spark has opened my eyes. For the first time ever in my life I am treating my body right. I should have been showing myself more love all along but late is better than never. I look back on old pictures of me in 8th grade and in high school, and even college. I wasn't a waif but I wasn't fat. I think with a proper nutritious diet and continued activity I would have just grown into my curves and even slimmed down a bit. I am angry that I didn't see myself for who I really was and that I let other hateful opinions poison me for so long. My goal now is to get healthy, live a happy, positive life and be a great example of health and wellness to my family- to my younger sisters especially my 10 year sister who is already taller than me and having her own body conscious anxieties developing. If I can help other girls from going through what I went through--what Coach Nicole went through, I measure that as a great success. I want to wrote this because in a couple years, I may need to give my little sister advice and steer her in the right direction. If many voices are telling her to dislike her body-- I want to be the one voice that tells her it is ok to want to stay active and eat better for your body but only to make yourself happier and healthier and not because of appearance someone elses expectations of how you should look. We are like snowflakes and our differences make us beautiful. We should stop trying to stuff people into categories. Why should we want to blend and fit in instead shine with our own greatness?