I used to wear a size 16. For the past five years I’ve worn a size 4 or 6.
A lot of my friends look back wistfully at their high school years and think, “Oh I wish I was still that skinny,” but I never had a skinny period, I was always big. By the time I was 26 I was resigned to the fact that I was always going to be fat. I was living in Boston at the time with a roommate who was certifiabley insane, but rail skinny. The injustice of it all was that she ate like a pig, smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish and occasionally snorted coke (though thankfully never in our apartment). I didn’t have the best eating habits, but at least I cared a bit about what went in to my mouth; I eschewed cigarettes, drank in moderation and have always steered far clear of drugs. My roommate may have looked smaller on the outside, but I knew with certainty that I was healthier on the inside.
This revelation sparked an interest in me to start learning about what foods really made someone healthy on the inside. I read up on “superfoods,” the virtues of eating mostly organically and the importance of eating regular meals and it made sense.
“Well,” I thought, “I’ll be fat for the rest of my life, but at least I’ll be healthier,” and so I began incorporating the things I’d read about in to my life. I started eating breakfast regularly for the first time ever. I ate every two hours and I ate well. I’d always loved vegetables, but now I made sure I was eating a lot more of them and that they were organic. I switched out white flour products for whole wheat and white rice for brown. I refused to settle for anything but the best quality when it came to food. If my choice of snack one day was between a processed, chemical laden “low-fat” cookies or a nice hunk of delicious, full fat, all natural cheese; I always chose the cheese. I started reading all of the nutritional information on my food and not just the fat and calorie content. Most importantly I lived by the 80/20 rule; 80% of what I ate was full of nutritional value and 20% was just for fun. I now knew with utmost certainty that I would always be big, but I would be a healthier big person.
But then guess what happened…
My pants started getting looser and my reflection was taking up less of the mirror. Amazingly, while I was eating real full fat foods, albeit in moderation, and eating every two hours instead of waiting until 2pm to put the first bite of food of the day in my mouth, I started losing weight. I was shocked and happy, but instead of rethinking my new eating habits as a weight loss plan, I kept focusing on being a generally healthier person. I didn’t have a timeline or a goal weight, I truly was trying to make a lifestyle change and see what the results would be. I never weighed myself and I still don’t because I didn’t want to get too crazy focusing on those numbers, instead choosing to notice the changes in my body as I put my clothes on in the morning and looked at myself in the mirroe. I decided that as I made my lifestyle changes, I’d let my body tell me where it wanted to be.
When I got down to a size 12 I was thrilled since I’d only been a 12 once, very briefly, in college. I thought, “A 12 is really nice place for my body to want to be”. But then, shortly after, I was a size 10. I blew through an 8 pretty quickly and had a brief affair with a size 6 before my body settled in to a size 4. I’m 5’2 so a size 4 is nice and proportional for me.
For a very long time I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was so much smaller, but now that I’ve been at this size for a good five years it feels natural to me. I still live my life the same way I did when I started this journey, indulging ocassionally in something like candy corns around halloween or creme eggs in the spring, but mostly eating only things made with ingredients that I can pronounce, and I plan on living like this for the rest of my life. I still believe that being healthy isn’t about what size you are, but about what you’re putting in to your body.
I say all this not for a pat on the back and not to tell anyone out there how to live their own lives. I say this simply to explain to you why I feel so strongly about what kinds of fodds people should be putting in to their bodies so please take my opinions as you will with the understanding that maybe I know a thing or two about what I’m saying.