I now have a very positive body image and healthy lifestyle, however, this was not always the case. A few years back I had erratic eating patterns and obsessed with the scale. I would go through phases where I would weigh myself everyday and sometimes even more. I had unhealthy eating habits that would start with restricting calories and end in binge eating. I remember days during high school when I would come home to a delicious home cooked meal but refuse to eat it because I was worried it had too many calories.
On the flip side I remember days where I would hope my parents would not be home so that I could eat everything in sight without anyone noticing my odd/uncontrollable behavior. Overcoming this cycle has made me realize that weighing myself only caused me stress and that I needed to change my entire mindset. Instead of focusing on being skinny, I now focus on being healthy and fit.
Weight is not always an accurate measurement of progress
There are many aspects of fitness and health that weight does not measure. A key thing that weight does not measure is muscle vs. fat percentage. In both pictures above my weight is the same. Your weight can also fluctuate about 2-4 pounds within a day because of factors like water retention, eating larger meals, and even constipation (lol). I weigh the same now than I did in the past but because of building muscle my body looks totally different.
Fad diets suck and are not healthy
A fad diet might seem great at first because OMG you are losing so much weight so fast! It seems too good to be true: because it is. The biggest problem with fad diets is that they are often unhealthy and unsustainable. I remember when juice cleanses were super common at my high school and people would come to school with $100s of dollars of juice and not eat solid food for multiple days in a row but somehow it was considered normal and even trendy?! Another popular diet item in my high school was laxative tea which has many unhealthy side effects. In my experience relying on “great” quick fixes when it comes to losing weight results in binge eating later on. Now I make sustainable changes to my diet like eating more protein.
Switching from cardio to strength training
There are also many physical and emotional benefits of working out. I used to only use cardio machines to burn calories. I would count down the minutes in boredom as I stared at a dumb number that I am not even sure was accurate. Once I switched to weightlifting and strength training everything changed. Now I have exercise goals and working out is no longer about burning calories, it is about becoming stronger. I realized that building muscle made me feel better mentally and look better physically than cardio ever did. Now I look forward to working out instead of dreading it.
Protein and veggies are the key to success
By focusing on eating lots of fruits and veggies and adequate protein I have found that I feel my best. During the end of my senior year I started a healthy food/fitness Instagram called @getfiteatfat which I later renamed @abs_with_ali. By embarking on a healthy/fitness journey publicly, I became more motivated and excited. I decided that counting calories was not something that worked well for me and that it honestly made me feel insane. I realized that when I counted calories I would stear clear of healthy higher calorie foods such as olive oil or avocados. I decided that being gluten free and eating less grains would be a good start to maintaining a healthier way of eating. Later I discovered that my fear of wheat was getting out of control as I started having nightmares about eating bread(lol). I slowly incorporated it back in my diet and now eat everything but make sure that I have more good meals than bad.
Weight does not equal happiness
Although being severely overweight is unhealthy so are many of the tactics people use to lose weight. I used to think that if I weighed less I would be more attractive, have more friends and be happier. I wish I could go back to the past me and tell myself that being fit and healthy would make me so much happier than aiming for skinny. The only time I get on the scale anymore is when I go to the doctor and I now know that no matter what the number is, it does not define me.