“You have thick thighs, Kaila.”
My gymnastics coach must have seen my face because she took those words back as soon as she’d said them.
“No. Thick thighs are a good thing for power as a gymnast. Look at Coach Melissa’s thighs, they’re nice and thick like yours!”
I was 13 years old when my obsession with body image and issues with food started. It all started with this conversation with my gymnastics coach during practice one day.
Later that night as I showered I couldn’t stop looking at my “fat legs.” Why weren’t they perfectly thin like other girls? Why was I so thin on top but curvy on my bottom half?
I spent the next few years obsessed with overexercising and restricting foods in my diet. At one point, I would jump on my trampoline 1,000 times after gymnastics practice and almost always finished lightheaded, on the verge of vomiting or faint. I eventually stopped this behavior when my mother decided to get rid of the trampoline.
Since the 3rd grade, I had already been a vegetarian. With an already restricted diet, I began to refuse certain foods and became very selective about my diet. I began to inspect food labels like crazy. I wouldn’t eat bread, pasta or any other grain unless it was whole grain. I can even recall a memory of my brother and mother making fun of me for refusing white bread. Little did they know how badly I was struggling with my body image.
This preoccupation with thinness turned me into a destructive person.
I didn’t have an eating disorder per say, rather I was struggling with disordered eating. I could write an entire blog on the differences between the two terms because of my studies but instead I’ll assure you, I’ve never met the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.
A two points in my life, I’ve gone vegan for all of the wrong reasons. It was in both of those times I’ve realized that I was too thin and needed to gain a healthier mindset about myself. I wasn’t happy about how thin the person in the mirror had become and made the choice to change.
These days, my relationship with food are so much better. After learning about nutrition in college and interning with a registered dietitian I know understand how to have a healthy relationship with food. I understand how important it is to not deprive yourself of certain nutrients and the impact disordered eating can have in the long run.
I don’t restrict foods. I eat what I like and do so in moderation. Some say it’s selfish to not be a vegan, but I know the unhealthy tendencies I acquire every time I go down that path. It doesn’t work for me.
Ladies, especially young ladies who are reading this remember that you are beautiful exactly the way you are. Your thighs aren’t too big, your nose isn’t too crooked, your teeth are white enough and you are wonderful. My mantra for this year is, “You are good enough.” And I invite you to adopt that mantra if you are struggling with a personal demon whether it revolves around food or not.
Until next time my lovely yogis! Thanks for reading.