my (ongoing) journey of eating more/less and exercising for the wrong reasons

TRIGGER WARNING: Body Image, Eating Habits. Please be cautious/do not read if these topics are triggering for you!

I don’t really remember the time I first started experiencing negative feelings towards my body. It just sort of happened, and I began to really notice them about three or four years ago. Since then, I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with my body.

I think it started when I was around 14 or 15, before I started to realize my behavior was a problem. Every time I would visit my relatives, comments like “You’re way too skinny” “I can see your collar bone” “Do you even eat?” would be directed at me. I knew they made me feel bad, but I didn’t pay much attention to it at first. I would hear things like this almost every time I went to see them. When I started to get sick and tired of them criticizing my body, I made a promise to myself that I would eat more and gain weight, so I wouldn’t have to hear those comments again. So I began to eat more than my appetite would allow me, even if it made me sick at times. I didn’t really care about how I felt about eating, I just needed to gain weight so my relatives wouldn’t make fun of me anymore.

A year or so later, I stopped eating more than I could handle. I figured I was the “right” size and I wouldn’t get comments like that anymore. And I was right. They didn’t really say anything when I visited them again, or maybe that period was all a blur and I don’t remember.

When I was around 18, I started hating my body. I wanted to lose weight, especially my belly fat. I didn’t drastically change my eating habits, but I started eating less. And I didn’t exercise as much as I wanted to though because it was tiring me out. As someone with iron deficiency, I get exhausted easily. I walked a lot though. Especially at home: after I ate, while studying, etc.

At 19, I truly started noticing the shape of my body and how much I didn’t like it. To this day, every time I’m in the bathroom, I spend at least five minutes staring at my body and thinking about how much I wish it was different. I still walk a lot, and exercise as much as I’m able to. Every time I exercise, I try to push myself. And when I exercise, I don’t do it to improve my physical or mental health, I do it because I hate the way I currently look.

But there are moments where I don’t mind my body at all. And during those times, I try to cherish it as much as I can because I never know how long those moments will last.

It’s been a while since I’ve met with my relatives. During quarantine, I ate a little more (because I was hungry and I wanted to) and didn’t really exercise. And now the concern I have is that the next time I see them, they’ll point out how I’ve gained weight over the past year. I’m honestly scared to see what else they have to say about the way I look.

Being okay with your body, let alone loving it, is so hard. I know that this has been said time and again, but social media really does have an impact on the way you look at and how you feel about your body. Every time I see a body online that’s thinner than mine, I feel the need to exercise twice as much as I normally do. It’s exhausting. At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever stop critiquing my body. I’ll always find something wrong with it, and fall into an endless spiral of self-loathing.

I don’t exactly have advice for those who feel the same way. I’m still working on healthily dealing with this problem myself. Most of the time I don’t feel guilty about eating anymore, so I know that I’m at least on the ‘right’ path. Reframing my thoughts is something that I’ve been trying to do for a while now, and I hope there comes a time where I don’t feel bad at my body anymore.

I think this has been somewhat therapeutic for me, and I feel a little better after writing this.

Thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments!!

writer. 20. she/her.