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LET'S TALK WELLNESS: MY STORY

02:57Emilija A


Hi. Hello. Today is the day I share the first instalment of my LET'S TALK WELLNESS series. As you can see from the title, in this post I will share with you my personal experiences with diet and exercise. I will try to touch on the most important aspects that will be relevant for future posts and will try to leave out the bits that won't add anything to this discussion or just in general if they aren't as interesting. It goes without saying that the things I will share are very personal to me. With opening up about something as difficult as this online, I'm putting myself out there in a very vulnerable position. I'm showing you the inside of my head. I'll be honest, that is very, very scary. Especially because I've never really talked about any of this to anyone. I've mentioned bits and pieces in passing, but they would be in a joking manner about 99% of the time. I've mostly kept everything to myself. Because that's just the way I am. I do, however, think it is important we start having these conversations because, as I've mentioned in my previous post, I strongly believe we need to start taking care not just of our bodies, but our minds too. One way to do just that is by talking. 

I've had a really difficult relationship with diet and exercise, more so in the recent years. When I was growing up, I didn't pay attention to any of it, of course. I was still a child, you know? I didn't understand a lot of it, but for the most part I also didn't care. There were more important things in life, like going outside to play with my friends. Because priorities, amirite? I was brought up in the same way as the majority of the population, I would imagine. "You're a growing body, you need to eat meat!" I now think very, VERY differently about diet and nutrition. My diet then consisted of a lot of carbs and meat, very little fruits or vegetables. (Except summers. I would almost live off of watermelon and whatever else I could find in the garden.) This was fine for the most part as I've always been a very active person. I grew up in a country that's big on outdoor activities. Swimming and running around in the summer, snowball fights in the winter. I was also a part of a dance studio called Tomana for 6 years and we had 3 one hour long sessions of dance a week, plus all of the competitions we went to. So I was a pretty active child.

Fast forward to when I was twelve and had just moved from Lithuania to live in the UK. This is when everything kind of started for me. There was a period of about four months when all I did was sit at home all day every day. All I did was eat and didn't take part in any activities because there was no way I could. I almost didn't speak a word of English, I had no friends, I didn't even go to school yet because the paperwork was in the process of being sorted out. I gained so much weight in those four months it is actually scary. Then I started going to school. Finally! The first 2 weeks were fun and exciting. For the most part. Everyone was helpful and interested to find out where I was from and how to say "hello" in Lithuanian etc. etc. That was fine. It was also really stressful because I realised just how much I didn't understand, and what it felt like to be so completely alienated. To be sitting in the middle of a classroom surrounded by others who were talking about something and I literally could not understand a single word. That made me incredibly insecure and I started scrutinising every single aspect of myself. I wouldn't be able to describe that feeling to you even if I wanted to. It was crippling at times. But I was twelve and my mum said that I'll soon start to get the hang of it, so I learned how to put that feeling aside. After the two week mark when everyone got bored of me and I wasn't exciting anymore, the bullying rolled in.

"Fat. Ugly. Idiot. Slut. Stupid. Your accent is weird. Shut up. Speak up! I can't understand you. Learn proper English. Immigrant. You're stealing all our jobs. Go back to where you came from." 

I've been called everything under the sun in the years that I went to school. Literally. And surprise, surprise, my way of dealing with all of it was eating. Also a lot of crying, but that's not relevant here. For two years, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I would go to McDonalds after school to buy myself a mcflurry to make myself feel better. On top of that I ate a lot of unhealthy, processed food at home... Like, I would literally stuff myself, because eating something delicious was extremely comforting. My weight continued to grow. (I just want to make it clear that my family and our home was a sacred heaven to me. I felt safe and not judged. This battle had nothing to do with them. It was all me so I don't want you think that my family didn't care or didn't help because they did. So, soooo much.)

So then around when I was 16 going onto 17, I started to obsess over how I looked. I would look back at my old pictures and wish I still looked like that, wished I would have never gained that weight. This is where the really unhealthy, or rather absolutely toxic, mentalities started to consume my mind. The thing is, even thought I was overweight at the time (by looking at the charts of height vs. weight, even my doctor told me those things when I would go for check ups), I wasn't overly obese. But walking to and back from school wasn't doing it for me anymore. I asked my mum to sign me up for a gym membership. I started working out with a trainer 4 times a week. I stopped eating lunch at school. I completely cut out meat out of my diet for about 9 months. I didn't listen to my trainer. I started going through different types of diets like socks. There was a period of time where I would only eat pineapple on the weekends. I went to all sorts of extremes, and I did it very sneakily which was extremely dangerous. I did those things because the need to no longer be dealing with the bullying at school was that strong. I wanted to get rid of everything I was being made fun of. The fat on my thighs, the rolls on my stomach, the love handles, the chubby cheeks, the fat under my chin, the flabby fat on my arms - everything.

Side note, one of the girls that always made fun of me, her name is Alice. I actually saw her about a month ago and she looked just as miserable as she did back then. Seeing her that way made me really sad more than anything. It also put some things into perspective. I mean, I've always been told that the people that torment you are really unhappy themselves and are just taking out their feelings on you, but the encounter with Alice after all these years really solidified that notion for me.

This post is becoming very long and very sad, so long story short - I lost the weight I wanted in about a year. I did it in a really unhealthy and dangerous way. I was satisfied with how I looked to an extent, but the bullying didn't stop. They found other things to make fun of me for. They even made fun of me for trying to lose weight. In turn, I developed really bad relationships with food and exercise. Food was the enemy for the longest time and exercise was the way I punished myself if I felt like I ate too much and needed to make up for it by burning the calories. And I'm trying to put this into the simplest words that I can. Because those who've struggled with body image know how it feels to be stuck in that black hole. It consumes you from the inside. 

My intentions with this post were to give you an understanding of where I'm coming from. To paint a better picture, if you will. The last thing I need is pity or something. I have a great life now, my family is great, my friends are great, and I'm on my way to feeling fantastic. The following posts will cover where I am and what I'm doing now in terms of my diet and exercise so I've left it out of this post on purpose and I have another 4 posts coming in this series. As I've mentioned before, I am really looking forward to starting this conversation and discussing this with you. Your stories, experiences, thoughts, philosophies, anything and everything in regards to this. Leave a comment, or if you're more comfortable, send me an email and let's talk!

Much love. 

Em

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