Cheers to Good Health

Striving towards good health is something most people make a goal out of. Whether it be trying to gain muscle mass, get leaner, lose weight/inches/body mass, improve speed and flexibility, or just to feel better, health is one of the most important things we obsess over in Western culture.

I am the same way. Although you wouldn’t tell at first sight, I love how it feels to be sore. I love knowing that even though I run slower and that I am bigger than everyone else, I’m still getting out and running or doing yoga/pilates. These are things I like to do. It makes me happy and distracts me from everything going on inside of my body.

I am 20 years old. I am 5’3. The last time I weighed myself I was 223 pounds. I suffer from hormonal imbalance, GAD, a severe iron deficiency that has lead to pagophagia, and a thyroid disorder.

No, I am not trying to make up excuses for being overweight. I have struggled with my size since I was about 8 years old, and continue to struggle as an adult. I have worked as hard as I can on weight control in the past with little to no success, and am trying again. There is one exception to this- I do have one success story. My junior year of high school, I succeeded in losing 31 pounds in the course of three months. I was obsessed with calorie counting, working out twice a day, and looking good for my boyfriend. Somehow I wish I could go back to that time, when my first priority was shedding pounds, whereas now my priority is making the best grades I can at my private Baptist university.

I take Levithyroxin for my thyroid disorder, Metformin for other reasons, and normal birth control. Although I have put off being screened for medicine to help with GAD, part of me just doesn’t want to add more pills to the pile. I also want to avoid putting more of a financial burden on my parents. Counseling is something I have wanted but have never truly considered due to the fact that I don’t want to waste my parents money on more health problems of mine. However, my school clinic does offer a few free sessions, and I’ve been meaning to swing by. With my schedule of an 18 hour course load and a work schedule, it has been difficult.

GAD- General Anxiety Disorder- is more than just the pacing back and forth picture most people have in their heads. Many symptoms of GAD include excessive worry, sleeping problems, irrational fears, muscle tension, chronic indigestion, panic, self-consciousness, disturbing flashbacks, perfectionism, compulsive behavior, and self-doubt. All of which I experience on the daily. I’ve been conditioned by my family to believe that mental illness doesn’t exist, and that the biggest solution to these problems would be to “get over it.” For a while I agreed with them, until it began to affect my relationships with other people, as well as my emotional stability in the past few years. My heartbeat freaks out when my phone rings. I get freaked out when people walk too close beside me or behind me when I go to class. I can’t stand people looking at me, yet I love people. I doubt myself in every single thing I do, and I am constantly worrying about something. There is just so much to be worried about. My grades, my scholarships, how I am going to pay for my next tuition bill, whether or not I’ll find a good job, what people think about me, if things are okay between me and Mom, the list goes on.

I think the worst thing about it is being self-conscious, which coincides with my weight problems. When I workout, I refuse to go when the sun is out, or go where people can see me. I go at around 11pm-12am, or sometimes a little earlier. I run to a secluded spot where no one can watch with judging eyes. I avoid the campus gym at all costs so that I won’t have to run alongside 95 pound girls and be judged by every guy thinking, “what’s this fat girl doing here? New Year’s resolution much? She won’t be here long. Look at how much she jiggles while she runs. Gross.”

I once had a close guy friend of mine tell me that he would never date me because I don’t “take care of myself.” He meant this in referral to my size. This is something that has always stuck with me because, honestly, you can’t tell how well someone takes care of themselves just by looking at their size. I could workout seven nights a week and I will still look exactly the same, and people will look at me and assume that I do not “take care of myself.” I think that’s the worst part. You can bust your ass night after night trying to take care of your body and improve your health but if you don’t look like a model, no one will see you as anything other than fat. Needless to say, I am no longer friends with him.

I am not posting this to complain. I am writing this because it is only fair that I share my story and explain why it is more difficult for me to lose weight, and what makes it more difficult. I am still trying. I am still getting better. Good health comes in all shapes and sizes. I think once more people realize this, less people like me will feel the need to workout in the dark.

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