My mother, sister and I sat on orange Adirondack chairs outside our local organic grocery. I was drinking a wonderful Golden Goddess, a gut healthy latte packed with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, which I promptly ruined by exchanging almond milk for whole and adding a shot of espresso. We were enjoying a beautiful May day on our quiet street in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.
Then, my sister — tan, thin and the midfielder for the Varsity lacrosse team — proclaimed that she’s gained weight and she needs to go on a diet.
Like almost every single woman on the earth, I’ve disliked my weight, my legs, my arms and my everything for years. I stayed quiet when my sister mentioned dieting, but my mother, a lawyer who tapes up people's problems for a living with an ENTP personality type, immediately jumped into settling my sister's distress with a mother’s love.
While the discussion of weight, working out and eating was happening between my mother and sister, a young mom adjacent to us on her own Golden latte outing overheard our conversation and kindly offered up her unsolicited advice. She told us the story of her eating disorder: it took her 35 years to realize that you just need to eat what your body wants. A number doesn’t matter, calories don’t matter and miles don’t matter; eat what makes you feel good.
“If you’re craving sweets all the time, then you’re not giving yourself enough love,” the woman said.
Her words changed my life.
I had finally understood my eating habits. I looked back on my spring semester: constant headaches and cravings for caffeine and sugar every single afternoon. My daily routine was drinking a cup of Keurig coffee at 9 a.m., eating a measly salad and green apple from the Armstrong emporium at 12:40 p.m. and immediately heading back to Armstrong around 3 a.m. to cure my cravings.
There’s nothing wrong with craving sweets, but there may be an underlying reason as to why. I had horrible headaches everyday, never had the energy to do anything and would take a nap almost every afternoon. I never understood why, but now, thinking back on it, it’s pretty obvious.
I wasn’t giving my body any love. I wasn’t treating it right. I wasn’t treating myself right.
I decided to spend the rest of the summer giving myself some love, and it was amazing. I started eating breakfast and cut out a lot of meat and dairy (with the exception of cheese, because I eat an excessive amount of cheese) — not for any special reasons, but because I realized my body just didn’t really want it and I had stopped enjoying it.
I’ll admit that getting back into the habit of eating healthy meant gaining weight, which is hard to see — really hard. But if that’s what it takes to love my body overall, I have to understand that that’s okay.
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This semester, caring for my body will be waking up early, eating breakfast, lunch AND dinner, going on walks as much as I want to and maybe a weekly trip to UDF for ice cream.
A wholesome lifestyle looks incredibly different for everyone, so find what makes you happy, and give your body some love.