Once upon a time, I believed that having a perfect body would translate into having the perfect life. I thought my problems would be fixed by fitting into a size 00. I thought that it would be impossible to be sad or unhappy if I just lost a few more pounds. I would be thin and beautiful and admired by all. The key to success was to get as small as possible and stay that way forever. Untouchable and unattainable. I would have better willpower than any of my friends and get the body that they all wished they could have. How pathetic that some people lack control and can’t help but eat dessert. I was better than that. I was so disciplined and in control of my life that I would never slip up. A perfect body would always be mine, and I would then have a perfect life.
How wrong I was. How sad it was that I did not see how far from the truth this was after years and years of having this body and getting farther and farther from having a happy life. The smaller I got, the looser my clothes got, the more miserable I became. Yet, I still believed it was the answer. Bad things could happen to me but bad things would not happen to my weight because I was in control of that. I would not let that one last thing that I could control slip out from under me. In the process of gripping so tightly to my patterns that kept my “perfect” body, I lost everything else. At least I still had my tiny body, right? In my head for so many years, it was worth it.
I shudder as I type these things out, some sentences going back into my old mind and trying to put myself back in that dark place. I shudder now because I realize that nothing is more incorrect than my beliefs back then. Not a single thing was fixed or even improved by losing weight, by staying at a low weight, by never missing my daily run, by never eating more than X calories per day. NOT ONE SINGLE THING. Quite the opposite actually. Every single aspect of my life got worse and worse as the years went on. My motivation in school, my friendships, my relationships with guys, my relationship with my self, my generosity, my honesty, my reliability, my passions, my energy, my laugh, my excitement for anything. I lost interest in pretty much everything outside of my body. How is that a life? Spoiler alert: it’s not.
This body that I wanted so badly, this body that a lot of women in our society want, seems to have a label on it that says “Get this and you get everything else you always wanted!”. It doesn’t say, “Get this and lose everything important in life” or “Get this and it won’t even matter that you reached your goal because you will still hate yourself and want something more”.
What I have learned is that you will not gain anything through changing your aesthetics. You will not be happier as soon as your abs are a little flatter, you won’t have more friends if you fit into a smaller dress, you won’t meet the love of your life only if your thighs don’t touch. Losing weight does not mean gaining life. Losing weight, in my case, meant losing life. With each 5 pounds that left my body, something else went down the drain as well. I am still making amends from these seemingly innocent pounds I forced off my body that I thought would fix everything.
The good thing is, as I have added the pounds back to my frame, I have also added back love, friendship, motivation, silliness, enthusiasm, curiosity, energy, spontaneity, calmness, and peace. My body is not perfect and it never was, even when I fit in the smallest size available at the store. But the thing is, having a perfect body has absolutely nothing to do with having a good life. The way your body takes up space in the world has nothing to do with how big you smile every day. In my case, it sounds like it still does, but in the opposite way. It sounds like I am saying, “Gain weight and you will be happier.” But not even that is the truth. In my case, I did gain weight and I did become happier simultaneously. But it had nothing to do with the fact that I was now a higher number on the scale. It had to do with the fact that my mind and soul were healing, and as I stopped attaching worth to my body’s size, I did in fact become happier. I did not become happier because of my weight, but my weight and happiness changed simultaneously.
I think on the flip-side of what I started this post with about thinking losing weight will fix everything and give you a perfect life, there is also an idea in eating disorder recovery that gaining weight will fix everything and give you a perfect life. Neither are true. Yes, it is necessary to gain weight if you are underweight, from a health standpoint. But you could easily gain 50 pounds and still be miserable. The healing comes from within. Within your mind, your heart, and your soul, alongside the physical healing of your body.
The point is: changing your body by losing weight will not bring you all the happiness and love you aspire to have. Also, changing your body by gaining weight will not bring you all of the happiness and love you aspire to have. To change your life and gain happiness and love, you must work on your life.
I may sound a little contradictory in this post as I claim that changing my body led to unhappiness and then happiness by gaining the weight back. But, I REPEAT, these results did not happen because of my body’s changes. They happened because of the life changes (relationships, self-love, fun, etc.) that went alongside with my physical changes. They shouldn’t be interchanged or confused, as they often are in our society, and that has led us nowhere good. For now, I advise each and every one of you to stop trying to change your body and to start changing your life (your body will follow suit if it needs changing for health). To change your life, you must change your life. That equation makes a lot more sense to me.
“Your body is not your masterpiece. Your life is.”