Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my family has been coming to this same vacation spot in St. Augustine for years. Thinking back, I can't think of one year that I felt comfortable in my swimsuit. Every year I went on a spring break diet and exercise plan, but it only seemed to make me more self conscious. Meals were always dreaded because I knew eating would leave me feeling bloated and disgusting.
One year I became so starved (or emotional, I'm not sure. Maybe both.) that I stole a jar of peanut butter and a half eaten box of crackers from the pantry and ate nearly all of it in secrecy. This incident was before my purging days, so I was forced to endure the guilt involved with binging. My entire trip was ruined as a result because I thought I was fat. I remember feeling really irritated with my family members who could eat three meals a day, plus snacks and still feel comfortable in their own skin. It did not make any sense to me.
It's difficult for me to believe that I am even saying this, but for the past three days I have gone for walks on the beach wearing only my swimsuit. Before leaving for this trip, I was scared to death to simply buy a swimsuit and I hadn't even considered actually wearing it in public.
Here's the craziest part of all - I felt more confident in my suit this year than I ever have in my entire life. As I was walking, I kept thinking of all of the amazing things my body has done for me: It has recovered from a state of self-starvation, it has allowed my metabolism to work normally again, it has helped my bones grow strong again, and most importantly, it has allowed me to feel happiness again. I wasn't worrying about whether or not my body looked perfect - because we all know it never will - instead I was feeling proud of the hard work that has allowed me to enjoy those moments.
Body acceptance is a state of mind that I never thought I could reach. Ironically, however, now that I have been at a healthy weight for an extended period of time, I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever did while I was sick. My body image was actually worse 50lbs ago than it is right now.
My metabolism has also fired up again. Although it does take time and continuous eating to help the metabolism work properly again, it does happen. When I was restricting my calories, my body would cling onto every morsel of food I did feed it because it didn't know when it would receive fuel again, which causes the awful bloating. By eating regularly, however, not only do I feel better mentally and physically, the bloating has also gone away. My body has re-learned how to digest food - YAY!
This is a huge step for me. By facing my fear of looking fat in my swimsuit on the beach, I have found a new sense of body acceptance. Amazingly, one year ago, my biggest fear was weight gain and here I am feeling better than ever before in my own skin.