My name is Larissa. I’m 22 years old. In my lifetime, I’ve weighed as heavy at 195 pounds and at my lightest I was about 136 pounds. I currently weigh in at about 159-163. My pant size is between a 6-10 depending on the store and if the pants fit over my big butt. I have a weightlifters body – thick thighs, but my waist is slim. When I sit, sometimes I have rolls. I definitely don’t have a thigh gap. I’m not fat, but I’m not skinny. I’m an athlete and I have muscles. My skin has cellulite and I have stretch marks on my back and my thighs.
And I can tell you with 100% honesty that I absolutely love my body.
When I was in elementary school I was overweight. For years I was bullied by a boy, he called me names and told me I was worthless. For the majority of my life I believed him.
I thought that my worth was solely based on my appearance. I believed that if I weighed less, I would be prettier and people would treat me better. I wasn’t invited to the popular girls parties, I wasn’t comfortable playing outside during recess, I wasn’t comfortable eating my lunch in front of people, and honestly I was completely miserable. Every night I would go to bed and dream of how much happier I would be if I were skinny. I thought that if I weighed less I wouldn’t have any problems.
I developed anxiety, I was uncomfortable speaking to people because I thought that they would call me names and tease me. I believed that no one would ever love me unless I was skinny. One day I decided to make a change. But I didn’t know how, so I just started walking, and eventually running. I became obsessed with what I was eating. I stopped wanting to hang out with my friends because I was anxious that they would pressure me to eat unhealthy food.
I lost a ton of weight and people began noticing me. Friends, family and classmates told me how amazing I was looking. Their compliments fueled me. They confirmed my original beliefs, I was thinner and people were nicer. I wanted to keep going. I kept pushing myself, eating less and working out more. If I missed a day of working out, I would skip lunch or dinner. I didn’t believe I deserved to eat if I didn’t work out. I was so scared that food would make me fat. And if I was fat that meant that I was ugly, and no one would ever love me.
This continued for years and developed into binging and purging. I went through years of ups and downs. I continued with my unhealthy eating habits, racked with guilt every time I ate something bad. I wouldn’t always, but sometimes I would purge because of how mad I was that I ate something unhealthy.
On the outside no one would’ve ever guessed that I was struggling. To my friends I was the “overly healthy runner”. I ran a ton and I loved/hated it. There were days that I wanted to run 20+ km, and days that I was too weak to even run 5 km. If I stopped during a run I would get mad at myself and withhold more food. Breaks = not burning calories = I’m going to get fat. It was irrational but it was all I could think about.
When I looked in a mirror I hated what I saw. I compared myself to everyone else – and I never believed I was good enough.
I didn’t believe I deserved love and I was ashamed of my eating.
This continued throughout high school and my first two years of university. The social anxiety made me self-conscious in the gym, and I felt that my body was never good enough. I continued unhealthy eating habits – eating too little and too much. Always guilty, always anxious and always angry at myself. It wasn’t until my best friend caught me purging that I realized I had a serious problem. It was after a night out dancing, I went to get fries with some friends. I ate half of the fries, realized what I did, and ran home and cried and purged. I was so scared that the few fries I ate would make me fat.
After this night I realized that I needed to make a serious change, or I would end up hurting myself more. I changed up my workouts to lifting heavy weights instead of 90% cardio. I started to eat full meals and not to think about a scale. But I was still self-conscious, I was still unhappy and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.
One day I looked at an old diary post and in it I had written, “One day I hope to be skinny then I will be happy”. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was still unhappy because I hadn’t fully let go of this idea that my worth is based off of my body weight. So I decided to fight for myself. I began writing in a journal every morning the things that I LOVED about myself. None of them were allowed to be about my appearance.
It took my 2.5 years but I’ve done it. I love myself and I’ve realized how amazing I am. I’m smart, I’m kind, I have a ton of patience, I have a lovely singing voice, I am strong and I have a beautiful soul. I realized that a beautiful soul will always be beautiful. There is so much more to a person than their appearance and there is so much more to life than worrying about how much you weigh. We go through so many different stages, and our bodies are always changing. Love yourself through it all. Love yourself unconditionally.
Beauty isn’t defined by our appearance, its defined by our minds, our souls and ourselves.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but you are worth it. So take the time to learn what makes you happy, fuel your heart and soul. And don’t EVER let anyone make you doubt how fabulous you are.
Keep shining you beautiful souls!