Dear 14-Year-Old Me, Please, Don’t Start Dieting

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via Flickr – Jodi Green

Dear fourteen-year-old-me,

Don’t start dieting.

You’re going to read a magazine that tells you how to lose the belly fat… Rip it up and throw it away.

You are young and fresh out of middle school, and the last thing you need is a weight loss plan. Growing up (and out) is part of puberty- they failed to mention that in the all-too-informative videos. And just so we’re crystal clear: weight gain isn’t failure. So, when you hop on the Wii Fit and it tells you that your pubertal, vulnerable self is pushing “overweight,” please remember that it does not account for breasts, muscles, or how big your heart is.

You’ll start playing high school sports in the fall. When the number on the scale goes down, don’t let it give you a rush. Buy some clothes that fit better, and remember that weight fluctuation is sometimes part of life; but please don’t let it spiral. You should be learning Geometry and Civics during your freshman year, not the calorie counts of every food…

Because when you start counting calories, it’s hard to stop. The numbers of every food will haunt you for the years to come. Instead of seeing a piece of fruit or a chocolate bar, you’ll see a number… Which is a pretty big buzzkill when it comes to enjoying your food.

On your mom’s 40th birthday, eat the damn ice cream cake. Don’t make her worry about you on that day. Get over the calorie count, (in fact, push it wayyy out of your head) and listen to your grumbling stomach. Which reminds me- going about your whole day feeling hungry is no way to live. When your stomach growls an hour after you eat, it’s because you didn’t eat enough. And starting track practices with only a few hundred calories in your system is an easy way to get burned out.

You’re going to cry over food, your weight, and your body. You’ll try on a thousand pieces of clothing before you find one that is acceptable in your eyes. You’ll compare yourself to the fitness models in magazines. Every shopping trip will end in tears, eating a cookie will set you over the edge. You’ll forget what hunger feels like, and you’ll leave your friends and family feeling confused and concerned.

But you’ll get through it.

You’ll sit down to write about it almost five years later with a newfound sense of wisdom, insight, and strength. Eventually, you will learn that numbers on the scale are not worth your time, and you will learn that chocolate is not the enemy. And you will learn that belly fat is not the end of the world. You will find a love for exercise that doesn’t revolve around “calories burned” and you will learn to enjoy all foods-calorie counts aside. And you will never let a magazine article, or a weight-loss plan measure your self-worth, ever again. TC mark

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