I’m a guy with body image issues

I’m amazed at how prevalent my issues with body image and weight management continue to be… In 2019… 8 years after I lost about 100 lbs in 11 months time. Welcome to my struggle.

Before the transformation

I was always overweight growing up. I had very little understanding about food, calories, and how physical activity is required to offset the number of calories consumed. I continued to gain weight from childhood throughout high school. I also experienced “consequences” to my weight gain; most notably, bullying. I can certainly trace my current introversion and standoffishness to the bullying traumas that occurred during my school years.

2011 and a New Year’s resolution

Fast-forward to my freshman year of college and the mandatory physical education requirement. I signed up for an aerobics course. For the first time in my life, I began to learn the basics about how exercise and nutrition work. That class began in January 2011 with the new spring semester. I had already made a New Year’s Resolution to lose 20 lbs.

Long story short, I lost 100 lbs before Thanksgiving that same year.

Though I was very proud that I was able to start a healthy lifestyle, my mind hadn’t caught up yet.

The aftermath

Would you believe that my self-esteem plummeted after losing all that weight? Or that it took me YEARS until I learned how to love and accept myself?

It’s worth noting that I experienced a growth spurt during the year of my weight loss. Keeping the 100 lbs off wasn’t realistic, as it wasn’t healthy for my height.

A few years later, my weight got to a concerning low. That was when I was a junior and began experiencing the worst of my panic and anxiety disorders. I was too thin. I’m also 6’5″, so I looked sickly in addition to my already lanky frame.

Over the years, I’ve learned that self-esteem isn’t a constant. It’s not something that you have or don’t have; rather, it fluctuates like the signal bars on your smartphone. One minute, you’re at 5 bars and the next, you’re at 3.

Post-weight-loss, my self-esteem and body image issues were all over the place. Those were some tough years characterized by unrealistic expectations for myself and a lot of negative self-talk. The voice in my head was a lot worse than any of those bullies were.

I eventually learned that I needed to be kind to myself. But that is often easier said than done…

Present day

And that brings us to the present.

I still occasionally get insecure about my weight and appearance 8 years after deciding to get healthy. I’ve maintained about 70% of the original weight loss, as I had gotten to the point where I was too skinny. Your mind does weird things when your weight loss (or lack thereof) is tied to other mental health issues.

At the end of September, I battled a string of upper respiratory, ear, and sinus infections that spanned into November. When I wasn’t feeling well, I was often unable to keep my workout routine going. Though I did not gain weight, my inner monologue turned negative and self-deprecating.

I eventually snapped out of it and am realizing how much I’ve been through as I write this post.

Conclusions?

There’s no neat way to bring this post altogether or to reflect on the moral of my story; however, I can offer some truths to those who resonate with my journey:

*You are perfect in any form
*Be nice to yourself!
*The journey of taking care of your body is life-long, not a one-and-done event. Be flexible, gracious, and patient with yourself.

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