My Weight Obssession

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My Weight Obsession         For the past six years I've had a constant battle with myself, and it seems as though I'll never be victorious. Ever since the eighth grade, I've had a huge obsession with my weight. I can remember the first time I initially acknowledged that I was gaining weight. Our eighth grade class took individual pictures, and when I received mine, all I could do was cry. I couldn't believe that was my self-image. How could I have not noticed that I looked like that? I felt hideous. My flushed out face looked as though I had chipmunk cheeks. My body looked like it was swollen, and every part of my body was bloated. I had no definition in my body, and that is when my set of bathroom scales became my nemesis.

        That summer of 1996 my mother was getting married, so I knew I had motivation to lose around 15 pounds.

So what did I do? I joined the cross-country summer program, which consisted of running five times a week, averaging six miles a day. Not only was I working out a lot, but my appetite also shrunk. All I wanted to do was drink water and I didn't have any desire to eat. As the weeks progressed I knew I was becoming addicted to shedding pounds and exercising. My coach acknowledged this and asked, "Andrea, would you be interested in being on the girls varsity cross-country team you're a great athlete, and I can see your potential." I replied, "Let me get back to you on that." I was hesitant because I knew that if I were to make a commitment to the team, I should love running, but the fact was that I didn't like to compete. The only reason I did it was to stay in shape and lose weight. I feel great about myself. My self-confidence rocketed more and I received the attention I craved. By the end of summer, I told Coach Brown that I would love to join the team.

        As a freshman, I was incredibly happy about my thinner body size, and I had never felt so good about myself. At the same time, a lot of my friends started telling me, "Andrea, you look too thin and I'm starting to get worried about you." No matter how much I denied things to myself, I knew I had developed an eating disorder. I couldn't pinch any fat on my body. I would feel incredibly guilty if I didn't work out on the weekends, so what did I do? I ran and was exercising a total of seven days a week. I obsessed about exercising and my spartan diet. I would try to eat two very small meals a day and always avoided eating dinner. I remember one incident on the bus coming back from a track meet, and my friend offered, "Andrea, want a bite of my Snickers bar?" I said, "No thanks, but thanks for the offer." I had all the willpower in the world, but as time proceeded, dissatisfaction began to set in.

        I felt as if I couldn't go out with the girls because social things revolve around food, which was my enemy at the time. For instance, on Halloween my friends wanted me to go trick or treating with them, but I declined their offer because I didn't want the distraction of candy in my room. One day while I was in class, I asked my English teacher if I could go to the nurse's office because my whole body was trembling, and I felt faint. I had goose bumps everywhere, and I felt as though I was going to pass out. They took my blood pressure and it was extremely low. The nurse took my blood pressure, I had no energy and that I was dehydrated. This was the turning point for me. I realized I had to start eating more and to not overwork my body. I had to begin eating to regain my strength and health. I had to give up my resolve. There was no way I would look like the fashion magazine models 5'9 and 110 pounds. Could I be happy with an average weight? I shuddered at the thought! My dilemma was identical to that of thousands of other teenagers. How can we be satisfied with the appearances of our bodies when we thumb through the latest issue of Vogue or Seventeen? It is difficult to remain satisfied with our average body weights when on every page we see size one extremely thin, emaciated models. The media is too be blamed for projecting these false images. Not only do they exist in fashion magazines, but also in television and the big screen. Teenagers compare themselves with the emaciated models' figures and the Calista. Flockharts of television when they look in the mirror, their self-esteem disappears, and they turn to the Adkins diet and Metabolife. They begin to starve themselves and suffer from anorexia and bulimia. On the outside, they are thin, but on the inside they suffer miserably, obsessed with dieting and trying to attain that "perfect" look. The media needs to advertise the "average" person with the "average" body. Perhaps if teenagers could see these as their role models, their self-esteem would improve, and they would learn to accept themselves for what they really are, healthy average human beings.

        My weight obsession somewhat still exists. However I look back, and I don't know why I damaged myself like that physically and emotionally. There are so many other important factors in life that mean significantly more than being thin. I'm 20 pounds heavier now, but now I can enjoy myself and not look at food as though it's my enemy. I enjoy eating, and still exercise a couple of times a week. I feel like my body is average, and that if I'm happy with myself, then that is all that should matter. Sometimes I wish I could be really thin again, but I know I don't want to do more damage to my body. I look back and also realize that when I was going through my stage of obsessive exercising and spartan diet that I was extremely irritable, jumpy, and more impatient. The reason for that is because food is nurturing and it is equivalent to having gas in your car. A car can't perform without gas, and a person can't perform effectively without a proper diet. I starved my body back then, but I look at it now as a good early learning experience. I now try to accept myself for who I really am.