For as long as I can remember I have had body image issues, sometimes compounded by well wishers and parents. In an effort to get me to a healthier lifestyle or to look a certain way that was more acceptable in society, they undermined my self worth. And it has taken me a large part of my life to find myself underneath all those opinions.
Every time I looked at myself, I only saw the imperfections. All my attempts were to not stick out. I don’t have a single full length photo of mine from the ages of 14- 28. All my photos were in groups, where I was behind somebody else. I so wanted to conceal all that girth. I tried all the diets that there were to try, I exercised, I starved myself- I did all that. I lost some weight and then I put it back on again.
Then one fine day. I decided that’s that. I joined a gym, hired a trainer. All I could think of was weight loss. Becoming slimmer. Becoming more socially desirable. Becoming desirable. To others.
I had forgotten that I had a say too.
My trainer worked with me. I barely lost any weight in the first couple of months. But we kept at it. With a trainer around, I stayed focused. He focused on me. And he was patient with me. Every time I expressed my dejection, he said, it’s your body. Give it time. You can only become fit if you are consistent. We built in discipline and then in a few months I noticed myself shrinking.
And then I was amazed to realise that it had stopped being of consequence to me. What became more important was how much I was able to lift. How many repetitions I was able to pull off. In 6 months I had pulled off a good form pushup. In a year I could see my shoulders and my pecs take shape. I bought new clothes, but what really excited me were the gym clothes.
When I looked at myself in the mirror, all I saw were the muscles that showed up when I flexed. I could no more see my double chin. Bloating didn’t matter to me. No I didn’t lose all that weight.
I found myself under all that rubble of other people’s expectations.
I escaped what they thought I should think of myself. It was so final. It has been quite a few months now that I haven’t hit the gym. I can see some of myself growing out and you know what, it doesn’t bother me as much.
I know my muscles have it in them to bounce back. I know that my body has my back.
When I found my escape from those issues, I was finally able to start living the version of my life that I deserved to live.