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The Weight of My Body and Mind

by Megan Balani

I don’t think there’s a moment in my life when I didn’t worry about my weight. Ever since I was a kid, I thought that I was always watching myself because I did not want to end up with the health issues that my support system had. I eat my feelings of feeling imperfect away unconsciously, since I needed to cope from the setback of making big commitments with very little emotional investment.

My mom, who is such a big support system in my life, has always encouraged me to have everything in moderation. She puts a focus on taking care of the mind and the body. It was never about only looking skinnier, but feeling good and to feel a sense of responsibility and love towards yourself. I wanted to believe her, it’s still difficult to. It is a concept that I’m still trying to ingrain in my head today.

Throughout middle school and high school, I did a lot of athletic activities. I did tennis, swimming, track, and cross country - all at different times of the year (so I was active all around). Yet, during all those times, I was still insecure about my body and compared myself to my white counterparts. Looking back at those photos now (after gaining 20 pounds in quarantine and still not shedding it), I wish I didn’t beat myself up so much for having the body that I had at that time. But I still want to change where I am now.

After years of going through diet and exercise regimens, I still continue to find myself in the same place every time - going back to old habits, beating myself up, and snacking my guilt away. This mindset has taken away so much energy from the 20 years of my life, and I am now starting to see that thinking highly of myself in every aspect of my life is starting to transform my ideology of the decisions I should make.

As someone who is very hard on herself, beating myself up is a default setting that I am learning to reprogram. How do I reprogram my mind, you ask? The best answer I can give is to understand that you will learn no matter how much you strive to be better, so you don’t need to be harsh on yourself. After reflecting on my eating habits, as well as how I treat myself when striving to academically excel, there is a great fear of failure. My automatic reaction is self punishment - I punish myself before someone else gets to me (which is really fucked up, looking back now because no one deserves to be treated that way).

I am a firm believer in divine guidance. I have been starting to journal some mornings and channeling messages regarding what I need to know for the day. Every single one was about focusing on the light and abundance that “is” me. Getting these messages and rereading them makes me slowly start to believe that I do deserve to respect myself and have the same honest (positive) dialogue that something higher is having with me. I always keep my journal of messages with me to remind me of my divinity.

As I continue to forgive myself, receive these messages, and talk in a more compassionate way towards myself, I realize that I am more accepting of where my body is (not entirely, but in a better mindset than a week ago). In turn, I am deciding to respect myself by taking a different approach to weight loss: instead of focusing on the pounds lost, I focus on how I feel instead. This would sound like such a nonsensical thing for my younger self to hear, since I am focused on just the quantifiable aspect. But, I am starting to choose better foods to fill me up, as well as cutting things out - ALL microscopically. What I mean is that I started by making one tiny pledge to myself to maintain for just one week, which was to replace soda with water. All I have to commit to is just that. Since I am focused on that, as well as talking better about myself and believing it, I feel more motivated to take care of myself in different ways. One example is bringing a tiny bag of protein powder and mixing it with milk for breakfast after my workout.

“Week 1: 11/8/21: I pledge to switch out water with soda”

“Week 2: 11/15/21: I pledge to drink 3 bottles of water daily”

I am continuing to add to these pledges weekly. So far, I only broke the pledge only once, which is impressive in my eyes. The best part is that it doesn’t feel that I am missing out on my old habits.

I know that we all have our own relationships with our bodies. As someone who is climbing myself out of the self-created dirt hole of hatred, I feel it is important to see the good and challenging aspects of ourselves, which will influence us to take a healthier path to improve your health in every way possible. Surrendering any fears and high expectations is difficult, but being grateful for the first tiny step you take … then the second … then the third - all build up sustainable physical and emotional health.