Like any other person, I’ve had my share of teenage angst and self-image issues. I’ve obsessed about my hair, my looks, my body. I knew the jungles of thinness and fatness and brownness like the back of my hand.
Then one day, I had enough.
I re-discovered a different world of food when I learned how to cook. I even had a run at vegetarianism (where I learned that just because you’re vegetarian, it does not mean you’re healthy). While I am gladly eating meat now, I learned to respect vegetables and fruits for what they were, not as side kicks or afterthoughts to a great dish. Or diet food.
I stopped seeing things for their calories and fat, and instead, I saw them for what was possible. I learned about the importance of fresh ingredients, of cooking from what nature provides, of understanding that we need fat and calories and carbohydrates in order to be nourished.
In order to be happy.
While I cannot claim to be unscathed by the occasional bouts of self-doubt and self-criticism, I am better at understanding where that comes from and how to move away from it. Instead of being hard on myself when I’m feeling less than beautiful, I pack my yoga bag and head to class. I sweat away the reasons I doubt myself or criticize myself, and create reasons to be proud. I also drink water, I run, watch a movie, laugh, and my favourite, I cook or bake.
I don’t do those things as punishments for a pound gained. I sweat and work hard because I need to respond to my internal dialogue through respecting my body. To remind myself that while I may be feeling all those things at that moment, I know a way to lift my spirits back up.
And respect doesn’t come from self-loathing. It can only come from loving yourself unconditionally.