Hello, lovelies! It’s Monday, and do you know what that means? It means it’s time for a post from another beautiful and courageous member of the Embrace:Me movement! Tonight’s post comes from Zoe, whose unabashed love of the Beatles makes her a girl after my own heart. And I was going to introduce her by way of Beatles lyrics, but then I started second-guessing myself, like, “Would that be weird? Would people get it? Or would they think I was like trying to make some weird point?” So instead, I’ll just say that Zoe is truly lovely and sweet, and her story is full of strength and resilience. She told me she was honored to be able to be a part of Embrace:Me, but really I feel like I’m the one who should feel honored. And I do. Thanks, Zoe, for sharing your story!
before i start i would like to take a moment to thank emilie for allowing me to participate in such a wonderful, positive moment. i think it’s important to acknowledge who we are, truly, in order to fully embrace ourselves.my story starts out like an article in seventeen magazine. as a kid, i never worried about my weight. my little lanky limbs never allotted me a moment to do so. but then, i stopped growing. and the curves kept growing. puberty hit me faster and harder than anyone around me. by age nine i was sporting boobs and a desperate need for a training bra. my flat chested friends? well, a bra to them was an alien idea. people thought i was weird and i remember once, in the fifth grade, our P.E teacher weighed us for the national fitness exams. my girlfriends reassured me that another girl weighed more than me, that it was okay. i learned early on to be embarrassed about my body. and so the cycle of body hatred began.i became much more aware of my mother’s long, self-loathing look into the mirror. she cursed her “fat ass” and hips, and thighs, and stomach. as i aged i found myself doing the same. in middle school i sunk into myself. the self-hatred i developed took over my life and i remember crying myself to sleep many nights because i thought i was ugly and fat. this behavior only continued into high school, where my self-esteem never really left the ground. yes, i was active in soccer (from ages 3-19) but never active in the practice of healthy eating.fast forward to college. freshman year i gained the freshman fifteen after swearing to myself i would not. i could not, after all, get fatter. but i did. and on a 5’ 1” frame, ten to fifteen extra pounds looks more like 30. my clothes stopped fitting and my self-esteem took a nose dive. so i did what i always did when i was sad: i ate. and ate and ate. i ate my feelings and wound up more miserable than ever by the end of my freshman year. i hated my body, my life, and my school. i had no real friends and still no boy-friend, the person who i thought would be my cure-all.over the summer i lost the weight i gained by working out steadily. i did work out videos in the morning. however, i did not carry this habit into my sophomore and my weight more or less stalled. my self-esteem continued to be non-existent despite the fact that i did, in fact, find a boyfriend who loved me and my body. but it’s hard to be loved when you don’t love yourself.the seeds to a new beginning were planted the summer following my sophomore year. i went to south africa with a program through my school and lost a significant amount of weight. i came back with a new appreciation for myself, though i didn’t realize at the time it was purely physical. i still felt hollow on the inside and not worth anything. my junior year of college was tumultuous, to say the least. i started reading healthy living blogs and started running regularly. i went from being unable to run 30 minutes on a treadmill to running up to 10.5 miles. i did all this, however, on little to no food. food started to become something i feared as the weight dropped off of me. i went from being pescatarian, to vegetarian, to vegan in a mere matter of months. i dropped sugar along the way and labeled foods either “good” or “bad”. i started to relish the attention i got from the opposite sex, the compliments from my girlfriends about my thinner exterior. i got so caught up in my new image i forgot what it was like to simply just be me.somewhere in those months of confusion and sadness, i stopped laughing as much and started crying a lot. i started eating in secret and my exercise habit turned compulsive. i went from running 4 days a week to 6-7 days a week, still on little to no fuel. over this past summer i realized how much i withdrew from my friends. i was embarrassed to be seen by them. i wasn’t allowing myself to live my life. instead, i centered it around food and exercising. if i didn’t get a run in, i didn’t “deserve” to eat. i was irritable all the time and kissed my period goodbye for almost a year. i broke out all the time, was constantly tired and sore. the only way i knew how to cope was to push myself harder physically.all of this behavior came to a stand-still towards the end of summer 2010. one night i sobbingly confessed everything to candace: i only exercised to burn calories, i worked out while she slept, i binged alone in the kitchen because of the judgement i feared from my friends. i knew a change needed to occur. so i quit running. cold turkey. my knees thanked me for it but my anxious mind did not. the first few weeks without running were hellish. in order to cope, i dove into yoga. i stepped onto my yoga mat and have yet to leave. as i like to say, yoga saved me from myself.suddenly, as i breathed through a million warrior twos and chaturangas, i realized i was worth it. my curves were special. i was special. yoga helped me discover myself again. it gave me strength i never knew i had and a peace so soothing, i wouldn’t trade it for the ability to run better ever. slowly, i started appreciating what i saw in the mirror and, more importantly, who i saw in the mirror. i allowed myself to recognize that i am all the wonderful things people tell me i am. i am smart, i am funny, i am compassionate, i am beautiful. i am worth it.have i gained weight? yes. but i have also gained an understanding that i am worth health, happiness, and wholeness. and you know what? so are you. although i am not nearly close to finishing this journey of healing, i am light-years ahead of where i started from. put trust in yourself and the people around you and you’ll realize you’re amazing just the way you are.
I asked Zoe to share a few lines about herself. Here’s what she had to say: “i am a recent 21 year old college graduate who hopes to pursue a career in the nutritionist field and who, above anything else, wants to become a yoga teacher. i love yoga, rock climbing, and the occasional run. i especially love cooking and being involved in the kitchen and hope to attend culinary school as well!” I encourage you to stop by Zoe’s blog to say hello: it’s very honest, brave, and very positive!
Read previous Embrace:Me stories here: