BY ASHLEY JOHNSON
I woke up like this:
Like many girls, I love me some Beyoncé. So of course I was hooked when 'Flawless' came out. What’s not to love? A song all about being sexy and perfect? Yes, please. “I woke up like this” quickly became my go to mantra. If I could just fake it till I made it, if I could just keep listening to this song, I could convince myself that I too was flawless. My inner Beyoncé would finally be set free, and all the bitches would bow down to me. Yes, I needed to be flawless.
I have been fighting an ugly war with my body for almost 11 years now. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a diet. My "weight loss journey" was nothing extreme like the people on "The Biggest Loser," and I was never sent to rehab to get my purging under control. Through my dieting career, I managed to never get over 215 or below 115, so I am by no means Dr. Phil material. This is a battle that I have fought on my own. Yes, everyone knows about it, but it has always been more of a “don’t ask don’t tell” kind of thing. To most. this whole diet ordeal was just me being like all the 20-something-year-olds out there.
So I started to sing my mantra and hold my head up high. This was it. I was going to kick this eating disorder and body image garbage to the curb. As long as I saw myself as flawless, I was good. Don’t worry be-yonce, right?
This worked for about a month. Then, the magic of my new found theme song and attitude started to fade. The feelings and thoughts that I would never “get over myself” and be "normal" around food and social situations started to creep back in. The weight I was so sure I would lose as soon as I turned into a diva wasn’t budging. If anything. it was just holding on tighter. I no longer felt flawless, just hopeless. It wasn’t long before chewing and spitting out my food, or throwing up in the backyard, became a thing again. Fasting Monday--Thursday and weekend binge fests were back on the calendar.
After I realized my inner Beyoncé had officially moved out, I was back to square one. My body was a problem, and the only solution was another diet. I couldn’t keep binging and purging, so obviously, I needed to find a more controlled plan again. So I went to Google. I needed to know what new "supplements" I could get to help burn fat and keep my cravings away. A miracle pill that would jump start my new improved life. Once these extra pounds were gone, I would finally be happy. Or so I thought. Once I got that feeling of "I’m in control" again, I would finally be normal. Then, I would quit crash dieting and going to bed hungry. Only then, I could love myself full-time, no theme song required. Yup, just 10 more pounds and all of this will go away.
But when I was searching Pinterest for my next get skinny quick plan, something changed. The little voice in the back of my head that tries to keep me sane finally spoke up and asked, "Why are you doing this? AGAIN?! What are you trying to prove or find? What are you so afraid of?"
Then, it hit me. I wasn’t just trying to avoid going up ANOTHER jean size by the end of the year, and I was certainly not "doing this for my health." I wasn’t just looking for control or happiness--I was avoiding owning myself and my life. I was avoiding letting myself open up and bloom, as is. I wanted to stop, but no matter which way the scale was moving, it was never right or enough.
I was looking for some kind of insurance plan that promised I was covered no matter what. I needed to know that by paying my deductible and staying thin, I would be wanted, and that I wasn’t going to be dropped and left behind. I was waiting for a big red "APPROVED" stamp to be stamped on me, so I could have a permanent reminder that I was enough. This constant hurt in my belly wasn’t from a food allergy or any other health or weight related problem that I could blame it on. No, this paralyzing pain is what fear feels like. What is it I’m afraid of? Everything.
I knew deep down all along that all of this craziness was fear based, but who wants to admit their crazy AND afraid? Especially when I had managed to hide so much of that craziness and fear behind a diet.
Of course, I’m moody. I’m starving, and despite what my favorite fitness blogger says, and no matter how hard I’ve tried to image it, this boiled cauliflower tastes nothing like McDonald’s fries. Of course I feel left out. Everyone around me is eating pasta AND drinking my favorite Merlot! AND they’re not even mentally calculating their carb count. What the hell?
Of course I’m scared. Yes, my husband tells me I’m perfect, and yes, he has been with me through many different weights. Not once has he ever said anything even slightly bad or mean about my body. But what if he changes his mind? What if he wakes up one morning and sees me in a different light? What if a thinner, cuter, perkier girl comes in and takes him away?
It happens all the time. I hear what his friends and the rest of the world say about women, and I know that my frame doesn’t necessarily fit into the ideal category. Despite that I "know better," I can't help but think: What if not losing this weight and keeping it off means I lose everything.
Ashley Johnson blogs here.