“Excuse me, what?” my mother confusedly responds to my kindergarten teacher who had just asked her (out of concern) whether I had been given breakfast that morning as I’d devoured an excessive amount of pizza at lunch and she was worried I wasn’t being fed at home. My mom replied that I had in fact eaten a breakfast large enough for a grown 200 lb man. My appetite has always been large yet when I was younger my body was quite small. I was always around the 16th percentile for height and even lower for weight so I didn’t put much thought into the food I ate. Like most kids in America I was living mainly off a diet of various forms of cheese: powder, canned, or sliced, without questioning anything other than the flavor.
Like any other girl in 7th grade, things started happening. I was a lot thicker than I had ever been especially compared to the skin and bone version of myself that existed just years before. I was active in sports through middle school and high school which only accelerated my constant hunger. After volleyball I would frequently be absolutely starved because the length of time between 11am lunch and the end of my practices was too much to bear for my uncontrollable hunger leading me to binge on any craving I had in that moment.
I actually had no guilt or shame after binging on fried chicken from KFC after those practices, but as I got a bit older I became more conscious of my body. Was I fat? Was I too soft? By my senior year of high school, a delicate time to say the least, I became hyper aware of insecurities I’m sure were perpetuated by society, rising popularity of social media, excedera, excedera. My senior spring break was coming up and I decided it was time to slim down for this cruise with my friends where we were sure to take pictures to post on Instagram. I had no idea what the appropriate things to eat or do for this occasion were so I simply went with what I assumed was “healthy,” which mainly included restriction, eating high sodium soups, and sugary granola bars. I also spent way too much time on the elliptical even though I absolutely despised it. I did loose weight but somehow I still didn’t look like the fitness girls I followed on social media.
The fit girls were strong. The fit girls had big butts and round shoulders and ripped abs. I wanted to be THAT. I started lifting weights, which I actually ended up loving (and still do.) About a year after starting my new fitness regime I started my own instagram page and blog as I was inspired by the girls who started me on my journey. The big but though, (no pun intended), is I also started following a diet that the fitness community of social media all seemed to subscribe to. This diet is called “if it fits your macros”, “iifym,” or “flexible dieting.” This requires you to meet a certain caloric goal based on your carb, protein, and fat intake with complete disregard for any other nutritional qualities. I ended up getting into a mindset where I would skip a banana as a snack because a sugary cereal had the same amount of carbs, so why have that when I can get the same results with the unhealthy choice?
This diet became toxic to my body and I credit my poor eating (which I still thought was healthy at the time) and college level alcohol intake, along with my natural hormonal imbalance to my development of cystic acne. In some ways, I’m thankful for the horribly inflamed, painful, depression-inducing cysts as it is just a symptom of a larger problem. I had already been on a fitness journey, but I didn’t take a good hard look into my nutrition until battling with cystic acne for a few years and realizing it must be something bigger. That my body was telling me something is not okay. I did plenty of research into the causes of my acne and how I can solve the issue. I realized proper nutrition and supplementation was key to curing my acne, but also my unhealthy relationship with food. I no longer see food in terms of carbs, fats, and protein. Food is no longer numbers; it’s flavor, nourishment, and fuel.
After just recently undergoing my nutritional enlightenment, my whole perspective on life itself has changed. I notice when I’m taking the time to nourish my body with whole foods and move my body in a way that I find enjoyable, my mental and emotional health become impacted positively as well. Now, my blog and instagram are no longer just about surface level physical change but, as cliche as it may sound, healthy mind, body, and soul. I have begun listening to podcasts about holistic health, practicing affirmations, writing gratitude lists, and ultimately growing as a human being. I’ve realized in taking time to acknowledge the importance of my food I was simply taking the time to realize the importance of myself.
Author: Rachael Lewandowski
Author Bio: My name is Rachael and I’m a health and fitness blogger/instagrammer. I’m also a media student at Miami University of Ohio. I enjoy cooking, weight lifting, and writing. I also enjoy perusing the aisles of target with no intention of buying anything, other than maybe an overpriced coffee at Starbucks. Follow me on instagram! @rachael.fit