My Key to Happiness: Body Acceptance

“Lose 20 pounds in 12 days with this one simple trick!”

“Drink 2 gallons of green tea per day to burn extra calories!”

“Eat spicy foods to lose weight! It’s that easy”

If you’re curious about any of these claims, I’m the right girl to ask. For over a decade, weight loss has been my favorite pastime. Fun, right? Who needs a hobby like painting, jig-saw puzzles or knitting when your only passion lies in decreasing your dress size. My free hours were spent researching the next “Get Skinny Quick" scheme. Spoiler alert: There is no such thing as quick, easy weight loss. Trust me on that one. Try telling that to 13-year-old Mak over there, eating bowls of jalapenos and chugging green tea as if her life depended on it. I was convinced that weight loss would make me happy. I would’ve done literally anything to decrease the number on my scale. For 10 years, weight loss was my obsession. Nothing could change that.

These obsessive tendencies ultimately escalated into a spiral of dangerous behavior. Believe it or not, weight loss did not make me happy. I was under 100 pounds and I still hated my body. In fact, my body was my mortal enemy. My relationship with food became toxic. Going back and forth between restriction and overeating left my body utterly confused. This led to extreme weight loss and equally extreme weight gain a few years later. My body was fighting back after countless years of neglect. I’ve been on a strenuous journey to reverse old habits for about a year now. Today I am in a much healthier place. I take up more space than I did at age 18 and that’s completely fine.

My body is incredible. My legs carry me for miles when I’m running in the Florida heat. My arms can press 70+ pounds over my 4’11 frame during my weightlifting sessions. My body is a vessel for my brain. It has done an amazing job at helping me focus on work, school, and my creative endeavors. My body has been pushed to its limits and it has survived.

This is where things get a little complicated. I am at a point in my life where I would like to lose a little more of the weight that I gained during my recovery process. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait what, you literally just said that you love your body. Why do you want to change it?” I do love my body. I will love it no matter what. I've just decided that it's time to try something I’ve never attempted. I want to lose weight in a way that is both healthy and sustainable. So, how do I lose weight without reverting back to disordered behavior? One word: Acceptance.

I have vowed to accept my body in all forms. Before, after and during weight loss. This time, weight loss will not be treated as if it's a race. I am not on a mission to lose a set amount of weight or drastically change my appearance. During this journey, I will not ban certain foods from my life. I will not force myself to work out for multiple hours a day. I will practice balance, giving my body the food it craves and the movement it deserves. I will be patient with my body as it adjusts to a new routine. I won’t be disappointed if I’m not seeing immediate results. I will better myself while appreciating exactly who I am right now.

If you’re struggling to accept yourself, please know that you aren’t alone. In a society that’s constantly bombarding us with messages implying that you need to change, it can be so easy to feel like you aren’t enough. You are. You are so much more than enough. You are valid no matter what you weigh. If you’ve decided to lose weight, that's awesome. Do it for you and love who you are along the way! If you’re happy just the way you are, amazing. I’m so proud of you. After years of thinking I could only find joy in weight loss, I now know that self-acceptance is the key to my happiness. Take a moment today to accept just one thing that you previously disliked about yourself. You deserve to see just how incredible you are.

- Makenzie D.

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