Above: This is me, 60 pounds ago. People thought I was at my healthiest, but I was far from it. I explain why below.
My pregnancy (and birth) was rough, to say the least. During my first and second trimester, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is just a fancy term for extreme morning-sickness. I couldn’t hold down anything I ate or drank. There were many times I needed to get hooked up to an IV to make sure I wouldn’t get dehydrated.
Then, when my third trimester rolled around and the HG subsided, I ate everything and anything. Food became my greatest source of comfort, yet my greatest enemy. I ate when I was stressed, sad, bored, tired, lonely, you name it. I used it as a coping mechanism to help me temporarily get through difficult life events that I couldn’t properly deal with at the time.
My relationship with food has always been unhealthy. But it wasn’t always noticeable until that point.
When I competed as a state finalist for Miss NJ USA® 2014 (two years before my pregnancy), I was at my “skinniest”. There were many people, even my own family members, who would applaud me for looking “the best I ever have” and assumed I was at my “healthiest”. Little did they know, I was taking extreme measures to get there. I was afraid of certain foods, especially carbohydrates.
I would steer away completely from any sort of rice, bread, sugar, etc. It was to the point where if I ate even a little bit, I’d feel terribly guilty afterwards. A lot of people today call this a “no-carb, high-protein diet”, and I’m sure that for some people, it’s strictly a diet. But for me, it became an obsession. It was a disordered way of eating. It consumed me. And it was exhausting. The scale ruled me, and I let it. My fear of what other people thought of me also ruled me during this time, and to state it bluntly, it was a disastrous combination.
So you can imagine, when I gained all this weight, how afraid I was to face people. Especially those that knew me from before my pregnancy. Well long story short, in retrospect now that my little one is over a year old, gaining weight was actually something that needed to happen to me. As ridiculous as it may sound, I actually learned a lot from gaining nearly 60 pounds, that I wouldn’t have realized otherwise.
Here’s what I learned from gaining 60 pounds:
1. People are fickle. Their opinion does not and should not matter.
I was too wrapped up in what people thought about me. If we were all to be honest, when we care too much about what others think, it means that we care a little too much about ourselves. I realized this quickly. And I ate a big piece of humble pie during this time, which I desperately needed.
In a culture that has become so narcissistic, it has been the biggest relief taking the attention off myself. This life is not all about me. Now, it’s my biggest passion to help others who are going through similar things I experienced, and to ultimately give all the glory to God for everything that He has done!
2. Weight really is just a number. Health is the most important.
After gaining 60 pounds, there was a point where I kept comparing myself to my previous weight. Honestly, it was exhausting. I got to a point where I realized that everything I endured to hold this precious baby in my arms was well worth it. And it was. There is nothing I would take back. Nothing I would trade for this incredible blessing from the Lord.
Now, I’m in a place where I’m getting back to a healthy weight, in a healthy way. I’m not cutting out carbs. I really believe one of the reasons why I gained so much weight in such a short time period is because I yo-yoed from all my extreme no-carb diets.
Once I began eating carbohydrates normally, my body held onto it like there was no tomorrow, probably thinking I’d deprive it of its most readily available source of fuel. Carbohydrates are necessary! (And I’m so relieved that I can now enjoy them as a part of my everyday meal, guilt-free.)
3. Physical beauty is relative. But radiance, a beauty that derives from the soul, is contagious.
Beauty on the surface only goes so far. But there’s something about a beauty that radiates from the soul. For me, my source of “radiance” was and still is Christ. When I was at my worst- in the deepest of depression and darkness, He saved me. He showed me my true worth. That it wasn’t in anything of this world. It wasn’t in titles, people’s approval, my appearance, or success. It was in Him and Him alone. Truly recognizing this for the first time in my life, completely transformed me from the inside out.
With hashtags like “#cleaneating” and “#bodygoals” it seems like we’re only becoming more obsessed with an unachievable, unrealistic ideal. Here’s to health, and getting there gradually and in a healthy way. No pressure. No worries. No fears.