My eyes darted across the room to my reflection in the mirror. My head turned away, frustrated, disgusted by the figure I saw, but I couldn’t help but glance back. I was tormented by the imperfections that overwhelmed me, but I couldn’t stop examining them. I pinched at any skin I could get my hands on and sucked in as I angled sideways. I just wanted a good body. A hot body. Thin thighs and a concave stomach. And I was willing to do anything to get it.
At 14 I was terrified to be fat. Terrified. At less than 100 lbs it should have been the last thing on my mind, but I didn’t stop thinking about it. I skipped breakfast, avoided lunch, and purged my dinner the moment I could find time alone. I wanted a good body, and I was willing to starve myself to get it.
By 16 I realized that avoiding food meant dodging too many questions, so I ate. I ate and I purged in secret. Anything I felt was too much for what my body needed, I got rid of the moment I could find a bathroom. I wanted a good body, a hot body, and I was willing to secretly haul nutrients out to get it.
For years I struggled with my body image. Hating my body, wishing I could change it. Coveting girls with smaller breasts and thin thighs. I swung drastically from an unhealthy preoccupation with food to not caring at all what I put in my body (believing that if I concerned myself with food I would fall back into old habits). All of my understanding of what it meant to have a good body was purely visual. Good bodies = hot bodies.
It took time, but I eventually learned how to love myself and treat my body better. Although, I still had some pretty skewed ideas about body that I didn’t even realize were there. I was happy with who I was and content with how I looked, but deep down, I still craved a good body. Who doesn’t want to be hot?
Before we turned 30, Clark and I were both determined to be in the best shape of our lives. We loved running and working out together and had made a pledge to be at our peak physical fitness by our 30th birthdays. We wanted to be healthy, sure, but there was some visual motivation to look good too!
That year leading up to my 30th birthday brought on challenges I could have never imagined. I was determined to work hard for that killer bod, but something was going wrong. I just couldn’t keep up. My body wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.
2 days before my 30th birthday, instead of celebrating my new rock hard abs, I sat in a neurologists office and learned that I had Multiple Sclerosis. My body was failing. I struggled to climb a set of stairs. Some days I could hardly hold my body weight upright. I had lost muscle mass and my body was failing me. I was thin, but I didn’t care. That didn’t matter anymore. I can remember turning to Clark and uttering the words, “I’d do anything for a good body.”
Not thin thighs. I needed strong legs that could carry me.
Not sculpted abs. I needed a frame that could hold me.
Not limited food. I needed nutrition that would fuel me.
I just wanted a good body. Like, an actual good body.
Today my eyes darted across the room to my reflection in the mirror. The edge of my lips turned up into a smile as I looked confidently at my reflection. I was unbothered by the imperfections reflected back at me. Today I was determined to find strength. Strength to walk. Strength to live. Strength to be. I want a good body. A strong, capable body that won’t fail me. A nourished, healthy body that will carry me through the day. I’ll do anything for a good body, but that’s means something completely different to me today than it once did.
There are so many days now I wish I could go back to that 14 year old girl who abused and destroyed the body she had. I wish I could go back and help her see how awesome she could feel, and even look, if she fuelled her body for the life she really wanted to live. I wish the years I had with a good body were better used. If only I knew then what I know now.
Let’s change what a “good body” means and do whatever it takes to keep our bodies good for as long as we can. You in?