I’ll never forget the day I decided to change the way I looked. The fear that overwhelmed my consciousness and made me make the most ridiculous, irrational decision to alter my appearance for no good reason other than that I wanted to stay small forever.
Let me first start off by saying that I was already lean. I was quite slender, in fact. Decently tall for my age, and I had a fairly low body fat percentage. I was a high school kid—a dancer, a skier, and I was happy with the way I looked. Or, I guess I should say, I never really gave much thought to the way I looked. I was the way I was, and that was all there was to it. It was beautifully simple.
It wasn’t that I wanted to change myself at that moment, I was scared of what would happen if my body did change in the future. And that future was university—the “freshman 15” to be exact. I felt doomed and destined to put on the classic 15 pounds that my sister, and all of her friends had put on after living in dorms in first year university. I knew I would be drinking alcohol, I knew I would have no control over the food I was eating at the campus cafeteria, and most importantly, I believed that if my appearance did change, that I too would be changed as a person.
Over the next six months, I leaned closer and closer into the little voice inside my head that told me to stay as far away as possible from that tipping point. That point of “no return”. It started with a book on how to reduce your dietary sugar intake to 5g or less per day, my packed lunches of fat/sugar free turkey sandwiches and raw veggies, and a strength and conditioning class at school. And eventually, the effect slowly rippled outward, like a wave, toward every other aspect of my life. Socializing became stressful. Eating dinner became stressful. Family outings became stressful. And lunch hour became stressful. All because everyone could see something that I didn’t want to see; that my personality was withering with the weight I was trying to lose. That I wasn’t me anymore, because everything and anything I tried to do revolved around a fixation and an obsession with staying small—an obsession that placed all of my value in my physical appearance.
And the worst part was? I couldn’t see it.
I couldn’t see what they saw, and I didn’t want to hear it from anyone. That I was different, or I looked different. In my mind I was just taking the reins of my life. Taking control of the one thing I felt like I actually did have control over.
It was 5 pounds. Then 15, then 20, and then finally I pushed 25. And for a girl who only weighed 130 at 5’ 7” to begin with, it was noticeable. And despite surpassing my 15 pound deficit before finishing grade 12, I couldn’t figure out one very large, missing piece of the equation. Why didn’t I feel happy? Why wasn’t I content with what I had accomplished?
I would like to say that one day I just woke up and realized what was happening, but I’d be lying. My return to homeostasis was a long, tiresome process that involved a lot of self reflection, an immense amount of honesty, and the willingness to accept that life truly is uncontrollable in the best kind of way.
I eventually gained the weight back, embraced my college experience, made new friends, fell back in love with food through a plant based diet, and actually ended up enrolling in a nutrition course in Vancouver (where I am currently a student). Despite winning this battle, there’s no easy way to say it: I struggled. And even more so, I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I exist underneath of my own skin, and that life exists outside of my body. Regardless, I learned a lot along the way. Here are some phrases that I started telling myself (out loud) every day that truly helped me come out a better person on the other side:
- Worthy of a solid group of friends
- So much more than what you see in the mirror
- Greater than your doubts
- More capable than what your parents think you are
- Allowed to change your mind over and over again until it feels right
- Better than your anxiety and stress
- Capable of exploring the world
- Strong enough to climb mountains
- Doing enough
Life is tough, darling, but so are you. You can either be your own worst critic or your own greatest support squad. Your biggest doubter, or your most ruthless best friend.
The choice is yours.
Roslyn Kent is an adventurer, a vegan, a fitness enthusiast, a holistic nutritionist-in-the-making, and an all around incredibly human. Check her out on Instagram in one of two places: @butfirstplants and @roslynkent