If you subscribe to any social media platform or magazine, then you probably know about dieting trends. You see personal trainers advertising their gyms, eating and even exercising plans. You see celebrities swear by specific smoothies or workouts. None of it actually works, of course. There exists no magical tea that will turn you into your ideal weight, nor any one specific fruit that will burn the calories off. How do I know?
Because I wasted my life trying them all.
When college comes around, believe me you’ll feel too busy to think about anything for a while. Even dieting. But once you settle into your classes, those thoughts about how much you eat in the dining hall and how many steps you’re getting in will start to creep back in on you. Suddenly, you find yourself counting the minutes you spend walking from one class to another. You wonder how many calories you ate for dinner.
You start looking for green smoothie places to get your breakfast to substitute the sandwiches and breakfast burritos.
In other words, you now get another whole set of concerns on top of your worries for your classes, assignments and seminars. Because guess what? Dieting fears don’t go away once you get to college. Those insecurities that stuck with you stay with you. In fact, new fears come up. Because you’re older now —and the older you get, the slower your metabolism gets— you start to worry that if you don’t crack the code to getting fit now, you never will. I know my thoughts turned in that direction.
We all experience this feeling of inadequacy. We all feel like we could look better and feel better about ourselves. Even you might feel it now as you embark on your college journey, and I assure you, I know how it feels. I know how you might feel comparing yourself, not only to celebrities, but to your own classmates. Her hair looks thicker, her makeup looks better, how did she her nails to look that way? Jealousy doesn’t necessarily come aggressively, but it does push you to do a lot you wouldn’t otherwise do.
Like skip meals or “detox” with green juice, which, for me, really only meant starving and replacing my favorite meals with smoothies I didn’t like and giving myself stomachaches.
I don’t pretend to know everything about dieting, but I can say with certainty that I’ve tried them all. What did I learn? They didn’t work, at least not for me. No matter what, I either grew hungry or cranky or just plain tired. I hated it when people told me I lost weight because I only ever felt sick, and I wanted an excuse to stop going hungry. And you know what? The weight never stayed down. Even when I kept at dieting, I still gained weight. I tortured my body, tortured my own mind, and I hated every second of it.
So eventually, I needed to come to terms with one thing. My body simply couldn’t look like anybody else’s, and I needed to accept that. Where I used to see distortions that didn’t exist, I pushed myself to see beauty. After talking to friends who saw imperfections in themselves that I definitely couldn’t see in them, I realized that no one judges us more harshly than ourselves. In that case, why not support ourselves? I know it sounds cliché, but it rings true.
You won’t like the way you look until you learn to love yourself.
How to do that? Well, I can’t write your journey for you, but I can tell you what mine looked like. Exploration, for one thing. I listened to other people my age and their opinions on dieting. I realized how much my suffering looked like theirs, and then the answers sort of came to me in an epiphany. It just hit me how miserable I kept making myself with diet plans that didn’t make me feel any prettier or healthier. I discovered the fight against dieting never stops, and I didn’t want that misery to continue. I knew that if I didn’t start to try looking at myself differently, appreciating what I did possess instead of what I didn’t, my life would consist of one never-ending diet. And to that I say— no, thank you.