A phone app controls my life. Everytime I slide to unlock my iPhone, I see Weight Watchers reminding me that anything I eat or drink is heavily monitored. For the past four and a half years, Weight Watchers tells me how much I can eat every single day. As a college student constantly tempted by sugary alcoholic drinks, orange custard chocolate chip ice cream and greasy macaroni and cheese pizza, I struggle daily to stick with my diet and keep my positivity up when it comes to my own personal body image.
My doctor told me every check-up I needed to increase my fitness and eat healthier. As much as I said to myself every year that I would get to the gym or eat less junk food, I still ended up sitting in front of the TV, watching Top Chef and eating whole sleeves of Thin Mints.
Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a girl disguised as a blimp staring back at me. As I cried to my mom about how awful I felt about myself and how I would never find a boyfriend because of my weight, she told me to stop having a pity party and do something about it. So junior year of high school I joined Weight Watchers. As soon as I stepped on the scale to input my starting weight, I knew my journey to body positivity, self-appreciation and a skinny waist was going to be a long one.
Users of Weight Watchers search for food and drink items and the system calculates how many points that food gets based on fat, carbohydrates, fiber and protein. When I started the program, I had 49 points I could use towards food every day and then 49 weekly points I could use throughout the week if I went over the daily points. I loved the fact that the system let me eat sweets that satisfied my crazy sweet tooth while learning more about eating in moderation.
As the pounds slowly disappeared, my daily points decreased as well. Every week as I stepped on the scale, I gradually started to feel better about myself. I hadn’t cheated or messed up my diet until one year and three months after I started because alcohol entered my life my freshman year of college.
All alcoholic drinks besides light beer require a ridiculous amount of points. Entering my freshman year of college, I wanted to join the party crowd and drink with my friends, but Weight Watchers held me back. Over the past three years of college, I can’t even begin to count how many times I said “no” to going out with my friends because I didn’t have enough points for alcohol.
I felt crushed because I wanted to go crazy, let loose and drink as many glasses of apple pie wop as I wanted, but that couldn’t happen. I either sacrificed the amount of food I ate to have points for alcohol or not drink—most of the time not drinking won.
Luckily, my friends continue to be understanding of my diet, but making sure I stay within points still feels like a never-ending race I can’t win. Dieting in college becomes a lot more stressful when making plans to go out to eat. I check the menus before dinner at a new place to make sure there is something I can eat or plan the rest of my meals around that one outing. On weeks where I want to go to bars, I save as many weekly points as I can just to get a couple drinks on a typical Saturday night. Don’t even get me started on drunchies, because most of the time sober me does not account for the additional 20 points I will eat in pizza.
I loathed sweating, and I wasn’t very active until my best friend forced me to start running freshman year. On Weight Watchers, I get additional points by exercising, so I ran like no tomorrow for those extra points that saved me during weeks when I ate extremely unhealthy or overindulged on too many vodka tonics. As a girl who ran 15 minute miles in high school, running was absolute torture. My ankles killed, my shoulders numbed and my head hurt due to dehydration, but I still went on runs every week just to eat and drink like a normal college student.
I still sometimes see the fat girl staring at me in the mirror, but now I have to remember I see the old me and not the fierce girl who replaced her. If you asked me five years ago if I could see myself wearing a single-digit waist size, training for a half marathon or eating only one oreo instead of 10, I would’ve laughed at you.
When I lose my self-confidence and feel as huge as the Hulk I remind myself of RuPaul’s words, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else.” Sticking to my diet and fitness regime remains a daily challenge, but thanks to friends who support me and understand my crazy diet, I wear clothes that are half my original size, have lower blood pressure and appreciate my body a lot more.
Recently, I wore a tank top all day with my arms showing for the first time and I didn’t feel self-conscious once. Little milestones like that help me believe all the hardships are worth it. I am ready to rock my bikini this summer and accept myself for who I am—a strong and beautiful woman.