Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Learning to Embrace my Body

“The skinnier I got, the fatter I felt.”
These are the words that I shamefully uttered two years ago during one of my many therapy sessions to come. These are the words that I felt every day upon waking up and every night before going to sleep. These are the words that governed my life. These words tell of the war I waged against my body.

It all started in 8th grade when I friend of mine proudly stated that she had dropped 6 pounds in two weeks. As those around us praised her for her life-changing feat, I thought to myself, “WHAT?! How is that possible?” She went on to explain that she just didn’t eat. Huh…I never thought of that one before. You mean I have the option to not eat?

This small discovery of mine fueled a seemingly endless journey of self-hate. The next 6 years of my life were dictated by constant calorie counting, excessive exercise, and an obsession with losing weight. After countless days of weighing out every gram of anything that entered my mouth, running 7 miles before 3 hours of softball practice, stepping on the scale every few hours, and staring at my nonexistent tummy in the mirror for hours on end, I thought that I would finally be happy with my body and life. I mean, I was losing weight…and everyone told me I was so skinny...and thin people are supposed to be happy…right? Was I the only exception? How come I wasn’t happy?

Where did this idea that had been imprinted in my head for as long as I can remember even come from? Is it not a proven law that all skinny people are happy and weight gain is the source of all things horrible?

During my first year at the University of Florida I decided that food would no longer rule my world. I thought that if I ever wanted to stop dieting, I could. All I had to do was start eating normally again (while still maintaining a healthy, balanced diet of around 1500 calories per a day of course!). This was not normal eating. Years upon years of restrictive eating had left me clueless on how to not diet. The control and grasp food had over my life was stronger then ever and there was nothing I could do to break free, at least nothing I could do on my own.

I’m not really sure what spurred it, but before I new it I was thrown into the world of recovery. My schedule was now filled with appointments with doctors, therapists, and nutritionists, along with weekly group therapy sessions.

Gradually, over the next 3 years of working my butt off, I came to a grand realization: I don’t have to hate my body! I have the option to embrace it, nourish it, care for it, and love it. Now, I am 40 pounds heavier (and lovelier) than I was when I entered recovery for my eating disorder and I love my body more than ever!

My thighs are sound and sturdy, like the trunks of two powerful trees that support the beautiful goddess above and help her move to the rhythm of her heart. My belly is soft and curvy. It serves as the perfect pillow when my boyfriend lays his head on my stomach. My arms are strong and sensual. With them, I can carry my bike up a flight of stairs and cuddle with my dog moments later. My butt is voluptuous and full. It protects me when I fall down... so that I can get back up again. 

- Kelly Ulmer

1 comment:

  1. Kel...this brought me to tears! You are so amzing.