“Usually one’s story begins at the start of our lives, and you talk and walk as you progress through. However, when reviewing mine and getting to a point where I wanted to share my story with the world, it really begins on July 21, 2020. This is the date I made the life-changing decision to really start to tackle my weight issues head-on. The reality of this led me on a journey where I’ve had to start to address and tackle my emotional relationship with food head-on, the one true source of comfort that has been there for me since early childhood.
Like so many others, I can’t remember ever not being worried about my weight or image throughout my life. The earliest memory I have of being concerned about my weight begins at just 8 years old. My mom had bought me a new skirt and to this day, I can still remember the cut, style, and color; a beautiful chiffon fabric, colored white and red, set with pleats. The style that slim, fit cheerleaders or tennis players wore. Upon trying on the skirt, it was too small in my waist and I started feeling if I just tried hard enough, a miracle could happen and it would fit. For the rest of that afternoon, I did walking laps on our front lawn, thinking and believing I could walk the weight away, only to give up when I didn’t see any changes. I remember feeling immense guilt about myself and my body, questioning, ‘Why me?’
Reflection is a great tool and hindsight provides us with the power to be able to move forward and truly make an attempt to understand our past actions and thoughts. Coming into the later years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand my weight and self-worth issues. Where did they start? Why? How could such things affect such a young child?
When I was younger, my parents had, what I call, a ‘colorful relationship’ which ended when I was just 6 years of age. From then on, it was my mother and me. From that tender age of 6, I felt compelled to protect my mother. This proved emotional independence from a young age, but also begs the question, ‘Who looked after me?’ Who filled the emotional voids in me that I was unable to communicate because of my young age, my fear of being left, my fear of being alone, my fear of not being able to look after my mother? And the answer is food.
Food is a comfort, it was my one tried and true emotional crutch. It provided the comfort I so desperately needed throughout my younger years, which certainly led to my teenage years as well into adulthood. It’s a crutch that was used when times got tough, to fill the void, to feel something, anything other than the emotions bottling up inside of me at a time of need.
As I got older, I was attempting to find who I was while navigating health issues and relationships, all the while I was well aware I had ‘weight issues.’ I told myself this on a daily basis, but the world around me was also constantly revealing I was too big for societal standards. From those closest to me to those afar, people have felt the need to comment on my body or provide feedback with no assistance on how to navigate weight loss. Just negative quotations of my body not being good enough for the image they so desperately wanted me to fit. This is where my yo-yo dieting and unhealthy relationship with exercise began. Despite always loving myself, I never felt beautiful because of the expectations the world put on me. How could I be good enough? What did I need to do to be accepted for just who I am?
You name it, I’ve done it. From weight watchers to HCG drops, from 500 calorie restriction diets to Keto. And don’t even get me started on the countless gym memberships, boot camps, and attempts at lifestyle changes I’ve made, only to see limited results and still fail to understand why it still didn’t work. I’m no stranger to giving my all to something when I commit.
So to try the above and still continue to feel like a failure definitely took an emotional and physical toll on me. Alongside being overweight, I also suffered from the immense pain of endometriosis, which led to the cycle of emotional eating, void filling.
This all leads me to July 21, 2020, when I stumbled across a woman who I finally felt heard and seen by. Someone to whom I could relate, who genuinely shared similar experiences and was on the same wavelength as me. Toni, who I’m now lucky enough to call a friend, was booked to receive a weight loss surgery known as Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). Toni and I got to talking and she shared how she had tried every option and nothing had worked for her and this was her last resort. To be completely transparent with you all, I had previously looked into weight loss surgery the year before and attended a seminar to understand the ins and outs of my options. However from there, I had never made progress on deciding if it was the right step for me, and now being post-op, I can genuinely admit the reason I had not gone ahead with this sooner is due to my fear of not having the emotional security of food to fall back on.
After connecting with Toni, I finally decided I needed to start putting myself first. Not only just in terms of my weight and health but in terms of my mental health, self-worth, and self-love. Moving forward, I made the huge life-changing decision to get a Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy at the beginning of November. Since making the decision to have surgery, I have had to navigate friendships, relationships, other’s opinions, find my own self-worth, provide myself with love. I was starting to learn and address my emotional dependence on food, to let go. To learn healthy boundaries, to learn healthy self-talk, and then additionally continue the upkeep of it all.
A dear friend of mine at the start was very against the idea of surgery. His exact words were, ‘I hope you don’t become a stuck up b*tch when you become slimmer.’ It really struck me. My response was simple and has been the same for every person I’ve encountered since with a similar pre-deposition. I’m a kind person because I’m a kind person. I’m not kind because I’m fat. It sparked thoughts within me though one could think someone’s weight defines how they can treat other people, and maybe in some instances it does? I know myself, and I’m proud to say I’m still the same kind person I always was and will always be.
Following on from this, change is inevitable. As your body changes, your mindset changes as well. However, I call this positive change! Change for empowerment.
One week out from surgery, I joined Instagram to assist me in the new journey I was on. I’m a person who always leads with honesty and it’s one of my core values I’m proud of. At the early stage, I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to share or what my message would be on the platform, but I knew if I could provide just one person out there with what Toni provided me, I would feel as if I had given back. It was also a platform for me to able to share the highs and lows because every journey has one.
The most strange encounter I’ve had so far since I’ve lost weight? Being stopped by men in random shops to start conversations. It’s opened my eyes as to how frivolous people can be. I’ve always maintained beauty comes from the inside out and will continue to aspire to maintain to see this in others. I like to assume they see my soul glowing and not just the exterior and that’s the reason I get stopped now.
I am continuing to navigate my way through body acceptance and provide body positivity to all. Regardless of how you achieve results, one should truly believe in themselves and be built up to help them navigate any areas they seek assistance with. As I’ve always maintained, despite struggling with my own emotional self-worth and weight issues, I always try to look on the bright side. I genuinely see the beauty in others and wish others could see themselves through the lens of others to really see their inner and outer beauty.
I’m so d*mn proud of the woman I’m becoming every day and I feel in control for the first time in my life. Even when navigating the ups and downs, to feel emotionally aware and conscious of my emotions and actions feels like a blessing. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone out there who is struggling through it all, it is one step at a time and my favorite three affirmations I use on a daily basis: You are worthy, you are strong and you are beautiful.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessi Dromgool from Auckland, New Zealand. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more about body positivity:
‘I was attracted to you before you put on weight.’ It broke me. Now he’s dating a woman half my size and 15 years his junior.’: Woman works to be body positive after being fat-shamed, urges ‘You matter and you are enough’
‘My mom would say I was ‘ballooning.’ I was in 4th grade. She’d implement some new weird food rule for my ‘health.’: Woman is ‘blown away’ by body positive community, ‘I learned to love myself, heal my relationship with my body and soul’
‘Curvy women welcome, but ONLY if the curves are in the bust or butt.’ I would wear t-shirts over bathing suits out of fear someone would see my stomach and die of disgust on the spot.’: Mother advocates for body positivity, ‘You are perfectly imperfect’
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