Looking back on the last 13 years always makes me a little sad. Not because I didn’t have a nice life, filled with friends, boyfriends and family. Not because I didn’t have a roof over my head, an education or a job. No, it makes me sad looking back because I spent years of my life at war with myself.
I began hating my body when I was around 13 years old. I gained a lot of weight, really fast and spent the next 3 years hiding in oversized clothes, laughing away comments thrown my way. Food became a comfort and I pretty much ate everything I could find, and of course refused to exercise. But this all turned when I turned 16 and got sick. I couldn’t eat for days, and I lost a lot of weight during those weeks. When I finally got better I realized how good I felt, having lost a few kilos, so I decided to lose some more. And some more. And it didn’t stop.
My health didn’t matter, as long as I looked good.
As it happens for many girls I got obsessed about my looks, wanting to be skinnier and prettier. My health didn’t matter, as long as I looked good. The more compliments I got from the people closest to me, the more obsessed I got about looking even better. So, I stopped eating. Breakfast was switched out with water and cigarettes became my main diet. I started working out like crazy, practically living at the gym. During the same time, I partied a lot, since alcohol seemed to help, distracting me from my painful inner war. My body could of course not handle it, and I ended up fainting almost every time.
During this period, I was so unhappy. I was thinner than ever, but my body couldn’t keep up. I was sick all the time and had no energy. On the outside I looked happy, but on the inside I was tearing myself apart. I spent the majority of my time lost in self-critical thoughts, hating my body and constantly comparing myself to others. I lost myself on the way and even more, I lost good friends.
My turning point came, but when I look back at it today I am not sure what it was. I remember my mom pushed me to eat, my best friend at the time too. But what turned my switch? I really can’t say. But something happened and I started to eat regularly again and gained weight. But that’s when the real struggle began for me. Because the negative and destructive thoughts wouldn’t go away. My head continued a war against my body, the only difference now was that I ate.
Not being able to love myself is one of the most painful things I have experienced. Not feeling worthy of somebody else’s love, always thinking I was inadequate. My low self-esteem destroyed many good relationships and turned me into a very jealous person, leaving me heartbroken more often than I can count.
As I got older, I found myself in a relationship that was on the tipping point because I still thought I wasn’t worthy of love. I talked myself down in front of this man day after day, until one day he had enough. He told me to stop it. That he didn’t find me attractive anymore because I was so insecure. It may sound terrible, but I guess that was just what I needed. Because then and there I decided enough was enough. I was so ashamed. Hearing something like that from someone you love so deeply does something to you.
So how did I free myself at last? I embraced my own power!
I finally found the will to change. And not through a new diet, but by chancing my way of thinking, my language of communication and my relationship with my own heart and soul. By slowly challenging my mind I learned that kindness and self-love does so much more than all my hatred ever did. I slowly began to love myself. It didn’t happen overnight and I still have days I criticize myself, quietly or out loud, but the difference now is that I know I am worthy, and I know it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
My story isn’t special. Sadly, there are thousands of people out there who have gone through, or go through the same thing, fighting a battle against their own body and mind. And this is what made me want to start up Best of You. I want to show people that they can be healthy without being extreme and that health doesn’t mean abs and a tight ass. It has absolutely nothing to do with your looks. Being healthy first and foremost means being happy and grounded, and most importantly: loving yourself and finding what feels good. Why spend time hating something as holy as your body, curvy or not? Because in the end you and your body is all you got, and you’re pretty damn awesome! Skip the hate, skip the restrictions and have fun instead. As Dalai Lama once said: “Happiness is the highest form of health”, and I couldn’t agree more. I will never regret that I freed myself and embraced my own power, even though the journey was long.
By: Henriette Danielsen, Editor in Chief / Photo cred: Anja Hertzberg