James + Reece + Lola + Jessica

James + Reece + Lola + Jessica

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just thinking...

(Let me start by throwing out an enormous thank you for all of your suggestions regarding blog backup.  You are lifesavers and I love you!)

Now, for the main event.
When I was in junior high, I was really, really chubby.
Probably because I put Ranch dressing on literally everything.
Really, white rice + ranch = my snack of choice.

I decided in high school that I was sick of being unhealthy and ready to make a major life change.
So I broke up with the Ranch, joined Weight Watchers and began a long-term relationship with the treadmill.
I lost 25 pounds and felt great.
But it just wasn't enough.
So I ate less and exercised more.
I dropped even more weight.
Still, I felt "fat."

For me, this obsession with the fight against food became obsessive.
Scary, even.
I wasn't healthy.
I was extreme.
Which, in my opinion, is just as dangerous as eating McDonald's every day.

The obsession came with me to college, where my weight jumped all over the place.
If I overdid it one day, I wouldn't eat for several days after to "balance things out."

And then I moved to Italy.
And I discovered just how amazing food can be.

I remember having splurge days with my roommate/best friend Emily.
We would wake up, look at each other and immediately agree we needed to eat our way through the city.
The rules were simple: If something looked good, we had to eat it, no matter the cost (both monetary and caloric).

It was hard for me at first, but slowly, I began to realize that it's OK to splurge.
It's OK to eat a bowl of ice cream.
Pizza can be a girl's best friend, especially when made by an Italian.
And if one overdoes it one day, it's absolutely not the end of the world.

And so, my friends, I ate.
Pizza, gelato, pasta, cheese, olive oil -- all contraband under my formerly rigid diet regimen.
And in eating all that Italian deliciousness, I learned how to live.

I'm not saying I'm completely better.
I still grab my love handles some days and want to cry.
I poke at my baby pooch more than once every hour or so.
And I sometimes keep myself awake fretting after overindulging in a midnight baked-good fest.

But I am also perfectly content with enjoying a good meal and skipping a 2-hour gym session afterward.

I owe a lot to my time in Italy, but perhaps the most important thing I learned while living abroad was to focus on the things that really matter -- friendships, family, spirituality, self-appreciation, gelato -- as opposed to the things that consume you in a negative way.

I guess you could say that as I allowed myself to love food, I also learned to love myself.

(Me + Reece + gelato in Trastevere, January 2009)

5 comments:

Amy said...

You were on weight watchers in high school? That makes me feel sad. HOWEVER, your apparent love for running makes me happy. And your love for gelato and health makes me REALLY happy. :D

AJ and Cindy said...

I have a hard time believing you have been anything but a skinny girl. You look great and I hope you know that!

PS because of you I think ice cream is okay to eat anytime of day :)

Love ya!

Madelyn said...

I remember your struggles when we were roomies. I'm so glad you learned to live! I love food. PS in High school I absolutely ate McDonalds everyday. Don't ask me how I didn't have a heart attack. I would get the 2 cheese burger meal supersized and a spicey mcchicken EVERYDAY. One day I decided that I should cut down and be a little more healthy - so I stopped getting the supersize. Really? Seriously the thought of me eating all that nastiness makes me sick.

Alysha said...

Remember when you were looking at pictures of me when I was in Spain and you said, "Wow, you did gain weight in Spain...BADABOOM!" and turned the picture towards me dramatically? :) I love you. You have a beautiful body (I'd be your Mrs. Weasley). Don't be hard on yourself.

Ryan and Lindsay said...

What a good post, Jess. You need to come be a motivational speaker at my place of work, where we help girls with eating disorders. It is such a scary addiction. It is so important for girls to realize that their bodies don't determine who they are. I wish they each could say that about themselves! I love you and think you are beautiful! :)