Remember when you were in your early twenties and you felt that you were overweight when in fact you weren’t? I used to be like that. I thought that I wasn’t as skinny as I wanted to be because I was five-foot-three and back then my weight would move between 118 and 122 pounds. I was so silly, it’s almost funny if it weren’t for the fact that this marked the start of an unhealthy mindset.
I used to be vain in the sense that I was proud of what my body could do, and I felt that it would work better if I could shed more weight. It never occurred to me that I only exercised because I didn’t feel marketable. I wasn’t doing it to be healthy. I was actually only jealous about how pretty and sexy my peers looked. I didn’t realize that I’ve already become one of the many women who set impossible beauty standards for themselves, and I always felt that I lacked something because I thought that wasn’t beautiful or skinny enough.
So you can just imagine how I felt when I gained a bit of weight in my late twenties and found out that I put on 20 pounds when I was in my thirties. I felt absolutely horrible and I hated myself because I allowed it to happen. My pride was severely bruised, especially since I would run, lift, and even do mixed martial arts regularly. I felt that I failed myself because I couldn’t stick to diets and I hated by body because it wasn’t metabolizing as fast as I wanted it to. It came to a point when I would cry myself to sleep thinking about how I lost my physical edge and how pudgy I am, while those around me looked slim and wonderful.
When I was in my lowest of lows (I had already started feeling guilty about eating, which I was still logical enough to recognize as a red flag), I called a friend to vent. After a pretty long tirade, the answer I got was simple:
“Overweight ka, hindi ka pangit. At hindi mababago ng weight mo ang pagkatao mo.”
Natigilan ako because I knew it was true. Being overweight doesn’t make me or anyone else less of a person. I kept on trying to convince myself that I wanted to be fit because I wanted to run farther, lift heavier, and kick higher, but in fact, I was just a vain woman who wanted to be physically appealing. I never focused on the right stuff, such as health and self-love. I had forgotten how to be grateful for what I had – a fully-functioning body that continues to keep me upright and allows me to do all the things that I want to do.
READ: 14 Ways to Love Yourself
I weighed myself earlier today, and the scale read the same. But you know what? It is what it is. Losing fat and building muscle will take time. Now, when I run, I focus on how good it feels. When I do MMA, I exalt the fact that my body can instinctively duck, throw a punch, and grapple with no issue. I may be overweight, but I’m doing my best to be healthy because I am slowly re-learning that loving myself meant taking care of my body not because I wanted to look pretty, but because I wanted to be strong.
Your weight does not define you. What defines you is your desire to be better and your drive to be healthier. So forget about vanity – that’s one of the voices in your head that you need to shut down. What’s important is to accept every inch, every curve, and every stretchmark as a part of you, and to love yourself enough to recognize that there's always room for improvement.
After all, girl, hindi ka pangit.