Health & Fitness: Childhood and Teen Self-Image and Food Relationships

I’ve been going back and forth about whether I was going to post about my health and fitness journey on the blog. It is such a personal and, often, frustrating part of my life. But, I figured that posting about my journey may do one or all of three things:

  1. Let someone else know they aren’t alone
  2. Motivate me to do better and stay on the right track
  3. Show a real-life (non fitness/health food guru’s) health and fitness journey.

This series will cover my image issues and fitness journey. I am beginning in my childhood and teen years and traveling up to adulthood. I feel that many of my food issues and my self-image realities stems directly from my childhood and teen self-image and food relationships. I will still be posting recipes as per usual… I’ll just start including some of my healthier meals in addition to my butter and pie loving posts. I’ve had weight and body issues my entire life, so I am pretty much aware of what I am doing right and wrong and when I am doing it. I am a strong believer in EVERYTHING in moderation. This view is not shared by everyone, but it is what I’ve found works for me (when I stick with it!).

In addition to writing about my journey of a healthy self-image and life I am writing a 6-week fitness series. I’d love for you to visit and read about my fitness journey. I received membership to East Side Athletic Club  in exchange for work I’m doing on their website and am telling my fitness story on their blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Childhood and Teen Body Issues

Image Issues in Childhood & Teen Years

Me in my Sophomore year of high school. At this time I was a size 6 (US) approximately 115 lbs and thought I was overweight.

I was a tall, lanky adolescent. Mainly I was ALL limbs. I played softball (though, I hated running) and enjoyed chasing after all the boys on the playground when I was in elementary school.

However, after elementary school I stopped playing sports and started becoming more and more studious. I was often found with a book in my hands or in front of a computer chatting with friends or creating HTML websites. You might have called me a nerd. (Some still do!)

The lack of activity in addition to puberty made me gain weight. I was taller than a lot of the girls. My feet were larger. I felt awkward all the time. And, while, looking back, I was thin and still quite lanky— I felt FAT. Though I had a flat belly and long limbs… I wore shorts and baggy t-shirts over my bathing suit. I slouched when I walked. I covered my waist with my arms when I sat. The me I saw in the mirror made me sad.

One story that often comes to mind from this time in my life was, of course, one where I was trying to impress a guy. I was at a summer camp leaving the cafeteria with friends. I had a donut and a cup of yogurt in my hands. The guy I had eyes for was walking towards me and my group of friends. In a flash I threw the donut into a bush and sucked in my (non-existent) belly.

I look back now and wish I had appreciated my body more. I was thin! I was agile! I was YOUNG!

Image Issues

At prom my sophomore year with my besties— Jamie (left) and Stacey (right).

Binge and Starve: My Circumstances Shaped My Food Relationship

My food issues stemmed from a lot of different places. First, my grandmother was very overweight and suffered from diabetes. I had to learn how to give her injections just in case her blood sugar levels dropped. I feared that future more than anything. Second, we were very poor. We were the kids that had free school breakfasts and lunches due to income…. and, we wanted to go to school because we knew we would get two full meals in the day. Sometimes our pantries only held white bread and peanut butter.

So, while I feared getting fat… I also ached for food. This often led to overeating when food was plentiful and letting myself go hungry when food was scarse. I often would get stomach issues and cramps that sent me to the restroom for long periods of time daily. I began to love the taste of PeptoBismol. Food was my savior and enemy over and over again.

Food and Body Awareness: The Role of Adults

I had wonderful, loving role models. They never called me fat or belittled me. They tried getting me access to healthy and plentiful food. They did their best But, they were not the best role models for what to eat or how to take care of the body. The adults in my life at the time didn’t know the best ways to approach food and body issues.

I don’t want my son to have the relationship with food that I had. I want him to get to enjoy his food and see how it can nourish the body. I want him to be able to enjoy the way rich, wonderfully prepared food can taste. But, I also want him to learn that those items are not for the everyday.

I know that my example is going to be the most distinct way that he will learn about food. I hope to provide a good example so that his childhood and teen years don’t resemble my own. I also plan on actually talking about food and nutrition as he grows older.


Body Image Issues

My senior photo— cheesy as all get out— but, looking back I think I looked great!

Did you have issues with your food relationship when you were a child/teen? How do you plan on teaching your children about food?

Thank you for reading about my health & fitness journey. To read about my current fitness goals please check out my post over on East Side Athletic Club’s brand new blog. I’d love your support as I work on getting healthier!

** I received membership in exchange for my work with East Side Athletic Club. I did not receive further compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **

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