Body image has been something that I have struggled with since my Junior year in high school when I was 5’7″ and 120 pounds. It all started on a volleyball team where everyone talked about calories… I never thought about my body before that, but once I listened to the comments of my teammates, some of whom were smaller than I was at the time, I took a little bit longer looking in the mirror and decided, if they think they have a problem… Then I must have a problem. I know, I know… SOOOOO RATIONAL!!! But honestly, that was how I thought.
From that day forward I would work out harder and control my life in that way. Whenever something was going on and I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions or talk through a problem, I went to the gym and worked out. I buried issues and masked them with this newfound self hatred. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was dissatisfied with what looked back at me. I got to the point where I avoided mirrors all together, because why look at something that will just upset you?
When I went to college my best friend and I played volleyball and worked out all the time… I mean, we played more volleyball than we went to class, ate or did just about anything else. We also had a cook in our house and so I reasoned within my own mind how I couldn’t eat the food he made because of my food allergies, after all, it was true… So, I decided to eat things like salad… Just salad… or carrots because they were available and gluten, dairy and nut free. Most kids go off to college and gain their freshman 15, but when I went off to college at 125 pound, I quickly lost 10-15 within the first semester.
I was not doing well. I ended up coming back home after my second semester of college and I started working at Costco full time. Not too long after I came home, I ended up hurting myself on the job, tearing all the ligaments that connect my sternum to my ribcage. It was painful, it was not fun and it took me off my feet for 50 days… There goes my control of working out after an 8 hour cart shift. I could no longer control what my body looked like. I worked back into walking and then lifting little bits and then getting back to relatively normal. I had quit my job at Costco.
Not long after this, I started getting headaches… Really bad headaches…. Such bad headaches that I was placed on the couch for days… Well, those days turned into weeks and those weeks turned into months… 7 to be exact… Finally, some doctors figured out that I have a benign brain tumor… A pituitary adenoma to be exact…. And, it took my body out and for a joy ride… And, I got put on medication… Long story short… It took me out for about 3 years before I started to get back into “normal” land… Whatever that means…
During that time, I could not work out, I could not drive, I could barely do anything besides walk up to use the bathroom… I mean, my mom got in the shower with me and washed my hair… Now, onto my point… I have always put so much pressure on myself to be this perfect toned version, and I have gotten to that point and been satisfied, but once life happens or my tumor messes with my hormones, I am back on the downhill pattern of thinking about myself and my body.
I am challenging you and me… Especially me… To truly celebrate how hard you work… I am a fighter… There is no getting around this… I know deep down, that not being the perfectly toned version of myself does not make me less valuable. It does not make my friends like me less… It does not take away my worth. If a guy comes down to that being an issue for him, then he wasn’t for me anyways, and that is ok. I am putting myself out there saying I am going to strive to look in the mirror and see myself through the eyes of Jesus. I am going to stop the negative words from flowing out of my mouth and speak life over my body. It has been through a lot… It is still going through a lot and I am thankful that it has been working and fighting so hard.
At the end of the day, I have an amazing family, amazing friends, an incredible Father and I love me… I just have to remind myself that I am loved. Because, perfect loves casts out fear… And fear and love can’t exist together, and I would much rather have love!!!
For those of you who are visual… Below is my MRI scan… Where the cursor is, that is my tumor… I found it interesting when I first saw it… Perfectly spherical…