Silhouette of a girl hula hooping

My Weight and 30 Day Challenges Round 2: Learning to Love Myself

Back when I was still living in Hawaii I did a 30-Day Hula Hoop Challenge and then wrote a blog post about my experience. In that post, I shared a little bit about my weight and body image issues. At that point in my life, I was working really hard on myself and I felt like I was making some real progress. In the blog post, I even outlined some of my goals moving forward and I did stick with them for a while. But, shortly after that life got in the way and everything went way off track. (Please check out any of my 2019 Life Category Blog posts if you would like to see what I am talking about.)

Girl hula hooping on a beach at sunrise
Hula hooping on Lanikai Beach in Kailua, HI

Thanks to COVID-19 and the Safer at Home Orders, I’ve been trying to use this time to get my life back on track and ultimately start working on me again. When I did my last 30-Day Hula Hoop Challenge it really did help me not just feel accomplished, but it helped me start to feel different about myself. So, I decided why not start there again?

*Disclaimer: Before you continue reading I would like to note that I have never been formally diagnosed with anything, nor have I ever discussed my self-image and/or weight problems with any sort of professional. I am in no way qualified to give advice and/or guidance. I am simply here to share my experience.

It was probably around the time I started middle school that I first remember really starting to have an unhealthy relationship with my weight, my self-image, and food.

In 7th grade, I was on the thin side, but I’d always been super active so it wasn’t really anything I thought of. I played soccer, I rode my bike, and I was always running around my neighborhood with friends. Then around Halloween, my appendix threw a tantrum. It ruptured and I played down the pain so I didn’t go to the hospital for almost a week. Before going to the hospital I couldn’t eat anything and after coming out it was a long process before I got back onto a regular diet because I had gone so long without eating.

I don’t remember what my weight was before this started, but I came out of it close to 100 lbs. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I do remember throughout high school looking at those photos of myself and wishing I looked like that again. Now I look at them and I do realize, I looked sick.

Girl in a hospital bed with her dad sitting besides her
In the hospital with my dad after my appendicitis

By 8th grade, I was back to a normal weight and I wasn’t really thinking too much about my weight or food or what I looked like. I was okay. I was okay until my sophomore year of high school. This was the year some of my friends started calling me Ana. Like I said in my disclaimer, I’ve never been diagnosed with anything nor have I ever discussed this with professionals, but I earned the nickname Ana because a lot of my friends thought my eating habits were borderline Anorexic.

At the time I blamed it on a regularly upset stomach and used that as an excuse for why I couldn’t eat. My stomach did actually hurt and I did struggle eating, but looking back now I believe I was manifesting it in my head so I didn’t have to face what I was doing. I was going through a lot and I was probably borderline, if not fully, depressed. My parents were fighting a lot and I realized if I was sick they didn’t fight, they just took care of me.

When this started I was probably around 125 lbs, at my lowest I dropped down to 110 lbs. At one point my daily diet consisted of a can of 7UP and white rice. My stomach “hurt,” that’s all I could handle.

Worried friends pulled me out of it by literally throwing food at me and forcing me to eat. I mean it. They would hurl cookies and bags of chips at me and make me eat them. My best friend at the time even threatened to stop talking to me if I didn’t start taking care of myself.

I didn’t want to lose my friends and deep down I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy. I slowly started eating again and eventually got back to “normal” eating.

At my high school graduation, I was up to around 140 lbs and wearing a size 10. I was healthier, but I thought I was so fat. Looking back, I look good!

Girl standing with Tiger from Winnie the Pooh
Photo taken on my 18th Birthday, just five months before my graduation. I thought I was fat

Then my dad got sick, and honestly, during that period, I don’t remember thinking about my weight or what I looked like at all. My life was all about him, being by his side and making the most of the time we had. I ate what I could, when I could and didn’t think about it.

I don’t remember thinking about weight again until I went through a rough breakup and even then I don’t remember thinking about my weight or at least I wasn’t doing it consciously. Throughout all of high school and even sometimes now, when things are bad or I’m stressed or things are just way too out of control, I stop eating and that’s what happened. Within a really short period of time, I dropped from my graduation weight of 140 all the way down to 120 in the span of just a month or two. I don’t think I looked unhealthy, and at the time I thought I looked great, but I know that there is no way I should have lost that much weight that quick.

I plateaued at about 120 and stayed at that weight for a while. Then my husband and I started dating. And as happy couples do, we ate. We ate and we got chubby. The pounds quickly came back and I was not happy about it. I started worrying that I would get “fat” and that I wouldn’t be able to drop the weight. I started thinking he wouldn’t find me attractive.

Luckily, my husband wanted to enlist and shortly after we started dating he started really focusing on dropping his weight and getting into military shape. That gave me an outlet to hide some of my crazy. He really got into working out and running. We got gym memberships together and he started teaching me about different running techniques. This was also around the time we started hiking a lot. All of these were really great things if my mind had been healthy.

Although I had probably done it before, it was around this time that I would start feeling guilty if I ate bad or I would start skipping or at least minimizing meals if I knew I was going to eat a lot later or the next day. I also started becoming really obsessed with numbers. I started tracking my meals and my calories and would do whatever I could to make sure I didn’t go over, even if I felt sick. I also became obsessed with what the scale said. Even if my clothes fit better or I felt fitter, if I didn’t see the scale moving I would get really upset and really start restricting my food. During this time my weight fluctuated like crazy. I would drop 5 lbs just to gain 10. Plateau for a while then drop 15 only to gain 5 more. It was crazy.

And these are all issues I still struggle with on and off. I’m now consciously aware of the things I do and how unhealthy they are so I can better catch myself when I see myself headed down a dangerous path, but these problems have not gone away.

But like I said, for a long time I was able to hide the crazy. Because my husband was trying to enlist, he had a physical standard and weight standard he had to meet. So, he had to weigh himself and he had to track everything thing that was going into his body. I did it with him.

And then he enlisted and went to boot camp and I was on my own. I was still, what I thought was, “chubby” and I was still obsessed with my weight. I had picked up all these bad habits that I wasn’t conscious of yet and I still had in the back of my mind, I’d get fat and he wouldn’t find me attractive.

Aunt and young niece hula hoop
Hula Hooping with my niece when I first started dancing

So, I cracked down on myself. I kept up the “healthy” eating and the working out, so I could meet my goal weight of 120 by the time he got out of boot camp. Or that’s what I told myself. In reality, it was the end of my senior year of college and I just made sure I was so busy at all times that I was always moving and had very little time to eat.

There was one positive that came out of this time. This was right around the time I started hula hooping, which would end up becoming a super stress reliever.

By the time he left boot camp, I had nearly made my goal. I was so happy and I was “good” for a while after that. I was good, meaning I had made my goal weight and didn’t think too much about it because I was doing a great job maintaining it.

Marine and girl in front of a lake
My now husband and I when he finished boot camp

Looking back, in reality, I only maintained it so easily because my life was a mess. Remember how I mentioned when things were bad or hectic I just stop eating? From the time my now husband got out of boot camp to the time I moved to Utah, just before moving to Hawaii, things were insane. I had just graduated college and was super focused on finding work. In Southern California that wasn’t super easy. On top of that things were really messy at home. And then to top things off, within less than a year, my mom ended up having to sell our home, my childhood home, and I had to help move her up to Utah. It was a crazy time.

When I moved to Utah and then onto Hawaii, I started putting weight on, but life was still so crazy and moving so fast I didn’t really seem to notice (Please go read my last 30-day challenge post for that summary). It wasn’t until we got engaged that I was slapped in the face with the reality that I had gone from 120 – 140 and I desperately started trying to get rid of it, to really no success. (This was the first time that I put on the pounds rather than drop the pounds when things got crazy, another slap in the face.)

Marine and Bride sit in a stairwell
Our wedding day

My entire time in Hawaii I bounced around 135-145, but it was also during this time I started to look at my past relationship with my weight. It was around this time that I started to realize how unhealthy my obsession with my weight and negative self-image was. It was the first time I became really aware of my bad habits and really started trying to resist them. It was the first time I realized I needed to love myself no matter what the scale said.

Then we moved back to California. Life went insane. I pretty much gave up on myself and all the progress I had made in Hawaii. And, I started gaining more weight, again. Which brings us to now.

When I did the hula hoop challenge in Hawaii, I said I was the heaviest I had ever been. I’m now about 20 lbs heavier, for real the heaviest I have ever been, at 165.

If you made it this far, I appreciate you. I know this was a long one and I’m still not done. Maybe this post will help someone, maybe not, but I’m hoping by putting it all out there it will help me.

I’m 165 lbs, the biggest I’ve ever been, and I’m nearly 30, so I realize weight isn’t going to just drop off. I realize I may never be 120 and a size 2 again. And I’m still struggling. I think I’m too heavy. I have a goal weight I would like to reach, but I also realize I can’t hate myself while I work to reach that goal and that’s a hard one. I also realize that the number on the scale isn’t what’s most important, even though sometimes that number is still all I can think about. I realize how I feel in my body and the strength that I build matters more, even if I have to remind myself that all the time.

I’m still struggling to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise and my weight. I walk a very fine line between pushing myself and monitoring myself without letting it get out of hand. I want to lose weight, but I also don’t want to be controlled by the number on the scale. So, sometimes I’ll weigh myself and if I’m not feeling like I’m in a good place to take in that number, I won’t look at it. If I’m not mentally in a good place, I’ll have my husband track it for a while until I’m ready to look at it again. Also, I only allow myself to jump on the scale every other week. I’ve started tracking my calories again, but more so to get an idea of what is going into my body, my carbs and protein and sugar. I also track my calories to get a better idea of where the calories in my day are coming from. I’m working to find a balance between eating healthy and eating happy. I try my hardest not to look at the positive or negative calories and if I can’t handle that I stop tracking for a while. And I’m working really hard on listening to my body. Sometimes I just need a damn cookie and that’s okay. (Also, I’m learning to accept I really like food and at this point, if I really want to be little again that would mean giving up a lot of foods I really enjoy and I’m not willing to do that.)

Would I like to lose some weight? Yes. Do I wish I was smaller? Yes. Do I want to be in better shape? Yes. But, most importantly I want to love myself, which is something I’ve never really done. Reflecting back on my relationship with my weight and how I saw myself, I realize it was me telling myself, “I don’t like myself now” or “I don’t think I’m pretty enough, but if I can weigh X or fit into X then I will.” I want to feel good about myself now. I want to feel good in my own skin. I want to feel attractive no matter my size.

Just like last time, I did this 30-Day Challenge so I could feel accomplished again. I did it as a way to prove to myself that I could stick to something for 30 days no matter how annoying it got. And with the weather Southern California had last month, it got annoying. Again, I didn’t see the results that I hoped for, but I am proud of myself and I do feel accomplished. It also was a great way to get me working out again and in the process of doing this challenge I also started working out regularly and I’ve even found a routine that I love and look forward to continuing.

I’m also trying to use this 30-Day Challenge to help me feel better about myself in all my awkward chubby glory. Even though I really didn’t like how I looked each day, I posted a video or an image to my Instagram each and every day. Not only to hold me accountable for my daily hoop session but also to start getting more comfortable with all my rolls and lumps. And to really push my comfort zone, I’m hoping to put together a compilation of all my hoop fails from the past month, so stay tuned for that.

Girl Hula Hoops
My hula hooping during this 30-day Challenge


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