Our bodies are just as different as we are. They take in exercise and tolerate foods very differently, with some help from scientific and genetic factors. Although it may be difficult to change the way your body works, you CAN change your eating and exercise habits and feel great. The biggest lesson I learned in 8th grade is that feeling great and looking skinny are two very different things and what may seem like an easy solution to better body image can end up really hurting you.
In 8th grade, my group of girlfriends were beautiful. They all had long hair, flawless skin and tiny waists. Being of European descent, my mother always told me I should be proud and feel good about my big hips and muscular thighs, but I couldn't help but feel down about wearing jeans three sizes bigger than the other girls. My weight made me feel left out, especially when all of us girls would get together to glam-up before spring socials. The sister-hood of the traveling pants is no myth, only, I couldn't quite squeeze into the traveling pants.
I made a plan for myself to lose a few pounds. I didn't have much to lose but I decided I would lose 8-10 pounds and then I'd be happier. I would stop eating my favorite foods like pasta and baked potatoes and I would only eat, white meats, fish, steamed veggies and yogurt. In addition to these new dietary changes, I would run two miles around the track after school four times a week.
This glorious plan of mine went south within less than a week. I didn't feel stronger, I felt exhausted and all of my muscles were sore. And I didn't feel full, especially because my body was set to burn more calories than I was taking in. This was no equation for success and the change in my diet not only made me hungry, but gave me headaches. The most disappointing part was that after all of that work, I still had my big thighs and because my stomach was empty, it began to store away what little I ate, causing me to GAIN pounds instead.
There are parts of your body that dieting and exercise can't change, big hips being one of those parts. My mother was right, I should be proud to have my european female figure. I felt miserable so I stopped dieting and went back to eating pasta and my mother's butter-filled high-carb delicious dinners. Taking a few steps back from my crazy workout regimen, I ate everything I wanted to eat and continued to run around the track a few times a week.
It is better to have a few extra vanity pounds and feel great from regular exercise than torture yourself to look like everyone else. You are not everyone else. You are you and you are beautiful.
When we are younger, we have fast metabolism and the older we get, the harder we have to work to keep up our physique. There is no easy way to do this, other than getting exercise and filling your body with less junk. As I got older, I noticed that my beautiful skinny friends had to work just as hard to maintain their desired body image.
If you don't like working out, add a fun component to your workout, like a long walk with a friend to get some frozen yogurt. If you're going to work out, do it for you and do it for the right reasons. Do it to feel better and do it to keep a strong core. Do it to help manage stress. Do it socially. But DO NOT do it because everyone around you looks like a size 2. You should never starve yourself for beauty, a well-fed you is much more attractive. Words to live by: the better you feel on the inside, the better you look on the outside.
(Marina Orievsky studied Communication at the University of Washington where she put her focus on journalism and social media. She has worked with Revolution Inc. and Papersalt since January 2012, contributing blog material about life lessons and about her personal experiences with transitioning from teenage years to adulthood.)