I’ve put this post off for a long time, because it does get quite personal and contains things not many people know. But my health journey is something I’ve wanted to share with you guys for ages, and I do hope that it will help influence at least one of you reading this. I want to talk about my body insecurities at a young age, how I found a love for fitness and plant based food, and how I came to truly love myself. I don’t do many personal anecdotes, so if you’re here just to find some tips on healthy living, you might like these straightforward posts here and here.
*Takes deep breath.* Okay. Let’s begin.
I was in 5th grade when the body insecurities came. It’s a young age, I know, but my body developed faster than a lot of the girls in my class, so by 5th grade, I was the one with boobs and height. Another reason that was bound to occur was because of my best friends. At the time, I had two close friends who had totally different body types than me. One was super tall and slim with model worthy legs. The other was small and petite. Next to them, I felt huge. I desired to be like them. I constantly compared myself to them. And that developed into an insecurity that tore me apart all throughout middle school.
I was never fat. In fact, I was always at a perfect weight, always the average and perfectly healthy size. I was born into a family of Asian health freaks, so I never was allowed to eat junk food and we didn’t even eat white rice. But I couldn’t see that. Next to my super skinny friends, I felt gigantic. My legs weren’t long. I remember crying to my friend who lived in a different state that they were fat. Slowly, a mentality developed that, looking back, I see as being five stages.
Stage 1 happened in elementary school, around 4th -5th grade. Okay. So I was constantly calling myself fat and crying myself to sleep wishing I had a skinny body. But whenever I went shopping and tried on clothes that didn’t fit, I told myself to buy them anyways, because “I’d work to get skinny in the future.” I somehow convinced myself that it’s okay that I looked like this now, because starting tomorrow I’d start exercising and in a few months, I’d be like my friends. Silly right? I bought a bunch of clothes that I would never wear, and I kept telling myself that for two years and nothing changes.
Stage 2 was the year of comparison. I was now in middle school, 6th grade precisely. I was now obsessed with body figures. Everywhere I went, I judged someone’s body. In my class, I would look at girls and think “oh her legs are skinny enough.” Or “oh her legs look good.” Walking down the street, I would judge all the body types I passed by. Was it a way to make me feel better? Maybe. Was I punishing myself? Yes, but not deliberately. I was punishing myself with this unhealthy mindset that was taking over my mind to the point where when I saw a fellow girl, all that swam before my eyes were the size of her thighs.
Stage 3 I remember precisely being 7th grade, the K-pop obsession. Oh gosh. The black hole I never want to talk about. So Thanksgiving of 7th grade, I discovered the boyband EXO, which led me into the whole new exotic world of K-pop. If you’re unfamiliar with K-pop, just think of a band of good looking guys and super gorgeous and skinny girls that can sing and dance. *Sidenote- a lot of people ask me why I stopped hanging in the K-pop world and why I refer to it as “the dark days” is precisely what I’m about to tell you. * The more I watched, the more I hated my body. The girls on screen looked perfect. Their legs were so long and their hips so thin. On interviews they talked about their crazy diets and plastic surgeries, and I found myself being obsessed. I even looked up and printed out their diets, like the “banana diet” where you only eat 10 bananas in a day.
This diet blog I printed instructions from:
Of course I never attempted them, since I wasn’t able to resist the hunger pains, but I started counting the calories in EVERY SINGLE THING I laid my eyes on. I downloaded apps to track the calories I ate in a day. When I went over, I punished myself mentally. I told myself I didn’t deserve food. ( I still ate though.)
K-pop results in the insecurities and body disorders of tens and thousands of girls worldwide. Which, to answer your question, is why I do not call myself a K-pop fan anymore.
For girls who obsess over K-pop “idols”and Korean actors, I want to tell you to not follow their crazy diet advice whatsoever. You may think that the diet must work since they look so great, but the truth is, so much goes on behind the scenes that you don’t know. The idols diet because their company forces them to. They take medication in order not to pass out, and many do and end up in the hospital. They promote an unsustainable lifestyle that is dangerous and unhealthy. Please. To the twelve year old girl who looks at pictures of Yoona from SNSD everyday and makes it a goal to starve herself- there is a better way. There is a safer way. Love yourself. Please.
Stage 4 was after 7th grade to 8th grade, when everything took a change. Maybe it was maturity. Maybe God decided it was time to intervene. But one day as I was on my daily routine googling ways to change my body, I stumbled across a Blogilates video. At first it was just an exercise video on how to tone your legs, but then I discovered it was a gigantic community of people who motivated each other to work out, eat healthy, and BE healthy. It wasn’t just about having a nice body. It was about the mindset. Truly loving yourself.
I dived right into the Blogilates community. I did Cassey’s workouts religiously. But unfortunately, I was in it for the wrong reasons. I was still not completely healed from my past mentalities, and it totally backfired. I was working out to try to be skinny. No matter how much I tried to convince myself I was working out to be healthy, my real motivations showed. All health instructors and advocates say the same thing- “if you work out and eat right just to be skinny, then it’s never going to work.” And damn right. What then happened was an on and off cycle of working out and eating healthy, and then months of doing nothing. Then one day I would see a model on Instagram, and then me motivated to work out again. See guys? With the wrong mentality, nothing will work.
I took a break from Blogilates and working out in general for a few months, with a few weeks sprinkled in where I was determined to get fit and blah blah blah, you know the drill. Then one day on Pinterest, I saw the prettiest photo I’ve ever seen.
And bam. I was introduced to the world of Veganism and plant based diets. I subscribed to FullyRawKristina, Annie Jaffery, and countless other Vegan Youtubers (and one who will remain unnamed.) . I was entranced by this community of eating whatever you wanted and how much you wanted. This feeling of satisfaction, free of processed junk, and just freedom. No more counting calories. No more limitations.
I bought spiralizers to make zucchini noodles. I made my own layered nice cream. I drank fruit infused water everyday, and developed a love for fruit that grows stronger each day.
I fell in love. And how can you not?
Finding the plant-based community is what healed me. It took time, even only till recently. After I developed a loving relationship with food, I delved back into the fitness world. I worked out with Cassey for a two years, building up a strong and powerful body but even more importantly, a strong and powerful mind.
Which brings me to the final state- stage 5. Present day. It feels good. It really does. It feels good to look in the mirror and love what I see standing back. Do I want to change things? Well yeah, of course. But instead of sitting around and moping, the best decision I made in my life was to get up and do something about it. Instead of working out tirelessly for a week and then stopping, I’ve now developed an awesome fitness routine that I’ve stuck with for three months now. I do FitnessBlender workouts for HIIT and cardio, and then Blogilates for strength training and just to see her lovely face and hear her gush about her new nail colors. ( Love you Cassey :)) I eat plant-based and pescatarian about four times a week, with minimal milk and dairy. I know when to treat myself, never confining my diet to a box.
I really hope you took the time to read all of this. Even more so, I hope by sharing my own story, I’ve influenced you to go pursue your own health journey. Please, if you know someone who struggles with body insecurities or trouble loving themselves, please share this with them. I want to make a difference in your lives. I want you to be the best you can be. Why? Because I’ve felt the pain and struggle myself growing up. It hurts and it sucks and there is SO. MUCH. MORE. to life than crying over what your body looks like. Girl, love yourself. I cannot emphasize that enough. Nourish your beautiful body and soul with the right stuff, and that’ll shine through more than any physical appearance.
The first four stages were terrible, but in a way, I’m glad I went through them. They’ve shaped me to be the person I am today, and for that I’m glad. I’m still growing and learning to truly love myself, but I would not be where I am today with Cassey from Blogilates, Annie, and Kristina. You three are beautiful angels and I admire you so much for what you’re doing. You’ve made an impact on so many people’s lives, and I am one of them. So now, I’m passing on my knowledge and stories to others.
Phew. This was not easy to write, and not without some emotional flashbacks. But I’m glad I did. Now I’m going to go eat some oranges.
Lots of love,