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I have been a model, a skinny chick, a competitive bodybuilder, and 50 pounds “overweight.”
I’m ashamed to admit, I used to think people were overweight because they were lazy, ate like crap, and had no self-respect.
I used to judge and criticize people I deemed as fat—until I unexpectedly put on 45 pounds in three months with no plausible explanation.
For most of my childhood, I was underweight—it was just genetics, truth be told. I ate a ton of whatever I wanted and just couldn’t gain weight. I was so thin, my sixth grade teacher called social services because she thought I must be anorexic (clearly, she’d never seen me hit the buffet).
I was also a model. Even at 5’6 and 98 pounds, the modeling industry still found faults with my body. Being treated like a piece of meat and a pretty face is so damaging, even for those with healthy self-esteem.
Thankfully, at 18 years old, I quit modeling because my agent wouldn’t let me pierce my nose or get a tattoo.
At this point, I was so sick of people telling me how skinny I was, how I needed to eat more—truth was I ate whatever I wanted and loads of it—so I started weight training.
I figured if I couldn’t put fat on, I could add muscle to make others more comfortable with my body. My weight training quickly became an addiction.
By age 21, I was spending two to three hours a day, seven days a week at the gym, training to become a competitive bodybuilder, and eating an extremely strict diet.
Eventually, my ridiculously high metabolism normalized and fitness moved from addiction to enjoyment.
I stayed active doing mostly running, walking, and strength-building exercises, like push-ups.
I ate healthful foods, but still enjoyed treats. It was around this time I discovered yoga and began to practice regularly. I let go of my six-pack obsession and comfortably settled into a happy, healthy, and realistic weight—strong and supple, both in harmony.
I maintained this until my early 30s and then whammo! I gained 45 unexplained pounds in three months, which doctors have yet to figure out.
Suddenly, I was living in a body that was not mine, nothing fit, and I didn’t know how to move in this new me. I also had no idea how I got there. I hadn’t become lazy and I hadn’t started eating like crap. I was just suddenly heavier and exhausted.
My yoga practice had to change due to the extra soft bits I had on the front of me, and I had no clue how to modify the poses for my new shape.
This sudden weight gain was extremely hard on me— physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I was exhausted and heavier than I had ever been. And because I was already well-practiced at judging those who I thought were fat, I now turned this same judgment onto myself.
But no matter what I did, the weight stuck. I then started to realize that we can do everything “right”— eat healthy, nourishing meals, exercise often, and get enough sleep—and still find ourselves “overweight.”
This shift in my body helped me realize that my previous judgments simply weren’t true. This experience forced me to dig deep and unearth a few ahas, a large dose of humility, and more compassion for all shapes and sizes.
It took years being in this larger version of me to stop obsessing about the weight gain. To accept that this may just be the way I’m meant to be.
Now, my wish for myself—and the world—is to no longer focus on weight.
Instead, may I be healthy is my intention and prayer. I’ve thrown out my scale and switched my focus to nourishing my body, moving my body, and caring for my body.
Now, I want to be strong, supple, and serene, regardless of my weight.
I am currently a yoga teacher who fits somewhere in between super thin models on the cover of yoga magazines and a plus-sized yogi.
As I reflect on my many weights, eating habits, and fitness levels over the years, I have come to realize that I’m actually healthier now than when I was thin.
I’m stronger, more flexible, and nutritionally sound.
I eat my veggies, ride my bike, and rock out on my yoga mat nearly every day.
I am focused on accepting the version of me that is here now—and if my body and weight shifts up or down, I’m going to love that version of me too.
You can find out more about Nyk and sign up for free Yoga videos on her website.
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