For the long Memorial Day weekend, I took a break from my hectic Brooklyn lifestyle to go home and visit my family in the suburbs upstate. I expected five days of lounging outside, with two pugs draped over me and lots of barbeque, but what I got was an intervention from my family. No, I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol or any dangerous vice; I’ve just gotten fat.
I need to provide you with a smidge of background info for this story. I’ve always been obscenely tall, currently towering over most of my friends at 5' 10". I’ve also always been “curvy,” which means I have a rack that gives me a backache and German child-bearing hips. However, when I was 16 and 17, I was fit and athletic from a lifelong commitment to equestrian sports. I realize now that I was a total regulation hottie back then, and here are some pics to prove it:
I had to give up horseback riding when I was 18 because of circumstance, not choice. I graduated high school and moved to New York City to go to art school, where I discovered the beautiful world of burritos and Seamless food ordering. In the past year of living on my own, I’ve gained nearly 40 pounds. My parents sat me down this weekend and laid down the facts: I can’t keep living off of pizza and Ben & Jerry’s.
The reason why I needed a sit down is because, honestly, I still love the way I look. Yeah, I’ve got thick thighs and I’m littered with pink stretch marks, but I’m stylish and adorable and sexy. I always thought that in order to implement a diet into your life, you needed to hate yourself and the way you look. And since I've never hated the way I look, I never thought I needed a change in my life.
These are some recent mirror selfies, in case you were wondering what current Mary looks like
It turns out that I can love my body, and still resent other parts of myself without realizing it. I spent 9 months in a tumultuous relationship, and let myself be used by that person only to get dumped on my butt two months ago. During this time, my self-esteem was stripped and I lost all motivation to be healthy or organized in my life. We ate Chinese takeout for dinner every night like teenagers, and I stopped cleaning my apartment entirely. I also was put on medicine for my bipolar disorder, which increased my craving for snacks by tenfold (not good when combined with my lack of self control). I was living like a child and my health was suffering. I spent most of my time curled up in bed mourning the relationship and by the time I went home for spring break, my parents were alarmed by my new physique, and especially my bad habits.
I’m an only child who's obscenely close with both my parents. We can talk about anything and it feels like sometimes the only way to cope with issues that arise is to hash it out during a family vent session. So when my parents sat me down and told me I needed to start caring about myself and my body, I took notice.
They were right. Loving your body and being kind to your body are two totally different things. Diabetes runs in my family, and I'm not willing to risk my health for the sake of the taste of pizza. I’ve decided to cut out sweets and most carbs, and I've started running during the week. These changes are about loving myself, and loving my body—whether it’s fit or a bit on the fleshy side. I guess I've realized that you don’t have to hate yourself to be healthy, you have to love yourself in order to make a change.
Photos and Gifs Courtesy of Tumblr
Mary Rockcastle is a florist, illustrator, and craftswoman living in Rochester, New York. She’s the sole founder of Little Lamb Studios, and #1 biggest fan of all dogs.