Finding a Different Girl in the Mirror

The Southerner

By Deranda Butler

Step one: shove my finger down my throat. Step two: vomit. Step three: repeat until satisfied. Step four: brush teeth. I remember the days when I stuffed myself full of food, only to become overcome with guilt seconds later. Sometimes it was so bad that I would purge my food and spend most of my time after a meal clinging to a toilet. Eventually, it became a habit to eat and throw up, a psychological problem that could have lead to my death, especially since those around me were oblivious to it. Standing on the scale and reading 165 pounds devastated me. The words “fat” and “big” crushed my spirit. In today’s society, the media glorifies an image of women with thin frames and very long hair. Having neither, my self-confidence was at an all-time low, whether people recognized it or not. During those days, I thought food and mirrors were my ultimate enemies. I know now that the true enemy was the person I saw in the mirror.

Today when people ask me, “How did you lose so much weight?” or “What type of diet did you use?” I always pause. In my own head, I wasn’t on a diet at all. Not at that time anyway. Diets never worked for me. They were too strict, and after you reach your desired weight, you end up gaining it all back—and sometimes even more. What I did was a complete  transformation to a healthy lifestyle, something way more valuable than a diet. I lost my insecurities, my doubts and any restrictions I had placed on myself. I don’t like using the word “diet” because during the time I lost weight I ate whatever I wanted: cake, fried chicken and anything else.

It took a lot of self-reflection to admit, even to myself, that I had a problem. Clinging onto a toilet after every meal is disgusting, and hating who you see in the mirror every day gets tiring. I started my transformation to a healthy lifestyle by first finding the positive attributes about me, the things that gave me confidence. There is some good in everybody no matter who they are. Then I had to forgive myself and make a pledge that I would never go down that road again. I was my worst enemy then, and I owed it to myself to apologize and move on. I turned to people on whom I could depend to encourage me along the way. Changing your life dramatically isn’t something you can do alone. I also adopted healthy eating habits. Water became my favorite thirst quencher. I eliminated beef and pork from my diet. I didn’t, however, make all those  changes at once. It was more like a domino effect, one after the other. Finally, I had to discipline myself to stick to rules I’d created. Initially, it was extremely difficult, until it became a habit. Developing healthier habits is what’s important.

Nowadays, if someone were to place a plate full of fried chicken and French fries in front of me, I’d hesitate to eat it. The old me would have wondered how much weight it would add to my stomach. Today, I wonder how much of the grease will clog my arteries and harm my heart later in life.

I must say I am very proud of myself and glad to have inspired others to change for the better. I can’t stress enough that it’s important not to pursue a “diet,” but rather a healthier lifestyle. Losing weight truly wasn’t my biggest accomplishment in this whole change—I am proudest that I can look into the mirror now and be satisfied with who I see. I know I reached this feeling the right way, with no shortcuts, just rigorous exercise and dedication.

Never again will I spend time after every meal clutching a toilet. Never again will I look into the mirror and detest who I see. Never again will I feel guilty for eating. I love the new me; it’s like I have lifted a heavy weight from my shoulders. I encourage you to go home look in the mirror and praise yourself for every positive attribute you possess. Love yourself because you know what they say: if you don’t love yourself, no one else will.

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