Today I decided I want to talk about Diets.
Title: Diets. A social craze or an infinite maze?
Subject of reference: Coworkers, friends, and my former self.
Body: Once upon a time I was at an age of adolescence when the main focus of social acceptance was purely physical. No matter what great personality, values, or kindness within - the superficial beauty of skin, hair, and physique played a larger role.
Any teen would gush about friends or friends of friends or friends of friends of friends (you get the point) being so pretty and so thin! Being naturally skinny was a super advantage. Being anywhere between medium sized and larger sized was not terrible (obviously) but not as highly valued. Oh and having height was also an added bonus.
Now little 5'2" (almost) me sat between the smaller and medium sized builds. Not naturally stick thin yet not naturally curvy enough to have hips that don't lie. I believe I was never extremely obsessed to the point where anorexia or bulimia was an option but I was still constantly conscious of whether my stomach looked too "fat" or not.
Blame it on media, blame it on society, blame it on adolescent immaturity but at the end of the day we were all victims of some sort of social pressure.
Then starting at age 15, I started participating at tae kwon do competitions by doing both poomsae (forms) and kyorugi (sparring.) If you are not familiar with these sorts of competitions, you are divided into groups of competitors based on your belt level, age, and weight. Since you cannot control your belt levels or age, weight is the only focus. Ideally, you want to be at the heaviest of your division so that you can have the advantage of being on the stronger side versus being the lightest of your division and having a higher chance of competing against a larger and stronger opponent.
I often sat in the middle of my weight classes, and when that is the case, we are encouraged to lose enough weight to become the heaviest of the weight class below. Ie. I was 118 lbs at age 16 and my weight class was 112 - 124 lbs . I had to lose the six pounds in approximately two to three months and as a growing teenager - that was an awful experience!
I had to limit my portions, exercise (but of course exercising leads to greater appetite so this was a dilemma,) constantly weighing myself, depriving myself of liquids prior to weigh in, and no more snacking! I admit this does not seem as awful nowadays but at the time it was awful. I competed fairly consistently at larger tournaments until age 17. Right before my 18th birthday, I decided I did not want to compete in sparring any longer. This mental, physical, and emotional training was not my idea of fun. In three years I had competed in nine large tournaments (which was a lot considering our studio's slow involvement averaged one to two per year) and not enjoying it.
I decided to stop competitive sparring and stop dieting. I was way heavier back then, possibly due to the constant workouts and overeating afterward, but now I am nowhere as light but my average weight is enough to keep me satisfied.
I am still not stick thin, I am not super healthy or super unhealthy. Though I do need to exercise more - stopped my streak since portfolio! - I feel good. I feel happy. Diet to me now should consist of healthy choices, controlled portions, listening to what your body tells you it needs, and living consciously.
Life is too short to worry! I wish I could believe all those people who preached how they wished they could have let go and enjoy their adolescence. Everyone hears those words and everyone choses to not listen but if you can, trust the advice of those who are older! There are more important things than body fat, there are more valuable things to do with your time than to count calories.
I learned my lesson early. And while I was never extreme in my diet or exercise, I tip toed around the edge and peeked. It didn't look like it was a place for me.