Body Positivity III
*The following story contains descriptions of eating disorders.
Cindi’s Story: Falling for the Right One: Myself
My story starts when I was very young. My sisters and I were slim and athletic, but as we got older we gained weight. On the playground as a kid, a little girl once called me “casa blanca” or white house. It was so mean and it always stuck with me. There was also some boy, a young idiot at the roller rink. I was on a date with him and instead of holding my arm or putting his arm around my waist, he held onto my wrist. It was weird, so I asked him about it. He said it was because I was too fat to fit his arm around. These may seem like small mishaps, but harsh words were the beginning of a lot of inner unrest later in life.
Trial by Fire
I began to go through a lot of change, and my body was no exception. By the 8th grade, I hated the way I looked and quit eating and dropped 50 lbs in a month. My mom noticed what I was doing, and threatened to hospitalize me. If I dropped one more pound, she said I would have to go. Because of this, I started doing better.
Later in life, I was still trying to improve my body. I found myself in a toxic, abusive marriage. My husband swore that I was losing weight for another man. In time, I had to move out to live with my grandma in Chicago. When I remarried, I gained 80 lbs with my first pregnancy. I hated how I looked. I remember being so frustrated and sobbing over a whole box of Fannie May. How did this happen? After that, I took matters into my own hands and went from 185 lbs to 125 lbs the right way. I also gained 45 lbs the right way with my second child. By "the right way", I mean I researched, learned how to cook healthy food, and measured what I was eating. I also learned how to exercise during that time. Then life happened, and I divorced my second husband but did end up meeting another person who was as into exercise as I was.
Jose is my life partner and he was a personal trainer. We started just working out together, and then we fell in love. One of the most body-positive moments I’ve had was when I lost 7 lbs before our honeymoon. It wasn’t the number of lbs I lost, but it was the moment I saw the best in me, and I know that Jose did too.
Even after all of that, I still had my fair share of struggles. One of my lower moments was when I first became a vegetarian because being a vegetarian the wrong way made me unhealthy. My hair started to fall out, and the hospital I was working at threatened to hospitalize me. It was that bad. Luckily, I found a health food store in Elmhurst, and their knowledge about healthy eating saved me. I can now say that I am 48 years old, I lift weights and practice various other forms of exercise, and I’m a healthy vegetarian. A 28-year-old once came and told me, “You are my goal.” For a 28-year-old to say that to me was so very encouraging!
I have been body positive for the last 15 years. My body does amazing things -- I practice yoga, kickboxing, and aerobics. I like to teach others to be healthy too. I have unconditional love, a strong support system, and my faith. Back in the day, I didn’t have the confidence to do many things. Unacceptance and the pressure of having to please the wrong men overwhelmed me. But then I learned with Jose that it’s not about what I look like, or what I do, but it’s about who I am. I am a beautiful, vibrant, loving, and smart woman, who is 48 years young! When I became body positive, it leaked into all different areas of my life. It affected how I looked, but more than that I discovered I’m free to live. When I get old, I want to be the roller skating kind of grandma! I work out and eat right for me!
When I do go out, I am confident in my own skin. I can go out in a frumpy dress or a nice dress and know that I look good on the inside. There was a storm inside of me for a long time; there are some days I'm still haunted by that little girl on the playground or the dumb boy at the roller rink, but I know I’ve already conquered them. Now I focus on how much I love my arms and my shoulders, and how they’ve developed, along with the fact that I’m so healthy! The fact that I’m going to be healthier my whole life also gives me confidence – I will be healthier than my mother and grandmother were when they were my age. This is my future, and I can help direct my daughter’s future health too.
Besides my health, my girls, and working out with Jose, I’m motivated by my cheat days. I know if I’m treating my body right 90% of the time, I can truly relax and enjoy the other 10% of the time. This is called living, rather than just existing -- there’s a big difference. I’m also motivated by seeking knowledge. When I was at my lowest, I decided, “I’m going to fix me.” You can’t wait for someone to teach you, you have to decide to learn. I learned all about the exchange diet, measuring my food, and how your metabolism is like a campfire that needs fuel. Seeking knowledge helps me to continue changing myself for the better each day.
Every day I discover new strengths, and I get out of bed in the morning without creaks. I think of how far I’ve come, and how I can help others. There were people who fed me hate instead of love, but they were stepping stones – if they were taken out of my life, I wouldn’t have become the person I am now.
With love, Cindi Arroyo, Fruitful Yield Sales Associate
*Content contained in this article is not intended to provide nor constitute medical or healthcare advice. Nor can it be relied upon as preventative care, cure, or treatment for any disease or medical condition. You should consult a qualified healthcare professional for advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and before starting any supplementation, nutritional, exercise, or other medical programs.