Body Positivity II
Jessica’s Story: Finding Peace with the Past and Food
*The following story contains descriptions of eating disorders.
“When you’re not confident, you pick up what others say. You let it affect you…”
I come from a family of curvy women, and I grew up big boned. That has a few phases. You start off not "fat" but not quite like the other “skin and bones” kids. Then you get to middle school, and you’re chubby for a while. Eventually, you grow into a curvy, confident woman, but you don’t realize this when you’re young. I’m still on my journey.
As long as I can remember, other people have commented on my body and on my choices. From the bullies at school calling me names to some man at the gym telling me, “you need to sweat more!” I’m at the point of my life where I live a healthy lifestyle, and I do it for me and my kids – nobody else. I realize now that as a young person, I exercised for my bullies. I wanted to look good and for them to stop calling me names. However, this only gave them more power over me, and it made me sick — it was a vicious cycle. As an adult, I would have to approach exercise differently if I wanted different results. When you exercise for you, you’re celebrating your body. I choose to praise my body, I love my body, and I take care of it! When I put my wellness first, I treat my body right with healthy food and a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is a big part of that.
At the same time, I don’t beat myself up when I can’t get to the gym 4 times a week. I try to really enjoy myself while I’m there, regardless of what other people think. When I get to the gym I’m just celebrating the fact that I made it there. Once, a random person at the gym told me that I “don’t sweat enough.” I could guess how I might look to others at the gym: While everyone is there working out or freaking out, here’s this girl. She’s not sweating, she’s chill, and she’s rocking out to her music. I just don’t care anymore. I’m there for me, I’m going at my pace, and I’m keeping my joints healthy.
There was a time in my life that, because of bullying and low self-esteem, I found myself battling Bulimia. All I wanted was to be skinny. It began in high school and got worse in college. People would tell me how good I looked, and I kind of liked it, but inside I thought, “If they only knew what I am doing to myself to look this way!”
I always knew what I was doing, and now I’m all about finding help and taking responsibility for my health. Unfortunately, at that time my thought process was messed up. That’s the mental part of an eating disorder. I thought that if I didn’t eat and digest, then I wouldn’t get fat. It was my way of not having to take responsibility for what I consumed. It got to the point where my stomach was so torn up that I couldn’t eat or drink anything without feeling terrible pain. I went to the doctor and he gave me a muscle relaxant. It was enough to get me back eating again, and it was the first time I’d had a full meal in months. I missed eating and not hurting. There was another time, after having been cruel to my body for so many years, my stomach muscles spasmed for two or three days straight. It scared the heck out of me. When the painful spasms finally stopped, I vowed to stop hurting my body.
When I had my first child, I knew I needed a new outlook. I’m more mature now than I was then, and as someone with a newborn, I simply had less time to care about how I looked. I did, however, want to teach my kids to be confident and pursue things that make them happy, because I decided “my baby is having the best” in life. To ensure my child lives their best life, I lead by example. In this way, he gave my confidence a purpose. How can you teach someone to love themselves if you can’t love yourself? I modeled the confidence I wanted to see in my kids, and the lifestyle I wanted to see in my kids. This decision is also how we got into healthy foods as a family, and it was one of the best I’ve ever made in my life. Deciding this didn’t stop new challenges from arising – I gained 70 lbs with my second child – but it did give me the best possible outlook to face those challenges.
You’re responsible for creating your own supportive environment. Having supportive people in my life has made all the difference. For example, my sisters and my mom are great. They send me sweet, encouraging text messages like, “good for you!” Like me, they see that confidence is the goal, so they encourage that. Also, my son is so sweet. Sometime he’ll stop, look up at me and say, “Momma, you look beautiful.” They’ve made all the difference for me.
Finding Fruitful Yield
After Roland (my first son) was born, I was much healthier, and still discovering new ways to take care of myself. This is when Fruitful Yield came into my life. I still suffered from minor stomach aches all the time, a scar from my past. One day, my son got sick and the doctor told me to get some probiotics for him. I wound up in the old Fox Valley store and remember the employees right away asking if I need help. I remember thinking to myself that they were always really helpful when I went in. There I found a probiotic for my son, and when he was done I had some left over. I started taking it, and I realized “Oh my god, I haven’t gotten any stomach aches!” It had been so many years! I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I thought I was doomed to feel that way forever. That’s what kept me coming back to Fruitful Yield, and eventually pushed me to apply. When I was hired, I worked the stock room at the Fox Valley store, and I remember telling my family that I felt like I was home… That this was the place I was going to stay. It’s so crazy the way things worked out for me!
My mantra is easy: don’t stress. I know it’s simple, but all of what I’ve been about this last couple years boils down to that point. I’m in such a better place now, and my journey continues.
“When you’re confident, you are not affected by what others say. It doesn’t affect you…”
Jessica Earley, Fruitful Yield Nutrition Education Team
*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.