Adulting is hard AF! But it’s a natural part of life and the appeal of independence was far too big to resist. It all seemed so simple. I began a part-time job at the CVS across the street from my high school at the age of 15, so when the time came for me to leave the nest I already developed a hard work ethic and understood that there would be many sacrifices. Plus, I figured being a 20-year-old college student, I’m responsible enough to run a successful bachelorette pad, right?
I didn’t think that my internal battles specifically relating to my weight would be affected during the adulting process.
The normal stressors that come with moving were obviously present. Suddenly, I had to figure out how to keep the lights on and the car running. Then it hits you…there is no one there watching, no one telling you what to do, no one making sure you don’t oversleep before work. No one to shame you.
Although, a freeing experience, I was faced with real life adult probs. I’m going to share the five ways adulting affected my weight.
- Rebellion – Induced from being the first child I walked the straight and narrow line. My mother for fear of my being teased monitored what I ate regularly, within my new-found independence there was no one there to keep a watchful eye. I began to go out frequently. The world was my oyster and I was determined to explore it. This led to many lost hours of sleep and many late-night drive-thru occurrences which increased my stress levels and my weight.
- Cheap Eats - We must first learn to crawl before we can walk. Oh, honey did I crawl?! Absolutely. Turns out making $10 an hour, paying rent, a car note, car insurance, a cell phone, and internet didn’t leave much money for groceries. So, what do you do when you have $20 in your pocket and you need to make it stretch? You go to the local Price Choice buy a whole rotisserie chicken, a box of pasta, some sauce, maybe taco shells and make dew! Mama didn’t raise no fool, I was going to eat one way or another. On days when I had even less money to stretch, the dollar menu at Taco Bell was my best friend.
- Needing to relax – The start of my adulting experience featured me coming home to my happy tail wagging fur-baby Nyla. After our evening walk, I’d realize there was no one to ask me to clean the bathroom or fold laundry. I could now come home, shower, and relax. My type of relaxing spiraled into full-on slacking. Exercising was the very last thing on my mind. My logic rationalized the only way to yield maximum results from a workout was with a trainer or belonging to a gym, both of which required money that I was not making. My safest bet was to stay home to conserve money, although that logic didn’t apply to my rebel nights out.
- Learning to prepare foods - I was never taught how to cook, I watched my mother prepare meals for the family but mostly I was asked to prep food rather than cook it. When you’re adulting unless you are wealthy no one is cooking your food. I believe my bit on cheap eats paints a clear picture of my situation. This is how my kitchenette became a place of adventure. Unfortunately, the adventure began as a disaster, my meals consisted of easy cheap foods with a heavy focus on taste and minimal focus on nutrition but we all start somewhere.
- Reverse shaming – This one is huge! Shame played a huge part in my weight gain.
I was ashamed of how much weight I allowed myself to gain.
I was ashamed of my emotional eating.
I was ashamed of how I struggled to dress.
I was ashamed I couldn’t control myself.
I was ashamed I didn’t value myself enough to use discipline or exercise restraint.
BUT before those shameful feelings surfaced I had to undo the shame I felt living with my parents. I always felt pressure to look a certain way. Being a Latina, we’re known for having curves in all the “right” places. My stomach was not the “right” place to have said curves. I wore my first "faja" (girdle) at the age of 12 maybe even before that, I’ve had them all faja panty, leotard faja, waist trainers, even the Colombian fajas that go down to your long sleeved and extend to your knees. My body image has always been at the forefront of my self-awareness.
However, when I looked in the mirror I would participate in damaging self-talk the kind that would say “You haven’t earned that chocolate,” or “No carbs for you today, carbs are for skinny girls.” Never did I think about being healthy, my thoughts were purely about the superficial body image. As I began adulting, I threw out the set of shaming rules and moved into acceptance.
The acceptance I engaged in lacked a health component. I believed accepting myself meant giving in to every craving, that I was as worthy of consuming what everyone else did. The result led to many mornings filled with "Los Tres Golpes" (The Three Blows), a Dominican breakfast spread of "mangu, huevo frito, queso frito, cebolla y salchichon," (mashed plantains, fried eggs, fried cheese, onion and spanish sausage) something my mother made sporadically. This new found “acceptance” of myself allowed me to indulge but it didn’t equate to self-respect or self-love.
Adulting is a natural part of life but the most essential part of adulting is making the right choices for your health. Ultimately, my weight gain occurred because of my failure to value myself. One thing I learned for sure is valuing and loving myself is a constantly evolving lesson that I continue to learn.
I'm Macielle, (Mah-see-el) most people call me Macie. I'll be taking you through my journey to a healthier me and the problems I faced during that time. My story will be continued here for the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
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