I have posted in the past about the work I have put in to becoming a better me. This better me mostly dealing with weight loss and eating healthier. I have talked with various friends about it. The truth is many people who are struggling with their weight and body image will always beat it to death when talking and thing about weight.
Top: Taylor and I after her school’s school festival. Bottom: Taylor and I months later after our schools baseball game.
Taylor, my buddy ALT in Iwakun, and I have been talking about our pasts and how we are working towards our own weight loss goals. Right now we are mostly just a cheer team for each other, but people need it! She has told me a lot about her past, how weight has effected different parts of her life and so forth. What I love about this girl is that not matter what she is always on fire. Her vibe is always “I am hot as hell!” But deep down I know that there is a woman that hates parts of herself, just like the rest of us.
I have another friend that is living in South Korea, where the topic of beauty and corrective surgery is an everyday thing. She is currently there as a English teacher and is from the UK. She is cuter than a button and has a bitching ascent too! Recently on twitter she spoke up about how her appearance had been the topic of a group of South Koreans conversation, whom of which she didn’t know.
The fact that things like this happen everyday is saddening. People from all over are constantly belittling others around them. All for what? A few moments of self gratification? It isn’t worth it.
Growing up I can remember a time when I was called “piggy food” and “cow.” The first time I was called “piggy food” was back when I was in Elementary School. A group of younger boys, who lived near my best friend, started calling me by that name. What hurt the most was that my best friend joined in. I remember getting into a big fight with her when I asked her not to call me that. She said to me “why are you getting so upset? It is just a joke!” It was so hurtful and embarrassing that she didn’t understand. I remember we didn’t talk for a long time afterwards.
“Cow” came about in Jr. High School. The boy who gave me the name was a nasty one. He was always getting into trouble and being rather rude to others. He called me the name for a week or two until I had had enough. I normally would just try to let it roll off, not bother to give him the of day, but I couldn’t stand by and take it any longer. The kid had been rather thin and sporty, but over the resent school year he had gained a little weight. Who was he to call me a cow?
I remember it clearly. “That is it.” I said one day as I turned to to face him. We had been working our way out of health classes classroom.”I have had enough. Stop calling me cow! Yes, I am a little chunky and round, but you are not looking so thin yourself. How about I start calling you cow too? HUM?!” His eyes began to bulge out as he opened them wide. No one had ever talked back to him before. I am naturally loud and can be rather intimidating when I need to be. Needless to say he never called me cow again.
From then on I knew how large I was, that I wasn’t a thin string bean like my younger sister. I couldn’t run a mile well in gym class and I wasn’t good at sports. I was the chunky happy-go- lucky me who ate and drank what she wanted. I was happy just being me, but I knew that I wasn’t anything to be sought after by the boys.
Fast forward to my college years. I still was eating and drinking what I wanted. Like every college kid out there I wasn’t living a healthy life style. I was in college, the land of ramen, coffee, and anything cheep or caffeinated. That and my school was known as a party school, so liquor flowed freely. There I gained weight, the ‘freshmen 15’ wasn’t kind to many of us.
Then about three years ago I was always getting sick. My energy was often low and I was tired all the time due to not sleeping well, three hours max most nights. I came to realize that it was due to my lifestyle. I had become sick of being the fat friend. So, one day I just put on a pair of tennis shoes, went out the door, and ran a mile. It wasn’t a very fast mile, but I didn’t allow myself stop, not even once to try and catch my already limited breath. Then I did it again the next day, and the next, and the next. Soon I ran one mile a day for a whole month. I also started to look at what I was eating and start to take small steps towards change.
Today, years later, I am running marathons and loving my much smaller portions of tasty Japanese food. I am slowly reaching my own goals for how I want to look and feel about myself. Though the path to reaching these goals has taken well over a year and has been riddled with rough patches, I have stuck with it and never given up. I have lost over 26 pounds (11.8 kilograms). I am proud of myself for coming so far but there still are days that are rougher than others.
I know I am not at the goal I have set. I don’t have a goal weight that I want to weigh in at. I want to feel good about how I look, that is my true goal. My pant and dress size has shrunk. Clothes are becoming easier to find and fit into, especially since my size in Japan is larger than the average Asain woman. I am still build like a guy, I have broad shoulders, but I have gotten curvier.
What has helped me achieve all this? Since arriving in this country I have lost another 5 or so pounds, but my body has slimmed down and toned up. One reason is that I walk everywhere. I have no car and use the train for travel when I need to leave the city, but I have to walk to every place I need or want to go. It has allowed me to find the beauty in the things around me. I have also come to find shops and stores that I normally wouldn’t have known about if I would be driving everywhere.
I am also still running. Maybe not everyday but the distance has grown from one mile to several. I hope to join a few more marathons as well.
Another reason and the biggest reason is my students. Everyday I see that they are working hard for their sports activities and studies. I have come to admire them. They have given me the drive to continue what I started so many years ago. They have also taught me the value of being truly dedicated to something. Not just saying you’ll do something, but actually doing it. My students are the reason I have already completed two 5k runs during my first 8 months living in Japan.
Another thing that my students have given to me is the ability to see the woman beyond the rolls and chubbiness. Since my first day with them I have heard “sensei kawaii,” or “Amanda’s cute!” Things of this nature. There have been boy students who have continued and those who have started to say “I love you” or the “so beautiful!” Though I know it means nothing really, it still has been a confidence booster. I have slowly started to believe that maybe I really am cute. But honestly the whole this is good for a laugh.
The last reason is that I have been working hard for myself, not to impress someone else. I have started this road of change to make my life happy and healthy. Though at times I know I am harder on myself than I need to be. There are days I only see the fatty from years ago, I am still working hard to realize that I am a attractive young woman in my own right.
So what am I trying to say with all of this? I am not saying that you need to get out there and run. I am not saying that you need to diet to feel great. I am trying to say that we need to start being kinder to one another. Instead of commenting that someone is “looking thin,” why can’t we compliment each other just to compliment each other. Saying “you are looking cute today,” has boosted my self a steam more than someone telling me I have lost weight.
So here is the challenge, let’s start sharing good vibes and warm smiles, instead of putting others down to make ourselves feel better. It sours everyone’s day and mood. Breaking down someone else to make yourself feel beautiful, you become bitter and ugly inside.
Instead saying things like “Hey, I like your shirt,” is simple yet it is a total confidence booster. Telling a person lets them know they dressed well for the day. Telling me my shirt is nice always brightens my day ten fold!
Compliments on the clothing we wear instead of the weight we lose, for me, has boosted my mood and self-esteem leaps and bounds. Complements are a golden treasure in this dark world of unreachable and unhealthy ideals on beauty and self worth.