As a kid, nobody would have described me as “skinny” but you would hardly have described me as “fat” either. I guess I was about average. If I look back at pictures from when I was 13, I don’t see a fat girl, but a girl who exercised and ate well.

However, you and I both know pictures don’t always give the entire game away.

Because the truth was, each and every day I was getting picked on because I wasn’t as skinny as all of the other girls and it was killing me.

My constant thought was, ‘Don’t worry. As soon as you get to high school and meet new people, all of this is going to be over.’ And I was right, it was. My high school peers didn’t think I was fat at all, they couldn’t have cared less about the number on the scale, they just loved me for who I was.

But little did I know that the damage had already been done and I’d spend many years after this point battling eating disorders and an unhealthy relationship with food until I finally realized the truth about how to be happy.

And the truth was, I had to find my own happiness. This is my story.

Shifting the Excess Weight.

All of those insults, words and voices I’d suffered as a kid had stuck with me. I thought the cure was being loved by someone else. If somebody loved me, then ultimately I would learn to love myself. Never was I so wrong. I decided to lose all of the weight I had put on in the last year. It was only 7 lbs, yet they felt like 200 lbs to me.

At first, it worked. I had lost even more weight than I had gained, and had finally achieved a number that I reckoned “socially acceptable.” For a while, I felt bright, happy and glowing. I would look at pictures of myself and think that I’d done it. I had reached the perfect weight.

My doctor advised me not to lose any more weight, but I obviously didn’t feel that way. In my mind, I had to still lose weight and reach the golden figure of one hundred and eight pounds. Every calorie I ate made me feel guilty, and standing next to my incredibly skinny friends only made me feel worse.

Then my relationship with my body and food hit an all-time low when, right before the summer holiday, I was stuck down by the flu. I was so sick that I couldn’t bear to eat a thing for several days. Even without eating, I was still sick and started noticing my legs slimming down. I was losing weight. Was that the secret all along and I had only just discovered it? Had it been there all along? In my mind, I was dieting. I was now part of a vicious circle, one that would have probably ruined me, if without my friends. My best friend figured it out and helped me out of it before I lost myself.

Regaining the Weight.

A couple of months later, I went back to boarding school and started gaining weight from all the junk food I was eating.. The pounds just kept coming, and finding their way on my legs, hips, arms and face. I avoided mirrors and scales, because I was afraid of what I would see.

Two years and 33 lbs later, I still hadn’t managed to lose the weight I had gained, I still couldn’t get ready for a party without ending up in tears, and I still couldn’t not stop feeling ashamed of my body. I had tried every weight loss method, and it had all been useless. I had spent over a month eating 800 kcal a day, and burning 500 kcal alone on the treadmill.

That was until a family friend suggested a great clinic she knew and I went along. In a single month, with the help of a weekly scale checkup with my nutritionist, I had lost fifteen pounds!  

But of course, the weight crept back on yet again.  

And because misery loves company, so did the guilt and the shamefulness. I was still battling my extremely unhealthy relationship with food, still struggling with my eating disorders, and I felt I had been sentenced to a life of yo-yo (extreme) dieting.

The Surprising Answer to My Happiness.

Until the day that I decided I was tired. Tired of counting calories, and tired of having to excuse myself for having a piece of cake when out with friends. So I started reading about healthy eating and decided that once the holidays were over, I would try. Little did I know, I had just found the way to my own happiness.

Today, I enjoy every bite I take when having food and don’t regret it. I exercise four times a week and feel great after it. I go out with friends for an unhealthy meal, and don’t hide it, or beat myself up after it; I get back to eating the way I always do.

I finally understood, healthy eating doesn’t equal dieting. And from today on, I want to help you and all of the other young girls out there understand it, and help you find the way to a healthy, happy lifestyle.