Reflecting on 2018 is particularly hard for me. I feel like I experienced a lot of personal growth this year as a result of a lot of inner turmoil. Though I now feel pretty positive about the direction my life is headed, I know I have a lot of work to do in 2019 to get to where I want to be. Before I jump into my goals for the upcoming year, I want to take a minute to reflect on 2018 both the good and the bad.
If you look at my social media, you will notice that my photos seem to jump from December 2017 to March of 2018. I have come to understand that this was because I was struggling with severe body image issues and anxiety. I am the kind of person who LOVES taking pictures and selfies, so it hurts me to think back to who I was at this time in my life. I had decided that 2018 was the year that I was going to finally get “healthy”. For me, this simply meant losing weight. This ravenous pursuit of society’s idea of “wellness” lead me on a pretty dark and disordered path. More on this later.
March is when I started posting again because I went on a trip over spring break! Brice, a couple friends, an adorable dog, and I all loaded up for about a 10-hour drive to Manhattan, Kansas to meet an old friend of theirs. Just a little disclaimer: Kansas is still my least favorite state in all of the US, but we definitely had fun trying new restaurants and bars, catching up with old friends, and saying “wow” in an Owen Wilson voice WAY too much. It was a MUCH needed vacation. Then in April, Brice and I officially moved in together! I have had no regrets! He is the most loving and supportive partner a girl could ask for, and I am so thankful to have him in my life.
In the months following, my pursuit of weight loss grew more toxic. This manifested in extreme self-doubt and weight-cycling, regular panic attacks, and no longer feeling at home in my body. By May, my mental health had severely deteriorated, and this would continue into the summer months. I also realized that I was no longer satisfied with my current career path, which led me to create my blog and YouTube Channel. Despite where my mind was at this point in time. Filming and writing became really helpful outlets for me to manage/cope with what I was going through,
June was a very busy month for me. I spent most of my weekends that month traveling and spending time with old friends and family. This was much needed, and it helped pull me out of the darkness I was spiraling into. The end of June beginning of July was a highlight of my year. Brice and I went on a road trip to Possum Kingdom Lake, and we had an absolute blast! You can see the full vlog from this trip on my YouTube Channel.
After this trip though, is when the issues with my body image really sunk their claws in. I had made it a “health” goal to lose a certain amount of weight before I bought a new swimsuit. By the time I met this goal, it was too late in the season for me to find a proper swimsuit to invest in. That means I spend all summer feeling uncomfortable in a worn it swimsuit that didn’t fit me properly. Much of my happy memories from this summer are marred by my hypersensitivity to the amount of space I felt my body was taking up.
These insecurities weren’t new to me. They were like a toxic, old friend I thought I had long grown apart from, but suddenly decided let back into my life. I have been working on a blog post about how my past traumas have shaped these insecurities, but this could honestly be a whole damn book. For now, I give you the Reader’s Digest version (Side note: is that still a thing people say?).
Though these memories are tainted by my body insecurity, I still want to acknowledge some of the highlights of my summer. Firstly, I made a nice little trip down to Matagorda Bay to celebrate the engagement of one of my closest college friends! Then in August, I took a road trip to Colorado for my best friend from High School’s Bachelorette trip! This trip was so much fun, and definitely a highlight of my 2018.
Sometime in September, I began switching my focus from dieting to FALL. I love fall and had planned to go all out this year with decorating and pumpkin spice everything. I also found the book Girl, Wash Your Face, which rejuvenated my purpose and desire to pursue film and writing. This book was the exact push I needed, and it came to me at exactly the right time. Then my laptop broke. This did not stop me from vlogging or writing, but I definitely slowed my roll on posting.
I think this break was good for me because it gave me the time to start absorbing what other creators were doing. This led me to the Food Psych podcast by Christi Harrison. I had actually found the podcast much earlier in the year but wasn’t ready for her health at every size message. This fall I was left exhausted from restricting and feeling worse about my body than I had since puberty. I reconnected with this podcast at the exact right time, and I feel it actually saved my life.
Rejecting the need to restrict allowed me to be more present as I entered some of the highest points toward the end of the year spending time with loved ones. For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to actually enjoy food. My 23rd birthday I had lovely meals with family and friends. I got to be the Maid of Honor in my best friend’s wedding! I enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with my family. I got to watch a good friend be the first in his family to graduate university. I spent another Christmas spending time with family extended and immediate. I would be lying if I said the self-doubt didn’t creep in from time-to-time, but I feel I have stopped blaming myself for feeling that way.
Believe me, I am far from healed of this beast, but that is what leads us into my New Year’s Resolutions.
Go to Therapy: I’ve talked about this a lot in previous blog posts and videos, but I haven’t followed through. Money and time are honestly what has been holding me back, but I am making a promise to myself to prioritize this first and foremost. I have learned in 2018 that my anxiety, body image issues, and disordered eating are symptoms of some unresolved trauma. I have begun to unpack some of this on my own, but it’s to heavy a burden to bear on my own or to expect the non-clinically trained supporters around me to bear. I know that therapy, for me, is the first step to finding peace with my body, my mind, and food.
Write/Film more: I got a new, not broken laptop for Christmas!!!!! I have so many things that I have been wanting to post that will be coming soon in the new year, as well as new ideas to come. This is not only my passion but has become very therapeutic for me.
Build my savings: A huge thing that happened towards the end of 2018 that I left out of my recap, is that Brice got a job in Dallas! He started at the beginning of December and has been living with our friend, Andy, who you saw in the Possum Kingdom Lake Vlogs. I spent my last days of 2018 moving out of our old apartment into a storage unit and my car, as well as onto a friends couch. I will be staying here until I get a job in Dallas, which hopefully will be soon. In the meantime, I am trying to put away as much money as possible so that Brice and I can get a place one I move up there. This is the short-term goal, but my long-term goal for this year is for this to build into my emergency fund. I don’t feel I need to go into much detail on that because it’s just boring adult stuff, but it’s still a goal of mine.
Focus more on self-care: What I mean when I say “self-care” here is not the Instagram fitspo version that people try to sell you. It not about pilates and eating kale. It’s actually listening to what my body, heart, and mind actually need. All of the previous resolutions could be rolled into this one because they are all different forms of self-care. This also means prioritizing things that help improve my mental health on top of therapy, such as all the stuff that falls to the wayside when I begin to spiral like sleep and brushing my teeth daily. It also means making time to be creative. Critical to all of this is learning when to say no. Setting these boundaries are going to be a big part of my 2019 I feel.
Find a home in my body: As I mentioned already, I became really disconnected from my body this year. Body image issues hit me really hard and had a really detrimental impact on my mental health and self-confidence. In 2019, I want to reconnect with my body, so that it no longer feels like an enemy I am at war with but a home. Some things that have really helped with this have been finding fun clothes that fit and compliment my body. I don’t know what I would have done without Torrid this year. I am so obsessed, and YES I will for sure be buying that swimsuit I didn’t get last year as soon as Torrid releases their swim line for the season. Another thing that makes me feel at home in my body is disappointing my mother. Oops, typo! I meant getting tattoos! Sorry, mom, but I definitely see myself leaving 2019 a little more inked. Other things that have helped bring me back into my body are dancing, nourishing it with a variety of foods, and allowing myself to appreciate all that it does for me. I am looking forward to all the new ways I will find home in my body in 2019.
NO DIETING: I saved this for last because I am honestly scared of what the reaction will be when I actually say this publicly. 2019 is the first year in a long time that I will make no attempt to change the shape of my body. This probably causes worry to some, and it’s honestly a really new concept for me as well. The fact is, though, that 98% of diets do not work. My experience is that the negative health outcomes of trying to change the size of my body through restriction far outweigh any “positive” outcomes. My eyes have been opened to all the ways diets have actually been robbing me of peace and enjoyment for life, and I am no longer going to participate in their cycle. The Heath at Every Size and Intuitive Eating movements saved my life in 2018. So I will include some resources below about these if you are interested.
My word of the year is HEAL. My goals for this year are to begin HEALING my relationship with food and my body, to begin HEALING from my past, and to use the extra time I save from not participating in the cycle of dieting to focus on the people and things in my life that truly matter. In 2018, I started to believe that my life would not begin until I lost weight. I’d put off pursuing things that I love, enjoy, and am passionate about with the idea that I did not deserve these things until I became a certain body shape/size. I believed that my loved ones could not truly be proud of me until I fit a certain ideal that I had built up in my head based on society and media’s ideas about what I should look like. In 2019, I reject these lies and pursue my dreams and happiness with no limitations and plenty of self-compassion.
Also, check out my vlog wrapping up 2018, and be prepared for all kinds of new content in 2019! Comment below what your New Year’s Resolutions are!