Learning to Love Myself

Co-Founder's Post: Jocelyn's Story

I often get asked why I wanted to get involved with Superbands. The easy answer is because it combines my passion for music with my professional knowledge and career in mental health, but there is another reason that is a little more personal for me. It’s my story, and it’s what has shaped me in to the person I am today.

Body image and weight issues is something I have struggled with ever since I was a child. I was always the kid in class who hated going to P.E. class, not only because I knew I would be picked last for kickball, but because I hated wearing the required “gym strip”. Even in elementary school  I never quite felt like my own person because I couldn’t express myself through clothes the way other kids could -- instead of walking into a store and picking out what I wanted, I had to settle for what would fit me. My closet was full of dark, baggy clothes that would hide the body I was so ashamed of. This continued in to my adolescence and only worsened when I hit high school and all my friends started dating older boys --  I barely liked myself, how could I ever expect a boy to like me? I was the smart girl, the funny girl, the fat girl. I was the dependable one who would help you with your homework, but I was never going to be the girl who got asked to dance by the cute senior.  Even though I had an amazing family, great friends, and was at the top of my class, I couldn’t shake the feeling of disgust I had with myself. My self-esteem was painfully low and it affected my whole outlook on the world, my mood, and how I would choose to spend my time. I came from a very active family, and, practically speaking, I knew the science of weight loss and what it would take for me to drop a few pounds, but like anyone who has struggled with their weight will tell you it’s just as much of an emotional battle as it is a physical one. I just couldn’t get to the place where I was able to make a change and so I continued living this life where I felt mediocre, at best.

When I was 15, I had a health scare. After experiencing numerous episodes of excruciating pain I was finally diagnosed with gall stones and scheduled to have my gall bladder removed several months later. My doctor informed me that gall stones are common in people who are overweight as they are often the result of a diet that is high in fat, and if I wanted to avoid these “attacks” of pain I had been experiencing I needed to monitor my diet and avoid fatty foods. That was it, that was the push I thought I finally needed. Something clicked for me and before I knew it I had lost nearly 35% of my body weight . Did it last? No. Why? Because I took my doctor’s advice and implemented it to the extreme. I was ingesting less than 1000 calories a day and had an exercise regime that consisted of strictly cardio. I had made amazing progress yes, but looking back now it was in no way healthy or sustainable. I learned that the hard way as the weight came flooding back. For the next 10 years of my life, this would continue to be the trend: extreme diet and exercise, following by binge-eating and drastic weight gain. If I had an “off” day I wasn’t able to just re-set myself and keep going, I would see it as a failure and before I knew it my gym routine was gone and I’d trade in my vegetables for nachos until I was right back at the weight that led to my unhappiness. Nothing was ever slow and gradual, and nothing ever lasted. I could be buying skinny jeans one month and then hiding in sweat pants the next. In the course of a year I could have gone through multiple physical transformations, all the while never really understanding why.

What I want people to take away from this is that an eating disorder doesn’t mean you’re fat or skinny. It has no correlation with your outward appearance, an eating disorder is psychological. I am 28 years old now; that’s 28 years’ worth of crash diets, intense exercise, binge-eating, and self-pity. I have been all shapes and sizes, but the one constant was my negative relationship with food. That is, until now. Today I can sit here and tell you that I have finally made that emotional switch that I was so incapable of making all those years ago. I get excited about fitness and exercise, and I never use the word “diet” -- it’s a lifestyle! Now, I don’t treat foods as good or bad -- I allow myself to have a piece of cake I know it’s not the end of the world. I have stopped letting food define me and have strived to changed my relationship with it. I don’t “treat” myself by indulging in junk food, I treat myself by buying a new outfit, and getting my nails done, something that makes me feel good about myself. When I exercise, I do it to be strong and healthy and I don't let myself get caught up in how many calories I've burned or what foods I'm cancelling out. Does my little black dress look good? Sure it does, but the confidence I have feels even better! I don't weigh myself every single day anymore either because I know that the number I see in front of me will never tell me the things that actually matter. That's not to say that I don't still have my obstacles, but now I'm able to recognize them and use what I have learned to better the choices I make in the future.

What’s changed for me in my 28 years is that I’m allowing myself to love myself, and that is something that wasn’t there before. When you love yourself, everything else just seems to fall in to place.

It’s not easy for me to talk about, but I know that I need to in order for something to change for the person who feels hopeless and alone. Just like I kept myself and my story hidden for so long, maybe there is someone else out there who is just as afraid to talk about it as I was, or won’t stop ask for the help they so clearly need. 

That’s why I wanted to get involved with Superbands, because if we don’t speak up, then who will?