“Helen, you are getting too skinny,” my aunts said when I had lost a ton of weight. At that time, I had lost 30 pounds.
I didn’t see myself as too skinny at that time. I didn’t notice that my head was too big for my body. I didn’t notice that my hip bones were sticking out. All I knew was that I was happy with my body (or I thought I was). I was no longer that fat girl. I saw myself as beautiful and healthy, for once in my life.
As it turns out, the way I was eating wasn’t quite so healthy. I did switch my eating habits but I was consuming too few calories. My calorie intake was about 1200 at most, and I was exercising for ½ an hour to 1 hour every day. Take into account that I was a growing teen (freshman in high school), I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed. I needed at least 2000 calories. My pediatrician predicated that I was supposed to be around 5 ft 6 inches but I ended up staying a short 5 ft 2 inches. My family was onto something.
My grandparents from Canada came to visit later on during my freshman year (they come to visit once a year). They noticed my weight loss. One day, I overheard my grandmother talking privately to my mother in Chinese, “Helen’s face is getting so pale. Is she eating enough? Is she healthy?” It’s everything that a grandmother would worry about.
After that, I started increasing my calorie intake. I was consuming, at most, 1800. I even started running more. My family commented on how much healthier I was looking. That was at the end of sophomore year. However, I didn’t like the idea that I was gaining weight. I started even running longer in an effort to lose it. Instead of losing weight, my thighs started growing muscle. I gained weight. My family commented, “Helen’s thighs are getting fat.”
My dad said, “Don’t say anything about that. She’s going to stop eating again.”
My family stopped commenting too much about my appearance after that. I started gaining more leg muscle from running and my mom told me to stop running (1 hour). I didn’t see why it was bad (and, it’s not bad!).
It may seem stereotypical but it is true. Most Asian families want the females to be lean, feminine, and skinny. They don’t like females to be muscular. My mom didn’t want my legs to bulk up even more.
I cut down on the running again due to the insistence of my mother and I incorporated more yoga and body weight exercises into my routine. I cut back on my calories too and I went back to a lower weight.
Are you guys seeing what I am getting at? There is no such thing as the “perfect” body. There are many versions of a “healthy” body. After all of this, I learned that I should be just living a healthy life. It doesn’t matter if I have the “perfect” body like those Victoria Secret models or celebrities. As long as you’re healthy, that’s all that matters.
What does looking healthy mean to you?