Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
I’ll be honest with you—I have a ton of self-esteem issues. Most of the time, I take the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” route, where I muster up the courage to play it cool and act confident. But there are some days when my self-esteem gets the best of me, and I just end up sinking in a pool of negativity. During these “down days,” I really find myself struggling with inertia that I end up exploding, and this explosion usually takes up the form of no-holds-barred shopping and binge eating just to fill this void I’ve created for myself.
I’m obviously writing today’s article on a “good day” because if it were a “down day,” I’d be reeking of self-loathing and self-deprecation, which is obviously not a responsible thing to do as a columnist (my journal takes the hit). However, I’d like to share that one of the things that has contributed to my insecurity, a huge anchor that has been weighing me down for the past two years (literally), is my weight.
Back in Manila, I would like to think that I was pretty fit despite always eating for work. I’d find time to run almost four times a week and do yoga to keep my figure. I was never skinny, and I’ve always had a bit of tenderness to my physique, especially my cheeks, which have been constantly round and “fluffy” since time immemorial. But, I could wear a bikini and feel confident in it even though I already felt heavy back then. My goal was to have the kind of body that would shock people if they knew how much I ate. I felt so validated and gleamed from the inside whenever someone would tell me, “How can you eat so much if this is your body??!” Oh darling, if only you knew the hard work I put into keeping it that way. I also had an eating disorder back in high school (this is the first time I am actually writing about it) because I was tired of being “the chubby one.”
Fast forward to today. I’m back to being chubby. I’ve gained a lot of weight since I moved to Singapore mainly because I am constantly tired and would rather eat a bag of chips and watch Netflix than work out. Why? Because I gave up. I’d work out here in Singapore, and I’d want the results so fast that I’d get discouraged and beat myself up whenever I would have a big bowl of pasta, or if I broke my exercise streak if work, anxiety, and stress got in the way. It also didn’t help that I’d pit myself against all these girls on Instagram who I thought had the ideal body. I used to have a lot of stress-induced anxiety, so to quell it down, I’d indulge in cupcakes and chocolates and ice cream because it was a temporary relief to the depression spell. The struggle is real, my friends.
Anyways, a few days ago, I had a breakthrough. I thought of sharing it with you because I know a lot of us are struggling to get fit or have the ideal body. I say, forget about losing weight. If your body is built a certain way, then you have to accept that there will forever be limits. I was born with thick thighs, a heavy upper body, a short torso, short limbs, and a face as round as the moon. No matter what I do, I will never have Elle Fanning’s body. Nor will I ever look like Natalie Portman; neither will I be able to carry those Begin Again clothes the same way Keira Knightley did because my body is the way it is—all bodies are different. It’s been a process, but I am learning to accept it. However, I have started to run again consistently, but my objective is not to lose weight anymore.
I do it now for my mental health.
I was sitting on the couch one afternoon, and I was wondering why I stopped running, or doing yoga, or Hip Hop Abs (yes, proud Shawn T student right here!). I realized that maybe I have been so fixated on losing weight that I totally missed the most important by-product of exercise for me—the mental benefits.
The “high” you get after working out does incredible things to the brain, and I am not going to list them down here because you can Google it anyway. But take it from me—it’s true! Getting up and doing it is really the hardest part, especially now that I’ve changed my routine and decided to run early in the morning before work so that I start my day refreshed (I used to run at night). Before, I would always drag myself to wear my running shoes (I’d even give up halfway because what’s the use, I felt fat anyway), but with this objective—knowing I am running to improve my mental health—I am able jolt up and get going right away.
It’s crazy for me to admit this because I used to always roll my eyes about waking up early and exercising because I cannot stress how much I love sleep. I still do, but to me, my mental health is my priority. Meditation also helps, but there’s nothing quite like bathing in sweat and getting your heart pumping after a nice workout.
I never thought I’d find myself waking up at 6:50 in the morning (but I snooze until 7:15), and do a 20-minute run before I begin my day. I am able to think more clearly, focus better, and have a more balanced mood (which is the most important thing for me). It’s also great because now I can have a proper breakfast, coffee, and writing time before going to the office. Once I turn on my laptop and do what I have to do, it just flows. Not all days are perfect, but there is more awareness to my day. It also lessens the stress when I exercise in the morning because I know I’m done for the day. I used to be so annoyed at myself because I couldn’t find the energy to run at night anymore, but at least, if I do it during the day, then I’m done!
It’s a habit that I sincerely want to build for myself because after experiencing the crazy-good mental benefits morning exercise gives me, I don’t even think about the weight loss anymore. If ever, it’s just a bonus now.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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