Operation Self Acceptance

Jess is a blogger with Operation Skinny Jeans which chronicles her journey through attaining physical and mental health. She will be taking us on that journey, sharing her stories and reminding us that we all can change ourselves for the better. We just need a positive attitude and the right motivation.

Let me paint you a picture of myself when I was 25. I was depressed. I was uncomfortable. I was sad. And I was a shell of the woman I am today.

I put on a good face, but I was pretty miserable. It is not exaggerating to say that I hated myself. I would look at my body with disgust and pick out everything I hated about it. I would starve myself because I was mad, then binge because I was starving, then starve to punish myself for bingeing. That never-ending cycle was my life.

I was so unhappy that I was a terrible wife and friend. I was stuck in this downward spiral I couldn't break out of.

I had been binge eating for years, almost 20 in fact. I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was 6 years old. But it caught up to me in college, after years of mental wear and tear; I started losing the daily battles.

There were many “turning points" for me, but none of them actually made me change my life. I knew I had a problem in 2009 when I graduated college at over 280 lbs. I knew I had a problem in 2010 when I got married at over 290 lbs. I knew I had a problem when I turned 25 at almost 300 lbs in 2012. But knowing I had a problem and being ready to change it are two very different things.

After giving up blogging forever (true story) I had a brilliant idea. I was going to lose weight. Well, it actually wasn't really a new idea; I had been "trying" to lose weight for at least four years.

However, something was different this time, I could FEEL it.

I took those before pictures and joined Weight Watchers (for the 4th time) and started writing. I came out of blog retirement and created Operation Skinny Jeans. I was finally ready to change my life.I wrote about my weigh ins and my meal plan and workout clothes and cute clothes I wanted to fit into and I was hooked. I was a healthy living blogger! People started actually reading my blog (something that had never happened before) and it made me want to write more.

A few weeks in I got the catalogue for my local rec center. In it I discovered a "Biggest Loser" style weight loss competition. For eight weeks, you get a trainer, workout twice a week and boot camp every Saturday – all for just $300.

I had a habit of quitting, so convincing myself I would stick with it, and convincing my husband that it was worth the investment, took a little effort. But I felt it in my bones that this was for me. So I joined. And I worked out and I went to every boot camp and I learned how to move my body.

I only lost 7 lbs.

I woke up at 5 a.m. twice a week to go meet with a trainer and all I lost was SEVEN pounds. I was SHOCKED and embarrassed! I spent $300 to lose 7 lbs! Are you kidding me? It certainly couldn't be from all the bingeing I had done over the last 8 weeks. I felt like a failure, and I hit rock bottom.

Then something changed inside me. I was reborn. As I stood there, naked, in front of my full-length mirror, looking into the eyes of a lost woman, I started crying. I really cried.

Who was this person in the mirror? Where had Jess gone? Where was that young, vibrant, colorful young woman I once was? She had to be in there somewhere.

I had, in the process of eating every feeling I had over the last five years, completely lost who I was as a person. I had no interests, I had no hobbies.

Staring in the eyes of this stranger in the mirror I felt overwhelmed. And I felt sorry. I was sorry for what I had done, eating until I wanted to actually die, having to cope with those emotions of shame and guilt day in and day out. I was sorry for alienating my husband, a man who had lost the woman he fell in love with because of her addiction to food. I was sorry for letting it get so far, so bad.

And then I woke up and I forgave.

I forgave my parents who nurtured my eating disorder when I was just 6. I forgave every person who made me feel like I was less because of how I looked. I forgave myself.

I apologized for what I had done. I apologized for eating my way to almost 300 lbs. I apologized for treating my friends and loved ones just as I treated myself, like they didn't matter. I stopped blaming my body for my problems and I felt free. That was the first step in this long journey I call self-love.

This was the moment I was reborn.

I started working on my relationship with myself, the most important one you have in my opinion, and I fell in love with myself. Every day I made the decision to do what made me feel good, inside and out. And in the last 18 months I have discovered who I am. I made the decision to eat right and get active. I am funny and beautiful and I have hobbies and, get this, I like running -- well, when it's over.

In the last 18 months I have also lost 50 pounds.

I really am a completely different person than the woman I was not even two years ago. I am a better wife and friend because I love myself enough to accept the love of others. And now I have made it my personal mission in life to empower all women to love themselves and their lives.

I know it isn't easy, but one by one I can make a difference. I hope that my story helps you see there is hope around the next corner and that you are closer than you think.

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