Confession time! I had a bit of a weight pity-party this weekend. My self-doubt and body-image frustrations were revitalized on Saturday night around 9:30pm as I scrolled through the news on my phone and saw an article about Meghan Markle and her royal wedding. See, I think Meghan Markle is drop dead gorgeous. She’s so lean, strong, and, well…perfect. I want to look like her so bad!

Rather than read the article, I sat on the couch, bummed. I used to be that skinny, I thought. I want to be that skinny again. My first impulse was to throw on my running shoes and go for a 5-mile run around the neighborhood or fetch my family’s set of weights and pump out a hardcore workout session. But I was torn. I felt too depressed about my weight to do anything, and also too depressed about my weight to not do anything.

I decided to go for a long walk and call my friend, Jesse—the one guy who knows pretty much everything about me. I called, expecting to chat about his day, life, and a bunch of other random things. But as soon as I said, “hello,” Jesse knew from my voice that something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to go into details. What was I supposed to say anyways? I didn’t want to sound like I was fishing for compliments. Plus, how is a guy supposed to react when a girl says she feels like she doesn’t look good enough or isn’t skinny enough?

I brushed him off for a while, but Jesse is persistent. Finally, I admitted my frustrations. I told him that it’s hard living in a society with so many unrealistic body stereotypes. What’s more, I added, I used to be way skinnier, and it can be so hard looking in the mirror after gaining weight.

Jesse listened to me, then explained that I look stronger and healthier now compared to when I was 30 pounds lighter. He wasn’t flattering me, he was being honest, and it really helped me gain some perspective.

Yes, part of me truly does miss being 118lbs (okay, a lot of me misses that). But my “skinny” stage in life was FAR from healthy. Even though I would run 5-6 miles every night, I was not healthy. There were multiple times that I collapsed because I was so weak. My eyes would go black and I would lie on the floor for over an hour before I had the strength to sit up. Not healthy!

That being said, body image is still a big deal for me and for many other girls. Even though I want to believe that I can be happy with my current body, that’s easier said than done. Growing up, I was always called “fat” and those memories and hurt feelings have stayed with me to this day. Ugh, ALL I want is to be skinny! I want to look like those models!

Here’s the thing, though. Being skinny is not bad, but being healthy is more important. Often times, weight loss will be a byproduct of healthy habits, but not always. Sometimes, weight gain is a byproduct of healthy habits. Unfortunately, I didn’t gain my weight back in a healthy manner. I went from being very anorexic to binge eating and purging (very, very unhealthy).

Right now, I’m working on balancing out my life by reincorporating healthy habits back into my daily routine. This doesn’t mean restriction. Although I’m often tempted to restrict again, restriction is the worst possible thing for a recovering anorexic (learn more about that here). For me, health means eating a balanced diet, working out (but not excessively), drinking water, getting plenty of sleep, and even seeing a counselor (yes, I admit that I need professional help too). While the recovery process is extraordinarily difficult, remember to focus on health. As you maintain habits of health, a healthy weight will be the byproduct (you won’t be overweight or over-skinny—just perfectly healthy).

Keep that in mind: health over weight loss. And don’t be discouraged. Yes, it’s tough, especially living in a society that puts so much emphasis on size. But don’t give up; recovery and healing are possible. Work hard and hang in there 🙂