During my first year of college in New York, I felt physically unhealthy for the first time in my life. Zero gym time. Zero vegetables. Zero accountability. It wasn’t a surprise that my body changed quickly. Like many others, I was new to the stress of undergrad, consuming more alcohol than ever before, and had access to any cuisine imaginable 24/7. My saving grace was that living in Manhattan requires you to walk every day.
“Not only was academic stress causing me to eat and drink excessively, but I was also navigating a difficult chapter in my life: coming out as gay.”
Not only was academic stress causing me to eat and drink excessively, but I was also navigating a difficult chapter in my life: coming out as gay. I dreamt of living in NYC for the longest and being my authentic self, but no one warned me that it wouldn’t be fairytale-like. Gay men can be the harshest critics of other gay men. I began dating for the first time and some of my newfound insecurities (i.e. my physical appearance) became topics of discussion. There was no rulebook and I didn’t have any mentors to discuss my journey with. I relied on food and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
During the Spring of 2016, I got my heart broken for the first time. In a nutshell: I was the less “physically attractive” option. As you can imagine, my world shattered and it led to some radical changes. I strived for the media’s standard of beauty and naively believed that if acheived, I would never feel that level of pain again.
During the following year, I consumed more information on fitness than actual food. The characteristics that once made me a great athlete, aided me in surpassing my initial goals. I may have become “skinnier” but internally I was just as unhealthy as before. Only this time, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
It took some time, but presently, my relationship with myself and with food are healthy. I now realize that my prior lifestyles were equally damaging. My advice for someone in either situation would be: sit down and write a list of your habits, both good and bad. See the full picture and pick one not-so-great habit to tackle over the next few weeks.
Growth and concrete changes happen gradually.