2020 was a hard year for all of us mentally. I was so excited when 2021 hit, but honestly it has just been 2020 2.0. Between everything going on in the world, working full-time, going to grad school full-time, and my own mental battles, I really let my own health journey slide, both mentally and physically.
I didn’t keep up with things I enjoy doing like cooking healthy meals and writing. I figured it was time to do some writing and share my latest struggle. It feels more vulnerable than usual, but maybe someone else can relate.
I have been really struggling with my version of “imposter syndrome”. This is a lame term, I know, but it really describes my current mindset. Imposter syndrome is “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” Basically doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. I even wonder if I am even good enough to have it!
I have “imposter syndrome” when it comes to completing this graduate program and becoming a nutritionist. Every time I get some sort of validation, I almost immediately shove it down because a negative voice creeps back into my head that I am still not good enough. I don’t know enough. I am not small enough. I won’t be taken seriously. I look at my classmates and even though I get the same grades (and sometimes better), I still feel less qualified because I am bigger than them. Because I weigh more. I take up more space. Even when I get blatant validation (like an A or positive feedback from a teacher), I continue to doubt my credibility because of my size.
When I first started on my weight loss journey, I successfully lost 70 pounds. People would ask me how I did it or for tips. What they didn’t know was how taxing the journey was on me mentally, how I still struggled badly with self-confidence, and how unhealthy and how completely unsustainable and restrictive my methods were. I had made some great physical progress, but I still had a long way to go. I had no idea what I was really doing. It was all trial and error. As many times as I fell, I just always got back up. Everything became a learning lesson.
I didn’t feel qualified to help other people in the same boat as me, but I wanted to. So began my journey to go back to school to learn all about nutrition. I have learned so much since I started school and realize that all the methods I had used in the past to lose weight were unhealthy and would only result in quick results followed by quick re-gain.
My mindset shifted drastically from weight loss and numbers on a scale to an overall health and wellness journey. I care more now about slow, steady, and sustainable lifestyle modifications over diets” or a quick fix. No carbs and endless meal prepped bland grilled chicken and veggies have been replaced with balance, variety, and moderation. Further, I now have tools I can share with people. I still am hesitant sometimes to share these things because of my size. I’ve put weight back on. I feel like a fraud. I have the knowledge in my head, but in my own life, I have not successfully executed it yet. Since I lost all my weight originally, I regained, re-lost, and am now back to an uncomfortable weight for me.
When I tell people I am in grad school and they ask for what, I cringe when I say nutrition. All I feel is judgement for being so overweight and fear that won’t succeed because I don’t “look the part” yet.
School has been taxing for me. It takes up a lot of my time and I have had many mental breakdowns about whether or not I can really do this (sorry mom and dad). Biochemistry was not something I ever dreamed I’d have to take three courses on, but I ended up not only passing but getting an A in two of them. I am now in my last semester, and besides my first rocky semester with a couple of B’s, I have gotten all A’s in my classes. I really love it and have found something I am actually passionate about. I enjoy what I am learning thoroughly.
Unfortunately, my self-doubt almost inevitably leads to self-sabotage. I engage in behaviors that go directly against my goals or do things I know don’t feel good because of that ever gnawing voice in my head that tells me “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough.” To combat these pesky thought intrusions, I decided much like the nutrition I am learning, the best way to tackle it is by finding the root cause.
I decided to look back at WHY I am doing this and recenter myself. Here are some of my “whys”
To educate myself on how to create healthy habits and live a healthy life
- To feel more comfortable my own skin
- To follow my passion and dreams
- To feel like the best version of myself
- To help others.
- To have a healthy mind and body
- To remember my self-confidence and self-worth
- To make myself proud.
Whenever you feel yourself overcome with imposter syndrome, I implore you to remember your own “whys”. To drown out those voices in your head that tell you that you aren’t good enough or aren’t deserving of all your achievements. Put your “why” on sticky notes like I did and put them around your mirror. Put them in your car and on your fridge. Self-doubt can be a crippling illness, but the cure comes from within. Believe in yourself, do things that align with your goals, and no matter how many times you fall down, always stand back up and never ever ever give up.