If we're talking body

Float Elena set
Photography byjonastamayo

I did not eat for four days to take these pictures. 

It would have been five, but after four days of the Master Cleanse, I felt a slight fever creeping up on me. Ever since I first tried the cleanse, I have been an advocate of it because of the effective weight loss, the psychological and emotional test of willpower, but most of all, because the Master Cleanse has taught me to listen carefully to my body. This time was no different. After four days of a supposed five-day cleanse, my body was telling me I needed to get nourished and build my resistance.

Counter-clockwise: Me in our 1st grade field trip in Nayong Pilipino; Family portrait with my dad's family (and me at my heaviest at 150 lbs. in 4th grade; A year later, with a little bit of weight lost, but not quite enough yet; Me probably at 4 or 5 years old posing for a Fujifilm newspaper ad; A photo with my mom when I was 11. (Notice how our arms are the same size already!)
Body image is an issue I have struggled with and feel strongly about; Whatever those feelings are at certain moments vary. I grew up overweight--reaching my heaviest in fourth grade at 150 lbs. (I stood then maybe just an inch or two shy of 5 feet, my current height.) This pushed me to my first attempt at dieting, and I was able to shed the pounds. Then onwards has been a series of different diets and workouts. I have weaned off the need for rice at every meal, eaten more vegetables to the point of being teased to be the family goat, and developed the habit of exercising as consistently as the rest of life's responsibilities would allow. (I am now at Week 17 of Kayla Itsines's BBG program.)

But I have always stayed at the middle ground--Never getting too lean or rebounding to gain all the weight back. Now, the middle ground, I learned, is tricky. I'm neither skinny enough to pull off all the clothes (or lack of them) I want, nor am I big enough for heavier people to call fat. In fact, complaining about my size may even be offensive to some. Being in the middle is a constant struggle of thinking many times I can still look better if I just lost more weight, more inches here and there, but at the same time knowing it isn't mentally healthy to obsess about the scale, and the basis of confidence should be more secure relationships with oneself, with loved ones, and with one's Creator (and okay, with quality food!).

So I write this to make peace with myself, to remind myself it is not and it should not be detrimental to eat when by body tells me to do so. That the key to fitness is sustainability, rather than a singular successful cleanse or workout.

So I write this also in the attempt to reach out to those in the process of making peace with themselves about their bodies, no matter where in the fitness spectrum you are. Be patient. Think long-term, and stay healthy in both body and mind, whether that means saying no to that slice of bread or saying yes to it.

And I might as well let you know, I enjoyed being at the beach more than just taking these pictures.

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