Through @getfitbrooklyn, Chinae Alexander’s 117,000 Instagram followers (and counting) look to the Adidas ambassador for fitness inspo and keeping-it-real commentary. But here, she talks about something that rarely gets discussed in captions and hashtags: how to handle the major psychological shakeup that can come with weight loss.
I started my fitness journey—at age 22, when I was 225 pounds and wearing a size 16—as a bet with a guy friend. That was the most I ever weighed—and it’s also the most self-confident I ever was. I laugh because I used to look in the mirror and think, ”Damn girl, you’re so fly right now.”
Over a period of two and a half years, I changed everything about how I operated. I maintained a strict diet and trained six days a week, which resulted in the number on the scale plummeting. I was pretty much a Marine in spandex. Every day, my clothes got looser, the compliments about my looks became more frequent, and my pride grew.
There were sweet moments, like going into a dressing room carrying an armful of size-large clothes, hoping and praying that they would fit—and then suddenly realizing that the pants I once would’ve had to do some tribal dance ritual to get into were now gaping at the waist.
Others’ words began to fuel my confidence. They became a measuring stick for my worthiness. I lived for the moments when I would walk into a group of people I hadn’t seen in a while—and feel the admiration swell around me.
When I reached what I thought was my goal, I suddenly realized: I was the least confident I’d ever been.
I began to get a sick pleasure out of restricting myself when everyone else at a party would be elbows-deep in pizza, telling me, “You’re so disciplined. I could never be as disciplined as you!” I would internally pat myself on the back, only to have my insides echo back the dull, hollow response of false pride.
When I reached what I thought was my goal, I suddenly realized: I was the least confident I’d ever been. I was stuck in a cycle of cravings for affirmation, admiration, and progress. Rinse and repeat.
I felt like like I’d been preparing for this dream vacation, and when I arrived I couldn’t stop obsessing over the fact that the beds weren’t firm enough, the food sucked, the locals were kind of rude, and my feet hurt from walking all day. I knew aesthetically I looked better, but my heart just didn’t meet me there. I’d sold my inner beauty for thinner thighs and increased wardrobe options.
I’d sold my inner beauty for thinner thighs and increased wardrobe options.
It was time to get back to myself. Back to that girl who looked in the mirror and saw a person, not progress. I knew I didn’t need to put back on 70 pounds to find her, but I did need to make some major changes.
So I stopped obsessing over the number stitched on the tag of my pants. Or how I compared with everyone else, both on social media and in life. I put away the food scale. I let myself have that extra glass of wine. I spent more of my time helping others and less time thinking of myself. (This was 100 percent the most important thing I ever did.)
And here I am. Not my leanest or most athletic—but so damn joyful. I feel content but not comfortable. I feel proud but not prideful. I have the freedom to let myself live without overthinking.
What I’ve learned is that you can’t let your mind be consumed with your outer beauty because you might just arrive at your desired destination yet still be completely lost. I’ll tell you, those are some heartbreaking coordinates.
Never forget your worth, because: “Damn girl, you’re so fly.” You were, you are, and you always will be.
Work on your soul. Get out there and sweat. Eat food that makes your body work at its best, but sometimes, you’re gonna need to go elbows-deep into the pizza. Chalk it up to your sanity. The condition of your heart is far more important than the condition of your thighs. And lastly, never forget your worth, because: “Damn girl, you’re so fly.” You were, you are, and you always will be.