“Body type.” “Body image.” “The perfect body”… what are some things that come to mind when hearing those phrases? Most of us were shaped to think that the perfect body is one that is muscular for men and thin or fit for women. This brings us to the story of the constant dieter.
Ola has been a large girl all her life and has followed almost every diet imaginable. She has a hypoactive thyroid, which is a condition where her metabolism basically doesn’t process food as fast as it should, which makes it much harder to lose weight. She explained that her condition certainly isn’t an excuse for her weight and her general love of food surely doesn’t help, but it just makes weight loss a bit more of a struggle than she hoped. To try to combat her constant weight battle, she has tried it all: the South Beach diet, Dukan’s low-carb low-fat diet, starvation, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, you name it. It may be hard to believe, but her dieting journey started as early as the first grade.
“The first recollection I have of being on a diet was in elementary school. Whatever diet it was, I had only two hard-boiled eggs for lunch. Kids made fun of me because they smelled bad, so I spent that lunch period crying and barely ate lunch in school since then.”
Ola explained this experience made her afraid to eat in front of people until she was forced to do so in college, when she would eat in dining halls. It was the stigma that “fat” people shouldn’t be eating anything other than a salad that made her feel like she can’t enjoy food, and certainly not with others watching. This is a perfect example of how experiences from our childhood really shape our future.
Ola talked about how the hardest diets she has been on were naturally those that are very restrictive.
“Those that promise you losing 10 pounds in a week work, of course, because you don’t actually eat anything so your body will react quickly and you’ll lose fast at first. Those types of diets are drastic and not sustainable, basically you lose fast and yoyo right back to your original weight if not more.”
Ola’s favorite diet, which she has been on and off of since 5th grade, is Weight Watchers.
“I like it because it allows you to eat what you want. It does require a lot of self-control to only eat 2 oreos instead of the whole sleeve, but at least you still get those few.”
Fast forward to her college years. During that time she didn’t lose weight, she actually gained. But it wasn’t just pounds that she gained, it was confidence and lots of it — something that many of us struggle with.
“It was an interesting and sudden epiphany I had. I was working out and surprisingly I ran 6 miles. Nobody ever told me fat people could run like that! I realized I spent all these years hating what I looked like. And why? Because someone on tv or a magazine told me I needed to look different? But I’m still able to move and work my body the way skinny people do! That was the moment I decided that as long as I’m healthy and stay active, I can be happy with what I look like no matter what.”
After many years of struggling with her weight, at 25 years old, Ola is still a big girl but she’s happy with who she is. She is still careful and conscious of what she eats and works out at the gym often, and she also enjoys outdoor activities like hiking. Dieting is a lifestyle that will be part of who she is forever, but the most important thing is that it’s no longer about what she looks like and certainly not about what others think of her. It’s about her health — both physical and mental — and being happy with who she is.
Her main goals now are to help people find their own worth and be happy with who they are. She explained that she hopes to be a motivational speaker for those struggling with self-confidence in all aspects of life and has offered to reach out a helping hand to those who would like to speak to her. She is open to conversation with anyone who’d like to talk and can be reached through her Instagram page, theolakaminska.
“There is a lot of pressure from media and even friends and family to be a certain person and live a certain way, but it’s not healthy to lose who you are through the noise. We are all wonderful humans no matter your size, shape, skin condition, illness, or anything else that others claim is wrong just because it’s different. The most important thing is that you like you, because no one can take away your self-love.”
Ola Kaminska, 25