February 2012

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A Better Refl ection One woman's personal journey to gain a positive self-image in a world obsessed with beauty and weight By Cheryl Breuer In high school I was shy—a nerdy girl who loved English, science and playing saxo- phone in the jazz band. I remember the popular girls. Th ey were so stylish in their Izod sweaters and Zena jeans while I felt gawky and conspicuous. I didn't covet their trendy duds or social status exactly, but I wondered what they had that I didn't. Somehow I became con- vinced the reason I wasn't like them was because of my body. I thought I was fat. I don't know how, at 5 feet, 4 inches and about 117 pounds, I came to that conclusion. I suspect when I was a tot I frolicked about like most kids with nary a care in the world about how I sized up to others. But, like many women, that unabashed confi dence had given way to self-doubt. 58 BRAVA Magazine February 2012 I went on my fi rst diet during my senior year. My plan was ridiculous. I drank Diet Coke for lunch and ate only vegetables for dinner. I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes or more every day, focused on burning calories. Th at phase didn't last long, but it was just the beginning. For nearly 20 years, my weight yo-yoed as I searched for the magic diet or exercise plan that would fi nally help me get the body I thought I needed. I came close. It (insert sarcasm) only took lifting weights three times a week, intense cardiovascular exercise six times a week, and meticulously planning my food intake at every meal. But, ultimately, the real- ity of that level of obsession sank in; I was miserable. All I did was think about food and exercise. I had no time for friends. I

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