Where I’m Going: Puerto Vallarta

  • Mermaid Sculpture on Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk

I love serendipitous symmetry, and one of my upcoming trip has it in spades–almost 10 years to the day I’ll be returning to Puerto Vallarta. Next month, we’re spending four nights at the Hyatt Ziva All-Inclusive to celebrate my 30th birthday.

I’ve been to Mexico three times. We went to Riviera Maya in 2006 for our honeymoon. The next year we went to Puerto Vallarta just for fun. In 2011, we visited as a stop on a family cruise. Each time, I worried obsessively over finding a bathing suit that I won’t be embarrassed to be seen wearing. I’ve dieted, and beat myself up about not dieting well enough, and suffered incredible anxiety leading up to each trip. Then I’d get there, and try to weasel my way out of being seen in the bathing suit without a swim cover up or an artfully arranged towel to hide my stomach and thighs.

Something I’ve grown to appreciate more through recovery is looking back at where I was and comparing it to where I am now. For a long time, I’d look back and feel a sharp sense of shame. Why was I so loud? How could I have let myself go? Will I ever regain that confidence? More and more, though, I can see the progress I’ve made. And now, quite unintentionally, I’ve found myself with a nicely bookended decade with which to do so.

I’ve never reliably kept a journal, but I have at times made a go of it. Often it ended up being a place to obsessively take stock of exercise, caloric intake, and whether or not I puked. It’s painful to reread some of it, but I keep doing it once or twice a year. Here’s a look at where I was 10 years ago:

Images from my journal in 2007

Yes, I literally printed out pictures of myself so I could edit it in my journal. I thought the visualization would serve as a good reality check.

Journal Entry 2007

Bought this knowing I didn’t like the way it fit, tortured myself with it for months anyway.

Ouch. I’m sad that I treated myself like that for so long. But in a way, I’m glad I still have these pieces of my journal. When I have that twinge of desire to restrict my food or a moment of anxiety over not having the “right” type of body to hang out in a bathing suit at a resort, I can remind myself that it’s not about the body. Those thoughts about my body have become a useful red flag telling me stop. Take a minute, and figure out what’s really going on. If I’m feeling that way, it’s because I’m allowing myself to devalue my personal worth. Maybe I’m stressed out at work, or not practicing enough self-care. Whatever it is, I’m feeling inadequate, and instead of taking the time to parse out why I’m falling back into old habits and taking it out on myself. Once I’m able to identify that, I can try to diffuse it–or at least unload on my therapist and nutritionist the next time I’m in their office. 

Whether or not I have the presence of mind to listen to those red flags is a work in progress. At least, ten years down the line, I finally see them for what they are. And I’ll tell you this–I have three bathing suits I like a lot in my closet, and in this moment there is nothing stopping me from being hella excited about my trip. // 7×35


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