My Girl Box Entrapment

At the age of fifteen I was “warned” of the “dangers” of carbs. They make you fat, give you cellulite and make you unattractive.  I had never before considered food to be the enemy, but it soon became my nemesis. At 5 feet six inches and 110 pounds soaking wet, I was on the varsity soccer team and stuffed uncomfortably inside the girl box. I became obsessed with watching calories and staying active – anything to defer the seemingly inevitable explosion that came from consuming food.

Without a formal understanding of nutrition and exercise, I entered college carefully avoiding anything that could negatively influence my frame. Adolescent changes had taken place and transformed my rail-thin figure into one that looked healthy, but I was picked on for my tail end and flat top and was determined to change those features.  I remember substituting popcorn or rice for full meals; they were low in calories and fat, and they fit into my college budget nicely. I figured food was food and calories were calories, and all would be well. I somehow maintained my athletic hobbies and stayed relatively fit, but I was tired and felt bad all the time.  It wasn’t until several years after graduation that I learned the importance of nutrition and its role in body figure, function and feeling. I learned it’s not about what you eat, or how much, but when and how you incorporate certain foods into your diet.  Surprisingly, I learned that the more I ate the right foods, the leaner I stayed and the faster I became. I learned that processed foods (virtually anything in a box or package) are the real enemy, not “carbs” themselves, and I swapped popcorn, rice and pasta for meat and veggies multiple times a day.  Those habits helped me regain my pre-pregnancy body after the birth of my son but, most importantly, allowed me to feel energized mentally and physically, despite the demands of new motherhood.

It took several years, but I emerged from the girl box thanks to science and a career in health and fitness. I bought into the lie that food is the enemy, that I am defined by the way I look and that I can’t feel good about myself regardless of my situation.  The truth is that every woman has attributes that make her special, and none of those attributes can be seen in a mirror. Once I broke ties with my reflection, I became more confident in my intelligence, physical abilities and resilient strength. Oftentimes, as women (and especially teen and pre-teen girls), we get so caught up in how we think we “should” look that we disregard the individual characteristics that make us attractive to those around us. The physical attributes I once despised have become some of my best features – not because I was told to embrace them, but because I accepted that they are part of what makes me, me!

The secret is simple: it’s not about losing weight, toning up or changing your style. Gaining self confidence comes from taking care of yourself.  If you love yourself and treat yourself as the special creation that you are, you can’t help but change your perspective of who you are and what you’re capable of. Food, exercise and clothes can’t do it. It comes from within. It took several years to learn, but it’s now ingrained in my being, along with the way I’ll present nutrition and exercise to my children.

What are some ways you have transformed your vision of yourself? Let’s start a conversation on our Facebook page:


Jennette Holzworth is a writer, personal trainer and nutritionist from Florida. She is wife to Ray, mom to Monta and a proud Girl on the Run.