This story was originally published on July 13, 2015.— Kelsey Recently, for a romantic getaway, my boyfriend took me to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. In my early 20s, I went on a diet and lost, in total, 110 lbs.When I hold my arms and legs out, I still look like a flying squirrel. I walked out onto the dimly lit patio, naked, in public, for the first time in my adult life.I have stretch marks running down the tops of my shoulders, and there's extra skin hanging off my arms and inner thighs. To my dismay, it wasn't an "every-body" kind of spa.Instead, I was surrounded by the types of people you'd expect to see in an advanced yoga class in LA.As I walked through the center of them, I felt incredibly self-conscious.You can follow Kelsey's journey on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller or #antidietproject (hashtag your own Anti-Diet moments, too! Got a question — or your own Anti-Diet story to tell?
For a long time, I tried to get the skin to go away with lotions and exercise. I didn't do it to alter the way I look naturally; I just wanted a chance at the body I could've maybe had if I'd never put on weight.
To cheer myself up, I invented a song, which I sang in my head as I passed people: My boyfriend had never seen me behave like this, and asked if I was okay. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't take it anymore and excused myself to one of the solo baths.
I sunk down in the tub, letting the water hide me like a blanket. I want to be in better shape (but, I don't want to go to the gym). A girlfriend recently pointed out that so often, when we look back at photos, the times we call the happiest of our lives are usually the times we were the thinnest. The summer I consider the happiest goddamn time of my life actually sucked. The weird thing was, the room of strangers — all those beautiful people I'd been naked with the night before — said that they struggled with the same things. And I do so because after all these years, disliking the way I look has become a part of my identity.
I also got a thigh lift: They cut up my legs from knees to groin and took out as much skin as they could.
To heal, I had to sit in bed for a month with my legs spread open. Now, I have a scar that runs completely around my waist, as if a magician cut me in half. But even surgery couldn't remove the extra skin entirely.