I want to talk to you all about something real. If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you know that I struggled with eating disorders in my past.
The truth is, I struggled with eating disorders for many years after that. To this day, I cannot believe I was placed in an internship, that they allowed me to graduate, and that I landed a job even before I graduated from said internship…. During this time, I weighed 86 pounds. I was 23 years old.
I struggled with anorexia nervosa through college and my internship; literally eating almost nothing. There comes a time though, during this disease, when the brain betrays you. Your brain knows you are starving and it tries to save you. This is where bingeing comes in. After about 4 years of starving, all you think about is food. Obsess about it, dream about it, you name it. That first time you allow yourself to eat; even though you don’t really want to, you go all out. But that food you just ate CANNOT stay in you… so you purge. People with eating disorders do this in many different ways – throwing up, exercising, taking laxatives. I did them all. The worst was throwing up. And after that first time, I did it for a long time.
I finally sought help when I was living and working in North Carolina. Thankfully, I found a wonderful, beautiful Christian counselor who had gone through the same disease and was able to help me immensely. I am not going to say she cured me, because I struggled for several years after that; but after working with her, I finally felt okay about eating and keeping it in. I did gain weight, which was what my body needed; but mentally I was still a wreck.
When I finally fully recovered is when I forced myself to grow up. Truly, I can remember the day. I sat down and had a very honest conversation with myself. Why was I doing this? Why was I so worried about my weight and what other people thought of me? These were the hard questions that I had to answer myself. I realized that I had goals in life bigger than being 90 pounds. I wanted to be a great dietitian and help others, I wanted a family (husband and kids), I wanted to have amazing dinners with my girlfriends. None of this was possible with my eating disorder. I had isolated myself for so many years… and when I wasn’t doing that, I was lying about it. Eating disorders are such lonely diseases and to this day I regret friendships I let go because of lying, isolating, and insecurities.
So how did I finally fully recover? Trust me, it is not an overnight thing. I believe, when you have been participating in these destructive activities for so long, they become addictions… even when you really want to get better. Here are the things I feel really helped me:
- I had a plan – I ate every 2-3 hours. I had a plan on what I was going to eat and kept the binge trigger foods out of the house for a while.
- I wrote down affirmations and goals – sticky notes, saying things like “You are worth living for” and “Help others get through this” were all over my house.
- I moved my body in ways that felt good – I had exercised for so long to burn calories (I ran up to 70 miles per week) that it was time to do things that actually felt good. I tried hot yoga, biking, and lifting. I started listening to my body and learning all of the cool things it can do.
- I got over being the tiniest person in the room – I love sports, but I truly believe that some of the sports I participated in led me to want to stay tiny. I would continually tell myself that it was okay to not be the smallest woman in the world.
With all that being said, I do still struggle. Even as a dietitian that believes in health at every size and participates in body acceptance and body kindness, I struggle. Our society is so f***** up and it is terrifying. From the president of the United States calling out fat women to young girls telling me they are on diets. It makes me want to cry. I know what these statements can do to people and I know what kind of years they have ahead if they continue down the dieting path.
There are still days that I wish I was smaller – I have been about 135 pounds for 5 years. And there are many times that I still compare myself to others. But then I think about all the qualities I have that I think are great; and they have nothing to do with weight or appearance. And I remember life is so much more than fitting into a size zero. Every day I strive to be the best person I can possibly be, even in situations where it is difficult. I am a contemplator of life’s purposes and there are so many things I don’t want to miss out on during the short time that we are here. Like a really good beer or chips and salsa on the patio with my husband.
If you are struggling, please know that life is so much more than what you weigh and that support is right around the corner. You can reach me at [email protected].