Let’s skip pretty beginnings. There’s nothing pretty about this.
From the beginning of my college sophomore year until around June, I, (and I can say this in retrospect), had a pretty severe eating disorder. I weighed under 100 pounds at points, ran upwards of 5 miles a day and tried to consume a maximum of 800-1,000 calories. I think it’s called “anorexia athletica” – but I’m not exactly sure, because I refused to ever get help for it.
I came home for the summer and my parents gave me an ultimatum: get help, or get hospitalized. Neither choice seemed optimal, but at least the first would get them off my case for a little bit. Under their watch, I couldn’t keep up any of the same behaviors I did when I lived alone…which meant one thing: inevitable weight gain. Cue anxiety.
Fast forward to now: I couldn’t spend another day not being able to eat and work out how I wanted, so I started training with a nutritionist/personal trainer She educated me on the harm I was doing to my body by reeeally screwing up my metabolism. I cut back on my running, started doing weight training and boxing. I changed my diet and started eating more. Almost instantly, my color came back. I could finally fill out a bathing suit and my jeans weren’t sagging off my butt. I was finally strong. But still, it was weight gain, which was gut-wrenching.
My body was changing, but my mind wasn’t.
This is the part that I’m ashamed to admit.
I’m proud of myself now, but I was the happiest I ever was when I had an eating disorder. It’s something I think about every day and I think it’s something that I really need to share with other girls. There are so many fitness accounts and fitness role models who – all with great intentions – make it seem as though fitness is wonderful, blissful journey. Let me tell you – there’s nothing about this that’s glamorous. I’ve cried through my burpees and hit a bag so hard I nearly broke my hand. I’ve stared in a mirror, drenched in sweat after a workout, thinking “you were happier when you just didn’t eat.” It’s a bizarre feeling when your mind and your body aren’t matching up.
I know I’m “healthier” on paper, but I still have the mindset of someone who was proud that they were 100 pounds.
The disconnect is confusing, frustrating, and discouraging.
For some girls, body image is something that defines their self-worth. I was (and still struggle with sometimes being) one of them. My point is this: no change happens overnight. This is a long, hard journey. Flat stomachs and cute little biceps are no comparison to the changes we have to make on the inside. We have to celebrate our small milestones (like being able to do 20 pushups when you couldn’t even do one) and measure our worth in things that truly do matter more than the size of our jeans. And most importantly…there are enough critics out there, help each other out.
Build each other up. We’re all fighting the same battle, so let’s just do it together.