*WARNING, THIS POST MAY CONTAIN TRIGGERS*
When I say eating disorders, what do you think of? Do you automatically turn to the image of a skeletal woman refusing to eat? Do you assume that eating disorders are all black and white? You either don’t eat or you eat and vomit and that’s about it?
I know I used to be so close minded. In reality eating disorders are so much more than the refusal to consume calories.
When you look at the definition of what an eating disorder is it is stated as
“Any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits”
Take a moment to consider that sentence. Nothing specifies how the eating disorder looks, no one has added any specificity to this definition to give clarity to make the topic cut and dry. Did you know in the U.S. alone, at LEAST 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder?
While doing some reading on the topic I found that The Mayo Clinic gives a much more in-depth description to what an eating disorder really can be to a person. They state “Eating disorders are serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions and your ability to function in important areas of life.”
So let’s get to the point. It has taken me years to finally admit I had, and currently do still, suffer from an ED.
I was having a talk with my husband tonight about our eating habits and our weight gain and about our lack of nutritional priority as of late. We got into talking about our past struggles and our lean bodied versions and talked a bit about EDs as well. I won’t be talking about Andrews experience in this post, only my own. I wanted to shed some light on something that I wasn’t really ashamed of, more like, I wasn’t entirely positive about or educated on.
Lemme say it for the people in the back again.
I HAVE HAD AND CURRENTLY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER!
It took me a long time to realize that they can look SO different on people, they can be a multitude of symptoms and behaviours and still be disordered eating all the same.
This was me in 2012/2013.
The 2012 version of me had already been on a weight loss journey for a little while but it became an obsession as time went on. I was working out and tracking my calories burned as well as tracking my food and while lots of my workouts were burning 400+ calories I wasn’t consuming much more than 1200 calories on most days. Who cares, I got skinny right? When I bought that purple dress that was when I had a meltdown to Andrew (we were just friends at the time) about my weight and my stretch marks and how the lighting in Old Navy made me look.
At my lowest I got down to 124lbs. I was an incredibly low BF%, I think approx. 13% but I don’t remember for sure. After I got out of a long-term relationship I got into a pretty toxic one. It was long distance and I won’t give all the details but I spent that time feeling pressured into dieting more and exercising more and I was basically punishing myself for eating or not going to the gym or not going hard enough at the gym after multiple hours etc.
I was measuring my food, tracking it, taking the dog for extra walks and tracking them to burn off extra calories, I worked out at my moms on Thanksgiving before we ate, I weighed myself constantly and I would feel guilty about any not extremely healthy food choices. There was one day I decided to rest and because of my relationship at the time after I fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours, I dragged myself to the gym at 9:30PM just to feel like I wasn’t being lazy or a let down. I punished my body and I hated it constantly. I would be happy with my progress for about 2 seconds before harshly criticizing myself about my “problem areas.” This is disordered eating. This is not putting health or wellness first this is destructive and it was only a matter of time until it all came crashing down.
And it has.
Me now is in the low 200’s, as stated before, a weight I have never seen for myself. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t now living in a different world of disordered eating. I think it slowly started in 2013 when Andrew and I went to California. I felt freedom because I was travelling with my best friend, away from stress and work and my toxic relationship was over and so you can bet your ass I had IHOP twice and cookie ice cream sandwiches and Bubba Gump and I had drinks and whatever else we shoved in our faces while we were there. It felt so good to be focusing on this amazing experience instead of the food I was eating. The photo of me above in the hat was in the hotel bathroom before I dragged Andrew down to the hotel gym so I could do sprints. It was a step back but the only time I remember working out while we were there, other than surfing but that doesn’t count because it was life changing.
When we came back Andrew eventually moved in, with the saving of money and time on travel and other reasons it made sense, but the eating kind of never stopped. We tried here and there to be good and then we would reward ourselves and back tracked a lot. I was in the most loving and supportive relationship ever and my eating went from controlled and minimal to binge category, sometimes. As the years have gone on it has gotten better and worse in different points but I would say in the last year it has gotten worse without question. It isn’t just about eating crappy food sometimes it is more about the lack of focus on basic nutrition but I also punish myself for gaining weight and when I’m good for a while I end up “rewarding” myself or giving up, either way it looks the same with a plethora of calories in some capacity. I beg Andrew for baked goods constantly and then I eat them like it’s the last thing I’ll ever get to consume.
My self-control has diminished, along with my self-worth for a while. This journey to love myself has been interesting and I have made so much progress but it’s not like I don’t have a LOT of work to do still. I recognize more and more my unhealthy behaviours and often what triggers them but there is no quick fix here. There is no easy diet to just made me have a healthy relationship with food all of a sudden. The idea of going back to my punishing 1200 cal diet with excessive exercise seems more appealing some days, which is just crazy. Neither way is how I want to live so I need to unlearn my current and past habits and find true balance, not what I thought was balance before but real attainable not 13% body fat balance.
I wanted to bring to light just what we sometimes just view as poor eating habits can be so much more. Disordered eating looks different to so many people. Sharing this I am really hoping that admitting this, not just to myself but to however many people end up reading this, leads me to really start on a fully transparent lifestyle change instead of a half assed hidden one.
Eating disorders are scary. Eating disorders paired with other mental health factors just adds to the struggle and fear. Please know that you are not alone and there are so many resources to help on the road to recovery.