It really never was about the food. It was always about control. It was me scrambling to feel loved. It was a way to avoid thinking about the hard stuff because I was too busy thinking about what I did/didn’t eat, what I was going to eat next and how the heck I was going to lose ‘just’ 5 more lbs. But then after I lost those 5 lbs I wanted to lose more and more to the point that my mom would cry when she saw me because she was so worried.
Over the last few years I have really strayed from bringing up my past eating problems because of previous emails/comments I received for still being disordered but.. I’m at the point in life where once again, all that matters to me is what God thinks about me and what I know about myself and I know I have been and that I am in a good place with food/weight that I could care less if somebody else on the internet thinks I have a problem. BUT I think it is beneficial to share and open up more about it because there are a crazy amount of women out there struggling and searching for a way out of their food problems. I don’t have the answers, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone and that there is hope and a lot of great things in store for you.
I think there are many factors that helped me to dig out of my disordered eating habits. #1 Brooke. I don’t know what it is about that little girl, but she changed me. The second I found out I was pregnant my brain went into—> DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ENSURE SHE IS HEALTHY and well-taken care of. Once I had her I decided that being a healthy example for her was one of my biggest goals because the thought of her struggling with this problem makes me sick and example is everything. I think age has helped me to realize who I am and my worth. I think not being in the relationship I was in has helped. I think my therapist/nutritionist (pre-blog years) helped for the problem. I think spending more time on my relationship with my Savior has made all the difference. I think attempting to focus my days on serving my people rather than myself all day has helped. I think hitting rock bottom and seeing how badly I was treating my body (a bone scan at the time showed that I had osteopenia… I think I was like 25?!? and two femoral stress fractures) started the change.
So where am I at now? To be honest, I don’t even let myself go down that road for .01 miles because while I know I’m in a different place than before—> Eating disorders, like any addictions, can be easy to relapse and so I stay FARRRRRR away from anything that can trigger me. Obsessing about calories, thinking about food too much, weighing myself, striving for perfection in my eating, cutting out certain food groups, following blogs/IG accounts that promote unhealthy behaviors, entertaining thoughts that I need to lose weight etc—> I run the other direction. While I don’t think a relapse is going to ever happen to me again… why play with fire for even just a second? I’ve come to understand my body a little bit more and I know that my clothes are always tighter when I’m not in training mode and that things fit again once I’m running like normal again… there is absolutely no reason for drastic measures. Of course I have days where I don’t feel comfortable about my body but I’m trying to look through windows more than mirrors… does that make sense? On those days I really focus on looking through a window at other people and my relationships rather than focusing on a mirror (metaphorically) and my looks/body all day long.
To be honest again, I’m still kind of amazed that I made it through my divorce without a relapse (thank you Brookie for keeping me grounded in all areas during that dark time). Life was completely out of my control and my self-esteem took a major hit but I figured out how to cope finally without food. I figured out that prayer can pretty much dig me out of any rut. I probably coped a little too much with my running (oh extremes, I just have a thing for you). I take baths, I talk to people about my feelings (what a strange concept for me back in my early twenties), I read, I wrote letters (you wouldn’t believe how many letters to people I have written when I needed to let out my anger but then never sent them), I write blog posts that never get published or quite extensive writing sessions in my journal. I go and stare at my little girl in the eyes and more peace comes over me than I can explain in words. I cope. I feel (oh that reminds me, I have a blog post about this one I should put up). I cry, I process and then I move on with life without letting food/size/weight/my body take over my thoughts.
As far as nutrition goes… MY personal definition of healthy eating that is tailored for ME (can you get the point that I think each person has a different definition) is to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, fats, grains and when I want a treat, I absolutely eat it. I think for a few years I went a little bit crazy on my sugar intake but after years of denying myself treats (before the blog I once went 2 years without eating any sugar…) and then I went crazy on the stuff. I went overboard and my body was so all over the place for treating it the way that I did that I went crazy with the sugar. I think I have finally hit somewhere in the middle now. I don’t crave it like I used to but I eat it when it is around. I just eat now. My meals are pretty much the same each day until dinner time (creature of habit?) but if I want spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner… why the heck wouldn’t I? If ice cream is in my freezer and I’m watching a movie in bed at 11 pm, you better believe I’ve got a bowl of it with me as I watch. I truly love healthy meals and vegetables so I’m not worried about not getting enough nutrients and so there is plenty of room for the foods that I labeled ‘NOOOOOOOO’ for many many years.
There are days that I’m starving all day and I eat like I have a bottomless pit for a stomach and then there are days that I literally don’t think about food until I’m thinking about what to make Brooke for her meal. It’s just food. It tastes delicious and it fuels my day but it doesn’t control me and my eating habits most definitely don’t define me or make me good or bad.
I think that pretty much everyone deals with anxiety to some degree. I think a big part of my eating disorder was also a way for me to deal with my anxiety if that makes sense? Most of the time now I deal with it pretty well but then there are times in life where I feel like I can’t breathe, or I literally can’t stop worrying, or if I don’t do something PERFECT, I think my whole world will unravel. And this is why I love running. There are other methods that help me out when I feel anxious but my favorite one is running. I feel like the sweat during a hard run is just all of my worries escaping my body. I think with each mile I worry less and realize more that things always work out just the way they are supposed to. I know for sure that there are many days where my mind rests the more and more my heart beats faster due to my legs pounding the cement and my arms swinging.
You know how your heart breaks especially for people that go through things that you’ve once been through in the past? You understand exactly the pain and the suffering they are going through and you just want to take it away from them? This is what happens to me anytime I hear from a woman struggling with an eating disorder/disordered eating/body image issues. My heart truly breaks for them. I just want to hug them and take every ounce of pain far far away from them. I can’t do that (man, I wish I could) but I do know there is help. I do know that now is the best time to start the process towards healing whether that be making your people aware of your pain and allowing them to help you and most definitely seeking professional help. I know that we’ve got one body and we’ve gotta take the best care of it that we can. I know that we have too much potential and too many great things to experience in this life ahead of us that just aren’t possible when struggling with an eating disorder that takes over our thoughts and health.
I know that our worth is indescribable and that a silly number on the scale could never even begin to define the type of friend/mom/sister/daughter/grandma/neighbor/employee/wife/girlfriend that we are.
For once I don’t know how to end a blog post but I will say, you’ve got this. Keep on trying. We’re all in this together.
Feel free to open up about any exercise, food struggles you have had in the past (or if you want to share what you struggle with now too) and what has helped you! Has the scale ever been a problem for you? Ever been obsessed with calories?