I think I’ve shared this before, but I have a really long history of disordered eating (ok I definitely have, but I have a lot of new followers who may read this, so humor me.) Once, when I was a toddler, I told my parents that the voices in my head were telling me not to eat; not even Mc Donald’s! Aside from that one very isolated incident, everything really started around the time I turned fourteen. I can remember the exact moment I developed an eating disorder. I’m not sure if that’s normal, or if anyone else can relate to that or not, but it’s something that I will never forget. I was on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach, walking with my cousin in my bathing suit and this beautiful, tan, handsome man with abs like you wouldn’t believe smiled and said “hello.” In that moment, I knew that a guy like that would never be interested in a girl like me. I was way, WAY, too fat for anyone that attractive to ever want to be with me (side note: I also had really frizzy hair). After that nothing was ever the same. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, this is as honest as it gets. I never felt the same about food, or eating, ever again and I probably never will. That’s ok, it’s something I’ve come to accept over the last 13 years, but it will always be complicated.
It started with anorexia. Calorie counting everything. Avoiding anything with fat in it. Exercising to the point that it was beyond unhealthy. I dropped to my lowest weight ever, 130 pounds. This itself is a problem. At 5’7”, 130 lbs is considered to be ideal. For me, it wasn’t. For me, I was skin and bone. I never missed a period, but my muscles sure did deteriorate. At the time, however, I couldn’t see that. Instead, what I saw was failure. I couldn’t even be fucking anorexic properly. Everyone else saw it though. I lost friends. Teachers expressed their concerns almost constantly. My parents, especially my dad (I lived with him predominantly growing up) were desperate. He bribed me with material items to just EAT something. As a 14-15 year old, this worked. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I didn’t know HOW to eat anymore. The concept was foreign. I was also so hungry, so undernourished, I would just binge and binge and binge. I got some killer material goods; but the guilt and shame of eating was too much for me to bear. I had to purge; I became Bulimic. I thought I was really pulling one over on my parents this time. I was winning. I was really sneaky, I didn’t think they’d ever know; but my parents weren’t blind, I was. They didn’t miss the broken blood vessels in my face, my hair falling out in clumps, they increased cavities, the stomach pain. Eventually, I was caught in the act. I went through treatment and I did ok. And then, college.
I fucking lived it up in college. I want to make it very clear: I do not regret that for a second. I learned, a LOT and I’m not talking about my classes. I drank a lot and I did a lot of drugs. A lot of promiscuous sex (which I now know was due to my distorted body image, constantly seeking validation) I was a punk rock girl; pink hair, don’t care. Ok, I got a little carried away……..my eating disorder doctor knew what she was doing. She prescribed me prozac and amphetamines for ADHD. Looking back, this was the perfect combination for me; but I was young and reckless, and 4 hours away from home. I stopped the prozac and kept on the speed. I lost SO much weight. Forget the freshman 15, I was the skinniest I’d ever been. I looked awesome. I hardly ever ate, because I had no appetite. I had a psychiatrist, but he didn’t pay attention. Who does at university health centers? It was awesome, except that I couldn’t sleep and became malnourished. I found myself trading my pills for others: oxycontin, xanax, valium, vicodin. Sure they were fun, but mostly my body was desperate for sleep. I ended up losing my job. I couldn’t focus. I had to move home. I got my shit together, and still managed to graduate with a fairly decent GPA, without even taking time off. I graduated from Albany while living in Buffalo. I was pretty impressed with myself. Things kinda got back to normal with eating for awhile after that and then….grad school.
I gained a shit ton of weight in grad school. Probably between 60-80 lbs. I’m not really sure. Back when I was in treatment I stopped weighing myself. Grad school made it nearly impossible to focus on eating healthy. I binged, without purging. I worked between 30-40 hours a week, had field 15-20 hours a week, and had class and homework in infinite amounts. My confidence had improved, but the weight gain, it gnawed away at me. I’ve been out of school now for…well, since mid August (don’t judge me but I’m feeling too lazy to count.) I started a new job. I thought I was eating pretty healthy. I went to the doctor for some upper respiratory illness fun and they printed my weight on my discharge plan. 233 lbs. 233 MOTHER FUCKING POUNDS! I admit, I lost it. Never in a million years did I think I could weigh that much, despite wearing a size 18. Needless to say, I slightly broke down.
Luckily, I have some amazing supports. My boyfriend has been amazing, my friends and family too. I started one of those calorie trackers. I set an allotment of 1750, then 1710, calories per day. I’ve been walking more and doing fun exercises. So far, I know I lost 12 lbs and a pant size and a half in the past 5 weeks. It’s been great. So far, the holidays were really my biggest challenge. But now that they’re over and done, I’m still kind of struggling. Since I lost that 12 lbs my calorie allotment automatically readjusted to 1640. I don’t know if it’s really that much harder or if it’s psychological, but it’s definitely been more difficult. I’m really having a hard time avoiding sugar. I really miss drinking. But the important thing is, I’m still trying. Trying not to be obsessed with the calorie count. Knowing that even if I don’t stick to my goal of 1.7 lbs a week, any loss is still a success. On average, I’m slated to have lost an additional 3-6 lbs by January 27th AND THATS OK. I’m eating healthier for the most part, in more appropriate portions, and exercising a lot more than I have since…I don’t even know. I’m identifying things and working to rectify them, too. For example, I know sugar is a huge problem for me. I always go over. I’m working on that. I’ve replaced coffee with water and mio energy. I also noticed that part of the reason I’ve gone over the past week in calories is because I’ve been eating a bagel with cream cheese every day. I did much better when I ate a Luna Bar for breakfast. I noticed this because my dinner and lunches haven’t not changed. I found the variable (yay math??). I am confident that I will get back on track. My goal is to get down to 170 lbs. I think that for me, that is a healthy weight. Sure it is more than what they say someone who is 5’7” should weigh. Sure, I might still be considered “plus size”. But you know what, for me, I think that might be the healthiest weight I can be. As of 2 weeks ago, I weighed 221 lbs and I’m feeling pretty good. I know I am still losing, I can tell by the way my pants fit, but I’m not going to make this weight loss my end all be all. I let myself have a day off every week to just eat the things I want (within reason). I want to get my licensure. I want to get an apartment with my boyfriend in the next few months. I want to get a second job.
It is possible to live life and lose weight healthily, even with a history of disordered eating, you just have to remember to find a balance.