I remember the day that I stepped on the scale and it read 100lbs. Reading those numbers as a “pre-teen” for the first time devastated me. Triple digits had to make me obese, I was sure of it. It didn’t help that my fitness competitor mother at the time weighed 97lbs. Of course, my mom (who is the greatest woman in the world) told me my body was exactly how it was supposed to be, and reassured me that I was perfect the way I was. I still doubted that though.
I had started “developing” much sooner than all of my other classmates in school, and already had a woman’s body with a very predominant hourglass shape at a young age. Although the Middle School boys loved this, I felt HUGE next to all of my box-framed stick figure friends, and “perfect body” mother. My family ate incredibly healthy, all of our food was organic (before that was actually cool), all natural, and pretty much completely plant based. Most of my foods were raw, I rarely ate processed sugar, and we weren’t allowed to have soda/coffee/sugary drinks. I was pretty active, and my body was perfectly healthy. Of course, that’s not how I felt though.
This was when my eating disorder began. At 12 years old, I already felt the pressure for perfection. I discovered that not only would I lose weight by not eating, but I also got a high out of it. It was almost a competition, to see how long I could go without eating. Trying to stay between 0-500 calories a day, and not letting anyone find out. (Which was almost harder than not eating). The less I ate, the more control and empowerment I felt. A few school friends started noticing me disappearing around lunch time and rarely eating if anything more than an apple when I did join the cafeteria. One friend even took it to a teacher and the school nurse. Although stern lectures weren’t going to make me want to change my new habits.
This has been a way of life for me now off and on for the past 11 years. Rapidly fluctuating weight by 10-25lbs has been a pretty regular thing for me. I get it under control for a few months at a time, then drop weight, back up, then drop it again. Sometimes healthily losing the weight, but often not. Many people think that those with eating disorders all look like people that just escaped from the Holocaust. In America, approximately 20 million women, and 10 million men struggle with eating disorders. Often it is something that comes and goes. Starving, then binging, then starving again. Many of the people dealing with this are ones you would NEVER expect to. For me, it’s almost more for the control aspect than the weight loss. It’s extremely psychological. When I can’t control situations in my life, the easiest thing I can control is my weight, and quite obsessively. I’ve used many over the counter weight-loss drugs, and even prescription drugs to suppress my appetite and have more control. I know just about every trick in the book.
For the first time in my life, I finally feel like I am the healthiest I’ve ever been, and the happiest I’ve ever been with my body. I wish I could say I’m never going to go through it again, but unfortunately (similarly to alcoholism), when you’ve dealt with an eating disorder you’re always going to have that little “devil” on your shoulder telling not to eat, to skip that meal, or that you’re overweight. You have to CHOSE to resist those thoughts, and determine to live a healthy life. It’s something I regularly deal with, but here are 5 things that have helped me to be in the best place I’ve ever been with my health for the past 6 months. If this is something that you personally deal with, hopefully, these can help you as well.
1) Eating HEALTHY foods -When I’m eating healthy, I’m not beating myself up for eating poorly, which usually causes me to fast my next meal
2) Working out -If I’m burning calories, then I don’t feel as guilty eating them, it also requires me to eat more when I’m burning more (you have to make sure you are eating more calories than you are consuming though, or else this can become a part of the problem)
3) Eating 6 small meals -I find that if I overeat, I typically beat myself up for it, and resort to “fasting.” When I eat smaller meals throughout the day, I don’t get totally full, and I don’t feel bad about eating my next small meal
4) Fitspiration! -When I see stick figure girls with rib cages and bones sticking out, it usually triggers something in my brain that wants the same. For me, I focus on “fitspiration,” which comes from FIT girls with natural muscle, tone, and a bit of meat! This encourages me to be my fit & curvy self, not a boney girl that I naturally am not. (I understand many are born that way, and they are BLESSED! I certainly wish I was)
5) Reminding myself that God made me exactly the way that I am! Of course, that doesn’t mean I should eat whatever I want and be overweight. This means that I can take care of my body that God has blessed me with, and be happy with being the healthiest ME that I can be.
Being as big of a problem that it is in our society today, I feel that no one is talking up about it. It’s an easy thing to hide, and not something anyone wants to admit. My wish for this blog post is to let anyone that has been there, and anyone that is currently there, please know this, there is hope! You are not alone in your struggle. It is possible to be healthy and LOVE your body. I can’t promise that things will be perfect, but with time I know from experience that you can find peace to LOVE yourself exactly the way you were created.
If you are currently dealing with an eating disorder, please know that it is “ok not to be ok,” and seek professional help. I am not a doctor or psychologist but would love to talk with you, offer advice, and/or pray with you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I have encouraged even one person from this, it was totally worth it! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
-Melissa J. Soule