My battle started when I was young, like reaaally young. I remember being about 10 years old and looking at a picture of me from 7-8 years old and thinking "Wow, why am I not that skinny anymore??". Why a 10 year old was even thinking about being skinny is beyond me, but I have some ideas.
All my life I grew up with women who constantly talked down about their bodies, how they were "starting again" on monday, and how they were bad for giving in and having cake at the family party. They had books and books of the different diets they tried. None of them would want to be in pictures, which I never understood because I thought they were beautiful. If they saw a picture, they critiqued every part of their self. It's no wonder my first diet's started when before I was even in high school!
I remember trying weight watchers, then south beach diet, then nutrisystem. I tried cutting out sugary cereal (as suggested by my dad), only eating cucumbers for snacks, skipping out on popsicles or ice cream that my cousins were eating. ALL WHEN I WAS 10-11 YEARS OLD. By time I got to my late teen years, all I had ever known is diet culture. I thought that if a women isn't trying to lose weight, then something was wrong with her.
Fast forward to my first major breakup at 17, I had NO idea how to deal with that. I figured it was because my body wasn't good enough and resorted to "fixing it" by restricting. A normal lunch was a diet coke and a cigarette to curb the hunger. Our bodies are very smart though and when you deplete of the nutrients needed, it will find a way to get it. *Cue the binge eating*. At first I would just endure the sick/full feeling and go to sleep. But one night, I couldn't even breathe from the pressure, so I made myself vomit. In some sick twisted way, it made me feel powerful, like I was in control again after losing control during the binge. I realized I could eat whatever I want and as long as I purged before it had a chance to get digested, the calories would never enter my body.
This went on until I got a new boyfriend, who made me feel worthy and loved. Then I was able to stop the binge-purge cycle. We started working out together, and I lost about 30 lbs. I got a lot of attention from men and a lot of positive reinforcement from women. Anyways, that turned out to be a VERY emotionally abusive relationship, which of course ended badly. So how did I cope? With putting the focus back on my body and restricting and binging. I gained back 40-50 lbs in a matter of 2 months (which tells you my body was NOT meant to be that small in the first place!).
I remember going on "drive thru runs", where I would go to multiple fast food restaurants and order a meal at each because I wouldn't want to order a massive amount of food at ONE place. Then go home and binge on all of it. I remember feeling like I knew something was wrong, but I also didn't want to stop because I knew it was the only way I would get a boost of dopamine and feel happy.
Fast forward to the age of 21, then I was able to turn to alcohol and partying for coping. But would still binge after I got home and had to be alone with my intoxicated thoughts. I would binge at friends houses. I was out of control. I remember eating half a sheet of cookies and an apple pie off my friend's counter one night (as if she never noticed?!). I had anxiety through the roof. All I could think about was my next meal. Every monday started "day one", I would do OK for 1-2 days, then restart the cycle.
I remember every blood vessel in my eyes being popped from purging so much the night before. EVERY thought was consumed with how flat my stomach was, when I was going to work out and for how long, what I was going to eat, the portion of the meal, etc. I remember laying in my bed feeling that if this is how I have to live the rest of my life, what was the point?
I decided I needed more control, so I turned to paleo and clean eating. I became the "healthy" girl. I would spend hours looking up skinnified recipes on pinterest and more hours food prepping and working out. I was praised for my "discipline" and "hard work". Essentially, I turned orthorexic. I was obsessive. I started doing 21 day sugar cleanses and 30 day resets. I finally felt in control, plus it was an acceptable way to be in control per society. I didn't have to hide being healthy like I did with binging. But deep down, I still hated myself and my life.
To wrap this up, I was able to slowly gain control over the binging. But I still had CRIPPLING anxiety. I had obsessive and paranoid thoughts 24/7. My mind was my worst enemy. All I could do was go to work, food prep, and sleep. I had such bad anxiety I could barely go to the gym or in any public place. I stopped singing in the car and shower. I stopped being social. I was withdrawn from society. I stopped joking and laughing. I hated life. This is when I turned to therapy for some guidance.
I started a very hard but beautiful transformation through going to therapy. I made this realization that changed my life - WHO EVER SAID I HAVE TO LOSE WEIGHT TO BE WORTHY? I digged into my past and how I was raised. I started taking note of the societal pressures put on us as women. I broke up with my future perfect body and dieting. I gave myself permission to love parts of myself, especially my "flaws". It's crazy how the idea of actually accepting who you are is NEVER talked about. I started doing little things that made me happy, like going on walks. I started listening to motivational videos on youtube. It took 1.5 - 2 years to fully break free but it was such an incredible journey.
Now I am happy to say I am FREE of any obsessive thinking. I don't think about my body, food, or exercise. I don't blame my body anymore. I move my body in ways I love (which does not include the gym). I eat what I want, when I want, and have no guilt or shame surrounding it. I don't food prep. I don't base my worth off how bloated I look that day. I don't really have bad days anymore.
That's why I have this mission to help serve all women suffering from this. I feel like this is what I HAVE to do. I have to share my story. Women suffering from dysfunctional eating/eating disorders are the MAJORITY, not the minority. We need more awareness. If me opening up about my story helps ONE person, then that makes it all worth it!
So if you're reading this - know you're not alone in feeling this way, and YOU DON'T HAVE TO SUFFER ALONE.
Much love, Xoxo.