BEFORE, I was slowly starving myself.
At the time I was so proud. I had just lost 25 pounds in 3 months with a restrictive diet of pre-portioned, processed foods that totaled 800 calories a day. My high school prom dress fit. Every 2 weeks I went shopping and bought the smallest jeans I could fit into, and to my joy the pants size kept getting smaller.
It’s taken years to admit that despite weighing less than I did in high school, and fitting into a size 3, I wasn’t healthy. It was even harder to admit that I slid right back into the dangerous eating habits I thought I had left behind in high school.
After all, I never looked like the stereotype. I knew people with eating disorders didn’t all look like the stereotype: gaunt and skeletal with sharp, visible hips and countable ribs. I knew it wasn’t a disorder for the visibly skinny only. But somehow I still couldn’t see it in myself. Plus, I still looked like me, aside from thinning hair and slightly sunken eyes. I think. I don’t know. I still don’t have enough distance to be objective.
I definitely didn’t FEEL good. I was weak. Little, stupid tasks were hard, like carrying a load of laundry or walking up a flight of stairs. I hadn’t exercised in months, since I was eating so few calories.
I was super unhappy. At my thinnest, I still felt fat. Food was my enemy, and I lived in fear of gaining weight and relinquishing the ironclad control I had over my body. I had to eat less and less to maintain. Eventually I couldn’t.
I wish I could say I had an epiphany and changed my habits right away. I wish I could say I started using portion control and (mostly) clean eating to build a healthy relationship with food and using regular (but not excessive) exercise to improve my strength, balance, and flexibility.
But I didn’t. It took a few more years, countless rounds of dangerous dieting, and a lot of anxiety and shame for me to get to where I am now.
NOW, I exercise and eat healthily because it makes me feel good.
Now, I’m stronger than I have been in years.
Now, I look in the mirror and I’m proud of what I see.
NOW, though my body is far from perfect, I’m happier in my own skin.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not done. I still have muscle to gain, and fat and inches to lose. I have many mental hurdles to overcome. I still fall into spirals of negativity and unhealthy habits. Progress is slow, because as it turns out, eating 800 calories a day on and off for a few years does a number on your metabolism. But each day I work towards being healthier, inside and out, mind and body. And I’m doing it the right way, on my own terms.