I was an athlete my whole life up until college. I was born with insane upper body strength, and my mom even says I practically delivered myself when she had me. She knew right away I would grow to be a strong, independent woman. She was right. Obviously I didn’t get to the stage of confidence I am at today without some ups and downs though.
Being a soccer player from elementary to the end of high school, I always had an athletic build. I was fast, strong, and didn’t have a worry about who thought what about my body. In the summer of 2012, my brother and I made a bet about who could go longest without eating fried food. No fried oreos, no french fries, none of the good stuff basically lol. Anyway, my brother gave up after about a week or so, but I took this challenge to the next level. I cut out sugar from my diet completely, along with the fried foods. By the end of the summer going into my freshman year of high school, I had solid abs, and a very low body fat. I felt great, and looked great. BTW I am 4′ 11″ and at the time I weighed a healthy 110 pounds. As time went on and the school year started though, I stuck with the no sugar diet, and continued to lose more and more weight. By the end of my freshman year, I was 92 pounds, seeing a nutritionist, and was no longer getting my period. I was freezing cold all the time, and in complete denial of my borderline anorexic conditions.
What is unique about my story is that I did not start my “no sugar” diet because I was unhealthy to begin with, nor did I think I was “fat” or whatever. I just did it because I have a competitive and addictive personality. I had to beat out my brother. Once I saw how good I felt and looked though, I wanted to keep going. The problem was, once I started, I couldn’t stop. Family and friends started to notice how skinny I was. It started out as me just looking really fit, but turned into me looking like skin and bones. I was under the impression that I was healthy, better than the people around me who were eating the “unhealthy” foods, and for some reason, I just could not see the negatives in this behavior.
Every week I would go to the nutritionist, step on the scale, and hope for a lower number than last week. My mom and the nutritionist however, were wishing for the opposite. I would tell them that I promised to eat a food that I had deemed “off limits” that week, but I would never actually do it. Some of the foods I eliminated included candy, pasta, ice cream, pudding, chocolate (except for 95% dark), and basically anything that wasn’t grilled chicken, vegetables, or fruits. Again, my case is an odd one being that I was not doing this because I thought I was “fat.” In fact, I never thought anything about my body. I just became addicted. This is why I do not take it lightly when people refuse to categorize eating disorders as mental illnesses. I can tell you first hand that they 100% ARE. This premise of watching the weight go down regardless of how low my energy was, or how unhealthy I was became like a high for me. It is weird, I know. But this is what happened.
The nutritionist tried to tell me that I should no longer go to the gym. My workouts at the time consisted of whatever I had to do for soccer, along with extra cardio at my local gym, and weight training sessions as well. Doing all of this and eating a max of 1200 calories per day was very unhealthy, and I can only be thankful that I was able to come to see this a little down the road. I was also tracking all my food meticulously on the Lose It app, which is actually a very helpful app for OTHER reasons than my use of it. Anyway, after a while of seeing the nutritionist, I told my mom I would fix what she kept telling me was wrong with me (even though at this point I didn’t think anything was wrong) on my own. I stopped working out…at the gym at least. I would just do power walks up and down my street until I was drenched in sweat, and I would make sure to hit 10,000 steps AT LEAST everyday. I was going overboard, and I couldn’t see it at the time. This went on for quite a while until…
I can remember the exact night that everything flipped around. I do not know the exact date, but I know all the details. I was wearing dark blue America Eagle jeans, an American eagle crop top and a tan-ish/white cardigan over it. I had white converse on my feet. I love American Eagle btw. I had gone to a party in my town. There was a crazy snowstorm, but my awesome mom had agreed to drive myself, and my neighbor to the party. When I got home later that night, my sister was eating those Scooby Snack graham cracker treats with Nutella. I wanted one, and I wanted one bad. This would be the first time in about a year and a half that I would be eating something like this. Welp, what ended up happening was I ate the whole box, and over half the jar of Nutella. This broke me. From here on, I would switch from being borderline anorexic to a severe binge eater. Yes, it literally happened in one night. I didn’t gain all the weight back in one night obviously, but I was no longer strict to my no sugar diet.
This was where I would hit rock bottom. After that night where I enjoyed that Nutella and those crackers, I became very sad. Along with that sadness though came more hunger. I had been depriving myself of foods like this for so long that I like to think my body was craving more. Very commonly, people who go through what I went through experience the same thing, so I have heard. You can only deplete your system for so long. There I was, 89 pounds, crying over cheating on my once “perfect” & “clean” diet. The next 4-5 months after this first binge were horrendous. I needed them though, and I can see that now. I needed to get healthy again. I needed to put weight on my body because the path I was heading down was not a good one. It’s scary to think, but had I kept going, I could have basically killed myself. I thank God everyday now for my health and well being, mentally and physically.
Moving on. So, this is what happened. I would sneak downstairs at night time, and I would raid the fridge and pantry. I have a younger sister as I mentioned, so we always had yummy, sugary snacks in the house. Cookies, ice cream, candy, cereals, you name it. I was eating it. No one knew though because during the day, I would still stick to my “clean” eating habits. Who was I kidding though. I was enjoying doing this whole binge thing…at first. Soon, the number on the scale started going up, and I was not happy about that. I was depressed, angry, & confused, but still sort of happy because the treats at night were sooo good. Eventually, the sadness trumped the tastiness. I finally came out, and told my mom what I was doing at night. I cried to her everyday there on out about how much I hated myself, and how I was screwing up the, what I thought was perfect, body I had created. Every. single. day. I Cried. Months straight. Every damn day. This is not an exaggeration by any means. My tear ducts were being put to work big time.
This was so draining for not only me, but for everyone in our home, and I apologize to them for that. I am sure it was hard to watch, but I needed their support if I was going to turn my life around. Thank God for family. Mom, Dad, Noelle, Mike, I love you all forever and always. Also, I know there are people out there who go through this for much longer periods of time than I did, but I am just trying to share my experience with this. Everyone who goes through it has a different story I’m sure.
Just to add a sense of time frame, this was now during my junior year of high school. Now, I do not want to focus on the weight aspect, but for those wondering, I eventually got up to 140 pounds from binging, quit fast I should add. On my way up to 140 pounds, I saw a therapist. My family could only support me so much, but they were not versed in these disorders, so we tried to use professionals again (like how we used the nutritionist). As my weight went up, I was feeling sad, but not sad enough to stop binging. I would tell the therapist these thoughts, and they told me to stop before I was about to binge, and write down what I was feeling at that particular moment. This did not help me at all. I was out of control. I was now headed in another unhealthy direction.
I eventually stopped seeing the therapist because I felt that it was not helpful to me. I had to figure this out on my own. I was still crying day after day, yet still binging night after night. I remember when I finally got a hold on it though. My family and I had taken a trip to Florida, and in our condo, there was not much food for me to binge on at night. There was one jar of peanut butter though. I ate the whole jar the first night we were there, cried for hours the next day, and that was the end of it. Not completely, but the severity of the crying and the number of times I binged dropped drastically. When we returned home, I stepped on the scale and was displeased with the number. Instead of doing some crazy diet though, I just worked toward finding a balance. A balance between eating well for my own personal well being, but letting myself enjoy those cookies and treats once in a while. By the end of my junior year, I was binge free, and on my way to better days. Yes, I was still unhappy with my weight, but I knew it was important to look beyond that because in due time, the results I wanted would come. This was much easier to type than it was to go through. I am sure I have left some details out, but I am going to create a separate page called “More Details” to address some of the feelings I had more in depth.
Today I am sitting here writing this as a college freshman, living a balanced, and happy lifestyle. The blog from here where my story “ends” (but not really) will consist of how I am currently living my life, and daily updates on what my fitness journey is like. Thank you for reading my story if you took the time, and please let this be a judge free zone. It took some courage for me to share this, and if you know anyone going through something similar, please be supportive if given the chance. As always, live laugh and love.